My dear spiritual father, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda, nama om visnu-pädäya krsna-presthäya bhü-tale srimate bhaktivedänta-sväminn iti nämine namas te särasvate deve gaura-väni-pracärine nirvisesa-sünyavädi-päscätya-desa-tärine
Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to you, Srila Prabhupäda! This very insignificant disciple of yours is taking this opportunity to offer you homage. During your manifested liläs, I offered myself to you, saying “I am yours,” and you said, “I accept you.” I was very much pleased to be your servant. Many disciples find it difficult to get some personal association with their guru or some direct instructions from him, but you were very kind to me and gave me many personal instructions. I do not remember all of them, but I remember some.
In 1968, in San Francisco, I was fortunate to be engaged by your representative His Grace Jayänanda Prabhu in building the ratha cart, and on the Ratha-yäträ day he shaved me up. At that time he told me I should go to see you in Montreal. You were very kind to me when I traveled there and took shelter at your lotus feet. You engaged me as an assistant to your secretary. I had some meager duties-such as to stand near your room on call when the secretary went shopping. If you needed any help I would go in and help you. At that time the devotees complained that I was chanting too loudly in the temple. You heard my reasons and said I should chant in the park. You approved my loud chanting but said I should not disturb others, so I was sent to the park to chant.
You also gave me the service of picking a rose for you every day. You said I would increase your longevity. In this way, from the very beginning you showered me with instructions. At that time I was made the temple president in Montreal. I thought I was very young for such a position, but you told me not to be body conscious and take up the service. For your pleasure I took up the service, and you said, “Please open more branches. An astrologer told me I will open 108 branches.” You also instructed that I should train someone to take up the services I was doing and go out to open a new branch. So I trained someone and made them the president in Montreal, and then I went to Toronto to open a new center.
I was the president in Montreal, but I handed over the charge of the temple to Jagadisa Prabhu. Then you called me to LA and told me you were going to send me to India to help Acyutänanda Prabhu.
At that time you instructed that I should treat your godbrothers with respect. You also said that in the future ISKCON would have many, many congregational devotees. While waiting for your order to actually depart for India, I went to Chicago to help Bhagavän Prabhu open a temple there. Then I received a call that I should go to India. I went to Canada, then London, and then India. At first I stayed in the Gaudiya Mayha, and at that time I met some of your godbrothers. You wrote to me that now that I had come to Calcutta, we should have our own place. We got a place in south Calcutta, and soon thereafter we received you at the airport. You said that you had already given nine devotees sannyäsa, and Acyutänanda and I were also on the list for sannyäsa. So on Rädhästami, 1970, Acyutänanda and I were given sannyäsa.
Then I was made the first temple president in Calcutta. In Calcutta you gave me many instructions. You said we should put on a Ratha-yäträ, always in a very big way. In fact, you said, it should be the biggest in the world.
Also, you instructed that your birthplace should be developed and maintained, and that we should never give up preaching in your birthplace city, Calcutta, because it was very special to you. You also told me I had previously been a devotee born in India. I said, “I am very fallen. I don’t deserve this,” but you raised your voice and said, “Don’t doubt the words of the guru,” and I understood that I had to accept what you are saying. I had been chanting thirty-two rounds a day, but you told me that I should just chant sixteen rounds and preach. Then you sent me to Mäyäpur.
I was the first president in Mäyäpur. I was living in a grass hut and you came and blessed me with your association. You said that living like this was sattvic, but that no one would come and live with us. So we have to use steel, cement, and bricks to develop Mäyäpur. This is rajasic, you said, but in this way people will come and stay here. You would come to Mäyäpur twice a year, once in the cold months and once at Gaura-pürnimä time. Over the years you gave me many instructions. You told me, “I have given you the spiritual world. Now you develop it!” You also said to do sankirtana and to distribute 10,000 big books and 100,000 small books a month. You told me to publish books and head up a BBT in eastern India. You also said we should build a city for 25,000 to 50,000 people. You gave some Vedic and town-planning designs, which will help with the building of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. You told us to study the Fifth Canto and understand the universe according to the Vedic version. You also said that we should build tall buildings and that there is no difference between building the buildings and reading the books. You said I should chant my rounds, attend guru-püjä, and build. Sometimes you gave instructions that seemed very hard to carry out, like the instruction to build a long building, which is now known as the Chakra Building, in six weeks.
