(Kadamba Kanana Swami, June 2011)
In Vrindavan we had a Prabhupada’s disciple who was the sankirtan leader. He was older and was taking care of the sankirtan party, because it was a big temple with so many buses. He would meet with the sankirtan devotees in the book room, where the books. In the book room there was a seat for him……….a double seat which came from the sankirtan bus, and that was his sankirtan vyasasan, and he would sit on it and give lectures to the sankirtan devotees.
So it is kind of a fun thing to have….I mean there is some pleasure there: people sitting at your feet, and your’e sitting on this sankirtan seat and cutting the profiles and so on.
But then, somehow or other the deity cook in Vrindavan (who had cooked for so many years), had became ill due to old age and it wasn’t possible anymore
for him to do that heavy service of cooking. His body just couldn’t cope with it anymore. He wanted to but several times he collapsed, due to swollen legs, and just couldn’t do it.
Then one day I asked the sankirtan leader (who used to sometimes cook a little bit for the deities), if he would be willing to take on that service. In that service it basically meant that the original cook, whose name was Vibhu Caitanya would cook all the offerings including the mangal aarti sweets. It wasn’t just a little bit of cooking, since it was three alters plus, he also cooked for Prabhupada’s samadhi, and the deity of Prabhupada in the Radha Damodar temple. All these offerings he was cooking by himself…..everything! So it would need someone substantial to take over. When I asked the sankirtan leader, then he just thought for ten seconds and said:
“Ok, I will do it!”
And he went to the deity kitchen, just stayed there, and never looked back at his sankirtan vyasasan. He never thought nostalgically:
“Sometimes I miss those days with the sankirtan devotees!”
No! He never said anything about it and just continued and got completely absorbed. He completely took that service and started to cook all the offerings, just like the previous cook. In that I could see that he’s advanced, since he didn’t care about his position……he only cared about serving Krishna! He could see that:
“Yes, there is the need now”.
And he just took it wholeheartedly with the entire thing and didn’t care about his position in the devotional service! He was free from self interest.