When discussing how ISKCON leaders (especially sannyasis) should interact with children, some have argued for a “no touch” policy (i.e., that any touch is inappropriate). Despite the good intentions behind such proposals, a number of professional organizations specializing in child safety nonetheless consider “no touch” policies to be misguided and ineffective. Given that Srila Prabhupada is ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya and also a sannyasi, we will here be examining His Divine Grace’s own interactions with children, with the understanding that such a survey may be useful in helping ISKCON to determine proper standards of conduct.

Surveying Srila Prabhupada’s behavior with children, two somewhat distinct levels of interaction with children are notable (largely mirroring two levels of interaction observable in Srila Prabhupada’s dealings with his adult disciples). The first level of contact with children occurred in more public, formal settings, like when His Divine Grace would visit one of ISKCON’s temples or schools. There might be an assembly wherein the children would approach Srila Prabhupada one by one, with Prabhupada giving them sweets. There would also often be kirtan and Srila Prabhupada might encourage the children to jump up and down by motioning with his arms. In these situations, physical contact was generally quite minimal.

A second level of interaction was sometimes seen to occur with the children of long-time disciples, servants, secretaries etc. (i.e., devotees with whom Prabhupada had many personal dealings). Srila Prabhupada’s closeness with those disciples, coupled oftentimes with less public settings (as those disciples were mostly serving Prabhupada personally), created opportunities for His Divine Grace to naturally have closer dealings with their children, and Srila Prabhupada was often seen to be considerably more physically affectionate in such situations.

The classic example of the latter category is Saraswati. The extraordinarily close relationship Srila Prabhupada had with Malati and Shyamsundar Prabhus (see below) extended to their young daughter, Saraswati, who Prabhupada knew from birth and personally named (perhaps, after his own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura). Srila Prabhupada used to take little Saraswati’s hand and walk with her. He would ask her sit on his lap/knee, and would laugh and play with her, and even affectionately tease her somewhat regularly, like a grandfather (sometimes to the point of making her cry/shriek). Saraswati was further unique in that she was allowed to go in and out of Prabhupada’s room whenever she wanted, unannounced. Srila Prabhupada often gave her prasadam. Sruta Kirti Prabhu (Prabhupada’s personal servant) was amazed to witness all these intimate interactions (see below).

In contrast, another disciple, Purusottama, was unable to appreciate these dealings, and he left Prabhupada’s service, citing Prabhupada’s overly familiar dealings with the little Saraswati (specifically, during arati) as one of the causes (see below).

Saraswati was not the only child with whom Srila Prabhupada enjoyed very affectionate exchanges. Smriti, one of the original devotees in Mumbai, also had a number of amazing interactions with Srila Prabhupada when she was 6-7 years old (see below).

Saumya, the son of Prabhupada’s personal servant (Upendra Prabhu) and his good wife Citralekha Devi, also had a number of very close dealings with Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada allowed the boy’s head to be placed on his feet, and he called for Saumya to be brought close to him, and patted the baby’s head affectionately. Prabhupada even appreciated the auspiciousness of Saumya’s birthmarks as a newborn. On another occasion, Prabhupada gave Saumya some money as a gift, and Saumya even made an appearance in a drama Tamal Krsna Goswami wrote about Prabhupada’s departure, wherein Saumya’s having sat on Prabhupada’s lap is recollected by his parents (see below).

Baby Nandini is another example of how Srila Prabhupada interacted with children in less formal and more intimate settings. His Divine Grace allowed baby Nandini to sit on his lap, and he allowed her head to be rubbed against his foot—spontaneously naming her Nandini at Bhagatji’s request (see below).

Sometimes, Prabhupada’s increased dealings with a given child do not appear to have been based on his closeness with the child’s parents, but on some other criteria (like, perhaps, how that particular child approached HIs Divine Grace). One example of this is little Damodar in Mayapur, who held his hand out again and again, to get more and more prasadam during the temple program (see below).

Another example is Srila Prabhupada’s affectionate relationship with Karnamrita. When she was 3-4 years old, Prabhupada would hold her hand sometimes during temple kirtans (in New Vrindavan), and he would let her rub his hand as well. Prabhupada also personally encouraged her to jump up and down in kirtan, and allowed her to come up to the vyasasana and offer him flowers over and over again during the course of his lecture. As she got older though, Karnamrita stopped holding Prabhupada’s hand and offering him flowers during his lectures, but their very sweet dealings continued, with Srila Prabhupada asking her to come to his room to sing (see below).

