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Chapter 51: Camara Fanning; Get Someone with Intelligence

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 51
Camara Fanning; Get Someone with Intelligence

October 1972, ISKCON Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple
Vrindaban, India

During the month of Kartika, Śrīla Prabhupāda gave classes on the Nectar of Devotion every evening in the courtyard near the Bhajana Kutir of Śrīla Rupa Goswami. Before arriving, Śrīla Prabhupāda had spoken many times about doing this and was very excited. He said that, for the benefit of his disciples, all the classes would be in English, not in Hindi. On the plane to Delhi, he told me, "You can read from the Nectar of Devotion and then I will give purports." I was very happy to be given such an opportunity.

The first evening, Pradyumna took the service of reading from the Nectar of Devotion. That was all right with me. I had to record the lecture and take care of Śrīla Prabhupāda's personal needs such as fanning him when required. The courtyard was filled with his disciples as well as many Brijbasis. Most of them didn't understand English, but that didn't matter. They were happy to have the association of a saintly person.

It was still light out during class. Parrots were busy getting back to their branches for the night. The monkeys were creating havoc, as usual. The atmosphere was very transcendental, except for the flies. They were buzzing around Śrīla Prabhupāda while he was speaking. It was a great opportunity for me to render service. I picked up the camara fan and stood by my guru. I twirled the fan just like a pujari performing arotika before the Deities. I felt so proud being able to perform such a service in front of my godbrothers. Up and down I waved the fan hardly noticing the flies were still bothering Śrīla Prabhupāda. At one point he lifted his arm and waved it across his face to chase the flies away. I was so absorbed in feelings of grandeur that it never occurred to me that I wasn't rendering any service. I never came close to solving the problem.

Finally, the cow dung hit the fan. My spiritual master glared at me and shouted, "Get someone up here with some intelligence." I stood motionless for what felt like a year.

Immediately a young brahmacārī named Kunjabihari took the fan from my sweaty hand and stood next to Śrīla Prabhupāda. He was considered by some to be rather eccentric. At the time I would not have picked him for this particular service.

I went back to my tape recorder. My mind was reeling along with it. I finally realized what it meant to be one/10,000 part the tip of a hair. I watched Kunjabihari. It seemed like he could put out a forest fire with the intensity of his fanning. No fly was foolish enough to hang around as long as he was in town. Seconds later all the flies were gone. Śrīla Prabhupāda never stopped speaking to his disciples throughout this ordeal. Just as I was starting to breathe again, Śrīla Prabhupāda looked at Kunjabihari with a smile and nodded approvingly of his disciple's devotional service.

All I remember was getting up at the end of the lecture and walking alone toward Śrīla Prabhupāda's quarters. Before I could get inside, a brahmacārī came up to me and said, "Śrutakīrti, you are so fortunate to get chastised like that by Śrīla Prabhupāda." I forced a strained smile and said, "Yes."

It was the first time Śrīla Prabhupāda chastised me before so many. It was difficult to accept. He was so kind to have cut down my false pride. He has blessed me with that again and again over the years. He must do it because I still haven't learned the simple truth that I am "fool number one." He keeps trying to teach me that service is for his pleasure, not mine.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, please give me another chance to fan you. No! I am still puffed up. Please, bless me with the desire to fan your disciple, Kunjabihari Dāsa. He pleased you with his service. That is the way to make advancement in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.