November 11, 2006
By Indradyumna Swami
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
This evening you have asked me to speak at your auspicious Vyasa Puja celebration, but with your permission I would prefer to read an offering. Please don’t feel that this is inappropriate. The great Narada Muni has stated:
brahmanyah sila sampannah
satya sandho jitendriyah
atmavat sarva bhutanam
eka priya suhrt tamah
“To respectable persons, Prahlad Maharaja acted like a menial servant. To the poor he was like a father and to his equals he was attached like a sympathetic brother. He considered his teachers, spiritual masters and older Godbrothers to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
[Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4.31]
My dear Goswami, it is indeed easy to glorify you, for in your character and deeds I see the mercy of our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. I have no doubt that because of your service to the ISKCON movement you have received the full mercy of Srila Prabhupada. Your pioneer preaching in South Africa, particularly through the Tent Campaign, is legendary.
Time moves on and you have aged, and the campaign’s old bus now lies rusting in a field. But the many devotees you made and the fine reputation our society gained are evidence of a historic time when grass-roots preaching established ISKCON as one of the major spiritual movements in the country.
As prosperity and success blossom throughout the yatra, let us not forget the initial efforts of devotees like you, who worked tirelessly in austere and often dangerous situations to establish Krsna consciousness in South Africa. Such selfless preaching has no doubt endeared you to the Lord and earned you the right to return back to Godhead.
And what is the secret of your success? It is no secret at all. Everyone can see it: you are a faithful follower of our Guru Maharaja. It is for this very reason that you sit on the Vyasasana tonight, for Srila Prabhupada has said that a loyal student in turn becomes a qualified teacher.
But to the devotees in this yatra you are much more than their noble teacher. Because of your personal dealings with your disciples, you are also their father, friend, and counselor as well as their spiritual guide. As their teacher, you know slokas and sutras, tithis and mudras, but you also know the joys and sorrows, the happiness and woes of all your disciples.
Because you are so personal with them, you are acutely and painfully aware
of their struggles with family, business, sickness, and death. You are the
first to congratulate the parents of a newborn child and the last one to
leave a beloved disciple’s funeral pyre. You counsel and advise, chastise
and criticize as their eternal guide.
They are blessed – those disciples who have your fatherly love and care. I
sense they feel secure and protected under your guidance. They are confident
that you will one day take them home to the transcendental abode. Such faith
is rare in this world, and I feel privileged to be here tonight seeing the
loving exchanges of a genuine spiritual master and his faithful followers.
Why do so many devotees seek your shelter? Because you have passed the test
of time. Firm and steady in your service, you are like a steadfast rock in
the South African yatra.
As a Godbrother I am impressed with your strong sadhana. While a number of devotees still struggle to chant a minimum of 16 rounds a day even after years of devotional service, you always endeavor to chant the maximum number of rounds. For years you chanted 64 rounds or more a day. Only recently have you reduced it to a “mere” 40 rounds a day, because of your ill health.
And you like to study. That is evident in your learned discourses and the books you write which are always fresh and interesting and filled with transcendental realizations.
And the most amazing thing is that you do all this despite your bad health. You do more reading, chanting, and preaching while ill, than most of us do when we feel fine. If the Lord were to suddenly bless you with good health, it would prove troublesome for the atheists, agnostics, scientists, and sense enjoyers of this land, because they would be challenged by your preaching. On this auspicious occasion, we ask Lord Nrsimhadeva to watch over and protect you so that you may live a long and exemplary life, showing us and many others the path to perfection.
hari smrty ahlada stimita manaso yasya krtinau
sa romancah kayah nayanam api sa nanda salilam
tam evacandrarkam vaha purusa dhaureyam avane
kim anyais tair bharair yama sadana gaty agata paraih
“By remembering Lord Hari, the devotees’ hearts become overwhelmed with bliss, their bodily hairs stand erect, and their eyes become filled with tears of joy. O Earth, these devotees are the best of men. Please carefully maintain them for as long as the sun and the moon shine in the sky. What is the use of your carefully maintaining those other burdensome persons who are simply intent on coming and going to and from the house of Yamaraja?”
[Padyavali, text 55]
My dear Goswami, our beloved Srila Prabhupada said he wanted at least a few disciples to catch a hint of what he was revealing to us, and I know that you have caught a glimpse of that deeper understanding.
How do I know? Because your taste for bhajan and your desire to distribute the holy names have given you away. You know that after diving into the ocean of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement, one day a devotee will find himself in the pastimes of Radha and Krsna.
By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy you have understood this.
param gopyam api snigdhe
sisye vacyam iti srutih
tac chruyatam maha bhaga
“The Vedas say that to a loyal disciple one may speak the confidential secret. Therefore, O most fortunate one, now please hear the glories of Goloka.”
[Sri Brhat-Bhagavatamrta, Part Two, Chapter 1, Text 6]
Dear Maharaja, please be kind upon a poor, unintelligent, and unenlightened Godbrother who has yet to taste the nectar of the holy name, whose impure heart keeps him from doing anything significant for our spiritual master. Please keep me in your prayers, as you are in mine, so that I too will have a chance to return back home, back to Godhead in this lifetime.
Before closing, I want to share with your disciples something I wrote for them today. It’s the one thing that your extreme humility keeps you from giving them. It’s a pranam mantra, a short meditation on your unique qualities and service.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur has written that the disciple should remember his spiritual master at least three times a day. I hope your disciples will use this pranam mantra as part of their daily meditation upon you. Our Godbrother Gopiparanadana Prabhu has kindly rendered it into Sanskrit.
dasa gosvaminam vande
nama bhajana samsrayam
yamya dese guruddesya
sthapakam srita vatsalam
“I offer my respectful obeisances to Das Goswami, who helped pioneer the mission of Srila Prabhupada in the southernmost tip of the world. He is devoted to bhajan and is caring and affectionate to all those who take shelter of his lotus feet.”