Vyasa Puja offering for the year 2004

You load sixteen tons and what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.

St. Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go:

I owe my soul to the company store.


My dear Srila Prabhupäda,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace!

The above refrain from an old folk song came to mind while I was in the shower recently. The words complain of the miseries of mäyä. Yet for us, the goddess Sarasvati rendered new meaning to the lyrics, and in this way, the words have come to encapsulate my life . . . and my prayer to you on your Vyäsa-püjä day.

You load sixteen tons:

I carry tons of self-imposed burdens. Some are internal: various anarthas and types of avidyä, led by pride. Others are external: various obligations and commitments to well-wishers, family, and friends. Still, you continue to bless me with your mercy—and lighten my load.

. . . and what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt:

As you continue to bless me with your mercy in so many ways—especially through the holy names, the association of devotees, and devotional service—I get deeper and deeper in debt to you. And no matter how much service I may render, my debt increases, because the opportunity to offer service to you itself is your causeless mercy.

St. Peter don’t you call me:

One lifetime is not enough for me to repay my debt to you. In fact, no number of lives is enough.

Therefore, Uddhava prays to Lord Krishna:

naivopayanty apacitiṁ kavayas taveśa

brahmāyuṣāpi kṛtam ṛddha-mudaḥ smarantaḥ

yo ‘ntar bahis tanu-bhṛtām aśubhaṁ vidhunvann

ācārya-caittya-vapuṣā sva-gatiṁ vyanakti

“O my Lord! Transcendental poets and experts in spiritual science could not fully express their indebtedness to You, even if they were endowed with the prolonged lifetime of Brahmä, for You appear in two features—externally as the äcärya and internally as the Supersoul—to deliver the embodied living being by directing him how to come to You.” (Srimad-Bhägavatam 11.29.6)

But although I will never be able to repay my debt to you, still, in this present lifetime I have some special obligations or opportunities to serve you: Because I had your personal association, I must share with others what I have learned in your company—from your words and example—especially by writing about you. And because you have instructed us to build the wonderful temple (adbhuta mandira) in Mäyäpur as a service to the predecessor äcäryas and the Panca-tattva—a colossal project that will take years to complete—I must add my mite to the total effort. So we need more time to render service to you here, in this life.

And personally, too, I need time. I need time to become a better devotee, a better example of sannyäsa-dharma, a more selfless servant of you and your mission. I need more time, in fact, so I can become more Krishna conscious.

I owe my soul to the company store:

I owe my soul—my life—to you. You have given me life—devotional service in Krishna consciousness. And so I must serve you with life and soul. But where are you now, that we may serve you? Of course, one answer is clear: You are manifest in your words, your instructions, your vani, when we follow them:

[T]he spiritual master always keeps company with the disciple as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of vani (words). Physical presence is called vapu. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciple should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.  [Srimad-Bhägavatam 4.28.47 purport)


Even more specifically, you are present in ISKCON. You even said, “ISKCON is my body.” To serve you also means to serve ISKCON. Thus, I owe my soul to “the company store,” to ISKCON—to you.

And so, on this most auspicious occasion of your Vyäsa-püjä, I pray to you for sufficient strength and intelligence, health and duration of life, to serve you and your devotees, you and your mission, as you would want, here. And then—whatever.

We know, from authority and experience, your mercy triumphs over all.

Thank you, Srila Prabhupäda. Hare Krishna

We beg to remain your everlasting debtor and


Your eternal servant,

Giriräj Swami