Mahapurana: We missed seeing Prabhupada at the airport so we saw him at the University of Detroit that evening. It was one of those long lecture halls that slope down from the rear to the front with the stage. At a certain point we heard a muffled kirtan so we all turned toward the rear of the auditorium. We could see just the tips of dandas and a couple devotees who were pretty tall. The doors opened and I saw Srila Prabhupada who was radiant and effulgent.

When I was young I used to read a book called Lives of the Saints,because I was raised Catholic. From this book I became aware of the qualities that were common with the saints. They radiated peace and power, due to their intimate connection with the Supreme. They were concerned for the welfare of others and they were able to create miracles in the lives of others. When I saw Srila Prabhupada, that’s exactly what I thought of. I was struck with the realization that this person was also always intimately connected with the Supreme and he was radiating peace and power. I also sensed that he was concerned for the welfare of others and that he could perform miracles in the lives of others. It was an overwhelming sense of joy and relief in that realization. I actually began to cry a bit because I was just overwhelmed. My ultimate realization was that the saints were not dead. The saints are alive and well.

Drumila: Three days into the movement as a new bhakta I saw a lot of people running hither and thither. There was a lot of commotion and everyone was saying “Prabhupada” this and “Prabhupada” that. I heard one person saying, “Prabhupada’s coming.” I looked at the devotee and said, “Who is Prabhupada?” The devotee told me, “Prabhupada is that personality who has come to deliver you from the material world.” Right about that time all of us new bhaktas got shipped up to San Francisco on the back of a flatbed truck. I remember thinking as we were traveling on the truck, “Join the Hare Krishnas and see the world!” I’d never previously been out of Los Angeles my entire life. I join the Hare Krishnas and the next thing I know I’m going to the famous city of San Francisco.

The next morning about three or four hundred of us devotees were packed tight in the Berkeley temple. We were all chanting our japa waiting for Prabhupada to enter the temple room. All of a sudden from the corner of the room, the curtain opened. Prabhupada stepped out and the first thing I could tell was that this person was not from this world. Like Jesus Christ said, “I’m in this world but not of it.” When Prabhupada came out from that curtain, and I’m not exaggerating, it was like the sun had entered the room. The room filled with light when Prabhupada walked in. That was another reason I knew that Prabhupada wasn’t an ordinary person because there was an effulgence that came with him. He was enveloped in it. I was so struck with wonderment that I fell to my knees and started crying like a baby. I just knew that he was that personality who had come to deliver me. I was overwhelmed with emotion. Srila Prabhupada walked through the devotees as they made a pathway for him. I could see he was very small materially speaking, but he was, as one woman recounted years ago, “oceanic”. He was that powerful.

Srila Prabhupada got up on the vyasasana and as he put on his kartals and wrapped them very purposely around each finger, he began to chant, “Jaya Radha-Madhava kunja behari…” By this time, the entire atmosphere of that room was completely surcharged with spiritual energy. I was in the spiritual world. This was my first experience with Srila Prabhupada.

Mahapurana: The apartment for Srila Prabhupada was around the corner from the temple. Since there were darshans in the evening, my God-brother, Jyotiraditya made a nice garland for Srila Prabhupada out of silver pieces that we used for our jewelry business as well as flowers and multiple denominations of dollar bills. Once the garland was completed, Jyotir said, “Let’s go and take this garland to Srila Prabhupada at the darshan.” When we entered Prabhupada’s room, he was seated in those familiar poses, leaning back on the cushions with his knees up at a low table. He looked very regal and saintly. Jyotir turned around, took the garland out of the box that I was holding, put it around Prabhupada’s neck, and paid his obeisances. All the while I was standing in the middle of the room with an empty box, with my mouth open, looking at Srila Prabhupada, just stunned and overwhelmed. Prabhupada looked up at me and said, “Then what is in the box?” I looked in the box, looked up at him and said, “Nothing.” Everyone laughed. They thought I was so foolish, which I was, but somebody explained to Srila Prabhupada that I had carried his garland in the box. From that point forward, however, what I’ve been trying to do is put some service in the box so that the next time I see Srila Prabhupada I can say, “Here, Srila Prabhupada, this is what is in the box, some services that I have rendered to you.” (laughs)