Visakha Devi Dasi: In the temporary temple on Hare Krishna land, the evening programs concluded with Prabhupada distributing dessert prasadam to the attending throng, their hands outstretched to receive it. From Prabhupada’s long fingers each person got a wad of the sweet pressed into his or her cupped palm. As I was photographing this I saw children sneaking back into the queue for seconds and thirds. Prabhupada noticed them too and, raising a teasing, wagging forefinger at them, grinned and gave them second and third helpings.
I was surprised to see the elite of Bombay patiently standing in the same queue, their palms also outstretched, waiting for a morsel of the blessed food. Later, I heard Prabhupada say, "How respectable people come to get Krishna prasadam because it’s not ordinary. These people have ample food in their homes,..." he said, "...but they want the privilege of honoring Krishna prasadam."
To me it was odd that although a river of piety coursed through these people, making them treasure the prasadam they received from Prabhupada's hand, at the same time these same people seemed deeply confused about spiritual life—just as deeply confused as I'd been not long ago. They worshiped a variety of men and gods as if they were supreme. Some of them even thought they could become God. Or they observed rituals with no understanding of their purpose. To me, many of them seemed superstitious.
But Prabhupada seemed at home in this culture, even though his message was, by comparison, so radically monotheistic and single-pointedly based on love of God and freedom from matter. How odd it was that I felt comfortable with Prabhupada’s presentation yet at odds with almost everyone else in India—although I couldn't help but appreciate the ardency of their faith.