Prabhupada was also seen to play with and sometimes tease children, at least one time resulting in little Saraswati crying and running to her mother for shelter, so she wouldn’t be put in a mailbox and shipped off to gurukula (see below). Additionally, Srila Prabhupada had a number of sweet interactions with Sivajvara, including once playfully holding onto the boy’s hand, even when Sivajvara didn’t necessarily want Prabhupada to (see below). Prabhupada also enjoyed when the joking went the other way, like when some Bengali girls in Mayapur played a trick on him by tying flowers to his shoes (see below).

In all instances though, Sriila Prabhupada was seen to behave like a loving grandfather engaging with children using “good touch,” which again is in accord with the standards set by a number of professional organizations involved with child safety (e.g., Link). Srila Prabhupada’s kind and affectionate dealings, which even included petting kittens (see below), are a powerful example of how a leader can appropriately and encouragingly engage with children, and his behavior is also seen to be congruent with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s own example as a sannyasi (see below).

What follows below are the testimonials of devotees, and other evidence, for what has just been summarized here.

Shyamsundar and Malati

Shyamsundar Prabhu tells how three couples that went to London as missionaries were allowed to touch Srila Prabhupada’s feet, with Prabhupada then further blessing them by rubbing their heads, and with Prabhupada also embracing Saraswati and putting his garland around the both of them:

We had noticed that the Indian people were always trying to touch the Swami’s feet and that he didn’t like this very much. Someone told us that if you touch the feet of a saintly person you get rid of ten thousand lifetimes of sinful activities. Malati and Janaki asked Govinda dasi to ask Swamiji if it would be all right if we touched his feet before we left for London.

On the day of our departure for New York, the Swami met with us at his apartment. We re sitting there, and suddenly Swamiji sticks his legs out. We get the message. One by one, ladies first, we approach the Swami and put our heads on his feet. And he touches and rubs each of us on the backs of our heads and necks—it feels so good! the rush and shivers of electric well-being—we sit back dizzy with pleasure.

Yamuna was so bold that she grabbed his feet. Tears streamed from her eyes. People are always talking about getting zapped by a guru—you know, instant enlightenment—but with that touch to the back of the head we all felt that Swamiji had truly blessed us, and that our mission would be successful without a doubt.

And then the Swami asked Malati to hand Saraswati to him. He grabbed her little swaddled body gently in one hand and swung her to his chest, looped his garland around them both, and with such obvious love he said, in his sometimes cheeky way, “Now they will say, ‘What kind of sannyasi is he?’”

– Chasing Rhinos With The Swami, San Francisco 3

Malati Devi tells the same story:

Malati:  Just before our departure to London, we went to Srila Prabhupada’s apartment and requested his blessings. He was sitting on a low asana and had a big garland on. We were allowed to put our head to his feet, and he put his hands on our head. Then, laughing, he put out his arms and asked me to give him my child, Saraswati. Prabhupada held her by his chest, with his face and her face both facing forward. He encircled Saraswati with his garland while he was still wearing it, and then he smiled largely and said, “They will say, ‘What kind of sannyasi is he?’” He was referring to his God-brothers. He had just spoken to us about how his God-brothers had been sent to London and how they could not get anything done. He said, “The sannyasis have gone. I now am sending grihasthas.”

– Srila Prabhupada Remembrances, Volume 1, Chapter 15

As do other sources:

Malati asked, “Prabhupada, I don’t think we can go to London unless we have the shelter of your lotus feet. May we kiss your lotus feet?” The other devotees were taken aback at her sudden request. No one had ever done such a thing before. But neither her husband nor the others said anything to oppose her, and Prabhupada consented. One by one, the six London-bound preachers came and offered their obeisances, kissing the bottom of their spiritual master’s feet.

– Srila Prabhupada Lila, Volume 7, Chapter 4


The Lilamrta on Srila Prabhupada’s relationship with Saraswati:

As Prabhupada approached the building where he lived, he met little Sarasvati. Taking her hand, he walked along with her to the foot of the stairs, where they stopped. Prabhupada was halfway up the stairs when he turned and saw Sarasvati standing in the doorway, watching. He beckoned and called to her, “Come on,” and she crawled up the stairs after him.

When Sarasvati came into Prabhupada’s room, he asked her, “So, are you old enough to go to gurukula?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head.

“Come here, I am going to put a stamp on your forehead, and then we are going to put you in a red mailbox and send you to gurukula.”

Sarasvati began to cry, “Malati! Malati! I don’t want to go!” and ran and hid behind her mother.

“Come on, Sarasvati,” Prabhupada coaxed. “Come sit on my lap, and I will give you some prasadam.” She came and sat on Prabhupada’s knee. “Now get me the stamps, Purusottama,” he teased. “We are going to send her to gurukula.” Sarasvati shrieked and ran to Malati.

To Srila Prabhupada, Sarasvati was a pure spirit soul, but because she was in a small child’s body he didn’t teach her philosophy; he teased her, gave her prasadam, and treated her with the affection of a grandfather. But through her attachment to him, she would become attached to Krsna.

– Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Volume 4

And Sruta Kirti Prabhu (Prabhupada’s personal servant):

During my first tour of India in the fall and winter of 1972, Malati devi cooked for Srila Prabhupada. She was the wife of Syamasundar Dasa, Srila Prabhupada’s secretary. Their daughter, Sarasvati, was about three years old at the time. She was the most fortunate little girl. She was the only person I knew who was able to go in and out of Srila Prabhupada’s quarters unannounced.

She seemed to appear out of nowhere, like a tiny Narada Muni, in different temples around the world. She always ended up in Sri Prabhupada’s room. Then, as quickly as she appeared, she disappeared. He enjoyed her company. Sometimes she sat on his lap. Other times, like a grandfather, he affectionately teased her. She always had prasadam in her hands or mouth. Srila Prabhupada observed this and supplied her with sweets from a container on his desk.

One day, as I massaged Srila Prabhupada, Sarasvati entered his room. As usual, she was eating. Srila Prabhupada laughed.

“You are always eating,” he said. “You know what you remind me of, Sarasvati?” She looked at him with a mouthful of food and shook her head.

“You remind me of New York City—the garbage trucks,” he told her. “Do you know the garbage trucks in New York City? She nodded. “In New York City,” Srila Prabhupada continued, “they have these big garbage trucks. They go down the street and workers put the garbage in.” Stretching one arm over his head and the other towards the floor, Srila Prabhupada said, “They go down the street and put garbage inside the big mouth of the truck and then the truck goes zzzzzzzzuuuuummmmmmmmmmm and it closes and the truck eats it. Then it goes iiiimmmmmmm and opens back up. Like this.”

He imitated the up and down crunching movement of the jaws of the garbage truck extending his arms in an opening and closing motion.

“Your mouth is just like that. You are always putting things in. Just like the garbage trucks in New York.”

Sarasvati was amused, but disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. Perhaps she went to get more prasadam from her Mataji. I continued massaging Srila Prabhupada, once again amazed by his greatness. I wondered what pious activities Sarasvati must have performed to be able to play with His Divine Grace on such an intimate level. My getting to witness Srila Prabhupada’s lila was certainly a sign of his causeless mercy. Srila Prabhupada’s playful affection continues to soften this stone heart.

– Srila Prabhupada Uvaca 27

And Syamasundara Prabhu:

And little Saraswati, she was one of his favorites. She followed him wherever he went. Sometimes he would grab her hand and walk with her. If Saraswati didn’t come to his room every morning around eight o’clock, he would sometimes ask, “And where is Saraswati?” He expected to see her every morning. And quite often he would play some trick on her when she came, either to make her laugh or cry. But he would always make up and give her some nice sweet.

– Following Srila Prabhupada, Remembrances, DVD 03

Malati and Janaki can’t wait. They scout the neighborhood till they see saffron cloth hanging out to dry, rush up to the door, and knock. Govinda dasi answers and says loudly over her shoulder, “The devotees from San Francisco are here!” Then the Swami greets them: “OOOOH, this very morning I dreamed about this child, this exact child. I dreamt about her this morning.” He looks at Saraswati for a moment and says, “Remember me? I’m you’re old friend.” Gurudas, too, had spotted the saffron laundry, and he is already here.

– Chasing Rhinos With The Swami, San Francisco 3

Waiting by the gate in the picket fence that surrounds the servants’ quarters are several devotees, who bow as Prabhupada strolls up with his gang. He hands Purushottam bis cane while Janaki kneels down to help him off with his wellies. “Prabhupada, your cheeks are so rosy this morning!” she says.

“Ah, look, there is Miss Saraswati!”


Saraswati rises from her obeisances, raises her little arms in the air, and runs toward him, then stops, hangs her head, shy, thinking maybe she’s overstepped her bounds. Prabhupada leans down, takes her hand, and they walk together into his building and slowly up the stairs, chatting like old friends.

– Chasing Rhinos With The Swami, London 3

The reporters fire question after question, and Prabhupada fields them all with complete poise. He is kinglike in his first few minutes in Britain—a different, more regal Prabhupada than we have seen before. When airport officials finally hurry us out, Prabhupada takes a moment to smile at each of us in turn, like, “I love you so much.” (Or the look he gives me: “How did I do?”) Then he pinches my daughter’s cheek and says, “So, everything is all right, Miss Saraswati?”

– Chasing Rhinos With The Swami, London 3

Waiting by the gate in the picket fence that surrounds the servants’ quarters are several devotees, who bow as Prabhupada strolls up with his gang. He hands Purushottam bis cane while Janaki kneels down to help him off with his wellies. “Prabhupada, your cheeks are so rosy this morning!” she says.

