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My dearest Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. All glories to you.
Today I sit to compose my Vyasa-puja offering to you just minutes before I will be called on to speak. Ordinarily a disciple writes his or her offering days, weeks or even months before the appearance day of the spiritual master, but this year service to your lotus feet went on day and night, without respite. It is your mercy that you keep me so engaged. Please accept such service rendered twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months of the year as my actual offering to you.
There is much I have to share since I last addressed you at your Vyasa-puja. What is most prominent in my mind is the Ratha-yatra parade we held just yesterday in Belfast. In that unfortunate place, rife with sectarian violence, I understood your words in Srimad -Bhagavatam that on this planet one can see heaven and hell right be-fore one’s eyes.
Yesterday I saw an entire city covered over with the hellish mentality of hatred and revenge born of interne-cine warfare. Although a political process has been in motion for years and a fragile power-sharing agreement recently signed, the air is still thick with misgivings – all due to a bodily concept of life. You wrote a stanza about this very phenomenon in a Vyasa-puja offering to your own spiritual master many years ago:
“Struggle for existence the human race, the only hope Your Divine Grace.”
How true those words are of you, too, my glorious master! Like your own guru maharaja, you have the panacea for all the world’s problems. As people strug-gle in the darkness of ignorance in places like Belfast, you bring the light of transcendental knowledge, free-ing them from bodily identification. What’s more, you reveal their true heritage as blissful servants of the Supreme Lord.
By your grace, the people of Belfast were able to wit-ness real joy when the chariot of Lord Jagannatha rolled down the streets of that dismal city. I could see it on some of their faces. It is the Lord’s success, Srila Prabhupada, and it is your’s also because you are His representative carrying on His mission in this material world. Even the heavenly pleasures you referred to are hell without the nectar of devotional service you so kindly give us.
These are historic times, my dear master, as you push forward the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. These are, in essence, the modern-day pastimes of Mahaprabhu. How fortunate I feel to be able to assist you in some way. Who am I to be part of this sacred movement, full of saints and sages living pure lives and proclaiming the highest truths! Not long ago I was also on the street, full of sadness and despair, suffering the results of my misdeeds which were so numerous there was no hope for my deliverance in thousands of births.
Then suddenly, without notice, you appeared in my life. I did not know you were coming. I did not know who you were – but through time I have come to under-stand your supremely exalted position as a pure devotee of the Lord, an intimate servant of Radha and Krsna. By inconceivable mercy I am one of your servants. If someone were to ask me, “Sir, please tell us who you are,” I would say with pride, “I am the humble servant of His Divine Grace, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.”
Yet I know that one cannot have the title of “your servant” without acting and behaving properly. I hope I can always show my respect and love for everything you have given me by upholding my sacred vows to chant six-teen rounds a day and follow the regulative principles.
Srila Prabhupada, please allow me to serve you in the same way that you are serving your guru maharaja – by preaching the glories of the holy names far and wide all over this world, all over the universe. Though it is often a difficult service – preaching in faraway places, some-times without proper facilities and often in the face of fierce opposition – it is my life and soul. Through such service I can demonstrate my love for you. My prayer is that after a lifetime of such service I will come to you and you will say, “Well done, my son!” Only then will I consider my life perfect.
O Srila Prabhupada, these are happy days using my energy and strength in your service. In the beginning I gave you my youth. In middle age I worked hard for your pleasure. Now in the few years that remain of my life I am dedicating whatever is left to you. I would do all again and again, happily, birth after birth; such is the pleasure and satisfaction a disciple enjoys in surrender-ing to the mission of his spiritual master.
But I must admit, Srila Prabhupada, I fear old age which is creeping upon me slowly – not for the fact that this body is becoming useless and unattractive, but be-cause it means soon I will become inactive, stationary, waiting for death. Perhaps I will be fortunate enough to leave this world before that time, fully engaged in your service on the battlefield of preaching, as it’s said. I would consider that a fitting end to a life of active ser-vice. You set such a glorious example, and my duty is to follow forever in your footsteps.