Chakra Discussions

Honey or Vinegar - How Do We Treat Our Guests?

by Gaurav Duggal

Posted August 17, 2008

For the last three days, I had the opportunity to visit a small ISKCON temple for the morning darshan-arati at 7:30 a.m. I have utmost reverence for the Lord and pray regularly and sincerely. I had been quite excited to participate. Afterwards, two prabhus very lovingly asked me to participate in prasadam, which is served after arati at 8:00 a.m.

On the second day I had mentioned to a temple devotee that I would be off work for two weeks until August 28 and that I would like to attend the morning arati as regularly as I could. I asked another prabhu at the temple if I could be of any service, but he told me: "Not yet."

On Wednesday, August 13 (my third day visiting this particular temple), this devotee unexpectedly came to the table and rather unpleasantly asked me, since I was now coming "regularly" for the morning arati and prasadam, to either do service in the kitchen or make a monetary offering. Pointing at the cash box in the cafeteria, he told me that if I cannot make a service committment I should make monetary offerings. I did not feel the need to inform him that right after aarti I had made a monetary-donation in the temple cash-box (located in a different room than the cafeteria).

I was shocked and speechless that he had so harshly approached me with such negative feelings during my meal. That prabhu left me with such an unpleasant, insulting and demeaning taste that I feel somewhat uninvited at the Lord's temple. Though I had not visited this temple for a very long time, within only three days I had got the feeling that I must pray to the Lord but not partake of his prasadam, as it might bother some prabhus.

Nonetheless, I made another donation in the temple cafeteria and shall be taking fruits and a donation with me to the temple tomorrow. In tomorrow's morning's darshan-arati visit I shall hand over the an offering and bag full of fruits to my accuser as a reciprocation for eating prasadam at the temple there.

Another prabhu who stays on the temple premises was seated there and witnessed the confrontation at the table, which occurred while I was eating prasadam. He kindly apologized to me with joint hands on behalf of the temple and on behalf of the temple mission and said he felt embarassed that such a thing had happened.

I would like to inform people such as the devotee who needlessly confronted me that some visitors, devotees and people such as me, from India, have prayed to Lord Krishna since early childhood. Most importantly, his approaching people during their prasadam meal and humiliating them in front of others is very uncalled-for. Making offerings and donations should be done without pretense or a need to show off. I do my very best without making it public, which other prabhus may have noticed me doing, yet this particular prabhu just came across very badly.