Prabhupad's Mercy In A Basket
A Virtual-Reality Dream Of Srila Prabhupad I Had In Sept Of 1980

It was Sept of 1980, and it was my first visit to New Vrndaban and Srila Prabhupad's palace of Gold. I had driven across country from LA, on my way to Detroit, but since it was the Labor Day Prabhupad Festival in New Vrndaban that weekend, I swung over to New Vrndaban on my way. I was moving due to my service with the FATE project. I was very happy to have finally seen Prabhupad's Palace and Sri Sri Radha Vrndaban Chandra.

That night, or more specifically, early the next morning, I had the most wonderful dream of my life. From the beginning to the end it was no ordinary dream. It was virtual reality. It was so vivid, and my memory of all the details when I awoke were so clear and real, that it was hard to think that it was only a dream. It was more real than this world.

The dream lasted for some time, and most of the dream, the first part, was nice, but the instructions came right at the end of the Dream.

The dream:

The dream started while I was walking toward the Palace. At first there were a few, then dozens of devotees walking very fast, some of them running, everyone headed toward the Palace. Something was happening, what was it? I asked a devotee walking by, "What's going on, why is everyone running?" It was 'a devotee' not anyone specific or any one I recognized. He looked surprised. With great excitment he said, "What, you haven't heard? Srila Prabhupad has come back. Prabhupad has come back. Because of the love of the devotees, he has agreed to come back". Oh my God. Wow, Srila Prabhupad has come back? Oh wow. I couldn't believe it. Tears started coming from my eyes.
Then, as I was walking, there he was, Srila Prabhupad, just ahead, also walking toward the Palace.

[NOTE: This is an experience I have had in a number of dreams in which Srila Prabhupad appears. That is that either Srila Prabhupad has come back, or that he never left, that he was traveling or at another temple and I am seeing him again after a long time. I would say, however, it has been over a year since I last had a dream where Srila Prabhupad appeared]

The dream was sort of like a movie in which there were different scenes. Just seconds after seeing Prabhupad that scene was over and the next scene started. In the next scene I was sitting near Prabhupad's Vyasasan, just like before, and there he was, singing Jaya-Radha-Madhava. His kartals chiming so wonderfuly.  A minute latter the scene changed again to Prabhuoad giving Srimad Bhagavatam class. Transcendence personified speaking  on the asan. It was so real. It was him. He had come back.  I was so happy. I just wanted to sit there and listen to him speak forever. I wanted to see his smile and hear his voice again. It was so sweet.

That lasted for some time, then the next scene of the dream came. It was a morning walk. Prabhupad was surrounded by so many GBC and sannyasis. I was walking just behind, just like on the first morning walk I took in Jan of 1974.

But, in the dream Srila Prabhupad was carrying something. Once in a while in LA I used to dress small Rukmini-Dwarakanath, and Rukmini often had a small woven flower basket on her arm. In this dream Srila Prabhupad was carrying a full sized picnic basket. The type with lids on the top.  It wasn't real large, about 2 foot long.

As he walked Srila Prabhupad was speaking on the philosophy.  Once in a while he would stop to make a point, and when he did he sat the basket down.  After pausing for a moment, he would reach down and pick it up again.  I couldn't help but notice that it looked a little heavy as Prabhupad would pick it up.  I was walking behind, hardly able to hear much of what he was saying. But, I was wondering, here are so many big GBC, sannyasis, so many leaders of our movement, why doesn't anyone offer to carry the basket for Srila Prabhupad?

This went on 3 or 4 times, Prabhupad pausing, settng the basket down, then picking it up with no one coming forward to offer to carry it for him. I told myself, the next time he sets this down, if no one else offers to carry it, I will. 

Again, he paused and set down the basket.  I waited, no one came forward. Prabhupad reached down again to pick it up.  I burst forward and blurted out, "Srila Prabhupad, can I carry your basket for you?"  Prabhupad look at me and nodded his head side to side and said, "Yes, thank you". 

I picked up the basket, and it seemed awfully heavy.  What was in that basket, I wondered?  As Prabhupad walked I now found myself walking right next to him.  I didn't even think I would get to be so close to him by offering to carry his basket. It was a great reward for the small service.

When I blurted out to him that I would carry his basket, I felt a bit akward. I felt like I was in an adolescent boy's body. My moves and my words seemed akward. I knew what I wanted to do or say, but when I acted or spoke it came out a little akward.

For sometime Prabhupad was walking and speaking. Even though I was walking right by his side, closer then any of my other senior God brothers or GBC or sannyasis, my mind was only on that basket. What was inside?  I couldn't concentrate on anything Prabhupad or my God  Brothers were speaking about.  I realized they were all speaking so lofty, but all I could focus on was the basket. 

I never even thought that what was inside may be personal to Prabhupad and that he may not want anyone to see it.  Instead I felt like a curious small child and just couldn't control my inquisitiveness.  I had to take a peek.  I opened the lid and looked inside.

There was only one thing in the basket. One big giant green apple. An apple. Not an ordinary apple. This was at least a foot in diameter. It was huge.  And it was also no ordinary large apple.  This apple had a large bite taken out of it.   Just one bite, but a large bite.  Immediately I realized Srila Prabhupad had bitten this apple.  This apple is prasadam.  It is divine mercy. It is as good as it gets.

Now, I never eat green apples. They are too sour and they bind my stomach up.   So, normally I just pass up green apples.

