Vyasa Puja offering for the year 2010
nama om vishnu-pädäya Krishna-presthaya bhü-tale
srimate bhaktivedänta-svämin iti nämine
namas te särasvate deve gaura-vani-pracharine
We have gathered on the most auspicious occasion of Srila Prabhupäda’s appearance day. His Divine Grace appeared in Calcutta in 1896, one hundred and fourteen years ago. Still, as he wrote of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thakura, in his dedication to Srimad-Bhägavatam: “He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him.” So although from the physical point of view Srila Prabhupäda is no longer with us, from the spiritual point of view he is: “He lives forever by his divine instructions.” And by following his instructions, we feel his presence—we live with him.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s inscription for the tomb of Haridäsa Thakura in Jagannätha Puri states:
He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die
When thou art living still in sound.
The Vaisnavas die to live, and living try
To spread the holy name around.
Both Srila Prabhupäda’s dedication and Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s inscription tell us that the spiritual master, the Vaisnava, never dies; he continues to live in sound, in his instructions (vani), forever. And by following his instructions, by chanting the holy name, we can fulfill his purpose and live with him.
One verse that especially glorifies Srila Prabhupäda’s merciful nature and service appears as text 9 in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, chapter thirty-one: “The Gopis’ Songs of Separation.” The same verse appears in the fourteenth chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrita’s Madhya-lila. It is a very beautiful verse in thought and mood.
tava kathāmṛtaḿ tapta-jīvanaḿ
kavibhir īḍitaḿ kalmaṣāpaham
śravaṇa-mańgalaḿ śrīmad ātataḿ
bhuvi gṛṇanti ye bhūri-dā janāḥ
The gopis sang this verse after Krishna left them during the prelude to the räsa dance. They were searching the forest of Vrindavana for Him, and in their mood of separation they sang this song, or verse, to Him: “The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.”
During the Ratha-yäträ festival Lord Caitanya was in the mood of Srimati Radharani when She met Krishna at Kuru-kshetra and wanted to bring Him back to Vrindavana. And when the procession stopped to allow devotees to offer food to Lord Jagannätha, Lord Caitanya, who felt exhausted from His dancing in sankirtana, went to a nearby garden to rest. While He was lying on a raised platform, immersed in ecstatic loving feelings, King Pratäparudra entered the garden and, after taking permission from the Lord’s other associates there, began to massage the Lord’s lotus feet and to recite the gopis’ songs of separation, which were perfectly suitable for Lord Caitanya’s mood.
When Lord Caitanya heard the verse describing the glories of the messages of Godhead and of those who broadcast such messages, He rose, embraced the king, and exclaimed, “Bhüridä! Bhüridä! You are the most munificent! You are the most munificent—because you are giving Me the nectar of Krishna-kathä, which is so glorious.”
And that is exactly what Srila Prabhupäda did for us—he gave us Krishna-kathä. He gave us many thousands of pages and thousands of hours of Krishna-kathä. He is bhüridä, the most munificent personality.
Now, to get the full benefit of what Srila Prabhupäda came to give us and do for us, and consequently to experience the appreciation and gratitude and love that are naturally due him, we—I—must take advantage of his transcendental gifts, especially Krishna-kathä: first and foremost his books, and also his lectures, morning walks, room conversations, letters—all that he gave us; they are all Krishna-kathä.
tava kathāmṛtaḿ. The kathä that Prabhupäda gave us, and that King Pratäparudra gave Lord Caitanya, is amrta. Amrta means “nectar,” literally “that which delivers one from death.” (Mrta means “death,” or “birth and death,” and amrta means “no death.”) The demigods drink an amåta that yields a long life of sense enjoyment, but the amrta of Krishna-kathä gives one an eternal life full of bliss and knowledge in the company of Krishna and all His associates, including Srila Prabhupäda.
Tapta-Jivanam. Krishna-kathä gives life to those who are aggrieved in the material world. Täpa means “pain,”“misery,” or, more literally, “heat”, and thus tapta means “pained,”“miserable,” or “burning.” We are all burning in the blazing fire of material existence, suffering the threefold miseries, and the spiritual master is like a rain cloud that pours down water to extinguish it. The spiritual master showers the nectar of Krishna-kathä on the parched conditioned souls and thus delivers them from all suffering.
It was said of the Six Goswamis, papottapa-nikrintanau tanu-bhritam govinda-ganamritaih: “They delivered all conditioned souls from the reactions of their sinful activities by pouring upon them transcendental songs about Govinda.” (sad-goswamy-astaka 3) And of Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, tāpa-trayonmūlanam: “It uproots the threefold miseries.” (SB 1.1.2) Srila Prabhupäda has given us Krishna-kathä—Srimad-Bhagavatam and the works of the Goswamis—which can deliver us from the material miseries and give us new life.
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
“The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.”
