he guro jnana-da dina-bandho
“O spiritual master, O giver of divine wisdom, O friend of the fallen, you are the giver of your own bliss and you are the only ocean of mercy. Although dwelling in Vrindavana, you have descended for the welfare of fallen souls like myself and you are preaching the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Please be kind upon me.”
Today the entire world is inundated by the chanting of the holy names of the Lord being sung by people from all over the world and from all walks of life who have transformed into vaishnavas by taking to the process of Krishna consciousness. The prophecy of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has indeed come true, as today in every town and village the Mahamantra can be heard purifying all the living entities. This massive transformation of a great portion of the society from a majorly materialistic and atheistic mentality to one in which the practitioner of the spiritual path is encouraged to realize one’s eternal relation with God in loving service to him, was brought about in this age and time of utter oblivion of god consciousness in the west by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. It is nothing less than a true miracle that Shrila Prabhupad performed by transforming numerous materialists into faithful followers of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya and imbibing them with a desire to attain the ultimate goal of life, to go back home back to godhead.
The departure of such a great personality, the savior of the entire world, Shrila Prabhupad, from amidst the fallen conditioned souls as ourselves, is greatly mourned, as it is mentioned in the bhajans written by our previous acharyas that the mere darshan(audience) of a great Vaishnava purifies one of all sins.
gańgāra paraśa hoile paścate pāvan
darśane pavitra koro-ei tomāra guṇ
After bathing in the waters of the sacred Ganges many times, one becomes purified, but just by the sight of you, the fallen souls are purified. This is your great power.
And hearing transcendental spiritual discourses from the lotus mouth of such exalted Nitya-siddha parikars of Shri Krishna sows within the hearts of one and all the seed of bhakti. Although the instructions(vani) of the guru is given higher importance than the physical presence(vapu), yet the impact of the constant association of the guru, when he is present, is of unquestionable importance, for the presence of the pure devotee makes the jivas feel the presence of Krishna himself, as the guru is none other than the representative of Krishna himself.
hariḥ sadā vaset tatra
yatra bhāgavatā janāḥ
harer nāmaiva kevalam
Lord Hari eternally dwells in that place where truly exalted, spiritually advanced souls sing in the mood of pure devotion. The holy name of Sri Hari alone is everything.
It was on this day in the month of Kartik that all the devotees were plunged in an ocean of distress when Shrila Prabhupad departed from this world and entered nitya lila at 7:20 in the evening. This day of Shrila Prabhupad’s disappearance is celebrated in Iskcon vrindavan surcharged with prayers in separation, as it is in Shridham Vrindavan that Shrila Prabhupad left this world in his quarters amidst kirtan and surrounded by his disciples.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Shrila Prabhupad’s departure and is being observed with constant glorification and remembrance of the divine pastimes and extraordinarily amazing feat of his spreading Krishna consciousness throughout the world. After the daily morning program, the deity of Prabhupad is taken to Krishna hall where a grand guru puja is performed with thousands of devotees experiencing simultaneously both inexpressible joy at being blessed with the good fortune of having come in touch with him and intense separation of not having his physical presence amongst us anymore. Thereafter a drop of the unlimited glories of Shrila Prabhupad are described by the fortunate Prabhupad disciples who had personal association of Shrila Prabhupad. Following the glorification, Shrila Prabhupad is bathed by his loving disciples and grand disciples, while the sweet holy names of the lords are sung with accompaniment by mridangas and kartals, creating a beautiful atmosphere. The pushpanjali and arati is offered after Abhishek in Prabhupad’s Samadhi, in which all the devotees along with flowers offer their hearts and souls to Shrila Prabhupad, for his lotus feet are the boat that can deliver all souls from the ocean nescience. After an elaborate bhoga offering prepared by the devotees for the pleasure of Shrila Prabhuad comprising of various delicacies including Prabhupad’s favourite kachodis, shukta and other items, all the devotees honour the feast. The glorifications continue in the afternoon after which all the devotees assemble in Prabhupads house for the artik at 7:20, when all assembled vaishnavas sing the Guruvashtakam with tearful voices and hearts filled with intense separation while they pray to Shrila Prabhupad for a particle of his mercy.
No matter how much one may endevour, without the mercy of the vaishnavas, we cannot make progress in our spiritual life. Therefore, we pray to Shrila Prabhupad to please always keep us under the shade of his most merciful lotus feet and engage us in the service of Shri Shri Guru Gauranga and Krishna.