Diary of a Traveling Monk – Volume 11, Chapter 8 – September 3, 2010
By Indradyumna Swami
Dearest Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. All glories to you!
On this auspicious day 114 years ago, you appeared in this world to bestow causeless mercy on the fallen souls of this age. At the time of your appearance your glories were unmanifest like a lotus flower that remains closed in the darkness of night. But by the time you left this world your glorious deeds heralded an age of enlightenment and were applauded, just as everyone appreciates the beauty of the lotus which opens at the light of dawn.
I feel greatly fortunate to have been part of your pastimes both then and now. In the beginning I had the chance to hear from you personally, to join your morning walks and to render you personal service. Such is your merciful nature that once when I gave you a mere $10 bill, you responded by writing me a letter encouraging me to chant the holy names, remain strict in my vows, and follow in the footsteps of advanced devotees.
In the short note that accompanied my donation I mentioned how I would feel intense separation from you as you continued your travels around the world. In response you wrote: “I am also feeling separation from my Guru Maharaja, but I feel that he is always watching over and protecting me.” How prophetic those words were and how much they’ve come to mean to me after your inevitable departure from this world.
In the naivety of my spiritual youth I somehow assumed you would always be physically present amongst us. Your visits to the temples in which I served in those days were momentous occasions and I thought they would go on forever. In June of 1974 the temple president in Geneva promised that the winner of the upcoming book marathon would have the privilege to lead kirtan at the airport upon your arrival the following month. Eager for such mercy I distributed books twelve hours a day throughout the competition and won by a large margin. I can still see your face as you acknowledged the enthusiasm of the kirtan party and our love for you upon your arrival at the airport. We continued the kirtan in our van all the way back to the temple, arriving just before you. Jumping out of the vehicle we greeted you again with a kirtan that seemed to shake the heavens. As you passed by, you paused for a moment and smiled at me. At that very moment my life became perfect.
Knowing your heart – how you intensely desire the deliverance of fallen conditioned souls – I have continued with the spirit of that kirtan to the present day. For twenty one years we have held a festival tour along the Baltic Sea coast in Poland that attracts literally hundreds of thousands people each summer. Well-organized, professional and attractive it has truly made Hare Krishna a household word in Poland. We have introduced a smaller but no-less-potent form of the festival in three other continents around the world. And this year we will take the program in full force to Brazil! You often spoke of your desire for a World Samkirtan Party. I pray this festival program has indeed fulfilled that dream.
Srila Prabhupada, your International Society for Krsna Consciousness is first and foremost a missionary movement. It is our duty as your followers to keep the flame of that mission burning for the next 10,000 years. As your disciples we cannot ask anything more of you until we successfully execute the instructions you have given us to spread Krsna Consciousness all over the world. By fulfilling your desires in this world, we qualify ourselves to serve your desires in the absolute world.
“O all-merciful spiritual master, representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, when will my mind be completely surrendered unto your lotus feet? At that time, only by your mercy, I shall be able to get relief from all obstacles to spiritual life and I shall attain spiritual bliss.”[Srila Sridhar Swami, quoted in Krsna Book].
Srila Prabhupada, I know the path of pure devotional service is not easy and that there are many challenges along the way. But I want you to know that I am fully satisfied in my service to you and I feel more enthusiasm as each day passes. I love fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Caitanya that Krsna’s holy names will be heard in as many towns and villages as there are on this planet. Is it wrong then to say that I sometimes feel more Krsna conscious standing on the asphalt streets of Kali Yuga loudly chanting the holy names, than I do singing and dancing on the marble floors in our temples? Have those streets not become hallowed ground due to the constant presence of Sri Nama Prabhu? And isn’t it ironic that the waves of pedestrians and rush hour traffic with its toxic fumes and blaring horns seem like nectar to my senses, for all of these remind me of the many blissful years I spent spreading your message in such surroundings.
Some may consider me mad. In my youth I would hanker for the calm and peaceful atmosphere of a charming countryside. Now I favor brothels, bars and discos in cities teeming with the darkness of ignorance. Why? Because these are the places where people are suffering the most and, as a result, they are the places where people are ready to hear the timeless wisdom of Vedic knowledge. How is it possible that such fallen souls addicted to sinful activities can even begin to understand the higher values of life? It is possible by the causeless mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who takes special pleasure in redeeming fallen souls through the sublime process of chanting, dancing and feasting on food offered to the Lord. To observe such daily miracles while preaching is to experience the highest pleasure that life can afford. No one should be amazed by this fact, for it was predicted in the words of our acrayas centuries ago:
“Everywhere saintly men and women are laughing, the stone-like hearts of the materialists are melting, and the uneducated are defeating a host of learned atheists. All this is happening now that the most wonderful and glorious Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has descended upon the earth.”[ Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati, Sri Caitanya-candramrta, Text 120].
Dearest Srila Prabhupada after diving into the nectarine ocean of Sri Krsna Samkirtan for as many births as you desire, I pray one day to surface in the eternal realm of Sri Vrindavan Dhama where you now sport in a land of love and bliss far beyond this world of birth and death. It is a lofty goal and surely fraught with the many dangers of this mortal world. Nevertheless, I have firm faith that by following the words that flowed from your pen into my heart to always chant the holy names, remain strict in my vows, and follow in the footsteps of advanced devotees I will be assured of success.
Srila Prabhupada in all honesty I do not feel myself to be a very competent servant of yours. I am not an advanced devotee like Sivarama Swami; I am not a devout scholar like Kesava Bharati Goswami. I can’t lead kirtan like B. B. Govinda Swami, nor can I give a class like Niranjana Swami. Nevertheless, I can assure you there is no risk too great for me to accept in my desire to please you, no challenge so daunting that I will refuse your order and no danger so ominous that I will ever abandon my duties to you.
On this auspicious day my thoughts are deeply immersed in your divine personality, your noble deeds and your sublime message. I am missing you Srila Prabhupada just as I was many years ago when I handed you a token of my budding appreciation, only now the feelings of separation are stronger. Such is the result of service to a saintly person who is indeed always watching over and protecting me.
My dear spiritual master, savoir of my soul, my promise to you on this auspicious day is that I will continue to do my best in helping you reclaim the fallen souls of this age. In so doing I beg just one favor of Your Divine Grace: please be so kind as to pause for a moment and smile at me again, just as you did on that very special day in Geneva many years ago. Surely such a benediction will allow me to continue my blissful service to you now and forever more.
Your grateful servant, Indradyumna Swami
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