Then you said I needed to immediately start devotee care. In this way I remained under your direct guidance, and it was very blissful. Every day I thank that devotee who once told me I should go before you and humble myself, praise you, and ask for some blessings. So when you were with me, every day I would come before you and follow this formula. A few times you said things that were very humbling, which was your mercy on me. Once I said “I am a fool-” and you immediately interjected “Yes!” I said, “I am the most fallen” and you replied, “You are not the most anything.” Another time I said, “I want to serve you life after life,” and you interjected, “But don’t make me come back!” In this way, every day you gave me some unexpected response, and I learned that the relationship with the spiritual master is very personal; it is not mechanical.
You also gave me so many little instructions, which I won’t recount here.
I’m just recounting some of the main ones. Later you made me Co-director of Mäyäpur with Bhavänanda Prabhu. You said that as Co-director I should not be in charge of anything but should oversee everyone and see that they do their services. You also said that all the land in Mäyäpur should be utilized and that the place should be kept very clean. One day you held me by the arm and told me, “You can be a little lenient in first initiations but you should be very strict when recommending devotees for second initiation.” Later I found that this instruction was for all of us now as well. Once I said, “We have so many devotees in India; they should be somehow engaged in the sankirtana movement.” You said we should expand the congregation and bring them to our temples. And that is how we do things to this day. We train them for a few days and then send them back to practice in their own homes. In this regard you instructed that we should follow the model of Hare Krsna Nämahatta as given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thäkura. This has proved very useful. When you said, “Develop Mäyäpur,” I replied, “Well, that means there will be many grhasthas.” You said, “Yes, the brahmacäris will be managed by grhasthas. We have to think big; we have to think broad and wide.” On one occasion you described how I should care for your many disciples and engage them in Krsna’s service.
One day you called all the sannyäsis and GBCs together and said that you were sending Ghanasyäma Däsa, who later became Bhakti Tirtha Mahäräja, on a very special mission, and you asked all of us to bless him. We said, “Well, when he has your blessings, what will our blessings do?” You said, “You are all devotees, and Krsna will also see you blessing him. So you should bless him, because this is a very difficult mission.” So we blessed our dear godbrother for his special mission. You also said we should build a little road to the Ganges so you could take a daily bath there. This would increase your longevity, you said. We failed to get the road built at that time, since then the Ganges was a long way from our property. But recently the Ganges has come very close, and now we have the road. Every year we take you for a bath in your mürti form. You also said that if you were to leave your body in Mäyäpur we should build your samädhi there and your puspa-samädhi in Vrndävana, and that if you were to leave your body in Vrndävana we should build your samädhi there and your puspa-samädhi in Mäyäpur. So we have built your puspa-samädhi in Mäyäpur and your samädhi in Vrndävana. You also said we should have regular boat service between Calcutta and Mäyäpur, with a stop in Pänihäti, where we should provide a breakfast of cidä and dadhi, and that we should also have a temple in Pänihäti. You also said we should develop the Navadvipa parikramä and Gaura-mandala-bhümi and unite the Särasvata family. For the latter purpose you established the Bhakti Vedanta Swami Charity Trust, of which you asked me to be the lifetime chairman. Sometimes you sent me on a special mission to recover disciples from other mahäräjas or to develop some foreign place even though the person there was not always favorable. It was something very special to work under you directly. Sometimes you gave me personal services.
