Then when we went to Chandigarh, I was cooking the main meals for Prabhupada, but a lot of different people from outside were bringing different things for Prabhupada’s pleasure, and he ate them, and then he got sick. So, he got very disgusted. He said,
“I am sick because I am eating so many different people’s cooking. Tomorrow I will cook myself”.
Then later on, he called me in and he said,
“You can cook tomorrow”.
He told me exactly what to make. He wanted this preparation eggplant bharata, and rice, and dahl–just those three things. And he said,
“Everything should be hot. You should not re-heat anything”.
The day before I had re-heated something, and I had mentioned to Prabhupada about re-heating. He said,
“Nothing, should be re-heated. Better that you make fewer preparations, and have them ready exactly when you are going to serve them; than to make a whole bunch of preparations, and have to re-heat them later on”.
He stressed that, that he did not want anything re-heated. He wanted it done exactly on time. He said he was going to eat at one o’clock. That was for the next day. So, then he was invited to the Gaudiya Math that day. He went to the Gaudiya Math. I got everything ready and it was done exactly at one o’clock and Prabhupada had not come back yet, so I just kept it all on the fire, on low heat. I was waiting for Prabhupada. everybody had gone out. I was the only one in the house. I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and I thought,
“Oh no. Prabhupada must have eaten at the Gaudiya Math, it is so late already now”.
And I was starving, but I thought I had better not eat, what if Prabhupada had not eaten yet? Finally at three o’clock in the afternoon Prabhupada came back. I was pacing the halls when Prabhupada came in. He walked past me, and he looked at all the pans and said,
“I have already taken”, and then he walked into his room and took rest.
So Then that evening, there was a big pandal program. When all the devotees came back, they were raving about the prasadam at the Gaudiya Math. They said it was such a wonderful feast. So, then we all went to the pandal that Prabhupada went too. When we got back from the pandal, we went into Prabhupada’s room, just sitting there, and Prabhupada said to me,
“So, Arundhati, you have been with us since the very beginning, always chanting Hare Krishna. You are chanting more than sixteen rounds now?”
And I felt kind of embarrassed, and I said,
“Well, sometimes, Srila Prabhupada”.
Then he started talking about prasadam. He said,
“Prasadam today was so good at the Gaudiya Math. The banana flower subji was so nice. You must learn how to cook all these preparations”.
Then he said to Pradyumna,
“Call up the Gaudiya Math and ask them if they can cook again tomorrow, and you and your wife and the other devotees can go there and see how they are cooking everything”.
So Pradyumna called up and made arrangements that they cook the next day. Before Prabhupada went to the Gaudiya Math, he said he definitely was not going to eat there because he was sick from eating so many people’s food. He said,
“I am definitely eating here; I am not eating at the Gaudiya Math”.
So, then the next day we went there and took notes of everything that they made, and then we brought the plate over to Prabhupada. Nothing was done on Time. Harisauri came over and said,
“Hurry up. Prabhupada’s waiting for lunch. Where is it?”
Nothing was even ready yet. I was really late. We finally brought the plate over, and Prabhupada ate. There were not any sweets on the plate, so I very quickly made some fruit milk, just some sweet milk with fruit in it, and gave it to Prabhupada. And he ate all of that and he did not eat much of the other stuff, and he said it was not so good that day. He said it was much better the day before.
Then he left there and he traveled on Ekadasi. A number of Times he traveled on Ekadasi. There is something, everybody says that Prabhupada does not like to travel on Ekadasi. A number of Times he traveled on Ekadasi, but many Times when I was there, he did travel on Ekadasi.
Then we went back to Vrndavana ,and Palika was doing the cooking at the time. But then ,after a few weeks, Palika was having some trouble with her mind. She just kind of freaked out or something. She decided she wanted to go away for a while. Yamuna had come to India, and she wanted to go with Yamuna to learn cooking in Calcutta. So Prabhupada was supposed to be going to Calcutta after Vrndavana, about a week later. So, she asked him if she could go, and he said yes, that I could cook. So, she went.