“Ah, look, there is Miss Saraswati!”


Saraswati rises from her obeisances, raises her little arms in the air, and runs toward him, then stops, hangs her head, shy, thinking maybe she’s overstepped her bounds. Prabhupada leans down, takes her hand, and they walk together into his building and slowly up the stairs, chatting like old friends.

In a closet next to his room, Prabhupada had set up small Radha-Krishna Deities. He’s been teaching Yamuna and others the art of Deity worship. Purushottam offers breakfast to the Deities with an arati ceremony, ringing the bell, while the Swami sits joking around with Saraswati. Suddenly Saraswati rises to leave, and Prabhupada tosses a marigold at her that bounces off the back of her head. She picks up the flower, brings it back and, arm extended, she stuffs it into Prabhupadas mouth. Just then I walk in—and crack up. Prabhupada has that saucer-eyed look, an orange flower filling his mouth. I hand the kid her favorite toy, a small Gopal doll she had dropped on the stairs, and say, “Saraswati, show Prabhupada your new doll, Baby Krishna.”

Saraswati hands Prabhupada her little doll, and he admires it with an “Oooooh!” She turns to me for my approval, and while she’s looking away, the Swami tucks the doll behind his back and says, “Saraswati, where is Krishna?”

She looks around his desk, under the desk, makes a circuit around the room, and is about to cry, then points to Prabhupada, and says, “Pa-pa-pad has Krishna!”

Her little hands dive around in the fold of his dhoti and behind his back while Prabhupada shakes with hilarity. Then he reaches back and brings out the doll. Saraswati grabs it from him, shrieks, and runs out of the room, leaving us speechless we’re laughing so hard.

– Chasing Rhinos With The Swami, London 3

Malati: I was upstairs at Bury Place, working on the sewing machine, and l got electrocuted—thrown across the floor—and within moments someone came up with this aerogram and Prabhupada was instructing us to come to India, so he gave a list of twenty names. We were on the list—and by hand he wrote, ‘And baby Saraswati.”

– Chasing Rhinos With The Swami, London 4

And Malati Devi:

Saraswati went to Calcutta when she was four and a half, and Prabhupada would sometimes tease her, “I am going to put a stamp on your forehead and send you to the gurukula.” She would say, “No. No.” “Yes. I will put a stamp on your forehead and you will go to gurukula.” Eventually she did go to gurukula, but her father took her. A year later she came to visit me in India, and when Srila Prabhupada saw her he said, “Oh, you have come back from gurukula. Recite something.” She recited the first verse from the First Canto of the Bhagavatam.” He was pleased with her. “Yes very good. You must always speak like that.” Then he handed me twenty rupees and said, “Here, buy her a dress.” I said, “No. I can’t take this money from you, Srila Prabhupada.” “No. You must buy her a new dress.”

– Srila Prabhupada Remembrances, Volume 1, Chapter 8

Malati: Prabhupada was personally instructing Yamuna in Deity worship. One night Yamuna was doing the arati to Prabhupada’s little Deities. She offered the flower to the Deities and then gave it to Srila Prabhupada. At that time my daughter Sarasvati started to leave the room, and Prabhupada threw the flower at her, hitting her on the back of her head. She picked it up, marched over to him and popped the flower in his mouth. Prabhupada smiled at her. Purushotam was also there and later mentioned that this incident was one of many reasons why he left Prabhupada’s service. He thought that his spiritual master shouldn’t behave frivolously with a female during arati.

Malati had given birth to a baby girl in San Francisco in June 1968, and Swamiji had named her Saraswati over the phone from Montreal, pronouncing her the first child born to ISKCON parents. Now Malati had brought her to meet Malati’s spiritual master.

Swamiji held baby Saraswati up in the air with one lotus hand—he was so strong.

Gaurasundar then came in with a camera and began to photograph. Prabhupada put his garland around Saraswati and, holding her up, said, “They will say, what kind of sannyasi am I?” He beamed at all of us like a proud father.

– By His Example, Strength

And Madhudvisa Prabhu (about the Cross Maidan Festival):

Saraswati too, Syamasundara’s little daughter was only 5 years old, right? Younger, little girl, she was one of the stars of the show of Bombay pandal. She would come and she would garland Prabhupada and everybody loved Saraswati, everybody came to see Saraswati.

