Vyasa Puja offering for the year 1998
Our Best Friend
My dear Srila Prabhupäda,
Please accept my prostrated obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace and causeless mercy.
When I first read, in your Concluding Words to Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, how you referred to your Guru Mahäräja as “my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide and friend,” I was surprised. But now I also realize, “My Guru Mahäräja is my best friend.”
In one lecture you mentioned that everyone in the material world is looking for a good friend who can help him in his struggle in material existence, someone who can understand him and help him when he is in need. But in this material world, even when a friend tries to understand us, he may misunderstand. And even if he wants to help us, he may be incapable. So our real friend is Krishna. He is most close to us. He will always understand us, and He is always able to help. We should make Krishna our best friend.
Srila Prabhupäda, I do not know Krishna; I know you, and only through you do I know something of Krishna You are my best friend. You always understand me and are always there, willing and able to help.
From the very beginning you understood me perfectly. I remember when I first met you at the Boston temple in 1969:
You asked for questions. I was burning to ask mine. “There are so many different swamis and yogis, and each one advocates a different process of self-realization and says his process is best. So how do I know which is actually best?”
You replied, “What is your goal? Do you want to become God, or do you want to serve God? If you want to become God, you are not God now. And how can not-God become God? God is God. He is always God. He doesn’t have to become God by yoga or meditation. Krishna is always God, whether He is playing on the lap of Mother Yasodä or speaking Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna.
“If you want to serve God and sow the seed of devotional service, and water it by chanting, God will provide the sunlight and all other favorable conditions to make it grow. But if you want to become God, why should God help the competition? God is in your heart. He is ready to help you. So you can become godly—not God. If you want to become God, you are only cheating yourself.”
While you were speaking I felt you knew everything about me. I felt you were looking right into me, into the town of Waltham to where I stayed, into my apartment, into my bathroom, and onto the wall where I had inscribed in beautiful ornate handwriting—“You are God.”
“So what do you think?” You asked. “You want to serve God or you want to become God?” I felt so ashamed. My abominable desire to become God had been exposed. Still I didn’t want to admit it. “I want to serve God,” I replied. But I knew that you knew everything and I could not cheat you. Within a fraction of a second I said, “I want to serve God, but actually I realize that I wanted to become God.”
“Yes!” you replied emphatically.
I offered my obeisances. I knew you were my perfect master.
[Adapted from In Search of the Perfect Master]
And in the end, when you were not well in your new quarters in Juhu, Tamäl Krishna Goswami and I were having a discussion in the secretary’s room outside. Goswami Mahäräja was asking me to go to the bank and I was arguing with him, saying I could do better things. In the midst of the discussion, you rang your bell and we rushed into your room. You began to preach and quickly came to the point: “If the spiritual master orders, ‘You should go to the bank,’ and you argue, that is not surrender.” Srila Prabhupäda, you could not possibly have heard our discussion. We were some distance from your quarters and the doors in-between were closed. And always conscious not to disturb you, we had spoken softly.
Thus from beginning to end you understood me perfectly—and still do.
You are so unfathomably, unlimitedly merciful that you have stayed with me all along. Even when I became offensive, when I fell into sense gratification, when I failed miserably, you never gave up on me. You were always with me, waiting for the opportunity to intervene and save me. Who could be a better friend than you?
So many times I have faced difficult problems which seemed impossible to solve, but you understood the problem and arranged the solution. Sometimes you acted from within the heart, or through your disciples and followers, your books and lectures. But many times, directly from the heart you revealed the solution to a problem or brought me back when I had strayed.
You are always there to help—not only me but all who attempt to serve you. You are there when we need to be rectified and when we need to be encouraged. You are there to take away our attachments and to give us facility for service. You perfectly understand exactly what we need and administrate it expertly.
But you are very careful and cautious before you give facility. You test us first to be sure we can handle it—that we will sufficiently value the facility you give us and nicely take care of it and engage it in your service. As you wrote soon after I joined: “Actually, the whole universe is Krishna’s property. And Krishna’s devotees are his bona fide officers or sons. If He likes, he can entrust the whole charge to His devotees immediately. But He wants to see how His devotees are developing unalloyed Krishna consciousness.”
Although you fulfill our desires, you first put us through ordeals to test and chasten us. You want to see us rise to the plane of transcendental service, above the dualities of material pain and pleasure, free from material selfishness and sense gratification. If we pass the test and remember you and serve you when we are in difficulty, we may similarly remain fixed in our service to you when you give us facility.
Whatever you give us is extremely precious—Krishna and Krishna’s service—and you want us to appreciate it fully. To insure we do not take your mercy cheaply, you make us work for it.
But in the end, Srila Prabhupäda, when you give us everything, we feel so much love for you and so indebted to you, we just want to serve you more and more. But what can we offer you in return? You have instructed us,
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. [SP letter, August 14, 1976]
And if at all we are successful in preaching, it is only by virtue of your causeless mercy:
A Vaisnava always feels himself incapable to repay his debt to his spiritual master, therefore he works very hard in order to try and repay that debt. He knows that without the mercy of the spiritual master one cannot preach this Krishna consciousness, and therefore he always tries to act in such a way that he may please his guru. [SP letter, August 9, 1976]
When we endeavor to preach you give us even more mercy—to serve you, the disciplic succession, and Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Thus in the attempt to reciprocate and “repay” you, we become even more indebted. Unable to repay our debt to you, we shall have to serve you life after life.
And when, by your mercy, we go to the spiritual world to serve you, there you will be—our best friend.
Thank you, Srila Prabhupäda.