Srila Prabhupada–Dear to Krishna

A Response by Giriraj Swami
December 16, 2007
Chowpatty, Mumbai

After discussing a verse from the Bhagavad-gita, Chapter 12, at a Sunday
program at Chowpatty, I invited questions and comments, and a senior
brahmacari preacher responded:

Gauranga dasa: Thank you for a wonderful class. In this same Bhagavad-gita
chapter, entitled “Devotional Service,” in the thirteenth verse, Krsna
speaks about the qualities of pure devotees, thus establishing how pure
devotional service is the highest. Could you please explain how Srila
Prabhupada demonstrated some of these qualities?

Giriraj Swami: All right. We shall read from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter
Twelve, “Devotional Service,” texts 13-14:

advesta sarva-bhutanam
 maitrah karuna eva ca
nirmamo nirahankarah
 sama-duhkha-sukhah ksami

santustah satatam yogi
 yatatma drdha-niscayah
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
 yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah

“One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who
does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal
in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied,
self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his
mind and intelligence fixed on Me–such a devotee of Mine is very dear to
Me.”

Advesta–nonenvious. There are many examples of Srila Prabhupada’s
nonenvious nature, but one that comes to mind relates to a disciple of Srila
Prabhupada’s in a country where Prabhupada didn’t spend much time. He was
being accepted and worshiped like a guru by the other devotees there, and
when some devotees informed Srila Prabhupada, he said, “That’s all right. If
they are getting instruction and inspiration from him, it is all right if
they worship him like a guru.” Srila Prabhupada wasn’t envious. He wanted
everyone to advance in Krsna consciousness. That’s really all he
wanted–whatever would help people to advance in Krsna consciousness. As
long as in the end it wouldn’t harm them, he was happy.

Sarva-bhutanam maitrah–friendly towards all living entities. A devotee is
suhrdam sarva-bhutanam, “the benefactor and well-wisher of all living
entities.” (Bg 5.29) Srila Prabhupada saw the soul within every body, and he
didn’t want to cause any pain to any living entity. We have the example of
Mrgari the hunter, who in the jungle didn’t want even to step on an ant.
Although he was so eager to meet his guru maharaja, he checked himself
because he didn’t want to step on the ants. Likewise, Srila Prabhupada said
that we shouldn’t walk on the grass, because the grass has
consciousness–the living entities in the bodies of grass–and that if
somehow we can’t avoid it, we should chant the holy names while walking.

Srila Prabhupada wanted to deliver all living entities from the pangs of
material existence. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Haridasa Thakura assured
Lord Caitanya that any living entity, moving or nonmoving, who hears the
holy name can be delivered. And Srila Prabhupada wanted us to chant
everywhere–anywhere and everywhere–loudly. He said that if we chant loudly
even the ants will hear, the cockroaches will hear, the mosquitoes will
hear, the trees will hear, the grass will hear–all living entities will
hear and benefit.

When Srila Prabhupada first came to America and was staying in an apartment
in New York (before he established ISKCON), the landlord brought an
exterminator to kill all the “pests,” the insects, in the building, but
Srila Prabhupada wouldn’t let them do it in his apartment. So all the
insects from the other apartments came to Srila Prabhupada’s, and Srila
Prabhupada commented, “Just see, they are taking shelter of Krsna
consciousness.” He was the friend of all living entities.

Karunah–kindly. A sadhu, devotee, is karunikah suhrdah sarva-dehinam,
“merciful and friendly to all living entities.” (SB 3.25.21) Srila
Prabhupada exhibited his kindness by preaching Krsna consciousness. He came
to the West, befriended the hippies, and made them devotees. He traveled all
over the world to deliver the message of Krsna. And he wrote books about the
science of Krsna consciousness. While the world was sleeping, he stayed
awake at night to translate and comment upon Vedic literature. That was his
kindness, his compassion, his mercy. He slept only two hours at night. He
would take rest at about ten and awake at about twelve and translate and
write. He was karuna, kind, merciful.

