It was 22 November 2004, Vrindavan, India. The Fogla Ashram Guesthouse, where I stayed, had swarmed with Radhanath Swami’s followers for the past two weeks. Now the pilgrimage was over and only Radhanath Swami and his personal entourage—Nityananda, Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Vasudev and I—stayed back. Radhanath Swami was now recovering from his extreme exhaustion; being the pilgrimage guide for four thousand, he had been over-stretching himself.
As noon approached, Radhanath Swami drove off to Radha Gokulanand Temple along with Nityananda and Sri Krishna Chaitanya, for lunch. It was in response to a loving invitation from the head-priest Nitai Prabhu, who knew Radhanath Swami since the early 70s when Radhanath Swami had first visited Vrindavan. Nityananda, the acting secretary of Radhanath Swami, had earlier asked Vasudev and me if we too wanted to join in for the lunch. But since Radhanath Swami hadn’t asked us personally, we weren’t sure and had declined.
Back at the guesthouse, our stomachs rumbled. For the past two weeks, piping hot Prasad, sanctified food, was cooked and served right here in the guesthouse complex for the pilgrims. But now we had to search for a food booth in the scorching sun. Monkeys that squatted on the compound walls seemed to share our melancholy; they too hadn’t been out for a while: sneaking into the makeshift kitchen that was erected in the complex, they had been getting plenty.
As we prepared to walk out, the car that had taken Radhanath Swami returned. The driver informed that halfway to the temple when Radhanath Swami realized our absence, perhaps when he turned back to look at the passengers sitting in the rear, he halted the car. He then sent the car to pick us up and decided that he would walk the rest of the way—under the sun that now beat down on Vrindavan.
We reached the temple on time to have lunch with Radhanath Swami and the others. Later, when the head priest Nitai Prabhu came to the door to see us off, he handed a parting gift to Radhanath Swami, some remnant paraphernalia of the Lord, something inexpensive by worldly standards. Spontaneously, Radhanath Swami braced it to his chest in joy and gratitude. At this, Nitai Prabhu remarked to Radhanath Swami, “This goes to show the devotion that overflows in you. Most influential men who come here hand over such gifts to their secretary—instantly—perhaps never to have a second look.”