Rupa-Vilasa: Prabhupada’s friend, Bhagatji was helping with the management of the ISKCON temple in Vrindavan and he was also the patron of the gurukula. Prabhupada and Bhagatji had a friendly relationship and he used to see Prabhupada regularly. One day when Bhagatji was going into Prabhupada’s room I thought, “I am running this fledgling gurukula so maybe I could go in too,” and I said, “can I come with you?” Generally we were afraid to see Prabhupada because there was an intimidating wall of sannyasis and older devotees around him. Bhagatji said, “Yes, come, come.”

Prabhupada was with a couple of Indian guests in the garden with the lotus fountain. Bhagatji and Prabhupada greeted each other and then Prabhupada pointed to me and said, “go and get some asanas.” I thought, “oh my gosh.” I ran out found Hari Sauri and said, “Prabhupada wants some asanas.” Hari Sauri said, “I don’t think we have any.” He rummaged around in a closet and found a rumpled, terrible looking asana. He said, “This is all I’ve got,” and gave it me. I was in a sweat. I went back with my asana and as soon as I walked into the garden, Prabhupada said, “Get them some prasadam,” because the guests were leaving. “Yes Prabhupada.” I ran to Hari Sauri, “Prabhupada wants prasadam for the guests.” He said, “It’s on the table.” I gave it to the guests. “whew I did something right.” I went back to the garden and stood in the back with my one crumpled asana. Prabhupada said, “So? I asked you to get some asanas. What is the difficulty?” I said, “Prabhupada, we only have this one asana.” He shook his head and rolled his eyes. I seemed to be destined to make an idiot of myself. I said, “Prabhupada what should I do with this asana?” he said, “Take your asana and sit down!” and he and Bhagatji laughed uproariously. Prabhupada said, “These westerners, what can you do?” I was the object of the laughter, but somehow I started laughing uproariously too. I had gone in there with aspirations to be recognized as one of the big devotees and Prabhupada crushed me completely. He made me realize that I’m an insignificant servant and I can hardly do anything right. He immediately reduced my false ego to its proper perspective. It was an instructive experience. 

Another time, Prabhupada was circumambulating the temple with a group of us. At one point he came to the corner of the building and stopped so suddenly that devotees almost ran into him. He turned around and said in a grave voice, “You are blind, but I can see.” We didn’t know what to say. Nobody said anything. We went around again. When we got back to the same spot and without saying anything Prabhupada pointed to a light that was on. The sun had already come up and the light was on. 

In Vrindavan, Prabhupada’s mood was that not a paisa should be wasted. Whenever water was dripping, whenever there was any neglect, whenever a merchant was trying to get the better of us in a business deal, he was on top of it. And that was his comment, “you are blind, but I can see.” It worked on every level. It was true in terms of the management of that temple and it was true in terms of our spiritual condition. It was a statement in truth and it had a practical application.