Memory by Srutakirti Prabhu

Posted on September 18, 2010

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Mayapura Chandrodaya Mandir, Mayapura, India
On a morning walk in Mayapura a devotee asked Srila Prabhupada, “Does the spiritual master know everything?”
“The spiritual master knows everything that Krishna wants him to know,” Srila Prabhupada said. “Only Krishna can know everything.”
October 1972, Radha Damodara Temple, Vrindaban, India
I became Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant. After his morning massage, I always lay fresh clothing on Srila Prabhupada’s bed while he bathed. Then, I went into his sitting room, opened his mirror and placed his ball of tilak beside it. I then placed his small, water-filled lota next to these items. After dressing, he sat at his desk, applied tilak and chanted the Gayatri mantra.
It was also my service to place a new Brahman thread on his desk every month. I did it either on the day of the full moon or on an Ekadasi. Srila Prabhupada chanted on the new thread while holding his old one. The loss of my Brahman initiation thread etched a fault across my heart. I was eager to rectify it. This was my first month in Srila Prabhupada’s personal service. Therefore, I was excited to obtain His Divine Grace’s Prasadam thread and resume my transcendental Brahman connection.
After chanting Gayatri, he walked across the verandah to the kitchen where Yamuna Devi was cooking. I walked into his sitting room and picked up his discarded thread only to discover that he had pulled apart each of the threads. I couldn’t believe it. (In the two years that followed, he never did that again.) I walked out of his room with the thread in my hand and sat on the verandah. I tied a knot in each of the six threads, determined to make my connection again. It didn’t matter to me that he had broken them. It was still HIS thread. While I contentedly sat on the verandah, Srila Prabhupada walked by after finishing his lunch. I offered my obeisances and he smiled at me.
“The Brahman thread, you have disposed of it?” he asked.
“Not yet, Srila Prabhupada,” I said.
“You should bury it underneath the Tulasi plant in the temple courtyard,” he instructed. “Put it in the dirt under the roots.”
All I could say was, “All right.”
I could not believe it. I could have told him about losing my thread, but I was too ashamed. I did not like to ask Srila Prabhupada for anything. I tried to think of what Srila Prabhupada wanted, not what I wanted. However, sometimes I would become overwhelmed with my desire. Srila Prabhupada, please forgive me for not following your instructions. I never did bury the thread as you asked. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for tolerating me.
I was at the festival in Mayapura with my wife in 2005. The last time I was there was in 1975 when I was Srila Prabhupada’s servant. In the evening they would have Prabhupada katha on the stage in the tent. Sometimes I spoke and I also set in the first row and listened. One evening I was sitting there, getting eaten by mosquitoes listening to a God brother tell his memories of Srila Prabhupada. There were only a few of us in the front row. About ten seats away from me was a God brother. He kept motioning to me to come and sit next to him.
I finally went over. He asked me if I knew who he was. I didn’t. I looked for a minute and asked him if I knew him from Mayapura. He said yes. My name is Padmalochan. I said okay. He asked me if I remember what happened back in 1975. Of course, I had no idea and said no. He said, ‘you were Prabhupada’s servant. Right.’ I said yes. He said don’t you remember when Prabhupada was here, he gave Brahman initiation to devotees.
I didn’t remember. He said don’t you remember you sat out in front of Prabhuapda’s room, holding the Brahmin threads and would give them to the men before they went into get Gayatri from Srila Prabhupada. I told him I didn’t remember. It was 30 years ago. He told me he was one of the devotees who got his Brahmin thread that day and he remembers. He told me I gave him the thread. I didn’t even take it apart, just handed it to him like they come when you buy them.
He went into Prabhupada’s room offered obeisances and Prabhupada told him to take the thread apart. He was very nervous. He tried but he got it all knotted up. Before he could do anything else Prabhupada said, “Take it to Srutakirti. He knows what to do.” He started to leave the room and another devotee was walking in. Padmalochan started to show him the thread to fix it. Prabhupada yelled, “I said take it to Srutakirti. He knows what to do!”
He walked outside of Prabhupada’s room and told me what Prabhupada said. He remembered that I took the thread, looked at it for a second, grabbed the two ends and pulled it apart and gave it back to him. He went back into Prabhupada’s room.
There are many amazing things about this story. First of all, when Prabhupada told him to bring the thread to me he was giving me a reminder of how expert I was at fixing threads. That’s what I did to his back in 1972, I fixed it. So, Prabhupada was being humorous with me.
The next amazing thing is I didn’t get the joke back then in 1975. Of course Prabhupada never forgets. The next really amazing thing is I never went back to Mayapura for 30 years. The same place where it happened. After 30 years Srila Prabhupada has Padmalochan tell me the story. It took me 30 years to finally get what Prabhupada was doing and Srila Prabhupada used Padmalochan again to make me smile.

With affection and respect,
Srutakirti das

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