Chapter 56: Remembering His Childhood Shoes

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 56
Remembering His Childhood Shoes

October 1973, ISKCON Bombay
Juhu Beach

My association with Śrīla Prabhupāda can be divided into three types.

The first type was wonderful. These were the times I was able to witness Śrīla Prabhupāda's mercy and kindness. The second type was more wonderful. These were the times I was able to massage him and cook for him on a daily basis. Massaging him was particularly sweet for me. But, better still, were very special moments which can only be described as the most wonderful.

One night Śrīla Prabhupāda was ready for his evening massage about 10:00 p.m. In his Juhu flat he had a separate bedroom. Juhu was especially nice because of the mosquitoes. Yes, because of the mosquitoes, I had to get under the mosquito net with Śrīla Prabhupāda. This situation was very intimate. Śrīla Prabhupāda lay down and I sat on the bed by his feet. I felt like I was camping out with my spiritual master; like two youngsters in the woods. On this particular night, Śrīla Prabhupāda assisted me in my fantasy.

While I was gently rubbing his body he said, "One of my favorite things, when I was young was my shoes. Once, my father bought me a pair of shoes. They were imported from England. They had soft leather uppers and hard leather souls. At the time, perhaps they cost six rupees. That was a fortune. In India, 70 years ago, six rupees were a lot of money. I liked my shoes very much. I remember I used to wear them to school."

At that point he stopped speaking for a few minutes. I was caught up in Śrīla Prabhupāda's bliss. I tried to imagine him walking around in his shoes. Still massaging his transcendental form I smiled and said, "Prabhupāda, when you walked to school, did you look at your shoes as you were walking?"

"Yes," he said laughing. "I would look down at my shoes. I liked them so much, these shoes."

He spoke about a few other childhood memories that night. That was a "most wonderful" night for me. I could have stayed there forever massaging him and listening to stories. It was like hearing Kṛṣṇa book stories for the first time. His memory was so incredible. When he spoke about his childhood it seemed like he was there. I couldn't imagine what my qualification was to be able to have shared these moments with him.Now, I can understand he wasn't describing these pastimes for my pleasure alone. He was telling me so I could describe them to all of his followers. I hope I can relate them with at least a hint of the nectar that I felt as he told me such sublime pastimes.

Thank you, Śrīla Prabhupāda, for sharing your memories with me. I had no qualification to hear them from any source and somehow was able to hear them from Your Divine Self. I have no qualification to describe them, but I must, because you have told them to me and it is my pleasurable duty to spread your glories all over the three worlds. I will never understand this.