Chapter 122: Śrīla Prabhupāda Wants Me To Serve Him
Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 122
Śrīla Prabhupāda Wants Me To Serve Him
Śrīla Prabhupāda traveled quickly through the western world. Normally, he spent only a few days, or at most a week, visiting each temple. The two places he blessed with his divine association for extended periods were New Dwaraka in Los Angeles and New Navadvipa in Hawaii.
After visiting the Atlanta yatra for two days, Śrīla Prabhupāda and his entourage proceeded to the Dallas center for another two days. My mind was fixated on the agreement I had made with Paramahāmsa Mahārāja about returning to my wife and son in Hawaii before Śrīla Prabhupāda departed for India. Part of me longed for the comfort of society, friendship and love that devotional householder life offered. Another part of me was racked with guilt for wanting to leave my beloved Guru Mahārāja. With a restless heart, it was hard for me to sit alone in the servant's quarters hour after hour, day after day, waiting to be called. My senses churned, pushing me to press Paramahāmsa Mahārāja into action.
I decided to speak with Paramahāmsa in Dallas since it was the closest temple to Nanda Kumar in Los Angeles. I told him it was time to set up the exchange between Nanda Kumar and myself. Śrīla Prabhupāda's next stop, before leaving for India, was New York. I feared going to India. It generally resulted in my extreme illness. I wanted to make certain that the arrangements were made effectively. It was a simple matter of arranging Nanda Kumar's flight to New York and my flight could go directly from Dallas to Hawaii.
Late that morning, while I energetically massaged Śrīla Prabhupāda, Paramahāmsa Mahārāja, His Divine Grace's secretary, walked into the room and offered his obeisances.
"Śrīla Prabhupāda," he said. "Should we send for Nanda Kumar in Los Angeles? Shouldn't he come now to replace Śrutakīrti? Nanda Kumar can start being your servant as we head toward India. Shall we set it up?"
For me this was the moment of truth. I was in great anxiety as I waited for Śrīla Prabhupāda's reply. I didn't know what to expect, but understood anything was possible. It was curious how often decisions were made when I was massaging Śrīla Prabhupāda's back, unable to see the expressions on his beautiful golden face. I sat crossed-legged behind Śrīla Prabhupāda rubbing vigorously and holding my breath. My wait was over quickly.
"I am not very anxious for Nanda Kumar to come with me," he said. "He is too whimsical. Some woman will walk by and he will go away. And then, finished. Then, it will be all over. He is very good, he is very qualified. But, he is too whimsical. A girl will cross his path and then finished. He will be gone."
"Well, Śrīla Prabhupāda," Paramahāmsa said. "What shall we do? Śrutakīrti should come to India?"
There was about three seconds before Śrīla Prabhupāda replied. It was as if he was waiting for me to say something. He was giving me a choice. My ambivalence kept me silent. I broke into a cold sweat realizing that in spite of my apprehension, most likely, I would return to India with my beloved Śrīla Prabhupāda.
"Yes, he can come," Śrīla Prabhupāda said.
Again, Śrīla Prabhupāda, very mercifully and gently, gave me another opportunity to make a choice. My heart melted. My Guru Mahārāja wanted me to come with him! I felt my beloved Guru Mahārāja needed me! Śrīla Prabhupāda made me feel heroic, so I courageously agreed to come to India. That was all that was said during the remainder of the massage. Paramahāmsa offered his obeisances and left the room. I continued to massage my loving spiritual master until he told me to stop.
Returning to the servant's quarters, I had a good laugh with my godbrothers. Deep down, I figured this would happen. After Śrīla Prabhupāda made his decision, I felt great relief. Something very special had taken place! Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed that he liked having me as a servant! It may seem silly, but it meant a great deal to me. Śrīla Prabhupāda never said much about what I did day after day. He was transcendental, serving the Supreme Lord, and accepted all situations as the mercy of the Lord. On that day he said he wanted me to come with him. Śrīla Prabhupāda spent a lot of time training me and was pleased with the results. It was a good feeling. Śrīla Prabhupāda always let me know he appreciated what I did, but on that day, he confirmed it.
Sometimes devotees inquire about the nature of a first-class personal servant. In retrospect, I think a good servant invisibly assists by anticipating the needs of the master. He satisfies the master's needs without being asked. A good personal servant does not ask for much in return, does not need much encouragement or many problems solved. A good personal servant does not manufacture questions and only speaks when spoken to. A good personal servant does not try to manipulate the master. A good personal servant does his service and stays out of the way. A good personal servant only renders an opinion if asked. Any questions should be tendered with sincerity and submission. A good personal servant is influenced by the Guru and seeks not to interfere in the Guru's mission.
Gurudeva, it made me feel wonderful knowing you wanted me with you. Now, I feel only sadness because my desire was not strong enough to stay with you. Śrīla Prabhupāda, every day I lament and these feelings gnaw at me. I am the most unfortunate person on the planet. You never sent me away, yet I left you. Being short-sighted and foolish, I thought you would be with us forever in your vapu. Please forgive me for my ignorance. I pray that you allow me your darshana once again. I am in a hellish condition, alone and lost without seeing your smile and feeling the touch of your silky, soft lotus feet.