Srila Prabhupada's Birthday Wish

14th September 2014 • Srila Prabhupāda

Govinda Dasi

In June, July and August, Srila Prabhupada, Gaurasundara and I lived at the Prince Arthur Street apartment in Montreal. It was a homey atmosphere since Srila Prabhupada did not travel for over three months due to visa requirements. Since his birthday was a approaching in late summer, I debated what to do and I decided to surprise him with a birthday cake.

Of course, there were other arrangements at the temple, no doubt but this was my personal contribution and at the time it seemed like a nice thing to do.

In the morning on his birthday I carefully prepared a two layer cake and frosted it with sweet butter and cream frosting. Then I decorated it with candles, not 72 or 73 but about twelve or fourteen candles.
Then, after Srila Prabhupada had completed his usual bath, and tilak and prasadam and he was sitting poised at his desk chanting, I carried the flaming cake from the kitchen to his altar as I did all the usual offerings. His eyes grew large and open wide. He exclaimed: “Oh, what is that?” as I placed the candle-lit cake on the altar. I replied: “Oh, Srila Prabhupada, this is your birthday cake. I’ve made it for you. This is how we celebrate birthdays in America”. He wagged his head from side to side and said: “Very nice”, and smiled as I brought him the flaming cake; as I set it on his desk I explained: “Srila Prabhupada, now you make a wish and then try to blow out the candles with one breath”. Srila Prabhupada quickly caught on and with one deep, big whoosh he blew out every flame on the cake. Then he laughed and said: “I have done good?” “Yes”, I laughed and said: “Now you will get your wish but you don’t have to tell me or anybody what you wish for”.

“I wish only for Krsna”, his voice deep, he said smilingly, ‘for Krsna’s service’, he added.

I, saying happy birthday to him as I carefully removed the candles and cut him a big piece of birthday cake and served it to him on one of his several plates. As he tasted it he smiled and said: “Oh, this is very good.” I brought him some warm milk also.

Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for honoring my simple American ideas of service. I innocently offered you a Western birthday party and you accepted it graciously as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you this life and next and thank you for reminding me of your only wish. Please bless me that some day I may also wish only for Krsna’s seva.

When I see birthday celebrations I am always reminded of your bright surprised look as I carried in the flaming birthday cake and how kindly you were in accepting my innocent offering. Birthday celebrations always stir memories of your gentle face, wide-eyed staring at the flaming cake in wonder. What a wonderful memory and what a wonderful wish.