We are here not by our good qualities, not by our pious credits, not for any reason except that His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada came here and blessed us. He exposed us. He opened our eyes, our darkened eyes, and he exposed us to this transcendental knowledge, transcendental culture, transcendental way of life, and he is continually guiding us and encouraging us. We all belong to Srila Prabhupada’s family. He is our father or our grandfather; he is our friend, our guru. His mercy is all that we are made of.
Prabhupada’s books are there—his tapes, his lectures, ITV—but my feeling is that we need something more to push us over the edge into the divine realm. We need association with a person who is a servant of Srila Prabhupada. And especially we are connected by the association, or by the mercy, or by the kindness of a diksa-guru, who acts as a surrogate. A surrogate is a substitute—not exactly a substitute, but sometimes a mother and father are not able to produce a child, so another woman, a surrogate mother, agrees to receive the seed of the man, and a child is produced. A better example is a viceroy. We need someone to show us Srila Prabhupada in action, in emotion. We are very much persons, emotional persons. We have intellect and we have emotions, and bahunam janmanam ante, in the end it is our emotional, devotional service—purified devotional service, prema-bhakti, loving devotional service—both to guru and to Krishna, that will bind us.
So we need to find a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who carries Srila Prabhupada in his heart and who will help us. He will share with us his love, his realization, his joy, his ecstasy, so that we also can be inspired. We need this—it’s very important—and we find this person by our intelligence and by our faith. It is a business of the heart, very much a business of the heart, that we are attracted. And disciplic succession is such a sacrosanct principle that we have to protect it. We have to involve ourselves to make ourselves recipients of that descending mercy, and we have to protect ourselves from all sorts of naysayers and envious persons and obstacles.
Of course, as I said, we are in a family, and we have our diksa-guru, but we are also not a personality cult. We have many people who help us in our spiritual lives, and wherever you find Srila Prabhupada in the heart of a devotee, you should bow down there—wherever you find him and wherever you receive genuine siksa. You can have many siksa-gurus, and of course officially people talk about receiving permission from your diksa-guru to accept so-and-so as your siksa-guru, and that’s well and true. But just as the first initiation does not become formalized until later but appears first in the heart, similarly, whenever we hear anything nice about Srila Prabhupada, we can take it with joy and appreciate it.
It is a difficult time in our family; Kali-yuga is such a difficult time. I am amazed how anyone can be Krishna conscious. Srila Prabhupada told us, “You should not be surprised when someone falls down. Everyone is fallen. You should be surprised when someone is able to follow nicely.” So, it is a difficult time, and we are weak. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” And we are bombarded with so many stimuli agitating our senses and mind, and we are surrounded by people who are suffering, who are in ignorance, and some of them are even belligerent, demoniac. It is a very difficult time, and we need all the help we can get; at least I need all the help I can get, and I try to get help from my godbrothers. I really need their mercy. And I have many friends among my godbrothers, but for me, since the very early days in Bombay, ’72, ’73, Srila Giriraj Swami has been my siksa-guru. I am not a very good disciple, but still he is my siksa-guru. I feel like that. And I hope that all of you will enjoy Krishna conscious life by following Srila Prabhupada and by following Giriraj Swami and all of the nice Vaishnavas and Vaishnavis in ISKCON.
One symptom of progress in devotional service is that one should become jolly, brahma-bhutah prasannatma. We should become prasanna, joyful, na socati na kanksati. How will we give up our attachment to material life? By becoming joyful, jolly. Prabhupada said a brahmachari becomes jolly. So we have to judge by the result.
Everything about Krishna consciousness is wonderful—every kind of devotional service. There is no need to be envious of anyone else for any kind of devotional service. Cleaning the bathroom for Krishna is so ecstatic. I offer my obeisances to the bathroom cleaners of Krishna, because they are wonderful devotees. In fact, some of our best devotees in Pakistan are bhangis. Recently someone remembered me from Pakistan, Ranchore Line. Giriraj Swami and I went there one time, and we preached to all the Pakistani people, to intellectuals, but in Ranchor Line, Narayanpur, our devotees come from that line, bathroom cleaners. Whatever service you have, it is the service mood, the service attitude that “I am prepared to do anything to serve Krishna and to serve His devotees,” that will keep us happy and help us to develop that house that people talk about, where everyone can live. But it is based on love and trust. A devotee has no interest in politics or even in polemics.
So, please carry on as you are doing. I know a number of you, and you can tell a tree by its fruits. You are all nice servants of Vaishnavas. For me, in my stage of life, if I have learned even one little lesson, it is dasa-dasanudasah—cultivate service to the Vaishnavas and you will get everything. We need a family in which we can love and trust each other and not fear. We have to preach to so many materialistic people, and their very aura is permeated with lust and greed and anger, and there is a possibility of getting infected. But if we can come to a community of friends, of brothers and sisters, in which we love each other, care . . . I am not talking of superficially saying something, but really caring deep down inside that this person is suffering, even materially. Prabhupada cried when he saw people suffering in the material world, so, what to speak of exalted Vaishnava devotees. We should care for them and love them. This is our family.
Thank you, Giriraj Swami, for being there for all of us, for guiding us. And thank you for producing so many nice boys and girls who are helping you in your preaching work and also preaching nicely all over the world—in India, in Africa. I pray that more and more books will be forthcoming from your wonderful, powerful pen, from your heart, and that people will . . . I am just so anxious, because Giriraj Swami has a nickname. Probably you all know it, but for those who don’t, we call him “Mr. Prabhupada Stories,” because he is an ocean of Prabhupada stories. I have heard many of them over the years, but I want to hear more and more. And I know the nectar is coming. So please give us more and more books. We pray that more and more devotees will come to your lotus feet and learn about how to become softhearted and pure.