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Chapter 82: Changing Lunch Menu

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 82
Changing Lunch Menu

May 1973, ISKCON Los Angeles

Late one morning Śrīla Prabhupāda rang his bell. I entered his sitting room and offered my obeisances.

" I am not feeling well today," Śrīla Prabhupāda said softly. "So, for my lunch please make me some khichari and cuddy sauce. You can make the khichari with two parts rice, one part dahl and use a little salt, turmeric and ghee. That will be light and easy to digest."

"All right, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said.

Śrīla Prabhupāda usually didn't give much information about his health, so a dietary adjustment was the only way I knew Śrīla Prabhupāda was ill. Occasionally, he asked for khichari when he had a cold.

I went back to my quarters to prepare his cooker. I put khichari on the top level and water on the bottom. This meal was much simpler than usual. I felt relieved knowing there was no chance of anything burning during his massage, but sad that Śrīla Prabhupāda wasn't feeling well. Normally, I was "cooker conscious" while massaging Śrīla Prabhupāda due to my searing memory of burning Śrīla Prabhupāda's lunch twice in two years. Twice was two times too many.

After setting up the cooker I returned to his room. Śrīla Prabhupāda sat down on the mat for his massage. Normally, I massaged his head with sandalwood oil because of its cooling affect. When he had a cold, though, he sometimes instructed me to use mustard oil over his entire body. On this day, he told me to use only mustard oil. About 15 minutes into the massage he said, "So, I've decided. I don't think I'll take any lunch."

"All right, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said, lamenting that he must have felt quite ill.

I continued to massage his beautiful form for another half-hour.

"Actually," Śrīla Prabhupāda then said, "I think I'll have a regular lunch."

"All right, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said, momentarily relieved that his health was improving.

He remained silent. Suddenly, I became overwhelmed with great anxiety remembering that I didn't have anything prepared except for khichari. It would take a long time to prepare a full lunch. I was so frightened to say anything about my predicament.

"Prabhupāda, I don't have anything ready," I finally said. "It may take a little time."

"Whatever it takes, it takes," he said. "Just do it."

When Śrīla Prabhupāda went to bathe, I darted into my quarters and put his lunch together as quickly and nicely as I could. I was probably in more anxiety than necessary, but that is how my feeble mind worked. I prided myself in keeping ahead of my regulated service to eliminate potential problems. Śrīla Prabhupāda graciously waited for me to complete his lunch without any complaints. He sometimes put me through changes like this to teach me to be more flexible. My service was to do whatever he wanted, not what I wanted.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, thank you for giving me the chance to focus on your contentment while performing my duties as your servant. Due to my fallen nature I often forget that devotional service means to personally please you and in this way Kṛṣṇa is pleased. Please continue to guide me daily in your personal service, teaching me unconditional love.