I was so raw, or you might say, innocent in the beginning. I didn’t know that it would be okay to go where Prabhupada was giving darshan and actually listen. I would simply look through the windows to try to get a glimpse of him. One day, Aravinda said, “Yeah, you can go in there.” I said, “Really?” So I sat in at the end of the darshan. Prabhupada was comparing this material world to a dream. He said, “Isn’t it just like a dream?” He said, “Suppose you have a dream, and you think you’re the king. You really think you’re the king. But when you wake up, what reality is there? So similarly, we have these bodies, we have this identity as American or Indian or whatever, but what is the reality of that?” He made a sound like “phhhtt”. “It is finished.”
There were simple experiences that may seem mundane but just nothing is mundane with Prabhupada. One time I was on my way to the bathroom when all of a sudden the door opened and Srila Prabhupada came out. I didn’t know what to do, as there was no place to offer obeisances. Prabhupada said, “Jai.” That’s all he said. There’s a section of the Bhagavatam where jadi yogi Rsahavdeva, laid down in his own stool and his own urine because it was like lotus flowers. It smelled like lotus flowers because he was so pure. When I walked in that bathroom after Prabhupada used it, it was like flowers. There was an overwhelmingly beautiful scent in the bathroom.
We were in Africa and my friend Paramesvari and Vivikar were sitting around when Vivikar got his nose in an atlas and said, “Oh, look here. There’s an island out a thousand miles off the coast and it’s got a million Hindus on it. Why don’t we go there?” Paramesvari had been to Mauritius before and he said, “Yeah it’s a good place.” So Vivikar and I went in Prabhupada style. What that means is that we had a trunk of books, enough rupees that you could count on your fingers, and a letter of introduction. It’s not such a rich place and it was a little bit of a struggle. But after a year or so, Mr. Gautam Tilak, the Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture of Mauritius suggested, “Why doesn’t your guru meet the prime minister?” And that was suggested to Prabhupada. He said, “Yes, very good.” He liked to speak to leading people so we made all kinds of arrangements and Prabhupada came. He stayed in a beautiful beach house someone had donated. During that time Prabhupada went on a morning walk when some guys on the sugar cane trucks mocked us and sarcastically said, “Aaaah, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama”. One of the devotees said, “Prabhupada, what happens to a person when they chant Hare Krishna like that?” With a lot of conviction Prabhupada said, “They are liberated.”
In Mauritius there were only nine of us, so we got to do all of Prabhupada’s services. One thing that stands out is that he was taking every day a glass of carrot juice in the afternoon. One day he asked, “How many carrots does it take to make this glass of carrot juice?” When he heard the number of carrots it took, he said “No more.”
Caitya Guru was giving Srila Prabhupada a massage as Pusta Krishna read to him about actions that lead to hell from the Fifth Canto that had just been published. Pusta Krishna looked up at Srila Prabhupada at one point and asked, “Prabhupada, is this really what happens to someone when they do this?” Prabhupada kind of chuckled. You couldn’t understand exactly what he meant. He said, “Yes”, but the way he chuckled was sort of like, “Well, you know it’s not real,” in the sense that we’re spirit soul and we actually have nothing to do with this material world. Like Krishna says in the Bhagavatam, it’s superfluous to the soul. That was sort of the mood in his chuckle but at the same time he said, “Yes.”
There was a darshan in Prabhupada’s room I remember in Mayapur along with Sudama Swami and Siddhaswarup Maharaj. Siddhaswarup was effulgent as far as I was concerned. He was a very interesting person. But there were some politics going on between him and some other sannyasis and GBCs. When he came in the room, Prabhupada turned to Siddhaswarup and said, “So Siddhaswarup Maharaj, I understand that you have a different philosophy than we do?” Siddhaswarup said, “Well, Prabhupada…” Prabhupada interrupted him and said, “Isn’t it Sudama?” Sudama kind of hung his head as he didn’t want to get involved. Then Siddhaswarup said, “Well Prabhupada, sometimes I preach to the householders that they should live outside the temple and have their own independence.” Prabhupada said, “Yes, that’s a very good idea.” And then Siddhaswarup said, “Prabhupada, you know, sometimes I just don’t feel qualified…” Prabhupada cut him off and said, “Qualified or unqualified, I love you.” I was stunned at the way he said that with such compassion. I thought that was the most liberal and affectionate statement that could come out of anybody’s mouth, especially such an elevated personality as Srila Prabhupada. “Qualified or unqualified, I love you.”