Well, this wasn't normal reality, this was a dream.  After I saw the apple, immediately I was struck with the most severe hunger pangs I have ever experienced.   It was an unreal sort of hunger.  I didn't know what to do. I felt like I was about to leave my body, dying of starvation sort of hungry.  And right there within reach I was carrying this big apple. Prabhupad prasadam.  But, I also knew this was Srila Prabhupad's apple.  I can't eat his apple. So, I tried as hard as I could to ignore my hunger and kept walking. I knew Srila Prabhupad was speaking very high philosophy with his other disciples, but I was lost in my own world and had no idea what anyone was saying.  Rather, all I could think about was that big green apple and the fact that it was maha-bhagavat prasadam. Prabhupad had bitten out of it.  And I was getting so weak. 

The hunger pangs got stronger, I kept ignoring it.  But, it got so severe, I felt if I ignore it any longer I would die. Prabhupad was speaking, but I felt if I don't get a bite of his big green apple I was going to die any second.  I just blurted out, interrupting him.  "Prabhupad !!!", I cried out.  He stopped speaking and looked over and very kindly he asked, "What?".   I wasn't even looking at him, I was only looking down at that big green apple and I bolted out, "Can I eat your apple, Prabhupad?".   Even thought I felt that I had my grown up body, the whole time I also felt I was acting like a small child. I looked over just to see Prabhupad smile at me and waving his hand in a gesture he said, "Yes, yes, eat."

I reached down and picked up the apple (which had somehow in the dream become small enough to pickup with one hand).  And hastily took a big bite.  Immediately as soon as I bit into it, all the hunger totally vanished - (along with the basket and apple - it was a dream).

Still, I was walking just at Prabhupad's side, and again he was speaking high philosophy with his senior diciples and again I was in my own world and could not really hear what they were saying.  Emotions started building up inside. I loved Srila Prabhupad so much, I just wanted to tell him.  But I didn't know what to say or how to say it.    Again he was speaking and I just blurted out and interrupted him saying, "Prabhupad !".  He stopped and without much inflection said, "Yes".  I got all choked up with emotions, I couldn't think of what to say,   Prabhupad went back to speaking. The emotional feelings inside kept swelling up.   Again, interrupting Prabhupad I blurted out, "Prabhupad !".    "Yes", he said again, but this time a little bit impatient with me.   Again, the emotions choked my voice and all I could get out was , "I...   I... I....".  I couldn't speak. I wanted to say 'I love you' but it wouldn't come out. Again he turned back to the other devotees and resumed speaking.

It was the third time. The emotions swelled up so strongly.  Again for the third time in a row I interrupted him and said, "Prabhupad !", this time, not angry or real upset, but like a loving father would say to a small boy, he said, "Yes, Yes. What is it, what do you want?"     Tears goshed out of my eyes and the words poured out of my heart, "Prabhupad I just want to serve your lotus feet."

As I was saying this I went falling to the ground.   But, being a dream it was a long fall.  I was looking down, and all I could see were the shelter of my life, his two shimmering lotus like feet.  About half way down Srila Prabhupad said, "Yes, which one?"

Which one?  Which one?  You mean, I have to choose only one? There were the two lotus feet of my spiritual master before me and all of a sudden I had to choose - which one?   As I reached his feet the setting of the dream changed.  Prabhupad was now sitting on a chair or asan and I was sitting cross legged at this feet. I reached out and placed one of his feet on my lap and begun to massage it.

Here is sort of an odd part of the dream.  I did service for FATE and at the time the studio had caste a number of large Prabhupad murtis.  These were caste out of platic resin and sometimes air pockets would remain as the thick liquid was poured in. Once in a while a caste would have part of a toe missing.  As I was massaging Prabhupad's foot I looked and noticed that one of his toes was defective. It looked like an air pocket in a cast and not all the toe was there.  I felt strange. Philosophically I reminded myself that the body of the pure devotee is said to be just like the Ganges river.  The Ganges river originates from the toes of Vishnu, it is fully transcendental. So, if there is some dead body or froth floating in the Ganges, one should simply brush it aside and drink the water.  The potency of the Ganges is not diminish due to the external seeming material defects. The body of the pure devotee is said to be the same. There may be some material defect, one should just ignore it and take the mercy that the pure devotee gives.

Still, with these thoughts present, my mind remained disturbed.  As I looked up to Prabhupad I could tell he knew my mind. He said, "That is all right, you can massage my other foot".  I put the one foot down and picked up the other.  I felt so much relief.   As I massaged his foot  I started to massage each toe separately.  When I did this I found one toe that I really liked the best. I felt so much ecstacy just massaging that one toe.  

I looked up, and Srila Prabhupad was looking down.  Here is when I understood he was giving me a very special instruction.   He said, "Yes, my toes are all transcendental. It doesn't matter which one you serve."    As he was saying this and talking about his toes, I was thinking it was symbolic and that it meant something much more than that.  At this point the dream changed.  I felt as if I were looking up into the sky at night and Srila Prabhupad was there, bigger then life, like an oracle speaking, coming down from the sky.  Srila Prabhupad said, My disciples are just like my toes. It doesn't matter which one you serve. Just find one that makes you happy and serve that one".  As his last word sounded my dream broke, it was just time to get up for Mangal Artik. 

I was in a daze for a minute, I didn't want to leave the dream. I wanted to go back and be with Srila Prabhupad again. I didn't want to wake up.

Even though this dream took place so many years ago, I never told too many. For one, it was just a dream. It is not the same as quoting from something Prabhupad wrote. But, I also didn't come forward with it publically because I had a very big problem with the whole guru issue. The time wasn't right.

My direct understanding of the instruction is that 'ALL' of Prabhupad's disciples are transcendental.   One can serve any one, not just 11 or 28, or who is voted to be a 'guru' or whatever,   But, just like all his toes are transcendental, it doesn't matter which of his disciples you serve, just find the one that makes you happy and serve that one.

August 22, 1998

(C) ameyatma das