I was rummaging through the car’s interior for Prasad, sanctified food, frantically. Meanwhile the street urchin who stood outside in the blazing sun grew in desperation and began to gesticulate wildly: he wanted Prasad. He was convinced we Hare Krishna’s carried it wherever we travelled. If not for the car’s glass window that separated us, he would have surely shoved me to accentuate his demand. I waited for the traffic lights to turn green, to zoom off; he hoped it remained red till he got his Prasad.
After a while he darted to the car’s window on the opposite side, where Radhanath Swami sat. As he thumped on the glass, Radhanath Swami glowered at me. “Garud, where is the Prasad?” I fretted. “No Prasad today,” I mumbled. I had seriously erred in not carrying any today. Radhanath Swami’s standing instruction was that the temple chauffeurs always carry Prasad, usually cookies, for the beggars at the stoplights. He knew the beggars loved it.
Radhanath Swami turned to the rear seat where the monks sat, “Does anyone have any Prasad?” Bags were searched in the silence that followed, until horns blared from the vehicles behind; the signal was green and we had to move.
As we lost sight of the boy’s disappointed face amidst the Mumbai traffic, Radhanath Swami turned to me. The compassion he felt for that boy was now a fury; he spelled out, “The next time when we travel, if you don’t carry any Prasad, I shall take off your shirt and trousers and give it away to the poor beggars.” I was mortified, and seeing that he quickly laughed to make me feel better. I laughed along, not knowing what else to do. A voice whispered from behind, “Did you follow what he told just now?” It was monk from the rear seat. He was shocked I was laughing after such a serious warning. Of course, he didn’t know I was sweating inside, and that the sweat glued my shirt and trousers tightly to my body.
After we reached the destination, I apologized to Radhanath Swami. With a loving smile that endeared him to me, he affectionately knocked on my forehead, indicating that he had forgiven me.