Raghunath das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 04

Raghunath: But Prabhupada was very staunch, he was there listening very intently. And at one point, I remember looking around the room and everyone in the room was asleep except for Prabhupada at one point. It was really incredible. I was watching Prabhupada very carefully to see if he was going to fall asleep; and at one point Prabhupada looked like he was starting to nod, and he just leaned forward ever so slightly and immediately caught himself and sat back up straight and with his right hand he made a chopping motion like “No, I won’t fall asleep.” And from that moment on, he was sitting there listening in rapt attention.

Interview DVD 05

Raghunath: Prabhupada invited all of his godbrothers from the surrounding maths to come and have a group get-together. The different Gaudiya Math leaders and many of their disciples also came. Of course, for a long time they were sitting in Prabhupada’s room talking and laughing and speaking in Bengali; we couldn’t understand. But then later on he brought them all out onto the veranda and had them all sit down and gave them all leaf plates, and he had his devotees serving them prasad and Prabhupada was personally directing the serving. I was standing way down at the other end of the building just looking at this and I was thinking, “Wow, that looks so nice, that prasadam.” I was thinking in India we never have the Sunday feast; in Dallas we had a Sunday feast every week. So even if you were austere all week, you had the Sunday feast to look forward to. And just at that moment, Prabhupada turned around and he motioned to me, “Come here.” I thought, “He probably wants me to help serve.” So I walked over and I said, “Yes, Prabhupada? How can I serve you?” And he said, “Sit down.” I shook my head, I thought, “I didn’t hear this right.” But he said it again, “Sit down.” I sat down and Prabhupada said, “Give him a plate, serve him some subji, give him puri, give him sweet rice,” just like that, he was directing all the serving. He was going up and down and as he was serving his godbrothers and their disciples; he was serving me also. I couldn’t believe it. I was in ecstasy eating prasad served by my own guru, and it was really, really good; but at the same time, I was so embarrassed taking service from my guru. At one point Prabhupada said, “Would you like more puri?” and I was too embarrassed to say yes. I said, “No, no, that’s OK.” But Prabhupada knew my heart so he said, “Give him more puri.” That was one of the most incredible experiences in my entire life. It says volumes about the relationship with the guru and the disciple, how the guru is so exalted but he’s willing to serve his disciples at any moment.

Interview DVD 07

Raghunath: Prabhupada was riding on Subhadra’s cart, and I was riding on the cart behind him, Balarama’s cart. And my duty was to lower the canopy when we came under low bridges…it was all designed by Jayananda…and then raise it back up again, and it took three or four guys to do it. So at one point we were riding along in the parade, there were no bridges coming or anything, and Prabhupada was on the cart in front of me, and he was looking out over the thousands of people that had come for the parade and it was all quite a scene. At one point, I felt that Prabhupada was looking at me. Even though he was so far away, somehow or other I felt that he was looking directly at me. When that happened, I felt that he could see not only my person but he could see directly into my soul and he could see everything about me, my desires, whatever there was to see in my soul. I could even feel that he could see that I had stashed some laddus in my coat pocket that I was wearing that I had stolen from the prasadam bin that they had for the festival. At that moment I actually waved to him with my right hand, and Prabhupada immediately waved back as if to confirm that “Yes, I am seeing you, I am looking.” Prabhupada had that way of communicating. Even though we were so far away, he could reciprocate in such a positive way.

I was recognized as being something of a hyperactive, a little bit out of control, difficult-to-deal-with kid. My first remembrance of Prabhupada was the wave of utter and absolute thrill and excitement that I experienced seeing him, which even as a boy took me by surprise. When Prabhupada came around, it really transformed me. You took one glance at Prabhupada and you were there, and you could step right into it. It was more than tangible, you ate it, and it would last about as long as I was in Prabhupada’s company. After about an hour, I would start losing it and start acting 7 or 8 years old again. It really seemed everyone was very harsh in comparison to what Prabhupada was about. So as soon as Prabhupada would come, we would get nice clothes and we would get new bedding and the prasadam was really good and the harshness of the discipline went way down, which is the opposite of if you have a military superior officer coming through. Then what happens is the discipline gets more and more severe and strict. Here it seemed to happen that when Prabhupada came around, people lightened up a little bit. They seemed to become a little bit more blissful and respectful and sweet.