Vyasa Puja offering for the year 2003
Srila Prabhupäda’s Love
My dear Devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupäda, our eternal lord and master, and our dearmost friend.
Before I begin my offering to Srila Prabhupäda, I would like to say to you something about his love for us: Out of his love for us, he engaged us in devotional service, and he encouraged us to continue under all circumstances, because he wanted us to realize the ultimate happiness, Krishna consciousness. Out of love for his eternal lords and masters, Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati and Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, he wanted to expand the number of devotees, to increase his masters’ pleasure with the expansion of the Krishna consciousness movement. To that Srila Prabhupäda and his divine love this offering is humbly dedicated.
Thank you. Hare Krishna
My dear Srila Prabhupäda,
Please accept my prostrated obeisances at your divine lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace!
On your auspicious Vyäsa-püjä day, we meditate on your transcendental qualities and accomplishments, as we should every day. And today, as I do on other days, I focus on what to me is your most special quality, if not your very essence: your sublime love.
I think of the first time Bharadräja Prabhu met you in Boston, in 1969. Although he had joined the temple in Montreal, he never actually met you there. And so he came to Boston, around the same time I too first met you.
He entered the room where you were meeting with some devotees, and he experienced…“love—just love,” as he later told me. And he remarked that he had the realization then that Krishna consciousness was simply “love masquerading as a philosophy.” And I had the same realization: “Yes, Krishna consciousness is just love, just love.”
Specifically, the Krishna consciousness movement is your love, Srila Prabhupäda, or a manifestation of your love—for Krishna, for your devotees, for all living beings. Because you “loved Väsudeva,” so you said, you came to America at the age of seventy to introduce Krishna consciousness. And the philosophy, the harinäma-sankirtana, the prasädam—all the items that you introduced and that ISKCON even now offers—are just sort of hooks to catch people and bring them to Krishna consciousness. Of course, in the absolute sense the practices of Krishna consciousness are also Krishna, who is pure love Himself. But they are also lures to attract people. And after they are attracted and actually enter into Krishna consciousness, it is just love. It is nothing but love.
And you are the personification of that love.
Your very presence exuded pure love. Your voice resonated with love. Your glance was laden with love. Just sitting in your presence, we could feel your love. The first time I went to Vrindavana, to meet Gurudäs Prabhu, I actually felt something different, as if Krishna and His cowherd friends and cows were still there. Later, in Bombay, after you asked me about my visit, you yourself articulated for me what I had felt there: “When we are in Vrindavana we don’t see Krishna now, but we can feel His presence.” In the same way, Srila Prabhupäda, we could feel your love; we would sense your love in every molecule of your being, and all around you.
And that love was manifest in the way you dealt with individuals, and in the way you endeavored to offer Krishna consciousness to all souls.
Srila Prabhupäda, how you traveled by steamer to the United States, suffering two heart attacks on the way; how you survived in New York City, on the Bowery and on the Lower East Side; how you preached to the hippies and engaged them in Krishna’s service; how you circled the globe fourteen times and established more than 108 temples, making and maintaining thousands of devotees; how you introduced great festivals like Ratha-yäträ; how you established Krishna conscious farms, schools, and restaurants; and how you labored through the night to translate and present the most confidential knowledge of the Vedas in more than sixty volumes, in language that ordinary people could understand and scholars would praise, inspiring your disciples to rapidly publish and distribute unprecedented millions of them, not only in English but translated into dozens of languages—in short, how you spread the Krishna consciousness movement worldwide in pursuance of the order of your Guru Mahäräja, fulfilling the desires and predictions of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Sri Krishna Caitanya Himself—all this was been well documented and is widely known.
But how you engaged and encouraged your disciples so personally, with compassion and care, at times with tears—how you loved them and inspired them to love you—such affairs of the heart, and such acts of individual kindness and grace, are less well known and published. And it is the duty of those who knew you, and experienced such exchanges, to document and share their knowledge, both for their own purification and for the benefit of others. Therefore, Srila Prabhupäda, how you so loved your disciples individually, and engaged them ultimately for the spread of the Krishna consciousness movement, will be our focus here—though what we offer are but a few droplets from the vast ocean of your love, now gratefully offered back into it.
When I first came to the Boston temple, after a lecture a gentleman challenged you: “Are you happy?” In the course of your answer, you said, “Before, when I was married, I had five children, and there were always so many problems. But now, in Krishna consciousness, I have five hundred children, and I love them, and they love me, and there are no problems.” The beauty of your answer struck me, and I felt the truth of your words right there, in your relationships with your students, your spiritual children.
Still, as the movement expanded, there were problems—not personal problems, of course, but difficulties in the line of Krishna’s service—if we can call them “problems.”
Here I remember how one of your disciples came from Hyderabad to meet you at Juhu. He was disturbed by the conflicts he was having with the other leaders there, and he sat before you in your room in Juhu, expressing his grief and presenting the various points of contention. You listened, with full sympathy and empathy, until late into the night. And you explained, ever so carefully and patiently, the philosophical principles that governed the various issues of contention.
