1986 Hoping To See Your Transcendental Smile
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet. How will I form my thoughts or express my paltry words to compose this offering to you? By your mercy I am existing, acting and thinking and by your mercy only can I glorify you. So I pray for your mercy lo let me express in full sincerity some appreciation of you.
It started out as a casual thought, a quick scan of the mind, trying to find a spontaneous event that will trigger off thoughts of you. A train of thought, some experience and some feelings come, moulded by philo¬sophical dyes, expressed in words and transformed to ink. Will it be called your offering?
I have a very clear impression of an afternoon in 1975. It was a snow-bound winter day, about 20 degrees below zero in windswept Winnipeg – some forgotten outpost of sensuality in the prairies of Canada. Trying to make the bank reconciliation, I was deeply absorbed in locating a stray 25 cents. A knock on the door and in came the post, some bills, a few letters and boxes of books Caitanya-caritāmṛta, a case of each volume, some Bhāgavatams – exactly which ones I cannot recall. Eagerly I dropped the search for the elusive quarter and sat on the floor like a child with new toys, going from picture to picture. “Haribol! Look at this one!” That was the end of the accounting for the day as we dove and surfaced in the fountain of Lord Caitanya s pastimes and instructions.
Many times over the next year this scene was repeated, so predigious was your pen. We were in ecstasy bathing in such nectar. Who thought it would ever end?
My train of thought stops here – a realisation I have harboured for many years. I did not know that there would be an end to it. I never expected that one day your books would not come. It was so natural in your presence for so many things to be accepted and taken for granted, Your ever-increasing library of books, tapes and lectures arriving weekly, six to the package, and ever present news of your travels and preaching: “Śrīla Prabhupāda said…!” Where is that now?
Yearly trips to Śrīdhāma Mayapura, that we may see you again, hear your lectures, morning walks, darshans, that was life anew. Where is that life now?
The most ecstatic words we all anticipated, turning our little temples into devotional beehives: “Śrīla Prabhupāda is coming, Śrīla Prabhupāda is coming!” When are you coming now?
And above all your presence somewhere in this maddened speck of dust floating in unlimited darkness; you were there, you were there. Śrīla Prabhupāda, where are you now?
And now all that is gone, now that you have wound up your manifested pastimes. Can I lament like this? After nine years no appearance day goes by without mentioning your passing. What can 1 say? You are supremely independent, only accountable to Kṛṣṇa. I simply accept the crumbs of mercy you leave behind for me to consume. I am the servant and you are the master.
Let me re-trace my steps. Devotional separation leads to union and I clutch at the elements of your presence as you have so expertly left us everything to continue our progressive march. In your temples, Deities, books, devotees and instructions are the ever-increasing mine of your unlimited presence. Vāṇī is your eternally present feature, which unfolds without end to those who avail themselves of its blessings.
As you said, “Vapu is for neophytes and vāṇī is the real thing.” So I was a carefree child and life was easy when you, my spiritual father, fed me. But now, in my developed age, I have to work to feed myself and maintain my family. Studying your books, following your instructions, attention to regulative principles, association with devotees, worshipping the Lord and trying to chant inoffensively – in this way I am trying to maintain the ever-expanding existence of your association.
I remember the lesson. By your mercy I will not be bereft of your association. Therefore my humble request, Śrīla Prabhupāda, is that I do not take for granted the assets that you have left behind. I pray that they remain fresh in my heart and tasty to my mind, for they are the only remaining link to you. If this connection fades, your picture will be lost and I fall prey to the lures of the material energy.
Docs the offering end here? All the ingredients are present, but are they assembled to form the final product?
Another thought, another memory. In Los Angeles they may edit this offering, but the English BBT must print the whole thing. Please let me go on a little further.
In 1976 in your room in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, devotees crowded around your low table. With drawings before you, one devotee explained the plans for the temple room in Toronto s newly acquired building. As you listened to the description you were smiling in that radiant, powerful way which forces everyone in your presence to also smile. You were beaming, smiling like that for a long time, with satisfaction emanating from your lotus eyes. I could understand that you were pleased. It was obvious to me and to everyone present.
Now recalling the incident, I can appreciate the meaning of yasya prasādād bhagavat-prāsādo. As you were pleased, Kṛṣṇa was pleased and the point was more than a philosophical axiom. It was a sense of ultimate reality and unshakable security. That reality was reflected in the sparkling rays emanating from your pearl-like teeth. That Kṛṣṇa, the indwelling God and energiser of every atom, was pleased brought about an ultimate connection and relationship with everything, both animate and inanimate. Such a relationship is accessible to the fortunate who have received the mercy of the Lord and see Him everywhere and everything in Him. This is reality as opposed to the selfish conception of I and mine, wherein everything is a sense object in a dream-like state of illusion.
Security is the state of being one experiences having attained the goal of life. One is satisfied that he has achieved the ultimate goal. In such a situation one is never shaken – yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābham (Bhagavad-gītā 6.22), “Neither hankering or lamenting, one is self-satisfied in his relationship with the Supreme Lord.”
So now things are clear. You have left us, this movement, your instructions to carry out our service and develop our relationship with you. In pursuance of that service, by proper execution of your will, we can please you and understand real happiness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda, let me be your pure servant. Let me remember my good fortune and always use it to please you. I do not want any position and only request that I may become free from all desires and anarthas. I desire to be an instrument in your hands. Bend me, mould me as you like, I have no independent means of motion and am fully dependent upon you. In my efforts, success is all your mercy and credit. Śrīla Prabhupāda, I am not a good disciple and I know that you arc aware of my disqualifications, but you are an ocean of kindness, so please allow me to render some service to you.
Hoping that one day I will be of great pleasure to you and see your transcendental smile.
I remain your insignificant servant,
National Secretary for England