Touching the Hearts of the Officials with Prasadam
Volume 1, Chapter 27
T u e s d a y J u n e 1 3
While we were leaving Tajikistan today, the customs offiicials at the airport asked us to have a kirtana. We are not allowed to do Harinama on the streets because of the war, but somehow they had heard about our kirtanas at the temple. So right there in the customs hall, with people waiting to have their passports stamped and bags cleared, we got our instruments out (we always travel with Sri Prahlada’s accordion and my mrdanga) and had a ten-minute kirtana. The offiicials were in bliss, laughing and clapping their hands when suddenly the airline people came running towards us saying that we were holding up the plane.
When we arrived in Almaty, Kazakhstan, two and a half hours later, the customs offiicials there were making a thorough search of everyone’s baggage. But when they saw us they just waved us through. I couldn’t understand why, until I met the devotees who were there to receive us. They had gone into the customs hall before our arrival and distributed delicious prasadam to all the offiicials, thus facilitating our entry into the country. I was thinking how in the material world people rarely show kindness to others unless it’s in their own interest to do so. So when devotees show causeless mercy to people, it touches their hearts like nothing else.
As we pulled up at our apartment, incense was literally billowing out of the upstairs window, permeating the area around the building with the sweet smell. Anyone walking within fifty meters had to smell it. Sri Prahlada told me that Radha Carana Prabhu had become a devotee as a result of a similar situation. He had been walking in the area of the Paris temple one afternoon and had smelled the sweet fragrance of incense. It was so attractive that he followed the scent to the temple. He had never seen or met devotees before. The door to the temple was open, and he just walked into the temple room where the incense was burning. There he met devotees, and that was the beginning of his spiritual life. Much like the four Kumaras.
In the evening I lectured on the life of Syamananda Pandita. He has always been one of my heroes in Krsna consciousness. Although he was such an advanced devotee, experiencing the highest mellows of devotional service, he was also a powerful and bold preacher. Just like Srila Prabhupada.