Chapter 48: Intelligent When You are 80

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 48
Intelligent When You are 80

August 1973, Bhaktivedanta Manor, England

After one year of massaging Śrīla Prabhupāda every day, I thought I had become quite efficient.

"The Manor is wonderful," Śrīla Prabhupāda said, "and when the sun is shining there is no place better."

As he did every day, Śrīla Prabhupāda sat on a straw mat on the highly polished hardwood floor. Two bottles were next to him. The large bottle was filled with mustard seed oil and the small bottle contained sandalwood oil. The sun's brilliant rays filtered through a series of windows and Śrīla Prabhupāda's golden complexion was effulgently sun-drenched. I sat behind His Divine Grace and rubbed his head with sandalwood oil for a cooling effect. After massaging his head for about 15 minutes, I massaged Śrīla Prabhupāda's back. I used mustard seed oil on his body, so I picked up the bottle to put a small amount in my hand.

Śrīla Prabhupāda told me many times, "You can massage my back as hard as you can." He really meant it. It was truly amazing! I put all of my weight and strength into massaging his back and continued that way for a half hour or more. He never said it was too hard. Sometimes I deliberately did it harder, thinking there must be a limit to how hard he liked it. I never found a limit. Śrīla Prabhupāda sat perfectly relaxed during this "passive wrestling" as he called it. He never braced himself to accept my strength. He always enjoyed his massage and this day was no different. Then I stood up and changed positions.

As I took a step to the right to massage Śrīla Prabhupāda's chest, I knocked over the bottle of mustard seed oil. His Divine Grace had warned me many times to always keep the lid on the bottle. Unfortunately, sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't. On this day I had to pay the price.

"You fool," he immediately yelled. "You will be intelligent when you are 80. Go get a cup and bring it here."

I ran out of the room and brought back a stainless steel katori.

"All right," Śrīla Prabhupāda said. "Put your hand in the oil and then scrape it into the cup."

The two of us sat there until all of the oil from the floor was in the metal cup.

"Now use that oil to finish the massage," he said.

Śrīla Prabhupāda never wasted anything.

As I continued to massage Śrīla Prabhupāda the atmosphere seemed almost too quiet. I felt he was angry with me because of my foolishness. I began to think, "What can I say to mitigate my offense?" I mulled it over again and again. Finally, I got up the nerve.

"Thank you very much, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. "I thought it would take much longer for me to become intelligent."

Śrīla Prabhupāda loudly laughed.

"Yes," he said. "That is an old phrase they would say in India when someone did something foolish. 'You'll be intelligent when you are 80.'"

Śrīla Prabhupāda was a pure devotee and Kṛṣṇa is obliged to keep the word of His devotee. I have no chance of becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious, but if I can just live to be 80, I am sure I will finally become intelligent. Real intelligence is to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. I pray that I can live to be 80 so I can live up to the expectations of my beloved Śrīla Prabhupāda.