1. Vyasa-puja Offering to Srila Prabhupada, 2015

    nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāminn iti nāmine

    namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe nirviśeṣa-śūnyavādi-pāścātya-deśa-tāriṇe

    Śrīla Prabhupāda, it is my great pleasure to repeatedly recite your praṇāma-mantra, and I pray for the opportunity to do so forever, in whatever situation you may care to send me to. Janme janme prabhu sei: my relationship with you is eternal and it defines my very existence. Anything that I might do, say, or think that is not wholly and solely meant for your service is simply māyā. The most miserable thing possible for me would be if somehow, by my own madness, I were to be disconnected from your lotus feet.

    Śrīla Prabhupāda, you revealed to us that you were much influenced by an instruction from Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī’s commentary on Bhagavad-gītā 2. 41:

    “My spiritual master’s instructions are my sādhana and my life, both in the beginning stages of bhakti as well in bhakti’s perfectional stage. I desire only to follow his instructions, and I accept nothing else as my life’s work, even in dreams. I do not care whether I am happy or distressed, or whether the material world remains or is destroyed; there is no loss for me. I simply must carry out the orders of my spiritual master.”

    It is clear that you expected your disciples to imbibe this attitude in relation to yourself. You taught us why we should follow you, and you asked for total faith and commitment in our doing so, promising in return the opportunity to be admitted into pure loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nothing less than full, unwavering faith and commitment will serve the purpose. Accordingly, I have invested everything in you.

    A wise investor hedges his bets, knowing well that even the seemingly best of investments may go wrong. But you brook no ifs, buts, or maybe’s. “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary,” you told us, and we may add to that perhaps, what if, and just in case. Nothing but complete, unmotivated, uninterrupted devotional service to the Supreme Truth Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, offered via His pure representative – yourself – will suffice.

    Now that we are in what some over intelligent persons dub “the post-Prabhupāda era,” many “wise” voices warn us against accepting śāstra literally. Their reasoning goes something like this: “Rivers of mango juice and oceans of treacle just seem too fantastic. If ever such a person as Vyāsa ever existed, he was not able to avail of the gifts of scientific research and critical thinking, and was doing the best he could. His was the contribution of a genius, considering how little was known in previous times. But we have to judge all such works in the light of modern thinking. And clearly those plans for varṇāśrama and gurukulas and for bringing whole populations into Kṛṣṇa consciousness were merely the pious fancies of an impractical dreamer.”

    Śrīla Prabhupāda, I also could get away with thinking like that and still be counted among your followers by many who consider themselves your followers. But I will instead join you in (figuratively) kicking on the heads of all deluded intellectuals and pseudo realists (paṇòita-mānī). I deem it a far wiser choice to remain close to you and be rejected by the savants of this world than to join them in offering you backhanded compliments and in jockeying to secure PhD’s in sophisticated foolishness.

    We cannot be your followers yet also think that you are wrong. But we do not follow you blindly – which anyway is difficult to do, for your eternal occupation is the opening of eyes shrouded by ignorance.

    Once we venture outside the parameters provided by guru, sādhu and śāstra, we either indulge in our own mental speculation or take shelter of the mental speculations of others. Although it has become popular in ISKCON to imitate New Age gurus, I am doubtful that they can help us, and am wary that the so-called help provided by non-devotees might divert us from our real goal. However, I am convinced of the benevolence of guru, sādhu, and śāstra, and accept their directions as an infallible guide, even though they may be unfashionable or unpopular.

    Your challenge – to oppose everything that obstructs the truth – will devolve upon every generation of your followers. And in every generation, supposedly learned men will abound to assure the gullible that your mercy can be attained without having to actually believe what you say. I laugh at such people and stick tightly to your shelter. You will deliver not only me, but the whole world, back to Godhead – except those who disqualify themself by doubting you. Such persons are doomed to disgorge sophisticated lucubrations in 8,400,000 species of life. As a dog they will bark, and as an ass they will bray, but with you, Śrīla Prabhupāda, we will sport and frolic in the pasturing grounds of Goloka.

    No ifs or buts about it. We are with you, Śrīla Prabhupāda, and you will always be with us – if we actually want you to be. That is my conviction.

    My relationship with you, of sevya-sevaka-bhāva (Cc 3.2.95), is my only asset, the only meaning of my existence. Everything in this world will perish, but that relationship will continue forever. No one can take it away from me. The only way that I could lose it would be if out of madness I were to choose to turn my back on you and become grossly offensive to you and your genuine followers.

    After so many years of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, I should be asking you for that sweetest prema which is the ultimate fruit of chanting. Yet it is more realistic for me to pray that you protect me from the threat of fall down, which clearly doesn’t just vanish in course of time (as we unfortunately witness regularly in repeated catastrophes involving senior devotees).

    I simply pray that at the end of this short and miserable existence I will be able to go before you, Śrīla Prabhupāda, and truthfully say that I tried my best to live by, preach, and implement your message – and that I never changed it.

    Tumi ta’ ṭhākura, tomāra kukura, baliyā jānaha more.

    Bhakti Vikāsa Swami