– ISKCON Mumbai, 25th Anniversary

Smriti in Juhu

I grew up here in Hare Krishna Land, and I was here before the devotees came and Prabhupada came. I was one of the fortunate ones that got a lot of mercy from Prabhupada and the devotees because my mother and father were doing a lot of service and they only had a hut over here, so all the devotees would be at our house for prasadam, for the fan, for everything. So during school days, we didn’t have a problem. They would come, they would have the whole house to themselves. The days when there was no school, that’s when all the devotees would be there and it would be like a big festival in the house. My mother was a good cook, so Prabhupada used to send word when he came to Bombay to have her make South Indian. He liked idlis and laddus and sambar. So every day, every morning I got the mercy to take the prasadam over to Srila Prabhupada; and as rascal as I am, I used to wait for something in return. I would give him idlis, but I wanted a sweet back. And he would tease me, he would give me back an idli, and I’d go, “No, I got lots of that at home, I want the sweet.” So very early in life I started grabbing all the mercy as I could. Even the pandal programs, when they had the temple at the…the temporary temple that they had, Prabhupada used to come. After the lecture he used to give prasadam. He’d give it once, I would still stand there and he would go, “Go away,” I would still stand with my hand, “I want more.” Like everybody was saying, it was very open at that time. Anyone could walk into Prabhupada’s room. Anyone could associate with him. Malati prabhu, her daughter Saraswati and I, we used to get in a lot of trouble because we used to always be playing upstairs when Prabhupada was resting or writing or talking, we were always up there doing something. But Prabhupada never took offense to that. He would always just let us be. Sometimes he would tell, “Come sit down,” and she would sit on one lap and I would sit on the other lap. There were times when Prabhupada would hit me with his cane or chastise me if I did something wrong. Or sometimes when I used to take his breakfast up to his room, there would be no servants around, everybody would be gone. So I’d bring the offering right over to his plate and he would take what he wanted, he would give me my sweet, and I would still linger around in case there was some more left on his plate. Maybe I’ll get some more sweets. So I would hang around and then he would call for his servant, no one would come, so he would say, “Go get me my shoes.” So I would get the opportunity to help him with his shoes, and he would pat me with his cane.

– ISKCON Mumbai – 25th Anniversary

Saumya in Australia and Laguna Beach

After Srila Prabhupada had taken his lunch and afternoon nap, Upendra and Citralekha came to see him with their six-week-old son, Saumya. As always, Srila Prabhupada was warm and encouraging. He spoke kindly to his senior disciples who continued to render him so much service. Citralekha had taken the opportunity of briefly placing Saumya’s head on Prabhupada’s feet at his morning arrival. Now, Prabhupada asked Citralekha to bring the boy closer. He affectionately patted the baby on the head. Citralekha pointed out to Prabhupada two birthmarks on her child: “He has one where his tilaka goes and one where his sikha will be.”

“Oh, these are auspicious marks,” Prabhupada replied.

– The Great Transcendental Adventure

Prabhupada made comments about my son, Saumya because he had poor eyesight and started wearing glasses at age two. Prabhupada would say, “His glasses are bigger than his head.” If Prabhupada inquired about Saumya, Upendra would say, “He’s well, Prabhupada. But sometimes he’s naughty.” Prabhupada would say, “Naughty means intelligent.” And Prabhupada said, “Saumya should learn Sanskrit from Pradyumna.”

– Citralekha’s Memories

Upendra’s three-year-old son, Saumya, walked up to Prabhupada from the back of the room. Prabhupada gave him some money that was on the desk, and the boy ran back to his mother and gave her the money. “Yes. When I was young,” Prabhupada reminisced, “if I got money I would take it to my mother. But then when I would become angry at her, I would demand it back. Sometimes I would steal money from my mother’s purse and go watch Charlie Chaplin movies.” His favorite scene was in a film called Hard Times, he said, when Charlie Chaplin sat down at a table with a knife and fork to eat a boot.

– Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Volume 6

Upendra: (slightly enthusiastic) Prabhupada is drinking more liquids now—even milk—and they don’t turn to mucus. (Conceding) But still, he can’t even turn over by himself. Even lifting his arm is a great effort.

(The children have again become overactive, drawing their parents’ attention.)

Citralekha: Shouldn’t we prepare them a little? They’re expecting Prabhupada to look the same as always. Saumya’s asked me a dozen times if he can sit on Prabhupada’s lap again like last time.

Upendra: You’re right. They’ll be shocked. (He kneels down on one knee to talk to the children.) Prabhupada has been fasting for . . .

– Prabhupada Antya Lila (TKG’s drama about Srila Prabhupada’s departure)

Damodara in Mayapur

Each morning at guru-puja Prabhupada is personally giving out sweets to all the children. He sits on the vyasasana as each child comes forward to receive his prasadam.

There is a small, two-year-old boy from Australia called Damodara, who persistently remains right in front of the vyasasana each morning with his pudgy hand held out. Srila Prabhupada gives him half a sweet, which Damodara pushes into his mouth. Then he moves his hand over the back of his head, wipes his open palm on his sikha, and again holds it out.

