Vyasa Puja offering for the year 2005

 

My dear Srila Prabhupäda,

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

Her Grace Malati dasi tells a nice story from when we first got our land in Mäyäpur and you invited your godbrothers to meet you there. You had a small thatched hut, the one that is still there (now renovated). Malati was cooking for you. It was difficult for her because there was almost no money. She had to struggle to get money from the treasurer, then walk with her young daughter, Sarasvati, to the boat, haggle with the boat people so they would accept the proper fare, take the boat across to Navadwipa, haggle with rickshaw drivers so that they too would accept the right amount, ride to the fruit and vegetable markets, haggle with the vendors there to get the right price, and then return to cook on the single portable coal burner and the single portable kerosene burner on the floor in the corner of your hut, separated from you by a plain cloth “curtain.” Since the devotees didn’t have a refrigerator then, whatever she needed she had to buy fresh daily — and thus go through the same struggles every day. Every day Malati was on the verge of collapsing, but then so were most of your disciples, dedicated as they were to your service in spite of all material impediments and inconveniences — living in tents, eating the local food, getting dysentery, and so on.

 

Malati’s constant meditation was how to make the prasädam come out nice so that you would be pleased. And every day you would point out the defects in her service, so that she could improve. But she felt that you were criticizing her. And she felt that she could never get it right. Then one day she thought that she had finally managed to cook everything properly and arrange the plate just to your standard. She brought the plate of prasädam to you, but when she came to remove it you said, “There is too much salt”— not that there was too much salt in the food, but that there was too much salt placed on the plate with the pepper and ginger and lemon slices. So she concluded, “I can never get it right. I should find someone else who can do the service better.” Immediately she felt relieved, and she decided, “I’ll tell Srila Prabhupäda tomorrow.”

 

The next day, Malati heard that some of your godbrothers were coming to join you for lunch, so she assumed that she would not cook that day, because you had been under criticism from your godbrothers for keeping women in your ashrams and for having a woman cook. But you called her to tell her what items you wanted her to cook that day, as usual. She was dutiful, so she decided, “Well, I’ll just cook today, and then I’ll tell him tomorrow.” So she cooked.

When the prasädam was ready, Malati lifted up the cloth that separated the work area from your room. There she saw you sitting on the floor at the end of the room, with two of your godbrothers on either side. You appeared to her like a diamond in a gold setting, flanked as you were by your esteemed godbrothers. And she felt intimidated by the presence of such venerable Vaisnavas.

 

Already on her knees, she pulled her sari over her head and arms so that only her hands showed, and with her knees and elbows on the floor she carried your plate of prasädam with her outstretched hands, practically crawling between your godbrothers to approach you, her spiritual master.

 

Then Your Divine Grace said to your godbrothers, “Yes, she cooks for me . . . and I criticize her. But she would slit her throat for me, and I would do the same for her.”

When she heard that, Malati almost collapsed on the floor. That was more than any reciprocation she could have ever hoped for or even imagined.

 

And what Your Divine Grace had said was true. We were ready to do anything for you, in part because we knew you would do anything for us, and in part because you taught us by your words and example that you would do anything for your spiritual master — and what the result of such service is.

 

On this auspicious occasion, we pray to you to give us the strength to be ready to do anything for you — and the intelligence to know what you would want us to do.

By sincere service to the spiritual master, one achieves the highest perfection.

yat-sevayā bhagavataḥ

kūṭa-sthasya madhu-dviṣaḥ

rati-rāso bhavet tīvraḥ

pādayor vyasanārdanaḥ

“By serving the feet of the spiritual master, one is enabled to develop transcendental ecstasy in the service of the Personality of Godhead, who is the unchangeable enemy of the Madhu demon and whose service vanquishes one’s material distresses.” (Srimad-Bhägavatam 3.7.19)

In his Bhakti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 244), Srila Jiva Goswami comments on this verse: “The word tivra (‘intense’) hints at the special result of personal service, compared to that of mere association.” Citing verse after verse, Srila Jiva Goswami glorifies the results of associating with pure devotees (sat-sanga), which is the only process that can give one the strong love that can control Krishna Though hearing and chanting in the association of pure devotees (prasanga) is powerful and beneficial, personal service rendered to pure devotees (paricaryä), combined with chanting and hearing, brings “an exceptional result” (viçiñtyà phalam): even greater love for Krishna

We pray that we will one day develop such pure, ecstatic love for you and Krishna. Only then will all of our practices and sacrifices be completely successful — by your divine loving grace.

Aspiring to be your fully surrendered, loving servant — and the selfless servant of your dear, most beloved servants,

Giriräj Swami