1997 You Are Mysterious
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet, over and over again, on the auspicious occasion of your Vyāsa-pūjā celebration.
It is 1:30 a.m. I sit by candlelight in New Vraja Dhāma, poring over a computer. No contradiction in your world of yukta-vairāgya. Aside from the wind outside, there is no sound. Beside me are a few books. Like a soul in transmigration, your glorification takes different forms every year, yet always remains the same. In the silence I gradually find that place where I am with you, once again. In the continuous effort to try to know you better that is known as my life, what has been in the forefront of my meditation I record below. As Jagadānanda Paṇḍita says, “I do not know what is good for others. I write what inspires me the most.”
1) Six miles north of Jagannātha Purī is the river known as the Bhārgīnadī. Since it is the place where Lord Nityānanda broke Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s daṇḍa, it is also known as the Daṇḍa-bhāṅgā-nadī. It is a very solitary and peaceful place. The river divides around an island decorated with groves and gardens. On one side the water is said to be that of the Gaṅgā, on the other the Yamunā. When Lord Nityānanda threw the daṇḍa into the water, in the presence of bystanders it floated upstream to the far end of the island, then down the other side to sink mysteriously into the water. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja writes,
daṇḍa-bhaṅga-līlā ei—parama gambhīra
sei bujhe, duṅhāra pade yāṅra bhakti dhīra
“The pastime of the breaking of the staff is very deep. Only one whose devotion is fixed upon the lotus feet of the two Lords can understand it” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 5.158).
In the purport to the verse you give the explanation of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Lord Nityānanda did not want to see Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the supremely transcendental autocrat, identified with the status of a varṇāśrama sannyāsī. Therefore he broke the daṇḍa, the representation of regulative ideals. Elsewhere he describes that the daṇḍa is the condensed form of Lord Caitanya’s mercy on the fallen jīvas. Lord Nityānanda wanted to establish this tīrtha as a place where all could receive Gaurāṅga’s grace. In either case, this līlā is very mysterious. Mysterious like you. Yes, this reminds me so much of you, my supremely mysterious spiritual master.
Why do I say that you are mysterious? A mysterious person is unfathomable and inexplicable. Like a deep ocean, ever deeper, always expanding. In the same way, just when I think I have understood your instructions and pastimes, I realize once again that they are beyond my grasp, like Kṛṣṇa being chased by Kālayavana, who was never able to catch Him. When I think I understand how great you are, some event transpires wherein you dwarf my past conception, leaving me in awe. Your mercy, kindness, and compassion for saving conditioned souls seem to have no limits. Therefore I have said that you are mysterious.
In your achievements in serving Caitanya Mahāprabhu and distributing His message world-wide, without argument you are unparalleled. No ācārya or incarnation of Godhead has, to my knowledge, exhibited such prowess. Who are you to achieve such transcendental feats? By the law of logic known as similarity, from a study of the greatness you manifest in preaching, a hint at your greatness as a servant of the Lord is implied. But when asked to disclose your identity, you replied, “If I told, you would faint.” Very mysterious, that statement. I cannot speculate further, had I even the desire. Perhaps someday you will make me faint. For now it is a mystery.
2) In the Bhagavad-gītā (10.7), Lord Kṛṣṇa encourages Arjuna to understand his prowess and personal potencies. By knowledge of His attributes, one’s attention becomes focused on the Lord, and through such meditation one becomes attracted and then devoted.
etāṁ vibhūtiṁ yogaṁ ca mama yo vetti tattvataḥ
so ’vikalpena yogena yujyate nātra saṁśayaḥ
In giving a definition of Bhagavān, Jīva Gosvāmī says, bhajanīya guṇa-viśiṣṭa. This means that Kṛṣṇa’s nature is such that whoever comes in contact with Him cannot resist serving Him. No one can resist feeling moved to worship Kṛṣṇa, adore his charming personality, and be drawn into the vortex of His loving dealings.
Is it not the same with you, Śrīla Prabhupāda? You are great beyond measure. Your preaching is great, your tolerance of your followers’ immaturity is great, your ability to attract and engage conditioned souls is great. There is no end to the great list of how you are great. And if I continue to meditate on your greatness, will I not develop true attachment for your lotus feet, which is the greatest commodity and the only means to love of Kṛṣṇa?
