By Giriraja Swami
Srila Prabhupada expressed his appreciation for his father in his dedication to his book Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead: “To My Father, Gour Mohan De (1849-1930) A pure devotee of Krsna, who raised me as a Krsna conscious child from the beginning of my life. In my boyhood ages he instructed me how to play the mrdanga. He gave me Radha-Krsna vigraha to worship, and he gave me Jagannatha ratha to duly observe the festival as my childhood play. He was kind to me, and I imbibed from him the ideas later on solidified by my spiritual master, the eternal father.” As devotees, we try to encourage and facilitate our children’s Krsna consciousness, as Prabhupada’s father did with him – an effort that is solidified when our children find their eternal spiritual masters.
Later, Srila Prabhupada wrote to one of his disciples, “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krsna for your more and more advancement in Krsna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”
We are indebted to all our fathers, biological and preceptorial. To those still with us, wish you Happy Father’s Day. To those who have left us, we love you and miss you, and we shall try to act in such a way as will please you – and Krsna, the Supreme Father.
Today’s update: Today, on Father’s Day, some devotees thought of me and wrote to me. I thought of Srila Prabhupada and a letter he wrote to a disciple: “You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. Relationship of father and son on spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationship is ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause.”
I also thought of a verse and purport from Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.24.13):
etavaty eva susrusa
karya pitari putrakaih
badham ity anumanyeta
gauravena guror vacah
“Sons ought to render service to their father exactly to this extent. One should obey the command of his father or spiritual master with due deference, saying, ‘Yes, sir.’ ”
Srila Prabhupada explains, “Two words in this verse are very important; one word is pitari, and another word is guroh. The son or disciple should accept the words of his spiritual master and father without hesitation. Whatever the father and the spiritual master order should be taken without argument: ‘Yes.’ There should be no instance in which the disciple or the son says, ‘This is not correct. I cannot carry it out.’ When he says that, he is fallen. The father and the spiritual master are on the same platform because a spiritual master is the second father. The higher classes are called dvija, twice-born. Whenever there is a question of birth, there must be a father. The first birth is made possible by the actual father, and the second birth is made possible by the spiritual master. Sometimes the father and the spiritual master may be the same man, and sometimes they are different men. In any case, the order of the father or the order of the spiritual master must be carried out without hesitation, with an immediate yes. There should be no argument. That is real service to the father and to the spiritual master. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has stated that the order of the spiritual master is the life and soul of the disciples. As a man cannot separate his life from his body, a disciple cannot separate the order of the spiritual master from his life. If a disciple follows the instruction of the spiritual master in that way, he is sure to become perfect. This is confirmed in the Upanisads: the import of Vedic instruction is revealed automatically only to one who has implicit faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead and in his spiritual master. One may be materially considered an illiterate man, but if he has faith in the spiritual master as well as in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then the meaning of scriptural revelation is immediately manifested before him.”
On this occasion, I pray to become a proper servant of my spiritual master, or spiritual father, Srila Prabhupada, and of all his other servants.
Your aspiring servant,