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Chapter 84: Blissful Airport Lila; Love is Service

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 84
Blissful Airport Lila; Love is Service

April 13, 1973, ISKCON Los Angeles

Certain service was especially ecstatic. Walking behind His Divine Grace as he left the airplane and entered the terminal building was one of the most amazing experiences. At this time, it had been eight months since Śrīla Prabhupāda was in the United States. It was wonderful the way he prepared himself for his grand entrance. After the seat belt sign went on instructing the passengers to stay seated, he usually got out of his seat, went to the bathroom and put on tilak. I accompanied him, waiting outside the bathroom door. The walk to and from our seats could be exciting if the plane rocked about due to turbulence or lumbered in for a landing. If an attendant tried to stop him, he ignored her request, as if he didn't hear her. As he returned to his seat, he carefully hung his bead bag around his neck. When the plane landed, he put a flower garland on. If there were other garlands, he gave one to each person in his party.

As he left the plane and entered the corridor chanting could be heard in the background. It grew louder and louder as we entered the lounge. Śrīla Prabhupāda's smile grew larger as he approached his loving disciples. On this day, there were several hundred devotees in the airport as Śrīla Prabhupāda walked into the terminal. They were oblivious to everyone and everything going on around them, except for their glorious spiritual master. I have no qualification to describe the feelings of my godbrothers and godsisters as I have never been fortunate enough to have such strong loving emotions for Śrīla Prabhupāda. It was obvious to everyone in the airport that devotees were feeling transcendental bliss. The loving reciprocation between Śrīla Prabhupāda and his disciples was the easiest to see in his "airport lila." For several minutes it seemed that no one's feet touched the ground. Torrents of ecstatic tears flowed freely from everyone except for one fallen soul, me.

We arrived in New Dwaraka and entered Śrīla Prabhupāda's quarters at about noon. I immediately prepared for his massage. During the massage my mind was very disturbed. I could not free myself from the pain of thinking that everyone had such love for their guru except for me. I was a cheater, an impostor. I finally got the courage to speak while massaging Śrīla Prabhupāda's back. This way, I didn't have to speak to him face to face.

"Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. All of your disciples have so much love for you. It makes me feel so bad. I lack this intense love. When I'm with you at the airport, I can see everyone dancing, chanting and crying. I have so much association with you, yet I don't feel this overwhelming love like they do."

I hoped he would say something to relieve my mind. He remained silent. Tormented, I finished his massage and went back to my room to finish preparing his lunch. After he chanted Gayatri mantra, he called me into his room. As I entered, I offered my obeisances and looked up with great concern because he had such a serious look on his face.

"So, do you like serving me?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, Prabhupāda," I said. "I like serving you very much."

"Then, that is love," he explained. "Everyone can do so many things . . . singing, dancing, jumping up and down. But, you are actually doing something. Isn't this love?"

"I guess so, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said.

"So, you just do your service," he continued. "That is all that is necessary. This is what love means. To do service."

My dear Śrīla Prabhupāda, you have always been so compassionate upon this fallen soul. You have encouraged me over the years even though I have been unable to grant you residence in my heart. I see now, as I saw then, that so many of your disciples have such great love for you and I have none. Despite this, you allow me the intimate service of describing your amazing grace upon this ungrateful wretch. It is ironic that out of all of your disciples you have selected me, a dried-out toad, to describe your juicy lila. Actually, it is just another display of your causeless mercy. Thank you so much for your kind words. I pray that some day I will be qualified to taste a drop of love of Godhead so that I can sing, dance and chant like your devoted disciples.