By Vaisnavananda dasa (ACBSP, 1972)
How can we begin to eulogize the glories of Nirguna prabhu? He was very sincere, simple, and a dedicated servant of Srila Prabhupada. I first met Nirguna in the late Spring of 1975 at the Atlanta temple, New Sri Panihati Dhama. I remember the first day he showed up at the temple. He mentioned that he was a pre-med student at Tulane University at New Orleans, but that he dropped out and now wished to join the temple and pursue Krsna consciousness full time.
The funny thing is, if I may share this anecdote in my New York jargon (and not offend anyone) is that Nirguna prabhu, at that time Bhakta Wade Waguespack, brought two humongous trunks when he moved in the temple and I exclaimed: “Damn, man, you brought the whole material world with you brother!” I then helped him carry the trunks to the temple basement, but shortly thereafter, Nirguna renounced all his remaining worldly possessions in those trunks and became a stalwart soldier in Srila Prabhupada’s Sankirtan Army!
Nirguna soon joined my sankirtan party and we lived and traveled in a Ford van about three to four years off and on. We traveled all through Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, particularly the Smokey Mountains, where he distributed a large amount of books and achieved frequent recognition in ISKCON’s monthly Sankirtan Newsletter.
We stumbled across Wilkesboro, a small town in North Carolina, where the town’s economy subsisted predominantly on the slaughter of chickens and car rallies. Still, the people were pious and everybody, I mean everybody gave a donation! Needless to say, we went there frequently and Nirguna prabhu again excelled in book distribution. He soon became a Sankirtan leader, and led the charge with his own Sankirtan party, namely, Kokika das and Hamsagati prabhu.
Yes, Nirguna prabhu was a leader. And what a dedicated and zealous disciple he “is”. He became the Temple President at Murari Sevak, the satellite farm of the Atlanta temple. This was a difficult and challenging job that nobody wanted to take on, considering the series of existing problems other devotees had encountered trying to get the temple building completed.
Every one who met Nirguna prabhu and associated with him could easily discern his tenacious and resolute determination to engage in Sankirtan, nay, any temple service. I recall vividly after a blissful and successful day on book-distribution when I picked him up from the shopping center, he addressed me by name and said: “Vaisnavananda, I want to preach and distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books for the rest of my life!”. And when Nirguna prabhu said this, I observed his face glowing, his eyes bright with love as he made this promise to Srila Prabhupada! Nirguna fulfilled this promise!
Most importantly, Nirguna prabhu, set an exemplary role model for all of us to emulate and he demonstrated how to become a sincere and dedicated servant of the spiritual master, even in the mist of persecution, trial or tribulation. He was once leading a Harinam party during the Christmas tree inauguration in downtown Atlanta when several gang thugs assaulted him and inflicted serious bodily harm upon him. This experience did not diminish his dedication to serve and he went out on Harinam, the very next day! He was truly resilient and undaunted in his service to Srila Prabhupada.
Nirguna prabhu never met Srila Prabhupada physically, but his love and faith in Srila Prabhupada is greater than many of us who did. Nirguna’s life illustrated Srila Prabhupada’s potency to impart divya jnan via his vani, and to those who did not have the fortune in this lifetime to audience his vapu: “He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die when thou art living still in sound! The Vaisnavas die to live, and living try to spread the holy name around!”.
Let us remember His Grace, Sriman Nirguna das prabhu, and become inspired by his example to dedicate our lives to the service of the Lord and the Spiritual Master to our very last breath. And hopefully we may face impending death with courage and full faith just as he has shown us. Nirguna prabhu, ki jai!
Vaisnavananda dasa (ACBSP, 1972)