The Most Appropriate Plan
August 24, 2019
By Indradyumna Swami
Vyasa Puja Offering
“The Most Appropriate Plan”
Dearest Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to you!
This year marks the 123rd anniversary of your appearance in this world. Somehow, by the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord, I am connected to you through initiation as one of your spiritual sons. This can never be disputed in the chronicles of time because on December 10, 1971, you wrote the following to my temple president:
“I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated November 22, 1971, along with beads and letters from several devotees at Detroit temple. I am very glad to accept these students as my duly initiated disciples and their names shall be as follows:
Brian Tibbitts / Indradyumna Das
Ilene Tibbitts / Krpamayi Dasi
Heidi Paeva / Hrisakti Dasi
“These are all very nice boys and girls and I have very much appreciated their attitudes of devotion and surrender as displayed in their letters to me. I have replied them under separate cover. Their beads, duly chanted [upon] by me, are sent under separate post.
“I hope this meets you in good health and cheerful mood,
“Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”.
Srila Prabhupada, I consider December 10, 1971, the day you wrote to accept me as your disciple, to be my actual birthday, for it was on that day that I began my spiritual life in earnest. In a lecture in Vrindavan, you quoted a verse that corroborates this perspective:
janame janame sabe pita mata paya
krsna guru nahi mile baja hari ei
“Under ordinary circumstances one’s own father and mother are worshipable, but in every species one gets a father and mother. Far rarer is to get guru and Krsna. The spiritual master can bestow prema-bhakti to those who have attained his mercy; therefore he is the topmost father, mother and friend of everyone.”[Srila Prabhupada lecture, September 9, 1975, Vrindavan. Verse quoted from Prema Vivarta, by Jagadananda Pandit]
Coincidentally, in that initiation letter you expressed your desire for Krsna conscious festivals to be held far and wide, a statement that planted a seed in my heart:
“I am pleased by your festival plan for the colleges all over the state. Actually, this roving sankirtan and college program is the most appropriate plan for spreading Krishna Consciousness and preaching. I have just received intimation from Rupanuga of a very large festival he is planning for Central Park. His conjecture is very nice and I want that many such festivals should be held in every city.”
You then gave a hint as to how to organize such festivals:
“I have one suggestion. Make a tent in that backyard garden to accommodate many guests and provide profuse prasadam to all.”
As the years went by, I often meditated on those instructions and worked on developing and expanding the idea of holding large outdoor festivals to “accommodate many guests” and “provide profuse prasadam to all.”
Srila Prabhupada, you will be very pleased to know that this year we distributed over 160,000 plates of delicious prasadam from our Food for Peace tent at the Polish Woodstock festival. That was as “profuse” as we could manage at this moment in history! I want to continue expanding on your desire to hold such festivals in as many cities as possible and I am confident I can do it, for inherent in the spiritual master’s instruction is the secret to success. You once said:
“I took that order of my spiritual master very seriously. But I did not think that I’ll have to do such and such thing. I was at that time a householder. But this is the arrangement of Krsna. If we strictly try to serve the spiritual master’s order, then Krsna will give us all facilities. That is the secret.”[Purport on the CD entitled “Prayers to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati”]
I am very happy doing this service for you, Srila Prabhupada, along with a dedicated team of disciples, friends and well-wishers. I cannot think of anything else I’d rather do. To be frank, I feel I am already back home in the spiritual world by doing this service. I was elated to read a comment recently by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana which confirmed my sentiment: he writes that the pastimes of Lord Caitanya are especially appreciable in the material world because of the dark backdrop of material existence which doesn’t exist in the spiritual world. He gives the example that when a diamond sits on a black cloth, its brilliance is more pronounced.
My dear lord and master! Though I know our goal is to go back home, back to Godhead, I am hesitant to ask for your blessings to go there when I have not adequately fulfilled your desire in this world for a “roving sankirtan party and festivals to be held in every city.” You clearly describe such outreach programs as “the most appropriate plan for spreading Krishna Consciousness and preaching.” Of course, all the programs you introduced are “most appropriate” for the people of this age. I feel so fortunate that on the day of my spiritual birth you gave a hint as to which one I could take up. I stand ready and willing to execute your plans for many births to come.
