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Kalpavriksha – wish fulfilling cake.

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Krishna Kumari: Because Gayatri dasi had impressed upon me that service to Srila Prabhupada was more important than seeing him, I elected to help her in the kitchen pretty much the whole time during the New Vrindavan festival instead of attending all the amazing events on the hill with the lectures and the kirtans. One thing that she asked me to do was to help her make Prabhupada’s banana birthday cake. When we were finished, it was our chance to take the cake up to Prabhupada. We sat somewhere in back of Prabhupada’s vyasasana with the cake hidden down low. We were cutting the cake when Prabhupada’s servant came with a plate and he said, “Give me a piece for Srila Prabhupada.” I took a nice big eight-inch corner piece and put it on the plate. Literally the second I put that piece of cake on the plate and he turned around to take it to Prabhupada, I was crushed by a tsunami of devotees as they all grabbed for the remaining cake. My face was down in the cake and I was running out of breath. I thought, “I’m going to die here. But this is great. I’m going to die on Srila Prabhupada’s birthday cake.” I couldn’t breathe. Finally when all the cake was pretty much gone, I could get up and inhale.

Since that day, I’ve heard so many renditions of that story. Some devotees would say the cake was chocolate, some would say vanilla, some would say strawberry, but it was banana. Every person I have ever talked to about that incident said the cake was a different flavor. It seemed to me this cake became a “kalpavriksha” (wish fulfilling) cake touched by Prabhupada and immediately it became the favorite flavor of every devotee who had a chance to grab and eat it. It appeared to be Prabhupada’s wonderful gift to everybody and they fought over it like anything.

Sravanananda: We organized a ten-day program for Srila Prabhupada in Madras. There were front page articles in the Hindu newspaper and we had tens of thousands of people coming. When Srila Prabhupada arrived, there were many life members and guests who had piles of garlands in their hands and they began putting them over his head. The problem was people were so excited to put garlands on him that his face began to disappear. We had to immediately get someone to remove one as another one was put over his neck to keep the garlands just by his chin. With a kirtan roaring Srila Prabhupada was smiling and a wave of ecstasy flowed through the room. Everyone looked at each other as if to say, “Did you feel that?”

While in Madras we had a nice facility for Srila Prabhupada to stay at in a life member’s home at night. But during the day he would come to the temple. One day I was asked if I would cook for him. I said that I had never cooked for Prabhupada before so Harikesh said, “I’ll cook.” We made a little sitting area for Srila Prabhupada and when I brought him his plate, he touched the chapati and said, “Chapati means hot.” I ran back to Harikesh and told him what Prabhupada said. He said, “Okay, I’ll cook the chapati and you run it into his room.” The floors were made of marble so I was literally sliding to give it to Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada again tapped the chapati, and again he said, “Chapati means hot.” Again I ran back to Harikesh and said, “Prabhupada is not eating the chapatis! He said, ‘Chapati means hot!’” So he puffed up a chapati the next time like a puri. I ran and slid to Prabhupada, putting it on his plate. He poked the chapati that was puffed up and this time steam came out. Prabhupada said, “Ahhh, that is chapati.” I’ve always remembered that cooking instruction.

One day on our way to an arranged program for Prabhupada, I was driving along with Hari Sauri next to me and Harikesh and Tamal were with Prabhupada in the back. Every now and again I would take a glance back just to look at Srila Prabhupada and I noticed that Tamal was looking sleepy and in time he began to snore with his head resting on Prabhupada’s shoulder. I glanced at Prabhupada to see his reaction and with love and compassion he said, “Don’t wake him. Don’t wake him.” At that moment I saw another aspect of Srila Prabhupada I had never seen before. He’s a shaktavesaavatar but he exhibited such love and kindness to us, his conditioned disciples that was so amazing. Sometimes you don’t see those qualities unless it’s in real life or in videos. 

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