ISKCON centers have been flourishing all over the world and India at present tops the list for having the largest number of followers. The early days of ISKCON, however, there were only very few ISKCON devotees in India.
The very first of those early followers in India is Saci Mata Devi Dasi, Srila Prabhupada’s first Bengali disciple.
“I was just 16 when attended ISKCON’S pandal program, the first one of its kind in Kolkata. Srila Prabhupada was the event's main speaker. The experience is so unforgettable,” said Saci Mata.
Saci mata – a gentle lady in her late sixties was touring South India along with her husband, inspiring second generation ISKCON devotees by narrating their sweet encounters with their spiritual master Srila Prabhupada. They caught everyone's attention as they transported the audience back into the 1970s.
Interestingly, Saci Mata’s husband, too, was not only Srila Prabhupada's disciple himself, but also Srila Prabhupada's nephew, in whose ancestral house Srila Prabhupada was born. Srila Prabhupada had personally arranged for their wedding, satisfying Saci Mata's parents' wishes as well.
Saci mata said that it was Srila Prabhupada's love for Krishna that attracted her the most to the movement. "In those days in India for young girls it was a great risk to leave their home, but by Krishna's mercy and Srila Prabhupada's grace I could somehow do that."
Sachi mata had the wonderful opportunity to assist Pishi ma, Srila Prabhupada's very own sister. It was Srila Prabhupada who suggested to her that she could cook for him and assist Pishi ma. Also being the only one who knew Bengali, she was very glad to do the service of translating what Pishi ma had to say to all the other western devotees including to Yamuna Devi, ISKCON's much celebrated cook.
She recalled all the wonderful days she had spent in association with Pishi ma, who so carefully taught her the intricacies of cooking and inspired her to cook for Krishna with a very personal touch of love.
Saci Mata repeatedly told the devotees that Srila Prabhupada always stressed the importance of being determined and that he instructed devotees never to give up on their services.
She also said that her most favorite experiences with Srila Prabhupada was when she was asked to cook for him. She shared the following story.
One day Saci Mata, with so much effort had cooked an elaborate meal for Srila Prabhupada. She explained that she was happy with her efforts and was waiting to be called by Srila Prabhupada, who she expected would appreciate her services. Instead Srila Prabhupada chastised her because she had served him a cold meal.
"When we cook for Krishna and serve him, we are to do our best. You cannot serve Krishna cold food", said Srila Prabhupada. Saci mata said that Srila Prabhupada's statement made such a deep impact in her life.
"He crushed my ego and made me understand the depth one should have in performing devotional service", said Saci Mata.
Now in their elderly age this wonderful couple continue to serve the movement relentlessly. They run a Jagannath temple close to Sri Dham Mayapur. They also help the GBC to renovate the birthplace of Srila Prabhupada in Kolkatta.[ ac-bhaktivedanta-swami-prabhupada ] [ bengal ] [ cooking ] [ kolkata ] [ yamuna ]