Today being Ekadasi, I was considering whether or not to go out on an errand, and I recalled an incident that took place on Ekadasi in Madras in 1971. Achyutananda, Bhavananda, and I were based in a supporter’s house, and Bhavananda and I were in the mood to go out and preach. Achyutananda, however, said, “No, it’s Ekadasi. We shouldn’t go out. It’s inauspicious. And besides, it looks like rain.” But we thought, “Oh boy, he is so attached to external rules and regulations. We have the real spirit of preaching. We are not going to worry about Ekadasi or some rain.”
When we went out, there was only a light drizzle, but within minutes the sky poured down rain. And the rain didn’t stop; it came down heavier and heavier. In Madras then, at least where we were walking, there was not much of a drainage system—just an open ditch two or three feet deep, lined with concrete. And as the storm continued, the channel filled with water, and soon we couldn’t distinguish between the water on the street, the water in the ditch, and the water in the fields beyond.
So, we were walking along blissfully, drenched in water but inspired in our mission, in our service to our guru maharaja, and then Bhavananda fell into the ditch. He was in water up to his waist. So, I gave him a hand, and he climbed out of the ditch, soaked with sewage water.
Later, I related the incident to Srila Prabhupada, declaring that Bhavananda Prabhu had equal vision: he didn’t distinguish between high and low. And I quoted the verse from the Bhagavad-gita (5.18),
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
“The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater [outcaste].”
“Yes,” Prabhupada replied. “You have theoretical knowledge. But Bhavananda has realized knowledge, practical realization, so he is more advanced.”