An Offering of Love
Volume 11, Chapter 13
Jan 21, 2011
Dearest BB Govinda Maharaja,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I’m sorry I can’t be with you in Moscow at the auspicious celebration of your sixtieth birthday. I’m far away, but I want you to know that I am thinking of you and remembering you throughout the day. How couldn’t I? You are the best friend I’ve ever had, and you have demonstrated that time and again throughout the many years we’ve known each other. Any close relationship requires deep loving reciprocation and I feel that we have achieved that in our twenty five years of friendship. Most important, we have simultaneously advanced to the point of appreciation for the holy names, the sastra and the transcendental abodes of the Lord. Therefore we have genuine substance to our relationship which makes it real and unbreakable.
Honestly, much of what I’ve come to love in Krsna consciousness I have imbibed through your association. Your kirtans are legendary and will never go out of style. Just as Visnujana Maharaja’s unique style of chanting the holy names remains popular after several decades, so I firmly believe that your bhajan and style of kirtan will remain famous for hundreds of years to come.
When you speak from your favorite book, Brhat Bhagavatamrta, you illuminate the words of Srila Sanatana Goswami. It is obvious to many of us that you have his blessings and those of other acrayas as well.
And your cooking? Well, these days only a few rare souls get the opportunity to taste your excellent preparations. I am one of them, and I know that you can take a simple potato, add a few spices, mix it around and somehow make it taste just like it’s come straight from Vaikuntha!
And your friendship: I am a fortunate recipient of that, but so are many others. You charm people with your personality and inspire them to serve the Lord as best they can. Many people consider you their friend. They wait eagerly for your association each year and value your kindness, humor and care for them. Lucky are those who have your association, for although you do big things you remain always available for those of us who need you. And in the midst of it all, your humor makes even the most difficult moments light.
Some fortunate devotees have experienced just how far you will go to help and inspire them. A good example of this is our godbrother, Bhuddhimanta das, a dedicated book distributor who came to Vrindavan to leave his body in the late 1970s, his brain ravaged by cancer. You came forward spontaneously to help him in his bedridden state even without being asked. You lived close to him, nursed him, fed him, cleaned up after him when he relieved himself and silently tolerated his delirious abuse of you by his words and fists. I don’t know if anyone ever approached you and with heartfelt appreciation thanked you for such loving and selfless service. May I take the opportunity now on behalf of our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, the assembled devotees and our entire movement for such an amazing display of concern and love for another Vaisnava.
Your example in this regard is par excellence and serves as a milestone for those concerned with devotee care and maintenance. I will consider it my extreme good fortune if you could also be by my side when I depart this world. Not only because I know you would kindly nurse my decaying body, but more so for the chance to hear the holy names chanted purely and most sweetly from your lips.
I would also like to thank you for the love and care you have given the devotees of the Kazakhstan yatra over the years. Like a lioness guarding her cubs, you fearlessly protected your little flock of devotees from the dangerous and sometimes violent attacks of your enemies in that country. And you never gave up. You didn’t want to leave those devotees to the merciless dealings of our antagonists there. Now it is doubtful if you will ever be able to return there as the government has adamantly refused to give you any kind of visa to do so. Though it is sad it is also a compliment. It means they are afraid of your potential and your ability to continue the fight and win. In rejecting you they have indeed praised you. How fortunate I am to have such a brave warrior as a friend!
Another one of your unique qualities is your amazing ability to interact with and become friends with people in high positions in society. When you were campaigning to defend your Kazakhstan project you came into contact with many influential personalities such as ambassadors, leaders of respected NGO organizations, people concerned with human right and others. Meeting with such important people is often formal, dry and inconclusive. But by your amiable personality and good nature you cut through any unease that might have accompanied such meetings and made everyone feel relaxed and happy in your association. I hate to even say such a thing because you are the best of devotees, but if you weren’t a devotee then you would make a most excellent ambassador for any country in any part of the world. You could easily be the Secretary of State in our good old USA and represent the country in an amicable yet efficient way. But because you are a devotee of the highest order Srila Prabhupada has chosen you and other qualified sons and daughters like you to represent him and our acarayas as an ambassador for spreading the message of Krsna consciousness all over the world.
I am proud to be your friend. You often say that two devotees always remain on either side of you: HH Sivarama Swami on the left side and my lowly self on the right. I never really understood how I got this service. My faults are many and like a true friend you are quick to point them out. I thank you for that. But just what you see in me that would give me the position to be always beside you is beyond me.
Nevertheless, I will accept it as “mercy which comes of its own accord” and through your association try to develop the same taste you have for chanting the holy names and appreciating the association of Vaisnavas.
I wish you a long life. If my wish comes true it will mean many, many persons — both devotees and non-devotees — will be inspired to take up seriously the process of devotional service.
You are, in fact, an inspiration for more devotees than you can possibly imagine. All of them take this opportunity along with me to thank you on your sixtieth birthday for all you’ve done and are doing for us.
And last but not least, thank you so much for watching over and protecting me during the last six months. As soon as you learned my health was being compromised, you jumped in and gave me more advice than is contained in a medical dictionary. It was simple and common sense advice, and given in a concerned and loving way. I will do my best to follow what I can to ensure I stay around as long as possible to benefit from your precious association.
Thank you my dear friend and godbrother.
I remain, as always, on your right side,