November 12, 1996
By Indradyumna Swami
Today is Govardhana-püjä, and I have been in bed for seven days. What news can I report about being in bed for a week other than the pain I am in? One nice thing happened though. The devotees arranged a ceremony in the temple room for Govardhana-püjä, but because I am confined to bed, I couldn’t go. So Sri Prahläda decided we would have our own Govardhana-puja in my room.
He brought all the necessary paraphernalia for worshiping his Govardhana-sila. He even brought a little marble cow so we could do go-puja as well. We were alone, but when we began the ceremonies, devotees started to arrive, and soon the small room was filled to capacity with more than forty devotees. With the help of crutches I was even able to slowly circumambulate our little Govardhana Hill of prasadam. Sri Prahläda spoke for an hour about the significance of Govardhana-püjä, and afterwards we all enjoyed a sumptuous feast.
Later H.H. Tamal Krsna Maharaja called me from America. During our discussion, he asked me what realizations I had had as a result of the accident. I told him I had three realizations. The first was from a verse that I often quote, but previously with little understanding. Now it means much more to me:
samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param
padam padam padam yad vipadam na tesam
“For one who has accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Mukunda, or the giver of mukti, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf ’s footprint. Param padam, or the place where there are no material miseries, or VaikunTha, is his goal, not the place where there is danger in every step of life.” (Srimad- Bhagavatam 10.14.58)
My second reflection was that I had to be very careful not to make offenses to the devotees. Just this morning I had read the following in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
“When Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu was instructing Rupa Gosvami at the Dasäsvamedha-ghäTa in Prayäga, He pointed out very clearly the seriousness of offending a Vaisnava. He compared the Vaisnava- aparadha to hati mata, a mad elephant. When a mad elephant enters a garden, it spoils all the fruits and flowers. Similarly, if one offends a Vaisnava, he spoils all his spiritual assets. Offending a brahmana is very dangerous, and this was known to Maharaja Rahügana. He therefore frankly admitted his fault:
“There are many dangerous things—thunderbolts, fire, Yamaraja’s punishment, the punishment of Lord Siva’s trident, and so forth, but none is considered as serious as offending a brahmana like Jada Bharata. Therefore Maharaja Rahugana immediately descended from his palanquin and fell flat before the lotus feet of the brahmana Jada Bharata just to be excused.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.10.17 purport)
My third realization, which I shared with Maharaja, was based on quotes from Srila Prabhupada in Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers and concerned my duty as an initiating spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada: “So Krsna is so powerful that He can immediately take up all the sins of others and immediately make them right. But when a living entity plays the part on behalf of Krsna, he also takes the responsibility for the sinful activities of his devotees. Therefore to become a guru is not an easy task. You see? He has to take all the poisons and absorb them. So sometimes—because he is not Krsna— sometimes there is some trouble. Therefore Caitanya Mahäprabhu has forbidden, “Don’t make many sisyas, many disciples.” But for preaching work we have to accept many disciples—for expanding preaching—even if we suffer. That’s a fact. The spiritual master has to take the responsibility for all the sinful activities of his disciples. Therefore to make many disciples is a risky job unless one is able to assimilate all the sins.
“We should be very much cautious: ‘For my sinful actions my spiritual master will suffer, so I’ll not commit even a pinch of sinful activities.’ That is the duty of the disciple. After initiation, all sinful reaction is finished. Now if he again commits sinful activities, his spiritual master has to suffer. A disciple should be sympathetic and consider this. ‘For my sinful activities, my spiritual master will suffer.’ If the spiritual master is attacked by some disease, it is due to the sinful activities of others. ‘Don’t make many disciples.’ But we do it because we are preaching. Never mind—let us suffer—still we shall accept them. Therefore your question was—when I suffer is it due to my past misdeeds? Was it not? That is my misdeed—that I accepted some disciples who are nonsense. That is my misdeed.”
Bob: “Your suffering is not the same kind of pain… “
Srila Prabhupada: “No, it is not due to karma. The pain is there sometimes, so that the disciples may know, ‘Due to our sinful activities, our spiritual master is suffering.’”
Finally, I concluded by saying to Maharaja that, painful as the whole experience was, it was no doubt Krsna’s mercy upon me:
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the controller of both the transcendental and mundane worlds, has graciously overtaken me in the form a brahmana’s curse. Due to my being too much attached to [material] life, the Lord, in order to save me, has appeared before me in such a way that only out of fear I will detach myself from the world.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.19.14)