An example of your greatness is your arrangement for facilitating your followers’ liberation. You quote Bhaktisiddhānta Ṭhākura as saying that those who do not chant sixty-four rounds are “fallen.” I have heard Lord Caitanya said, “I will not accept the offerings of one who does not chant one lakh of hari-nāma a day.” And yet you made an adjustment according to our lack of ability and instructed us to chant “a minimum of sixteen rounds.” To do such japa in tandem with following “the regulations” would ensure a practitioner’s going back to Godhead “in this lifetime.” Isn’t that wonderful?
You write that according to the arrangement made by the spiritual master in consideration of time and circumstance, Kṛṣṇa will accept the service of a devotee. Śrīla Prabhupāda, what was the content of that discussion you had with Kṛṣṇa? That discussion wherein this arrangement you incessantly repeat to us was made? While some sādhakas ponder the validity of your claim, for your followers it is a declaration of your greatness. You made the adjustment and have tendered a guarantee. When questioned about such an extraordinary result of such a seemingly minimal effort, you replied, “Do you think I would lie to you?” Śrīla Prabhupāda, you are truly extraordinary.
You are so great that you personally intercede with Kṛṣṇa on our behalf. Then by your humble attitude you entice your followers to continue to serve you, for as you wrote to Upendra, “Your strong desire to serve me is very beautiful; your serving me means serving Krishna.”
3) When Lord Caitanya met Rūpa and Sanātana at Rāmakeli, the two brothers took bunches of straw between their teeth and, binding a cloth around their necks, fell like rods before the Lord. Although very influential and aristocratic, they abandoned all material considerations and prayed to Lord Caitanya with straw between their teeth. Their attitude was so submissive that Lord Caitanya could not tolerate their waves of humility. He said “Please abandon your humility, for my heart is breaking to see you so humble.” In their prayers they quoted Śrī Yāmunācārya as follows:
bhavantam evānucaran nirantaraḥ praśānta-niḥśeṣa-manorathāntaraḥ
kadāham aikāntika-nitya-kiṅkaraḥ praharṣayiṣyāmi sanātha-jīvitam
“By serving You constantly, one is freed from all material desires and is completely pacified. When shall I engage as Your permanent eternal servant and always feel joyful to have such a fitting master?” (Stotra-ratna 43).
What a uniquely exclusive attitude—to “always feel joyful to have such a fitting master”! A fitting master, an extraordinarily wonderful master, you certainly are, Śrīla Prabhupāda. And I am so fortunate to call you mine. “Fitting” means correspondence. For an extraordinarily fallen jīva like me, an extraordinarily qualified guru is required. And you are so qualified and I am so happy that by some uncharacteristically good fortune I have had the opportunity to receive your grace.
Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, reading your books, preaching, rendering service to ISKCON constitute your service. The perfection unattainable by Brahmā and Nārada is achieved by serving an eternal associate of the Lord like you. As you deliver the whole world by engaging them in your service, which is Kṛṣṇa’s service, the mist of misconception evaporates and my meditation becomes fixed on your lotus feet. Thus I want to always be your nitya-kiṅkara, for that is the place where one is free of desire, completely pacified, and assured of all success.
Śrīla Prabhupāda, please give me unswerving determination to continue serving you in all ways. Determination, of which you are the ultimate example. How you are so mysterious, how you are so great, how very fortunate I am, I will only understand by your mercy. You must reveal these things to me. Like a cātaka bird that drinks water only from clouds, I can depend only on your grace. There is no other way forward. If you do not bestow such mercy—mercy by which I become attached to you, mercy which fixes me in your service in all ways, in full knowledge and attachment—of what use are my prayers, my japa, my studies, my meditations? If you do not hear my prayers, then who will?
It is almost time for maṅgala ārati. I should go see Rādhā-Śyāmasundara. O great, mysterious, and compassionate Śrīla Prabhupāda, I pray that this meager offering, which with much weeping during this year to attain your loving service and a heart burning with the pain of separation I take from my chest and place at your lotus feet, may give you a little pleasure.
Your eternal servant,