Chapter 116: Śrīla Prabhupāda Reclaims Me As His Personal Servant
Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 116
Śrīla Prabhupāda Reclaims Me As His Personal Servant
Since Sudama Mahārāja was no longer managing New Navadwipa, Śrīla Prabhupāda had been discussing who should take on this responsibility. His Sanskrit editor, Nitai prabhu, suggested me. Śrīla Prabhupāda, knowing my nature, said, "No. Śrutakīrti is too easy going to manage a temple."
When Nitai told me Śrīla Prabhupāda's remarks, I smiled, realizing he knew me better than I knew myself. Śrīla Prabhupāda arranged for Manasvi to come from Bombay to manage the Honolulu temple.
During Śrīla Prabhupāda's stay, both Nitai and Paramahāmsa Mahārāja tried to persuade me to go with them to be Śrīla Prabhupāda's personal servant as he toured the West. I told them I liked the idea of being his servant in the West, but I always wound up back in India and I did not want to go to India. They said it would be very helpful if I came on the western tour because there wasn't anyone to cook for Śrīla Prabhupāda. When it came time to go back to India, they would arrange for Nanda Kumar to travel with Śrīla Prabhupāda. I told them it sounded good in theory, but it didn't seem very practical. They were unable to convince me otherwise.
The day before Śrīla Prabhupāda left New Navadvipa, Guru Kripa Mahārāja told me Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted to see me before his departure for Los Angeles. Together we went back to Śrīla Prabhupāda's room and offered our obeisances. Śrīla Prabhupāda looked at me smiling.
"So, Śrutakīrti," he said. "You are going to stay here? Your wife is here, and child?"
"Yes, Prabhupāda," I replied.
"So, now you will stay here as a householder?" he asked. "You will help Manasvi manage the temple?"
"Yes, Prabhupāda," I replied with less conviction. "I think so."
I was thinking of how selfish I was by not going with my magnificent Spiritual Master. He was giving me the opportunity to say I wanted be go with him and still I wouldn't say it.
"So, that is good," Śrīla Prabhupāda said, smiling warmly. "You stay here with your wife and child."
I sat before Śrīla Prabhupāda with my mind reeling. My senses were dragging me in all directions. Śrīla Prabhupāda was giving me the opportunity to travel with him again. He was waiting for me to open my mouth and my heart, but I wasn't doing it. It was truly amazing how tolerant he was. I didn't know what to say next. Śrīla Prabhupāda began laughing and turning his transcendental glance to Gurukrpa said, "Yes, You know what they call the wife and children? They are known as the tigress and jackal."Gurukrpa Mahārāja, who was sitting beside me throughout our conversation, said with a laugh, "Śrīla Prabhupāda, I know why the woman is compared to the tigress, but why are children compared to jackals?"
"Well," Śrīla Prabhupāda said, "The children, in so many ways, create many inconveniences for the father. They are always requiring so many things and sometimes disturbing him. He cannot sleep. In this way, it is like eating the flesh of the father. This is the business of jackals. Eating the flesh of other animals."
It was all I could take. I immediately surrendered saying, "Śrīla Prabhupāda, I will come with you and be your servant."
Śrīla Prabhupāda smiled broadly and tilting his head to the right said, "All right!"
I offered my obeisances and walked out of Śrīla Prabhupāda's room with a spring in my step. I knew I was doing the right thing. I began to prepare for my next exciting tour of duty with His Divine Grace. As the word spread throughout the devotee community, Janmadogni Dāsa, an intelligent devotee with controversial ideas, told me I was in maya for not remaining with my wife and son. Unaffected, I flashed a smile and confidently walked away feeling properly situated. Śrīla Prabhupāda had very mercifully made my service clear to me. It was due to my dull-headed nature that he had to hit me over the head by using the strongest of examples. The comparisons he used are for materialistic people. He often explained that such examples do not apply to those engaged in devotional service. Such enlightened souls are not in the bodily concept of life. What truly was amazing was when I saw the following verse and purport which Śrīla Prabhupāda had translated only days before.
My dear King, family members in this material world go under the names of wife and children, but actually they behave like tigers and jackals. A herdsman tries to protect his sheep to the best of his ability, but the tigers and foxes take them away by force. Similarly, although a miserly man wants to guard his money very carefully, his family members take away all his assets forcibly, even though he is very vigilant.
One Hindi poet has sung:
Śrīla Prabhupāda, I can never repay you for the many wonderful things you have done for me. But, this was truly outstanding. In the sweetest way you nudged me back to your lotus feet for five more months. You could have very easily gone without me, but you allowed me to tag along, again. I bathe in the nectar of knowing that you wanted me to come with you. It gave me reason to live. It does not matter why. It is more than enough that you asked me to come in the most wonderful way. I will never understand why you are so kind upon me. Please give me the intelligence to properly glorify you so I may proclaim to the world that you are the most glorious devotee of the Lord. Please, pick me up once more and place me at your lotus feet, the only safe place for this distracted soul.