During traditional morning worship ceremonies, Srila Prabhupada accepts flower petal offerings from disciples and well-wishers. The genuine spiritual master accepts worship only on behalf of Krishna to inspire devotion among disciples, and never thinks himself the enjoyer of such worship. Srila Prabhupada was a stalwart example of such humility. He was able to inspire thousands of people to take up the message of Lord Krishna, without ever taking any credit for himself. He would often say, "My only qualification is that I have strictly followed the instructions of my guru maharaja."
In the days when there was no Ratha-yatra held in Los Angeles, the devotees used to travel en masse to San Francisco to attend the Ratha-yatra there. One morning, when Prabhupada came down to the temple at his usual time, there were only a handful of devotees remaining, since most of them had already gone to San Francisco. (Srila Prabhupada was to leave later that day by plane.) Earlier that morning someone had thrown a pipe bomb into the temple room through the back door. The bomb exploded, shaken the building, and a few devotees had been cut with small pieces of shrapnel.
Prabhupada sat on the vyasasana and said he was now going to teach them a new mantra. He then taught the devotees the Nrisimhadeva mantras, beginning with the words namas te narasimhaya. He went over the words with them several times, and then they sang it together.
Prabhupada remarked on this occasion that as his movement was now growing, the demons were becoming more envious. He said that as the Krishna consciousness movement grew, there would be attacks, but the devotees should not be afraid and should not stop from pushing on. They should chant these mantras to Lord Nrisimhadeva, "Lord Nrisimhadeva will always protect us." said Prabhupada. Prabhupada also approved that these mantras be sent out to all his ISKCON centers for the devotees to chant.
Srila Prabhupada endured difficulties. Difficult years occurred, especially during his household life, with the war and the days of Hindu-Muslim riots. It was also difficult for Prabhupada when his family members gave him no cooperation in his attempt to preach but raher tried to dissuade him. And then during the 1950s, when Prabhupada was alone with no money or support, trying to preach in places like the streets of New Delhi, he endured. In the first years in America, and even later as his movement grew, he experienced serious illnesses. Furthermore, he had to carry the great burdens of his worldwide movement, especially in times when leaders he depended on fell down from the principles of Krishna consciousness or deserted him. He had to carry all responsibilities, to preach, to manage, and to settle the quarrels.
Despite the difficulties, Prabhupada never showed signs of weakening or of giving up the saintly qualities for which he was so well known and so dear to devotees. He never abandoned duty during difficult times. During his household years he accepted the responsibility of maintaining his family, even though it was a great struggle. And typically, during illnesses, he chose opportunities for preaching over those for recuperation. In 1973 he rose almost immediately from serious dysentery in Calcutta to attend the Ratha-yatra in London. And in 1976, Prabhupada gave up an extended stay at his Pennsylvania farm, because he said he wanted the opportunity, like Arjuna, to always fight for Krishna, by traveling and preaching. His example to his followers was that they should never abandon their posts; they should rather die on the battlefield as Krishna conscious preachers.
Not only did Prabhupada accept his duty, but he endured difficlties with all his composure intact. He was not afraid; he trusted Krishna. During the 1971 wartime blackout in New Delhi, when Prabhupada was being interviewed by a nervous reporter, the reporter remarked that here was the ugly reality. Prabhupada reminded him that we are always in the midst of the ugly reality. In New York City he said to a similiar inquirer that we are always at war. "If you go out into the street during winter in New York City without a coat," said Prabhupada, "you will die. Is it not war?"
Srila Prabhupada was always a true sadhu. He once defined sadhu by saying that he is not a person who complains, "I cannot see you today because I am not feeling well." A sadhu tolerates; therefore he is known as titiksavah karunikah - tolerant and merciful. During Prabhupada's difficult times he remained calm, in control of his senses, and continually preached.
One noticeable response of Prabhupada to difficulties was that he would become especialy serious and grave. This gave his followers an understanding of real spiritual life. His gravity was more instructive and revealing than the unswerving smiles of the pseudo swamis. Srila Prabhupada was always in touch with Krishna, the resevoir of pleasure, and yet the gravity Srila Prabhupada showed in the face of the material nature was a personal response that gave his followers strength. When, for preaching purposes, he entered the East Village Theater and saw an amateur rock group dancing "like monkeys" on stage, Prabhupada became very grave, although later when he recalled it in his room, he laughed with great mirth.
Prabhupadas's gravity also meant that he did not reveal when he was in difficulty. During a 1967 TV show, Srila Prabhupada experienced great discomfort under the hot lights, and yet he mentioned it only later. A week after that, his health broke down, and he experienced heart palpitations and partial paralysis.
When Prabhupada experienced physical difficulty, he took it as a time to accept service from his disciples. He allowed them to massage him and care for him, but he warned them that if they had done this during a normal situation, it would have been too familiar. Therefore, when Prabhupada experienced trouble, he provided a means for his disciples to serve the guru with great intent. During times of illness he allowed disciples to give him constant massages, and regularly they guarded him and stayed up with him. They also discussed problems in his spiritual movement with him and learned firsthand how to give all their energy for Krishna - how to accept difficulties for spreading Krishna consciousness. But if a disciple thought that by his assistance he was giving his spiritual master life, Prabhupada said that that was offensive. The guru gives service, but the disciple should not think that by his care he is maintaining his spiritual master.
Sometimes Srila Prabhupada made light of his difficulties. When one time in his last years he was offered a plate of prasadam in a room with professors in Toronto, he replied softly, "I have no teeth and no appetite." He joked that his disciples were getting good service out of him, since he could not eat or sleep and yet he worked.
