SRILA PRABHUPADA would sometimes sit in his darsana room after breakfast and chat with his servants for a while, usually commenting on the state of the world in the present day. These moments were especially sweet to be with Prabhupada as he sat, relaxed and casual, and bathe in the warmth of his intimate association.

This morning was particularly memorable. The sun was shining brightly through the tall, narrow windows, casting patches of dazzling light on the clean white sheets on the floor. He sat comfortably in the middle of the floor, his legs crossed, right ankle resting on the left knee. His fingers loosely intertwined, he closed his eyes briefly and enjoyed the warmth of the sun as it danced upon his golden form. Seeing the opportunity, Hamsaduta and I sat on either side of him, just happy to be with him in a quiet moment.

He began to reflect on the unfortunate state of the world's inhabitants. Due to a lack of knowledge about the Supreme Lord, he said, people are suffering. Under the false impression of being independent, they commit all kinds of sinful acts, not knowing and not caring for the results, foolishly thinking they are free to do as they like. But when the volume of sinful life becomes too great, they suffer the consequences in the form of pestilence or war. They think that by politics and meetings they can avoid such things, but that is not possible. They are helpless to prevent them, and therefore they receive their punishment through the threefold miseries of life. At just the right moment, nature brings the demons together and engages them in war.

To illustrate the point, Prabhupada gave an amusing but striking example of how maya works.

"In my young days we had one teacher. Whenever there was any misbehavior between the boys, the teacher would stop them and bring them out to the front of the class. He would make them stand face-to-face and each take hold of the ears of the other and on his order make them pull. So the one, he is pulling, and the other is hurting, so he pulls back even harder, and each one is pulling and crying. But they cannot let go because the teacher is ordering, 'No, you cannot stop. You must go on pulling!' Similarly, maya brings together one Churchill and one Hitler, 'Now, rascal, pull!' And neither can stop. And the foolish people glorify them."

Hari Sauri Dasa
Los Angeles, California