How to Make Spiritual Advancement

by Sruta-kirti das

October 1972, Vrindavan, India
Camp: Radha Damodara Temple

Since arriving here on October 15th Srila Prabhupada has been giving classes on the “Nectar of Devotion” every evening in the courtyard near the Bhajana Kutir of Srila Rupa Goswami. This took place during the month of Kartika. Srila Prabhupada had spoken about doing it on many occasions before arriving. He was very excited. He said that all the classes would be in English, not in Hindi, for the benefit of his disciples. On the plane to Delhi he said to me, “you can read from NOD and then I will give purports.” I was very happy to be given such an opportunity.

On the first evening Pradyumna took the service of reading from NOD. That was all right with me. I had to record the lecture and take care of Srila Prabhupada’s personal needs such as fanning him when required. The courtyard was filled with his disciples and also many Brijbasis. Most of them didn’t understand English but that didn’t matter. They were happy to have the association of a saintly person.

It was still light out during class. Parrots were busy getting back to their branches for the night. The monkeys were creating havoc, as usual. The atmosphere was very transcendental, except for the flies. They were buzzing around Srila Prabhupada while he was speaking. It was a great opportunity for me to do some service. I picked up the camara fan and stood by my guru. I twirled the fan just like a pujari performing arati before the Deities. I felt so proud being able to perform such a service in front of my Godbrothers. Up and down I waved the fan hardly noticing the flies were still bothering him. At one point he lifted his arm and waved it across his face to chase the flies away. I was so absorbed in feelings of grandeur it never occurred to me that I wasn’t doing any service. I never came close to solving the problem.

Finally, the cow dung hit the fan. My Spiritual Master glared at me and shouted, “Get someone up here with some intelligence.” I stood motionless for about a year.

Immediately a young brahmacari by the name of Kunjabihari took the fan from my sweaty hand and stood by Srila Prabhupada. He was considered by some to be a rather eccentric devotee. At the time I would not have picked him for this particular service.

I went back to my tape recorder. My mind was reeling along with it. I finally realized what it meant to be 1/10,000 part the tip of a hair. I watched Kunjabihari. It seemed like he could put out a forest fire with the intensity of his fanning. No fly was foolish enough to hang around as long as he was in town. Seconds later all the flies were gone. Srila Prabhupada never stopped speaking to his disciples throughout this ordeal. Just as I was starting to breath again Srila Prabhupada looked at Kunjabihari with a smile and nodded approvingly of his disciples devotional service.

All I remember was getting up at the end of the lecture and walking alone towards Srila Prabhupada’s quarters. Before I could get inside a brahmacari came up to me and said, “Srutakirti, you are so fortunate to get chastised like that by Srila Prabhupada.” I forced a strained smile and said, “Yes.” It was the first time Srila Prabhupada chastised me before so many. It was difficult to accept. He was so very kind to have cut down my false pride. He has blessed me with that again and again over the years. He must do it because I still haven’t learned the simple truth that I am “fool number one”. He keeps trying to teach me that service is for his pleasure not mine. Srila Prabhupada, please give me another chance to fan you. No! I am still puffed up. Please, bless me with the desire to fan your disciple, Kunjabihari dasa. He has pleased you by his service. That is the way to make advancement in Krishna Consciousness.


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