Nirmamah–no sense of proprietorship. Although Srila Prabhupada had so many
temples, residences, vehicles, and other facilities, he didn’t feel himself
to be the proprietor. He was always detached and equal in all circumstances.

Srila Prabhupada had a very staunch devotee friend named P. L. Sethi who
lived near Juhu. Now, in the Juhu temple complex there are two towers, and
on the top of the one facing the ocean are Srila Prabhupada’s quarters. They
were done very nicely, with marble floors, carved-wood ceilings with
chandeliers, and carved-wood furniture. Mr. Sethi was a contractor; he
helped with the construction at Juhu and in many other ways. And Srila
Prabhupada always encouraged him to live with the devotees, but he never
did. So, when Srila Prabhupada’s quarters were ready, he invited Mr. Sethi
to see them. He showed him around, pointing out the bedroom; the drawing
room, a spacious hall with facilities for meeting people, for writing, and
for honoring prasada; the servants’ quarters; the kitchen; the foyer; and
the waiting room and library–all very beautifully done. Then Srila
Prabhupada told Mr. Sethi, “You always said that you couldn’t adjust to
ashram life, so come and stay here, and I will stay somewhere else. I am a
sannyasi; I can stay anywhere. You stay here.” That is nirmamah, no sense of
proprietorship. Whatever is there is Krsna’s and is meant to be used for
Krsna’s service–no personal attachment or false proprietorship.

Nirahankarah–without false ego. Once, Srila Prabhupada was giving a talk
about varnasrama-dharma–brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, sudras–and a
newspaper reporter challenged him, “You mentioned all these different orders
of life; which are you in?” thinking that Srila Prabhupada was implying that
he was the highest. Prabhupada paused for a moment. He didn’t answer. He
looked down, and with genuine humility said, “I am the lowest. I am the
servant of everyone.” And he meant it.

In the Vrndavana temple, when the devotees were originally planning to make
the deities of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura,
Srila Prabhupada said that his deity should show him with folded palms,
offering respect to all. And he said, “I am the servant of everyone.”
Nirahankarah–no false ego. He considered himself dasa-dasanudasah–servant
of the servant of the servant of Krsna. He even felt that he was the servant
of his disciples. He felt that his guru maharaja had sent him disciples to
help him in his mission and that his disciples were representatives of his
guru maharaja and he was their servant. And he served them by training them
in Krsna consciousness and engaging them in devotional service. So,
nirahankarah–no false ego.

“No false ego” doesn’t mean that we merge and become one with the impersonal
Brahman; “without false ego” means that we are established in our real
identities as Krsna’s eternal servants (jivera ‘svarupa’ haya–krsnera
‘nitya-dasa’), and in particular as servants of the servants of the servants
of the servants of Krsna (gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah). (Cc
Madhya 13.80) Muktir hitvanyatha-rupam svarupena vyavasthitih: “Liberation
means being situated in one’s eternal, original form after giving up the
changeable gross and subtle bodies.” (SB 2.10.6, Cc Madhya 24.135)

Sometimes when Srila Prabhupada had to chastise disciples he felt bad. He
did it as a service, but he felt bad. He said that one thing about being a
spiritual master that was hard for him was that he sometimes had to chastise
his disciples. He felt that they were Vaisnavas and that he was their
servant. But as duty he did it, following Canakya Pandita’s maxim: lalane
bahavo dosas tadane bahavo gunah/
tasmat putram ca sisyam ca tadayen na tu lalayet: “Pampering increases
faulty habits, and chastisement increases good qualities. Therefore, you
should always chastise your sons and disciples. Never give them lenience.”
So as a duty he did it, but within his heart he wasn’t happy.

