Chapter 12: Comrades-In-Arms

September 13, 2020

By Indradyumna Swami

My very dear godbrother Vaisesika Prabhu,

Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I want to begin by thanking your disciples for giving me this opportunity to acknowledge and glorify your service to our divine master, Srila Prabhupada, on this day of your appearance.

I hope you won’t feel uncomfortable with the praise I am about to offer you, my dear friend, for such praise is authorized. In acknowledging the good qualities of Prahlada Maharaja, Sri Narada Muni says in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4.31:

dasavat sannataryanghrih
pitrvad dina-vatsalah
bhratrvat sadrse snigdho
gurusv isvara-bhavanah

“To respectable persons, he acted exactly like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, to his equals he was attached like a sympathetic brother, and he considered his teachers, spiritual masters and older godbrothers to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

I am older than you by eight years, but you are most certainly senior to me in your vision and experience in pushing forward the great samkirtan mission we have inherited from Srila Prabhupada. And it is for this very reason that you have received his special favor:

vettha tvam saumya tat sarvam
tattvatas tad-anugrahat
bruyuh snigdhasya sisyasya
guravo guhyam apy uta

“And because you are submissive, your spiritual masters have endowed you with all the favors bestowed upon a gentle disciple. Therefore you can tell us all that you have scientifically learned from them.”

[Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.8]

I see you as my superior because of your unrivaled success in keeping the heartbeat of book distribution pumping long after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Yet, I also have the good fortune to call you my friend. Better still, I consider us comrades-in-arms despite us fighting on different parts of the battlefield. I very much appreciate the Collins Dictionary definition of “comrades-in-arms”:

“A comrade-in-arms is someone who has worked for the same cause or purpose as you and has shared the same difficulties and dangers.”

No doubt both of us have encountered difficulties and dangers in our service of spreading the glories of the holy names. One time I returned from a chanting party on the streets of Paris in 1974 and Srila Prabhupada, who was visiting our temple at the time, called me to his room and asked with a smile, “So Indradyumna dasa how was the samkirtan today?”

Having encountered some stiff resistance, I replied: “Srila Prabhupada, there were some difficulties…”

Before I could finish the sentence, he interjected with a serious look on his face and said sternly, “When did I ever say preaching is easy?”

Throughout my life those words have served to embolden me in welcoming any difficulties or hardships in spreading the holy names of the Lord everywhere. They resonate with one of my favorite stanzas from a poem by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur:

tomara sevaya, duhkha hoya jato,
se-o to’ parama sukha
seva-sukha-duhkha, parama sampada,
nasaye avidya-duhkha

“Troubles encountered in Your service shall be the cause of great happiness, for in Your devotional service joy and sorrow are equally great riches. Both destroy the misery of ignorance.”

[Saranagati, Atma Nivedana Tuwa Pade, text 4]

Throughout your devotional career, my dear godbrother, we have witnessed the fact that no obstacle is too great for you in fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s desire to flood the world with his books. You were at the forefront of the recent worldwide triumph in distributing 10,000 sets of Srimad Bhagavatams. You have many such victories under your belt. And surely many more are yet to come!

You have made the impossible possible by your firm faith in the instructions of our spiritual master, leaving no doubt that you have endeared yourself to him. Though you do not want fame and recognition and though you graciously give credit to others for your success, you cannot hide your wonderful qualities:

“The transcendentally attractive qualities of a great devotee popularize his presence everywhere, even though he may be hidden from public view, just as musk spreads its fragrance everywhere even when locked away in a tight container.”

[Srila Rupa Goswami, Vidagdha Madhava 1.1.3]

Your theme, “Fan The Spark”, has reignited the flame of book distribution around the world. For myself, dear comrade-in-arms, that is nothing less than miraculous. Yes, I said miraculous.

“How does he do it?” one devotee asked me recently. My reply was, “Look at his sadhana.”

On numerous occasions, Srila Prabhupada made clear the connection between good sadhana and successful preaching:

“If you simply keep to our standard program, that means chanting daily 16 rounds, rising early, attending mangal arati, like that, if this program is strictly maintained amongst all the devotees, they will remain pure, and if preaching is pure, automatically leaders, managers, funds, everything will be given profusely by Krishna – without any doubt. Life will flourish.”

[Srila Prabhupada letter, February 3, 1975]

I have seen with my own eyes how ISKCON Silicon Valley has flourished under your direction over the years because your sadhya and sadhana – your goal in Krsna consciousness and your means of achieving it – are perfectly in line with the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and our previous acaryas. This single-minded devotion is the root of your success and is in harmony with the final instructions Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati gave to his disciples on December 23, 1936 just before his departure from this world:

ekantanuraga tahe thake vardhamana tabe ta sarvartha siddhi purna manaskama

“In the performance of samkirtan, if your single-minded devotion goes on increasing, then all your desires will be fulfilled and all your goals achieved.”

Vaisesika prabhu, I am honored to serve these divine instructions alongside you for our parama guru also said on that day:

ekoddesya aikatane avasthita hao mulasraya vigraha-sevaya adhikara lao

“Working together with the same purpose, we will become qualified for the service of Radharani, the original reservoir of love for Krishna.”

I am confident that the both of us, along with many esteemed godbrothers, godsisters and inspired devotees around the world, can achieve perfection by fulfilling the desires of our beloved Srila Prabhupada and our previous acaryas. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati confirmed this in his final instructions:

sri-rupa-raghunatha-katha parama-utsahe birbhaye pracara kara sarva-siddhi jahe

“Preach the message of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha fearlessly and with great enthusiasm. Through this preaching, you will attain all perfection.”

Armed with the sword of knowledge and eager for the fight, my dear friend, I stand proudly by your side.

With affectionate regards,
Indradyumna Swami