What is Srila Prabhupad like?
By Pusta Krishna das
Some have said that just as Krishna is the reservoir of all rasa, and each individual has an eternal relationship with Krishna, so too the followers of Srila Prabhupad may find that they have a similar and unique relationship with Srila Prabhupad. Tomorrow is the
104th. Appearance Day of His Divine Grace and I want to take the opportunity to present some ‘food for thought’ about Srila Prabhupad so that you can understand the merciful side of his nature.
Some of the names I will present in this article might irritate some of you, but my intention is to let you know what Srila Prabhupad was in fact like. For example, we might think of Srila Prabhupad as a great scholar who translated and made commentaries about so many vitally important vaishnava texts. That is a fact. You might think that he was a courageous vanguard who was extraordinarily dedicated to the order of his gurudeva, and ultimately followed through with his request to present Krishna consciousness in the English speaking nations.
That is a fact. You might consider that he was a spiritual genius who was empowered by the Lord Himself to fulfill the prediction of Lord Chaitanya that the Holy Name would be glorified in every town and village of the world. That is a fact. So, what I want to present herein is something of his personal side, his concern for his disciples, his mercy. Once at the Mayapur meeting in about 1975 or 1976, the GBC was distressed that Hansadutta had gotten into trouble with the German authorities. Hansadutta was a charismatic individual who sang beautiful kirtans and was able to help build up the German yatra. He also had a great capacity to bend the rules… of the world, in ways that were not acceptable. Srila Prabhupad remarked once that Hansadutta is like an elephant… can do alot of work but passes alot of stool.
Make no mistake, I am aware of the aberrant behavior of Hansadutta since I was in the Bay Area of Northern California when he was in Berkeley. Anyway, when Srila Prabhupad heard the complaints of the GBC (of which I was a part then), Srila Prabhupad said: “Why are you complaining about him? Why don’t you go there and help him?” Very instructive. Srila Prabhupad was a paramahansa. He saw the service, and realized that all else was nothing but karma. He did not give energy for karma realizing that service to Krishna would make one rightly situated for spiritual life.
Another example, when Shyamasundar das was carving the first Jagannath Dieties in San Francisco in 1967, Malati dd told me that he was still smoking cigarettes. Srila Prabhupad saw a pack of cigarettes on top of the half-carved Diety. He remarked, “not to worry, he will give that up soon.” When one of our sannyasi godbrothers left the sanyas ashram, he did not call him a “vantasi” or anything mean spirited. He only wanted the man to come to him, so that Srila Prabhupad could keep him affectionately engaged in service. This is his mentality and spirit of mercy. One of the reasons I wanted to write this now is to express the merciful nature of Srila Prabhupad. If you act in any manner that does not reflect the merciful nature, then you run the risk (certainty in my opinion) of displeasing Srila Prabhupad, present in vapu form or not. We have seen the internet give a stage for many aspiriing vaishnavas to express their mind.
Much criticism is out there in cyber-space. As if, they want to determine that the intentions of the vaishnavas who are serving are of mal-intent. You cannot turn this way or that way without being criticized. Remember, that the world is under Krishna’s control. The battle’s outcome is already known to Krishna. All that He has asked is that we participate in the battle against illusion, and engage in His service. What more can one ask for? If one finds fault with those who have given their lives to teach Krishna consciousness, then it is considered an “elephant offense”, ie one is considered to be trampling upon their delicate bhakti creeper. Are there defects within us? Definitely. Even Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu accepted that if He has any love for Krishna (playing the part of a bhakta), then how could He remain here in this world of forgetfulness of Krishna? Why has Krishna consciousness become such a field for fault-finding?
We expect too much perfection of imperfect souls! It is Krishna who is perfect. I shall tell you again what Srila Prabhupad told me in this connection. It is instructive. When I sat with him alone in Bombay in March 1971, I told His Divine Grace, “You are the only person I trust in this world”. Srila Prabhupad looked up at me with all humility and spoke: “Do not trust me, I may let you down. Trust Krishna, He will never let you down.” At that point, I realized I was in the presence of a great and honest spiritual teacher. Krishna says to “surrender unto Me only”, and Srila Prabhupad said to “depend upon Krishna, He will never let you down.” That is the transparent medium to Krishna! I wanted to share some of these experiences with you on his Vyasa Puja Day, so that you can understand something of his genuine mercy. He has full faith in bhakti, the process of devotional service. He did not dissect us apart to find our faults. We are honey-combed with faults.
That is his merciful nature on a personal level. I am certain that there are so many numerous experiences that others have. My hope is that the fault-finding will stop, for the sake of the individuals perpetuating it, and for the sake of the future of Krishna consciousness. Krishna will see to it that we each get what we deserve (ye yatha mam prapadyante…). We need only be concerned to practice Krishna consciousness with sincerity as possible. Do not wait for your karma to ‘go away’. It will not. You must grab hold of the opportunity for spiritual awakening while it is before you…. NOW.
I hope that my godbrothers and sisters will not take this opportunity to find fault with some of the individuals I mentioned above. They may have made many mistakes, but it was the service that touched Srila Prabhupad’s heart. After all, it is not so amazing that one acts upon their karma (that is the law of nature)… but what is truly amazing is that by the grace of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga, we have engaged in some devotional service in this lifetime. That is the grace extraordinaire of Srila Prabhupad…. and, never forget that.
Pusta Krishna das