For instance, in Bombay you asked me to scratch your back because you were feeling itchy. In Mäyäpur there was once a snake trying to bite you in your bathroom. You called for me and said “Help me!” I had to somehow figure out how to save you from the snake. There were many services like this. You said Mäyäpur should be ISKCON’s World Spiritual Headquarters, the United Nations of the spiritual world. You wanted us to unite all the different nationalities there and host everybody. You showed personally how to host VIPs, how to host guests in general, and how to distribute prasädam. You started the Food for Life program after seeing the hungry kids peeping into the garbage bins to get the remnants of prasädam. Seeing this, you started crying. You were so very kind and merciful to all devotees and the people at large, which was very much appreciated. Sometimes you told us that you were about to leave this world and that you were very concerned about how the movement would go on after you had departed. You said, “At least try to maintain whatever I have given you.” At that time you had 108 temples. You said, “If you can expand, well and good. Very nice. But at least maintain it.” You knew that the missions of many other great spiritual leaders had split up. The Gaudiya Matha has many different splinter groups; there are about forty different Gaudiya mathas. You also told us that it was your guru’s order to establish the GBC and that you wanted to carry out your guru’s order. You also instructed us to print and distribute books, to do Navadvipa parikramä, and to expand the Nämahattas-all orders of Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thäkura.
You told us that we should have a GBC and should remain united. You also instructed all your followers that we would show how much we loved you by how well we cooperated after you were gone. You told us that we should all work under the GBC. You said, “Any one of you can fall, but I have faith that the whole GBC-the majority-will be ok.” And somehow the GBC has seen us through all the difficulties over the decades, and we are still mostly united, with over five hundred branches. You appointed me a GBC and said I should serve the GBC. In the beginning I was assigned the duty of overseeing Bengal and Orissa. Gradually the GBC and you also instructed me to preach in Bangladesh and Nepal and to try to develop centers there. You emphasized that in Mäyäpur you wanted to build a spiritual city. In Haridaspur and other such villages, you instructed us, we should make the existing village Krsna conscious. In this way you had different plans for different places.
On some occasions you instructed your sannyäsis to travel around the world and preach. You said, “I have accepted this curse from the parents of my devotees, so you should also accept this curse and travel.” So by your mercy I have been able to travel to many parts of the world and preach. You once told me to develop the Orissa preaching by supporting Gour Govinda Mahäräja in Bhuvanesvara and building a temple in Jagannätha Puri. I tried my best in this regard.Your Divine Grace gave me so many instructions that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Of course, there are also many, many instructions that you gave to all your disciples, such as the instruction to chant sixteen rounds and follow the four regulative principles. All these instructions I take on my head. Sometimes I think, “How will I do all these things? How will I follow all these instructions?” In fact, some of your instructions are open-ended-they can never be followed completely. For instance, you said, “I want you to expand Krsna consciousness propaganda unlimitedly.” So, that is an unlimited order.
Also, once you said, “Well, I have to make 10,000 disciples-and you should make 50,000 disciples.” In this way we were always encouraged by you. You said that Mäyäpur was the place where all your senior disciples could find some service, where they could use their intelligence and energy to serve Krsna. So, now we are tryi ng to engage more and more devotees. Ambarisa Prabhu has taken a very big lead; other devotees are also taking part. At this point I am not very well and am not able to do as much as you would like me to do. So I am appealing to my godbrothers and godsisters and my spiritual children, spiritual nephews, spiritual nieces, and spiritual grandchildren that they all work together and somehow help me follow all the instructions you gave me. Your Divine Grace, my life is meant for your service. It has no other purpose. Sometimes people ask me why I still preach, why I don’t retire. The GBC has asked me to try to regain my health, so I am undergoing some therapy, as much as I can. You did so much for us, gave so much, took so many risks-going across the ocean on the Jaladuta, being robbed, falling sick, traveling constantly at great personal comfort.
When I first joined, my father said, “If you become a devotee, I will make sure that you serve in the American army and die in Vietnam.” When I asked you what I should do, you said, “Better you join Krsna’s army.” So you gave me the name Jayapatäka, meaning “victory flag of Lord Krsna.” You often said that name very affectionately. You told me that I should take up the service of staying in India and should become an Indian citizen. I did all this to please you, and by your mercy I am getting a little taste for chanting and for serving. I hope that I can always serve you and Lord Caitanya and Sri Sri Rädhä-Mädhava and that I never have any other service! All glories to Your Divine Grace!
Your humble servant,