The First Time I Bowed Down
One time, my supervisor, Mr. Rice, shouted over in my direction, “Mr. Guarino, you are gonna have to complete the Garcia case so that she can get a check this afternoon. I want you to stay in the office and do it, so don’t go out to lunch until one. Is that all right?” It was not all right, but what could I say? So I went to the hallway phone booth and dialled the Swami’s number. The thing I was most attached to in the world was going every day at noon to have lunch with the Swami and the boys. So Mr. Rice’s command drove me to the radical move of phoning up the Swami. This was in the early days, before I was initiated.
I heard the phone ring and the Swami answered, “Hello?”
I said, “Swamiji, this is Steve. Do you remember me?”
Swamiji said yes, he remembered me.
I said, “I won’t be able to come today at noon for lunch because I have to stay in the office and work. But I’ll come over at one o’clock. Could you ask the devotees to please save some prasadam for me?”
“Yes,” said Prabhupada. He made it sound like it was not a problem. As I hung up, I was very pleased that I had made the phone call. Nowadays, it doesn’t seem like the proper way to treat Prabhupada, and in the later years of ISKCON with Prabhupada there was no question of doing such a thing. First of all, you wouldn’t be able to reach Prabhupada by phone; you would reach his secretary. But in those days it was right, and it was nice. It was a way to surrender and develop friendship. I very much wanted to go and be with him and eat his prasadam.
It turned out to be a better treat than usual, because by the time I got there all the boys were gone. Swamiji was there and the rug was still rolled back. The office had been demanding – so much bureaucracy and talk and nonsense, and now I had only one hour left before I had to plunge back into it. I came to take shelter with the Swami.
He told me to sit down, and so I waited alone in the room. He made up the plate and then came in and put it before me on the floor. I said, “Thank you,” and I bowed down before him.
He said, “Yes.”
Nowadays we bow down so many times, but this was the first time that I bowed down. When I had met Swamiji at the door I did not bow down, and neither did I bow down to him in the temple. When he saw this boy finally bowing down, it pleased him and he said, “Yes.” I knew it was a significant step forward. Although now I bow down hundreds of times, I wonder if I’m actually surrendering and worshiping. But that time I overcame my pride and really did it, bowed down before the rice, dal and capātīs, and especially at the bare, lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada.
Jun 19, 2022
Nrsimhananda das, Devotee Care Committee Member NA
Jun 19, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium