Thank you very much. His Grace Srinathji Prabhu, was a very special, or let us say, is a very special associate of Srila Prabhupada. He really did have more personal association with Srila Prabhupada than probably ninety percent of Srila Prabhupada’s initiated disciples. And yet he was truly humble and eager to be servant of the servant of the servant. He and his family were so instrumental in the foundational stages of Radha Gopinath Temple and everything that’s happened ever since. Bhaktivedanta Hospital, so many of our satellite centers, Govardhan Eco Village, Hare Krishna Television that Vaishnav Seva Prabhu has inspired and so many tens and thousands of devotees’ lives. And so many projects beyond our own, Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi Temples all over the world, he and his family have helped construct to develop.
He was always very enthusiastic to assist Yadubara Prabhu and Vishakha Devi in their projects. In Krishna Chandra Prabhu, Radha Priya Devi, Mythali Priya Devi, all of them, we cannot even calculate because we don’t even know all the devotees they are helping, all the projects they are helping because they never even talk about it, they just do it. And it was Srinathji Prabhu’s wish that a small event like this tonight would be at his home every December for this occasion, and to reciprocate with his enthusiasm we have come. And in his honor, it is happening tonight as well.
Bhakti is reciprocation. In the impersonal conception, we are in the centre, our liberation from suffering, our relief from the fire of material existence and even through the process of service, Sadhana, that’s the goal. As Vaishnavas, Prema, ecstatic love for Krishna is the goal and that love is reciprocal. Srila Prabhupada was very emphatic that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That personality aspect is what makes true Bhakti possible. Krishna is eternally a person. He appears in many forms throughout human history in this world and in the Spiritual world He manifests many different forms but they are all the limitless inconceivable expressions of Krishna to personally reciprocate love with devotees.
Krishna descends into this world to show mercy to the fallen; especially He came as Lord Chaitanya. Patita Pavan Hetu Tava Avatara, He is the most merciful of all incarnations. He has come to deliver the Patita, most fallen, Patita Pavana. So among devotees, some are lesser fallen, and when we admit that we are fallen and we understand that when we are fallen we see everything through the lens of being fallen so we will naturally find faults with others. So there is every reason to disagree, to disunite, to fight, doesn’t take a great person to see faults in others.
As Radhey Shyam Prabhu told, when Srila Prabhupada was in the lower east side of New York with those people, he could have found so many faults. He knew their faults and he did address the faults. But he did it in such a way they would be transformed. He actually cared about them. And he would tell in some of the prominent speeches, that, “you are all the representatives of my Guru Maharaj” and he would thank us. In some talks, they are recorded Srila Prabhupada would cry. He said, “I am very old, I could leave at any time, but you have all come to help me to fulfill the order of my Guru Maharaj. You have come to assist me in the mission of my Guru Maharaj. And anyone who made any efforts, to serve, that’s how Srila Prabhupada would reciprocate with them.
Vishakha Devi wrote a beautiful book, please do buy this book and read this book if possible. When she first came to India because Yadubara Prabhu was doing some project, an article of some sort, she explains how she was an atheist. She really didn’t have much interest at all. But Prabhupada’s association, he could have just dismissed her as an atheist because she was, but he, he treated her with so much respect and he was honest what our philosophy was. But he cared whatever little spark was there, he reciprocated. He was grateful and soon she was transformed and between this most illustrious historical husband and wife Yadubara Prabhu and Vishakha Devi, their films, their books, their articles have actually transformed tens and thousands, hundreds and thousands of people’s hearts.
It was all based on this principle of reciprocation. Srila Prabhupada would find faults, but even when he did, it was always to uplift and protect. And many of my Godbrothers and Godsisters, you see it in their interviews, but Srila Prabhupada through that reciprocation and that’s what ISKCON really is, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Mythali Priya Devi, she sent a message to me that I should speak on ‘what pleases me’. I remember one time; they asked Srila Prabhupada, large group of devotees, what pleases you most and Srila Prabhupada said, “What pleases me the most is when you love Krishna.” And what that means is when you actually, sincerely take to the process by which we could love Krishna. Srila Prabhupada with tears in his eyes and choked up voice, he would thank us for assisting him in his service to his Guru Maharaj. That’s what pleased him the most. And when we honestly examine that statement, we understand when we are fighting with each other; we are doing a great dis-service to Srila Prabhupada’s mission of serving his Guru Maharaj. When we are lethargic in our own Sadhana, when we are negligent in studying Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, when we are not enthusiastic to serve according to whatever capacity we have, then we are, we are being, we don’t have a capacity to actually be what we can to assist Srila Prabhupada in the service of his Guru Maharaj.
What pleases me is simply what will make Srila Prabhupada happy. What will make Srila Prabhupada happy is when we do sincerely take shelter of the Holy Names. When we really do overcome our differences and unite on the higher principle to have a society that will attract the world, to Krishna’s service, where we are willing to perform Tapasya, austerities. Srila Prabhupada performed so many austerities for us and all of his followers have performed so many austerities to assist him and for the next generation, what please all the representatives of Srila Prabhupada is to perform austerities. The austerity of our Sadhana, the austerity of our cooperation, the austerity of following these regulative principles and doing everything we can to serve.
Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple began with just a few little Brahmacharis, very young very spaced out and maybe a dozen or more, just hardly a dozen sincere Grihasta families. They were kind of homeless and broken hearted. But everyone wanted to serve. Everyone wanted to work together, serve together. That was the seed. And yes as it grew, a program like this was an impossibility to even conceive with this many people.
I remember we would sometimes have events at Krishna Chandra Prabhu’s house and the back part of his living room which is about a third of his living room would almost get filled up and we were thinking this his huge. So many people are coming. And then gradually the other room filled up and we couldn’t even believe how we are expanding and I was remembering this in November during the Mayapur Yatra as I was sitting and looking out at all of you. I was with the Mayapur devotees and it was probably, well over seven thousand devotees. How did it happen? It’s that higher purpose. We were united in that higher purpose.
But with time, so that we actually have the opportunity to truly understand deeper levels of surrender, Krishna will not make it easier. He actually makes it harder. Sometimes we are thinking, after sometime everything will be very easy. On one level it may be easier but until we are truly completely pure, Krishna will not make it easy. At every stage there is a different type of challenge. Challenges of relations with each other, challenges of projects.
Srinathji Prabhu, he had a personality that was very inconceivable to me. He loved to fight to defend devotees. When there would be some attack against Radha Gopinath Temple, a legal attack to try to close it down, shut us down and devotees were like, what are we gonna do and Srinathji Prabhu would say, “I love a good fight” and he would make some alliance with Mahaprabhu Prabhu and the two would just be in action.
There was always obstacles and there always will be obstacles because the material world is especially created by Krishna and designed by Brahma and the Demigods, to be a place of hardships and when we become devotees, the hardships don’t go away. Sometimes they become more but there is a different perspective. The perspective is these hardships are there to help me to actually surrender to the higher principle of what pleases my Guru and Krishna.
I remember, our dear Godbrother Hayagriva Prabhu was laying, on his death bed and he had very advanced cancer, he was in so much pain and I would sit at his bed side and read Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita to him and I recited this verse- tat te ‘nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam. I said, “Hayagriva Prabhu”, because the verse was there in the purport. I said, “this is one of Srila Prabhupada’s most often quotes” that one who goes through sufferings, great obstacles and inconvenience with a grateful heart, offering obeisances to Krishna, carrying on with his service, that person liberation is the rightful claim. What happened at that moment when I just said that, I just quoted Prabhupada. It wasn’t me talking, it was Prabhupada talking. Hayagriva Prabhu, he lit up. He smiled like a child. He said, “I am so fortunate” and that was simply his mood.
That’s what gratitude is. Gratitude is not circumstantial. Common mundane gratitude is when I get what I want I am grateful, when I don’t get what I want I am not grateful. But a Vaishnav, the attitude is gratitude, the spirit. Whatever hardships, whatever difficulty, I am grateful for the opportunity to surrender because we do not have the choice very often of what circumstances are going to be. But we do have a choice, whether we are going to see it as an opportunity to take shelter of Krishna or not.
