Vaishnava Compassion and Srila Prabhupada

Hare KrishnaBy Giriraj Swami

An instructive incident that took place in Calcutta. The temple president there became very preoccupied in a business that he had started to raise funds for the temple, and meanwhile the temple had almost no money. Somehow, in the course of his absorption in the business, there was some neglect of the devotees in the temple. They were barely surviving. A strong-bodied devotee named Sudama Vipra, who had belonged to the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, was so famished that he would take the remnants of the ghee wicks that had been burned in the arati and squeeze out whatever little ghee was left, just to get a little more nutrition. The devotees were just waiting for Srila Prabhupada to come so they could explain the situation to him and get some help. There were not very many devotees in India then, and Prabhupada allowed them to meet him quite freely. And when he came, devotees did meet with him and speak with him. Eventually Prabhupada called a meeting of all the devotees to give them a chance to express themselves. One by one, they spoke about their difficulties. At one stage Tamal Krishna Goswami, the GBC for India, protested: “Srila Prabhupada, my only intention was to execute Your Divine Grace’s will.” And Prabhupada replied a little sarcastically, “Is it My Divine Grace’s will that the devotees should be disturbed?”