Chapter 55: A 12-Year-Old Cooks Śrīla Prabhupāda's Lunch

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 55
A 12-Year-Old Cooks Śrīla Prabhupāda's Lunch

Summer 1973, ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor

Being with a pure devotee of the Lord for two years was the most wonderful opportunity to learn how to act in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. For a person like me it was also an opportunity to make innumerable offenses to a great soul. There are many activities etched in my mind that bring joy, but many others that give me sorrow.

An Indian devotee at the manor had a son who was about 12 years old. This boy wanted to cook lunch for Śrīla Prabhupāda. His Divine Grace agreed to the proposal. I, having the mentality of a twelve-year-old and no service attitude, thought it was a chance for me to take it easy that morning. I did not oversee any of the boy's activities and had no idea if he was qualified to cook Śrīla Prabhupāda's lunch. I gave Śrīla Prabhupāda his massage and then returned to my room.

Later the youngster brought Śrīla Prabhupāda his lunch. The dahl was burned. The chapatis were hard because they didn't puff up. The rice was undercooked. Śrīla Prabhupāda sampled everything. While the boy returned to the kitchen to cook another chapati, I went into Śrīla Prabhupāda's room.

"This prasadam," he said, "didn't you help?"

"No, Prabhupāda," I answered. "I thought he was going to do it."

"Yes, but you should have been with him, to make sure everything was all right," he said. "This is very bad. How can I eat this?"

Just then the boy came back into the room with another chapati.

"Everything is very nice," Śrīla Prabhupāda told him. "You have done very well." The boy was very happy. He had performed devotional service to the best of his ability and pleased his spiritual master. I, needless to say, had committed a great offense by my lethargy. Śrīla Prabhupāda didn't even yell. It was difficult for me when he yelled. When he was angry with me and silent then that was more painful.

This incident exemplifies another part of Śrīla Prabhupāda's greatness. He could have had any number of spiritually and materially qualified assistants with him to make his life easy, but he accepted service from me. He never asked me to leave him at any time. He gracefully accepted my incompetence. He always made me feel appreciated despite my many shortcomings. I have seen Śrīla Prabhupāda forgive his disciples for so many offenses. This was certainly not the worst thing I have done to my spiritual master, but it involved serving him directly and that causes me sorrow.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, don't kick me away. There is no safe place in this material world except at your beautifully golden lotus feet. Please give me the desire to serve you and your movement for the duration of my lives.