“Make him puris if he wants puris”
Srutakirti dasa, Srila Prabhupada Remembers His Youth
Sometimes Srila Prabhupada affectionately spoke about his father. When he did, it was always with great fondness.
“My father would make sure that whatever I wanted I would get,” he said.
“Even if it was in the middle of the night and I wanted puris, my father would say to my mother, ‘Make him puris if he wants puris.’ Sometimes my mother would resist, but my father would make her do it. It was like that. I don’t know. Maybe my father knew. He was always doing things like that. Then my mother would have to comply with him.”
Once during a flight Srila Prabhupada was eating puris and subji. As he ate, he began laughing aloud and said to me, “When I was young I would never eat chapatis. I was very spoiled. They were no good to me. I had to have puris. Whenever my mother cooked for me, I had to have puris. Even later when I was a businessman.”
He stopped talking for a minute, but it was only to laugh again. He was very pleased and enjoyed telling me what a rascal he was.
“Sometimes it was very embarrassing because I would go to people’s houses,” he continued. “They would have me over for dinner and they would give me chapatis.”
Srila Prabhupada’s eyes grew very large as he expressed his dilemma.
“I couldn’t eat them. At the same time, I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t know what to do. What could I say, ‘I’m sorry I don’t eat chapatis.’ Then they would think, ‘Oh? You are superior to me? You don’t eat chapatis? You have to have puris?’
So, it became very awkward. Sometimes, I would go out and I wouldn’t eat them. It was very difficult for me to say, ‘Oh! I don’t want chapatis.’ They would become very offended, but I couldn’t eat chapatis. I just didn’t like them.”
Srila Prabhupada never stopped smiling and laughing as he described his mischievous activities.
“Around that time I acquired a servant,” he said. “He kept trying to get me to eat chapatis. Once, he insisted, ‘I want you to try them. I want you to let me make you chapatis. I’m sure you will like them.’ I said, ‘No!’ This went on for some time. He kept asking me, ‘Please let me make you chapatis. I know you are going to like them.’ Finally, I said, ‘All right. I’ll try them.'”
“He made me first-class chapatis. Ever since that time I have liked chapatis. It was a very abrupt change in my life. Until that time I never took chapatis.”
It is difficult for me to put into words how beautifully animated Srila Prabhupada was while telling this story. He expressed the emotions of each individual as he joyfully unfolded the plot of the story. His eyes became so large as he expressed their alarm with his “superiority.” Whenever he talked about his youth, it felt to me that it did not happen very long ago. He took great pleasure in speaking about it with his disciples.
Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for allowing me to enter into your childhood pastimes. It was only because of your causeless mercy that I witnessed such glorious activities. I needed so much from you and you kindly gave it to me. I am forever in your debt.