1998 Ārati to His Divine Grace
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
O my unlimitedly affectionate spiritual master, whose heart always weeps for the plight of the conditioned souls and who are very compassionate to your disciples, please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet.
Today is the victorious occasion of your Vyāsa-pūjā. Transcendental poets like Vyāsa and Jayadeva compose beautiful stavas in your glorification that are like the glistening earrings of Lord Viṣṇu. What can a crowlike fool—that is, this worthless self—say in the presence of your true followers and admirers? All glories unto you! With great difficulty I have attempted to scour the recesses of my dirty heart to compose a few words in your exaltation. May they bring you just a little happiness.
Some time after your disappearance, unhappy with the limited memories of your personal association and suffering from the pangs of separation, I constructed a temple within my heart and established you there as the presiding deity.
In that temple you reside always (when you are not traveling and preaching), writing your books, walking in the courtyard, enjoying my cooking, allowing me to visit you at will, taking darśana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Gaura-Nitāi. When I enter in the morning and place my head at your lotus feet, you do not object but kindly rub my back. In times of distress you give me solace, when I resist your will you chastise me. Always you remain my protector, guide, father, and eternal friend.
Today I perform the ārati ceremony of Your Divine Grace, absorbed in the meditation of your arcana, my heart seeking to glorify you through the successive offering of objects of worship. Having left your quarters, you now sit majestically in pure silk robes, decorated with many garlands of small white jasmine flowers, a gong in your hand, a benign smile on your lips. The temple courtyard is thronging with Vaiṣṇavas, who have been invited from the very corners of the world. The air is laden with billowing smoke and blossoming flowers as the many birds, who are like visiting demigods, begin to sing your glories.
Initiating the ācamana of your remembrance, standing on the mat of self-surrender to your will, I take my place by your vyāsāsana, carved of the finest lapis lazuli and inlaid with precious gems of every description. The ārati paraphernalia is made of gold, ornately carved with many divine flowers, set atop a golden table finely gilded with silver and pearls. The ocean of pure devotees who stand before you swells with the tide of loving attachment as they begin to sing your praises: śrī-guru-caraṇa-padma… begins the heavenly chorus.
Was this snow-white conchshell I now blow recovered from the milk ocean by the demigods when they prayed to Lord Viṣṇu for your appearance? Its formidable sound reverberates throughout the world, dissipating ignorance in the hearts of all and declaring your unparalleled glory. It is you who came to save the conditioned souls in their darkest hour, it is you who remain their savior through your infallible teachings, and it is you who will continue to save all manner of created beings through your true followers. Attention everyone, the worship of Śrī Guru is about to take place!
Offering the items of worship one by one, I perceive the elements of creation being purified as they are engaged in your service, the hearts of the gross materialists, represented by this worthless pūjārī, becoming inclined toward the worship of the Divine. Generally he who is worshiped is freed of all obstacles and enjoys all auspiciousness. Now I see it is you who purify all this paraphernalia, their source of origin, its presiding deities, the pūjārī, and all related things and beings.
A divinely aromatic incense represents the fragrance of the earth, and earth itself. It is this very planet that you blessed by walking everywhere with your lotus feet, the dust of which Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva covet as their dearest ornament. The very scent of distress goes to a distant place when you are present, for the fire of devotion burning in your heart easily purifies all ignorance and its concomitant reactions. Thus all foul odors become purified and sacred as I place this incense in the sapphire container at your lotus feet.
The five-wicked lamp is from the reception hall of King Indra, where the universal leaders are regularly honored. As I slowly offer these fires to your transcendental form, the inferno raging in the hearts of the conditioned souls becomes purified and transformed into attachment to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The five life airs in the body, contaminated by the intrigues of Kali, gradually become refined by the fire of your preaching ordeal, and the hearts of all men become peaceful. The fire of sacrifice burns once again, the cooking fires in the homes prepare offerings to the Lord, and the wrath of Lord Ananta ready to incinerate the atheists is calmed as He sways peacefully to your kīrtana of the holy names.
Decorated with gopīcandana, a pure-hearted devotee brings a crystal tray. Taking the prasādam of that lamp, all those present become overjoyed, their hearts warmed by your inconceivable magnanimity.
