A Letter To Srila Prabhupada
By Yadavendra Das
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances at Your most holy lotus feet.
At this point, I am not going to press the “All glories to You” button or “All glories to Srila Prabhupada”, as it is mostly expressed in inter-devotee communications, because I just think it inappropriate. It is inappropriate for several reasons. The most evident reason is that You did not write like this in Your own letters, even though our param Guru also held this most prestigious Prabhupada title. You advised us to do as You did. So in a sense, we may say that this interjection is really a deviation from Your path. A second reason is that it reminds me too much of a historical and martial group that used to invoke in a parallel way the name of their leader as a means of salutation. Cf. Bhagavad-Gita As Is It 17.4, purport. This group was not exactly situated in the mode of goodness, what to speak of suddha-sattva!
The devotional path can be fraught with serious difficulties. As confirmed in Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, chapter 6, the unconquered mind can be a strong, crazy and unpredictable friend or enemy. I may say however, that I have always been very much attached to Your service, even when I had to take a break. Now after some forty or so years, I find to my great satisfaction that difficulties and obstacles are gradually vanishing. It is only fair that after due endeavors, serious surrender to the process as You have given it -also called bhagavat-dharma- and so many years of dedicated, practical service and contribution, one is offered a chance to enjoy the fruit of sadhana bhakti, i. e. love of Godhead.
If that were not the case, then we would have to ask the question: “Where is the problem?” or to use your own terminology “Where is the difficulty?” The process has been proven eminently successful in the past. Consequently the problem can not lie with the process itself. Cf Bhagavad -Gita As It Is 4.15. ” All liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding of My transcendental nature. Therefore you should perform your duty, following in their footsteps.” and Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 2.51 “By thus engaging in devotional service to the Lord, great sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world. In this way they become free from the cycle of birth and death and attain the state beyond all miseries.”
We may therefore conclude that the answer must be that the problem lies with the application of the process or in other words, the problem ultimately lies with me. I may at this point request the benevolent and well wishing readers to please bestow their good wishes upon me and pray to Krishna that I may not only be able to hold my existential position of devotional service but to solidify it as well for the purpose of contributing to your international preaching mission. Let me not take anything for granted. And I may do the same for them also.
Your personal letters have always played a vital role in my spiritual sustenance and inspiration, whereas there is a tendency in some quarters to devalue and relativize the importance and utility of your astounding 6341 personal letters.
The affection and love contained in Your letters has always nourished me, especially when outwardly things seemed bleak and insurmountable. Your concern for Your disciples, other followers and the rest of humanity, “nay, the entire energy of living beings” (Srimad Bhagavatam, Preface) is genuine, based on transcendental knowledge and reason. It is not artificial, sentimental, simulated or mundane. Neither do You make undue compromises. You are our true father because You teach us not only the spiritual know-how, but also the material know-how. I may mention here that Your excellent and efficient advice of how to deal with attacking dogs for example, once saved me from the painful bites of a pack of three ferocious dogs, while on book distribution Sankirtan in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Similarly, the constant utterance of the sound vibration: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” will also save us from the attacks of maya. I believe this is the true function of a father, which some of us may have never had otherwise. We can only remember Your altered wording of Sri Guru Vandana: “Janme Janme pita sei.”
You would always take the trouble to answer all letters and face challenges with knowledge, courage, openness, pragmatism and humility. You would never, in such situations, put up a wall of impersonal silence and / or impersonal no-reply. His Holiness Tamal Krishna Maharaja confirms this your policy in SL_770805_A2: “Srila Prabhupada makes it a habit to always reply all of the letters properly which He receives. This is only proper and businesslike.” In fact in some instances, You even indirectly apologize to Your correspondent for the late reply by openly giving the reason for the delay.
My inspiration and determination to distribute Your books against all odds has its source in Your letters and my Book Distribution Motivational Magazine (BDMM) here attached, is mostly composed of quotes from Your letters. My dear readers, without meaning to sound presumptuous, please let me now give You a practical and personal example of how to instantly apply in our devotional lives the content of the letters. On page six of former editions of my BDMM one could find the following Srila Prabhupada-letter quote”
“Distribution of my books is the highest kind of preaching and thus the best engagement.”
Now it just so happened that I re-read the same letter recently and I discovered that I overlooked a very important, life-directing statement by Srila Prabhupada. It is the sentence just prior to that passage which reads:
“So there is no question of taking other engagement”
I take this sentence as a direct advice and order from Srila Prabhupada to me personally. Therefore, as far as possible, I do not wish to renounce my Sankirtan book distribution service at any stage of my future devotional career.
It is only by regularly reading some of Your 6341 letters that I have come to realize the absolute necessity of chanting at least 16 rounds daily. Chanting a least sixteen rounds daily of good Hare Krishna maha-mantras is the tip of the spear with which to pierce the covering of the three modes of material nature. “But just a second, please,” one may interject” what are the modes of material nature and why should they be three in number only, in such a complicated and hard to understand material nature? Your philosophy just sounds so simplistic!” “Well, are there not three different colors only in the creation of the Lord, i. e. red, blue and yellow? Besides black, even my newly acquired printer has only got three colored ink cartridges, magenta, cyan and yellow. Similarly, why should all manifestations and actions not be colored by these tama-guna, raja-guna and sattva-guna and combinations of them to various degrees?”
You repeat the absolute necessity of 16 rounds again and again and again. Therefore it must be of paramount importance. My dear readers, out of many such passages, please find 5 examples chosen from the letters for your expert consideration:
“Make sure to keep yourself and the boys with you in full Krsna Consciousness by following our regulative principles very strictly without fail; chanting 16 rounds, rising early, attending mangala arati, attending classes, eating only Krsna prasadam, etc. In this way the whole atmosphere will become Vaikuntha, no anxiety. Please try to do like this with all sincerity and Krsna will give you all facilities. Please keep me informed of the progress there.”741229let. Vijayadhvaja
“Wherever you are, you should always be sure to chant at least 16 good rounds daily and to read my books very carefully, as well as following all the rules and regulations strictly.” 750106let. ChandravaliDD
“Always continue chanting 16 rounds and reading my books, observing all the rules and regulations and you will be strong in Krishna’s service.”750106let. Chitsukhananda
“Wherever you go always be sure to chant at least 16 good rounds and rise early, attend mangala-arati, study my books and serve Krishna without stop.” 750106let. Sucharu
“Main thing is to make sure everyone is chanting minimum sixteen rounds daily of Hare Krishna Mantra. Otherwise they will not be able to perform the other practices of brahminical life, such as early rising, cleanliness, etc.”720722let. jagadisha
Totally in the realm of Krishna consciousness, we may sometimes think” Why don’t I just skip these repetitive and monotonous chanting of rounds and use the extra 2 hours to study or do some other valuable service for Guru and Krishna? After all, it’s all one transcendental devotional service, is it not?” You have defeated this fallacious philosophy in your Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya lila 4.125 purport, where you state that even a paramahamsa has to chant his rounds. Then what to speak of us? “Although Madhavendra Puri was not interested in eating and sleeping, his interest in chanting the maha-mantra was as acute as if he were an aspiring transcendentalist rather than a paramahamsa. This means that even in the paramahamsa stage, one cannot give up chanting. Haridasa Thakura and the Gosvamis were all engaged in chanting a fixed number of rounds; therefore chanting on beads is very important for everyone, even though one may become a paramahamsa.”
In Your letters You give basic and vital definitions for spiritual life, which will find their constitutional position in a “Prabhupada Glossary”. For example in 720811let. SureshChandra You give a nice definition of disciple:
“A disciple means one who is ALWAYS following the orders of the spiritual master.” The emphasis is mine. “Always” means every second and minute of the day and night, i. e. 24 / 365. The disciple belongs to the spiritual master and I am most satisfied to belong to You.