This sentiment is one I have imbibed from you, Srila Prabhupada, for you are the foremost of all preachers in this world. Just this morning I came across a purport in the Fourth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam in which I felt you were speaking directly to me:
“After being initiated and receiving the orders of the spiritual master, the disciple should unhesitatingly think about the instructions or orders of the spiritual master and should not allow himself to be disturbed by anything else. This is also the verdict of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur, who, while explaining a verse of Bhagavad-gita, points out that the order of the spiritual master is the life substance of the disciple. The disciple should not consider whether he is going back home, back to Godhead; his first business should be to execute the order of his spiritual master. Thus a disciple should always meditate on the order of the spiritual master, and that is perfectional meditation. Not only should he meditate upon that order, but he should find out the means by which he can perfectly worship and execute it.”[Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.24.15 purport]
Surely it will take many lifetimes to implement “such festivals in every city,” especially now in the age of Kali. But whatever challenges there are, whatever austerities are involved and whatever inconveniences I might suffer, these are a small price to pay for the precious and incomparable gifts you have bestowed upon me in this lifetime. Each morning upon waking and each night before resting, I slowly repeat the following verse which serves to remind me of all you have bestowed upon me:
nama-srestham manum api saci-putram atra svarupam
rupam tasya grajam uru-purim mathurim gosthavatim
radha-kundam giri-varam aho radhika-madhavasam
prapto yasya prathita-krpaya sri-gurum tam nato’ smi
“I bow down to the beautiful lotus feet of my spiritual master, by whose causeless mercy I have obtained the supreme holy name, the divine mantra, the service of the son of Sacimata, the association of Srila Svarupa Damodara, Rupa Goswami and his older brother Sanatana Goswami, the supreme abode of Mathura, the blissful abode of Vrindavan, the divine Radha Kunda and Govardhan Hill and the desire within my heart for the loving service of Sri Radhika and Madhava in Vrindavan.”[Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, Sri Mukta Carita]
Srila Prabhupada, my prayer is that the very same verse will be on my lips when I close my eyes for the last time in this life, and that it will manifest again within my heart of hearts when I open my eyes for the first time in my next life—wherever that may be in our good Lord’s creation.
My dear spiritual master! Please never leave me! May I always remain by your side, birth after birth, as your traverse the fourteen worlds, flooding them with the ecstasy of Krsna consciousness. Like your own spiritual master, you are an ocean of compassion. In glorification of him you once said:
“Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura came into this world to execute the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So he executed it and when it was required, he left this place and went to another place to do the same business.”[Lecture on the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, February 8, 1977]
Srila Prabhupada, I am prepared to join you wherever you go in service to your spiritual master! But should you return to Goloka while I remain here, I am confident that you will not forget me. My connection to you is through the service you wrote about in my initiation letter: to hold large events in the “central parks” of as many cities as there are on the face of the earth. When that great task is done—and done well—I will look up to the sky and say, “Your order has been fulfilled, my dear master. Pray tell me, what is your next command?” Perhaps at that time, you will appear, and taking me by the hand, lead me on to Sri Vrindavan Dhama in the spiritual sky. You wrote in a letter to a godbrother of mine:
“My dear Brahmananda, regarding your request for your deliverance from the clutches of Maya, please rest assured of being delivered. So far as I am concerned in relationship with my disciples who are so kindly cooperating with me in the matter of my rendering service to my spiritual master, for them I am always ready to come back from Goloka Vrindavan if they are not delivered along with me. So don’t be worried about the clutches of Maya. Be fixed up in your determination and go on serving the Supreme Lord, Krishna, with determination as you are already doing.”[Srila Prabhupada letter to Brahmananda, November 15, 1969]
The older I get, Srila Prabhupada, the more I feel your personal presence in my life. When I was younger, it was merely a point of philosophy that the departed spiritual preceptor continues guiding the disciple. Now in my old age, as I accept more and more responsibilities on your behalf, that philosophical point has matured into the blissful realization that you are guiding me at every step. You confirmed this many years ago. One of my godbrothers wrote to you:
“My dear Srila Prabhupada, please accept my humble obeisances at your divine lotus feet. We fervently pray that Your Divine Grace continues to remain in this world because we need your personal guidance. Even when Lord Krsna disappeared, Arjuna lost all strength temporarily.”
“I shall remain your personal guide, physically present or not physically, as I am getting personal guidance from my Guru Maharaja.”[ Letter to a disciple, Vrindavan, July 14, 1977]
O savior of the fallen souls, let me put aside these noble sentiments for now so that the tears of joy they bring forth from my eyes do not disturb my service to you. A letter has just arrived on my desk with an invitation to do a festival in Ukraine. This is “a conjecture,” as you put it in my initiation letter, that will certainly prove “very nice.” I pray to always maintain the same “attitude of devotion and surrender as displayed” in my original letter to you, so that I may develop all the good qualities necessary to fulfill your every order.
samadi satka prada vaibhavabhyam
subhakta dana vrata diksitabhyam
ramadhavanghri sthira bhaktidabhyam
namo namah sri guru padukabhyam
“I offer obeisances to the two shoes of my guru, which are initiated in the vow of giving beautiful devotional realizations to the disciple, which bestow fixed devotion unto the feet of the husband of Laksmidevi and which bestow all good qualities unto the disciple.”[Guru-paduka stotram, verse 7]
In the dust of your lotus feet,