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Chapter 114: Leaving Śrīla Prabhupāda to Regain my Health

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 114
Leaving Śrīla Prabhupāda to Regain my Health

December 1974, ISKCON Bombay

My second tour of transcendental travels with His Divine Grace began unceremoniously in the middle of July and continued until the end of December. Most of this tour took place in India, the very place that initially frightened me away from the lotus feet of my spiritual master. Unfortunately, while in India, I was sick most of the time. I struggled through the seven-week period in Vrndavana while Śrīla Prabhupāda was extremely ill. After he regained his health, my health deteriorated and all I could think about was leaving in order to get healthy. With Śrīla Prabhupāda's mercy, I managed to overcome my lack of surrender and stay at his lotus feet. I once again became ill, however, and my mind became very disturbed.

I was unable to appreciate my most fortunate position and was meditating on my own bodily ailments. Śrīla Prabhupāda had already been here for one month and was preparing to return to the West by way of Hawaii. I grew very attached to the intended travel plans, contemplating my survival until the expected departure date. Unfortunately, there was a delay due to the ongoing technical difficulties plaguing the Juhu project. When I heard the news, I became dejected. As I walked on the beautiful Juhu beach every morning with my beloved Śrīla Prabhupāda, I was only conscious of the 747's flying overhead. I imagined them to be flying to the West. I wanted so much to be seated on one of those planes. His Divine Grace would be speaking philosophy with his disciples while I wistfully meditated on each plane until it was out of sight.

On a few walks I attempted to joke with Paramahāmsa Mahārāja, hoping to discover that he shared my desire to leave India. Since Paramahāmsa Mahārāja could not relate to my needs, I transferred the discussion to Brahmānanda Mahārāja, hoping for some sympathy.

At this time there was a major problem at the Hawaii temple. I told Brahmānanda about my desire to return to the United States because of my health problems. One afternoon we approached Śrīla Prabhupāda. We walked into his sitting room with great apprehension and offered our obeisances. I realized how foolish I was to want to leave the lotus feet of my beloved Guru Mahārāja, but my uncontrolled mind compelled me to do so.

"Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. "I have been hanging on hoping you would be leaving soon, but it appears that you aren't ready to go yet. I want to know if I can return to the West to regain my health."

"That's all right," he kindly said. "You go back to Los Angeles and regain your health. Brahmānanda, you can go to Hawaii temple to help with the situation there. I will meet up with both of you when I return to Hawaii."

The return flight to the States was not the pleasurable one I had envisioned. Brahmānanda and I looked at each other as the plane was high in the clouds and lamented our decision to leave His Divine Grace. Śrīla Prabhupāda had allowed us to leave just as easily as he allowed me to return to him a few months before. He accepted whatever Kṛṣṇa provided and never forced anyone to do anything they couldn't do. I observed his gracious opulence of renunciation over and over again.

One must cry for the association of Guru and Kṛṣṇa. It does not come automatically or cheaply. Śrīla Prabhupāda always said, "Devotional service is voluntarily and joyfully performed."

Brahmānanda Mahārāja stopped in Hawaii, and acting as Śrīla Prabhupāda's representative, tended to the temple business. I continued on to Los Angeles (New Dwaraka) to take up residence with my wife and son, who was now almost three months old. I hid my anxiety regarding never having seen my son by acting artificially detached. By denying my natural feelings, I was able to live up to the stringent expectations within. Somehow, I needed to externally prove my stalwart position as a good devotee. In this way, I returned to New Dwaraka not knowing that the cause of my illness may have been denial of my emotional needs. Actually, I was anxious to return to New Dwaraka to be with my family.

I spent some time at the New Dwaraka temple and then went to Honolulu (New Navadvipa) with my family. By the time Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived on Jan. 29, 1975 I was fully steeped in householder life. Paramahāmsa Mahārāja and Nitai prabhu were working very hard taking care of all of Śrīla Prabhupāda's needs. I was so caught up in my new ashram that I didn't even volunteer my services, except for giving Śrīla Prabhupāda evening massage.

Even though Śrīla Prabhupāda mercifully allowed me to massage his beautiful form every evening, he never asked why I wasn't more active in his personal service. He didn't ask me what I was doing throughout the day or why I was so busy in my household activities. It never occurred to me that I should be fully engaged in performing personal service to Śrīla Prabhupāda. My consciousness took a definite turn toward grihasta activities. Fortunately, I was not in control of my destiny and Kṛṣṇa arranged for me to resume my personal service to His Divine Grace after "playing house" for only a short time.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, it is painful to see just how ungrateful and fallen I have been. Many times I have heard your disciples ask, "Why doesn't Kṛṣṇa force me to serve Him."

"If you are forced, there is no question of love. It must be voluntary," you answered.

You always treated me in this way and I pray that you stop. I am dull-headed and desire you to force me to serve you. However, you are so patient and kind, that you never force us so we could not commit a great offense by disobeying your orders. Please create the desire in me to serve you every moment. My only happiness is when I am serving your lotus feet. Please keep those soft, golden feet on my head, so I am unable to stray from your protection.