Chapter 99: Śrutakīrti "DĀSA"; Youthful Recollection

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 99
Śrutakīrti "DĀSA"; Youthful Recollection

July 1971, ISKCON Brooklyn, New York

I arrived at New York Temple from New Vrindavan with Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja and a few other bhaktas to receive initiation. I have already mentioned my first contact with Śrīla Prabhupāda when I accidentally landing on his Vyasasana. My first formal meeting was the day His Divine Grace gave me Hare Nama initiation. There were ten bhaktas initiated daily during his stay at the Brooklyn temple.

I vividly remember the initiation ceremony when Śrīla Prabhupāda's secretary called, "Bhakta Vin." I squeezed my way through the crowded temple room to Śrīla Prabhupāda's Vyasasana and nervously offered my obeisances.

"So, do you know the regulative principles?" he asked.

Somehow, I managed to say all of them.

"And how many rounds will you chant on your beads?" he asked.

"Sixteen," I said, decisively.

"So, your name is Śrutakīrti," he told me. "That is a name of Kṛṣṇa which means 'one whose activities are world-famous.'"

All the devotees in the room shouted, "Jaya."

"And your name is Śrutakīrti Dāsa," Śrīla Prabhupāda added.

He placed a great amount of emphasis on "Dāsa."

I offered my obeisances and made my way back to my spot in the temple room. When I sat down, someone asked me what name I was given.

"I don't know," I replied.

Fortunately, we had the option of reviewing our names on a list tacked to Śrīla Prabhupāda's door.

November 1973, ISKCON Delhi

Śrīla Prabhupāda lectured every evening at a pandal program attended by thousands of residents. After the program, he made his way back to his quarters, protected by his disciples. Surrounding Śrīla Prabhupāda, some sannyasi disciples held their dandas in such a way as to protect His Divine Grace from the hopeful admirers who tried to touch his lotus feet.

"I remember when I was young," he said one evening in his room. "I would observe Mahātma Gandhi. He had so many people around him, protecting him from the thousands of admirers. I thought, 'Someday I want to have that' and now I have it."

Śrīla Prabhupāda, it has been 25 years since you mercifully initiated this unqualified wretch. I have spent most of that time in illusion. On the anniversary of your disappearance, I want to take this opportunity to again serve your orders. Your first instructions to me were to chant 16 rounds, follow the four regulative principles and become the servant of one whose activities are world-famous. It is not possible for me to directly serve Kṛṣṇa. I pray that you are kind upon me so that I may serve your lotus feet. Your activities are world-famous. I pray to spend life after life praising your glories all over the world. You are the most glorious servant of Lord Caitanya because you have fulfilled his desire and that of the previous acaryas. Please protect me so that I do not stray from your instructions. I want you to reside forever in my heart so that I can taste the sweetness of separation from you. It is the most sublime feeling and it is only available to your faithful follower.