Sama-duhkha-sukhah–equal in happiness and distress. Srila Prabhupada was
always fixed in Krsna consciousness. Sometimes he would be having a
discussion in his room about some difficult problem, but when it was time to
give class he would drop everything, walk into the temple room, and give the
most perfect lecture. All the heavy topics from the meeting were
forgotten–at least temporarily. He did what he had to do as the acarya, but
he was always fixed on Krsna.

Being equal in all circumstances doesn’t mean being artificially detached.
When one is attached to Krsna, he is naturally detached from maya. The
Bhagavad-gita (14.24-25) says,

sama-duhkha-sukhah sva-sthah
 sama-lostasma-kancanah
tulya-priyapriyo dhiras
 tulya-nindatma-samstutih

manapamanayos tulyas
 tulyo mitrari-paksayoh
sarvarambha-parityagi
 gunatitah sa ucyate

“He who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress;
who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone, and a piece of gold with an equal
eye; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable; who is steady,
situated equally well in praise and blame, honor and dishonor; who treats
alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material
activities–such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature.”
Such a position is possible when one is completely dedicated to Krsna. The
Lord is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, the form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss,
and when one is attached to Him, anything material–pebbles or gold–is
merely dead matter. It has no importance or value to him (unless it can be
used in Krsna’s service).

Santustah satatam–always satisfied. When Srila Prabhupada first stayed in
Mayapur, he lived in a thatched hut. After some time, the devotees built
what he called a “marble palace”–the first temple and guesthouse–but
Prabhupada didn’t want to move. He said, “This grass hut is in the mode of
goodness, but modern technology is in the mode of passion. Living in a grass
hut–in the mode of goodness–is more conducive for spiritual advancement.”
“But Srila Prabhupada,” the devotees protested, “if you stay in the grass
hut, people won’t come and hear your message. For the sake of preaching, you
should move into the marble palace.” Then Prabhupada agreed.

Personally, Srila Prabhupada was always satisfied. He didn’t mind where he
was.
Once, when some disciples were planning his travel schedule, they asked him
where he would like to go and which programs he would like to accept. And
Srila Prabhupada replied, “I am like a cow. You can put me anywhere and I
will give milk.” Cows by nature are satisfied. If they just get a little
grass to eat, they don’t mind where they are–and they give milk, nectar.
So, Srila Prabhupada was satisfied.

Yata-atma–self-controlled. Srila Prabhupada was completely
self-controlled–he engaged everything in Krsna’s service. Being
self-controlled doesn’t mean sitting and endeavoring to control the mind and
senses in an impersonal way. In a more advanced stage, it means engaging in
Krsna’s service. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that in a classroom if a
child misbehaves, the teacher may discipline him or her by ordering, “Just
stand in the corner and look at the wall. Don’t say or do anything else.”
That kind of discipline is like the yoga process. People who misbehave–who
cannot engage their mind and senses in devotional service–must restrain
their mind and senses. “Don’t look at anything, and don’t say anything.” But
those who are more mature and behave nicely don’t have to restrain their
mind and senses; they naturally engage them in Krsna’s service. Srila
Prabhupada’s self-control was that he was always engaged in Krsna
consciousness.

Drdha-niscayah–with determination. Srila Prabhupada demonstrated his fierce
determination in the great struggle to get the Juhu land and build a temple
for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. He was determined, but not for himself–for
the Deities. He said that he did not care so much for the land but that
because he had invited the Deities to stay there, it would be a great insult
if They were driven away. Some people said, “There are so many other pieces
of land; why fight so hard for this one?” But because he had invited Sri Sri
Radha-Rasabihari, he didn’t want Them to be insulted and sent away. As he
later explained, he had told the Deities, “You just come and stay here, and
I will build You a nice temple.” And by his determined, selfless service, he
was successful.

