ISKCON 50 – S.Prabhupada Daily Meditations – Oct. 9-2015 – Dec. 31-2016
February 1, 2016
We are Especially Following Prabhupada
We are especially following Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada exposed material life as a defeat. People think they will obtain happiness by sense gratification, but in the end, they are only frustrated. Prabhupada taught this repeatedly because the struggle for happiness is so pervasive among the people of the world. Although most people concentrate on money-making as their goal, Prabhupada instructs them, “No, that cannot make you happy.” He also tells us not to seek liberation from material life. One might ask, “Neither sense gratification nor renunciation – what’s left?” Srila Prabhupada teaches that the goal of life is service to Krishna, bhakti yoga. This is the message of the six Gosvamis, Lord Caitanya, and Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. Prabhupada preached it and we are following him.
Often, our appreciation of Prabhupada is based on appreciation of the Vedic truths. One may say that Prabhupada’s teachings are just those of a typical Vaisnava sannyasi. By glorifying Prabhupada, all we are doing is appreciating Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita. Srila Prabhupada would appreciate that estimation of himself. In fact, that’s how he wanted us to appreciate him – as one who delivered Krishna’s message unchanged.
One may also say, “You claim that your spiritual master is special for teaching Krishna consciousness, but all he is doing is presenting the Vaisnava tradition. Why do you focus on him so completely? Don’t you think that is naive?”
But we heard from Srila Prabhupada. He is not just an ordinary speaker. He was a vigorous preacher who created the Krishna consciousness revolution around the world. It is only natural that we repeat what we have learned and heard from him, and natural that we express our gratitude to him. We note his preaching methods. He knew how to preach to us; therefore, we are especially eager to listen to him. Within the tradition of Vaisnava preachers, we are indebted to him. The Vaisnava conclusion states that one cannot directly hear from Krishna; one has to hear from Krishna’s representative. Prabhupada is that representative for us.
February 2, 2016
As we hear from Prabhupada, we also begin to recognize other preachers and ways of presenting the parampara, although no one knows as much about Krishna as Prabhupada, or teaches Vaisnava philosophy in exactly the same way. There are other Vaisnavas and other ways that present the same conclusion, but this does not diminish our desire to hear directly from Prabhupada. Our equating Krishna consciousness with His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is not accidental; we deliberately cultivate this loyalty on the advice of the sastras. Unless we please our spiritual master, Krishna will not be pleased with us.
The personal presence of the spiritual master is necessary to enforce some of the more difficult injunctions of Vaisnava tradition. For example, Prabhupada came to America and taught that sex life should be restricted. He told us right from the beginning that our Western emphasis on sex would be very detrimental to our spiritual lives. One should restrict it. If possible, one should give it up entirely. Some devotees mentioned to Prabhupada that these restrictions would be difficult for Americans to accept. Prabhupada replied, “I cannot change the philosophy to suit the Americans.”
His teaching, of course, goes completely against the Hedonists’ claims that unless we enjoy sex, we will be frustrated and repressed. How could the devotees in Krishna consciousness adopt such a “mad attempt” unless Srila Prabhupada was personally behind us?
Without compromise, Prabhupada continues to guide us. He speaks plainly in his books and lectures: “If you want Krishna, you have to give up illicit sex desire.” Sex is a natural drive that can be used in Krishna’s service. Sex is not easy to give up in any asrama, but if we want to follow Prabhupada, we have to do what he says.
As we struggle to surrender, we certainly need to focus on the personal inspiration given to us by our spiritual master. We know he teaches from the sastra, but we also know that he follows the sastra himself. Because we are personally indebted to him, we want to please him by following the Vedic truths. Allowing the spiritual master to exert such control in our lives, even to the point of controlling our sex pleasure, will make us submissive to him. We come to identify ourselves as his followers. This will bring us the actual confirmation and reciprocation from him that we are seeking.
February 3, 2016
Krishna’s Dutiful Preacher
Prabhupada was not a rebel-rouser. He didn’t get any particular joy out of people trying to harass; he simply knew that he had to preach seriously and accept the consequences from the materialists who became disturbed. And of course, he pointed to the long tradition of Vaisnavas who were grateful for all troubles that came as a result of their preaching. They knew it was bringing them closer to Krishna and accepted it as proof that their preaching was effective. Prabhupada sometimes gave the example of Jesus Christ on this point of opposition. He called it “the favorite example,” that Jesus was willing to disturb people, even at the risk of his life. But he also spoke of those in the Vedic tradition – Lord Nityananda, Haridasa Thakura, and many others – who were willing to give up their lives for the cause of spreading Krishna consciousness. Prabhupada was in the same mood.
February 4, 2016
Letter to Tirtha Maharaja
February 4, 1966
He wrote again to Tirtha Maharaja, who had agreed to try for the government sanction if he first received written confirmation from a responsible donor pledging the funds for a temple. Prabhupada informed him that the donor would be Sri Badampat Singhania, and he enclosed Mr. Singhania’s favorable letter of the fourteenth. Prabhupada reminded his godbrother:
“Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta wanted such temples in foreign countries such as New York, London, Tokyo, etc., and I had personal talks with him when I first met him at Ulta Danga in 1922. Now here is a chance for me to carry out his personal order…. I am just seeking your favor and mercy in making this attempt successful.”