I did the cooking, from then on, for about the next few months, because we never went to Calcutta. The plans were changed. He was not going to go to Calcutta, and they made travel arrangements. And something went wrong, two things went wrong. One thing was that the devotees were squabbling about something in Calcutta. Something happened with the travel arrangements. I was in the room that night, and Prabhupada was told by Harisauri that there were these problems. And Prabhupada said to cancel the trip. He said that it was bad omens. It meant that they should not travel at that Time. He said,
“If you endeavor to do something, and then some things, there are some obstacles in the way, then it is better to not do that thing for a while, and then try again when there are no more obstacles”.
And he mentioned some bad omens. I do not remember which ones. I think it was about a donkeys uttering a bray. and dogs’ howls. He said they are bad omens.
And he used to speak to Babaji a lot at this time. You know that Babaji, Visvambhara lived around the corner from the Vrndavana temple, and he is very close with Prabhupada. Prabhupada used to speak to him constantly. He could always come in to see Prabhupada, and Prabhupada engaged him. He is just like a businessman, but his is a devotee. And Prabhupada gave him a lot of responsibility in the Vrndavana temple. He was there a lot of the time. When I was cooking for Prabhupada, he would come in every day and make the chapatis. I never knew how to make good chapatis. He would make them for Prabhupada.
One day I was thinking it would be nice to make samosas for Prabhupada. I never got to make them for him. So, I went in that night to ask Prabhupada what he wanted to eat, and he said,
“Do you have peas? Make me pea subji”.
So, I went in the kitchen, and started shelling peas, and I was still thinking in my mind, that I wish I could make samosas for Prabhupada some time, and then the bell rang. I went in to see that Prabhupada wanted and he said,
“Do you know how to make samosas?”
“Aright, then you can make me some samosas tonight”.
“Srila Prabhupada, I have just been thinking the last few days how I would like to make you samosas”, and he laughed and he said,
“This is Krishna working. You were thinking you wanted to make samosas and I am thinking I want samosas. This is Krishna’s work”.
So, I made them and he ate four of them, but they actually did not come out very good. Himavati was there, and she used to cook for Prabhupada. I said to Prabhupada,
“Can Himavati come in to make samosas for you, and I will watch her, so I will learn to make them”, and he said,
“All right, in a few days.”
So, then she made them, and hers came out really nicely, except that she forgot to put salt in in them. So Prabhupada ate four of hers also. In the afternoon he would ask for a restaurant plate also. I would give him a plate of prasadam. We had a restaurant in the temple, and he sometimes would want a plate of that also, to try out, what they were cooking in the restaurant. Sometimes he would compare how things came out. One day I brought him both plates, and he called me in and he said,
“Today your sukta is better than theirs. But their sweet rice is better than yours”.
Like this he would comment on different things all the time. If something came out very nice, he would say,
“This was very nice”
And if it was not good, he would say also. Every now and then, he would have the restaurant man cook him something special. He had him make pea kachoris on night. He would always tell me; you learn watching people cook.
How many Times would Srila Prabhupada take prasadam in a day?
Well, he would take fruit in the morning. Once in a while he would take more than fruit; like he would take this preparation bada. We call them bharata here. Or dahiwadas. But usually, he would just take fruit in the morning, and some fried cashew nuts, and maybe a little cheese, curd. And then he would take a big meal in the afternoon. Sometimes he would not eat anything in the evening, or he would just take milk. Once in a while he would want some subji and puris. He never ate a lot at night. I used to be really nervous when I was cooking for Prabhupada, and Visvambhara would be in the kitchen making the chapatis, and a lot of times I would be walking around saying,
“Oh, no. I hope this came out all right”.
I would be very worried. And he would tell Prabhupada. And Prabhupada would say,
“Why she is so nervous?”
“Well, she wants everything to come out very nicely for you, Prabhupada”,
“There is no reason for her to be so nervous like this”.