Bonds of Love: Samapriya Devi Dasi
Getting Out Of The Car
One day, Srila Prabhupada went to Golden Avatar Studios in Los Angeles to do some recording. I prepared a fruit plate that we placed next to the spot where Srila Prabhupada was to sit. It was mid-morning, and only a handful of devotees were standing outside anxiously awaiting his arrival.
Finally, a car pulled up in front of the door along the curb. We all offered our obeisances and stood up to witness what was to happen next. A brahmacari stepped out of the car and opened the car’s back car door for Srila Prabhupada. The sidewalk was about eight inches above street level, so when Srila Prabhupada tried to get out of the car, he had to pull himself up by holding on to the door handle. It was an awkward stretch, and it looked like Srila Prabhupada, appearing as an elderly gentleman, was struggling to do it.
I held my breath at the inconvenience the curb presented to my spiritual master, and prayed deeply from within my heart as loud as I could, hoping the brahmacari would hear my thoughts to help Srila Prabhupada out of the car.
But to my dismay, he did not hear my thoughts and did not extend a hand to assist Srila Prabhupada. I felt terrible. I should have run to the aid of my guru and accepted this fortunate service, at that moment available to only a few. None of us did anything.
Srila Prabhupada remained inside the Golden Avatar Studios for a few hours, and again I stood outside, waiting for him. I wanted to apologize for my great negligence in not helping him get out of the car. I knew I could not live with myself if I was not absolved of this deviation of proper conduct.
When Srila Prabhupada came out of the studio, I walked up to him and with heartfelt regret said I was sorry for not helping him get out of the car. He looked at me in wonder. Then he looked at the brahmacari and asked, “What is she saying?” The brahmacari said, “Oh, it’s nothing Srila Prabhupada.”
Beside myself and not understanding how the brahmacari could call this nothing, I said. “Yes, it is something, Srila Prabhupada. I am so sorry for not helping you get out of the car when you arrived here. It looked like you needed help and I did not help you and I beg your forgiveness.”
Again Srila Prabhupada looked at the brahmacari and asked, “What did she say?” And again the brahmacari said, “Nothing.”
By now I was on the brink of tears, and in great turmoil, almost whimpering, I said, “Yes, Srila Prabhpada, it is something. I am so sorry for not serving you by helping you get out of the car.”
Then, Srila Prabhupada turned to me with a gaze full of compassion and said reassuringly, “It’s all right.” I felt like I had been holding my breath, suspended in a timeless zone. With those three words, Srila Prabhupada gave me life again.
One time, I wanted to make a present for Srila Prabhupada. I was engaged in jewelry making, and decided that a necklace of tulasi beads would be the most appropriate and worthy offering for my spiritual master.
Bending silver wire to create spirals and bordering tulasi with silver beads, I created a symmetrical pattern. When it was finished, I carefully packaged it and sent it to Dallas, where Srila Prabhupada was staying at that time.
Shortly after mailing my package, I heard that Srila Prabhupada did not like the devotees to wear tulasi beads separated by stones, beads, or silver. I was devastated. What had I done? I had given a gift to my spiritual master, and it was just what he instructed us not to wear. In great anxiety I prayed for forgiveness from Krishna for having offended His pure devotee.
During this time, Srila Prabhupada was printing the Caitanya-caritamrita. Srila Prabhupada’s books are a treasure for all his followers. Every time a new book was released by the BBT, we immediately found a way to secure a copy. The latest volume at that time was the eighth volume of the Madhya-lila. There was always a beautiful photograph of Srila Prabhupada in his books, and the devotees anxiously waited to see if the picture would be one they hadn’t seen before.
When I got the new book and opened it to the picture of Srila Prabhupada, I saw that he was sitting on the vyasasana in Dallas. I could not believe what I saw. It looked like Srila Prabhupada was wearing my necklace! I found a magnifying glass and carefully examined the photo. I saw the spirals and the silver beads. I was sure it was the same pattern I had made. It looked like my offering to Srila Prabhupada. He had not rejected it, but was wearing it in the photo. I was very grateful and very relieved that Srila Prabhupada was so kind to accept my humble offering.
A Letter from Srila Prabhupada
16 August, 1975
Boulder Creek, CA
My Dear Sama Priya devi dasi:
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated July 30, 1975 with enclosed checks for Dollars 50.00 and 5.00. Thank you very much for it. I appreciate your sentiments for your spiritual master, and I will pray to Krishna for your continued spiritual advancement. You simply have to keep yourself always in the fire of Krishna consciousness. Read my books daily, chant 16 rounds, and worship Lord Caitanya in your home. If you do this maya will never touch you.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
In Berkeley, California, in July 1975, the day after the Ratha-yatra festival I sat with my daughter in my lap and the other devotees who were to receive initiation from Srila Prabhupada in a circle around the fire yajna. I had made a bouquet, which I was planning to give to Srila Prabhupada. When I was called, my very small but determined child wanted to come with me. I convinced her to wait by the fire pit.
Now as I reflect on this, I see that it would not have been so bad if she had accompanied me. I was the last of about forty devotees to received initiation that day. Later, Vaiyasaki, who was also receiving initiation, sent me a tape recording of the entire ceremony. On the tape it was clear that Srila Prabhupada was humming as he waited for me to come up and until after I had offered him my obeisances.
When I got up after paying full dandavats, I handed Srila Prabhupada my bouquet with my left hand while extending my right hand to receive my beads. Another devotee, Jayatirtha Dasa, who was standing next to Srila Prabhupada, called out with great force, “Don’t give Srila Prabhupada the flowers with your left hand! Offer them to him with your right hand.” I immediately transferred the bouquet to my right hand to offer to Srila Prabhupada and extended my left hand to receive the beads. Again he called out “Don’t take your beads with your left hand! Take them with your right hand.” Again, I transferred the bouquet back to my left hand and offered it to Srila Prabhupada, extending my right hand to receive the beads. Beside himself with frustration and obviously disturbed by my lack of intelligence, Jayatirtha once again attempted to correct the situation.
At this point Srila Prabhupada, who was witnessing this absurd exchange, turned to Jayatirtha and said with the utmost compassion, “It’s all right.” Kindness personified, Srila Prabhupada handed me my initiation beads and accepted the bouquet. I don’t remember exactly which hand did what in the end, but he told me that my name was Samapriya Devi Dasi and then said “That’s all.”
As I reflect on these small jewels of eternity, which have shaped my life, it seems that Srila Prabhupada is always telling me, “It’s all right.” If we are doing the best we can with a sincere heart, endeavoring to please Krishna and His pure devotee, then it is most definitely all right.