A gentleman and a (cookbook) scholar


Any kind of management really requires being willing to ‘do the needful,’ as Srila Prabhupada would say; being the office manager at the beautiful Krishna.com is no exception. Sometimes that means being willing to jump in and actually help with the cleaning, sometimes it involves various accounting or HR tasks, and today it included helping by typing up a recipe out of one of the cookbooks we have in the Krishna.com store for the online food section (http://food.krishna.com/).
This week’s recipe came from Adiraja’s cookbook, The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking. As I typed through the list of succulent ingredients, I couldn’t help but remember an incident where I had personally been a recipient of a kindness bestowed by the author, many years ago.
I was on my way to the holy land of Vrindavana, about a three hour drive north of New Delhi. I was travelling alone. Whether this was wise on my part is not the point; I have a friend (of Indian birth) who says her husband and sons wouldn’t let her go past her own driveway alone, after dark. Never mind, I was raised in a different culture and had been scooped up by Lord Caitanya’s mercy. So there I was, stepping down from the plane and into the Delhi airport at about 9 pm. Even I had enough sense to realize that to try to get a taxi to Vrindavana at this hour was not safe. So instead I got a taxi to the Delhi temple. Little did I know that would be far from simple. The cab driver appeared not to know the location, and drove around and around the general vicinity of the temple for what seemed an extremely long time (probably he did it just to increase the fare), before finally locating the ISKCON temple. He dropped me at the door, I paid him and collected my bags, only to learn that there was no place for ladies to stay.
It so happened that Adiraja Prabhu was in Delhi at the time, and happened to see my predicament. By now it was close to 11pm. He kindly took it upon himself to not only inform me of the location of a ladies’ ashram a few blocks away, but, as it was hardly the time of night where one might find another cab, he also escorted this worn-out and bewildered traveler safely to the door, knocked until one of the ladies there opened it, and saw that I was safely situated, before retiring from his own very busy day. Did I mention that he carried my heavy bag?
I never had met him before; I’ve never seen him since. But I have always thought of him as one of the living examples of Prabhupada’s legacy. Do you know about this exchange? When asked, “How do you recognize a Vaisnava?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “He is a perfect gentleman.”
Now that I’ve been reminded of this episode, I’m all the more eager to try out the recipe I was typing, and offer it to my home Deities with a special prayer for a kind Godbrother who was so willing to ‘do the needful’ for a complete stranger, but another member of Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual family.
Bon appétit!