nama om visnu padaya krsna presthaya bhutale
srimate bhaktivedanta swamin ite namine
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna on this earth, having taken shelter of His lotus feet."
namaste sarasvati deve gauravani precarine
nirvisesa sunnyavadi pascatya desatarine
"Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadev and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism."
Srila Prabhupada blessed this planet with his presence on Sept. 1, 1896 in Calcutta when the sun was traveling through the heart of the astrological sign of Leo.
Leo's symbol is the lion who's qualities are nobleness, kingliness, patience, perseverence, and bravery. Srila Prabhupada exhibited all of these qualities. Prabhupada showed extreme patience and steadfastness, with only one goal to achieve, the mission given to him by his guru maharaj. He persevered the severe obstacles of heart attacks while crossing the ocean on the Jaladuta, but his compassion for the suffering of humanity, and his guru's blessings gave him the courage to reach the American shore. He had only 40 rupees, a few books and his invincible bravery and strong will to carry out his guru's desire to bring the message of Lord Chaitanyadev to these Western countries.
Sri Krishna Himself spoke of His pure devotee Srila Prabhupada in ths way:
ya idam paramam guhyam mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati
bhaktim mayi param krtva mam evaisyaty asamsayah
"For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come to Me."
na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavati na ca me tasmad anyah priyataro bhuvi
"There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear." BG 18.69
yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pranamam kurute lokas tad anuvartate
"Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world persues." Krishna -- BG 3.21
And Prabhupada is also much more than just a great man, he is a saktyavesa avatar and pure unalloyed servant of God, Sri Krishna. He is more than just a saint or sadhu, he is jagat guru Srila Prabhupada, the one at who's feet all gurus and saints are sitting.
When Srila Prabhupada departed from his physically manifest body Nov. 14, 1977, everyone who ever heard of him or knew him felt a great sorrow and vacancy in this world. Actually a great fear overcame his followers everywhere. It was a selfish fear, as in that of a child who felt they would be helpless and in danger without one's mother or father. Indeed Srila Prabhupada was this planet's true guardian, the real compassionate refuge and spiritual strength for all of earth's creatures.
But due to the modes of passion and ignorance, so many did not recognize him. Those who were fortunate to recognize him could not keep themselves from loving him and wanting to selflessly follow his teachings.
The day his lotus feet stepped down upon this planet, everyone became immediately spiritually benefitted whether they knew it or not. And that is the sakti of the pure devotee of Radharani. That is the inconceivable acintya sakti of Lord Krishna's beloved emmisary, Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada always arranged wonderful celebrations on his guru maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's disappearance day. Some of Srila Prabhupada's most devotional and intimate speeches occurred on those days and reveal Prabhupada's perfect and undying love for his spiritual master. And through Bhaktivedanta Swami's followers today we see the inspiring devotion continuing in this same way to glorify their guru maharaj.
Srila Prabhupada came to save everyone through his vani (words), and when his physical body no longer functioned, his vani continued to change the hearts and minds of countless souls in this Kali Yuga. In this way, Srila Prabhupada never left us, he never died.
Quoting -- Bhaktivinode Thakur
"He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die, when thou art living still in sound. The Vaisnavas die to live, and living try to spread the holy name around."
Concerning vani, in Jan. 13, 1969 L.A. Lectures, Srila Prabhupada said: "...vapu means the physical body, and vani means the vibration. So we are not concerned about the physical body. Not concerned means... We are concerned, of course, because the spiritual master, those who are acaryas, their body is not considered as material. Arcye sila-dhir gurusu nara-matir. Just like the statue of Krishna, to consider that "This is a stone..." Similarly, arcye sila-dhir gurusu na... gurusu means those who are acaryas, to accept their body as ordinary man's body, this is denied in the sastras. So although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the spiritual master, vibration. What we have heard from the spiritual master, that is living."
Although we understand this theoretically, it is impossible to not feel the loss and the sadness when the pure devotee apparently leaves his body and leaves us here without his transcendental bodily presence. But he will continue to live through sound vibration and as long as his followers keep his books and memory alive, he will remain alive for everyone. Thousands of years from now and beyond, Srila Prabhupada's vani will still be the words and the laws of salvation for all mankind. Those who take advantage of it will be the most fortunate.
