BY: PREMANJANA DASA
There, in a dust-bin, he found a copy of BTG. While going through the magazine, he say a photograph of Srila Prabhupada and he was immediately attracted – not to Srila Prabhupada, but to his golden wristwatch. He vowed that when he was released, he’d steal the watch.
Jun 13, 2011 — SRIDHAM MAYAPUR, WEST BENGAL — Haridas prabhu first came to Bombay from Bangalore, looking out for a job. When he failed, he started picking pockets. This landed him in Arthur Road Jail. There, in a dust-bin, he found a copy of BTG. While going through the magazine, he say a photograph of Srila Prabhupada and he was immediately attracted – not to Srila Prabhupada, but to his golden wristwatch. He vowed that when he was released, he’d steal the watch.
On release, he walked all the way to Akash Ganga, that was the address given in BTG. There he was told that they had shifted to Juhu. He walked all the way to Juhu, since he had no money. Krishna was actually purifying him before meeting a pure devotee. In Juhu, he met Giriraj Maharaj. Maharaj told him that Srila Prabhupada was in Hyderabad and was expected to be in Bombay very soon. Maharaj then invited him to stay in the temple. He would get free prasad and staying facilities. He did not mind shaving also.
After a few days he was exasperated and he asked Giriraj Maharaj if he could go to Hyderabad. Maharaj said okay. He then asked if he would get ticket money or would he have to steal it? Giriraj Maharaj gave him the money and told him to return soon. In Hyderabad, Srila Prabhupada was giving darshan when Haridas prabhu entered. Srila Prabhupada saw him and called him forward. On being asked, Haridas prabhu said that he had got attracted to Srila Prabhupada’s watch and that he wanted to steal it. Srila Prabhupada said, “You want this watch?” and he immediately removed it. Haridas prabhu said “No”, now he had lost interest in the watch, but Prabhupada insisted he keep the watch.
Prabhupada asked how long he was staying. Haridas prabhu said that he had promised Giriraj Maharaj that he’d return as soon as he had met Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada replied, “You must keep a promise, never to break it”. Haridas prabhu liked this instruction.
After some time Srila Prabhupada came to Bombay. One day Haridas was helping a devotee in the kitchen and he saw that other devotees were missing. On inquiry he came to know that Prabhupada is initiating devotees. He asked permission to watch. The devotee told him to return immediately, since there were no devotees to help him. When he reached the temple hall, Srila Prabhupada noticed him standing in a corner.
“Why are you not taking intiation?” Prabhupada asked. Haridas prabhu said, “I don’t know”. ”Would you like to take?” ”Okay”. ”Where are your beads?” ”I don’t have any”.
Immediately, Srila Prabhupada took his own personal beads and gave them to Haridas. Meanwhile a very shocked GBC sannyasi asked Srila Prabhupada, “I’m sure you are not going to initiate him”. Srila Prabhupada looked at him and said, “I know what I’m doing”.
Giriraj Maharaj, who was standing nearby, was about to say something to support the sannyasi, but when he heard Prabhupada’s reply, he decided to keep quiet. Srila Prabhupada asked, “What is your name?” “Giriraj Prabhu calls me Haridas”. “So your initiated name is Haridas. What are the four regulative principles?” He didn’t know. Srila Prabhupada looked at Giriraj Maharaj. Giriraj Maharaj looked at Haridas prabhu and said “Haridas, four regulative principles, I have told you this.” Immediately it struck Haridas prabhu and he told Srila Prabhupada.
Haridas then rushed to the kitchen, where a very exasperated devotee was waiting for him. “Where’d you been?” “Oh, I got initiated” “What you got initiated? What are you doing here, go sit for the yagna.”
Now Haridas prabhu had a weakness, he liked chocolates. Due to his old habits, he would retain some of the money given to him to purchase flowers. With this money he would buy chocolates. One day he decided to buy chocolates for Srila Prabhupada. So he purchased two 5-star Cadbury chocolates, keeping it in his bead bag, he went to Srila Prabhupada’s room. As soon as he entered, he offered dandavats and the chocolates fell out of the bag. Srila Prabhupada picked one up and peeling it, was about to eat it, then he read on the cover and told Haridas prabhu: “Haridas we don’t eat such things, you like to eat sweets, then come with me”.
They went to the kitchen and Srila Prabhupada made halawa for Haridas prabhu. Haridas prabhu reminisces today, “I am now running Govindas restaurant and having prasad cooked by so many devotees, but I have yet to taste halava like the one Srila Prabhupada made for me.”
Premanjana dasa (Pranjal Joshi)