By Padmapani das
Dear Ajitananda Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Today my heart was broken because I heard the sad news of your departure from this world. For me and all those who know and love you, this is the worst of all sufferings. But for you, my dear friend, I know that it’s a great blessing in disguise because you’re going directly to Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet to serve him with all your heart and soul.
Although you and I never met personally, we forged an unbreakable bond of godbrotherly love due to our shared appreciation of Srila Prabhupada’s causeless and unlimited mercy. Twenty years ago, you were living in Los Angeles and I sent you a big box of Vaisnava Journals to distribute to the devotees there. You so kindly and humbly took them door-to-door and handed them out personally to so many devotees. I never forgot your sincere service, and just recently after many years, I heard from you again and you reminded me:
“It is a pleasure to be in touch with you after all these years. The 200 magazines you asked me to distribute in L. A. were distributed — every last one of them — to devotees living there.”
Thank you, Prabhu, for being so helpful and kindhearted. From our correspondence and your deeply devotional and eloquent writings about Srila Prabhupada, I could immediately understand that you’re a Vaikuntha man with a heart of gold. You always practiced what you preached and exemplified those things of which you wrote so touchingly:
“Practically everyone in this material world is envious of one another. Prabhupada once said in a lecture that I heard that the difference between the devotees in the material world and the devotees in the spiritual world is that the devotees in the material world are envious of one another and the devotees in the spiritual world are non-envious and appreciate the devotional service of all the devotees of Lord Krishna.”
When I wrote to you and told you how much I value your service to Srila Prabhupada, you immediately replied:
“I consider your appreciation of my small attempt to glorify him to be a reciprocation from Lord Krishna. Thank you for all your kind words. Thank you even more for helping me to glorify Srila Prabhupada! I am spiritually and materially bankrupt, and my only hope is that Prabhupada will have mercy on me.
“Finding kind words in this material creation which, according to Srila Prabhupada, is filled, in every nook and corner, with envious living beings, is a miracle. Perhaps I am blessed in some way that I am not consciously aware of.
“I remember the nice times we had associating with one another in Prabhupada’s service. It would be nice if we could cooperate eternally to glorify our eternal, beloved well wishing savior!”
How can I even imagine reciprocating with such a high level of Krishna consciousness and devotional mood filled with pure unmotivated love? It’s me who is bankrupt, Prabhu, and not you. In fact, I consider you not only to be one of the all-time greats in our movement, but also one of our most gifted writers. Many years ago, you sent me a beautiful offering to Srila Prabhupada, entitled, “In Praise of Srila Prabhupada.” I carried it with me all that time, and when I had the chance, your offering was the first to be published here:
Later, when you sent me your video offering to Srila Prabhupada, aptly entitled, “Srila Prabhupada’s Beautiful Transcendental Qualities,” I was overwhelmed to hear your voice reading this most superexcellent offering to His Divine Grace:
I hope that everyone can have the opportunity to read and hear your offering of love to our beloved Prabhupada, for surely it will melt all hearts and inspire us all to appreciate not only Srila Prabhupada, of course, but also one another. You always knew that love of Prabhupada and all the devotees is the secret ingredient to the success of our movement.
I recall the famous exchange between Srila Prabhupada and Dr. J. F. Stall, professor of philsosophy and South Asian languages at the University of California at Berkeley in 1970. After exchanging numerous letters, Srila Prabhupada finally concluded:
“Regarding our correspondence, actually this quotation and counterquotation cannot solve the problem. In a court both the learned lawyers quote from law books, but that is not the solution to the case. The determination of the case is the judgment of the presiding judge. So argument cannot bring us to a conclusion. The scriptural quotations are sometimes contradictory, and every philosopher has a different opinion, because without putting forward a different thesis, no one can become a famous philosopher. It is therefore difficult to arrive at the right conclusion. The conclusion is, as above mentioned, to accept the judgment of authority. We follow the authority of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is nondifferent from Krsna, and His version according to Vedic scripture is that in this age this chanting is the only solution for all problems of life. And that is actually being shown by practical experience.” (Srila Prabhupada, Science of Self-Realization)
As always, following in Srila Prabhupada’s lotus footprints, you concluded your last letter to me in a similar fashion:
“Let the Pandits argue until they become jaded. But let’s continue to work together to try our best to enlighten the world about the glories of Srila Prabhupada.”
I’m with you, Prabhu. Please take with me with you back to Srila Prabhupada’s divine lotus feet. Let me serve you there, as you so nicely serve Prabhupada like the true loving disciple that you always are. Otherwise, it’s me who has no hope. Thank you for everything, Ajitananda Prabhu. All glories to your service. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
With much gratitude.
Your servant, Padmapani das