Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to you.
As always, this day is bittersweet for me. Knowing that you went back home, back to the spiritual world, is the only consolation for the pain of losing you. Surely our grievous loss was an immense gain for the many residents of the spiritual world. One can only imagine the joyful festivities they held upon your long-awaited return! It is only natural for devotees to appreciate the selfless service of great souls like yourself! Kaviraj Goswami writes in Caitanya Caritamrita:
“When the personal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would hear of the activities of Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis, they would say, ‘What is wonderful for a person who has been granted the Lord’s mercy?'”
[Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 19.132]
Most certainly now in the early morning hours you are wandering about the cowherd pastures and fields, running and frolicking in the many forests of Vraja. And surely you are rolling on the ground in spiritual ecstasy! All this is what you aspired for when you wrote your famous “Prayer To The Lotus Feet of Krishna” on the Jaladuta on September 13, 1965. No doubt it was because of your success in fulfilling the desire of your spiritual master that Krsna consciousness be preached in the West that the Lord answered your prayer and took you Home.
Srila Prabhupada, you gave the world a most unique gift: you taught both the art of living and the art of dying. Neither is easy in this temporary world of misery. Yet somehow you made it all possible. Life is joyful if one follows your simple instructions, and death becomes a simple change of scenery, new-found friends and a variety of fresh services that ultimately take one back to the spiritual sky. Most important, living a Krsna conscious life guarantees that we may be with you, Srila Prabhupada, in that spiritual abode.
Almost 70 years ago I took birth in this world, as sinful as any man who appeared before me. And by my evil ways I was well on the road to an endless cycle of birth and death. That was, of course, until the day you appeared in my life through the mercy of your disciples. Visnujana Maharaja knew the right formula. When I met him that day on a grassy knoll at the University of Michigan, my first question was, “Maharaja, who is Krsna?” He smiled and replied, “Sit down young man. But before I answer your question, first let me tell you of my spiritual master!”
Srila Prabhupada, I am only one of the multitudes of fallen souls whom you saved. You are so kind. More than likely one will need only to mention your name when approaching the gates to Vaikuntha in order to gain admission.
“What is your qualification for entering here?” Jaya or Vijaya may say.
It will be enough to reply, “The causeless mercy of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.”
Certainly those guardians will smile and say, “Ok. You’re in!”
Of course, we all know that if we are to have the boldness to mention your name, we must have achieved your favor by serving your heart’s desire within this world. We don’t know who you are in the spiritual world, but it is certain that by serving your desires in this world, we will merit the privilege of one day serving you in the spiritual world.
The irony of it all, Srila Prabhupada, is that as I get older and my body becomes weaker and full of disease, the stronger are my desires to help you spread your movement to every town and village of the world. It can be frustrating at times. I can only conclude that is it such desires that will help me cross over the ocean of birth and death to the safety of your lotus feet on the other side. Samkirtan is surely the best means to achieve that goal:
“If you wish to cross the ocean of material existence, if you desire to relish the nectar of samkirtan, and if you yearn to swim in the ocean of divine love, then take shelter at the feet of Sri Caitanya-candra.”
( Srila Prabhodananda Saraswati, Sri Chaitanya-candramrita, verse 93 )
Srila Prabhupada, in your preaching you said two things that always remind me of the temporary nature of this world: “Don’t be surprised when things go wrong, be surprised when things go right” and “Anything can happen at anytime.” Both these statements are true. But the mystery is that devotional service under your direction seems to contradict these laws of material nature. So many times while preaching Krsna consciousness I have witnessed the divine intervention of the Lord. The very fact that a person buys one of your books, comes to a temple to inquire about the absolute truth, or gives permission to hold a Krsna conscious festival in a large public grounds shows how the Lord is present here in this world and can change all misfortune . I live for such moments, Srila Prabhupada. The mayor of New Albany, a wealthy town in the US, said to me after watching our show last September, “Your show is better than any Broadway show in New York!” I felt deep satisfaction in my heart hearing this, and even more when he smiled as I added: “What’s most important is its deep spiritual message.”
Srila Prabhupada, my relationship with you is one of service. And that service is very clear, for you instructed me:
“Preach boldly and have faith in the holy names.”
Those words are etched into my heart of hearts and are my very life and soul. I live only to serve those commands. Should I take birth again, I wish to hear those instructions from you once more, for they will surely guide me home to your lotus feet in the eternal spiritual realm.
On that spiritual path I pray for your protection, not for myself, but so that I may continue your work here without obstruction. Please protect me from any and all material desires in my heart; protect me from those who oppose your teachings; protect me from the calamities that befall the fallen souls in this worldly existence; and protect me from ever considering that what I achieve is done on my own merit. May I always remember that your mercy is all that I am made of!
I miss you Srila Prabhupada. I knew you personally only in the infancy of my spiritual life. I hanker for the day when I can stand before you purified and mature in devotional service and you can instruct me in the means to serve you in the spiritual world, that abode where you live in great bliss serving your beloved Lord.
I often recollect what Tamal Krsna Goswami wrote in his book Servant of the Servant:
“I remember Prabhupada’s promise to me in Bombay: ‘If anyone sacrifices sense gratification by giving his life for spreading Krsna consciousness, at the time of his death Lord Caitanya will personally come and cover any of his inadequacies and take him back to Godhead.’”
Srila Prabhupada, I pray you will see whatever sacrifices I have made in spreading this wonderful movement all over the world. If you so desire I am ready to do it all over again!
mama janmani janmanisvare / bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
“All I want, life after life, is unmotivated devotional service to you.”
[ Siksastakam, verse 3 ]
Your servant always,