Srila Prabhupada challenged us to raise our consciousness – he wanted us to see the larger picture of life that is beyond our daily duties. He helped us evolve in our aspirations by presenting Krishna as a tangible reality and Krishna consciousness as a veritable life-enhancing experience. Yet, amazingly he was very much part of this world and didn’t take any of his Krishna conscious sermons as a license to ignore the rules of this world. He said a devotee of Krishna deserves the best because he is a representative of Krishna. But at the same time, he didn’t take things for granted. For example, once in Australia, to a challenging reporter who was piqued at Srila Prabhupada’s posh car, he retorted, “What’s the big deal of this car; even if you gave the guru a golden car, that’s not sufficient.” Srila Prabhupada was thus teaching a powerful lesson of service to Krishna and guru, in a dramatic and bold fashion. He thus challenged our intelligence and preconceived prejudices against spiritual life. Yet, in his personal life, he was humble and gracious for all the honour he got. Moreover he never deviated from the principle of gratitude and basic human kindness, in the name of being transcendental.
The following incident reveals this mind-set of Srila Prabhupada:
When Srila Prabhupada visited Bombay (the then name of Mumbai) in 1977, he was upset with the in charge Surabhi Swami because construction of the temple was going slow and his house wasn’t ready as well. Even before he got out of the car, Srila Prabhupada called for Surabhi and heavily scolded him. Then, to everybody’s shock, Srila Prabhupada insisted on staying at his unfinished house where over a dozen workers were bewildered to see Srila Prabhupada move in. With no proper floor, no toilets or rooms, or walls or doors, it was simply not suitable for staying but Srila Prabhupada sat on the floor of the house and said he’d stay right there and all of them could do what they want! His logic: only if he spoke a strong message, work would expedite.
To be continued….