In order to remember ...

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Created on Thursday, 23 November 2017 13:24
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 November 2017 13:25
Published on Thursday, 23 November 2017 13:24
Written by Aprakrita dasa
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At the beginning of the Vrindavan project, I was the only woman in the party. All of us had important roles. My role was Deity department and Prabhupada’s rooms. When we built the temple, we made every mistake you can make, and one really big mistake was the floor in Srila Prabhupada’s room. It was an amalgamate floor with the wrong mixture of black, so when it dried, the black color continued to come off and nothing we did stopped that black color from coming off that floor. Prabhupada said, “Who has done this?” I made the ridiculous comment, “Srila Prabhupada, I am not sure what to do.” He said, “No intelligence, there’s no intelligence there.” “That’s very true, Srila Prabhupada. Do you have any suggestions how I could better take care of the room?” He said, “No. You figure this out.” It took many months before that floor was clean.

 

Prabhupada was strict with me about cleaning. When he went for his morning walk in Vrindavan we had a whole cleaning system so that every surface in his room was cleaned twice. One morning, Prabhupada came back from his walk, sat down at his desk, took his mini stapler out of its plastic protective sleeve, opened it so it was flat, and rubbed his pinky in the space between the knob and the staple. “Dust. Who has cleaned my room?”

 

“I did, Srila Prabhupada.”

 

“Haven’t I trained you how to clean the room?”

“No, Srila Prabhupada, I’m so dull that I never thought to look there for dust.”

 

“Asara, useless.”

Prabhupada was strict with me in many ways, but I treasure that today. I treasure that dust in Prabhupada’s stapler because when the spiritual master is strict, it helps us to become conscious of what conditioning means. Otherwise, conditioning is just a word. The statement “I’m conditioned from time immemorial” is hard to wrap your mind around. Conditioning is a huge thing. Unless the spiritual master trains us, how will we get out of our conditioned state? So when the spiritual master chastises us by giving us instructions on simple things, it’s helpful.

 

Srila Prabhupada came in and out of Vrindavan many times in 1973 because we Western disciples had no knowledge of the language, of anything to do with business, of the many social customs of the holy dhama, but we were trying to build the Krishna-Balaram temple. We had to accept the obstacles that Krishna put in front of us to help us learn how to get out of the material world. And Srila Prabhupada had to come many times to help us move the project forward in a timely fashion.

 

Once, Prabhupada came for a short time, and afterward Tejiyas, Gurudas, Shyamasundar, and I took him to the Delhi airport. His plane was delayed, and we were sitting in a little group waiting when we heard this click, click, click-clack, click-clack coming from a twenty-year-old girl with tall, high heel shoes, black stockings, and a mini dress. Shyamasundar turned to Prabhupada and said, “We’re not in Vrindavan anymore, Srila Prabhupada.”

 

Prabhupada looked at him and said, “Yes, we are in Vrindavan. This is not Vrindavan?”

 

That turned on a light bulb in me. Yes, you leave Vrindavan, but Vrindavan is in the heart. We can drink in Vrindavan using all of our senses, and when we leave the dhama, we can bring its atmosphere with us wherever we go.

 

Every time I remember these defining moments with Srila Prabhupada I learn from them. Prabhupada once made the simple, obvious comment that “In order to remember, you must hear and chant.” He said, “Your remembering will become less effective to the degree that you hear less and chant less.”

 

So those three things – hearing, chanting, and remembering – three parts of the nine processes of bhakti. These are the core of my relationship with Prabhupada. Hearing about and remembering Srila Prabhupada are the two most important things in all my spiritual life. Hearing and remembering are Srila Prabhupada’s beautiful gifts to us, and I am deeply grateful for this transcendental mercy.

(Bonds of Love: Yamuna Devi Dasi)

 


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