Again Prabhupada gives him another piece of sweet, and again Damodara repeats the ritual. There are no words exchanged, simply the boy’s chubby palm goes out for the sweet, up to his mouth, over his head, and back again for more. This exchange with Damodara has gone on for several mornings now, and Srila Prabhupada laughs to see him wipe his hand in such a fashion. “Who has taught him this?” he asked.

While this is going on the other children leap and dance and chant. Adoration for Prabhupada and excitement to be in his presence shine in their eyes. It is obvious the young children are spontaneously attracted to Srila Prabhupada because they instinctively understand that he is their best friend.

– A Transcendental Diary, Volume 1

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Interactions with Children After Sannyasa

Although Srila Prabhupada’s example sets the standard for ISKCON, his behavior is also largely congruent with that of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu after sannyasa, and below are four examples of the Lord having interacted affectionately with children, which demonstrate said congruence. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was only seen to have interacted affectionately with male children though (per the societal norms of that time), whereas Srila Prabhupada was also seen to have been affectionate towards a number of female children (also, again, per the societal norms of more recent times).


Caitanya Mahaprabhu affectionately held five-year old Acyutananda on his lap:

paJcama varSera bAlaka kahe siddhAntera sAra
zuniyA pAilA AcArya santoSa apAra

When Advaita Acarya heard this statement from His five-year-old son Acyutananda, He felt great satisfaction because of his conclusive judgment.

—The Caitanya-bhagavata further states that the naked child, the son of Advaita Prabhu, immediately came and fell down at the lotus feet of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Lord immediately took him on His lap, although he was not very clean, having dust all over his body. Lord Caitanya said, “My dear Acyuta, Advaita Acarya is My father, and thus we are brothers.”

CC 1.12.17 (with an excerpt from Srila Prabhupada’s purport)

digambara zizu-rUpa advaita-tanaya
nAma `zrI-acyutAnanda’ mahA-jyotir-maya

Sri Acyutananda, the son of Advaita, was present there in the form of a greatly effulgent, naked child.

dhUlA-maya sarva aNga, hAsite hAsite
jAniyA AilA prabhu-caraNa dekhite

Realizing that the Lord had arrived, the child, smiling and covered in dust, came to see Him.

AsiyA paDilA gauracandra-pada-tale
dhUlAra sahita prabhu lailena kole

He came and fell at the lotus feet of Gauracandra, and the Lord took the dust-covered child on His lap.

prabhu bale,—“acyuta, AcArya mora
pitAse sambandhe tomAya AmAya dui-bhrAtA”

The Lord said, “O Acyuta, Advaita Acarya is My father. Therefore we are brothers.”

CB 3.1.213, 215-217

Maharaja Prataparudra’s Son

The king’s son, described as kizora-vayasa (generally meaning 10-15 years old), was invited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to come visit, and when the prince visited the Lord embraced him and requested him to come back every day:

tathApi tomAra yadi mahAgraha haya
tabe Ani’ milAha tumi tANhAra tanaya

[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said] “But if you are still very eager for the King to meet with Me, please first bring his son to meet Me.”

tabe rAya yAi’ saba rAjAre kahilA
prabhura AjJAya tANra putra laJA AilA

Ramananda Raya then went to inform the King about his talks with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and, following the Lord’s orders, brought the King’s son to see Him.

sundara, rAjAra putra-zyAmala-varaNa
kizora vayasa, dIrgha kamala-nayana

The prince, just entering upon his youth, was very beautiful. He was blackish in complexion and had large lotus eyes.

pItAmbara, dhare aGge ratna-AbharaNa
zrI-kRSNa-smaraNe teNha hailA ‘uddIpana’

The prince was dressed in yellow cloth, and there were jeweled ornaments decorating his body. Therefore anyone who saw him would remember Lord Krsna.

tANre dekhi, mahAprabhura kRSNa-smRti haila
premAveze tANre mili’ kahite lAgila

Seeing the boy, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately remembered Krsna. Meeting the boy in ecstatic love, the Lord began to speak.

ei-mahA-bhAgavata, yANhAra darzane
vrajendra-nandana-smRti haya sarva-jane

“Here is a great devotee,” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said. “Upon seeing him, everyone can remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, son of Maharaja Nanda.”

kRtArtha ha-ilANa Ami iìhAra darazane
eta bali’ punaH tAre kaila AliGgane

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “I have become very much obligated just by seeing this boy.” After saying this, the Lord again embraced the prince.

prabhu-sparze rAja-putrera haila premAveza
sveda, kampa, azru, stambha, pulaka vizeSa

As soon as the prince was touched by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, symptoms of ecstatic love immediately manifested themselves in his body. These symptoms included perspiration, trembling, tears, being stunned and jubilation.

