Kartik Journal | The Disappearance of Srila Prabhupada

November 19th, 2007

(Many devotees come to Govardhana in the middle of Kartik, especially around Govardhana Puja. It was not possible for me to keep up the journal regularly during that time. Hopefully I can now continue it until the end of Kartik.)

November 10-13, 2007
Sri Govardhana

I have been receiving a lot of positive feedback about the journals. One devotee asked for clarification on the November 8th japa thought below:

“Spiritual life: Feeling good about feeling bad about one self.”

She asked: “As I am sure that your statement above should not be interpreted to mean that spiritual life is a self-pity party, would you please elaborate on what you actually did mean?”

Japa exposes the folly of false ego, the conception of being the controller and the enjoyer. One then feels bad that one harbors such foolishness. That repentance for false ego (feeling bad about one self) is the beginning, however, of spiritual life and one should be happy about that. Spiritual life is thus “feeling good about feeling bad about one self.” It is therefore not self pity, but healthy repentance.

November 14, 2007
Sri Govardhana
Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Festival

More devotees this year than previous years went from Govardhan to the big festival in Vrindavana. I wasn’t sure what the festival was going to be like here. An inspiring group of devotees, however, did remain. At our quaint festival I explained the disadvantage of larger gatherings such as Vrindavana (although they have natural advantages also) where each devotee is allowed at most to speak for five minutes. I reasoned that it takes at least that long just to open one’s heart, what to speak of sharing what’s in it. In Govardhana, however, the few senior devotees were free to express themselves to their heart’s content. I also suggested that there was time for them to also discuss guru-tattva in addition to any anecdotes they had about Srila Prabhupada’s life, if they wanted. A short summary of the four main talks:

Sriman Gopipranadhana Prabhu:

He described the importance of vani-seva, which he described as “living out the words of the spiritual master in one’s own life”. He commented how that service was even available after the disappearance of the spiritual master.

Srila Prabhupada wrote so many letters, on so many subjects, to such wide variety of disciples, Gopipranadhana explained, but there was one thing in common in all letters. They all end with “your ever-well wisher”, which is the English translation of “suhrd“, one of many terms used in Sanskirt for “friend”. Why did Srila Prabhupada choose specifically this word instead of “mitra“, for example, which means “companion”, he asked. “Suhrd“, he answered, literally means “one whose heart is disposed to another’s welfare”. It thus perfectly describes the mood of Srila Prabhupada towards his disciple’s.

The word “ever” in “your ever well wisher”, he continued, is a phrase not very much used anymore. It means perpetual. By using the word “ever” Srila Prabhupada was thus indicating that the spiritual master is present eternally as one’s benefactor. He is thus the most reliable benefactor as his kindness towards one is perpetual. It never changes.

Her Grace Srimati devi:

She suggested that Srila Prabhupada was successful as preacher not just because of the philosophical content of his message, but due to the emotion in which he communicated his convictions. To demonstrate her point, she read Srila Prabhupada’s famous Vyasa Puja offering to his spiritual master in 1961. My favorite lines:

“But a festival of flowers and fruits is not the real worship:
One who serves the guru’s message really worships him.”

“Our master has said to preach;
Let the neophytes go in the temples to do nothing but ring bells.”

His Holiness Bhakti Gaurava Narayan Maharaja:

He described how he came to Krishna-consciousness. Maharaja was from a brahmana family in Puri working as a professor of Hindi literature at the university there. He was constantly searching for a spiritual group to join, but could not find an authentic mission that touched his heart until he received Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was impressed that Srila Prabhupada was promoting the four regulative principles for his society and thus decided to dedicate his life to preaching Krishna consciousness. He shared his realizations from twenty five years of preaching in India about how Srila Prabhupada’s books were transforming so many people’s lives.

Myself, I talked about gratitude. To help describe the depth of the culture of gratitude, I quoted a verse from the Bhagavatam where Draupadi argued that the life of Asvatthama should be spared even though he murdered her five sons. She says “siksito yad anugrahat“, “by his father’s (Dronacarya’s) mercy you have learned.” In other words, gratitude is so imperative, especially towards those by whose mercy one has learned, that Draupadi was arguing to spare the killer of her children simply because he was the son of their teacher!

How indebted, then, we should be to Srila Prabhupada for the gifts of knowledge he has given us. I also discussed those gifts, especially the ones that must effected me this year.

When I had initially arrived at the Bhaktivedanta Ashram for today’s program, I was surprised to see Srimati devi pulling up in a car. When I inquired why she had left Vrindavana on Srila Prabupada disappearance to come here, she mirrored something that was on my mind, “Srila Prabhupada was put into samadhi in Vrindavana, but he lives here now.” It was exactly the point that I wanted discuss later when I spoke.

I described during my lecture that during ones life one is naturally hesitant to reveal, especially publicly, ones intimate thoughts. At the end of life, however, intimate thoughts are more likely to be shared. This natural psychology is discussed in a commentary on the story of Putuna. She was posing externally as a beautiful nurse, but when dying at the hands of Krishna she naturally revealed her true nature as a witch.

Similarly, Srila Prabhupada was hesitant to express his inner desires during his life. For obvious reasons he never told us his specific relationship with Krishna, for example. I thought it was very significant therefore that at the end of his life, and I was there in the room, he told the devotees, “I want to go to Govardhana. Take me to Govardhana.” To my recollection that expression was one of the most intimate and specific spiritual desires that he ever expressed. Practically all of our guru parampara in their perfected spiritual forms have some form residence in Govardhana (which includes Radha Kunda), at least during the daytime pastimes. Considering that, and the fact of Srila Prabhupada’s expressed desire at the end of his life, a good argument could be made that in his perfected form Srila Prabhupada is residing in Govardhana. I thus encouraged the devotees to consider the significance of their stay in Govardhana on this auspicious day.

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