Mayy arpita-mano-buddhir–with mind and intelligence fixed on Krsna. That
was always there. When Srila Prabhupada first came to America, he was
exposed to concerts and other events with young people–hippies–who were
engaged in free sex, drugs, crass music, nudity, and whatnot, but he always
remained fixed in his determination to serve Krsna and prosecute his
mission. He wasn’t affected by attacks on his senses, because his mind and
intelligence were always fixed on Krsna. And thus he was always in a
completely pure state.

om apavitrah pavitro va
 sarvavastham gato ‘pi va
yah smaret pundarikaksam
 sa bahyabhyantara-sucih

“Unpurified or purified, or even having passed through all situations, one
who remembers the lotus-eyed Supreme Personality of Godhead is cleansed
without and within.” (Garuda Purana, quoted as Hari-bhakti-vilasa 3.47)
Prabhupada was always pure in any situation, because his mind and
intelligence were always fixed on Krsna, on the order of his guru maharaja
and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Even in his dreams and illness he was fixed on Krsna and His mission, from
the beginning to the end. On the ship to America, he suffered seasickness,
vomiting, and two heart attacks, but he dreamed that Lord Krsna, in His many
forms, was rowing a boat and that He told him that he should not fear but
should come along. Thus Srila Prabhupada was reassured of Krsna’s
protection. Later, in New York, Srila Prabhupada told some devotees, “I
dreamed that we had a boat, with twenty-five of us on board–twelve
sannyasis, twelve brahmacaris, and me. We went all over the world, and in
each port we had sankirtana.” And toward the end, in Vrndavana in 1977,
Srila Prabhupada suddenly awoke and told the devotees attending him, “I had
a dream. There was a big assembly of drunkards and chanters. The drunkards
were madmen. Some of the drunkards were becoming chanters. But the drunkards
would not stop fighting. They were so crazy.” Tamal Krishna Goswami asked,
“Were you also there?” “Yes, I was standing there also.” “Were some of the
chanters becoming drunkards?” “No,” said Srila Prabhupada. “Chanters cannot
fall down. Their names are listed–back to home, back to Godhead. They are
in Krsna’s family.”

Yo mad-bhaktah sa me priyah–such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me. Who
could be more dear to Krsna than Srila Prabhupada? He surrendered so much,
sacrificed so much, served so much, preached so much, gave so much. He did
what no one else ever did. He spread Krsna consciousness all over the world.
He saved people like us. And Lord Krsna Himself says,

ya idam paramam guhyam
 mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati
bhaktim mayi param krtva
 mam evaisyaty asamsayah

na ca tasman manusyesu
 kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad
 anyah priyataro bhuvi

“For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional
service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no
servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one
more dear.” (Bg 18.68-69)

Srila Prabhupada is most dear to Krsna, and so we surrender to him, as we
pray in our pranam mantra to him:

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna on this earth, having taken
shelter at His lotus feet.” He is very dear to Krsna, having taken shelter
of Him through parampara, having taken shelter of the lotus feet of his
spiritual master, who took shelter of the lotus feet of his spiritual
master, and so on, all through the line, all the way back to Krsna.

And because Srila Prabhupada is so dear to Krsna, his Krsna consciousness
movement is imbued with great potency. Anyone who sincerely follows Srila
Prabhupada, chanting the holy names, following the regulative principles,
strictly executing the entire process of devotional service as Srila
Prabhupada presented it, will have the potency to attract others to Krsna
consciousness.

We are seeing it practically. So many people are being attracted. Of course,
people are attracted by Srila Prabhupada’s books, by the holy names, by the
Deities, and by the temples, but these facilities are being maintained and
offered to people through Srila Prabhupada’s followers. By their potency and
mercy, people are being attracted to and engaged in pure devotional service,
Krsna consciousness. And that potency is coming to them through disciplic
succession, through Srila Prabhupada’s mercy. It is wonderful.

Thank you for that beautiful question, Gauranga Prabhu. It was the best
question anyone could have asked.

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One response to “Srila Prabhupada–Dear to Krishna

  1. Hare Krishna ……
    Jay Sril Prabhupada.

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