Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just One Glance

Several nights ago, I came for a quiet Sayana Arati, and the only other person was Bibhatsu Prabhu, an elderly man a world away from mine. But over the years we have formed a kind of quiet companionship because we both come so often for the last arati.

The other night, though, Bibhatsu looked especially frail with his arm crutches and a new addition, a tube that wrapped across his face to assist with his breathing. After the arati we settled outside on the verandah to honor our mahaprasad together. We haven't talked much over the years, but right then I felt this urgency to know more about Bibhatsu Prabhu.

"So," I asked, "did you ever meet Srila Prabhupad?"

"I was in his presence," he replied brightly.

"Oh really?"

"Yes." He paused a moment to recollect. "Prabhupad came through New York in 1976 for the Rathayatra, and I lived about a block away from the 55th Street temple. So I came to the temple, and we were all waiting to greet Prabhupad. I was in the very back of the packed crowd, at the back of the room. So when Prabhupad came, the kirtan got louder and everyone was crowding around him so much that I couldn't see him.

"But he was there," Bibhatsu emphasized. "Then he went up to his room. So I was in Prabhupad's presence, but I never got to see him." He said it with absolutely no regret, and continued to eat his maha with gusto.

"You... you were in his presence... but you never got to see him?" I wrapped my arms around my legs and looked off into the distance. Tears stung my eyes.

Oh, what fate! What would I have given to have even been in that room like Bibhatsu, to have even been in Prabhupad's presence. Maybe I would have elbowed my way to the front of the crowd, and maybe caught a glimpse of Prabhupad before he disappeared up the stairs. And maybe he would have looked back one last time, and we could have exchanged a glance, just one glance.

With that, I glanced over my shoulder into the templeroom. And for a moment I understood why there had been no regret in Bibhatsu's voice, for there sat Srila Prabhupad upon his vyasasan in a pool of soft light.

1 comment:

Jahnavi said...

Your words are like a balm Bhakti. Please keep writing - you are blessed with the gift of insight and you serve us all by sharing...lots of love to you x

To write is to dare the soul. So write.