Täpa also has another meaning—the fire of separation. Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, and Srimati Radharani and the other gopis, were burning in the fire of separation from Krishna Talking about Krishna, Krishna-kathä, gave them life. Similarly, anyone suffering in separation from Krishna or Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu or Their associates, or from Srila Prabhupäda or his associates, can get solace from Krishna-kathä.
Kavibhir “great thinkers,”“sages,”“poets.”Srila Prabhupäda was a great thinker. Ravindra Svarüpa Prabhu tells us that as a student of philosophy and religion in the university he had encountered so many philosophical and religious conceptions, but that when he discovered Srila Prabhupäda’s books and teachings, everything else he had heard and read before was—in clarity, in depth, and in substance—like child’s play compared with what Srila Prabhupäda gave us. And Srila Prabhupäda was also poetic.
Iditam—“described.” These great thinkers, devotees, and poets, such as Srila Prabhupäda, describe Krishna
. Kalmaña means “sinful reactions” or “material miseries,” and apaham means “drives away,” or “eradicates.” Sinful reactions result in material miseries, and Krishna-kathä, chanting and hearing about Krishna, brings immediate relief. We have all experienced it. The Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu says that from the stage of sädhana-bhakti one experiences klesa-ghni, the eradication of material miseries. From the very beginning, we can experience it. Engaging in Krishna-kathä frees us from sinful reactions and thus enables us to progress in devotional service. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (7.28),
yeṣāḿ tv anta-gataḿ pāpaḿ
bhajante māḿ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.” Only when we are free from sinful actions and reactions can we take to devotional service with firm determination.
Srimat—“filled with spiritual power and opulence.” The nectar of Krishna-kathä, according to Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, bestows all wealth, up to prema (prema-dhana), and so even if we give everything we possess to one who broadcasts (ätatam) the messages of Godhead, we will never be able to repay him.
Bhuvi gṛṇanti—“chanted and spread all over the world.” This phrase particularly applies to Srila Prabhupäda, who left India, journeyed to America, and traveled all over the world to broadcast the message of Krishna No one had ever done that. Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu had desired and predicted it, yet even learned scholars in the line of Mahäprabhu and Sarasvati Thakura could not imagine that it would come to pass. They took Mahäprabhu’s statement as a poetic devotional outpouring, not as a literal prediction.
prithviti äche yata nagarädi gräma
sarvatra pracära haibe mora näma
“In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy name will be preached.” (Caitanya-bhägavata, Antya 4.126)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura made a beginning. He sent copies of his book Caitanya Mahäprabhu: His Life and Precepts to some libraries in different parts of the world. And Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thakura sent some sannyasis to preach in Europe (though without much effect). But it was Srila Prabhupäda who actually traveled and spread the holy name of Krishna—Krishna-kathä—all over the world. He personally translated Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhägavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, and other Vedic scriptures into English, and he inspired his followers to translate his books into other languages and distribute them everywhere. He also said that if he could live longer he would render more Vedic texts into English, and his followers are continuing his work.
Where would we be now if he hadn’t done what he did? We would probably be where we were, or even worse, burning in the blazing fire of material existence, burning in the fire of hellish sinful reactions.
Thus Srila Prabhupäda is bhüri-dä, the most munificent. Srila Rüpa Goswami glorified Lord Caitanya as the most munificent incarnation of Godhead:
nämne gaura-tvise namah
“Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya is more magnanimous than any other avatära, even more than Krishna Himself, because He is bestowing freely what no one else has ever given—pure love of Krishna”
(Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 19.53)
Personally, Lord Caitanya preached only in India. It was Srila Prabhupäda who preached throughout the world, freely distributing Krishna-kathä, Krishna-näma, and Krishna-prasäda, which bring one to Krishna-prema.
And Srila Prabhupäda wanted his followers, the devotees in ISKCON—he specifically mentioned the temple presidents and zonal secretaries—to be munificent, because they are representing Lord Caitanya. We should all be munificent, benevolent. How? By spreading the message of Godhead—distributing transcendental literature and personally speaking about Krishna
Considering the value of what Srila Prabhupäda has given us, we can never repay him. Still, we should want to repay him, and act to repay him, by following in his footsteps. As Srila Prabhupäda wrote, “If you feel at all indebted to me, then you should preach vigorously like me. That is the proper way to repay me. Of course, no one can repay the debt to the spiritual master, but the spiritual master is very much pleased by such an attitude by the disciple.”
Srila Prabhupäda is the spiritual master—at least shiksha-guru—of all of us, so we must work to repay our debt to him by following in his footsteps and preaching. And to preach, one must also practice; one must have spiritual strength. So we—I—must do both: practice and preach.