‘kRSNa’ ‘kRSNa’ kahe, nAce, karaye rodana
tANra bhAgya dekhi’ zlAghA kare bhakta-gaNa

The boy began to cry and dance, and he chanted, “Krsna! Krsna!” Upon seeing his bodily symptoms and his chanting and dancing, all the devotees praised him for his great spiritual fortune.

tabe mahAprabhu tANre dhairya karAila
nitya Asi’ AmAya miliha—ei AjJA dila

At that time, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu calmed the youth and ordered him to come there daily to meet Him.

sei haite bhAgyavAn rAjAra nandana
prabhu-bhakta-gaNa-madhye hailA eka-jana

From then on, the fortunate prince was one of the most intimate devotees of the Lord.

ei-mata mahAprabhu bhakta-gaNa-saGge
nirantara krIDA kare saNkIrtana-raGge

Thus Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu acted in the society of His pure devotees, performing His pastimes and spreading the sankirtana movement.

CC 2.12.55, 57-65, 68-69

Orissan Brahmana Boy

There was an Orissan brahmana boy, referred to as a bAlaka and a kumAra (which both indicate his being quite young), who had lost his father, and was thus only living with his widowed mother. The boy came to visit Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu every day, despite Damodara Pandit’s disapproval, because of fears that people might criticize the Lord for being overly familiar with the child (given that even though his mother was chaste and austere, she was also young and beautiful). The Lord appreciated Damodara Pandit’s concern and then sent the pandit to go live in Nadia.

puruSottame eka uDiyA-brAhmaNa-kumAra
pitR-zUnya, mahA-sundara, mRdu-vyavahAra

In Jagannatha Puri there was a young boy who had been born of an Orissan brahmana but had later lost his father. The boy’s features were very beautiful, and his behavior was extremely gentle.

prabhu-sthAne nitya Aise, kare namaskAra
prabhu-sane bAt kahe prabhu-‘prANa’ tAra
prabhute tAhAra prIti, prabhu dayA kare
dAmodara tAra prIti sahite nA pAre

The boy came daily to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and offered Him respectful obeisances. He was free to talk with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu because the Lord was his life and soul, but the boy’s intimacy with the Lord and the Lord’s mercy toward him were intolerable for Damodara Pandita.

bAra bAra niXedha kare brAhmaNa-kumAre
prabhure nA dekhile sei rahite nA pAre

Damodara Pandita again and again forbade the son of the brahmana to visit the Lord, but the boy could not bear staying home and not seeing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

nitya Aise, prabhu tAre kare mahA-prIta
yANhA prIti tANhA Aise,—bAlakera rIta

The boy came every day to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who treated him with great affection. It is the nature of any boy to go see a man who loves him.

tAhA dekhi’ dAmodara duHkha pAya mane
balite nA pAre, bAlaka niSedha nA mAne

This was intolerable for Damodara Pandita. He became greatly unhappy, but there was nothing he could say, for the boy would ignore his restrictions.

Ara dina sei bAlaka prabhu-sthAne AilA
gosAJi tAre prIti kari’ vArtA puchilA

One day when the boy came to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord very affectionately inquired from him about all kinds of news.

kata-kSaNe se bAlaka uThi’ yabe gelA
sahite nA pAre, dAmodara kahite lAgilA

After some time, when the boy stood up and left, the intolerant Damodara Pandita began to speak.

anyopadeze paNDita—kahe gosAJira ThAJi
’gosAJi’ ‘gosAJi’ ebe jAnimu ‘gosAJi’

Damodara Pandita impudently said to the Lord, “Everyone says that You are a great teacher because of Your instructions to others, but now we shall find out what kind of teacher You are.


Damodara Pandita was a great devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sometimes, however, a person in such a position becomes impudent, being influenced by the external energy and material considerations. Thus a devotee mistakenly dares to criticize the activities of the spiritual master or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Despite the logic that “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” a devotee should not be disturbed by the activities of his spiritual master and should not try to criticize him. A devotee should be fixed in the conclusion that the spiritual master cannot be subject to criticism and should never be considered equal to a common man. Even if there appears to be some discrepancy according to an imperfect devotee’s estimation, the devotee should be fixed in the conviction that even if his spiritual master goes to a liquor shop, he is not a drunkard; rather, he must have some purpose in going there. It is said in a Bengali poem:

yadyapi nityAnanda surA-bADi yAya
tathApio haya nityAnanda-rAya

“Even if I see that Lord Nityananda has entered a liquor shop, I shall not be diverted from my conclusion that Nityananda Raya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

ebe gosAJira guNa-yaza saba loke gAibe
tabe gosAJira pratiSThA puruSottame ha-ibe

“You are known as Gosani [teacher or acarya], but now talk about Your attributes and reputation will spread throughout the city of Purusottama. How Your position will be impaired!”

zuni’ prabhu kahe,—‘kyA kaha, dAmodara?’=
dAmodara kahe,—tumi svatantra ‘Izvara’

Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew that Damodara Pandita was a pure and simple devotee, upon hearing this impudent talk the Lord said, “My dear Damodara, what nonsense are you speaking?” Damodara Pandita replied, “You are the independent Personality of Godhead, beyond all criticism.

svacchande AcAra kara, ke pAre balite?
mukhara jagatera mukha pAra AcchAdite?

