Chapter 94: Prabhupāda Falls
Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 94
During the time Śrīla Prabhupāda was ill, there was a great deal of activity going on. His living quarters were in the final stages of construction, and other projects were going on just outside his room. The temple and the guest house were being erected, so the loud sounds of building filled the atmosphere. Śrīla Prabhupāda had been eating so little that he became very weak. When he needed to go from one room to another, one or two disciples assisted.
The summer air was extremely hot, so we set up his bed on his back porch because it was cooler than his sitting room. In the evening he rested outside. Even though work was being done on the porch and garden area, there was just enough room for his bed. When it was time to take rest at night, I helped him get into his bed and then climbed under the mosquito net with him to massage his legs. After the massage, I put a straw mat under his bed for me to sleep. The mosquito net was attached to his bedposts and extended to the floor, so I was also covered by the net. I spent each night sleeping directly under His Divine Grace's bed, so if he needed anything, I was immediately available.
This was the first time I slept next to Śrīla Prabhupāda. He wanted me close by, so if he had to get up, I could help him walk. It was a very grave situation. I thought of myself as my master's dog, lying on the ground by his bedside waiting for an opportunity to serve him. I considered this to be my actual position.
One night at about 1:00 a.m., I awoke to the sound of a stick falling by my head onto the brick floor. When I opened my eyes, I saw my beloved spiritual master lying on the ground beside me. Horrified, I immediately clasped my Gurudeva under his arms and lifted him back onto the bed. The sound I had heard was Śrīla Prabhupāda's cane falling to the ground as he fell over attempting to walk. I instantly became wide awake and filled with fear.
"Śrīla Prabhupāda, what are you doing?" I asked. "Why didn't you call me?"
"Oh, I needed to go to the bathroom," he replied softly and apologetically. "I thought I could make it on my own and I didn't want to disturb you because you were resting."
I knew Śrīla Prabhupāda was humble, but this shocked me. I was angry that he didn't wake me up and I began to respectfully chastise him.
"No, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. "There is no disturbance! That is why I am here. You are very weak. You should have called me."
"I thought I had the strength," he said. "But, I can see I have no strength at all."
Standing behind him, I placed my hands under his arms and walked him into his bathroom. I waited outside the door. When he was finished, I helped him walk back to his bed on the porch. The next day, he did not make any fuss about what had happened, nor did he complain to any one of any injury that may have occurred. It was another day in the life of the pure devotee. He was truly unaffected by conditions that related to his body. He was concerned that everything was going on nicely with the temple construction.
Śrīla Prabhupāda exhibited humility in all circumstances. Sometimes he would call me into his room. When I entered, he would say in a humble tone, "Could you prepare something for me now?" Amazed by his humility I would reply, "Yes, Prabhupāda, I have nothing else to do but serve you. That is why I am here."
Sometimes, while waiting in his room to go on his morning walk, he would say to the devotees who were present, "Can we go now?" He was always refined and dignified. Everything he said, every move he made, allowed us to become more attracted to him.
Śrīla Prabhupāda, there is nothing I can say to properly glorify your activities. Anyone fortunate enough to have had your personal association knows that you are the total embodiment of all transcendental qualities. You have given me reason to live. When I think of your falling to the ground as I slept, it deeply saddens me. I should have been awake, watching and guarding your beautiful form. However, I am certain that you didn't regard this as something lacking on my part. That is because of your great humility. It is this quality that keeps me addicted to your lotus feet. Thank you for being my divine, loving spiritual father.