February 5, 2016
Discouragement from Singhania
February 5, 1966
Discouragement came to the plans Prabhupada had formed around the promise of support by Badampat Singhania through Dvaraka-vala, who wrote to express his dissatisfaction with the Seventy-second Street building:
“I am afraid that I cannot agree with your suggestion that you should buy a small house and erect something on top of it. Unfortunately, such a kind of proposal will not suit me. The temple must be a small one, but it must be constructed properly. I quite agree that you cannot spend a lot of money at present, but within the amount the government may sanction, you should build something according to the architecture of Indian temples. Then only will we be able to create some impression on the American people. This is all that I can write to you in this connection. I am grateful for you taking the trouble of writing me.”
Prabhupada did not take this letter as final. He maintained hope that Sri Badampat Singhania would still give money for the temple, if only the transfer of money could be arranged. He continued writing his godbrothers and other devotees, asking them to try to secure the government sanction. He maintained his same aspirations, even though his sole prospective donor had rejected his scheme of a cakra and dome atop a conventional two-storey building.
February 6, 2016
Prabhupada’s Intolerance of Maya
Prabhupada was especially uncompromising in his condemnation of materialistic activities. He used strong language to describe people who are devoid of the inclination for spiritual life, calling them dogs, hogs, camels, and asses. He also referred to them as rascals. He called the leaders of the countries cheaters. He said they were all going to hell for their impious activities. By any standard, this was harsh criticism.
Prabhupada also protested against the government. He did it in a non sectarian way, favoring neither the communists nor the capitalists. According to the scriptures, he said, any political leader in this age is bound to be the lowest kind of man. And, in a sense, he protested against the material bonds that held families together. When his young disciples joined him, he created friction between ISKCON and the parents of the devotees. The anti-cult movement became prominent and made ISKCON one of its main targets. But Prabhupada was willing to put himself and his followers on the firing line for the sake of spreading Krishna consciousness.
February 7, 2016
Prabhupada’s Legacy is One of Disturbing the Sleeping Dogs
Although the old adage tells us to “let sleeping dogs lie,” Prabhupada explains the necessity for waking them up. In his purports to the verse where Krishna tells us not to disturb the minds of the materialists or the ignorant, Krishna advised the devotees to prosecute their duties peacefully, and said they should not feel troubled by persons who have no desire to practice spiritual life. Prabhupada reminds us, “If you give a good thief instructions, he will just become angry.”
Krishna tells us in the Bhagavad-gita that only persons who are austere can receive the message of Bhagavad-gita. In an apparently different mood, Krishna says that whoever distributes the message of Godhead and makes devotees is the dearest servant of the Lord. Prabhupada clears up this apparent contradiction by telling us that the devotees know Krishna’s inner purpose. Although Krishna doesn’t want to trouble His devotees by exposing them to harassment, His deepest desire is that the conditioned souls be given a full chance to take to Krishna consciousness. Actually, they have already had many chances. Krishna Himself has appeared in His many forms, but still the generations of conditioned souls continue to revolve in the cycle of birth and death, refusing to hear the message of Godhead. Krishna wants to give them another chance. Now it is Kali Yuga and the conditions are even more unfavorable for coming to spiritual life. Krishna and the devotees have to be more accessible, the process has to be easier and shorter. Despite Krishna’s merciful holy name, which is the only way in this age to attain God consciousness, the devotees are still harassed. And because of Kali Yuga, people are even more violent in their rebellion against God consciousness.
Prabhupada knew Krishna’s inner desire. He woke up the sleeping dogs. And he wants us to do the same.
February 8, 2016
Dissolving the “Illusory Prabhupada”
We have to be patient with ourselves as we serve Prabhupada. It is natural to select certain instructions that we think fit our situations and our personalities. When we try to relate to the spiritual master as preachers, we even encourage newcomers to find something in Prabhupada’s teachings which they can follow wholeheartedly. We just have to be careful not to present a watered down version of what Prabhupada is teaching. Until we are pure, there will always be some trace of compromise in our ability to follow, but we should always seek to increase our surrender and to know internally who our spiritual master is and what he wants from us. Even if there is some trace of illusion in ourselves, ultimately, there is nothing illusory about Prabhupada.
A duality can sometimes exist between Prabhupada as he is and one’s conception of Prabhupada as we want him to be. (There are many “Prabhupada saids” floating around our movement – how often do we hear “Prabhupada said” offered by someone trying to end an argument?) Therefore, it is good for us to expose ourselves to the “real” Prabhupada as he wrote letters to people, as long as we carefully understand the context from which he is speaking. Exposing ourselves to Prabhupada’s books and letters replaces any imagined idea of Prabhupada with the real person. A search for the real Prabhupada has to be in a sensitive and ongoing way.
We should not be afraid of the possibility that we have created an “illusory Prabhupada” within our minds. It’s not like the “illusory Vasudeva” which the demon Salva created to dishearten Krishna on the battlefield. Salva said, “Krishna, I have Your father here, and I’m going to cut off his head. There’s nothing You can do about it.” Salva then cut off the head of his mystic illusion. When Krishna saw it, He appeared to be unhappy for a moment. But since Krishna is never overcome by illusion, He then grew more determined to fight. Any service to Prabhupada is valid. If we are determined, we will gradually work out our misconceptions of Prabhupada. We are never cut off from the mercy.
The Prabhupada we worship and who appeals to us is our inspiration for devotional service. Salva used the “illusory Vasudeva” in an attempt to harm Krishna. But if we worship Prabhupada, we will always be benefited. With confidence in Prabhupada’s mercy, we can strive to cut away too much compromise in our service and to respond to Prabhupada as he is.
