| October 26, 2006 |
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. All glories to you!
I am writing my offering to you today at Sankari Cor, a most sacred place at the foot of Varsana hill, in Sri Vrindavan Dhama. Though I have visited this holy tirtha a number of times, I still cannot fathom my good fortune in being here. Nevertheless, I am fully aware that the source of such auspiciousness is your Divine Grace.
As I sit reflecting, I realize the greater portion of my life has been filled with auspiciousness by your mercy alone. It was only the period before we met that was full of misfortune, anguish, suffering, and pain. I shudder when I think of those times, extending hundreds and millions of births into the past. I think of them only to appreciate the good fortune I have now.
Srila Prabhupada, your causeless mercy can be matched only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord. Were I to list the many priceless gifts I have received from you, they would fill volumes of books. The list began the day I met you, through the medium of your disciples. Though my memory often fails me now, remembrances of you are still clear, being of a transcendental nature, unaffected by the ravages of old age and time. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the tall and noble figure of Visnujana Maharaja when, 36 years ago, he motioned me to step forward as I stood transfixed by his enlightened lecture to a group of students who only jeered.
“Come here, young man,” he said in a soothing voice, “and I will tell you of my spiritual master who can deliver you from this abode of birth and death and take you to the transcendental realm.”
After an hour I turned to the friend who had come with me. “I want to be just like him,” I said.
“What is it that attracts you to him?” my friend said.
“His love for his teacher,” I said softly. “He seems to love him more than anyone’s ever been loved before.”
Months later, when I finally met you, I understood why. Love is reciprocal, but your generous blessings upon us seemed much greater than our insignificant efforts to please you. When I brought you your suitcase, lost in flight from New York to London, you slapped me on the back. “So much endeavor in this material world,” you said, “but when I take you back to Godhead, everything will be easy and sublime.”
Srila Prabhupada, I hanker for the day when your words will come true and I will be in your association in the spiritual world, where everything will be as you said: easy and sublime. But for now, the great endeavor you referred to – living in this world – is still at hand. Life goes on as always, a combination of so-called happiness and real distress.
I can tolerate it, of course. You have given me the holy names, your books, your service, and the association of devotees. But still, all this cannot relieve me of the real pain in my heart: being bereft of your transcendental association. For what reason did the Supreme Lord take you away on that fateful day in November 1977?
It must be in accordance with the Lord’s own words spoken to a young Narada Muni in a forest, countless millions of years ago:
“O Narada, I regret that during this lifetime you will not be able to see me anymore. Those who are incomplete in service and who are not completely free from all material taints can hardly see me.”
“O virtuous one, you have only once seen my person, and this is just to increase your desire for Me, because the more you hanker for Me, the more you will be freed from all material desires.”
[Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.22 – 23]
Srila Prabhupada, in the beginning you gave us your association freely. But it is obvious from the above verses that to serve you again personally, we must purify our hearts through a lifetime of service, not resting until your mission is established in every town and village. Nothing less will do, for a servant cannot ask for a special favor until he completes the work entrusted to him.
And so it is that I will try to please you until my final breath. Though my aging body does not allow me to serve you with the same vitality and vigor as before, I am praying that whatever experience and realizations I have gained through the years will inspire my disciples. Together with all your followers, we hope to fulfill your dreams in those places where we serve your mission, united in love and appreciation for your Divine Grace. Such cooperative service pleases you and cleanses the hearts of all anarthas.
But in all honesty, Srila Prabhupada, at times the process seems painstakingly slow. Thus I truly wonder when I will see you again. Until that time, I maintain hope by seeing you present in the personalities and service of my Godbrothers and Godsisters. As the Supreme Lord is manifested in His creation, as an artist’s nature can be perceived in his painting, as a father’s personality is there in his children, so your mercy may be witnessed in your disciples. By appreciating them, we are in effect appreciating and associating with you.
Today, many of my Godbrothers are present.
In Jayadvaita Swami I see your straightforward, no-nonsense preaching, able to stand up to and easily defeat the most formidable opponent.
In Kesava Bharati Maharaja I see your ability to manage a temple project from inception to completion, providing the devotees with a sanctuary from the material energy and a place to become purified so they can return to their preaching.
In Lokanath Maharaja I see your passion for preaching to your countrymen, with a desire to revive Vedic culture throughout this land. His sweet voice and charming discourses captivate even my hardened heart.
In Visrambha Madhava Maharaja, I see your love for mastering and quoting innumerable slokas, strengthening and giving authority to the timeless wisdom we all present. I remember you once said with a smile that if we memorize a verse and quote it several times, it’s ours.
In Radha Govinda Maharaja, I witness your ability to present with authority, clarity, and vision the glories of Srimad Bhagavatam. His expertise is matched by none, except by you, of course, who bless his words to sound like yours. He’s truly a chosen son.
In Deena Bandhu prabhu I marvel at how one of us, by your mercy alone, has developed a genuine love for this holy dhama to which you so kindly invited us. You wanted Western devotees to come here and preach, but the irony is that he’s no longer Western. He’s transcended all that. From the dust of Vraja Bhumi, in which he constantly walks, has been born a true Vrajavasi, a lover of Radhe Syama.
In Dravida prabhu I see your love and meticulous care for your Bhaktivedanta purports. And how proud you must be of his steadfastness in the brahmacari asrama, a true example for many a man!
In Svavasa prabhu I see your love and dedication to your beloved world headquarters in Los Angeles, a temple which you yourself gave so much time and energy to.
In Vaisesika prabhu I clearly see your deep compassion upon the fallen conditioned souls, manifested by a desire to distribute your books to each and every fallen conditioned soul in this world.
In Aindra prabhu I see your love for the constant chanting of the holy names. There’s more that can be said, but what is the need? For one who has a taste for the holy names, perfection is guaranteed.
In Dhananjaya prabhu I see your dedication to following the personal instructions of the spiritual master. You once told Dhananjaya, “Stay here in Vrindavan for the rest of your life.” By following that instruction he has pleased you and will become an eternal resident of this transcendental abode in due course of time.
In Kurma-rupa prabhu I see your love for the cows. Once you spoke out against the entire Western civilization saying, “My challenge is that you are making friends with the dogs but killing your mother, the cow.” Kurma rupa must be giving you unlimited pleasure by caring for and loving these earthly cousins of the surabhi cow.
In Bimal Prasad das and Chaturatma prabhu I see the love you exchanged with all those who saw you as a friend. To this day I remember you laughing with Bhagaji inside your quarters here, as he told you stories of Krishna’s pranks with his friends. I wish to also laugh with my friends in that way.
O Srila Prabhupada! The list of such disciples is endless, both here and beyond, for your glories are known throughout the three worlds. All glories to all your followers, their service to you, and their compassion upon the fallen conditioned souls!
In your absence their association is a soothing balm, giving relief from the pangs of material life. Their presence is a constant reminder that in this world you live forever by your divine instructions and your followers live with you. Without a doubt, such loyal disciples will soon serve you in your ISKCON in the spiritual sky. My prayer on this auspicious day is that I may also be fortunate enough to be counted among them in that transcendental abode.
Forever your servant,