Srila Prabhupada - Pastime
Submitted by Krpa
Pastime told by Ravindra Svarupa Maharaj , Srila Prabhupada Vyasa Puja 2000. (also in BBT Vyasa puja book 2000)
Below is the extract.
You were flying out of New York City, heading West, and as usual a large crowd of devotees turned out to see you off. It seemed as if a greater part of the residents of the New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore temples was there. You entered the boarding area for your flight, and the devotees streamed in after you, many vaulting over the boundary railing. You leaned back in a chair, and the devotees near you sat on the floor, while those further away remained standing. Devotees completely filled the boarding area and spilled out the entrance into the concourse. There were a lot of us, yet it was an opportunity for those sweet, informal, intimate sorts of exchanges we all cherished.
I found myself standing at the periphery. After a while I began to notice a representative of the airline in a state of increasing disturbance. One after another, he would accost a devotee on the edge of the crowd and address him in an agitated way. The devotees would glance at the airline representative for a moment, and then return full attention to you, ignoring the poor functionary. Seeing a full-blown "incident" brewing up, I went over to the official and asked him the matter. He pointed out that none of the other passengers on the flight were able to enter the boarding area, for it was filled completely with devotees. Among us, only you, Srila Prabhupada, the actual ticket-holding passenger, should have been in the boarding lounge. Would I please help get the other devotees to leave? It was true that a big crowd of passengers stood outside in the concourse.
My attempts to do something met with no more success than the official's. I appreciated the devotees' priorities and realized the job required someone with more clout than I had. I managed to draw aside Rupanuga Prabhu, our GBC representative. Rupanuga was endowed with what the army calls "command presence." People do what he says. Yet this time he too got the brush-off. Everyone was focused on what you were doing, Srila Prabhupada, and next to that even Rupanuga carried no weight. Then Rupanuga Prabhu seized upon an extraordinary measure. Jumping upon a chair, he cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled with considerable force: "Hare Krsna! All devotees must leave the boarding area immediately! All devotees leave right now!" This awesome display of command presence was greeted with shocked silence. Offended faces swiveled up toward Rupanuga and gaped in wordless rebuke for this affront. But not you, Srila Prabhupada. I remember you looking up at Rupanuga with a mild, round-eyed gaze of slight concern. And before anyone else could gather wits together to react, you had risen to your feet and started toward the exit. Rupanuga smiled. "Not you, Srila Prabhupada," he said. Not you. When Rupanuga yelled, the disciples showed their pride; but the master was humble. How much was revealed in that instant of reflex action. Within a moment's span of shocked silence, you disclosed a heart-stopping view of unfathomable humility and pridelessness.