Feeling dejected I walked back into the temple room to lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself for my misfortune. All of a sudden, I thought I began to hear my name being called… “Where is Mahananda. Srila Prabhupada wants to see him right away in his room.”
These words were still ringing in my ears as they marched me up the stairs and down to the end on the hallway in the Henry Street temple in Brooklyn where Srila Prabhupada had his quarters. Had he called me here because of what I had done in the hallway outside of the temple room that morning? Suddenly I was fearful that I was really in trouble!
This is what I had done. Right after he gave class in the main temple room, all of the devotees lined up on both sides of the hallway leading out, pressing their backs to the wall tightly so that Prabhupada could pass by on his way back to his room. Just as he got up to where I was standing, I saw a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something we only dream of or read about in the scriptures….I threw myself on the floor in front of him, blocking the narrow hallway and wrapped my arms entirely around those lotus feet and rested my head on top of his toes.
It seemed like I stayed there forever. Home at last, I must have felt. While staying there for several moments while everything and everyone was perfectly quiet and still (and maybe in a little shock), the one thing that I remember that occupied my mind was my surprise that he so kindly just stood there for the longest time and let me do what I considered the perfection of my life.
He and Krsna must have planned this, both knowing that it would take something extraordinary to purify someone such as myself. I had stayed there for as long as I needed to and no one said a word…..
As I stood there in his room remembering the incident in the hallway and wondering if I had done something terrible, my mind was quickly brought back to the present as they closed the door behind me, leaving me there in the room with Prabhupada…alone. After I offered my obeisances to him I stood there frozen, unable to speak. Srila Prabhupada asked my “What is the matter?” Still stuck on the mental plane I began to stutter and explain to him my dilemma about the food. I don’t think I was making much sense.
He kept saying things back to me but all I could remember him saying was “You cannot commit sin by eating Prasadam.” He said that twice, but I kept trying to get him to help me mentally figure out how to solve my conflict. I must have been there for a long time asking questions when finally he looked at me and said “Aroti is going on?” “Yes, Prabhupada” I stuttered. “Aroti is going on.” “Just go to aroti”, he said.