Visakha Devi Dasi: The Juhu mornings were invigorating and before the first hint of daylight, Prabhupada would come down the steps of his apartment to go for an hour-long walk along the beach. I always tagged along, camera in hand. My passion, photography, was now my sacred service to Prabhupada and Krishna. I was committed to creating photographs of Prabhupada, his students, and their devotional activities for publication in the monthly Back to Godhead magazine, in Prabhupada’s books, and wherever else they were useful. Later I'd travel to do this, but now with Prabhupada in Juhu, I was perfectly happy to be where I was.
One morning I was sitting on a landing waiting for him, fingering my japa beads in the dark, when Prabhupada came so gently that I didn’t hear him. As he passed by close enough for me to touch him, he said softly, “Thank you very much.”
“What's he thanking me for?” I wondered. “For chanting japa?” Since that's all I was doing, that must have been it. It hit me that it really wasn't complicated or difficult for me to please Prabhupada. If I simply chanted, Prabhupada was pleased and grateful. And pleasing God’s representative meant pleasing God. Prabhupada had explained, “If you please your guru, that means Krishna is pleased. Just like you have got a small child of your family. Somebody pleases your small child, then automatically you become pleased.”
So maybe I could do this thing called spiritual life.
Instead of a kurta, Prabhupada wore his sannyasi cloth draped over his shoulder. Cane in hand, he walked on the firm sand slightly ahead of his disciples with his brisk, confident step, his head held high. On that broad beach, traversing a world he gave uncommon meaning to, his conviction and freshness surcharged everything and entered within me along with the fine sea air I was inhaling. I felt a sweet strength in him, in myself, and in everything around us, and I luxuriated in that strength.
I loved this early hour when the sun was just making its daily appearance, when the world was in a placid pause before humanity's bustle began when Prabhupada walked and walked beside lapping waves. I could have walked with him forever, photographing, hearing him, speaking up from time to time, feeling as gleeful as a youngster at the beach. Everything in my life seemed just as it should be—wearing a sari, rising at four in the morning, being a teetotaler and a vegetarian, living in an asrama, serving all day without the thought of a paycheck. Gamely, I'd let Prabhupada draw me into his world and mold me according to his reality. I was doing what he said to do, following behind him, too enthralled and hopeful to pay attention to whatever lingering uncertainties I had.