At last year’s Ratha-yäträ in Los Angeles, soon after the chariots arrived at Venice Beach, I met my dear godbrother Bhärgava Prabhu, and he poured some of the nectar of Krishna-kathä into my ears. The atmosphere at the Ratha-yäträ was surcharged with spiritual potency and emotion and bliss, and he told a story that was most appropriate for the occasion, about the residents of Vrindavana going to Kuru-kshetra to meet Krishna
Krishna Himself was always feeling separation from the residents of Vrindavana. In His sleep He would call out the names of the cowherd boys, the cows, and the gopis, and sometimes His pillow would be wet from the tears He had shed.
So, Krishna thought that if He went to Kuru-kshetra He might be able to meet the residents of Vrindavana, because Kuru-kshetra, unlike Dvärakä, is not so far from Vrindavana. The residents of Vrindavana, too, were eager to meet Krishna And so the Vraja-vasis journeyed to Kuru-kshetra. From the time of His youth, Krishna had an understanding with Nanda Mahäräja that no one should ever know about their intimate relationship, because if the demons knew that He had been raised as the son of Nanda in Vraja, they would attack Vraja and do harm to the Vraja-vasis—to get at Krishna
When Nanda Mahäräja and the cowherd community reached Kuru-kshetra, there were so many people and horses and chariots and elephants and tents everywhere, Nanda couldn’t see Krishna But he could smell Him, the divine fragrance of His transcendental body. So he followed the scent to the place from where it was emanating, and then . . . he saw Krishna But was it Krishna? He knew Krishna as his little cowherd boy. But here was a king, attired in royal garb, with so many princes and warriors, all well dressed and ornamented, offering Him praise and respect and bowing their heads at His feet. Still, Nanda wanted to approach Krishna, but remembering their agreement, he restrained himself and retired to the camp allotted to him and the other Vraja-vasis.
Later, Krishna Himself came, secretly, to meet them all. And He reciprocated their ecstatic loving feelings. It is described that Mother Yasodä took Krishna on her lap, and with the tears from her eyes and the milk from her breast, she bathed Him. She performed an abhisheka of Krishna with her love. Yasoda’s body is completely spiritual, composed of prema. Her tears are liquid prema. Her milk is liquid prema. And so she performed a loving abhisheka for Krishna
Then Krishna went out to see the bulls and oxen. They were now all grown up. He went to each of them, one by one. He recalled each one’s name and lovingly patted each and every one of them, saying, “Oh, So-and-so, I remember you. I remember when you were just a small bullock, and now you are all grown up, so big and strong.” And He affectionately embraced each one.
And I was thinking how merciful Krishna is, how kind He is, even to the bulls, to the animals. I remembered Srila Prabhupäda’s words: “You have seen Krishna’s picture. He’s embracing the calf also, and He’s embracing Radharani. Not that He’s simply attached to Radharani and the gopis. He’s attached to everyone, every living entity. Krishna is the best friend of everyone. So if you want friendship, make friendship with Krishna He’ll protect you, and He’ll satisfy you in all respects.” There is a beautiful picture in which Krishna has His arm around a calf. Even if you are an animal (which basically I am), Krishna has affection for you, especially if you try to serve Him. “To become an animal of Krishna is a great fortune. It is not an ordinary thing. Any associate of Krishna—His cowherd boyfriends or calves or cows, or the Vrindavana trees, plants, flowers, or water—they are all devotees of Krishna They serve Krishna in different capacities. Somebody is serving Krishna as an animal. Somebody is serving Krishna as a tree, with fruits and flowers, as Yamunä water, or as the beautiful cowherd men and damsels, or as Krishna’s father and mother. Krishna has so many who love Him, and He also loves them.” Krishna consciousness is so beautiful, and deep.
And then I was thinking about Bhärgava Prabhu—it was not an intellectual idea but a feeling that arose spontaneously in my heart: “You have given me the greatest gift, Krishna-kathä.” And that is what Prabhupäda did for us. And that is what we, as his servants and followers, are meant to do for others, and for each other.
It is called Krishna-kathä, topics about Krishna The topics, or instructions, given by Krishna is the Bhagavad-gita, and the topics about Krishna, the activities of Krishna, is Srimad-Bhägavatam. So, some way or other, let us always discuss about Krishna That should be the life of Krishna conscious people—to worship Krishna in the temple; to sell Krishna’s books—Srimad-Bhägavatam, Bhagavad-gita; to think of Krishna—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna; to eat Krishna-prasäda; to take all risk for Krishna; to do work for Krishna; or, as Arjuna, to fight for Krishna Arjuna did not want to fight, but for Krishna’s sake he fought. So fight for Krishna, work for Krishna, think of Krishna, eat Krishna-prasäda, talk of Krishna, read of Krishna So, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna This is life. This is Krishna consciousness. This is a very glorified life.
[Lecture, 26 June 1974]
For Krishna-kathä, for the holy name of Krishna, for the beautiful life of Krishna consciousness, and for his boundless, causeless mercy, I owe my life to Srila Prabhupäda, eternally.
Srila Prabhupäda-ki jaya!