February 9, 2016
Hearing from Srila Prabhupada
We are reading in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta how Srila Prabhupada met with his guru only a few times, but every meeting he did have with him was of great significance to Srila Prabhupada. The first time they met on the roof in Ultadanga, in Calcutta, Prabhupada was impressed. His whole life was changed. They met again at Kosi in Vrindavan. At that time, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati noted that Prabhupada was hearing very attentively. Then they had other meetings, including one at Radha-kunda, where his guru maharaj told him, “If you ever get money, print books.” Prabhupada is the perfect example of one who made the utmost of his meetings with his spiritual master. There were no tape recorders in those days (although there were books). A meeting was very important to Prabhupada, as well as his letter exchanges with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.
We can also meet Srila Prabhupada, even now, by hearing from him in an open and loving way. The receptive disciple is compared to a fertile woman becoming pregnant by her association with her husband. The spiritual master can impregnate the receptive soul with bhakti-lata-bija, the seed of devotion. Individual speaking and meeting can have such an effect.
February 10, 2016
Prabhupada is a person. Like anyone, he likes his prasadam in a certain way and expressed his preferences about various things. We may wonder, are Prabhupada’s preferences absolute? Does his expression of personal preferences make him a relative person?
The pure devotee gives us so many details about Krishna and the process of devotional service. He tells us what Krishna likes to eat, and what He doesn’t like to eat; he tells us how to behave under all circumstances, and how to think. The pure devotee spiritual master represents Krishna absolutely; therefore, do we have a right to look into the pure devotee’s life and that everything be governed completely by Krishna’s indications? If we can detect in his life any personal preference for doing something just because “I like it,” is that a defect in the pure devotee?
But the pure devotee is a person. Like any person, he will have personal preferences. What we notice if we minutely examine the life of a pure devotee is that all of his preferences are favorable to devotional service. They are each individual expressions of his meditation on, and service to, Krishna. This may not always be comprehensible when we examine the pure devotee without the requisite faith.
There are nine principles of devotional service. If a devotee chooses mainly to hear about Krishna, or only to chant, we cannot accuse him of whimsical behaviour. There are also five primary rasas of a devotee in a liberated state to serve Krishna in a particular way according to his realization of his relationship with Krishna. Rather than consider this fact whimsical, we should understand that these preferences are the perfection of devotional development.
February 11, 2016
A Combination of Friendliness and Heaviness
Was Prabhupada friendly? Yes, of course. No one could say he was unfriendly or unconcerned. But Prabhupada was friendly even to those he never met. He was friendly to all living entities because he distributed Krishna consciousness. He gave his life to distribute Krishna consciousness to others. Prabhupada was friendly in the deepest sense. He came to the world a true friend of everyone because he had something which would be of great benefit to whoever accepted it. He didn’t have the kind of friendliness that we associate with “service with a smile,” commercialized cheater – the kind of friendliness you get on the airlines from the stewardesses who help you “fly the friendly skies.” Prabhupada was sometimes very heavy. It is incomprehensible, his friendliness. He worked for everyone’s benefit and that often meant knocking down their illusions and shaking them out of their foolishness. Yes, Prabhupada was friendly.
Yet, Prabhupada was often heavy, and for a good reason. He understood devotion to Krishna and wanted to expose the many nonsense frauds, incarnations, scholars and prakrta-sahajiyas, and any other pretentious people. He was a great devotee of Krishna who wholeheartedly embraced love of God. We should never allow ourselves to be disturbed by his heaviness. Prabhupada had to be that way. He’s entitled to be as soft as a rose or as hard as a thunderbolt. Prabhupada had Krishna in his fist, and he can Him to us. He is teaching us love of God. It is up to us to develop that simple devotion that develops with devotion to guru. We want to be sheltered by Prabhupada, our Nrsimha-guru.
Prabhupada is perfect. He is glorious the way he smashes illusions. He knows Krishna. He can give us Krishna in the most direct and simple way. But simplicity is not always so easy. Devotion means wholehearted surrender to Krishna’s lotus feet. Only then can we really understand anything. People who aren’t actually surrendered to Krishna the way Prabhupada was may recite so many things about higher rasas and love of God, but they cannot give you Krishna.
February 12, 2016
Prabhupada’s Manifestation of Steady Bhava
The Vaisnava acaryas have minutely delineated all the various manifestations of ecstasy. In this regard, there are eight kinds of bodily symptoms which occur when a devotee feels love of Krishna, and Prabhupada mentioned them in one of his early essays:
In the beginning, there may not be the presence of all transcendental ecstasies, which are eight in number. These are: 1. being stopped as though dumb; 2. perspiration; 3. standing up of hairs on the body; 4. dislocation of voice; 5. trembling; 6. fading of the body; 7. crying in ecstasy; and 8. trance.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati comments that even if a pure devotee does not manifest these eight symptoms of ecstasy, he may still be fully qualified to chant the holy names. Sometimes pure devotees restrain their ecstatic symptoms because people who do not understand them may become afraid or blasphemous. Also, sometimes people who recognize these symptoms, but who have not attained bhava themselves, will imitate them in order to get a reputation as an ecstatic devotee. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati concludes that it is more important to demonstrate detachment. Furthermore, the steady symptoms of bhava as described in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (Nectar of Devotion), are important criteria for knowing if one is advancing in spiritual life.
Srila Prabhupada fully displayed these steady symptoms of bhava at all times, although he occasionally manifested the different bodily manifestations of the eight symptoms.