I lived in Vrindavan from January to October of 1977. A few months before Prabhupada passed away, I woke up on the guesthouse rooftop before the sun arose, when a huge comet or shooting star with a very long blue tail shot across the sky from the North. It took about 15 seconds to cross the sky and finally disappear in the South. I had never seen such a vivid and gigantic shooting star as this and had never seen one that big afterwards. I went to a well-known palm reader not far from Krsna Balaram Mandir, and his son translated the Bengali he spoke for me. I asked him what such a big comet or shooting star could mean when it appears to pass directly over you. He shook his head and said "This is very inauspicious. A great saint, king, or leader will soon leave this earth making it more unfortunate for this planet. This great person will pass away somewhere near to where the comet was most visible." And it was definitely very visible that morning.
Srila Prabhupada was getting weaker and weaker day by day. He said I should go to Mayapur, they need my artwork there. I left on the train from Mathura, arrived in Mayapur then became very ill. My visa expired and so I had to return to New York. We had our 24 hour chanting shifts going in the Radha Govinda Manhattan temple, praying for Srila Prabhupada's health. Then we received the news that he had passed on. It was Nov. 14, 1977. Many devotees were crying and some not wanting to believe it, and some struggling with their emotions. It was a very frustrating sorrowful time as our temple and also temples around the world were filled with tears and a sense of great loss. If there were such a thing as the Void, we were experiencing it. But this kind of void was the feeling that we were lost and without our divine guidance, our pure connection to God, and that he loved us and gave his very life for our salvation before we had a chance to truly show him our gratitude.
I remember the day was sunny outside, but our hearts were cloudy and raining inside. Many devotees changed that day. They became more serious, more desperate for spiritual answers and guidance, more resolute to know what Srila Prabhupada wanted of them. Some kind of strange phenomena was taking place in the hearts of many if not in all of Prabhupada's followers. It may have taken days, weeks, or months, but a new strength was growing in his disciples' hearts and minds, as though Prabhupada didn't really leave us after all. We began to remember his words: "The spiritual master lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him."
It reminded me of the pastime of Lord Krishna's departure, when Arjuna lost all his powers and abilities out of sorrow and separation, but regained them back when remembering his beloved friend, and spiritual master Sri Krishna's song on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the words of Bhagavad Gita. It was now up to us, his followers, to take that spark and build it into a beautiful fire of devotion to jagat guru, or to let it die out or get smoldered by offenses and concoctions of our own design and forget his perfect instructions.
Today Srila Prabhupada's blessings are experienced even by people who never met Prabhupada personally. Therefore people need not think they are missing out on his mercy. They should know also that Prabhupada's vani is the transcendental vibration that is meant for them personally, and when they hear it on CD's or tapes, or read his words from his books, that he is directly talking to them. Jagat Guru came to save everyone, past, present or future, not just a few thousand souls that happened to be here and get initiated while he was here in his physical body.
In Oct 20th, 1972 in Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada said: "But in this life, if we develop Krsna consciousness by association of devotees... As Narottama dasa Thakura has sung, tandera carana-sevi-bhakta-sane vasa. One's aim of life should be to serve the acaryas. Acarya upasanam. So our acarya in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, the sri-rupa sanatana bhatta-raghunatha, sri-jiva gopala-bhatta dasa-raghunatha, the Six Gosvamis, and if we associate with them... this book, Nectar of Devotion, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, if you read regularly, try to understand, this means you are associating with Srila Rupa Gosvami directly. And if you act accordingly, then you are serving their lotus feet."
Similarly as long as Prabhupada's vani is around, he is there personally to guide all humanity back home, back to Godhead. Otherwise, why would he write books? Why record his speaking? Why make videos? Why make CD's? Because future generations would then also get the blessings of the pure devotee, the saktyavesa avatar of God Himself, Srila Prabhupada.
As Prabhupada has instructed, the secret of getting his direct divine mercy lies in the realization of his vani and transcendental purports and putting it into action. Prabhupada said that we should read all of his books and understand them, they are not only for distributing to others. Not only is Prabhupada there personally, but the entire disciplic succession going all the way to Sri Krishna are all there in Prabhupada's vani.
