2014 Reading Līlāmṛta

Category: Offerings to Prabhupāda by Śivarāma Swami

Title: 2014 Reading Līlāmṛta

Upload date: 2014-01-01

2014 Reading Līlāmṛta

Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,

Please accept my humble obeisances at the dust of your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace. Allow me to attempt to honor you with the following words.

It is February 4th of this year. I have just contracted pneumonia and I am laid up with a raging fever only three days before a scheduled flight to India for our annual GBC meetings and Māyāpur festival. I alternate between resting, chanting japa, and reading Śrīla Prabhupāda-līlāmṛta.

I began rereading the Līlāmṛta a few months back. It is the first time in the last fifteen years or more that I am reading this wonderful biography, which I used to read daily after its publication and went through probably fifteen times. It was the way that I—who had personally met you only a few times—aspired to enter deeper into your personality, mission, and pastimes.

Now, at the age at which you lived in Vṛndāvana, writing, printing, and selling your Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam alone, when old age and its accomplices are burdening my own travels, regulation, and service, I reread the Līlāmṛta in wonder.

The last decade of Kṛṣṇa consciousness has, among other things, increased my appreciation of you and of your gifts. Reading the Līlāmṛta further heightened my appreciation of your unwavering determination to fulfill the order of your spiritual master, of the endless obstacles you fearlessly faced, and of the clarity, simplicity, and beauty of your message: chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.

I am now at the part that speaks of your struggles on the Bowery.

I read how you walked among the rejects of society and lived with a madman for lack of any other shelter, and how when your host threatened you in a drug-induced frenzy you stood alone on Skid Row with nowhere to go and no possessions but the clothes you wore. You, of aristocratic birth, the pet child of your father, the emissary of Goloka, now stood alone in a foreign land, with no money and no shelter other than the determination that brought you to this lost land.

With this picture in my mind I fall into a feverish reverie:

I see you hurrying down the steep stairs from the loft-temple where insanity reigns. You throw open the door, walk past an expired drunk, and step out onto the sidewalk, looking first this way, then that. Where to go?

My heart breaks. In my dream I weep to think that you went through such danger for me, for my brothers, and for my sisters. Such kindness, such compassion, such love!

I wake up, the picture of you standing on the street still fresh in my mind, tears still on my cheeks. I sigh, “My spiritual master was no ordinary spiritual master. He saved me.”

Your determination, your dedication to your mission, your unconditional compassion—I submerge my mind in thoughts of them while whispering again, “My spiritual master was no ordinary spiritual master. He saved me.”

My heart heavy with gratitude, I think, “What can I do?”

“Do as I do!”

It is a tall order. But my spiritual master is no ordinary spiritual master. He can bless me to do as he does.

Now months later, having returned from India, still reading the Līlāmṛta, and more enchanted by your pastimes than ever, I humbly pray that you bless me with a fraction of your determination, your faith, your compassion. Everything of value that I am at present is by your grace. Certainly by the same grace I can become a resolute soldier in Lord Caitanya’s transcendental army, of which you are the commander in chief.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, I offer my prayers at your lotus feet. Please make me into what you wanted your disciples to be. I may be a difficult challenge, but you are not an ordinary spiritual master. You can do anything.

Your servant,
Śivarāma Swami