One symptom of steady bhava is proper utilization of time. Srila Prabhupada followed a daily schedule of his own making. He was always on time, although he was not fanatical about it. He was always using his time to serve Krishna no matter what he was doing. To this end, Prabhupada felt that his schedule enhanced his own meditation and practice.
Pure devotees of Krishna meditate on Krishna’s schedule. Krishna performs various pastimes with His eternal associates according to the time of day. Krishna’s day is divided into eight main periods, and within these eight periods there are more minute divisions. Pure devotees fill their minds with remembrance of Radha-Krishna by meditating in this way.
Similarly, Srila Prabhupada’s daily schedule is well known to his devotees. We can meditate on Prabhupada at different times of the day. For example, Prabhupada rose around 1 A.M. to write. He took prasadam at specific times, chanted his gayatri mantra at specific times, and had scheduled meeting times for guests. He took a noon bath and a little nap afterwards, and he was usually prepared to lecture in the evening. As we go through our own day’s activities, we can meditate on Prabhupada’s schedule and even try to do some of the things he did at the times he did them. That will fill our minds with remembrance of Prabhupada.
Prabhupada also manifested the other symptoms of steady bhava, including always expecting the Lord’s mercy, pridelessness, attraction for living in a holy place, and attraction for chanting the holy names. Prabhupada manifested all these symptoms with full Krishna conscious emotion and with the strong awareness of a preacher. He was a pure devotee. Prabhupada wanted his followers to also become pure devotees. Therefore, we can please Prabhupada not only by meditating on him throughout the day as he performs his bhajana, but by performing it ourselves. This is the perfection of Prabhupada meditation.
February 13, 2016
Talk to Prabhupada
I have been going too long without trying to talk to Prabhupada. We shouldn’t refrain from talking to Prabhupada out of lack of faith. If a Christian can talk to Christ, and a yogi can talk to his Supersoul, why can’t a Prabhupadanuga speak his mind to Prabhupada? It just takes faith and hope that he will hear us – hope that Krishna will hear us. We may say, “Well, I definitely have faith in Krishna as the Supersoul,” but that faith may be more an acceptance of the scripture, than direct realization of the Lord in the heart. But the same scriptures tell us that the pure devotee, by Krishna’s grace, can be just as present as the Supersoul in the heart of His disciple. We do not have to doubt that, even if we don’t have direct realization of it. If we do doubt it, then we have to pin our hopes on a prayer to both Krishna and Prabhupada, “Please, Krishna, deliver my message to Prabhupada. Please, Prabhupada, deliver my message to Krishna. Please, Srimati Radharani, forgive me for my offenses, and let me become a devotee of my spiritual master, Lord Krishna, and You.”
Let us have faith in our ability to talk to Prabhupada. We should place ourselves as his eternal servant and say, “Prabhupada, I am trying to remember you. My place in spiritual life is only to be your servant. Please allow me to serve your movement.” Whatever recent things you have heard about Prabhupada, or thoughts you have had, or places you have seen – each can be the stimulus to bring us closer to him.
February 14, 2016
Prabhupada Is Not Ordinary
The sastras warn us not to think of the spiritual master as an ordinary man. That is very hard for the nondevotees to comprehend. They think the spiritual master is an ordinary person because they see him growing old, or they see him show anger. They misjudge him in many ways. They have no idea what is ordinary and what is extraordinary. It takes spiritual vision to appreciate the pure devotee, but the sastras tell us the truth.
The sastras list certain qualifications of a spiritual master, yet even among those who possess these qualifications, Srila Prabhupada is extraordinary. What is it about him that makes him extraordinary? Or, we can ask, “There appear to be some extraordinary things about Prabhupada, so what is it about Prabhupada that makes these things extraordinary?”
Dr. Harvey Cox said, “Prabhupada is one in a million.” He founded the Hare Krishna Movement, which continues to grow and establish roots in countries all over the world. Fulfilling Lord Caitanya’s prediction that the holy name would be known in every town and village of the world was seen as a near impossible task by other sannyasis. Prabhupada fulfilled the Lord’s prediction. He must be an extraordinary person, someone fully empowered by Krishna, to possess so much pure devotion and determination.
One should not see the spiritual master as an ordinary man. This is not only the proper etiquette described in the Vedas, it is reality. The spiritual master is never ordinary, even if he appears to be growing older, or seems to forget a Sanskrit verse, the disciple should never doubt his spiritual master because of these things. Prabhupada explained that his perfection was that he was always preaching and was fully engaged in Krishna consciousness. The guru is not the Supersoul who knows all things, but he has an intimate relationship with the Supersoul. Srila Prabhupada was always dedicated to Krishna’s mission. He produced amazing, tangible results. He is extremely dear to Krishna. All his displays of anger, or illness, or humanness are transcendental; they are meant to bring us closer to him in loving exchange.
The spiritual master lives in the internal energy. He always desires to talk about Krishna and glorify Krishna, and to engage himself and others in Krishna’s service. To be in his presence is intense and purifying, and this can be difficult for a neophyte to take. Therefore, when he acts in apparently “ordinary” ways, it relieves his neophyte disciples and enables the beginning devotee to feel intimacy with the exalted pure devotee. When the ordinary devotee can do simple things, like heat water for the guru’s bath, or cook him his favorite sweets, his affection is aroused. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada used to occasionally engage his disciples in conversations and activities just to bring them closer to him. He used the same psychology an adult uses when he plays on the level of a child. It is a way to gain their trust and affection.