“My dear Lord, You can act as You please. No one can say anything to restrict You. Nevertheless, the entire world is impudent. People can say anything. How can You stop them?

paNDita haJA mane kene vicAra nA kara?
rANDI brAhmaNIra bAlake prIti kene kara?

“Dear Lord, You are a learned teacher. Why then don’t You consider that this boy is the son of a widowed brahmani? Why are You so affectionate to him?

yadyapi brAhmaNI sei tapasvinI satI
tathIpi tAhAra doSa—sundarI yuvatI

“Although the boy’s mother is completely austere and chaste, she has one natural fault—she is a very beautiful young girl.

tumi-ha—parama yuvA, parama sundara
lokera kANAkANi-bAte deha avasara“

“And You, my dear Lord, are a handsome, attractive young man. Therefore certainly people will whisper about You. Why should You give them such an opportunity?”


As a simple and staunch devotee of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Damodara Pandita could not tolerate criticism of the Lord, but unfortunately he himself was criticizing Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in his own way. The Lord could understand that it was because of Damodara Pandita’s simplicity that he impudently dared criticize Him. Nevertheless, such behavior by a devotee is not very good.

eta bali’ dAmodara mauna ha-ilA
antare santoSa prabhu hAsi’ vicArilA

Having said this, Damodara Pandita became silent. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu smiled, pleased within Himself, and considered the impudence of Damodara Pandita.

“ihAre kahiye zuddha-premera taraGga
dAmodara-sama mora nAhi ‘antaraGga’”

[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu thought:] “This impudence is also a sign of pure love for Me. I have no other intimate friend like Damodara Pandita.”

eteka vicAri’ prabhu madhyAhne calilA
Ara dine dAmodare nibhRte bolAilA

Thinking in this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to perform His noon duties. The next day, He called Damodara Pandita to a solitary place.

prabhu kahe,—“dAmodara, calaha nadIyA
mAtAra samIpe tumi raha tANhA yAJA

The Lord said, “My dear friend Damodara, you had better go to Nadia and stay with My mother.

tomA vinA tANhAra rakSaka nAhi dekhi Ana
AmAke-ha yAte tumi kailA sAvadhAna

“I see no one but you to protect her, for you are so careful that you can caution even Me.

tomA sama ‘nirapekSa’ nAhi mora gaNe
’nirapekSa’ nahile ‘dharma’ nA yAya rakSaNe

“You are the most neutral among My associates. This is very good, for without being neutral one cannot protect religious principles.

AmA haite ye nA haya, se tomA haite haya
AmAre karilA daNDa, Ana kebA haya

“You can do whatever I cannot. Indeed, you can chastise even Me, what to speak of others.

mAtAra gRhe raha yAi mAtAra caraNe
tomAra Age nahibe kAro svacchandAcaraNe

“It is best for you to go to the shelter of My mother’s lotus feet, for no one will be able to behave independently in front of you.

madhye madhye AsibA kabhu AmAra darazane
zIghra kari’ punaH tAhAN karaha gamane

“At intervals you may come see Me here and then soon again go there.

CC 3.3.3-26 (with purports)

Kavi Karnapura

When Sivananda Sena’s wife was pregnant, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu named the unborn child. After the child was born, and was subsequently introduced to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord affectionately placed His toe in the baby’s mouth:

pUrve yabe zivAnanda prabhu-sthAne AilA
tabe mahAprabhu tANre kahite lAgilA
“e-bAra tomAra yei ha-ibe kumAra
’purI-dAsa’ bali’ nAma dhariha tAhAra

Once before when Sivananda Sena had visited Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at His
residence, the Lord had told him, “When this son is born, give him the name Puri

tabe mAyera garbhe haya sei ta’ kumAra
zivAnanda ghare gele, janma haila tAra

The son was in the womb of Sivananda’s wife, and when Sivananda returned
home the son was born.

prabhu-AjJAya dharilA nAma—‘paramAnanda-dAsa’
’puré-dAsa’ kari’ prabhu karena upahAsa

The child was named Paramananda dasa in accordance with the Lord’s order,
and the Lord jokingly called him Puri dasa.

zivAnanda yabe sei bAlake milAilA
mahAprabhu pAdAnguSTha tAra mukhe dilA

When Sivananda Sena introduced the child to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the
Lord put His toe in the mouth of the child.