Making Prabhupada Smile
Posted August 16, 2008
Hare Krishna, dear friends. It's been more than six years now since we've been online at The Prabhupada Connection website. A lot has happened since we started 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 -- and 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 Prabupada's causeless mercy and the kind wishes of the devotees and friends who have written letters, offerings, e-mails and guestbook entries throughout the years. Thank you so much to one and all.
For your information, we're still connecting with countless 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 that simply by the potency of this collective love of Krishna's dearmost 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" (like 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 doesn't really matter in the long run because we're united together whenever we're sincerely chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. So, in fact, there's a lot to look forward to as evidenced by the continual spreading of Krishna Consciousness all across the globe. And as another generation of devotees ages, the younger and enthusiatic ones keep coming one after another, with no end in sight. Prabhupada's longterm vision is manifesting before our eyes as Krishna Consciousness spreads further into homes, communities and countries everywhere.
Yet many times we still receive letters asking us how to connect with Srila Prabhupada now that he is apparently absent from our material vision. This should not be a mystery, since after all, Srila Prabhupada is a bona fide spiritual master, i.e. a master of spirit.
"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 understand or appreciate for those of us still conditioned by the material nature, but Srila Prabhupada confidently 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 Srila Prabhupada's first disciples never had any so-called personal or physical contact with him because his movement was spreading so far and so fast that such association was not always possible. So the devotees learned how to have Srila Prabhupada's company through service and love.
There are so many quotes where Srila Prabhupada confirms the validity of this spiritual relationship between guru and disciple beyond mere physical presence or proximity. And so many devotees consequently learned and practiced the art and science of spiritual association even while Srila Prabhupada was physically present on the planet traveling here and there. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the bright faces and fulfilled hearts of devotees eveywhere were (and are) the living testament to this great spiritual truth and secret. Prabhupada told us that he is nondifferent from his picture, and so the simple worship of a Prabhupada photo was -- and still is -- enough to satisfy the devotees' deepest spiritual needs. This is the 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 embodied spiritual form, there were many special opportunities then to reciprocate with him in very powerful and eternally satisfying ways. By his divine grace, even one so fallen as myself has been undeservedly blessed with a few such rare occurrences, which are simply unforgettable and out of this world. For example, one time 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, "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, Prabhupada turned around and smiled the most beautiful oceanic smile, illuminating the stairwell -- and our hearts -- with his pure spiritual effulgence. He then bowed his head and folded his hands in the traditional pranams gesture. To receive this simple and humble acknowledgment from Srila Prabhupada was the perfection of our lives.
In addition, there were other occasions as well, but perhaps too deep and personal to relate appropriately in writing, at least for the time being. (Hopefully sometime in the future.) But in spite of those wonderful memories during Prabhupada's manifest lila, there are other times since when the relationship with Prabhupada has been just as strong and clear, by his unlimited causeless mercy. In fact, I always recall a lecture where Prabhupada said (paraphrased) that we want to get a certificate from Krishna, saying that this person has done something for me. Ever since hearing those words, I've always wanted and prayed to get a certificate from Srila Prabhupada saying the same from him. I may have a long 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!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.