Chapter 57: Mosquitoes; Don't Gossip
Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 57
Mosquitoes; Don't Gossip
During my first trip to Māyāpur with Śrīla Prabhupāda, the guesthouse had not been built, so our quarters were very austere. We stayed in a goshala, a thatched hut, which had been prepared for his stay. Śrīla Prabhupāda stayed in one room and the rest of us stayed on the other side of a partition. I had never seen so many mosquitoes in my life. It was so bad that by the time I had the net over Śrīla Prabhupāda's bed there were already mosquitoes inside the net.
One night, after we both climbed under the net, I started massaging his legs.
"There are so many mosquitoes," I said. "Should I kill them, Śrīla Prabhupāda?" "Yes! They are attacking," he said. "According to sastra, if one is being attacked, you have the right to defend yourself. And, they are attacking."
So, as I massaged him, I watched. Whenever I saw a mosquito in the air I raised my hands and clapped them together. Sometimes I gently smacked Śrīla Prabhupāda's body as one landed on his head or back. It was the most unusual service I had ever done. I enjoyed it immensely. I never considered myself much of a warrior, but this enemy was no match for me. I had finally been given a service I was good at, killing insects. Śrīla Prabhupāda was very kind.
He also had the best description of these pesky insects. One morning he rang his bell very early. I walked into his room slowly, still half asleep. He looked at me with a touch of anger and said, "Some mosquito, last night, he was cutting my forehead. He created so much disturbance. He made it difficult for me to do my translating work."
It was incredible. No matter what was going on, Śrīla Prabhupāda always related it to his service to Kṛṣṇa. It was never about bodily inconvenience. He only complained about something if it interfered with his service. Of course, all I ever saw was Śrīla Prabhupāda serving his Guru Mahārāja and Śrīla Prabhupāda in the state of bliss. The two went on simultaneously.
Māyāpura was chilly in the evening, but Śrīla Prabhupāda never complained. He complained, though, about the unnecessary talk between his disciples. Since we all stayed in the same room, Śrīla Prabhupāda heard us talking.
"Tell them to be quiet," he told me. "All this talk is not good. Simply they are gossiping. Tell them to stop."
This was not easy for me to do since the devotees were usually my senior godbrothers. I told them Prabhupāda had asked they be quiet. This same scenario occurred months later when we stayed in the guesthouse. In 1973 Māyāpura was such a quiet place that any talking could be heard by Śrīla Prabhupāda. Whenever he was at any ISKCON temple, many of his disciples would gather. It was a perfect situation for devotees to exchange stories about this person and that person.
"Why must everything deteriorate into this idle talk, idle discussion," Śrīla Prabhupāda said. "This is wasting time, destroying Kṛṣṇa Consciousness."
I always "watered it down" before relaying this to my godbrothers. I didn't have the nerve to tell them as he had told me. I never heard him mention it to anyone when they were in his room, but he sure let me know about it.
This was one of Śrīla Prabhupāda's qualities. He was very careful not to discourage anyone through criticism. If they were capable of dealing with it then he would chastise them. Otherwise, he was the greatest transcendental diplomat there ever was. His only goal was to infect as many people as possible with love of Kṛṣṇa and if you had the chance to personally associate with him then there was a strong possibility of becoming deeply attached to him, no matter how hard you fought it.