Chapter 12: Feelings Of Separation

Feelings Of Separation

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Dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. My dear lord and master, today is the anniversary of your disappearance from this world and from our external vision. As I look around the grounds of your beloved Mayapura Candrodaya Mandir, I see that many preparations have been made to honor this most sacred of days. Flags and festoons are flying, the main altar is decorated gorgeously, and the cooks are all busy preparing a sumptuous feast. There is a feeling of excitement in the air as devotees gather to offer you their heartfelt feelings of gratitude and love.

I sometimes try to envision how the residents of the spiritual world must have celebrated the day you rejoined them. What festivities did they perform to wel-come you, the Lord’s chosen son, back to that transcen-dental abode? In my mind’s eye I can see the cowherd men riding on their bullock carts with families in tow, eager to arrive at the rendezvous point in time to receive you back from your victorious mission of delivering hundreds and thousands of conditioned souls from this miserable world of birth and death.

The cowherd boys’ chests must have swelled with pride as the older gopas related how you had successfully fulfilled Lord Krishna’s request to lift the burden of this world by disseminating transcendental knowledge in the form of your glorious books. And who can imag-ine how the cowherd girls, dressed in their very best, gleefully welcomed you back into their own entourage and shared with you in secret Syamasundar’s pastimes in your absence? Surely they didn’t fail to mention the tears He Himself shed in separation from you during the many long years you spent in this world delivering the message of Godhead.

And did anyone take notice of your own disciples who had departed this world in the early years of your movement and who by your grace alone returned to the spiritual world in time to receive you home as well? Oh, Srila Prabhupada, it must have been a most joyous affair when the residents of Goloka welcomed you home.

And so today, following in their illustrious footsteps, we also celebrate your return to the arms of your be-loved Lord in the groves of Sri Vrindavan Dhama.

But my dearest lord and master, somehow I feel aloof from all this celebration today. Instead of happiness and joy, I feel a sense of melancholy and despair. I applaud the speakers who eulogize your glories, and I sing and dance in the ecstatic kirtans, but it’s more a show of social convention than anything else, for I feel like retir-ing to a lonely corner of the dhama to lament in separa-tion from you, my beloved spiritual master and eternal guide. In material life, when a loved one departs, time heals the wound as one’s memory fades and new rela-tionships take prominence. But the opposite seems true in spiritual life, for I miss you more and more as each year passes.

My dearest master, I’ll never forget that fateful day, November 14, 1977, when the Lord took you back to the spiritual world making all of us, your loving dis-ciples, effectively spiritual orphans. As news of your de-parture spread far and wide we sat in disbelief for a brief moment and prepared to grieve for what we thought would be eternity. The deep separation we experienced seemed more than any of us could bear, for all of us loved you more than anyone has ever been loved be-fore. How could it be otherwise? You were our savior. Convinced of the timeless wisdom of the scriptures that you had spoken so eloquently, we had taken up the pro-cess of Krsna consciousness in earnest, renouncing the so-called pleasures of this world on a moment’s notice. Much to the surprise of family and friends we eagerly embraced a life of what appeared to be penance and austerity but which, when mixed with the sweetness of service to your lotus feet, quickly turned into a life of ecstatic love and joy.

As I look back and reflect on your departure, I realize now that nothing could have ever prepared us for that most catastrophic event in the life of any disciple, not even the countless classes and instructions you yourself had given on the ephemeral nature of material life and the inevitability of cruel death. And so we grieved, as you yourself had done on the day of your own spiritual master’s departure. You wrote:

“On that day, O my Master, I made a cry of grief; I was not able to tolerate the absence of you, my guru.”

[ Vyasa Puja Offering 1961, Vaisistyastakam, First Vaisistya, Number 1 ]

But you did not want us to remain perpetually in such a pitiful state, O most merciful master, for in real-ity you had initiated us into eternal life, where there is no concept of birth and death, only perpetual service to guru and Gauranga in this world or the next. Thus we began searching for you in ways other than your physi-cal presence. As we turned to your books, we were re-minded that by serving your vani, or instrsuctions, we would continue to have your merciful association. This you had written in the dedication of your translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam:

“He lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him.”

It was clear that by following your instructions we would always have your association. We also realized that by following your orders to perfection we might one day earn the privilege of associating personally with you once again. I indeed feel privileged to have had that personal association during your earthly pastimes. I knew it was a rare and priceless treasure. I sometimes wondered how we fallen conditioned souls had achieved even a mo-ment of your association, for your association is sought by the greatest of sages and demigods. No doubt even the Lord Himself is pleased to be in your company, for you offer Him the purest form of unalloyed devotional service. So like many of my godbrothers and godsisters, I resolved to serve the instruction – the service – that was most dear to you: spreading the teachings of Lord Caitanya, the Yuga Avatara, far and wide.

yare dekha tare kaha krsna upadesa

amara ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa

“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in Bhagavad Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.”

[ Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya Lila 7.128 ]

As all devotees know, such preaching is a great chal-lenge in the material world. The living entities fall from the kingdom of God into this material world for the express purpose of forgetting God and enjoying a use-less life of gratification of the material senses. It is no easy task to remind them of their real identity in the spiritual world. But that is exactly what we have to do in order to receive your grace and eventually your as-sociation again in that same spiritual sky. To the degree that we fulfill your order to deliver as many conditioned souls as we can in our lifetime we will get the chance to associate with you again. If we fall short of sharing with the conditioned souls of this world the good fortune you bestowed upon us, we cannot expect your personal ser-vice any time in the near future. The Lord Himself said to Narada Muni:

hantasmin janmani bhavan

ma mam drastum iharhati

avipakva kasayanam

durdarso ’ ham kuyoginam

“O Narada, I regret that during this lifetime you will not be able to see Me anymore. Those who are incom-plete in service and who are not completely free from all material taints can hardly see Me.”

[ Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.6.21 ]

O my master, lord of my life, please bless me with the purity, strength, wisdom, and resolve to continue preaching your message until the end of my life. You have given me real life, this life of Krsna consciousness, so in effect I am yours to do with as you please. My prayer is that you continue to use my aging body for delivering your message to the conditioned souls, my mind for always meditating on how to execute such noble deeds, and my words for bringing hundreds of thousands of lost souls to your lotus feet.

Srila Prabhupada, it is my great hope, my cherished desire, that I can qualify myself through service to be with you again one day in the not-too-distant future. The possibility will soon arise because after all I am in the closing chapters of my life. I pray that when that final moment arrives I may be pure in heart and qualified to serve your desires in the spiritual world, far beyond this world of birth and death. There, in that transcen-dental abode, I will never experience the anguish of be-ing separated from you again. Rather, I will help you eternally in your service to the Lord, until the end of time and forever after.

I am missing you on this sacred day, my beloved lord and master.

Your servant,

Indradyumna Swami