Water from the oceans and one thousand sacred rivers bathed Lord Rāma at His coronation ceremony. Those same sacred waters combine in the conch as the next offering to your divine being. Having bathed in the many rivers of the world, you have satisfied their presiding deities, who had been abused by the recklessness of the industrial revolution. You taught that water was for bathing, drinking, purification, agriculture, and making paper pulp. Even today, the origin of all rivers, Gaṅgā-devī, goes out of her way to take your samādhi darśana, remembering how you brought her to the homes of the nonbelievers by spreading the glories of her waters in the lands of this world.
Like a shower from the trunk of Airāvata, that water falls on the heads of the fortunate congregation, who dance and smile in great happiness.
A delicate embroidered silk brocade handkerchief that is the grace of the goddess of learning is the solace to wipe away the tears of all suffering humanity. Troubled by the never-ending struggle for happiness, the minds of conditioned souls become peaceful once again as they find solace in the unlimited services to the Lord that you freely offer. You revolutionized men’s and ladies fashions, introducing dhotis and saris as a spiritual vogue.
These flowers appear to be from the gardens of Vaikuṇṭha, brought by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself in appreciation for your pure selfless service. The roses are without thorns, as your pure devotion to Him has no contact with karma or jñāna, being complete and perfect in itself. Of what value were flowers as an ornament and decoration before you had taught to offer garlands to the Deity? Who was there worthy of recognition and respect until you taught the sanctity of representing the disciplic succession? Now flowers bloom happily, their existence having true value, smiling through their petals, ever so pleased at being more than ingredients to incite lust or symbols to signal death.
The vegetation of this world is also indebted for having achieved the fortune of become offerings to the Lord. The fields of wheat sway in happiness that they will become chapatis for the rāja-bhoga, cows graze peacefully in the pastures knowing that the Lord will accept their milk products, and trees cry in ecstasy to know that their fruits are relished as mahā-prasādam by the servants of the Lord. Thus the clouds find reason to pour their rain on agricultural fields, for your seva revives the very process of sacrifice and is the source of all natural prosperity.
I lift the pure white cāmara time and again, remembering how its touch is never displeasing to you. However, it is your transcendental touch that is the purifier of the worlds and its innumerable victims. Shaking hands with state officials and intelligentsia, you imbued spiritual energy into their hearts; touching small children, you became the source of life-long inspiration; your caressing of cows initiated their protection; and your holding of newly published books began a worldwide literary revolution. With an aristocratic gesture you redirected culinary science, and a kindly pat on the head gave life to your followers. Whatever has touched you—clothing, cars, canes, shoes, newspapers, and the like—have achieved perfection and know unlimited benefit unavailable in the planets of the devas.
The peacock fan comes last, offering a pleasant breeze in the warm mid-day air. Whoever has escaped your mercy will now be purified by the all-pervasive air that has touched your form, felt your breath, and been moved by your words. Is there any volume of space that does not possess an atom of air once purified by you as you spoke words of pure knowledge and selfless glorification of your beloved Śrī Kṛṣṇa? How will the reluctant atheists escape your association, since Vāyu himself personally delivers your mahā-prasādam to every corner of the globe? No use trying to fathom the depth of your service! If I remain in awe, familiarity will stay at a distance, and if I admire your greatness, devotion will increase. What great happiness is there today!
The conchshell resounds once again, renting the very extremities of space, and then there is silence. The offering of flowers, garlands, and words of love by the assembly of devotees (followed by a great feast in your honor) will merge into the external reality of Vyāsa-pūjā 1998, and the subjective and objective realms become one, until once again I turn within, to enter the temple of my heart, where you have kindly accepted residence.
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda, this concludes my offering of words in the ārati of your pūjā. May these words not simply be a combination of letters but the deities of substantial attachment to your will, manifest by the elemental controllers of this cosmic manifestation. As with everything, that will be possible only by your grace.
One day I came to you asking, “How do I know what course of action to take at times of great difficulty?” You replied “Just ask me!” Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda, please give me the humility to turn to you always and the inspiration to hear your divine answer. In that way my offering on this day will continue to reverberate through the elements, proclaiming your glory, never to fade away.
Your very insignificant servant,