By his example – memories of Gurudas
Winter 1974, and another pilgrimage time arrived in Vrindavan. I was always happy to welcome old and new devotee friends coming to the holy dhama to bask in the mercy of Radharani. This was the third season of pilgrimages to Vrindavan, and Yamuna and I and the others were always trying to improve these pilgrimages for the many prabhus coming from all over the world.
We planned the prasadam menus and hired cooks. I organized workshops that would enable devotees with similar services to have meetings. For example, the treasurers would meet treasurers, mridanga players would share rhythms and beats with other mridanga players, and cooks could meet cooks. These workshops were to be interspersed with parikramas and darshans at the many holy spots, tirthas, forests and temples in brajabhumi ending with a bath in a sacred ghat every day.
The difference this year was that Srila Prabhupada was in Vrindavan too — the star attraction! I put the workshop idea before him. His countenance brightened, and he said, "this is very good idea. Do you have a list of the workshops?" I handed him the list, I had made and as Prabhupada looked over, he remarked, "but there are no doll making workshops."
As always, I thought, Prabhupada can find the missing link and one more thing that I missed. His concentration is so sharp! I have seen his divine grace look through documents, rooms — and hearts and souls — and always find the missing ingredient, then quietly and matter-of-factly suggest the perfect addition or resolution.
That year we also had to arrange extra sleeping quarters in ashram, a few hundred yards down Bhaktivedanta Marg from our Raman Reti temple construction site, as more than 300 god brothers and sisters were expected. Many of these devotees were staying for a few days and then going on to Mayapur for GBC meeting. Having attended quite a few of these meetings myself, and noting their combative nature. I thought of the meetings in Mayapur as, "the maya wars." So I stayed in Vrindavan where I thought my service would be more useful.
Soon devotees began arriving. After settling in and spending a few days visiting the main temples, the workshop idea was implemented and devotees began to share their experiences and wisdom. The workshops were well attended. Prabhupada agreed, “the workshops are a good idea; otherwise they will come here and eat, sleep and gossip.”
One beautiful morning in Vrindavan, Prabhupada, a few other devotees and I were walking on the parikrama path in Raman Reti. We passed by two large inter twined trees one black and one white. According to the brajvasis who live in Vrindavan these two trees are Radha and Krishna combined. We continued walking along the beaten-down Vrindavan clay of the parikrama path. Watching the swallows, chipmunks and squirrels as they ate and played in harmony in Krishna and Balarama’s play ground.
I noticed some cow dung by the side of the road. In an attempt to impress Prabhupada, I recounted one of his purports and said, "there are less flies around cow dung than around human dung. Cow dung is pure…"
He cut me off quipped, "oh, you done research?"
Everyone laughed, including me, especially when they saw Prabhupada’s amused face and joking manner.
I could set my watch
Even though I was busy, Prabhupada’s example inspired my Krishna consciousness. In the midst of the construction chaos he remained calm and always kept to his schedule. He was always able to chant his rounds and stay regulated wherever he was. The Krishna Balarama temple was almost completed. The house of the Lord was adorned with rich colors, scrolled marble shapes and jali windows. Going on the morning walks continued to be a joy and a special time for me, a time when Prabhupada was relaxed and inclined towards intimate talks.
Wherever he happened to be in the world, Prabhupada took his walk at the same time every morning.
I remember in Vrindavan we would walk out from Krishna Balarama temple construction site, turn right, and head towards the parikrama path. Every morning at 6.03 when we reached a cross road, a sadhu crossed our path, I looked at my watch when he passed and if it did not say 6.03 am I would reset it. Eventually Prabhupada and the sadhu greeted each other every morning.