In 1969 a unique book was discovered—a collection of tributes to Thakura Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada written by his disciples, one of whom was Abhay Caran Das, later to become His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Those who came upon it were students of His Divine Grace, and they were inspired by it to print a similar volume in his honor. Since then it has become an annual publication, presented to Srila Prabhupada on his appearance day. This selection from last year’s book was written by Giriraja dasa, now President of the ISKCON center in Bombay, India.
Two recent editions of the Sri Vyasa-puja tribute book.
Dear Srila Prabhupada, your appearance day is the most historic event in the history of man. Under your divine guidance the whole world is being inundated by Krishna consciousness. As stated in Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 7.26):
saj-jana, dur-jana, pangu, jada, andha-gana
prema-vanyaya duvaila jagatera jana
“The Krishna consciousness movement will inundate the entire world and will drown everyone, whether one be a gentleman, a rogue or even lame, invalid or blind.”
In this Age of Quarrel everyone is full of lust, anger and greed, being engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance. We, all your disciples, were also born in that same ocean of material desires. We have been suffering in the hellish darkness of the material world since time immemorial. But you are a beam of light, pure and transcendental to this godless world, glowing with love of God. All the evils that we know are completely unknown to you, and all of the bliss in which you are immersed is alien to us. And yet you have so kindly extended your all-merciful hand to pull us out of this dark well of material life. As Narottama dasa Thakura has said:
caksudana dila-yei, janme janme prabhu sei
divya-jnana hrde prakasita
prema-bhakti yaha haite avidya vinasa yate
vede gaya yanhara carita
“The spiritual master opens my darkened eyes and fills my heart with transcendental knowledge. He is my lord, birth after birth. From him ecstatic love of God emanates; by him ignorance is destroyed. The Vedic scriptures sing of his character.”
You have thus established the truth of the wonderful vision of sastra (Vedic scriptures). Not only have you delivered all your disciples from the clutches of sinful life (meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex and so on), but you have also inculcated them with divine qualities such as self-control, austerity, simplicity, non-violence, truthfulness and cleanliness. Who but your divine self could have brought about such astounding changes? As Narottama dasa said in his prayer to a Vaisnava:
“Whose association but yours can cause the sinful reactions of the most sinful man to run away? Who is so merciful as Your Divine Grace? Search as I may, I cannot find him.” You are the greatest Vaisnava because you are the most magnanimous and because you are bestowing upon us the highest perfection: prema-bhakti (love of God).
You are so kind and humble that you do not take any credit for all your achievements. Taking unflinching shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Rupa Gosvami, you give all the credit to them. Your spiritual master is now glorified all over the world. We, who are so polluted by this Age of Kali, have nonetheless been accepted by you, so we simply pray earnestly to Lord Caitanya and the six Gosvamis to help us glorify Your Divine Grace all over the world.
One day, on your morning walk, a man started blaspheming you, saying that you are always criticizing everyone else. Your disciples were with you, and they were going to take him away, but you stopped them, smiled and said, “I’m just saying what Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita.” After a while the man came to his senses. He bowed down and touched your feet, and you accepted him. Who can stand against you? Your patience and determination are limitless. You are causelessly merciful because of being always absorbed in love of Radha-Krishna. You are on the transcendental platform, free from anxieties. You have no business dealings with mundane people; you only deal with them to show them your causeless mercy. Somehow they must become attracted to Krishna. That is your only concern.
The transcendental name of Krishna vibrated through your lips surpasses Krishna the singing of the Gandharvas, the celestial singers. As soon as the name “Krishna” is mentioned to you, your face beams like the morning sun. O Srila Prabhupada, when will we deserve to be your disciples? When will we give up our petty little worlds? When shall we be allowed entry into the world of the paramahamsas (perfected human beings) with Your Divine Grace? Even after hearing so much from you, still we do not understand the value of the soul, especially the soul who has surrendered to Krishna. Nor have we any appreciation of our Godbrothers.
But you have started this movement from zero. Long before starting ISKCON, you struggled unsuccessfully for many years to find just one person who could learn pure Krishna consciousness from you. Even though you now have thousands of disciples, you never lose sight of the value of each and every one of them. Each of them receives boundless mercy from you. You do not look at anyone’s faults. Someone may be ninety-nine percent in illusion and one percent in Krishna consciousness, but you just look at his one percent and immediately devise a trick to increase his Krishna consciousness and expand his service.
My dear father, on this day of your divine appearance we make a meager offer of love at your lotus feet, and we beg that you accept it. We pray for the strength required to recognize our Godbrothers and Godsisters as your loving children. We beg for the cooperative spirit to push on this movement throughout and even beyond this world. We pray that Krishna may give us the intelligence to act for your pleasure.
This material existence is a nightmare, Srila Prabhupada. We do not want to come back here. You have brought us this far; now please take us further away from this hellish place, back to where the supremely attractive person is playing upon His flute, enjoying eternal sports with the gopis. Please take us back to Krishna.
adhama janara bandhu
lokanath lokera jivana
ha ha prabhu kara daya
deha more pada-chaya
ebe yasa ghusuk tribhuvana
“Our spiritual master is an ocean of mercy, the friend of the poor and the lord and master of the devotees. O master, be merciful unto me. Give me the shade of your lotus feet. Your fame is spread all over the three worlds.”