2021 Homage to Your ISKCON
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Your Divine Grace.
On your appearance day, allow me to offer some words of homage to your ISKCON, which you said was not different from you and your body. Please permit me to praise you in this way.
Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda describes the genesis of one of his books to be a desire tree from the spiritual forest of goodness, a kalpavṛkṣa that he brought to the world of men in the form of songs. Śrīla Prabhupāda, I believe that you have also traveled through that same forest and transplanted another desire tree in the form of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, ISKCON.
Like the residents of Vaikuṇṭha, desire trees have limitless attributes, such as beauty, opulence, and wonder, and these attributes are abundantly present in ISKCON. Of them, the one that now takes front and center in my mind is the attribute of mercy, ISKCON’s benediction of spontaneous loving devotion.
For practicing devotees, love of Kṛṣṇa means ecstatic love, or bhāva-bhakti. In The Nectar of Devotion you explain that such perfection generally takes place by effort, sādhana, and in the exceptional case by mercy, kṛpā. To be more precise, the last stage in which devotees rise from sādhana to bhāva also requires special mercy, as implied by the verse beginning śuddha-sattva-viśeṣātmā. But this mercy depends on effort.
How does mercy come? By the speaking, glancing, and good wishes of an advanced devotee. The rule of thumb given by ācāryas is that devotees can give what they themselves have. Thus, a prema-bhakta can give any form of devotion, a bhāva-bhakta can give bhāva and faith, and a practitioner can give faith in sādhana.
My conviction and realization—one shared by your other followers—is that you are a paramahaṁsa prema-bhakta. Thus, without a doubt your blessings can award the rarely-attained perfection of bhāva-bhakti.
Will you give that mercy?
In the twelve years of your preaching pastimes, you repeatedly assured your followers that by offenseless nāma-saṅkīrtana they would attain perfection. The sādhana for that attainment was chanting sixteen rounds and following the regulative principles. By such a forthcoming effort we were guaranteed a corresponding mercy disbursed from the storehouse of your ever-well-wishes and transcendental teachings.
Thus, by your words, presence, and blessings you guaranteed a mercy by which your direct disciples could rise to the stage of bhāva. That was Lord Caitanya’s mission and is ISKCON’s “main business.”
Now you are no longer physically present, but your ISKCON remains, as does its empowerment to give love. And so the same combination of sādhana and kṛpā assures all serious devotees that they too can attain bhāva-bhakti in this life. Then with the blessing of bhāva they can take birth on the planet in the material world where Kṛṣṇa is enacting his pastimes and there gain qualification to return to the spiritual world, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
What if, for some reason, worthy devotees in ISKCON cannot find the association of living gurus and Vaiṣṇavas to bless them with love?
Then your mercy and instructions are there for all succeeding generations of followers not initiated by you. They too can attain the same result. That was your promise: chant sixteen rounds and follow the regulative principles.
Thus, ISKCON assures that devotees will be able to attain ecstatic love from a qualified spiritual master, or alternately through your blessings, books, and eternal presence.
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda! Thank you for blessing us with the desire tree of ISKCON, a kalpavṛkṣa that yields fruits too numerous to name, and from which the juicy fruit of loving devotion, falling from its branches of mercy, reigns supreme.