Currently there are only the 1987, hard copy in 5 volumes, full version (or almost full version) available and the e-version on Vedabase 2003.1. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the producers of Vedabase deserve our warmest congratulations and gratitude for this most outstanding and most useful tool and presentation of Your Vani. Of course, there may be some privacy issues because some recipients of Your letters are not always shown in the best possible light. But it is now 35 years since You dictated Your last letters and the privacy consideration cannot outweigh the fact that Your letters, as they are, may now be disseminated more and more widely due to their extremely high spiritually valuable content. Before this can happen however, and due to your scribe’s literary imperfections only, there are some many hundreds, and hopefully not thousands, spelling mistakes, grammatical issues and other no-sense matters that need to be addressed and can sometimes cause confusion in the mind of the reader. Some few ones have already been corrected. But the majority still remains. You always insisted on these points for any written material. You have never accepted Pidgin English as an acceptable mode of communication.
To me Your letters are an invaluable and unlimited source of information about devotional service and transcendental wisdom. In some cases it is like the practical application of the knowledge with all technicalities as in mundane universities there is the theoretical course and the laboratory work also. They give us the technology of devotional service. Your letters really are transcendental material of highest quality, well beyond the time factor. They are shabda-brahma or spiritual sound. And for that reason reading your letters is being in direct contact with You. It is just like receiving an email from a living correspondent. We know that the living person IS present at the other end. When we read Bhagavad-Gita with full attention, we are similarly present on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. This is the power of spiritual sound vibration, whether we accept it or not. What better association is there than studying your Vani?
It seems to me that the key to advancement in spiritual life, both individually and collectively, lies in the quality of our relationship with You, Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of Iskcon, on the quality of our Prabhupada sambhanda.
And among all letters there are some that are more outstanding and more of a gold mine of transcendental information than others.
Lately I have come across the most astounding statement of all Your letter-statements: that it will be easy for Your true followers to become the leaders of the world. When we joined Your movement we were not at all aware of all the implications of such a decision.
What? Be the leaders of the world? That is no small achievement at all! Yes, it is possible. It is possible by Your and Krishna’s grace.
Here is the passage:
“Our movement is being accepted. They are saying that Swamiji is doing nice things. So it is up to you Europeans and Americans to push it all over the world, and one day you will be the leaders of the world. It is not difficult. You just have to work sincerely and intelligently. Krishna will do everything.” 741126let. Saurabha
Here You so kindly and confidently (“niscayat” as in Nectar of Instruction, text 3) assure us that for those who can muster two prerequisites only, i. e. real sincerity and full use of intelligence, Krishna’s full support is available and His divine support will make things very easy. This passage has to be taken literally indeed! It is not a well-sounding advertising mantra or a “folie de grandeur” declamation. The most amazing thing however, is that every single follower of Your Divine Grace can actually afford these two ingredients: sincerity and full use of intelligence. Intelligence is not a fixed quantity because it comes directly from Krishna according to our surrender to Him. It can be optimized. Iskcon is an intelligence bestowing organization, as you have stated it yourself. Cf Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 10.10 “To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” and Bhagavad-Dita As It Is 15.15. “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness…”
O, I forget one thing though: One must also agree to the proposal. One must have the desire to fully engage himself in Your and Krishna’s divine service. If one’s own desire is missing to any degree then there is a non-Aryan weakness as mentioned by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-Gita As It Is 2.2 (anaarya jushtam) and there will be a time delay. Otherwise You assure us clearly that there is no difficulty in becoming the leaders of the world.
Srila Prabhupada, You are the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the Institutor of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and I beg to thank You very much eternally for Your ubiquitous, contagious and unlimited can-do attitude found especially in your 6341 personal letters. All glories to Your divine influence for the next 9 950 years!
Your obscure servant, Yadavendra Das October 19, 2011 On travelling Sankirtan book distribution duties, Canberra, Australia. Attachment: Book Distribution Motivational magazine, edition 2011.10
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