Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #35 – Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja

August 30th, 2021

Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of my beloved spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In his honor, I will share a short realization I had recently about his glories, and after that I will present my yearly homage to his honor.

 

The Significance of Srila Prabhupada’s Last Written Words

 

Unfortunately, Srila Prabhupada’s infirmity had visibly taken its toll on him. Day and night, he lay prone on his bed, and with whatever energy he could muster left in his body, he tried to rest comfortably and focus on the kirtan that softly played non-stop in his room. It is beyond comprehension that anyone in such a condition could gather the energy and mental acuity to continue dictating a profound commentary on such deep textual work as the Srimad-Bhagavatam. But he did. During hours through the day, he would listened attentively to his Sanskrit pandit read the various commentaries on a particular verse, assimilate them within his mind, and then with great effort bring his voice to a whisper into a dictaphone held to the side of his mouth, which is about as loud as he could struggle to be audible. Despite the condition in which these purports were written, I am convinced they are among his best. When going over those commentaries again recently, what particularly struck me was the significance of his last written words. They seemed to sum up in many ways the spiritual practice he was leaving the world:

 

“Seeing the Lord before him, Brahma began to offer prayers with great humility, respect and attention” (Bhag. 10.13.64)

 

Spiritual practice means concentration or attention. On the path of bhakti, that practice is kirtan or prayers, which to be done feelingly must be chanted from a platform humility and with respect (offenselessly)

 

Am I reading too much into this? Anyway, in classical hermeneutics, and in writing in general, what is said last is always significant.  Srila Prabhupada said that his books were dictated in his heart by Krishna. If that is a fact, Krishna certainly dictated a perfect legacy to his teachings. Can there be anything more significant in our practice than prayers or kirtan done with great humility, respect, and attention?

 

 

Vyasa Puja Homage

 

Dear Srila Prabhupada,

 

All glories to Your Divine Grace. Please accept my humble obeisances.

 

In many of the places I visited when I preached in South India during the summer of 1978, the people recognized us and proclaimed, “Yes, we have heard your Acyutananda Swami!”  I was impressed, not so much by how prominent Acyutananda had become by speaking their local language and singing their traditional songs, but by what that indicated about Your Divine Grace. It showed me the depth of your humility and devotion, for although you had every right to brand the movement with your name, you never did. Instead, you made it about Krishna and were thus more than happy to empower your disciples, who also brought Krishna to the forefront. As far as I know, no leader of any other Eastern religious or spiritual implant in the West could make the claim that their movement was about God more than about himself.

 

Today, in my homage to you, I would like to do something different. Although usually the plethora of your observable qualities are highlighted—as they should be—I would like to glorify you for what was not visible, which in a way says as much about your purity and devotion as anything else.

 

Let me start by further elucidating what my experience in South India revealed. You never promoted yourself, and thus we never saw in you even a whiff of the desire for pratistha (distinction) or puja (worship).

 

Your life was an open book, and although so many young ladies took shelter at your feet, no one ever saw you deal inappropriately, even subtly, with the opposite sex. In contrast, so many other Eastern gurus that came to the West—even those with high yogic accomplishments—fell prey to sex desire. That no one ever saw in you what seemed to plague everyone else, to one degree or another, showed us the glory of your clean heart.

 

By your mercy, the worship of Radha-Krishna was spread all over the world. In such an endeavor, it can be tempting to focus on the intimate side of the topic in a display of devotion meant to attract followers, even though most people today would likely misunderstand. Your preaching, however, though certainly deep, devotional, and comprehensive, was always careful, appropriately measured in terms of your audience. That you kept reserved the deeper internal side of your specific relationship with Krishna was also your glory.

 

There is no doubt that you had every talent needed to spread the teachings of bhakti around the world, or that your selflessness and devotion were self-effulgent. What is just as spectacular to me, however, is that you were always surrendered to the will of Krishna, down to both the simplest things you did and the unwanted things you avoided. It may not always have been flashy, but by your chastity to Krishna’s will, we were spared from seeing any ambition, lust, or pretension. I am honored that in this world of cheats and showmen, I have a spiritual master who, imbued with pure devotion, always remained beyond suspicion. I can only pray for your mercy that I can also always remain unseen in the same way.

 

Humbly in your service,

Dhanurdhara Swami

 

 

 

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