Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day

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he guro jnana-da dina-bandho

svananda-datah karunaika-sindho

vrindavanasina hitavatara

prasida radha-pranaya-prachara

“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 Vrndavana, 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 with the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. It is sung by people all over the world and from all walks of life who have been transformed into Vaisnavas, having taken to the process of Krsna consciousness. The prophecy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has indeed come true, as today in every town and village, the mahamantra, which purifies all living entities, can be heard. 

This massive transformation has been brought about by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, taking place, amazingly, in an age in which God consciousness has been cast into utter oblivion.  He took a person from a majorly materialistic and atheistic society to a society in which the spiritual practitioner is encouraged to realize their eternal relation with God in loving service to him. Srila Prabhupada performed nothing less than a true miracle, transforming numerous materialists into faithful followers of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya and instilling in them a desire to go back home back to Godhead.

The departure of such a great personality, the savior of the entire world, is greatly mourned. It is mentioned in a bhajana by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura that the mere darsana  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.” 

Hearing transcendental spiritual discourses from the lotus mouth of such exalted nitya-siddha parikaras (eternal associaties) of Sri Krsna sows the seed of bhakti in the heart. Although the guru’s instructions (vani) is given higher importance than his physical association (vapu), the guru’s association is of unquestionable importance. The pure devotee is Krsna’s representative, and in that sense, being in his presence is like being in the presence of Krsna himself.

hariḥ sadā vaset tatra 
yatra bhāgavatā janāḥ
gāyanti bhakti-bhāvena 
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 Kartika, November 14, 1977, at 7:20 in the evening, that the devotees were plunged into an ocean of distress. Srila Prabhupada departed from this world at this time and entered nitya lila. This day in Iskcon Vrindavan is surcharged with great feeling in the form of devotees’ prayers of separation, as it is here, in his quarters amidst kirtana and surrounded by his disciples, that Srila Prabhupads left this world.

Every year, this year also, Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day is being observed with constant glorification of him. These glorifications stimulate remembrance of his divine pastimes and his extraordinary, all-compassionate feat of spreading Krishna consciousness throughout the world. After the daily morning program, the deity of Prabhupada is taken to Krishna Hall. A grand guru- puja is performed, and the assembled devotees receive an opportunity to appreciate their good fortune of having come in touch with him and/or his teachings. It also gives them an opportunity to feel the anguish of separation from him or for others, not ever having his physical presence amongst us anymore. A drop of Srila Prabhupada’s unlimited glories are described by those fortunate to have had personal association with him. 

Following the glorification, the murti of Srila Prabhupad is bathed by his loving disciples and grand disciples, while the sweet holy names are sung to the accompaniment of mrdangas and kartalas, creating a beautiful atmosphere. A puspanjali and arati is offered after abhiseka in Prabhupada’s samadhi-mandira, in which the devotees offer him flowers offer their hearts and souls. After the bhoga offering (comprising of various delicacies including Srila Prabhupada’s favourite kachodis, sukta and other items) is offered to Srila Prabhupada, the devotees honor the feast. The glorifications continue in the afternoon, after which all assemble in Prabhupada’s house for the arati at 7:20 and sing Sri Gurvastakam. With tearful voices and hearts filled with intense separation, they pray to Srila Prabhupada for a particle of his mercy.

No matter how much we endeavor, without the mercy of the Vaisnavas, we cannot make progress in spiritual life. We therefore pray to Srila Prabhupada to please always keep us under the shade of his most merciful lotus feet and engage us in the service of Sri Sri Guru, Gauranga and Krsna.