Make me an instrument of your compassion!
By Giriraj dasa
A few months back I had the good fortune to get association of a senior Vaishanava. During the lecture one line that really touched my heart was the advice that we should daily pray to Prabhupada to ‘make me an instrument of your compassion in this very life time’. It was seemingly a simple statement but it touched my heart and I started following it since then. Just by praying like this daily to Srila Prabhupada had some effect on my dull consciousness, inspired me to some act and brought newer realisations.
I searched for this topic and found some very inspiring statements in scriptures, and particularly by Srila Prabhupada. I pray that below quotes will help every single follower of Srila Prabhupada to aspire to become his instrument of compassion in this very life time.
What was Srila Prabhupada’s mood?
The author of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acaryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
Pradyumna: “The author of Bhakti–Rasamrita–Sindhu, Srila Rupa Goswami, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work.”
Prabhupada: Yes. Every Vaishanava, that is Vaishnava Sadachara, humble. Trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna . Although Vaishnava knows everything, still he presents himself very humble, lower that the straw, humbler than the tree. Trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna, amanina manadena, the devotee does not claim any so-called popular respect, false respect. They go on with their Krishna consciousness movement. If anyone wants some honor, he gives everyone honor. For him, he does not want any honor. What honor he’ll take? This material honor. Prahlada Maharaja, when he was offered benediction by Lord Narasimhadeva, “You take any kind of benediction.” So Prahlada Maharaja replied, “My dear Lord, I am born of a father, passionate, and I am always greedy about material opulence, naturally, because my father was like that. You are offering benediction. I can ask from you any kind of material opulence. I know that. But, what I shall do all these material opulences. I’ve seen my father was so strong materially, that when he was angry even the demigods trembled. He was so powerful. Now everything is finished within a second by You. So what is the value of this material opulence? Why shall I ask you all these nonsense. Kindly engage me, kindly engage me in the service of Your servant, that I want.” This is devotion. They don’t want anything. Kindly engage me nijunkaman atma dase. That is the prayer. So the devotees, they do not want anything material. They are not captivated by so-called followers. No. Na dhanam na janam, janam means followers, na dhanam na janam na sundarim kavitam va jagadisa kamaye [Cc. Antya 20.29, Shikshastaka 4]. What is this false power? Ekas candras tamo hanti na ca tara sahasrasah. If one disciple is enlivened with Krishna consciousness, he can work as the moon. Otherwise so many foolish followers, what they’ll do? Just like stars. Thousands and millions of stars, they cannot do anything. One moon is sufficient. Ekas candras tamo hanti na ca tara sahasrasah. So this Krishna consciousness movement, it is not required that everyone will be follower. That is not possible, because it is very difficult. But still, if one follower, sincere follower is there, it will go on. It will go on. Nobody can stop it. Go on.
Pradyumna: “That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Krishna consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Goswami. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous acharayas.”
Prabhupada: Yes, we should not be very much proud that “I have created wonderful.” Why? What wonderful? What? I am not a magician that I can create wonderful. Sometimes people, they give me so much honor. “Swami ji, you have created wonderful.” I do not feel that I have created wonderful. What I have done? I say that I, I do, I’m not a magician. I do not know how to create wonderful. I have simply Bhagavad-Gita, presenting Bhagavad-Gita as it is, that’s all. If there is any credit, this is only credit. Anyone can do it. The Bhagavad-Gita is there, and anyone can present Bhagavad-Gita as it is. So it will act wonderful. I am not a magician. I do not know the tricks of magics and the yoga-siddhi, I am creating (visual expression) like this. (laughter) I have no such power. Neither I do it. So I, my only credit is, I do not want to mix with this pure Bhagavad-Gita teaching, any rascaldom, that’s all. That is my credit. And whatever little miracle has been done, only on this principle. That’s all. Go on.
Pradyumna: “…and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit…”
Prabhupada: Yes, the same thing. Our purpose should be to satisfy our predecessors.
tadera carana-sevi-bhakta-sane vasa
janame janame more ei abhilasa
We cannot deviate from the path of the previous acaryas. We must strictly follow. That is the qualification. We must follow their instruction. Therefore I repeatedly say to my students that “You chant Hare Krishna mantra sixteen rounds, and follow the regulative principles. Your strength is there.” … just like Himalayan mountain, nobody can push it. Very simple thing. It is so powerful. Yaha hoite sarva-siddhi haya. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s request. Don’t deviate from the instruction. Then you will stand as strong as the Himalayan mountain. Very simple thing. Anyone can do. We are asking, following the footsteps of predecessor, Rupa Goswami, Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instruction to Rupa Goswami, Rupanuga. Therefore we are called Rupanauga. Anuga. Anuga means following. Going, following the footsteps of Rupa Goswami. So as the, Rupa Goswami is following his predecessor, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, so we have to follow our predecessor. Then we will be successful. There is no doubt about it. Nobody can do any harm. Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati [BG. 9.31]. If you stick to the principle of following the footsteps of previous predecessor, evam parampara-praptam [Bg. 4.2], don’t add anything, don’t subtract anything, present as it is and keep your spiritual strength intact, then the preaching will go on. Nobody can disturb you.