Ultimately, nothing is ordinary or mundane when sanctioned by the pure devotee and engaged in Krishna’s service. Therefore, whenever we think of Prabhupada as ordinary, meaning mundane or conditioned like other karmic-bound souls in this world, we commit Vaisnava aparadha.
February 15, 2016
February 15, 1966
He moved from 501, downstairs two floors to a room all his own.
I have changed my room to 307, in the same building as mentioned, for better air and light. It is on the roadside junction of two roads, the Columbus Avenue and 72nd Street.
According to Dr. Mishra, Prabhupada moved in order to have his own place, independent of the Mishra Yoga Society.
February 16, 2016
“Those Were Happy Days”
Srila Prabhupada would often be silent for long periods and then suddenly ask something that was on his mind. I remember once he suddenly asked, “Where in the world can I go where there will be no visitors and I can simply be alone to write my books?” Of all these exchanges, which I witnessed, this one reminds me of the times when our spiritual master was all alone in New York. He has said that those were happy days. One reason was because Prabhupada depended on Krishna entirely without having to depend on many disciples. In the later years, until he came to Second Avenue and saved us, it was not certain whether many Westerners could actually become practicing devotees. Srila Prabhupada’s discovery of this, on behalf of Lord Caitanya, produced happiness for him and for us. He was such a realistic missionary though, he never basked in that happiness or exaggerated it with praises of his own accomplishment. As soon as he knew that Westerners could take to Krishna consciousness, Prabhupada immediately took that good news and went further and further with it, all around the world. In his persistent desire to have time alone to write, we get an indication of what Prabhupada meant when he said, “Those were happy days.”
February 17, 2016
Focus on Prabhupada the Individual
We sometimes spend so much time going on with our regular duties that we forget about Prabhupada. We don’t think of him enough to actually stop and focus on Prabhupada as a person. The person who was here is beneficial. We have to become still enough, quiet enough, to be able to remember him.
We tend to be almost arrogant about the fact that we are living now, as if that gives us a superior vision of Prabhupada, as if he is among the dead and we are among the living. Actually, we have a feeble hold on this life. In this tiny amount of space and time, we will each disappear.
The consciousness we command and the space we live in – why do we think this is more important than where Prabhupada is? Is it because we think our world is manifest and Prabhupada’s world is unmanifest? Prabhupada’s world is not unmanifest. Prabhupada is with Krishna in Goloka. That world is the only really manifest world. We may not see him in the material world, but that is because we are so insignificant in relation to Krishna. Prabhupada is in the real world, and we are in the kingdom of death.
Our attitude should be that “Prabhupada has gone to participate in his intimate relationship with Krishna and I have been left behind.” He came here and developed a relationship with us, gave us adequate instructions and we vowed to follow him, but ultimately he left us stumbling behind. We are trying to figure out the meaning of his books, how to act, how to get along with one another. Sometimes we make serious mistakes. But we are also calling to him, running after him, “Prabhupada! Prabhupada!” This is our actual position. Therefore, don’t be complacent. Visit his room and try to taste a little of our own deaths, then feel the need to catch up to him, the need to perfect ourselves.
It is only human to remember Prabhupada as he was in this world. Not long ago, he enacted his pastimes on the earth. He was never an ordinary human being suffering under the spell of illusion, although he appeared to us as an elderly Indian sannyasi. If we forget Prabhupada’s pastimes with us, then where is our connection to Prabhupada at all? Maintaining Prabhupada’s rooms is meant to help us focus in this way. We can look at the paraphernalia he used when he was here and worship his murti. And we can remember how he appeared to us with love.
February 18, 2016
Prabhupada Revealed the Topmost Bhakti
Some devotees are starting to inquire more about how to be part of the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Some say Prabhupada taught only vaidi-bhakti. They claim they have to go elsewhere to get the higher teachings about the rasas. But it is not true. Everything is there in Prabhupada’s books. Prabhupada is on the highest platform. He is very advanced in his love for Krishna, and he has a very intimate relationship with Krishna in Vrindavana. We should never mistake that. The one important message is to stay faithful to Prabhupada. By faith in guru, we get Krishna. Not otherwise.
We should never think that Prabhupada didn’t teach the topmost understanding. We should always know that only when he allows us, can we enter the dhama and our eternal relationship with Radha-Krishna. Radha and Krishna and Their associates are mysterious, transcendental persons beyond this material existence. They will allow us to come to Them when we are qualified by sincerity and purity. We cannot simply pick up a book on internal Krishna consciousness and expect to be allowed to enter. You have to please your guru, the representative of Radha-Krishna. By his grace, you can make progress.
The real substance is service to Prabhupada. His service does include the higher topics, but like anything in Krishna consciousness, inquiry into these topics is a gradual process. We have to be careful not to hear from anyone who tells us Prabhupada was deficient, or incomplete in his teachings. In fact, it would be better not to know anything than to hear from someone who teaches us that Prabhupada didn’t give us what we need. Better to continue as he wanted us to, chanting Hare Krishna and praying to Radha and Krishna in the temple. We can always please Them with our wholehearted efforts.
Prabhupada states that you cannot enter Vrindavana without the mercy of Lord Nityananda. This is also described by Narottama dasa Thakura in one of his songs. The mercy of Lord Nityananda comes through Prabhupada. Also, Narottama sang, you cannot enter Vrindavana as long as you have visaya cariya kabe, attachment for the demands of the senses in the body. You cannot enter Vrindavana except through the line of the six Gosvamis.
