2010 The Gold Cross of Merit
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace.
This year, along with a Vyāsa-pūjā offering of words, I would like to offer one tangible result of our service here in Hungary. That result is but a spark of your own glory.
Last year, 2009, marked the twentieth year that ISKCON has been officially recognized as a religious organization in Hungary, where it is known as the Hungarian Society for Kṛṣṇa’s Followers. In those twenty years your transcendental gifts to this country have dramatically changed the lives of thousands, including those in the highest echelons of society. Since you have done more for the Hungarian people than anyone else in terms of giving their lives both meaning and purpose, it was my desire that the Hungarian government present you with one of their official decorations: The Gold Cross of Merit. This is the second highest civic decoration awarded in Hungary.
As it turns out, these decorations are unfortunately for Hungarian citizens only, and so I submitted the application in my name. But in all circumstances, and in all ways, I am your representative, and nothing more. Fortunately, while in Māyāpur for the Gaura-pūrṇimā festival last year, I was informed by the Office of the President that by the sponsorship of the Ministry of Culture, Education, and Religion, I would be awarded the Gold Cross. That is to say, the Gold Cross would be awarded to you.
During our Divāli gala evening in October, the Hungarian State Secretary for Education was present to officially award the Gold Cross. In his presentation he listed the many benefits the Hungarian people have received from the devotees: your transcendental books, the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, spiritual culture, varṇāśrama-dharma, Indian culture, Kṛṣṇa Valley, Bhaktivedanta College, Govinda’s Restaurants, Food for Life . . . the list went on and on. It would make this offering too long to attach in full their words of appreciation for Your Divine Grace. To make it short, we can simply report that the Hungarian government officially recognized that your gifts of Kṛṣṇa consciousness are a significant contribution to Hungarian society.
In my acceptance speech I made clear my original intention, explaining that I was accepting the Gold Cross on your behalf, for you are the one who should receive credit and gratitude, not I. In addition, I emphasized, and re-emphasized, that of the many items in the long list of our Society’s contributions to the Hungarian people, the most important contribution is your books.
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda! Although I have already pinned the medal on your mūrti, let me officially make this offering to you on the occasion of your Vyāsa-pūjā. After all, disciples are meant to offer more than words and flowers. I sincerely wish I could be placing these items personally into your lotus hands. Instead I attach a photo of the Gold Cross, and the official documentation accompanying it. For the time being I will keep these gifts safely in my care. When next we meet, and you request me to deliver a preaching report, then I will happily offer them to you in person.