Hare Krishna dear devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.
Today is the most auspicious day of the Tirobhava (Disappearance day) of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. As far as the Lord and His eternal associates are concerned there is no real difference between their appearance and disappearance because in either case our important function is to remember their glorious deeds and pastimes that were revealed to us out of causeless mercy.
In the morning, we were relishing the pastimes of His Divine Grace from the 'Lilamrta' and we went for hours immersed in the sweet pastimes of our beloved Acharya. I very much liked the following sweet pastime in the Lower East Side ( New York ) in the very early days (1966) of the movement. The devotees at that time were very few hippies and were almost ignorant of the magnitude of Srila Prabhupada. But Srila Prabhupada was like a very loving father to all of them and they loved him innocently. He taught them practically every thing from cooking to cleaning, from chanting to preaching. Here is the interesting episode from Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta.
Prabhupada initiated Linda, giving her the name Lilavati. Seeing her eagerness to serve him personally, he decided to teach her to cook by having her prepare his lunch. He already had a little weekend cooking class in which he taught Janaki, Govinda dasi, Nandarani, and others the art of cooking for Krsna. Now he invited Lilavati to come. He would walk back and forth in the small room, showing the girls how to knead dough, cook chapatis, measure spices in the right palm, and cut vegetables and cook them in ghee with masala. The foods were basic-rice, chapatis, cauliflower with potatoes-but he wanted to teach the girls precisely how to cook.
Mukunda: One day, just out of curiosity, I went in to witness Swamiji's cooking classes. So I came in and stood at the doorway to Swamiji's kitchen. The women were there learning how to cook, and Swamiji said to me, "What are you doing?"
"Oh," I said, "I just came to see my wife."
Then Swamiji said, "Are you going back to Godhead or back to wife?" Everyone was amused, and I realized I wasn't welcome, so I left.
The incident made me reflect on Swamiji's seriousness. For one thing, I learned that I should not be so attached to my wife, and secondly I learned that his relationship with the women and what he was teaching them was actually very sacred-not like the sometimes frivolous association between husband and wife. Because he spent many hours in the kitchen teaching them, they were very inspired.
Lilavati tended to be proud. Many of the devotees were not college graduates, and none of them were classical scholars. She sometimes typed for Swamiji, did his wash, or brought flowers to his room in the morning. And he had quickly chosen her to be his exclusive cook. After only a few days of cooking lessons, Swamiji had told her, "All right, you cook." And now he came in only occasionally to check on her. Once when he saw her rolling capatis, he said, "Oh, you have learned very nicely."
Preparing Swamiji's meals just right-with the proper spicing, with out burning anything, and on time-was a challenge. By the time Lilavati finished, she would be perspiring and even crying from tension. But when she brought in his lunch he would ask her to bring an empty plate, and he would serve her portions from his own plate and invite her to eat with him. For the first few days, Lilavati made remarks about the wonderful tastes of the prasadam, and Swamiji would smile or raise his eyebrows. But then she noticed that he never spoke while eating but seemed to be concentrating intensely as he sat, cross-legged, bending his body over the plate of prasadam and eating with his right hand.
One day, on Ekadasi, Lilavati arrived late at Swamiji's apartment, thinking there would not be much cooking on a fast day. But when she entered the kitchen she found Swamiji himself busily cooking. He was heating something white in a skillet, vigorously stirring and scraping it from the bottom of the pan. "Oh," he said, "I was just wondering, "Where is that girl?'"
Lilavati was too shy to ask what Swamiji was doing, so she simply busied herself cutting vegetables. "Today is a fast day," she said, as if chiding Swamiji for cooking.
"You have to understand-" he replied, "in Krsna consciousness a fast day means a feast day. We are offering this to Krsna." Lilavati continued to keep her distance from Swamiji's whitish, sticky-looking preparation until he completed it and placed it on the windowsill to cool. "Later it will harden," he said, "and we can cut it and serve it." And with that he turned and walked out of the kitchen.
When Lilavati finished cooking and served Swamiji his Ekadasi lunch, he asked her to bring him some of "that thing" on the windowsill. He took a bite, seemed pleased, and asked Lilavati to call Mukunda and Janaki to taste it.
Janaki took a bite and exclaimed, "It's wonderful! Simply wonderful! Incredible! What is this?"Turning to Lilavati, Swamiji asked, "What is in this preparation?"
"I don't know, Swamiji," she said.
"You don't know?" he replied. "You were standing right by me in the kitchen, and you don't remember?" Lilavati's face turned red."Oh, Swamiji," Lilavati replied, "I was very busy. I just didn't see."
"Oh, you are busy without intelligence," he replied, and he laughed for a long time, until Mukunda was also laughing. Lilavati felt even more humiliated.Swamiji asked Janaki if she could tell what was in the preparation. She couldn't, except that it was sweet. He then sent Lilavati downstairs to get Govinda dasi and Gaurasundara. When they entered, Swamiji told Lilavati, "Go get some more of that simply wonderful thing."
Again, this time in front of four devotees, Swamiji asked Lilavati, "So what is in this preparation?" And again she defended herself; she had been too busy to notice. And again he laughed until everyone was laughing with him. He then asked Govinda dasi to taste the "simply wonderful" and say what was in it. Immediately she guessed: sugar, butter, and powdered milk.
"Oh," Swamiji looked at Lilavati, "she is an artist. She is intelligent." To Lilavati the whole episode was a devastating ordeal. Only later did she understand that Swamiji had been trying to teach her humility.
It is so very interesting to see how Srila Prabhupada is adept at everything eating, cooking, teaching how to cook, offering, and of course expertly nipping off the dangerous weed of pride whenever it cropped up and teaching the basic of devotional service to be humble. Remembering him is the most useful activity we can do today, everyday.
Patita Pavana Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!!
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Kalacakra Krsna das.
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