Making Prabhupada Smile
(Revised and updated, April 30, 2015)
Hare Krishna, dear friends.
It's been a few years since we've been posting regularly at The Prabhupada Connection. A lot has happened since we first launched this website back in March of 2002. But firstly a big thanks go out to all of you who have so kindly stuck with us through thick and thin because admittedly it's been rather thin around here during the past few years. Life has a way of unfolding all by itself and strictly on its own terms. The miracle is that we're still here by Srila Prabhupada's causeless mercy and by the kind wishes of the devotees and friends who have continued to write letters, offerings, e-mails and guestbook entries throughout the years. Thank you so much to one and all. Sincere apologies to all those with whom we lost contact for one reason or another. We haven't forgotten you or your friendship and we hope that we can soon revive our relationship with you once again.
For your information, we're still connecting with many sincere souls every day around the world who love and care about Srila Prabhupada and his great mission. There is so much faith out there in Srila Prabhupada nowadays that simply by the potency of this collective love for Krishna's pure devotee we're bearing witness to some very powerful changes in peoples' lives, families and communities in the most far-flung of places -- and yet we're still "all packed up together" (as Prabhupada said) in the chanting of the holy names of the Lord:
"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare"
Wherever we are on the material plane, it really doesn't matter in the long run because we're all united together whenever we're sincerely chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and serving Srila Prabhupada. So in fact there's much to look forward to these days as evidenced by the continuous spreading of Krishna consciousness and Prabhupada's mercy all across the planet. As one generation of devotees ages, the next one arrives full of inspiration and enthusiasm to carry on with Prabhupada's mission. Srila Prabhupada's longterm vision is manifesting before our eyes as Krishna consciousness spreads into homes, communities and countries throughout the world via the Internet, book distribution, harinama, etc. However to this day we still receive letters asking us how to personally connect with Srila Prabhupada now that he is apparently absent from our material vision. The answer to this question should not be a mystery to anyone because, after all, Srila Prabhupada is a bona fide "spiritual" master, i.e., a master of spirit or the spiritual realm.
"A pure devotee of the Lord does not live on any planet of the material sky, nor does he feel any contact with material elements. His so-called material body does not exist, being surcharged with the spiritual current of the Lord's identical interest, and thus he is permanently freed from all contaminations of the sum total of the mahat-tattva. He is always in the spiritual sky, which he attains by being transcendental to the sevenfold material covering by the effect of his devotional service. The conditioned souls are within the coverings, whereas the liberated soul is far beyond the cover."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.55, Purport)
So although of course this may be a little difficult to comprehend or appreciate for those of us still conditioned by the material nature, Srila Prabhupada assures us that we must be patient and faithful and that all spiritual truths will be revealed to us in due course of time.
"Please always try to remember me by my teachings and we shall always be together. Just like I have written in the first publications of Srimad-Bhagwatam, 'The Spiritual Master lives forever by His divine instruction, and the disciple lives with him.' Because I have always served my Guru Maharaj and followed His teachings, I am now even never separated from Him. Sometimes Maya may come and try to interfere but we must not falter, we must always follow the chalked out path layed down by the great acharyas, and in the end you will see."
(Srila Prabhupada letter, 25/11/73)
So many of Prabhupada's first generation of disciples never had any personal or physical contact with him because his movement was spreading so far and so fast that such association was not always possible. Therefore the devotees learned how to relish Srila Prabhupada's association by way of "service in separation." There are many quotes available where Prabhupada confirms the validity of this spiritual relationship between guru and disciple beyond mere physical presence or proximity. So many devotees worldwide learned and practiced the art and science of spiritual association even while Prabhupada was physically present on the planet traveling from one country to another. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the bright faces and fully satisfied hearts of devotees everywhere were (and are) the living testament to this great spiritual truth and secret. Srila Prabhupada told us that he is nondifferent from his picture and so the simple worship of Prabhupada's photograph was -- and still is -- enough to satisfy the devotees' deepest spiritual needs. This is the causeless mercy of the pure unalloyed devotee of Krishna.
"There is no difference between me and my picture. Therefore we should honor and keep pictures in that spirit. If we throw pictures this way and that way, that is offence. The name and picture are as good as the person in spiritual world. In the material world either picture or person, everything is illusion."
(Srila Prabhupada letter, September 4, 1972)
Of course, during those wonderful years when Prabhupada graced us with his personal presence, there were many special opportunities to reciprocate with him in powerful and moving ways. By his kindness, even one so fallen as myself was undeservedly blessed with a number of life-changing spiritual experiences back then which were simply out of this world. One time, for example, Srila Prabhupada had just finished giving Srimad-Bhagavatam class at the Toronto temple. As he made his way up the stairs to his room, a group of us were enthusiastically chanting his name in unison: "Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada..." The further Prabhupada climbed the stairs, the more intense and loud our chanting became. Finally at the top of the landing, Srila Prabhupada turned around and flashed the most beautiful oceanic smile, illuminating the stairwell -- and our hearts -- with his pure spiritual effulgence. He then bowed his head and folded his palms in the traditional pranams gesture. To receive this simple yet sublime acknowledgment directly from Srila Prabhupada was undoubtedly the perfection of our lives.
There were many such momentous occasions in his divine presence, but they were often deeply personal and probably better left unsaid at least for now (although I've shared a few of these in the "Memories" section on this website). But in spite of having such wonderful transcendental experiences during Prabhupada's manifest lila, there have been other times since when the relationship with Srila Prabhupada has been just as strong and clear by his unlimited and inconceivable mercy.
I'll always remember the morning walk where Prabhupada declared that "we want to get a certificate from Krishna that this person has done something for me." Ever since hearing those words, I've strongly desired and prayed to obtain a certificate from Srila Prabhupada stating the very same thing from him. I may have a long way to go before achieving such a lofty aim, but if you ask me what is the goal of my life, there you have it plain and simple. I want that certificate from Prabhupada -- somehow or other, and "by hook or by crook." To be more specific, I just want to make Prabhupada smile. If I can do that -- even once -- then my entire life is a success. Otherwise, it's just a big fat zero. This should be the goal of all devotees, nay, the goal of all souls. Then the whole world will smile -- at long last!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.