We benefit from Prabhupada’s various purports where he talks about the Vrindavana mood. Prabhupada quotes all the previous acaryas right after the most important information about madhurya-rasa. Nothing is lacking.
February 19, 2016
Meditating on Prabhupada’s Eternal Form
Usually I favor meditating on Prabhupada as we knew him. As an expression of loyalty, I almost scoff at the possibility of Prabhupada having a form other than how he appeared in the West in 1965. But I know he does. Still, we prefer to think of Prabhupada as we knew him, and anyway, we really can’t know Prabhupada in any other form. At least not now.
Lately, I am coming to understand that it is possible for a disciple to know his eternal relationship with his spiritual master in the spiritual world. It is possible to meditate on that eternal relationship. This no longer seems scandalous to my loyalty if I think like that.
Now I want to pray that the other form is revealed. I cannot imagine it or concoct it, but I hope one day Srila Prabhupada will reveal how I can be with him as he assists Radha-Krishna in the spiritual world. Just as we sing every morning, nikunja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai. Shri-radhika-madhavayor apara-madhurya-lila-guna-rupa-nammam / prati-kshanasvadana-lolupasya / vande guroh shri-charanaravindam. These two verses are meaningful. I pray that I may one day realize them.
Meditating on Prabhupada in his eternal form in Goloka Vrindavana would not be negated. Understanding his other form would be a graduation, the fruit of remembering Prabhupada in this world. Furthermore, we can continue to meditate on Prabhupada as he appears in this world, but with the understanding of how he is eternal.
February 20, 2016
Remembering Prabhupada Favorably
When I read Conversations With Srila Prabhupada, I find that although one can come close to Prabhupada by reading them, they give a very stripped-down picture of him. We don’t see how he looks as he speaks, how he moves, what his non-verbal language is. We see only his words printed in black and white. We could get the wrong idea about Prabhupada by seeing only the words. But it is also true that as we read one conversation after another, Prabhupada’s presence seems to accumulate in our minds and we begin to see all the non-spoken gestures, too.
It takes faith to hear from Prabhupada. Don’t think that Prabhupada’s presence can be gained without faith. Don’t think it is wrong to be faithful, or to be favorable toward Prabhupada. Don’t think feeling these things is in competition with anything else in your life. You want your love to be revived. There is no logical calculation involved, no prerequisite emotional objectivity. You simply have to satisfy your own sense of service and inquiry at his lotus feet. You have to satisfy your own sense of truthfulness by engaging your intelligence and your heart in understanding what he is saying to you. Krishnadasa Kaviraja tells us to use our intelligence dynamically to study the qualities and character of Lord Caitanya. Don’t argue with yourself (or with your spiritual master). And don’t find fault.
This is remembrance of Prabhupada in a favorable mood. There is work to be done – we have to throw aside everything unfavorable in our remembrance. Therefore, we have to understand the science of Krishna consciousness, the nature of the work to be done. If we don’t know the difference between weeds and flowers, how can we expect our garden to produce fruit? If we don’t know the difference between non-favorable meditation and favorable meditation, how can we expect our spiritual life to increase?
Selecting between favorable and unfavorable can sometimes be painful. Again, we have to approach this process with faith. Prabhupada will help us, he wants to help us, clear our hearts. We have failed him many times, but he is still accepting us. Let us serve him with full faith and consciousness and study his character and qualities with dynamic intelligence. Let us pray to him to reveal to us the difference between the flowers and the weeds.
February 21, 2016
Please Bless Us for Advancement
One should pray to Prabhupada, “Please bless us for advancement,” with confidence that everything we desire in spiritual life can be achieved by his mercy. His mercy comes in many forms. It comes in his books. He gave us his books, but we have to enter them. If we pray for understanding when we read, Krishna will give us the intelligence.
Prabhupada can also help us through the heart. The pure devotees are just as good as Krishna. They can expand in different places at the same time. They are inconceivable in their power. They are not limited by material circumstances. Prabhupada’s mercy can act in many ways. The sastras tell us of gurus who come back to help their disciples.
We want to reciprocate with Prabhupada by fulfilling his intentions for us. He intends that we become pure devotees of Krishna. Therefore, we can take siksa from someone who is also in line with Prabhupada, someone who can help us to better understand Prabhupada’s teachings.
Prabhupada can tell us everything we need to know if we pray to him. We are still not mature, and he has still not revealed everything. We are getting older physically, but we are still spiritual infants. We have so much to learn. We pray to Prabhupada for better vision. Arjuna prayed for the eyes to see the Universal Form; we need the eyes to see what is in Prabhupada’s books. We need to understand the deeper meaning of Krishna consciousness. This doesn’t mean that Prabhupada didn’t give us everything. It only means that we have failed to recognize it.
February 22, 2016
Prabhupada was sometimes as strong as a thunderbolt, other times soft as a rose. When, sometimes, persons would ask Prabhupada esoteric details about Vrindavana or the rasa dance, he would cut them short. Rather than answer their questions directly, he would address their mentalities. Yet, at the same time, he would fully answer the questions of a sincere inquirer.
We should be proud to have such a guru, who adopted the chopping technique of his own spiritual master in trying to save the world from maya, but was fully capable of understanding Vrindavana bhajana-rasa. After all, he lived in Vrindavana for years, wrote his books there, and lived alone at the Radha Damodara Temple. He was very, very sensitive to the atmosphere in Vrindavana. Even his silence on the subject of rasa-lila made us feel his potency, his power. Krishna’s pastimes took place in Vraja, although, at present, They are aprakata, not manifest now, Prabhupada knew about Krishna’s pastimes.
