When I went to receive the gayatri mantra from Srila Prabhupada it was in his room in Vrindavan in 1976. When I came into Prabhupada’s room I paid my obeisances and chanted the pranam mantra. After the pranam mantra I said in a loud voice, “Jai, Srila Prabhupada,” and Prabhupada immediately responded, “Jai, Srila Prabhupada.” For a split second this bewildered me and of course I immediately realized that his Srila Prabhupada was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. What it indicated to me was that whatever honor and respect that we gave to Srila Prabhupada, he was passing that on to his spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession to Krishna Himself. That was Srila Prabhupada’s great quality as a pure devotee of the Lord that he was a transparent via medium to Krishna and to the parampara.
Before we went in to receive our brahmin threads from Prabhupada, Pusta- Krsna and Hari Sauri Prabhus would put the threads around our necks because it took a long time to untangle them from the bundle in which they were packaged. They also gave us a sheet to read the mantra as Prabhupada gave the mantra. I was reading along with Srila Prabhupada and Prabhupada skipped a line in the mantra. What to do? So I looked at the sheet and I decided that I was going to say what was on the sheet. It’s a big offense actually to correct the spiritual master. When I read the next word, Srila Prabhupada stopped and he made this of sound, “Hmm?” like “What’s this?” I didn’t dare look at him. I kept on looking at the sheet. I played stupid which I actually was. Prabhupada must have looked at the sheet and he actually corrected himself. He read the line that I was on and then we finished the mantra. Then came the part with the thread. Prabhupada said, “Where’s the thread?” But I already had the thread on. This got another, “Hmm?” It was as if he was thinking, “What kind of people are these?” Awkwardly I took the thread off and then Prabhupada put the thread back on again. Now the sequel to the story is that on the next stop to Melbourne, they had another initiation ceremony and Hari Sauri did the same thing. He put the brahmin thread on each devotee before they went in and then the first initiate came out and said, “Prabhupada was very upset. He said, ‘Who is giving this brahmin thread?’ He said ‘I give the brahmin thread. I am the guru.’” That was the sequel to the story in which Hari Sauri got chastised for performing a function of the spiritual master.