Every word in Prabhupada's teachings are just as valid today and tomorrow as they were in his physical presence. This is the amazing spiritual potency of the pure devotee. He knows everyone personally on the spiritual platform. He doesn't have to personally take an airplane to your home town in order to save you from illusion and bestow his blessings. And Prabhupada can speak through his pure representatives also. If the purity is there, if they are following his instructions purely, it will have the right effect. As Prabhupada said, "Purity is the Force."
But no one will ever be able to imitate Srila Prabhupada. No one can ever take his place as the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON and the one and original initiator of the pure chanting of the Hare Krishna mahamantra around the world! No one had ever before on such a grand scale delivered the mercy of Sri Chaitanya and Sri Krishna to the entire world through books, his harinam sankirtan movement, profuse prasadam distribution, deity worship and the establishment of hundreds of beautiful temples worldwide! He was the first in all these transcendental aspects.
We hear the phrase, "What can one person do?" The answer depends on the person and the opportunities available to that person. All Srila Prabhupada had was only one instruction from his guru maharaj and his devotion to fulfill it. Sri Krishna then supplied the opportunities to His pure devotee, and Prabhupada achieved what no one previously could ever do. He made "Hare Krishna" a household word. That's how I joined. I heard it in my mother's house.
The amazing thing about Bhakti-yoga as Prabhupada taught us, is you don't have to be a genius or a sanskrit scholar or have any material talent whatsoever to receive the highest blessings and highest stage of the human form of life, Krishna prema. What matters most is sticking to the task that Prabhupada gave us. He always taught that the key to efficiency and spiritual success is doing the best you can do with the talents Krishna gave you, always attempting to improve your sadhana, whether or not you are congratulated for your service. Krishna will reward. He said, "Don't try to be a great devotee, just try to be a good devotee."
Srila Prabhupada never desired a reward for his miraculous work; he never considered all the temples and properties to be his own possessions. Everything belonged to his guru maharaj and to Krishna, including his own self. He always educated us by his perfect example. He was the ideal of Vaishnava humility and pride-lessness. He said, "So sometimes people give me very much credit that I have done wonderful throughout the whole world. But I do not know that I am wonderful man. But I know one thing, that I am speaking what Krishna has spoken. That's all. I am not making any addition, alteration. Therefore I am presenting Bhagavad Gita as it is." -- July 15/75 San Francisco.
Anyone can repeat what Prabhupada said and share his teachings with others, then his mercy continues like the torch that lights a candle, then another candle and so on into eternity. Prabhupada continues to dispell the darkness around us with his torch light of pure bhakti. --
"cakhu-dan dilo jei, janme janme prabhu sei, divya jnan hrde prokasito"
Prabhupada, You open our darkened eyes and fill our hearts with transcendental knowledge.
And I'll conclude with this awesome quote by Srila Prabhupada.
In May 17, 1977 in Vrindavan conversations Prabhupada said: "So I cannot speak. I am feeling very weak. I was to go to other places like Chandigarh program, but I cancelled the program because the condition of my health is very deteriorating. So I preferred to come to Vrndavan. If death takes place, let it take here. So there is nothing to be said new. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present, it doesn't matter. As Krishna is living eternally, similarly, living being also lives eternally. But kirtir yasya sa jivati: 'One who does service to the Lord lives forever.' So you have been taught to serve Krishna, and with Krishna we'll live eternally. Our life is eternal. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. A temporary disappearance of this body, it doesn't matter. Body is meant for disappearance. Tatha dehantara-praptih. So live forever by serving Krsna. Thank you very much."
And thank you very much Srila Prabhupada for all your gifts of immeasurable spiritual value. Your mercy is an unfathomable ocean and we are so fortunate to obtain even a drop of that ocean. Thank you again and again.
sri-guru-carane more bhakti koro dan je carana-bale pai tattwera sandhan
"O Vaisnavas, please give me the gift of devotion to my spiritual master's feet. By the power of his feet, I will find the truth."
Srila Prabhupada ki Jai !!