Srutakirti Dasa became Prabhupada’s personal servant in August 1972. His service was to be by Prabhupada’s side twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He traveled with Prabhupada for 2 ½ years, and around the world five times.
Srutakirti always felt very cared for by Prabhupada, his eternal father. His biological father died when he was only three years old, so he felt Prabhupada was truly his father in every way. Prabhupada reciprocated with Srutakirti’s love and behaved with the tenderness of a parent. Prabhupada even arranged that in India, Srutakirti had cow’s milk and oats each day for breakfast. “Prabhupada knew I didn’t like going to India because I always got sick, so he made sure I had whatever I thought I needed to be healthy.”
Loving Prabhupada is something everyone can do, says Srutakirti. “Prabhupada made himself very accessible. Prabhupada sat in his room and let his disciples record him singing bhajans, so now everyone can hear the chanting of a pure devotee. Even before he had followers, Prabhupada started recording his lectures, so we can hear the sound vibration of a pure devotee. Prabhupada is available to us, all the time, through all these various media.” Everyone can have a personal relationship with Prabhupada.
Srutakirti recalls that Prabhupada was always serving Krishna, whether he was in front of the public or behind closed doors. Prabhupada was always thinking of Krishna, even when no one else was around. Every day at around at 2:00 a.m., while all his disciples were sleeping, Prabhupada was translating his books. Sometimes during the day he would sing bhajans for Krishna. Other times, Prabhupada sat and read his own books – the books that he himself had translated just months before. Prabhupada always said that he had not written the books; Krishna had written them.
Srutakirti’s favorite time of the day was during the evening massage, just before Prabhupada took rest. During the massage, Prabhupada often told him wonderful pastimes of Krishna and the cowherd boys. “I was always alone with Prabhupada during the evening massage. Sometimes he would talk to me when I was massaging him. He would talk and I just listened.”
During the evening massages, Srutakirti heard things from Prabhupada that other devotees never knew. For example, the devotees had always been bewildered regarding Prabhupada’s unbreakable determination to acquire the temple property at Juhu Beach. Many devotees could not understand what was so special about that particular property. Failing to understand Prabhupada’s exalted status as the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, they even gave him unsolicited advise, telling him that he ought to give up the land and buy a plot elsewhere. After the long battle was over, Prabhupada disclosed his inner motivation to Srutakirti one evening. Prabhupada said he had been determined to win the fight because he had invited Krishna to the Juhu Beach property and promised to build a temple for Him. Krishna had come, and now Prabhupada would not break his promise to Krishna.
Sometimes Prabhupada would tell him about his own childhood in Calcutta. Srutakirti felt blessed to share these moments alone with Prabhupada, and to hear such intimate pastimes. “I was very fortunate. I was alone with him in so many situations, like when he spoke with George Harrison and when he sat in his room playing harmonium and chanting for Krishna’s pleasure.”
”¨When Srutakirti speaks about Prabhupada, he is back with Prabhupada and experiencing the pastime all over again. And Prabhupada is also there, in the room. “Just like Prabhupada is on the vyasasana, Prabhupada is there when his disciples speak about him. That means that even today, just by hearing Prabhupada’s pastimes, people are in Prabhupada’s personal presence and having their own personal experiences with him.”
Srutakirti continues, “The more we develop our love and attachment to Prabhupada, and understand how the pure devotee lives his life, the more we come under his protection. All of us can have a personal relationship with Prabhupada. We must understand Prabhupada is here with us.”
For many years Srutakirti has been traveling to temples and festivals all over the world and giving seminars on his favorite subject – his personal memories of Prabhupada. The longer people hear about Prabhupada, the better, Srutakirti reports. “With longer seminars, people’s eyes begin to glow. By the third or fourth day, they are in ecstasy before the class even begins.”
Having spent so much time with Prabhupada, Srutakirti is in a unique position to share intimate details about Prabhupada. These details are important for at least two reasons. First, Prabhupada is the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. That means that he is our link to the disciplic succession. Second, Prabhupada is a pure devotee of Krishna. Therefore, the more we know about Prabhupada, the better we understand how a devotee should act – how to talk, how to walk, how to honor prasadam. “We have to know how Prabhupada talks to people, especially his disciples. Prabhupada always encourages every single person to increase his Krishna consciousness. He is the expert Spiritual Master, so he knows just how to fan the flames of each individual person’s devotion. You can see how Prabhupada walks when he takes darshan of the Deities. He appeared like royalty, but he is completely humble at the same time. You could see when he took darshan of the Deities. We should try and understand the details of our Founder-Acharya. He is our Acarya and always set the example for everyone in ISKCON,” says Srutakirti.
It is crucial that Prabhupada’s disciples travel and speak about him, the person Bhagavat. Devotees never tire of hearing about him. People ask to hear stories they already know, and they can hear the same stories over and over again. It is always fresh and enlivening, just like when we hear pastimes about Krishna, or about the devotees in Srimad Bhgavatam. This is the nature of spiritual pastimes – they are ever fresh.
If you would like to invite Srutakirti to speak in your community, you can contact him at: Srutakirti.ACBSP@pamho.net You can also contact him to order his book, “What is the Difficulty? Intimate moments in the personal service of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.”