By His Example
The Wit and Wisdom of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(In this series of excerpts from "By His Example," we plan to publish the Preface, Introduction, and Chapter 1 in full and then random samples thereafter. Please click on the link at the bottom of each page to order the entire book.)
My Eternal Guide,
Seeing you in person at the San Francisco Airport
on January 17, 1967 --
that day was the beginning of my new life,
the most auspicious of events,
when I encountered
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami --
the most important person in my life,
my greatest influence,
and careful critic.
graces my view
with pure, smiling benediction
from his expansive heart.
All Glories to the Assembled Devotees!
Radha and Krishna have guided this book, a glorification of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the kindest, wisest, most determined, noncompromising, open-minded personality I have ever come in contact with. This book is also for and in glorification of all the devotees who have embarked on the path of Krishna consciousness. My heart goes out to all devotees, you who have become tender-hearted by hearing ancient, transcendental sounds and by accepting Sri Sri Radha Krishna's benediction and effulgence.
We can be compassionate towards one another because we are on the same journey, we have the same goal -- to become Krishna conscious. Prabhupada has been our example, guide, inspiration, beacon, and forgiving father. He has left us instructions in his books. If Prabhupada can forgive us, we can also forgive each other's mistakes and meanderings. Lord Caitanya welcomes everyone and sees past any bodily designations. I respect any devotee who has tried in even the smallest way to serve Prabhupada, Krishna, or another devotee. He or she is special -- like the sparrow who drank drops of the ocean to rescue her lost eggs from the sea or like the chipmunk who was tossing pebbles into the sea to help Lord Ramachandra build his bridge to Lanka -- the effort itself is success.
I offer my well-wishes to anyone who gets up shivering before sunrise and, still shivering, takes a cold shower. I offer my well-wishes to those who chant at least 25,000 names of the Lord each day, who consider all others "prabhu," who are humble in their practices, who live simply and think of higher goals, and who overcome the tendency for judgemental thinking. I offer my well-wishes to those who renounce material comforts and are more inspired by the sound of karatals, by the sight of pink lotus feet -- to those who are struggling to overcome the unending, albeit temporary, attractions of material nature. I offer my well-wishes to those who are eager to hear the nectar of divine pastimes and to serve humanity as brothers and sisters, for again, we are all on the same journey. Let us walk together.
Srila Prabhupada has attracted a fine, diverse, international group of people, and the network between us still continues. There are so many personal connections, all due to Prabhupada. If he hadn't come here, we may never have met. He changed each and every life he touched. It is his wish for us to be friendly, to cooperate, and help each other in Krishna consciousness. Devotees are rare, and we must encourage one another rather than criticize and turn others away from the delicate devotional path. Prabhupada said someone who finds fault is like "a fly on sores," while someone who sees good, who sees the soul within, is like "a honeybee (madhukara) going from flower to flower, transforming everything it touches into pure sweetness." Allowing someone to grow, as Prabhupada did for me, is better than faultfinding, which creates resentment and rebellion. Since we are a small family, divisive behavior is counterproductive. There are so few Vaishnavas. We must unite, because we have the same goal: love of Krishna.
* * *
In 1968, I wanted to start a book glorifying the Swami. I intended to call the book Swamiji. We discussed it briefly. And then, on June 7, 1968, Prabhupada wrote: "Your book SWAMIJI may be interesting to admirers and disciples."
Because of my duties overseeing the opening of the London and Vrindavan temples, and other devotional service, the book was postponed but not forgotten. Later, Prabhupada again brought up the subject of the Swamiji book and said that it should be produced nicely and include photographs.
In another letter Prabhupada sanctioned the book:
From Allston, Mass
27 April, 1969
My Dear Gurudas,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 20, 1969, sent along with some pictures. All the pictures you sent are very important. You are doing very laudable service by collecting some old reminiscences, and I shall do the needful in due course; there is no immediate emergency. Your idea of writing a book named Swamiji was formerly informed to me. Unfortunately, because I am traveling in so many places from Los Angeles to Hawaii, then to San Francisco, then again Los Angeles, then New York, then Buffalo, and now I am in Boston. From here I shall go to Columbus, then to North Carolina, then to New Vrindavan, and then I may go to London if required. At that time I shall give you solid information for both the Krishna book and the Swamiji book."
This book is the result of these earlier efforts. It is not meant to be a biography but rather a transcendental medium that allows both those who knew him and those who never had a chance to meet Prabhupada to experience his humor and compassion, to come into closer contact with his vani and vapu. Prabhupada once said, "Krishna consciousness means happiness." I hope that you may derive some happiness, inspiration, encouragement, and transcendental ecstasy from this rendering.
As I began to put this book together, I became very puzzled by how much of my own voice to include. My first idea was just to glorify Prabhupada without including myself at all. Then I realized that this idea was tantamount to impersonalism, thus stifling the flow of the Vaishnava history I wanted to narrate. Therefore, I include myself, with humility, as these accounts of Prabhupada's glories are perceived through my eyes and convey my impressions of his activities and glories.
I have attempted to share with you the same feelings that I experienced in the presence of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
This small but natural offering is in eternal thanks to you, Srila Prabhupada.
(*Click here for more information about Gurudas & how to order a copy of "By His Example.")