When honoring maha-maha from sadhus plates, sometimes argument is given
that if it is done before washing the plate, it means you are eating from
the same plate which is offense, others embhasize eagerness, “as soon as
You should avoid offenses. If you want to pay respects to the sadhus
then why are you eating from their plates? Its a simply matter to transfer
the prasadam on the plate and wash the plate and then take the prasadam.
Eagerness is often just an excuse for laziness or greed.
And how it is in general with serving yourself more prasadam while holding
a dirty plate on the left hand? Is it enough to just quickly wash your
Did Srila Prabhupada comment to these?
Here’s a few incidents that occurred to me when I became Srila
Prabhupada’s servant. You judge for yourself what the standard is:
New Delhi Nov. 26 1975
Later, around 9:00 p.m., Prabhupada finished eating a little
prasadam and then asked me take his plate, along with a basket of fruit that
had been given to him earlier in the evening, down to the temple. The fruit
was to be given to the Deities, and Srila Prabhupada’s plate was to be
washed off and cleansed. Picking up his plate in one hand and the fruit in
the other, I started for the door, but Prabhupada immediately stopped me. He
pointed out that the plate, having been eaten from, was dirty. I had picked
it up, contaminating myself by touching it, and then I touched the fruit to
be offered to the Deity. He told me to wash my hands and take the items
separately. We all smiled at his thoughtfulness and my dullness.
From my point of view as a disciple, both guru and God were to be
worshipped on the same level. Foremost in my mind was the thought that every
little opportunity to render some service was for my own benefit. In other
words, I thought that I was becoming purified simply by touching the plate
that Srila Prabhupada had personally eaten from.
He, however, thought of himself as a humble servant of Krsna; thus
he saw the plate as being contaminated. Because he has such a high standard
of purity, and because the fruit was to be offered to the Deity, Srila
Prabhupada could therefore not accept the mixing of the two items.
In Prabhupada’s presence it is becoming quite clear how little I have
learned in almost four years in the movement. Being with Srila Prabhup‰da is
opening up a whole new perspective on devotional service to me. As Srila
Prabhupada’s assistant, one has to learn to see matters from his point of
view, and that takes precedence over one’s own..
November 27, 1975
After taking lunch prasadam Prabhupada sat at ease in his sitting
room for a short while. Then he walked through the servants’ room to his
bedroom to retire for his afternoon nap. Hansad¸ta, Harikesa, and I were in
the servants’ room, taking our lunch. As he came in, we offered our
obeisances. I was sitting on the floor eating from a bowl with a spoon, and
as I knelt back, I put the spoon down and rested my hand on my knee.
Immediately Prabhupadalooked at me and said, “Oh, you are eating and
then’?” He put his hand on different places of his body as if to illustrate
a child contaminating his clothes with a dirty hand.
My instinct was to say, “Well, Srila Prabhupada, my hand isn’t
dirty. I’m eating with a spoon.” But I thought better of it and checked
myself. Prabhupada could obviously see that. I realized that Prabhupada
simply had a better understanding of what constitutes cleanliness. He
laughed. As he walked past us into his bedroom, he shook his head and said,
“You are all brought up mlecchas.”
Then again in the evening, without first washing my hands, I picked
up a water jug after handling Srila Prabhupada’s plate. He immediately
noticed and corrected me. He laughed and told me not to mind. It is the
position of the guru, he said, to find out the faults in the disciple and
It was simultaneously embarrassing and pleasurable to be on the
receiving end of Prabhupada’s reproof. His standard of purity is so much
higher than ours. By his keen observation and objective criticism he is
training us to the highest levels, making us fit for serving Krsna. I feel
very fortunate that Prabhupada is very patiently training me. Even though he
sometimes calls us mlecchas, he is actually very proud of his Western
disciples. He constantly points out to his visitors how we have been
These incidents have made me realize that Srila Prabhupada has
unlimited patience in training his disciples. Although he must have given
these instructions hundreds of times during the last ten years, he is still
prepared to patiently teach the same things again and again to any new
disciple, provided that student has an attitude of humble service and is
eager to learn.
January 4th 1976 ñ Nellore
When preparing Srila Prabhupada’s lunch yesterday, I discovered that
the only salt available came in large crystalline lumps that had to be
broken and crushed. Because this was somewhat troublesome, I spent half an
hour making enough for the following few days, and put the small stone bowl
containing the salt on Prabhupadaa’s chonki. I assumed that Prabhup‰da would
take as much as he wanted from the stock and leave the rest for future use.
During breakfast, however, Prabhupada dipped pieces of fruit directly into
the bowl rather than taking some salt from it onto his plate and leaving the
rest. When I cleaned up afterwards I left the salt bowl on the table,
thinking it would be all right to use it for other meals.
Though conversing with the other devotees, Srila Prabhupada, as
observant as ever, noticed what I did and immediately rebuked me. Calling me
a yavana he complained about our Western eating habit of saving remnants of
food. “There is no taste, no vitamin, and still they eat.”
Harikesa asked if it would be all right if I kept the salt in the
pot, and then put some on the plate when Prabhupada took his pras‰dam.
“I do not know whether it is all right, but it is not all right that
you eat and keep it. This is not all right.”
Yasodanandana explained, “He keeps the salt in a separate bowl. When
you require it, he will give you only as much as you require.”
Prabhupada said, “Yes, that is nice.”
“That’s why the bowl is there,” I explained. “That’s what I intended
to do, but I have to keep it away from the table.”
Prabhupada said, “The principle should be that you should not leave
remnants of food. As soon as it is used, it should not be used more.
Otherwise it is not possible to give up. Param drstva nivartate. ‘I am
eating something not very superior, but if I get the chance of eating
something superior then I give up this inferior.'”
Your humble servant,