Whenever someone requests me to glorify Srila Prabhupada, I am at a loss. It seems at least in the English language there are no words or superlatives great enough to describe him. How does one describe a perfect being; a perfect, pure devotee. As Srila Prabhupada told us, there are many pure devotees in Vrndavana, you just may not recognize them. So obviously, there are many levels of pure devotees.
Descriptions of the saktyavesa-avatara, Srila Prabhupada, who walked among us, cooked for us and, stood in line to take a shower with us, chanted every day until a few wanted to chant with him, laboriously and lovingly translated book after book of the sacred Vaisnava texts, and set out at the age of 67 to travel around the world and gather a motley crew of willing souls who were sincere and enthusiastic and wished to serve. It seems descriptions of him, this pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, not only fall short but almost diminish his greatness.
With his smile he could lighten up any room and uplift every heart. Upone experiencing what it was like to be conquered by one of his smiles, receiving that smile became the goal sought by every devotee. With his words, an entire lifetime or lifetimes of misconceptions and the influences of impersonalism were instantly washed away. With a simple nod of his head, hundreds of disciples understood his intentions. This tiny nod would set them in motion to assist him and hasten Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement of spreading the holy name to every town and village.
His heartbeat became our heartbeat. His intensity was sublime yet ever-present, and it was always directed toward spreading Krsna consciousness. He could piercingly look straight into your heart and find your soul. Loneliness disappeared. Boredom no longer existed. He was trying to infuse in all of us a thirst for Krsna, and gave it to all who were ready for it. He was hoping to infuse this in all of us because once this becomes the sole purpose of our soul, we will be rightly situated and completely absorbed.
One of Prabhupada’s extraordinary abilities was to be able to preach according to the other person’s point-of-view. It was most amazing to watch. He said that first you must let the other person speak by asking him simple questions about himself. Everyone is anxiousto tell you what he thinks. Allow him to do so and he will quickly exhaust his poor fund of knowledge and run out of things to say.
At this point, by using the person’s vocabulary and frame of reference that he has just revealed to you, you can begin with the simple truths of Krsna consciousness and slowly construct a beautiful explanation of possible ways to live a life of a Vaishnava by simply serving the Supreme. May we all learn this effective, potent, and sublime method of preaching.
I believe another of Srila Prabhupada’s greatest attributes was his transcendental ability to know the hearts of everyone with whom he was in contact. You might be grappling with some issue, some annoyance, some unanswered question. Either by entering the place where Srila Pra bhupada was or by opening any of his books, the resolution or answer would appear in satisfying detail.
Once a devotee was having darsana with Srila Prabhupada, and Jayananda’s name came up. This devotee said to Srila Prabhupada, “Jayananda is one of your favorite devotees isn’t he?’
Srila Prabhupada turned to the devotee and simply replied, “Jayananda is always thinking of me, so I am always with him.” Just as with Krsna, Prabhupada also sees with equal vision. He said that Krsna favors no one and no one is His enemy.
When my husband and I first arrived in Vrindaban by tunga (horse drawn cart) in August of 1977, Prabhupada was sequestered in his house due to ill health. Even so, he was ever-present. Miraculously, Dhananjaya Prabhu and his wife, Bala Gopala whom we were coming to work with, were standing just inside the gate. They greeted us warmly and explained it was Banki Bihari’s Jhulana that evening. So even in the blazing heat and humidity of August in Vrndavana, we decided to walk to that temple, as all vehicles were banned from the streets. The streets were teeming with sadhus, villagers, visitors, and Brijbasis, all with the same goal: to see and swing Krsna on His golden swing with four golden gopis flanking Him.
The noise of so many humans talking and singing and laughing as the pilgrims ebbed and swelled through the narrow-cobbled streets was compelling but beyond boisterous.
The crowds grew even tighter as we got closer to our goal. Brijlata, Dhananjaya’s and Bala Gopala’s daughter, sat on her father’s shoulders out of reach of clamoring hands. There were moments when the crowds were so packed that our feet no longer touched the ground. We were thus carried along to the main entrance, past the deity and attending golden gopis, and out the side gate. We were deposited there, to the side. We then regrouped and finally found our way walking in the opposite direction to the onslaught of pilgrims as we wended our way back to our Krsna Balarama home that Srila Prabhupada has given us. This was Prabhupada’s introduction to Vrindaban for us. I was thinking I had no idea it was going to be packed this and if this is daily Vrndavana, I was not sure I was going to make it here.
Srila Prabhupada came to this material world to offer Krsna’s shelter. He is Krsna’s
official representative. We had all turned away from Krsna and left Him. “Still, just like a son who has left home for many (perhaps unlimited) years, when reunited with his father, it as if they were never apart.” Imagine.
Srila Prabhupada came for us to end our confusion, to end our hopelessness, give us ultimate purpose and connect us with our eternal service. He set our goal; to meet Krsna face-to-face; every one of us.
Step-by-step, Srila Prabhupada meticulously taught us how to live the life of a Vaisnava. Bathe several times a day, do not eat too much or eat too little, and always take Krsna prasadam. Learn to curb the urgings of the mind and tongue, including fault-finding. Always respect one another without seeing any external designations, and remember how special every devotee is. And so forth. Srila Prabhupada said that he had personally sweat blood to bring each of us to Krsna consciousness.
Just before Srila Prabhupada left entered Radha and Krsna’s eternal pastimes, he told the devotees who were serving him that Krsna had come to visit him and had thanked him for all his selfless service. He inquired from Srila Prabhupada what benediction He could bestow upon him. Prabhupada told the devotees that he asked Krsna to extend our lives so we would have longer to become Krsna conscious. Now, we must attend to our business and take each day seriously. Remember to always be conscious that any breath could be our last. We must have no regrets about wasting our precious time. Utilize each moment, not in the mode of passion or even goodness, but in aspiring for the transcendental mode. Srila Prabhupada has taught us we must become cent-percent convinced that Krsna is the Supreme controller, Supreme friend, and Supreme proprietor.
Prabhupada assures us that if we work for Krsna and if we do that work with love, the Lord will give us a chance to come to Him by the the grace of His saktavesa-avatara, Srila Prabhupada, who has introduced us to Krsna and taught us all that we know. Many times he said, “Just give one life to Krsna” and “Krsna wants you.”. We must make it this lifetime as he has arranged that we are already intimately connected with Krsna. Krsna has made very special arrangements for us by sending his specially empowered representative, Srila Prabhupada, who is personally helping us navigate our path back to Godhead.
harer nama, harer nama, harer nama eva kevalam
kalau nasty-eva, nasty-eva, nasty-eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.”
The 26 qualities of a Vaisnava are clearly present in full in the nature of Srila Prabhupada. He ultimately will connect with everyone through his books and instructions but also directly by your sincere desire. For me his two most definitive qualities are:
- Prabhupada’s absolute fearlessness to speak and represent the truth of Vedic
knowledge and culture in all situations and relationships.
(2) Prabhupada’s enormous capacity for compassion toward all of us, the fallen conditioned souls of Kali Yuga struggling to become free from our material entanglement.
Continuously and tirelessly Srila Prabhupada is available to assist any and all of us. And, all we must do in return is chant Hare Krsna, take Krsna prasadam, and read his books daily. The connection will be eternal. He will be pleased with us if we always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna.