The following account was given by Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Atma Tattva Dasa.
One Ekadasi during the Kumbha-mela in Allahabad, Prabhupada was sitting back with his eyes closed, his legs stretched under his desk, talking about Ekadasi. Prabhupada said, “Lotus pods fried in ghee are very good on Ekadasi.” Somebody immediately ran to the market to arrange for lotus pods, but just two minutes later a Ramanandi brahman and his nine-year-old son arrived, both wearing Ramanandi tilak. They paid their obeisances, and the father put a cloth bag from his shoulder on Prabhupada’s desk. Prabhupada put his hand in it and said, “Just see; it has come.” It was lotus pods fried in ghee. He looked at the Ramanandi and said, “How are you?” This man happened to be the priest of a Bengali family in Firozabad, U.P., where Prabhupada used to stay. Even though this person was a Ramanandi, he did the Gaura-Nitai Deity worship for this family.
Prabhupada ate some of the pods, distributed the rest, and said to the Ramanandi, “You haven’t taken bath in the confluence, the sangam?” The Ramanandi said, “Swamiji, I have come to take bath in the sangam,” and he put a plate under Prabhupada’s feet. Prabhupada adjusted his feet on the plate, and this man bathed Prabhupada’s feet in sangam water from his pot while he chanted mantras. Prabhupada looked at him, smiling.
During that time—this was December 1976—it was rare to get Prabhupada’s charanamrita, and all of us desired it. This Ramanandi sprinkled that water on his head, drank some, and then sprinkled some on all of us. He said to Prabhupada, “Your feet are the actual sangam. What will we get in bathing that sangam? Your feet will purify the Ganges, and since you are not going to the Ganges, I brought the Ganges here. I will mix some of this charanamrita in the Ganges.”
Prabhupada smiled and said, “Give me your son. I will make him an acharya.” The man said, “He is yours, Swamiji, you can take him any time.” Prabhupada said, “No, no, any time means no time. You give him to me now. I will make him an acharya.” The Ramanandi said, “Swamiji, now he is learning Sanskrit grammar. To study the bhasyas, the commentaries, he must know some grammar. Once his vyakarana is over, I will hand him over to you. He is yours.” Prabhupada insisted for the fourth time, “No, no, what grammar? We don’t need grammar. Give him to me. I will make him an acharya.” The man said, “Swamiji, I am not saying no; everything mine is yours. But he is too small. He will only be trouble for you. In a few years, I will hand him over to you.” Prabhupada said, “Okay, thik he, thik he,” and he rubbed the boy’s head. After that, there were other visitors to see Prabhupada, and this man and his son left.
Years passed, and the Ramananda sampradaya broke into many inimical sects. Then one year, I took ten gurukula boys to the Allahabad Kumbha-mela, and I was surprised to learn that the Ramanandas had elected one young sannyasi to lead their whole sampradaya and that they had a huge Ramananda stall at the festival. I told the gurukula boys, “We will have this leader’s darshan. That one sadhu united a whole sampradaya is unheard of, and you boys should meet the person who has this potency. God knows, tomorrow you may become a guru.”
So, we went to see him. We were given priority because some of the boys were from South America, Australia, and so on. There were about a hundred people with this young sannyasi—men with long beards and matted locks of hair, all three times older than him, and leaders in their own right. This young sannyasi was sitting on a big seat, and people were fanning him with a chamara. We paid obeisances, and a gurukula boy from South America loudly chanted the sannyasa-sukta, which is a traditional way to greet a sannyasi. As he started chanting, everyone became silent, and after he had finished, this young Maharaja composed a Sanskrit poem about Prabhupada. He recited, “If I say that neither in the past nor in the future will there be an acharya equal to the acharya of the Hare Krishna movement, I won’t be committing an offense to the founder of my line, Ramananda, because in his commentary Ramananda himself predicted that Vishnu worship would spread around the world and that the whole world would take to it.”
As the sannyasi was talking, I realized that this was the same person who, as a small boy, had his head rubbed by Srila Prabhupada. He finished four slokas glorifying Prabhupada and ended with the glorification of Lord Jagannatha. Then he honored each boy separately, and when I went up to him, he said, “Atma Tattva Prabhu, do you remember me? You used to carry me on your back.” When I had traveled on padayatra, we had stayed at his father’s house. At that time, I was a brahmachari, and I used to carry this boy on my back. He used to call Lokanath Maharaja an “old man” because he had white hair. He said, “Prabhupada spoke about me becoming an acharya. My father never brought me to the Hare Krishna movement, but before he passed away, he told me that I had to study the Shankara-bhasya so that I could defeat it. That was his last wish. So, for four years I stayed with the Mayavadis in Benares and studied the commentary of Shankara. It was painful. Our whole sampradaya had split up over misunderstandings, and I thought that since I had Prabhupada’s blessings, maybe I could unite us. I tried for nine years, and this year it has happened. By the blessings of your guru maharaja, we are united. Ramananda said that as long as we were broken, we would never be able to fulfill his prediction. But Ramananda also said, ‘We don’t have to fulfill that prediction, because it has already been fulfilled by these people. We simply have to join and preach with them. Their movement is spreading around the world.’ ” Using us as a catalyst, this young sannyasi preached to everyone assembled there in that way. It was great to hear from him.