© 2003 - 2013 Suhotra Maharaja Archives - Vidyagati das
HOW I ALMOST MISSED MY INITIATION
The first time I met Srila Prabhupada, he let me see that he knows me, and that he wants me to serve him. The second time I met him, he let me see that I ought not to be whimsical, and that he is served when I serve his servants. But on my third meeting with Srila Prabhupada, I almost threw it all away.
I mentioned previously my "lunar personality. " Say what you will about numerology, but I find that it works for me. Some devotees--I could name a couple Godbrothers, but I won't-- are into the Enneagram, a New Age system of personality typology. Like numerology, the Enneagram system analyzes the human personality into nine basic types. I checked out the Enneagram a few years ago but after a period of fascination I finally rejected it as being too subjective. Numerology is more objective because it is tied to objective numbers like the birth date. Indian numerology fits hand in glove with the nine planetary values of astrology, and with the three prakrtis of Ayurveda. It is not free of speculation, however, so buyers beware. Anyway, I am a 2, the number of Soma, the moon. Actually I am an 11, but in numerology, no number has a value greater than 9. So 11 is 1+1, or 2. Likewise, 12 is 1+2 or 3 (3 is the value of Guru or Jupiter). Even a big number can be reduced in this way--for example, 3471 is 3+4+7+1 or 15, which in turn is 1+5 or 6, the numerical value of Venus.
But multiple-digit numbers (10 and higher) retain a scent of their multiple values even after they are reduced to a single digit (between 1 to 9). So being an 11 means I am a special type of 2. Regular 2's are thoroughly feminine entities; they do not shine on their own but must reflect the light of a masculine power, i. e. number 1, which is the value of the sun. However, an 11 is a 2 formed of two 1's. Therefore, while still being emotional and intuitive like other 2's, an 11 is obstinate, revolutionary, and authoritative. Furthermore, since 11 is a mystic number, people whose psychic number is 11 are very mystical. Yet overall, 11's are still 2's, meaning that their minds are very much influenced by the moon. This is both good and bad, since the moon is both light (as on Purnima day) and dark (as on Amavasya day). Regarding the dark side, to quote from a book--"they [number 2's] fall victim to their delusions and doubtful nature. They become mistrustful and anxious and are caught in their own internal dialogues. "
The day after Srila Prabhupada installed Sri Sri Radha-Gopiballabha, I and the other "bhaktas" and "bhaktins" (remember, we didn't use those terms then) of the Boston temple were to be initiated in a morning ceremony at about 10:00 AM. Unfortunately, earlier that morning I fell into a darkened state of mind exactly as described in the quotation above.
My name was posted on the list of those to be initiated. I saw the list. But I didn't see my name. I suppose my own nagging, self-deprecating internal dialogue--"I'm not worthy to be Srila Prabhupada's disciple"--forced my mind to censor out what my eyes were trying to show me. My doubtful nature willed that I would not be initiated. I was too useless, therefore I had to be passed over. Srila Prabhupada would not take me after all.
And that is why, during the initiation, I sat somewhere among the many guests who were coming each day to see Srila Prabhupada. Funny, I thought as I watched the proceedings, there is an empty place among the initiates seated around the yajna-kunda: an extra paper plate with a three-strand set of neckbeads on it. Who could that be for?
Names were called, and one by one the initiates came forward to receive their japa beads and names from His Divine Grace. Suddenly my name was called.
Like 48 hours earlier, at that moment Srila Prabhupada finished his arrival lecture, I once again froze. What was I so afraid of that I could neither move nor speak when Srila Prabhupada called me to his lotus feet? "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live," said a Roman thinker of old. In other words, I should have been more afraid of not answering Prabhupada's call and thus not beginning my spiritual life. I was in the grip of maya in the form of a stultifying terror that I had inherited from many births in a world of savagery and deceit.
The temple instantly went pin-drop silent. Tension charged the air like static electricity. I don't believe anybody actually looked at me--all eyes were on Srila Prabhupada--but I felt everyone's thoughts sweep across my gloomy mindscape like searchlights: "What are you doing there? What's the matter with you? Snap out of it!" "That's all right," Srila Prabhupada said calmly. It was as if a Vaikuntha breeze swept through the temple room. The mental strain that my stupidity had put everyone under--not the least myself--went poof!, right out the window.
After the fire sacrifice, a disconcerted Satsvarupa Prabhu came up to me. "Roger Prabhu, why weren't you there for your initiation?" he asked, his eyes large with concern. You may recall from reading the Lilamrta that he stayed home and typed up Prabhupada's dictation during the initiation ceremony at which he was supposed to become Srila Prabhupada's disciple. Afterward, when he handed Prabhupada the typed pages, His Divine Grace told him, "If you love me, I'll love you. "
"My name wasn't on the list!" I moaned. "I didn't know I was supposed to be there. "
He led me through the temple's side entrance into the hall where the list was posted. He looked at it, not saying a word. He just kept looking at it until I looked at it. There it was. . . my name, in the midst of the other names, right where it had been all along.
"Oh," was all I could manage to say in a small voice.
He faced me and nodded reassuringly. "There will be another initiation this evening for the devotees who've come from other temples. Please don't miss it. "
At the evening initiation I got my name, Suhotra dasa (Srila Prabhupada said, "Means 'very nice priest'") but due to a mix-up, I got no initiation japa beads. Or rather, Sridhama Prabhu, the Miami temple president, seeing that because I was a last-minute add-on therefore there was no japa-mala for Prabhupada to chant upon and hand me, gave Prabhupada his personal japa-mala! I didn't notice this happening. All I knew was, I received from my spiritual master's lotus hand these beautiful red beads that I immediately became attached to. After the fire sacrifice, Sridhama Prabhu came up to me and said, "Sorry, those are my beads," and took them back. Mercy for him: Srila Prabhupada chanted on his initiation beads twice.
My sweet Lord.
Some years later I lost those beads while on book distribution in the city of Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The beads that I use now were chanted on by Srila Prabhupada in Vrndavana.
From my fiasco of a first initiation I learned that while I am prone to make mistakes in my spiritual life, fortunately Srila Prabhupada is prone to forgive them.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!