February 23, 2016
Prabhupada Was Not Obliged
The Krsna Book describes the spiritual master as a waterfall, which sometimes flows in the rainy season and sometimes is still. When I asked Prabhupada what this meant, he said that the spiritual master is not obliged to speak. When he feels inspired, he will speak to his disciple in a relevant way. He will not give the disciple information he is not ready to receive. But he never handles his disciple roughly. He is interested in the disciple’s welfare, and therefore, he’s willing to teach Krishna consciousness according to the disciple’s needs.
Prabhupada was like this. He was not obliged. The fact that he did not speak so much Vrindavana krishna-katha was his mercy, his expertise. At the same time, he gave everything, including knowledge of krishna-lila, caitanya-lila, and the foundational wisdom of the Lord’s talks with Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita.
February 24, 2016
A Pure Devotee Preacher
The pure devotee is not restricted to the limitations of sadhana-bhakti, but follows those practices which nourish pure devotion. Pure devotion means Krishna consciousness, which specifically means service to Radha-Krishna.
Prabhupada conducted his life in that way. His only concern was for things that fostered the preaching and spreading of Krishna consciousness and the cultivation of essential spiritual life. The more we study texts about the most advanced Krishna consciousness as it exists between the Lord and His eternal associates, the more we see that Prabhupada was in that league.
He introduced Westerners to Radha-Krishna from the very beginning, but he also demonstrated gravity and privacy in his emotions. He taught that even if one is above the rules and regulations, he should still follow most of them to set an example. Prabhupada was sober. He didn’t give vent to many ecstatic expressions. Lord Caitanya was also careful about revealing His internal emotions when He was near superficial, ritualistic brahmanas while he was speaking with Ramananda Raya. Similarly, Prabhupada was always in the presence of doubters and atheists while preaching in the West, and thus his demeanor was sober and reserved.
February 25, 2016
Prabhupada felt great compassion, the compassion of Lord Caitanya. He was saturated in it. We sometimes say Lord Caitanya manifested audarya (compassion) in Mayapur, and in Vrindavana we see the madhurya, or the relish of sweetness between Krishna and His associates. Prabhupada definitely revealed both. He was particularly strong in his desire to spread the glories of the Lord. As we read the descriptions of people who experience internal meditation on Krishna’s pastimes and the different qualities they have, we see that Prabhupada is never lacking in devotion to Krishna in any of those ways.
Prabhupada followed his spiritual master, who followed Gaurakisora dasa Babaji. These teachers worked to eradicate all pretention. They were extremely humble and completely devoted to Radha-Krishna. Their intense meditation should always be appreciated. Prabhupada manifested such internal-deep states in his activities. He was so selfless to come to America and engage in the kind of preaching he did. And the extraordinary thing about Prabhupada’s apparent outwardness, is that it all came from the inside, from his devotion. He didn’t do anything for his personal sense gratification, but only pushed on with his preaching. Prabhupada’s thoughts (as expressed through his writing) often reflect his intolerance for the ignorance that existed in the world. He wanted to save people.
Great Vaisnavas like Srila Prabhupada so much want for Krishna to be glorified that they leave their hermitage and don’t consider peacefulness as important. Such great devotees want to use everything in Krishna’s service. Prabhupada’s beating on the brhad mrdanga was a further manifestation of the Lord’s internal energy. Krishna’s pure devotee desired to do wonderful, compassionate work on behalf of Lord Caitanya and his spiritual master.
February 26, 2016
Discouragement In Selling Books in India
February 16, 1966
Prabhupada wrote to the proprietors of the Universal Book House of Bombay, giving some hints for selling his Srimad-Bhagavatam in the Bombay area. He explained that he was trying to establish a Radha-Krishna temple and that a “big industrialist of India has promised to pay for the cost.” Since it seemed that he might stay in the United States “for many more days,” he wanted the Book House to take increased charge of selling his books throughout India. They were his agents for selling his books in Maharashtra, but now he recommended that they take the responsibility in all provinces, and introduce his books in colleges and universities throughout India. He also requested that they credit his bank account there for the books sold so far.
February 26, 1966
Mr. A.P. Dharwadkar of the Universal Book House replied:
I cannot give you very happy news on the progress of the sale of Srimad-Bhagavatam, because the subject is religious and only a small section of society may personally be interested in the books … We try to push them through some book sellers in Nagpur Ahmedabad, Pune, etc., but regret to inform you that after some time these booksellers return the books for want of response. As such, we are not only unenthusiastic to agree to your proposal of taking up sales for all India, but we were just thinking of requesting you to nominate some other people in our place to represent your sale program in Maharashtra.
So far, they had sold only six sets of books, for which they were about to transfer Rs 172 to his account. This was hardly encouraging to the author. Again, India was not interested. Even in “the land of religion,” religious subjects were only for “a small section of society.”
February 27, 2016
The Art of Prabhupada Prayer
Devotees suggest that one should pray to Prabhupada. We use this word “pray” frequently in Krishna consciousness. “Pray to Prabhupada.” But what does it really mean? How do you do it?
One way to pray to Prabhupada is to sit in a place where his presence can be felt intensely, such as his samadhi mandir, or in his rooms at Radha-Damodara Temple, or we may go to a place where he performed some pastime that is easy to meditate on. We can then attempt to engage in sustained conversation with him. We can help ourselves by making notes on a piece of paper first, or we can just sit quietly, although our minds will have a greater tendency to wander. We could also sit in our chosen spot and chant japa, although there are specific advantages to planning our prayer-time ahead of time and going prepared to spend that time with Prabhupada.
