Tuesday, 1 May 2012

My experiences and associations with Prabhupada Part-3

When Prabhupada was in Kartikeya Mahadevya’s house Prabhupada one day suggested that Upendra should be called. Prior to that Hari Sauri Prabhu was Prabhupada’s personal servant and Prabhupada appointed Hari Sauri Prabhu as the GBC of Australia. That’s what Prabhupada used to do, either the GBC used to be Prabhupada’s servants and secretaries or the servants used to be promoted, when at some point Prabhupada used to make them into, give them some service, important service, like make them GBC. So Hari Sauri Prabhu was serving Prabhupada and when Prabhupada was in Bombay, he made Hari Sauri Dasa GBC for Australia and so there was a need for someone to serve Srila Prabhupada and Upendra Prabhu was called in. He was probably in Fiji or some place of that kind. I don’t know where he was. I never met him before.So one day, one fine morning he just arrived. He was very efficient, very competent
servant of Srila Prabhupada. He left his body unfortunately. And he came. And so three
of us were there, Tamal Krishna Maharaj, Upendra Prabhu and myself were serving Srila
Prabhupada. I was kind of stand by. Although Prabhupada made me Secretary of Indian
Affairs but I used to do whatever.My day was something like: At 7 o’ clock I used to get all the newspapers, daily newspapers. Prabhupada wanted me to get the daily newspapers. And 7 o’ clock I would go to Srila Prabhupada with the newspapers. And I used to read the headlines. And if
Prabhupada liked some interesting news, Prabhupada wanted me to read them. And I used to read them. And sometimes Prabhupada used to make comments.Like, one day Prabhupada was telling me how degraded the Nehru family was. At that time Indira Gandhi, I think Indira Gandhi called a State of Emergency in India. So Prabhupada was telling how degraded that family was. Prabhupada knew the family from Allahabad. The Nehru family’s originally from Allahabad. Prabhupada also used to live in Allahabad. It seemed that he knew that family quite well. And that way Prabhupada pointed out that India’s situation was so bad that a person like Nehru as the leader of the nation, and then his daughter now is the leader of the nation. And at that time Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s son was making a lot of disturbance all over. And finally he died in a plane crash. Sometimes Prabhupada would make some interesting comments.
Then one day some very important people came to meet Srila Prabhupada. They were Sriman Narayan and Ram Krishna Bajraj. Sriman Narayan was the Governor of Madras and Ram Krishna Bajraj was the chairman of Bajraj Industry, a very big industry. They were brothers-in-law. And Bajraj’s sister was married to Sriman Narayan. So they were very fond of Srila Prabhupada. So one day they came to see Srila Prabhupada. When they saw that Srila Prabhupada’s health condition was not so good, they suggested that
Prabhupada went to Rishikesh, on the bank of the Ganges. And they felt that this change of climate and going to the bank of the Ganges would be good for Prabhupada. Prabhupada also appreciated that proposal. He liked it. He told that he’d never been to Rishikesh before. And he liked the idea of being on the bank of the Ganges. So Ram Krishna Bajraj and Sriman Narayan made arrangements for Srila Prabhupada. They were very well connected. It was not their house but one of their acquaintance’s house. A house called Ganga Darshan, a very beautiful two-storey building right at the bank of the Ganges. It was arranged for Srila Prabhupada.In the meantime when we were serving Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada’s cook was Palika, one of our godsisters, American godsisters. She used to cook for Srila Prabhupada. And I
used to serve Srila Prabhupada. She used to cook and then exactly at twelve o’ clock, I would take the prasadam plate to Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada didn’t have much of an appetite. So he was hardly eating.
One day I saw that Prabhupada was not eating. He couldn’t eat. He was trying to eat. Actually what happened is, that day Palika was sick . So another godsister of ours was asked to cook for Srila Prabhupada. And when Prabhupada was eating, Prabhupada couldn’t eat. So I asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘Prabhupada, it was not? She didn’t cook properly? Prabhupada said, ‘No, she doesn’t know how to cook.’ And then I just spoke up. I said, ‘Srila Prabhupada, should I cook for you tomorrow?’ Prabhupada said, ‘Yes, you can try.’And the next day Srila Prabhupada taught me how to cook some preparations. He just told me how to cook. He was having his massage. Upendra Prabhhu was giving him the massage and Prabhupada just asked me to get the vegetable and mustard oil, red chilli, turmeric. And then Prabhupada told me how to cut the vegetables, how to spice them. And I cooked, then I served. And Prabhupada ate quite well.After serving Srila Prabhupada I was in the kitchen, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the pots. So Upendra just came running to me. He said, ‘Hey, Prabhupada told me to taste the food. He liked it. He asked me to taste it.’ So I gave it to Upendra.So that afternoon Tamal Krishna Maharaj when he went to Srila Prabhupada to read out the letters and take dictations from Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada told Tamal Krishna Maharaj also how he liked my cooking. How well I cooked. So Tamal Krishna Maharaj
also came and told me ‘Prabhupada really liked your cooking.’Then the next morning I cooked. The next day I cooked. Prabhupada took a bite and he was very upset. He said, ‘You don’t have any standard. One day you cook nicely, I praise you and next day you are gone.’ So I was feeling very bad that I displeased Prabhupada. Then the next day I cooked, this time I was cooking very, very carefully not to make any
mistake because I knew that if I made a mistake that day then I would lose my service of cooking for Srila Prabhupada. I mean, I used to actually really intensely desire that maybe I could cook for Srila Prabhupada some day. When Palika used to cook I used to try out some preparation. One day I cooked some kofta and served Srila Prabhupada. I didn’t tell him that I cooked. But Palika tasted that and she told me it was very nice. So in this way I was kind of, trying some different preparations.Anyway when I cooked for Srila Prabhupada the next day and I cooked very very carefully, not to make any mistake. And then I served Srila Prabhupada. And when I saw that he was eating I got a little courage. So I asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘Prabhupada, is the cooking alright today?’ Prabhupada said, ‘Yes, today it is alright.’ That’s how I got the
service to serve Srila Prabhupada. I cooked for Prabhupada.And then Srila Prabhupada left for Rishikesh one day. We all flew from Bombay to Delhi, Tamal Krishna Maharaj, myself, Upendra Prabhu and Prabhupada. We stopped in Delhi for one night. And the next morning we drove to Rishikesh. Prabhupada stayed in Rishikesh for a few days and we used to have a lot of fun. Some other devotees were
already there to make the arrangements. Like, Trivikrama Maharaj was there and Pramana Swami, Viraha Prakash. And Pradyumna Prabhu came. Pradyumna Prabhu was Prabhupada’s Sanskrit editor. So Prabhupada used to affectionately call him Panditji. Panditji means scholar, pandit.So one day, it was an Ekadasi and we were not informed about it and some devotees broke the Ekadasi. So Prabhupada was very upset. And he said, What is the point of having Pandit with us if you can’t even tell us when is Ekadasi?’ So then Prabhupada said, ‘Okay, we broke the Ekadasi, so fast tomorrow.’ So Prabhupada told us to fast the next day.