Rasajna: So we went to greet Srila Prabhupada at the airport and this is, of course, the very first time I ever saw him so I was a little anxious. I remember they rolled out a long red carpet, and I remember my first impression. For some reason I had expected him to be very tall, I don’t know why, and I remember thinking, “Oh, he’s so short.” But there was something so very regal about his carriage. Then he went to sit down on the dais. They had actually brought a little wooden dais for him to sit on because there was going to be an interview. It was a television interview. First there was, of course, the kirtan. And then everyone sat down and, of course, all the people in the airport in the background wondering, “What’s going on here?” So I was just mesmerized watching him. It was like watching a performance for me, a solo performance on the stage. He sat down with the greatest of elegancy and ease. Someone offered him a silver goblet of water, and I remember him holding it up and the stream of water flowed like a fountain right in his mouth. It was just so elegant and I just thought, “Wow!” Being in the theater profession for some years, I thought, “Boy, that person really has a lot of grace to be able to do that in front of all these people, everybody’s eyes on him, with not even a string of nervousness or tension or anything like that.” Then they offered him a plate of fruit, and he very delicately picked up a piece of fruit and just popped it in his mouth and sat there and chewed it. Everyone was watching him and no discomfort, no nervousness or anxiety, he just finished eating that little piece of fruit. Then he was looking around one after the other at the faces, very peacefully and quietly really looking, taking all the time that he wanted to. I was just, from a material standpoint, completely impressed.
We were going to do a performance for him the first evening of “Krishna Kidnaps Rukmini,” but I really felt that he could see into me, there was nothing that I could hide. Then I was thinking, “Oh, my God! I’m going to be playing the part of Princess Rukmini, who is an expansion of the Goddess of Fortune, and it’s ridiculous. What am I doing? It’s just going to be a farce!” But anyway, it was planned and the show must go on. So there I was and the scene opens with myself sitting on the floor by myself writing the letter to Krishna, and I could feel my right knee beginning to shake out of nervousness. Then I remembered something my director said. He said, “Whatever comes up for you, just use it in the part, find some way to integrate it into the role.” Then I just realized, “Well, she probably was in a very anxious state. Here she was to be married to someone she didn’t want to be married to, and she was totally anxious.” Also I noticed as my eyes went up, even though you don’t really look at anybody, you still have a feeling. As my eyes passed Srila Prabhupada sitting there and moved up, this ease came over me. It was like he put this blessing on me or something, and I forgot everything and I just became Rukmini and was able to play with total abandon, just totally get into the part. Then we finished, and there was grand applause and everything. We went down to the dressing room, and I was completely drenched with sweat. We were waiting, just taking our makeup off and so forth. Then Srutakirti came in and started telling us everything that Prabhupada said, and it was real excited. He said, “Prabhupada said, ‘This is better than reading my books. It’s better than reading my books because it sticks in the mind because you have a vision.’” And he said, “Seeing these is like windows to the spiritual world. So people just don’t hear it, but they actually have an experience.” Then I got the wonderful compliment when he said, “Rukmini, she was the best.” I thought, “After all that anxiety I went through, and then he was actually pleased.” Then, of course, there was a little part of me that thought, “Well, he’s just saying that because he knows I need to hear it.” But then I also understood when you use whatever talent you have in Krishna’s service, that is the best. So it didn’t matter whatever I was thinking. He actually wanted us to go with him and travel with him all over the world. I think his next destination was Africa. He wanted to take us with him and he said, “There should always be kirtan, lecture, performance and prasad.” It just didn’t work out at that time, but I realized the importance of cultural events in the presentation of Krishna consciousness that Prabhupada really wanted.