Chapter 100: 7-Up and the Private Meeting with Temple President
Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 100
7-Up and the Private Meeting with Temple President
London to New York
Since Śrīla Prabhupāda was transcendental and completely free to do as he pleased, flying with him was a thrilling experience. I never knew what to expect. This particular day was no exception.
Śrīla Prabhupāda sat in a window seat near the back of the airplane. Syamasundar and I were seated next to him. As was the custom on the transcontinental flights, the flight attendants frequently offered refreshments to passengers to avoid the dehydrating effects of recycled air. A flight attendant walked up the aisle with a tray of drinks in clear plastic cups and offered them to the passengers.
"What is that?" Śrīla Prabhupāda asked me as she approached our seats.
"Oh, that's 7-Up, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. "Would you like some?"
"Yes. Let me try it," he replied.
I immediately requested three cups for all of us. Syamasundara and I waited for Śrīla Prabhupāda to take the first sip. We wanted to be certain the 7-Up would be prasadam. We watched carefully as he put the cup to his lotus-like mouth. He drank some and put the cup down on the table.
"Ah! This is very refreshing," he said.
We finished our drinks within minutes.
During that flight we had 7-Up three or four times. Each time Śrīla Prabhupāda drank one he said, "Ah, very refreshing. This is very good."
One time the flight attendant put the can down on the table along with the cups filled with ice. Śrīla Prabhupāda picked up the can and asked, "What are the ingredients?"
"Water, sugar, citric acid, natural lemon-lime oil," he read. "Oh! This is all right. This is very good. It is all natural ingredients."
Śrīla Prabhupāda was marvelous. He could have been doing a commercial for the soda. He was very enthusiastic about his discovery. I excitedly watched him enjoy each moment.
After arriving at the temple, one of the devotees asked if there was anything Śrīla Prabhupāda needed. I couldn't think of anything. That was a problem for me. Once, Śrīla Prabhupāda said, "Śrutakīrti has no imagination." It was true. I couldn't imagine what the devotee could get for my beloved spiritual master. The devotee was determined to offer something to him.
"Well, he likes 7-Up," I finally said. "You could get that for him."
I convinced him it was a good idea. That day the devotee brought a case of 7-Up and I stored it in Śrīla Prabhupāda's kitchen.
I must confess, for the first few days, I was hesitant and never offered the 7-Up to Śrīla Prabhupāda. I began drinking it because I was afraid to offer it to him. I couldn't think of the right moment, because as Śrīla Prabhupāda had said, I had no imagination. Finally, the occasion arose.
One evening, a temple president arrived from out of town to see Śrīla Prabhupāda. While His Divine Grace was in his sitting room speaking with this disciple, Śrīla Prabhupāda rang his bell. I started toward Śrīla Prabhupāda's sitting room when this devotee stopped me in the hall.
"Śrīla Prabhupāda wants some water," he said.
"O.K.," I replied, but continued to walk toward Guru Mahārāja's room.
"Śrīla Prabhupāda wants water!" the flustered temple president loudly reiterated.Annoyed, I tried to keep my composure and replied, "Please wait. I want to ask His Divine Grace something."
Apparently, this disciple was trying to have a private conversation with Śrīla Prabhupāda and I was interrupting. Lacking sensitivity and imagination I didn't immediately understand his needs, so I made my way into Śrīla Prabhupāda's sitting room and offered my obeisances.
"Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. "Would you like some 7-Up?"
"Oh yes!" he replied smiling. "Bring me some 7-Up."
I raced back to the kitchen and filled a silver goblet with 7-Up and ice. Hurrying back to his sitting room, I placed the 7-Up on his desk in front of him and offered my obeisances. Śrīla Prabhupāda sat back on his asana and sipped the drink.
"This is very refreshing," he said.
He got up from his asana and walked around the room enjoying his 7-Up. I remained in the room, blissfully watching my spiritual master relish the cold drink. My godbrother was surprised by the entire affair and anxious for me to leave the room. After Śrīla Prabhupāda finished his 7-Up, I took the empty cup, offered my obeisances and happily left his room. I felt I had pleased my Guru Mahārāja by this simple act, in spite of inadvertently annoying my godbrother.
Śrīla Prabhupāda, I am forever blessed by your causeless mercy. Thank you for the opportunity to witness your playful pastimes. Observing your confidential lila allowed me a tiny glimpse of your association with the Supreme Lord. Your beloved childlike nature contrasted sharply with your lion-like acarya profile. For pushing on Lord Caitanya's movement, you forcefully did the needful. As a pure devotee of the Lord you have no attachment to the fame and adoration that was constantly bestowed upon you. For this reason, you are worthy of it.