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Prabhupada regally stood on the stairs waiting to let me take a photo

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Bonds of Love: Mohanasini Devi Dasi

In 1971, when she met Vishnujana Maharaja chanting in front of a little picture of cowherd-boy Krishna, Mohanasini was 24, had been married twice, and had three children.

I was brought up a Baptist and always felt I needed to serve God every day, not just on Sundays. But I was falling short. I was smashing my head against a brick wall at every turn and was so miserable I didn’t know whether to commit myself or kill myself. I also thought maybe I needed to become a missionary.

When I met Vishnujana Maharaja, I saw that that he was serving God every day and thought, “I don’t know who this little blue boy in the picture is, but I’ve never seen anyone like Maharaja, who has so much love in his eyes. There’s got to be something to this.” Within a week I moved into the Dallas temple.

When I received second initiation from Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles in ’73, I didn’t know much about Krishna consciousness. I only knew I wanted to be a devotee and I wanted to know what my name meant. I thought, “When I go to Srila Prabhupada’s room to receive my Gayatri, I’m going to ask him what it means.” I went to his room, offered my obeisances and when I popped up Prabhupada said, “What’s your name?” I said, “Mohanasini Dasi, Srila Prabhupada.” He said, “Oh, that’s a very nice name. ‘Moha’ means illusion and ‘nasini’ means destroyer of.” I didn’t have to ask him.

Once I wanted to take a photo of Prabhupada as he came down the stairs from his room to go for a walk. I got in position, thinking, “I’ve got to be quick!” As Prabhupada came down the stairs, he stood still to pose for me. I was thinking, “Oh, my God!” I thought he was going to whisk by, but he regally stood on the stairs waiting to let me take a photo. That was awesome.

Another time Prabhupada chastised me. I wanted a good seat to see him give class, so I climbed beyond the balcony railing and sat on the ledge. He sat on the vyasasana, looked up and said, “Get down!” I was devastated. I cried for a half a day. Then somebody said, “You don’t need to cry. Even the spiritual master’s chastisement is mercy.” I was consoled, “Oh, okay, I got some mercy from Srila Prabhupada today.”

Once, as Prabhupada passed by, I handed him an apple and my hand brushed his. I cannot describe how soft his hand was. I haven’t felt anything like it in my life; softer than silk, than velvet. My daughter, Navadwipa, told me that when she was 5 and in the Dallas gurukula, she wasn’t feeling well one day and was crying, and Prabhupada picked her up and patted her to comfort her. Navadwipa also said his hands were incredibly smooth and soft and cool.

When Srila Prabhupada was with us, the norm was that we all did whatever he said. There weren’t factions; everybody served Prabhupada. It was a special nectar time that I feel fortunate to have experienced and that can’t be replaced by anything. And that time we had with Srila Prabhupada seems much more special now than it did then. But watching videos of him gives a sense of him, as does reading his books and associating with the devotees who have carefully followed his instructions. Those devotees have, to one degree or another, been instrumental in keeping me in the movement. Since they were following and becoming Krishna conscious, I felt more secure that I was rightfully situated.

When I was young, it was hard for me to realize that this material world isn’t where it’s at. Now I feel more focused on trying to be a devotee, because what’s left for me is old age, disease, and death. In other words, not much. Even though I’ve fallen into lots of potholes of problems along the way, I know Krishna consciousness is the place to be. I keep trying, and hope I’ll get serious before my body is finished. If I have to take another birth, at least in this life I’m rightfully situated and trying to make progress.

My passionate, immature years are finished and I’ve found a service that I’m happy with and that keeps me inspired. That service is book distribution. I used to be shy and couldn’t approach people, but I finally got over that and now that I’m good at book distribution, it’s a lifesaver. It’s kind of sense gratification for me – it takes me off the material platform, it makes me feel good, I enjoy it, I know I’m doing the right thing, and I feel that Srila Prabhupada is happy. And book distribution makes me realize that I have a lot of things to work on, especially humility. I’m among the top book distributors in the world and I find I’m so proud of myself!

Anyway, in the end I just want to be a devotee. Even if I’m not a very good devotee, I know it’s the right thing for me to do.

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