The first time I met Srila Prabhupada was in Atlanta in 1975. I was taken aback by how he was such a powerful personality even though he had a small stature, as other devotees have mentioned. What also stood out was that he had everyone controlled by love. We all had such love for Srila Prabhupada that whatever Srila Prabhupada would ask, we would immediately jump. However, it was not done blindly. Some may think that we were simply cult followers, but Prabhupada also convinced us through logic and argument that the philosophy he presented was sound. In addition, we realized he only acted for our best self-interest.
Srila Prabhupada came to Atlanta in March of 1975. I was on the Radha-Damodar party and Tamal Krishna Goswami arranged for us a special darshan with Srila Prabhupada. We all went up into Srila Prabhupada’s room and Srila Prabhupada was very happy to see so many brahmacaris. He looked at us and he immediately started speaking about staying brahmacari. He said, “You’re all brahmacari; best if you can stay brahmacari.” He didn’t say we had to stay brahmacari. He said, “Best if you can.” And he said, “Sex life is like an itch.” He raised his arm, and making a gesture of scratching his arm, he said, “If you have an itch, you scratch and scratch and scratch.” Then Prabhupada stopped abruptly indicating the scratching did not ease the itching, but rather the area would become infected and become a worse problem. Srila Prabhupada gave that example which was very instructive for us to stay brahmacari.
Srila Prabhupada was in Atlanta when just after arati as he sat on his vyasasan, he asked, “Where is Tulasi?” The devotees weren’t exactly sure what he was referring to. So they brought Tulasi out and put her on Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasan. Srila Prabhupada said, “Not there. Tulasi should be higher.” So they put Tulasi on a higher spot. Then he told us that Tulasi should always be on the altar. It was very instructive as to the importance of Tulasi in our society. I’ll never forget that.
I had one of the newest Radha-Damodar traveling sankirtan vans. One particular morning Srila Prabhupada was preparing to go to the destination for his morning walk and seeing that my vehicle was new, he headed straight for my van. Prior to this day, however, we had been traveling for weeks on sankirtan, so when they opened the door to let Srila Prabhupada in, the van was a total mess because we didn’t have time to clean it. Srila Prabhupada wouldn’t get in. He explained that we should clean our vehicles every day. Instead of cleaning the van that day as he asked me to do, I had to run so many errands that I again never had the chance to clean the van. The next morning Srila Prabhupada again wanted to use my van, but seeing that I did not follow his instruction, again he wouldn’t go inside. This time he didn’t make any comment. I was fortunate not to get chastised for my oversight.
I think the quality that impressed me the most about Srila Prabhupada was his depth of Krishna consciousness. His knowledge was vast and he was able to engage so many different personalities in Krishna’s service. Srila Prabhupada appreciated all of the services rendered. Srila Prabhupada was very appreciative of any service rendered and he didn’t overlook the smallest of offerings. He once said, “Even if people give one farthing, they are saved from going to the deepest, darkest regions of hellish existence.” He respected the donation as being an offering to the Lord, and that person was making advancement in Krishna consciousness. That appreciation and gratitude impressed me.