Compiled by Mahavishnu dasa


One evening, Srila Prabhupada gave a lecture in the temple room on the famous thirteenth verse of Chapter Two of Bhagavad-gita. That lecture is recorded and available from the Archives. The next evening, Srila Prabhupada lectured on Text 14 (matra-sparshas tu kaunteya…). (Unfortunately that lecture seems to be unavailable. I don't know whether it was recorded or not, but at present it is unavailable.) Srila Prabhupada was emphasizing the necessity to tolerate the sufferings of the material body. I remember that he defined death as the point at which the spirit soul can no longer tolerate the pain of the body and is forced to leave. Then he discussed the necessity to give up material attachments and become attached to Krishna. At the end of the class, he asked for questions. First Ikshvaku das asked a question, something about Krishna's statement in the Bhagavad-gita that of the senses He is the mind: "What does Krishna mean by this?" The question had nothing to do the lecture, and Srila Prabhupada seemed to not understand the question, which after all was off the subject. I think he just turned it around, asking, "What is the difficulty? Of the senses, Krishna is the mind."

Then I raised my hand, and Srila Prabhupada aknowledged. He had been speaking about giving up material desires and attachments, and I felt compelled to ask the classic "how-can-we" question. I don't remember exactly how I phrased it, but at the time I felt it was a question from the heart. Inspired by Srila Prabhupada's realized words, I really wanted to know how to give up material desires once and for all, and here was the perfect opportunity to learn how to do so, from the person who was obviously completely free from material desires. So in a tight and nervous voice I asked my question.

Srila Prabhupada immediately responded, as if this were just the question he wanted to answer. I don't know how long he elaborated his answer, but it seemed very long. He quoted anyabhilashita-shunyam — I think he quoted the whole Sanskrit verse —  and then gave a purport of some length. He concluded by giving examples of the unlimited varieties of activities one can do in service to Krishna. "One can cook for Krishna, one can clean for Krishna, one can distribute books for Krishna… one can drive a car for Krishna!"

At this point the devotees laughed, knowing that I was engaged as the temple driver. It was highly unlikely that Srila Prabhupada had been explicitly told by anyone that this was my service, so it was amusing that he mentioned this as an option for service to the Supreme Lord. It seemed almost intentional that he mentioned car driving to conclude his list of examples. It was as if he knew that this was my particular service at the time and was acknowledging it as a bona fide way to please Krishna and to overcome material desires.

I felt rewarded for my sincere inquiry by Srila Prabhupada's thorough answer. Since then I have tried to see each of the variety of activities I do in the course of my devotional service as means by which to overcome material desires and please Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

Memories of Srila Prabhupada – Krishna-kshetra Prabhu (October 1994)