When I first saw Prabhupada, I wasn’t a devotee, although I had chanted Hare Krishna and I had come in contact with the Holy Name. I was living in France and I went to a temple in Geneva, Switzerland, because there were posters that read, “Srila Prabhupada is coming to the temple.” It was actually just a house, but I went with a friend who said, “Let’s go see the spiritual master.” When we arrived at the house, we went straight through into the back garden where there were very few devotees. Prabhupada was performing a fire sacrifice in the garden, and when I walked in, he looked over at me and looked straight into my eyes. I had been on a spiritual search for years looking at this guru and that guru, and as he looked at me, it was as if he had pierced all of my material coverings and got to me, the soul, and that experience was in one sense devastating because my ego was filled with shame, and I could see all these awful coverings I had of the material energy. I just wanted a hole to open up in the ground so I could disappear, and at the same time, I was just filled with complete delight because I knew he was my spiritual master.
I remember once when Prabhupada came to the Manor, we gave our daughter, Rasalila, a yellow rose to give to him because we knew that Prabhupada was partial to yellow roses. She went running up to Prabhupada and gave him the rose and he just beamed. He looked so delighted that I really got the sense he loved all of us, but especially the children with whom he really connected in such a delightful way. At that same time, I knew a devotee who was really a rascal devotee. He engaged in activities dressed as a devotee that I believe would have made Prabhupada angry. In fact, he was sent to prison for something he did, but by some miracle he was let out for the weekend so he could see Prabhupada at the Manor. We know that Prabhupada is connected with the Supersoul and he knew what was going on with this devotee. He just kept on looking at this devotee, smiling at him and giving him so much mercy. I thought, “Whoa!” From that look I saw the compassion Srila Prabhupada had for everyone. He loved him as much as anyone. I was absolutely amazed.
The last time Srila Prabhupada came to the Manor in 1977 he was very ill. He would come down from his upstairs room on a palanquin and he would just sit in the temple room with us. He couldn’t even speak. Many devotees at that time told me how they had had a certain thought or question or prayer and Prabhupada answered it within the heart. But he never spoke. He would just sit there. It was almost like he was giving a last message to all his disciples. It was really, really powerful. Then when Prabhupada was leaving for the airport, I was fortunate to jump in a van with some devotees with my daughter, Rasalila, and got to the airport to see him off. Prabhupada was in a wheelchair being wheeled towards the departure gate. Again, I sent my emissary, Rasalila, with a yellow rose to offer to Srila Prabhupada. Up to this point he was extremely grave and serious, but when he took that yellow rose, he beamed with a huge oceanic smile I hadn’t seen for weeks. I knew that would be the last time I was going to see Srila Prabhupada and that wonderful smile was the most amazing vision to remember.
I think one of the most outstanding qualities of Prabhupada for me right from the beginning was the fact that he had absolutely no false ego at all. None. I’d never met anyone like that and probably never will. He was a spiritual father, but he was also like a real father to all of us guiding us how to live in the material world and at the same time how to reach the spiritual world. We just felt we couldn’t live without him.