Srila Prabhupäda, although you were in full sympathy with the disciple before you, I knew you would have listened with equal sympathy to any of the leaders from Hyderabad, had any one of them come to explain and complain, even about the disciple presently before you. From the material point of view, one could view your complete sympathy for apparently opposing parties as contradictory or even duplicitous. But actually, your support of them was a manifestation of your love for them—and of your intelligence—in loving service to your spiritual master and Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, and to their mission.
Here I think of one humorous example from the Ardha-Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, 1971. An argument erupted between Madhudvisa Prabhu and Yamunä Prabhu about Krishna and Balaräma. Madhudvisa was maintaining, “Krishna and Balaräma are the same, only Krishna is blackish and Balaräma is whitish.”
Yamunä, however, was insisting, “No, They are different, because Krishna is the only enjoyer of Srimati Radharani.”
So the two were arguing, and Tamäl Krishna Goswami, then your zonal secretary for India, brought the matter before you. First he presented Madhudvisa’s argument: “Krishna and Balaräma are the same, except Krishna is blackish and Balaräma is white.”
You replied, “Yes, he is right.”
Then Tamäl continued, “But Yamunä says They are different, because Krishna is the only enjoyer of Srimati Radharani.”
You replied, “Yes, she is right.”
Then Tamäl said, “But, Srila Prabhupäda, they are both saying different things. They both can’t be right.”
You answered, “Yes, you are right.”
Hearing this, Tamäl asked, “Then, which is right?”
And you replied, “You decide.”
Thus, Krishna consciousness is inconceivable; it can be seen differently from different points of view. And one of Krishna’s qualities is that all opposites, all contradictions, are reconciled in Him. And you have the same quality: the ability to reconcile all opposites—in love. Like Krishna, you could give yourself to each and every devotee, and fully satisfy each one. As each gopi in the räsa dance felt, “Krishna is mine,” so each of your disciples could also feel, “Srila Prabhupäda is mine.” And you were. You were hers or his—but you were also the other devotee’s—and you were Krishna’s. Such was your love. You gave yourself in love.
Your grand-disciples and other followers now also feel your love. Mahäprabhu däsa in Bombay spoke to me of the intensity of your love—and also of the contradiction. He said, “I have never met anyone who loved as intensely as Srila Prabhupäda. But at the same time, he was completely detached. In the material world, if someone loves somebody, he is not detached. And again, if someone is detached, he cannot love. But Srila Prabhupäda loves, and he is detached. The two seem contradictory.”
Whatever the case, you always tried to encourage us.
Hamsadüta Prabhu tells a story about how, as your secretary, he had written a letter to encourage a devotee, even though his personal feelings about the devotee were different. But when he was writing on your behalf, on your instruction, he felt he had to represent your spirit. And what was your spirit, your mood? To appreciate and encourage the devotees, even when you had to correct them. In fact, you even stated that it is the duty of the spiritual master to encourage the disciples.
And you never gave up on anyone.
Here I think of one example from Bombay. One of the first devotees to join you in New York City in 1966 had gone to Calcutta and somehow gotten involved in smoking ganjä. So the temple president from Calcutta phoned you in Bombay to inform you. After hearing his report, you instructed the temple president, “Tell him that if he doesn’t stop smoking ganjä I will reject him.”
Afterward, Tamäl Krishna Goswami asked you, “Is that true, that you will reject him?”
You replied, “No. I cannot reject anyone.”
Tamäl Krishna Goswami also asked you, “But isn’t there some limit? Don’t you have to draw the line somewhere?”
And you replied, “Lord Nityänanda’s mercy has no limit.”
You, Srila Prabhupäda, are the embodiment of Lord Nityänanda’s mercy and love. In fact, mercy (dayä) is a function of love (bhakti). Namo mahä-VADANYAYA Krishna-prema-pradäyate. You are the embodiment of Lord Caitanya’s love and mercy, and you told all of us who represent you, who represent Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, that we too must show mercy. And although we can never equal you (we can’t even equal a fraction of a speck of dust on your lotus feet), still, whatever we are—tiny, insignificant living entities who had the good fortune to meet you, in person or through your instructions—we have the immense responsibility now to try to reflect your qualities. And I believe the one quality that embodies all your other qualities is your love for all of us, out of your mercy.
Your love for us inspired in us such love for you that we would go to any extent to serve you and please you, to practice and preach Krishna consciousness. But you also taught us that to love you meant to love and serve your other servants as well, for our love for you would be shown in our relations with each other—in service to you and your mission. And finally, Srila Prabhupäda, you made it clear that, if we truly loved you, we would follow in your footsteps by loving and serving all Krishna’s creatures, doing our utmost to engage them, too, in Krishna consciousness.
I think of myself now, Srila Prabhupäda, and I appeal to all your followers: “Please give me your mercy! Please grant me your association! Although I can never properly reciprocate with you, at least I will do what I can to please Srila Prabhupäda—and to please all of you, in his service.”
Srila Prabhupäda, as we serve your instructions and receive your mercy, we also develop pure love like yours—for Sri Sri Guru and Gauränga, and ultimately for Sri Sri Rädhä and Krishna—and Their dear devotees.
Thank you, Srila Prabhupäda, thank you for your causeless, limitless mercy—your pure, sublime love! May we realize your true essence and mercy by hearing and chanting always, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare, and preaching and glorifying Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga! Jaya Srila Prabhupäda!
Your eternal servant,