By Madhusūdana dāsa
In the early days of our movement—in the little storefront temple at 26 Second Avenue in the East Village—Śrīla Prabhupāda would lecture in the evening and then retire to his upstairs apartment, All of us would be very eager to accompany him, in hopes of getting some personal advice or just hearing him talk more informally. As an excuse to go upstairs, each of us would carry up one of the things Śrīla Prabhupāda had used during the lecture—the watch he’d kept before him on the dais, the Sanskrit Bhāgavatam volume he’d read from, or the mridanga drum he’d played during the chanting of Hare Krishna.
I would bring the mridanga drum upstairs to the outer room of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s apartment and wait before his door, hoping he would see me and call me in. Sometimes he could call my name: “Madhusūdana….” Then, my desire fulfilled, I would enter his room. He was always concerned in a very personal way about me, and he would ask me how my parents were. (At that time I was rather young, just eighteen, and although I was already his disciple, I was still living at home.) “They’re all right,” I would tell him.
Then one night Śrīla Prabhupāda said something that took me a while to comprehend. “Actually,” he said, “you are the parent of your parents. The parent is the one who brings the child to life, the one who gives birth to the child. So you have come to Krishna consciousness first, and therefore you are giving your parents birth into spiritual life, which means eternal life. Actually, you are the real parent.” Around that time, as if to help me understand what he had said that night, Śrīla Prabhupāda would often mention in his lectures that if a person becomes a pure devotee of Krishna, then the Lord will give spiritual liberation to his relatives for ten generations before and ten generations to come.
[An excerpt from Back to Godhead Issue 5, 1978]