By Kadamba Kanana Swami
The development of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness is very interesting. Srila Prabhupada at an old age was very mature and brought everything – the perfection of spiritual life, the maturity of age and his vision and experience. All his followers were in their twenties with an exceptional one in his thirties. By the time Prabhupada left there were a number in their thirties, but basically there was a fifty year gap. We are looking at a fifty year gap, a generation that was missing. Where were the fifty-year olds to take over? So the succession was rocking a bit –there were some waves and a few fell overboard. That is unfortunate, but one cannot really fall overboard because the mercy of Prabhupada is still with them – service is never in vain, but the society rocked.
Now we are looking at all these different generations. We have kids, we have youth, we have people in the middle phase of life. In every phase of life we are missing the boat, but when engaged in devotional service, we receive the mercy of the parampara, of the pure devotees and the Supreme Lord, and we have transcendental knowledge. Then in old age we can flourish and finally do what we are supposed to do all along – what we read about, heard about and what we got so many instructions about, namely to be Krsna conscious. To actually be absorbed in remembering Krsna – as simple as that! Hearing, chanting and remembering – just that!
If there was a class of men and women that are always remembering Krsna and from that platform contributing to society, then the society is complete. So it seems to me that that is still lacking – that generation of elders. Although we have elders and we have good ones, we need more grandmothers, we need more elders. We need more wisdom in our society to cool down the passions of youth which in some cases can last a long time.
So the contribution that the elders can make to the community of Vaisnavas is greatly needed, greatly wanted and it has to be real. And that is actually the most wonderful thing. Therefore vanaprastha is a beautiful thing, because at the age of fifty you can start to think about and take some steps to minimize things. But it may only fully set in at age sixty. Then it matures in your seventies. At that time we can give very concentrated Krsna consciousness realized from experience, fully absorbed and everything else is gone. All the temporary things are falling away and Krsna just stays. Krsna becomes more prominent day by day and this is the glory of old age. If that spills into our Vaisnava community then we have a mature society and I think we are getting there. We are growing into that, but I would like to see more of that mature Krsna consciousness in the International Society for Krsna Consciousness.