We have gathered on the most auspicious occasion of Srila Prabhupada’s appearance day. His Divine Grace appeared in Calcutta in 1896, 125 years ago. And as he wrote of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, “He lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him.” So although from the physical point of view Srila Prabhupada is no longer with us, from the spiritual point of view he is: “He lives forever by his divine instructions.” And by following his instructions, we feel his presence; we live with him.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote an inscription for the tomb of Haridasa Thakura in Jagannatha Puri:
He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die
When thou art living still in sound.
The Vaisnavas die to live, and living try
To spread the holy name around.
Both Srila Prabhupada’s dedication and Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s inscription tell us that the spiritual master, the Vaishnava, never dies; he continues to live in sound, in his instructions (vani), forever. And by following his instructions, by chanting the holy name, we can fulfill his purpose and live with him.
One verse that especially glorifies Srila Prabhupada’s merciful nature and service comes in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Thirty-one: “The Gopis’ Songs of Separation.” The same verse appears in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Fourteen. It is a very beautiful verse in thought and mood.
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
sravana-mangalam srimad atatam
bhuvi grnanti ye bhuri-da janah
This verse was sung by the gopis after Krishna left the area of the rasa dance. They were searching the forest of Vrindavan for Him, and in their mood of separation they sang this song, or verse, to Him.
“The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.”
During the Ratha-yatra festival Lord Chaitanya was in the mood of Srimati Radharani when She met Krishna at Kurukshetra and wanted to bring Him back to Vrindavan. And when the procession stopped to allow devotees to offer food to Lord Jagannatha, Lord Chaitanya, who felt exhausted from His dancing in sankirtana, went to a nearby garden to rest. While Mahaprabhu was lying on a raised platform, immersed in ecstatic loving feelings, King Prataparudra entered the garden, and, taking permission from the Lord’s other associates there, he began to massage the Lord’s lotus feet and to recite the gopis’ songs of separation, which was perfectly suitable for Lord Chaitanya’s mood.
When Lord Chaitanya heard the verse describing the glories of the messages of Godhead and of those who broadcast such messages, He rose and embraced the king, crying, “Bhuri-da! Bhuri-da! You are the most munificent! You are the most munificent—because you are giving Me the nectar of krsna-katha, which is so glorious.”
And that is exactly what Srila Prabhupada did for us—he gave us krsna-katha. He gave us many thousands of pages and thousands of hours of krsna-katha. He is bhuri-da, the most munificent personality.
Now, to get the full benefit of what Srila Prabhupada gave us and did for us, and consequently to experience the appreciation and gratitude and love that are naturally due him, we—I—must take advantage of his transcendental gifts, especially krsna-katha: first and foremost his books, and also his lectures, morning walks, room conversations, letters—all that he gave us; they are all krsna-katha.
Tava kathamrtam. The katha that Prabhupada gave us and that King Prataparudra gave Lord Chaitanya is amrta. Amrta means “nectar,” the nectar that gives immortality. Mrta means “death,” or “birth and death,” and amrta means “no death.” The demigods drink an amrta that yields a long life of sense enjoyment, but this amrta gives one an eternal life, full of bliss and knowledge, in the company of Krishna and all His associates, which includes Srila Prabhupada.
Tapta-jivanam—krsna-katha gives life to those who are aggrieved in the material world. Tapa means “pain,” “misery,” or, more literally, “heat” or “burning.” We are all burning in the blazing fire of material existence, suffering the threefold miseries, and the spiritual master is like a raincloud that pours down water to extinguish it. The spiritual master showers the nectar of krsna-katha on the parched conditioned souls and thus delivers them from all suffering. It was said of the Six Gosvamis, papottapa-nikrntanau tanu-bhrtam govinda-ganamrtaih: “They purified all conditioned souls from the reactions of their sinful activities by pouring upon them transcendental songs about Govinda.” (Sad-gosvamy-astaka 3) And it is said of Srimad-Bhagavatam, tapa-trayonmulanam: “It uproots the threefold miseries.” (SB 1.1.2) Srila Prabhupada has given us krsna-katha—Srimad-Bhagavatam and the works of the Gosvamis—which can deliver us from material miseries and give us new life.
praptasya kalyana gunarnavasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
“The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.” (Gurv-astaka 1)
Tapa also has another meaning—the fire of separation. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Srimati Radharani and the other gopis, were burning in the fire of separation from Krishna. Talking about Krishna, krsna-katha, gave them life. Similarly, anyone suffering in separation from Krishna, from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, from Their associates, from Srila Prabhupada, or from his associates, can get solace from krsna-katha.
Kavibhih—“great thinkers,” “sages,” “poets.” Srila Prabhupada was a great thinker. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu tells us that as a student of philosophy and religion in the university he encountered so many philosophical and religious conceptions but that when he discovered Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings, everything else he had heard and read before was—in clarity, in depth, and in substance—like child’s play in comparison. And Srila Prabhupada was also poetic.
Iditam—“described.” These great thinkers, devotees, and poets, such as Srila Prabhupada, describe Krishna.
Kalmasapaham—kalmasa means “sinful reactions” or “material miseries,” and apaham means “drives away” or “eradicates.” Sinful reactions result in material miseries, and krsna-katha, chanting and hearing about Krishna, brings immediate relief. We have all experienced it. The Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu says that from the stage of sadhana-bhakti one experiences klesaghni, the eradication of material miseries. From the very beginning, we can experience it. Engaging in krsna-katha frees us from sinful reactions and thus enables us to progress in devotional service. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (7.28),
yesam tv anta-gatam papam
bhajante mam drdha-vratah
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.” Only when we are free from sinful actions and reactions can we take to devotional service with firm determination.
Srimat—“filled with spiritual power and opulence.” The nectar of krsna-katha, according to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, bestows all wealth, up to prema (prema-dhana), and so, even if we give everything we possess to one who broadcasts (atatam) the messages of Godhead, we will never be able to repay him.
Bhuvi grnanti—“chanted and spread all over the world.” This phrase particularly applies to Srila Prabhupada, who left India, journeyed to America, and traveled all over the world to transmit these narrations, to broadcast the message of Krishna. No one had ever done that. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had desired and predicted it, yet even learned scholars in the line of Mahaprabhu and Sarasvati Thakura could not imagine that it would come to pass. They took Mahaprabhu’s statement as a poetic devotional outpouring, not as a literal prediction.
prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
“In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy name will be preached.” (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura made a beginning. He sent copies of his book The Life and Precepts of Lord Caitanya to libraries in different parts of the world. And Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura sent some sannyasis to preach in Europe (though without much effect). But it was Srila Prabhupada who actually traveled and spread the holy name of Krishna—krsna-katha—all over the world. He personally translated Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, and other Vedic scriptures into English, and he inspired his followers to translate his books into other languages and distribute them everywhere. He also said that if he could live longer, he would render more Vedic texts into English, and his followers are continuing his work.
Where would we be now if he hadn’t done what he did? We would probably be where we were, or even worse, burning in the blazing fire of material existence, burning in the fire of hellish sinful reactions.
Thus, Srila Prabhupada is bhuri-da, the most munificent. Srila Rupa Gosvami glorified Lord Chaitanya as the most munificent incarnation of Godhead:
namne gaura-tvise namah
“Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya is more magnanimous than any other avatara, even more than Krsna Himself, because He is bestowing freely what no one else has ever given—pure love of Krsna.” (Cc Madhya 19.53) Lord Chaitanya preached only in India. It was Srila Prabhupada who preached throughout the world, freely distributing krsna-katha, krsna-nama, and krsna-prasada, which bring one to krsna-prema.
And Srila Prabhupada wanted his followers, the devotees in ISKCON—he specifically mentioned the temple presidents and zonal secretaries—to be munificent, because they are representing Lord Chaitanya. We should all be munificent, benevolent. How? By spreading the message of Godhead—distributing transcendental literature and personally speaking about Krishna.
Considering the value of what Srila Prabhupada has given us, we can never fully repay him. Still, we should want to repay him, and act to repay him, by following in his footsteps. As Srila Prabhupada wrote, “If you feel at all indebted to me, then you should preach vigorously like me. That is the proper way to repay me. Of course, no one can repay the debt to the spiritual master, but the spiritual master is very much pleased by such an attitude in the disciple.”
Srila Prabhupada is spiritual master—at least siksa-guru—for all of us, so we must work to repay our debt to him by following in his footsteps and preaching. And to preach, one must also practice; one must have spiritual strength. So we—I—must do both: practice and preach.
At one Ratha-yatra in Los Angeles, soon after the chariots arrived at Venice Beach, my dear godbrother Bhargava Prabhu poured some of the nectar of krsna-katha into my ears. The atmosphere at the Ratha-yatra was surcharged with spiritual potency and emotion and bliss, and he told a story that was most appropriate for the occasion, about the residents of Vrindavan going to Kurukshetra to meet Krishna.
