Chapter 79: Swimming Alone at Juhu Beach

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 79
Swimming Alone at Juhu Beach

November 1974, ISKCON Bombay,
Juhu Beach

During this tour of India with Śrīla Prabhupāda, Paramahāmsa Swami was his secretary and Nitai Dāsa was his Sanskrit editor. We got along well together. The three of us were part of the second wave of devotees who joined the temple around 1971. While staying at Juhu, Pallika dāsī prepared Śrīla Prabhupāda's lunch, so after completion of His Divine Grace's massage, Paramahāmsa, Nitai and I went to the beach about a block away to swim and sunbathe. We returned before Śrīla Prabhupāda rose from his afternoon nap, in case he needed any of us.

Within a few days both of my godbrothers stopped going to the beach because their service wasn't getting finished. I continued to go, however. Upon returning one day Paramahāmsa Swami came to me and said, "Śrīla Prabhupāda is really upset about you going to the beach by yourself. He said he wants to talk with you. He's very angry."

I waited for Śrīla Prabhupāda to finish his lunch. When he went back to his sitting room I walked into his room and offered my obeisances. As I looked up at him, I noticed he had a contented look on his face. He didn't appear angry with me at all.

"Śrīla Prabhupāda, would you rather I didn't go to the beach after giving you massage?" I blurted out, quite confused.

"No," he nonchalantly replied. "It's all right. You are going by yourself?"

"Yes," I said. "It started with the three of us going swimming, but now I am the only one."

"That's all right," he said. "It's nice to go to the beach a little, gets some sun and go in the water. You can go."

"Thank you, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said with relief.

I offered my obeisances and left his room. Immediately I approached Paramahāmsa Swami. Still gloating, I told him of my conversation with my loving spiritual master. Shaking his head he reconfirmed the original story.

A situation like that was not unusual. I am sure that Śrīla Prabhupāda complained about my being at the beach. What was endearing was how tolerant he was when I appeared before him with my inquiry. He was able to sense my attachment and allowed me to make my own decision. I happily stopped going to the beach because he didn't force me.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, you are so expert. You often said, "You boys and girls are voluntarily performing service. I cannot force you to do something."

You always treated me with respect which often resulted in my own embarrassment. Due to your humility I was overwhelmed with the desire to do anything you asked. Mercifully, your only desire was for me to "chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and be happy." When I remember you, Śrīla Prabhupāda, those instructions become very easy to follow.