Srila Prabhupada always met his difficulties as one protected by Krishna, and he showed he was transcendental to any situation - and that his disciples should be also.
Prabupada's Vrindavana acquaintance Bhagatji once entered Prabhupada's room and found him sitting very silent and motionless. Bhagatji sat for along time beside Prabhupada actually moved and then realized that Bhagatji was in the room.
"Prabhupada", said Bhagatji, "you were in deep meditaion."
"Yes", said Prabhupada. "I was studying these mosquitoes. I was looking att how wonderful Krishna has created these things. Every mosquito looks the same, so I was looking at the legs and wings..."
Prabhupada: "They foolishly say "struggle for existence." "Survival of the fittest." But who is fit? He does not know. Fittest means one who does not get next a material body. He is fit. Because as soon as you get material body, nunam pramattah kurute vikarma..."
Morning walk August 23, 1976
"So far your health is concerned, Hawaii is very good climate. You can take bath in the sea, and that will keep your health. Take dal, especially curd, a little cheese, peanuts, green vegetables, especially squash leaf."
Letter of December 10, 1973
"Regarding your fasting, if you are sick, the fasting is the best medicine. For disease and unwanted guests, if you do not give them food, they will go away."
Letter of November 16, 1975
Srila Prabhupada said that if one were to ask a heavy sense indulger, one who has given his whole life in tying to please his senses, if he had actually attained happiness, the sense gratifier would have to say, "No, my life was hellish."Srila Prabhupada was the opposite of this jaded outlook; he had no worldly weariness. His outlook was like spring day, and this came from his transcendental consciusness. As Prabhodananda Sarasvati says, describing a devotee in spiritual consciousness, "He sees the whole material world as Vaikuntha."
One time on a morning walk through the pleasant English countryside, a devotee asked Prabhpada if this countryside was something like the kingdom of God. Prabhupada said, "This is the kingdom of God." And thus Prabhupada's devotees were able to see through his eyes how even this world is Vaikuntha for one who sees Krishna everywhere.
Freedom from sex desire in the material world is another kind of innocence, which is a strength of the transcendentalist. Although with sense enjoyers there is always an undercurrent of sexual meaning, Prabhupada was free of this. As a learned sage he was well aware that people were captivated by sex desire at every turn; yet he was not, and anyone who was with Prabhupada felt the possibilities of being free from sexual implications. Young men who were previously corrupt in taking drugs and in the illicit ways of sex became clean under his guidance.
But Prabhupada's goodness was not a too-sweet, saccharine goody-ness. It was not in the mode of material goodness. Indeded, Prabhupada's viewpoint of the material world was pessimistic, and he often expressed it with salty words. He did not speak sweet talk when describing the material world as it is.
Srila Prabhupada also felt compassion for the innocent creaturens of this world, like the cows, bulls, and calves, and the women also. He saw how women are victimized by others, although they themselves are innocent. Prabhupada felt that as they could easily be corrupted, they should rather be protected. He also referred to all his devotees as innocent boys and girls.
When one becomes a devotee, he can remain innocent of further guilt and sinfulness, and he will not be corrupted.
Srila Prabhupada trained his devotees to be shrewd so that they would not become corrupted by the material world. They could retain their innocence and still be well aware of the dangers of maya, and be prepared to deal with those dangers also. As Srila Prabhupada traveled and preached in cities all over the world, he saw and heard more and more of the horrors of Kali-yuga, yet he always remained innocent of the atrocities. He worked to save mankind and to convert the viciously guilty into saintly human beings.
In Hawaii, when he saw surfers riding waves, he said that they would take birth as fish in their next lives because they were becoming so absorbed in thinking how to swim and play in the waves. In his morning class, Prabhupada referred to the surfers as "seasufferers."
"Krishna consciousness is autocracy," he said. "There is no democracy. I call it demon-crazy. Actually demon-crazy. A bunch of demons get together, what good can they do?"
When Prabhupada's disciples drove him to different places in the U.S., he often remarked what foolish civilization we were living in. Commenting on the cars whizzing up and down the highway, Prabhupada laughed and referred to it as neck-break civilization.
A professor told Srila Prabhupada that he regarded himself more as a jnani than a bhakta, although he was attracted to bhakti. Prabhupada replied, saying that an impersonalist philosopher is not actually a jnani but a learner. Only when one realizes Krishna, does none become a jnani. The real meaning of knowledge is the ability not for grammatical or sophisticated expression but to actually know the truth.
One time when Prabhupada was at Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Mayavadi sannyasi came to visit. Srila Prabhupada received him graciously, and they had som discussion. When the man departed, he deliberately left behind a big stack of his pamphlets. The pamphlets contained a little essay on the monistic doctrine that "all is one," defying the direct meaning of the Vedic scriptures and completely omitting Lord Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The next afternoon, Prabhupada met with the devotees as usual. His practice was to receive a very big plate of fruit and nuts, take some himself, and then ask a disciple to distribute the maha-prasadam to all the devotees. On this particular day, Prabhupada called for the pamphlets. The devotees were surprised - "Why is Prabhupada calling for these pamphlets?" When they were brought in, Srila Prabhupada said, "Distribute one to each of the devotees." The devotees were bewildered, as the Mayavadi pamphlets were distributed to one and all.
Then Prabhupada said, "Everyone take a pamphlet, open it up, and put it in your hand." He took a few fruits from the plate, began eating them, and then indicated that the rest should be distributed. He said the devotees should use the pamphlets as paper plates.
One of the devotees mentioned later that Prabhupada was practicing yukta-vairagya by this simple act. He had found a useful purpose for the atheistic tracts, simultaneously ridiculing their author and yet engaging him in devotional service.
Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami: Prabhupada Nectar Volume 3