(A talk given on Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day, August 30th 1994, at Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama Temple, Vrndavana)
There is one verse in the Bhagavatam by Prahlada Maharaja wheren he addresses the Vaisnavas: “I see there are many saintly personalities here.” So as I look about, I see many godbrothers and godsisters and disciples that are the living examples of the precepts given to us by Srila Prabhupada. And certainly Srila Prabhupada’s accomplishments are so great that it is difficult to sufficiently glorify him; Anantadeva is continuously chanting the glories of Krsna with His unlimited mouths and goes on unlimitedly glorifying the Lord. In the same way, Srila Prabhupada’s glories are also unlimited. As disciples, we have a particular obligation – we are his representatives. When I was a young brahmacari in Los Angeles I was told by Hasyapriya Prabhu that we should properly dress and be very careful how we act, because people will see Srila Prabhupada reflected in what you say and what you do and how you look. You are his representative and you must present yourself nicely or they will think that he has not trained you properly. As disciples we have that duty and as disciples of disciples we also are representatives of our spiritual master and our spiritual master’s master.
One of the first things required in devotional service is surrender, Saranagati. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written in his Gitavali many songs, many nice prayers, giving different aspects of surrender. Surrender is one of the qualities of humility, which is the first quality of a Vaisnava. Actual humility means surrender to the order of the guru, to follow his instructions without any objection – to just do what he asks. And another quality of humility is not to encroach on the rights of others, to simply try to do our devotional service to the best of our ability and to please our spiritual master without disturbing others.
Srila Prabhupada gave us so much. He gave us everything that we need to perfect our life. He gave us so much service, and there in the verse, nama-srestham manum api saci-putram, of Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, in praise of his guru – he has given me everything. He has given me the Holy Name and Rupa and Sanatana. He has given me the association of so many Vaisnavas. He has given me the holy places and the Srimad Bhagavatam and the hope that some day I may perfect my life and become the servant of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in Their eternal lila.
One must have some aspiration, some goal in his life – some ideal – and hold that over his head and in all his activities, go towards that goal. And one way to see that is as the lotus feet of our Guru Maharaja. To see Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet as our goal. There is one very nice story of a brahmana who is serving his guru very faithfully. An airplane is sent to bring him to Vaikuntha. The plane is coming and this devotee says, “I’m sorry, I cannot go to Vaikuntha just now. I am too busy in the service of my guru. I cannot leave my service. I cannot go to Vaikuntha.” Such is the attitude of the surrendered Vaisnava, that he is so dedicated to the service of his guru. We must become like that for Srila Prabhupada. And I see that in many devotees. I see very nice, wonderful service is performed– for so many years. And many devotees are now becoming mature – that is, they are becoming very serious and understand the importance or pure chanting (suddha-nama), actual surrender, refinement of one’s devotional sentiments (ideals) and proper Vaisnava dealings. This has been one of the biggest problems amongst devotees in general and at large – proper Vaisnava dealings. So many offensive attitudes have been maintained amongst Vaisnavas, which are not tolerated by Krsna. The Vaisnavas are so glorified that Krsna says, na tatha me priyatama – “My devotee is more dear to Myself even than Myself.” The devotee is so dear. As we have heard also in Mahabharata –
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajana yena gatah sa panthah
Real religious principles are hidden in the heart of great devotees. And you can say that all the Vaisnavas are the personification of these principles, as taught by Srila Prabhupada. These principles are in their hearts. They have imbibed them by virtue of their surrender and service. They have become examples of this. We must continue to do this, to make this our life and soul – to dedicate everything to Srila Prabhupada and his mission and what he stood for; to make it our life’s ambition to fulfill his desires.
Actually there are three classifications of devotees. The third class devotee, he is not very competent to please his spiritual master. The second class devotee may be able to please his spiritual master, but the first class devotee is able to satisfy his guru without even the guru asking. He understands what is in the heart and what is the actual desire of his guru without being told. This requires a very mature devotional outlook. It requires one’s deep contemplation and sincerity to imbibe this. And certainly Srila Prabhupada exemplified this to the maximum degree. And what he has accomplished, there is no question that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was not pleased by that.
So we should try to understand like that. So many instructions are there from Srila Prabhupada and amongst those, the paramount instruction is to preach vigorously. To become a pure devotee and to preach vigorously. He has said this so many times that, “If you want to show your affection for me, then distribute my books and distribute this Krsna Consciousness all over the world.”
You are doing that and it is very wonderful, but it is not enough however! You also have to become pure, 100% pure, like the devotees mentioned in the Bhagavatam – like Prahlada Maharaja, like so many other stalwarts that can be described as ‘pillars of faith.’ When we see a very strong devotee who is fixed in his service, then we gain great inspiration from him or her – that he is strongly standing and showing the way and by his faith we gain strength. He is dedicated to his spiritual master. Just as when we came in the presence of Prabhupada, we could not help but feel that, that here is a great Vaisnava, who is fully dedicated and surrendered. So surrendered, that for his own convenience he did not consider so many things.
And it is the nature of a Vaisnava that he is very kind. Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami has described, krpambudhir yah para-duhkha-duhkhi. The Vaisnava is very much concerned for the welfare of others. Prahlada Maharaja has said in his prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva that, “I require no benediction. I don’t want anything except Your service, but as far as others are concerned, that are entangled in this material world, I feel very sorry for them and I would like to help them.” So that is a test for a Vaisnava, that those who are advanced Vaisnavas feel compassion. They feel very sorry for the suffering living entities and they want to help them. Again, this is personified by our Guru Maharaja. If we take that to heart and all of his instructions, continuously take them on our head, then certainly we will be successful in pleasing our guru.
Thank you very much.