Posted September 5, 2005
When I heard earlier this week of Aniruddha prabhu's passing, I recalled this story, which I have often told in many settings:
As Srila Prabhupada was leaving after a visit to Honolulu in May of '74, a few of us stayed in the airport terminal with him, while most of the devotees stayed out on the sidewalk and kept a kirtan going. While Satsvarupa Maharaj was reading ISKCON-related newspaper clippings, Srila Prabhupada interrupted him: "I hear Aniruddha is here in Hawaii, but he has not come to see me. Do you know?"
One devotee volunteered that Aniruddha was outside with the kirtan party. Prabhupada: "He may come inside; there is no difficulty."
The devotee scampered out to retrieve Aniruddha but returned empty-handed.
Prabhupada: "No, you don't understand. He may come inside; there is NO difficulty!"
This time the devotee ran out, and Aniruddha, who apparently wasn't spiritually strong at the time, came in wearing cut-off jeans, a T-shirt, and a stud in his left ear. He folded his hands and offered pranams to Srila Prabhupada.
"So, Aniruddha, how are you?"
Aniruddha blushed and replied, "Actually, Srila Prabhupada, not so good."
After Srila Prabhupada insisted, despite Aniruddha's protests, that Aniruddha sit on the seat next to him (the rest of us were sitting on the floor at Srila Prabhupada's feet), they exchanged small talk for a minute or two. Then Srila Prabhupada turned to us and said, "In Los Angeles temple, he is the beginning."
It was clear that Srila Prabhupada's vision was different from ours. The feeling I heard expressed among devotees around that time was something like, "Poor Aniruddha; Prabhupada loves him so much but he just can't surrender!" Srila Prabhupada's perspective was obviously different. Although he was not unaware of Aniruddha's difficulties, he simply saw, like Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, that the problems were ephemeral, but the service is eternal, the essence of any devotee's identity.