Prayer to Prabhupada presumes that we have the faith that he is present and that he can hear our prayers. It also presumes that we have the faith he will bless us in our endeavors on his behalf. The Lord and Prabhupada already know what is in our hearts; technically, we don’t need to pray to report to them. But we want to speed things up the way Narada Muni sped things up in Krishna’s pastimes. We need to speed things up because our time in this body is short and we have a lot of distance to travel. We are not satisfied with our progress. There are also immediate points and crises and times and pathways facing us with different, alternative routes to take on the road. We need to pray for direction.
Dear Srila Prabhupada, please allow me to have the presence of mind to pray to you, and please allow me to find a peaceful place where I can be in your presence. I want to be faithful to you, but I realize faithfulness takes creativity and courage and inspiration. I can’t be faithful only by carrying out the program you gave me – the basic sadhana and guru-seva – in a mechanical way. I pray that you will give me the courage and the intelligence how to enter deeply into my Krishna consciousness. I have already encountered how my false ego gives me so many problems, but I know you can kick out all these obstacles very quickly. Therefore, I pray to you: Let me realize Krishna consciousness in a way that is pleasing to you.
February 28, 2016
A Further Prayer to Prabhupada
Our heartfelt prayers to Prabhupada should be guided by śruti smṛti purāṇādi-pañcarātra vidhiṁ vinā. I am praying to Prabhupada to please direct me in the best way for my spiritual life. In one sense, we are waiting for an immediate response from Prabhupada, although we must also understand that prayer is itself a process. It is an ongoing meditation, rather than an isolated event with a set result.
Dear Srila Prabhupada, today I asked a devotee how to pray to you. The answer I got was that we should speak in prayers composed by the previous acaryas. I thought one of the most obvious prayers is the pranama mantra, which you yourself gave to us. “I offer my obeisances to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Krishna on this earth, having taken shelter at the lotus feet of the transcendental Lord.” And sometimes we pray to you spontaneously in our own words, “Prabhupada, please help me,” “Prabhupada, thank you for allowing me to serve and function as your assistant.”
Prabhupada, please let me go forward in Krishna consciousness, please let me serve you, please let me remember you, please guide me. I want to especially concentrate on that prayer – please guide me. You yourself were so confidential, private, and grave that you didn’t even tell us about it. You knew that preaching to us meant stressing the Bhagavad-gita and convincing us that God exists. But you also gave the postgraduate study, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and beyond that, Caitanya-caritamrta. You gave us the truth that Krishna came to taste Radha’s love in the form of Lord Caitanya. You explained to us that Lord Caitanya wanted to distribute that love, the love of the gopis, to the whole world. You introduced us to the Six Gosvamis. But you were also careful. You didn’t want to confuse us. You wanted to protect us.
Now we are trying to pray that you give us the mercy of your association eternally. We have to realize our eternal relationship with you in the spiritual world. It is difficult, Prabhupada, because I don’t want to be pretentious. Yet we must do this. Please guide me, Srila Prabhupada, to serve you in your sadhaka form as the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, as the dear person who was so kind to me in this life, who gave me so much association, and who sustains me now. But also guide me to worship you in your eternal, spiritual form. I appear to be quite experienced in ISKCON, but when I think of my relationship with you in your eternal, spiritual form and rasa with Krishna, then I realize I am completely inexperienced. I am a baby, a neophyte. That is one of the reasons I hesitate to inquire into it, because I don’t want to give up my prestigious position as a teller of Prabhupada stories and an old devotee. But I am willing to do that also. I am willing to go ahead and admit that I know very little. I don’t know the Sanskrit terms for all the stages of rasa, I don’t know your name in the spiritual world, I don’t know anything. But I aspire to be with you and serve you. However, I have to prove myself by continual, solid service to you in your sadhaka form and in your ISKCON movement. As you write in so many purports, by preaching we attract the attention of Krishna. Let me preach and please you in that way. Then you will reveal to me the higher truths. Please protect me.
Prabhupada, please bless us to be ready for higher Krishna consciousness. Let us pursue love of God and enhance our faithfulness to you. Let us become better servants in your mission by becoming touchstones, or the moons you wish you had in your star-filled sky. That is our whole purpose, dear Srila Prabhupada.
February 29, 2016
I Had So Much Hardship
About the Jaladutta voyage to America, he said, “It is a great history. There were two days I had heart attacks on the ship. I had so much hardship.” We may only try to think of how Srila Prabhupada put up with such difficulties: vaiṣṇavera kriyā mudrā vijñeha nā bujhaya. One can never understand the mind of a great Vaisnava, and although we are advised not to try to read his mind, yet we may worship Prabhupada’s example of tolerance and distress. There is a great risk in assuming we can read devotees’ minds and motivations. Yet we can just remember that on the Jaladutta voyage to America, Prabhupada twice experienced heart attacks. And he continued to suffer strokes and many other maladies while discharging his duties on behalf of his spiritual master.
When we are physically disposed, we may also meditate on how Srila Prabhupada does not reject us because of illness, and how he did not stop because of hardships. We should not feel sorry for ourselves, or think that our spiritual master is unsympathetic to our material condition. He himself has gone through pain; he knows that we are sincere and that we will work more actively on his behalf if we were fit.