Chapter 27: Saraswati's Mouth like New York City Garbage Trucks

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 27
Saraswati's Mouth like New York City Garbage Trucks

Winter of 1972, India

During my first tour of India in the fall and winter of 1972, Malati devi cooked for Śrīla Prabhupāda. She was the wife of Syamasundar Dāsa, Śrīla Prabhupāda's secretary. Their daughter, Sarasvatī, was about three years old at the time. She was the most fortunate little girl. She was the only person I knew who was able to go in and out of Śrīla Prabhupāda's quarters unannounced.

She seemed to appear out of nowhere, like a tiny Nārada Muni, in different temples around the world. She always ended up in Śrīla Prabhupāda's room. Then, as quickly as she appeared, she disappeared. He enjoyed her company. Sometimes she sat on his lap. Other times, like a grandfather, he affectionately teased her. She always had prasadam in her hands or mouth. Śrīla Prabhupāda observed this and supplied her with sweets from a container on his desk.

One day, as I massaged Śrīla Prabhupāda, Sarasvatī entered his room. As usual, she was eating. Śrīla Prabhupāda laughed.

"You are always eating," he said. "You know what you remind me of, Sarasvatī?" She looked at him with a mouthful of food and shook her head.

"You remind me of New York City—the garbage trucks," he told her. "Do you know the garbage trucks in New York City? She nodded. "In New York City," Śrīla Prabhupāda continued, "they have these big garbage trucks. They go down the street and workers put the garbage in." Stretching one arm over his head and the other towards the floor, Śrīla Prabhupāda said, "They go down the street and put garbage inside the big mouth of the truck and then the truck goes zzzzzzzzuuuuummmmmmmmmmm and it closes and the truck eats it. Then it goes iiiimmmmmmm and opens back up. Like this."

He imitated the up and down crunching movement of the jaws of the garbage truck extending his arms in an opening and closing motion.

"Your mouth is just like that. You are always putting things in. Just like the garbage trucks in New York."

Sarasvatī was amused, but disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. Perhaps she went to get more prasadam from her Mātājī. I continued massaging Śrīla Prabhupāda, once again amazed by his greatness. I wondered what pious activities Sarasvatī must have performed to be able to play with His Divine Grace on such an intimate level. My getting to witness Śrīla Prabhupāda's lila was certainly a sign of his causeless mercy. Śrīla Prabhupāda's playful affection continues to soften this stone heart.