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Chapter 73: Los Angeles Kitchen Fall Down; Talking Back to Guru

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 73
Los Angeles Kitchen Fall Down; Talking Back to Guru

May 1972, ISKCON Los Angeles

While Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja and I were in New Dwarka for a week, I received Brahmana initiation from Śrīla Prabhupāda. Although I was not yet Śrīla Prabhupāda's personal servant, in retrospect, I was being initiated into that mood. Throughout the week whenever I saw Nanda Kumar Dāsa, who was then Śrīla Prabhupāda's personal servant, I contemplated his great fortune and stared at him uncontrollably. He would glance back at me and sort of smile. He must have thought I was very strange.

One morning during his lecture, Śrīla Prabhupāda noticed his servant was not by his Vyasasana.

"Where is Nanda Kumar?" he asked.

"He is in the kitchen," a devotee said.

His Divine Grace continued with class. After his lecture, Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja and I went into Śrīla Prabhupāda's room. The atmosphere was tense and Śrīla Prabhupāda was visibly unhappy. Then Nanda Kumar brought in his breakfast.

"Where were you during my lecture?" Śrīla Prabhupāda asked in an angry mood."I was preparing your breakfast," his servant answered.

"Why?" Śrīla Prabhupāda asked even louder. "Anyone can prepare breakfast. You should be there at the lecture."

Nanda Kumar gave another reason, but Śrīla Prabhupāda was not pacified.

"You must be there," Śrīla Prabhupāda told him. "There is no reason to be absent."

I sat in the room shaking. It was my first experience seeing and hearing my spiritual master in an angry mood. It was difficult to watch as his servant tried to defend himself.

"He is talking back to Śrīla Prabhupāda," I thought to myself. "This can't be good."

It was a good lesson for me. I made up my mind I would never do that if Śrīla Prabhupāda was chastising me. When Śrīla Prabhupāda left New Dwarka in August of 1972, Nanda Kumar remained and was married. Śrīla Prabhupāda tried to keep him as his servant saying that Nanda Kumar "was expert."

In September of 1973 I was Śrīla Prabhupāda's servant in New Dwarka. He told me to prepare his meals in my quarters, not in the temple kitchen, because there were too many women there. Sixteen months later, history repeated itself. Śrīla Prabhupāda left New Dwarka and I remained to be married to a girl I had met in the temple kitchen.

Śrīla Prabhupāda knew the weaknesses of his disciples and mercifully encouraged us to rise above them. When we failed, he continued to compassionately accept our service on the level we were able to perform. On many occasions he said that our young age was the cause of our restlessness.

November 1974, ISKCON Bombay,
Juhu Beach

Whenever Śrīla Prabhupāda came out of his Juhu flat for his morning walk all of the assembled devotees chanted, "Jai, Śrīla Prabhupāda!" and offered obeisances. All, except for one brahmacārī who remained standing with folded hands. With his cane in hand Śrīla Prabhupāda began walking. Looking straight ahead he said, "That is the beginning of his fall down."

Many times he spoke of this process as "the razor's edge." That morning he demonstrated just how sharp that razor was. The devotee was not conscious of his actions. We cannot be Kṛṣṇa conscious if we are not conscious.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, I beg for your mercy so I may always be conscious of you and your service to the Supreme Lord.