That’s all. Thank you very much.
(Lecture, on NoD, Bombay, 9th January, 1973)
By the grace of Srila Prabhupada (BSST) the preaching work is going on nicely and the most important factor is that I have got a number of youthful American and European disciples who are helping me very seriously. As you know the western boys and girls are educated and trained up in practical life. They are spreading this movement better that any Indian could do. So whatever success is there, it is due to them; I am simply instrumental in giving them direction.
(Letter to HH B.S. Turya Shramy Maharaja, 8th April 1970)
Pray, but also act on it!
Arjuna is a great devotee of Krishna. Just imagine, he’s talking personally with Krishna, and Krishna is personally helping him. How much exalted he is! But still, Krishna is advising to work. Krishna never said, “Oh, Arjuna, you need not fight. You sit down silently. Actually, He was doing everything. At last He said, nimitta-matram bhava savyasacin: “You are simply instrumental, and I am doing everything.” So Krishna does for the devotee everything, but it does not mean that he will sit down. It is not. This is not our Krishna consciousness movement that idle, creating some idlement. You must work for Krishna’s sake. That is the program.
(Lecture, New Vrindavana, 7th September, 1972)
Do we have a choice?
A conditioned soul is instrumental in the hands of the external energy, guna-mayi maya, or the illusory energy of the Lord, and in the liberated stage the living entity is instrumental to the will of the Personality of Godhead directly. To be instrumental to the direct will of the Lord is the natural constitutional position of the living entity, whereas to be an instrument in the hands of the illusory energy of the Lord is material bondage for the living entity. In that conditioned state, the living entity speculates on the Absolute Truth and His different activities. But in the unconditioned stage the living entity directly receives knowledge from the Lord, and such a liberated soul acts flawlessly, without any speculative habit. The Bhagavad-Gita (10.10-11) confirms emphatically that the pure devotees, who are constantly engaged in the loving transcendental service of the Lord, are directly advised by the Lord, so much so that the devotee unwaveringly makes progress on the path home, back to Godhead.
And the result…
It is possible that some extremely powerful personality, within or without the universe, may sometimes show more power than the Lord Himself. Still the pure devotee knows that this power is a vibhuti delegated by the Lord, and such a delegated powerful living entity is never independent. Sri Hanuman ji crossed the Indian Ocean by jumping over the sea, and Lord Sri Ramachandra engaged Himself in marching over the bridge, but this does not mean that Hanuman ji was more powerful than the Lord. Sometimes the Lord gives extraordinary powers to His devotee, but the devotee knows always that the power belongs to the Personality of Godhead and that the devotee is only an instrument.
Beware! Don’t become proud.
Brahma, who is only an assistant in the modes of creation, wanted to remain in his actual position as an instrument of the Lord instead of becoming puffed up by the false prestige of thinking himself the creator. That is the way of becoming dear to the Supreme Lord and receiving His benediction. Foolish men want to take credit for all creations made by them, but intelligent persons know very well that not a blade of grass can move without the will of the Lord; thus all the credit for wonderful creations must go to Him. By spiritual consciousness only can one be free from the contamination of material affection and receive the benedictions offered by the Lord.
Remain humble for whatever may receive
The devotee always thinks of himself as instrumental for anything successfully carried out, and he declines to take credit for anything done by himself.
Devotees of the Lord are engaged in the specific duty offered by the Lord, and such duties are successfully carried out without hindrance because they are ordained by the Lord. The credit of success goes not to the doer but to the Lord. But persons with a poor fund of knowledge take the credit of success into their own accounts and give nothing to the credit of the Lord. That is the symptom of the nondevotee class of men.
Although he’s doing all these things he knows that “I am not doing. Krishna is doing. I am simply instrumental. I am simply instrument.” That is the perfection.
(Lecture, New York, 27th August, 1966)
The devotees and associates of the Lord are completely surrendered souls. Thus they are transcendental instruments in the hands of the Lord and can be used in any way the Lord desires. The pure devotees also enjoy such pastimes of the Lord because they want to see Him happy. Devotees of the Lord never assert independent individuality; on the contrary, they utilize their individuality in pursuit of the desires of the Lord, and this cooperation of the devotees with the Lord makes a perfect scene of the Lord’s pastimes.
Once one of the disciple asked Srila Prabhupada: “Prabhupada, are you in my heart ?”
Prabhupada replied “If you let me in!”
So this is a big question. Are we prepared to do that?
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada