Richard (now Radhanath Swami) was sometimes rebuked by Srila Prabhupada’s leading disciples. They pressured him to make a commitment and urged him to join the movement and travel with them. He didn’t like such pressurizing, although he was used to it. Radhanath Swami writes that he thought he would surrender to a guru only if he was impelled by deep faith and inspiration, and not by somebody’s pressure. One afternoon Srila Prabhupada asked how long had he been staying in Vrindavan. Richard thought he too would chastise him for living in Vrindavan. Richard replied, “About six months Srila Prabhupada.” After a minute long pause and gazing into his eyes, Srila Prabhupada replied, rubbing Richard’s head affectionately, “Very good, Vrindavan is such a wonderful place.”
In this briefest of exchanges Richard (now Radhanath Swami) experienced the love of an eternal friend, a benevolent parent, and of God. This had a profound impact on him which he could neither understand nor explain:
Radhanath Swami describes he closed his eyes and pondered:
“He is such a busy man, with tens of thousands of people the world over waiting for a moment of his time. Why did he stop for me? I have nothing to offer, I am just a penniless nobody who sleeps under a tree” “Perhaps”, Radhanath Swami thought, “the miracle of being an instrument of kindness is the most powerful of all.”
Following Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps, Radhanath Swami also emphasizes on gentle and encouraging speech and little acts of kindness. The first time I read the ‘Journey Home’ I was excited and longed to meet the author Radhanath Swami. I waited outside his room, hoping I would get an audience for a minute where I could thank him sincerely. When he came out I was amazed by his simplicity and unassuming nature. He heard me as I became incoherent in speech, while expressing my appreciation. I spoke too many things too fast. All the while Radhanath Swami looked intently at me, with a loving gaze and with no distraction anywhere else. I blabbered for about five minutes, and felt ashamed for having taken his precious time. I flustered, “Oh, Radhanath Swami, I am really sorry, I took so much of your time and I feel ashamed for that. I am a sentimental fool and I am sorry about that.” No sooner had I said that, Radhanath Swami lovingly touched my palms with his, and expressed with a smile, “Please don’t be sorry. I love sentiments, and let me assure you, I am also a sentimental person.” I was shocked by this answer. Radhanath Swami was coming to my level, and saying he is sentimental. I knew for sure he isn’t like that but just to make me feel good, he confessed to be so. I was overwhelmed by his kindness, and am sure I wouldn’t forget this incident for the rest of my life.
Once I also saw him attend the memorial services of one old visitor to the temple, Sanatana Muni who died at the age of eighty. Sanatana Muni, I learnt was travelling by train daily to attend the temple services at five in the morning. He was a simple, unassuming person, and was satisfied in rendering services according to his humble capacity. Devotees presumed Radhanath Swami wouldn’t know him. However during the memorial services, everybody was pleasantly surprised as Radhanath Swami recounted finer details of Sanatana Muni’s character, and showered appreciation. It was during the memorial that many learnt that Radhanath Swami had interacted with Sanatana Muni and spoken to him about his family concerns. Radhanath Swami showed by his example the need to be personal and caring. Recently another member died and during the memorial services, Radhanath Swami emphatically expressed, “In my last twenty two years of services here in Mumbai, my single most important priority has been to endeavour to create a community of genuine devotees who really love and serve others.” Radhanath Swami paused for about half a minute, and again asserted, “Not just superficially caring, but genuinely kind, loving and caring.” Now I know why Radhanath Swami is popular and endearing to all.