Next, what does it mean to take shelter of Krishna? A neophyte devotee who remains a neophyte is one who, they have their own version of what taking shelter of Krishna is. But if we want to actually make advancement, we try to understand what Krishna is telling us it means to take shelter of Him. Srila Prabhupada explained it in so many ways. But it all came to the same principle, whatever the situation; taking shelter of Krishna is how can I please You? I am Yours Krishna. How can I please You in this situation?
Srila Prabhupada’s example we have heard and for those who have seen Yadubara Prabhu and Vishakha Devi’s film about Srila Prabhupada, it’s quite awesome to see Prabhupada on that giant screen in a movie theatre. So many devotees are speaking and what to speak of the people who put everything together behind the scenes. They are all giving their testimony of how their lives were transformed by Prabhupada’s example in every situation. He was simply trying to please his Guru Maharaj. That’s the standard.
Yes, there are limitless reasons we can justify not chanting Hare Krishna, going off on our own, trying to find something easier to do, complaining because the situation just isn’t what we want it to be. But if we want to actually make real spiritual advancement, we want to really show gratitude, how could I best assist my Guru, my Gurus, in assisting in Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Because really there is nothing else we can do that will please Krishna. Little things we can get some thanks for. But Srila Prabhupada felt eternally indebted to anyone who truly was willing to go through the sacrifices of living in this material world for the higher purpose of creating a devotional community and reaching out to the world with Lord Chaitanya’s mercy. Ultimately that’s all that matters.
And the more we grow the more complicated it becomes. The congregation, many complaints, what are we going to do? There’s just too many people and we are not getting enough time from the brahmacharis and we are not getting enough time from Radhanath Swami and we are not getting enough of this and that. It’s wonderful to me and Brahmachari Ashram also growing and growing in Pune, in Radha Gopinath Temple and so many places and so many there’s conflicts believe it or not. Always different kinds of adjustments and changes. One of the biggest adjustment and changes is people are getting old.
When we first started Radha Gopinath Temple, you know Sahadev and Mahaprabhu and Palika and Suchitra and Radha Krishna and Palika, they were the only old people. I was when we first started Radha Gopinath Temple, I was like 34, something like that and the brahmacharis were all teens and twenties, now, now the babies that were born are older than I was when we started the Temple.
There are always these set of challenges but somehow or other the challenges that are there, devotees are sincere they are really trying to do something wonderful so why does Krishna, let these hardships come? Why does He let these problems and these conflicts and these setbacks happen? The answer is in Yadubara Prabhu and Vishakha Devi’s film. We saw at one place where Srila Prabhupada, it appeared that he was going to leave this world. Most of the devotees at that time were just a few months in the movement. The majority of our movement who had just joined a few months before and the senior most devotees were about two years and before Srila Prabhupada left for Vrindavan, he said that, you know I am going to Vrindavan and Krishna will decide. It sounded like he will never come back.
Prabhupada said I have given you everything you need to know, now stay in this movement and expand it and then he got on the airplane and left with one other devotee. Devotees took responsibility themselves and as the movement grew more and more and more, there was less and less time for everyone but a few, a few people were there personally being directed by Srila Prabhupada but 98% of our movement had hardly any connection. But even those who hardly had any connection physically even they as this society was getting bigger and bigger felt the need to take responsibility to assist Srila Prabhupada in the service of his Guru Maharaj.
So as we grow it’s an opportunity, brahmacharis, grihastas to actually take responsibility, not just be leaders in a official status or role but be leaders in our, in our surrender. So every situation is a wonderful opportunity. Most of you here this evening have been serving faithfully making great sacrifices practically from the very beginning or the first ten years of Radha Gopinath’s pastimes in Chowpatty and I am deeply thankful to you because you have done so much to make Srila Prabhupada smile so please be enthusiastic, be determined, cooperate in this higher principle.
I am forever grateful to you. Thank you very much!