Krishna Himself was always feeling separation from the residents of Vrindavan. In His sleep He would call out the names of the cowherd boys, the cows, and the gopis, and sometimes His pillow would be wet from the tears He had shed.
So, Krishna thought that if He went to Kurukshetra He might be able to meet the residents of Vrindavan, because Kurukshetra, unlike Dvaraka, is not so far from there. The residents of Vrindavan, too, were eager to meet Krishna. And so they journeyed to Kurukshetra. From the time of His youth, Krishna had an understanding with Nanda Maharaja that no one should ever know about their intimate relationship, because if the demons knew that He had been raised as the son of Nanda in Vraja, they would attack Vraja and do harm to the Vraja-vasis—to get at Krishna.
When Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd community reached Kurukshetra, there were so many people and horses and chariots and elephants and tents everywhere, he couldn’t see Krishna. But he could smell Him, the divine fragrance of His transcendental body. So he followed the scent to the place from where it was emanating, and then he saw Krishna. But was it Krishna? Nanda had known Krishna as his little cowherd boy. But here was a king, attired in royal garb, with so many princes and warriors, all well-dressed and ornamented, offering Him praise and respect and bowing their heads at His feet. Still, Nanda wanted to approach Krishna, but remembering their agreement, he restrained himself and retired to the camp allotted to him and the other Vraja-vasis.
Later, Krishna came, secretly, to meet them all. And He reciprocated their ecstatic loving feelings. It is described that Mother Yasoda took Krishna on her lap and with tears from her eyes and the milk from her breast, she bathed Him; she performed an abhiseka of Krishna with her love. Yasoda’s body is completely spiritual, composed of prema. Her tears are liquid prema. Her milk is liquid prema. And so she performed a loving abhiseka for Krishna.
Then Krishna went out to see the bulls and oxen. They were now all grown up. He went to each of them, one by one. He recalled each one’s name and lovingly patted each and every one of them, saying, “Oh, So-and-so, I remember you. I remember when you were just a small bullock, and now you are all grown up, so big and strong.” And He affectionately embraced each one.
And I was thinking how merciful Krishna is, how kind He is to us—and also to the bulls, to animals. I remembered Srila Prabhupada’s words: “You have seen Krishna’s picture. He’s embracing the calf also, and He’s embracing Radharani. Not that He’s simply attached to Radharani and the gopis. He’s attached to everyone, every living entity. Krishna is the best friend of everyone. So, if you want friendship, make friendship with Krishna. He’ll protect you, and He’ll satisfy you in all respects.” There is a beautiful picture in which Krishna has His arm around a calf. Krishna has great affection for you, especially if you try to serve Him. “To become an animal of Krishna is a great fortune. It is not an ordinary thing. Any associate of Krishna, His cowherd boyfriends or calves or cows, or the Vrindavan trees, plants, flowers, or water—they are all devotees of Krishna. They serve Krishna in different capacities. Somebody is serving Krishna as an animal. Somebody is serving Krishna as a tree, with fruits and flowers, as Yamuna water, or as the beautiful cowherd men and damsels, or as Krishna’s father and mother. Krishna has so many who love Him, and He also loves them.” Krishna consciousness is so beautiful, and deep.
And then I was thinking about Bhargava Prabhu—it was not an intellectual idea but a feeling that arose spontaneously in my heart: You have given me the greatest gift, krsna-katha. And that is what Prabhupada did for us. And that is what we, as his servants and followers, are meant to do for others, and for each other.
“It is called krsna-katha, topics about Krishna. The topics, or instructions, given by Krishna is the Bhagavad-gita, and the topics about Krishna, the activities of Krishna, is Srimad-Bhagavatam. So, some way or other, let us always discuss about Krishna. That should be the life of Krishna conscious people—to worship Krishna in the temple; to sell Krishna’s books, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita; to think of Krishna—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna; to eat krsna-prasada; to take all risk for Krishna; to do work for Krishna; or, as Arjuna, to fight for Krishna. Arjuna did not want to fight, but for Krishna’s sake he fought. So fight for Krishna, work for Krishna, think of Krishna, eat krsna-prasada, talk of Krishna, read of Krishna. So, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna. This is life. This is Krishna consciousness. This is a very glorified life.” (SP lecture, June 26, 1974)
For krsna-katha, for the holy name of Krishna, for the beautiful life of Krishna consciousness, and for his boundless, causeless mercy, I owe my life to Srila Prabhupada, eternally.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!