Friday, August 14, 2009

Sri Vyasa Puja: Celebrating the Spiritual Master's Appearance

nama om visnupadaya krsnapresthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta svamin iti namine

namaste sarasvate deve gauravani pracarine
nirvisesa sunyavadi pascatya desa-tarine

In our folly, we conditioned souls vacillate between two endeavors which can only end in frustration: exploitation and renunciation. You show us the futility of trying to exploit the resources of material nature and the senselessness of denying its existence. Out of your infinite, causeless mercy you have come to show us a third way of living. This third way is the path of surrender, of dedication to the Supreme Personality, Sri Krsna. We could compare these choices with possible responses to finding someone’s property lying in the street. We may pick it up and use it for ourselves, which is simply theft, or we may ignore it, not wanting to become implicated in someone else’s business, which is simply stupidity. But the third way, that of an honest, responsible person, is to pick the item up and return it to its rightful owner.

You have taught by your example how to act on the understanding that, as we learn from Bhagavad-gita, Krsna is the rightful beneficiary or enjoyer of all activity, the real proprietor of everything in existence, and the dearest friend of all beings. We express that understanding—that faith—through the sixfold process of surrender taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam
raksisyaiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha
atma niksepa karpanye

Although these six aspects of surrender—accepting whatever favors spiritual culture, neglecting whatever doesn’t favor spiritual culture, feeling confident of Krsna’s protection, accepting Him as our exclusive maintainer, foregoing any sense of separate interest, and humility— may strike the less experienced as some grim spiritual practice, it’s nothing other than recognizing our own real nature as beings dependent on Krsna for everything. This dependence is much like that of a child’s dependence on a parent or a domestic animal’s on its owner. It’s just that natural, and it fosters love.

And, Srila Prabhupada, you showed us what it’s like to live a life of surrender. After all, it is your utter surrender to Krsna’s will and the service of sri guru that seems to account for the success of your mission. Sometimes we hear devotees speak of some grand plan you had as you embarked on the monumental task you inherited from your spiritual master. It appears from your own words, though, that the essence of that great plan was nothing more or less than utter surrender to Krsna, absolute dependence on Him for your success. We see that in the song you wrote on arriving at Boston Harbor, and we see it in your “Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna,” written aboard the Jaladuta as you crossed the Atlantic. In both, your humility shows in your feeling of a lack of qualification for presenting Mahaprabhu’s gospel to us westerners. At Boston Harbor you wrote,
How will I make them understand this message of Krsna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified and the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own. Somehow or other, O Lord, You have brought me here to speak about You. Now, my Lord, it is up to You to make me a success or failure as You like. . . . O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.

That’s your secret, your big plan: acknowledge that only Krsna can make this happen. And how might you induce Krsna to help you? Here is the measure of your devotion—you struck a bargain with Krsna. In your “Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna,” addressing Krsna directly, you remind him that all good fortune is possible only by pleasing Srimati Radharani. If Krsna were to ensure the success of your mission, given to you by your spiritual master, who is an eternal associate of Radharani, you suggest, He may be able to gain Her favor.

In other words, surrender is really just another expression of ecstasy. You showed that further on several occasions, when you talked of Krsna’s playing with his cowherd-boy friends, and especially of their taking their lunch together at midday. You sometimes told us how the boys would steal each others’ lunches, including Krsna’s, and play keep-away with them. Ultimately, the other boys would end up with Krsna’s lunch and would enjoy the laddus and kacoris Mother Yasoda would pack for Him. “I just want to go back to the spiritual world,” you would say longingly, “and have laddus and kacoris with Krsna.”

Our charge—my charge—is to follow your example of utter dependence on Krsna and surrender, as Krsna says at the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita, without any other consideration. You have been beckoning me follow you in surrender, to make spiritual progress and sharing your gift my sole business, at least now, as my life draws near its end. I pray that I may be able to answer that call some time soon. Then, perhaps, I may some day become eligible to taste some of those laddus and kacoris.


Bhagavan dasa said...

Hare Krsna, prabhu! My obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I couldn't find your e-mail so I'm writing to e-mail through this. My e-mail is if you can answer me.

I would like to ask you to give me, if possible, a better direction for the quotation starting with

Once, however, when asked what he would translate after the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada responded, “Oh, maybe Jiva Gosvami’s Sat-sandarbha or Vedanta-sutraÑthere are so manyÑor Bhagavad-gita.”

since "on a video" is quite vague. I am not doubting you, and forgive me if I sound rude, but english is not my mother tongue. I would like a better direction like "Pradyumna Dasa on video recorded in 10-10-1980 in Alachua, available on DVS 10 of the Collection X", so that I can quote it as well.

Thanks in advance.

Your servant
Bhagavan dasa

Babhru das said...

Bhagavan, I just noticed that this had been sitting around for a year. I'm sorry, but I don't have a better, more precise citation at the moment. I either heard it myself or heard it from someone I consider reliable (otherwise, I wouldn't have used it).