“All right. We'll exchange”

Ranadhir: The first intimate exchange I had with Srila Prabhupada was when my mom, who lived in England, sent me a nice wool sweater. At that time New Vrindavan was a mud hole and it was hard to keep anything clean. I looked at this beautiful saffron sweater and I thought, "I can't wear this, it's going to be trash in no time. I'll give it to Srila Prabhupada." For a couple of months I kept that sweater in a plastic bag in the brahmachari ashram and I always thought, "I can't wait to give this to Srila Prabhupada."

When they first opened the printing press in Boston, Prabhupada went there and devotees from a lot of different cities joined him, including everybody from New Vrindavan. I was clutching my sweater and trying to figure out, "How do I give this to him? I'm not one of the leaders." Then one evening after arati everybody gathered for darshan in a separate room behind the temple. I said, "Okay, it's now or never," and burst into the middle of this darshan. Everybody looked at me as if to say, "Who's this? What's he doing here?" I stammered, "Prabhupada, I have this sweater my mother gave me and I want you to have it." Prabhupada said, "Oh, no, I can't take it. Your mother gave this to you. You take it. I can't take this." From the look on my face Prabhupada saw that I was devastated. I said, "But Prabhupada, please," I was begging for my life. He was very kind. He said, "All right. We'll exchange." He took off his beautiful cardigan sweater with big oak buttons. I was crying, and the devotees in the room were crying. It was a loving exchange. I'll never forget it. It bonded me so closely to Srila Prabhupada and kept me going for years.