Please accept my humble, prostrated obeisances at your all-merciful lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace.
When an interviewer once asked you, “What is the goal of life?” you replied, “The goal of life is to enjoy.” The effort to enjoy materially, through the mind and senses, leads only to frustration and misery. But spiritually one can enjoy in relation to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that pleasure, unlike the temporary so-called happiness of the material world, is eternal, and that eternal happiness can be realized through the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and you. Nitya means “eternal,” and ananda means “bliss.” So if we can come in touch with Lord Nityananda—through you—we can realize that eternal bliss for which we are hankering.
How do we become eligible for your and Lord Nityananda’s mercy? We can learn how from the description of His qualities and pastimes in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Seventeen: “The Pastimes of Lord Caitanya in His Youth”:
tabe saci dekhila, rama-krsna—dui bhai
tabe nistarila prabhu jagai-madhai
Thereafter Mother Sacidevi saw the brothers Krsna and Balarama in Their manifestation of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda. Then the Lord delivered the two brothers Jagai and Madhai.
In your purport, you write:
“Jagai and Madhai were two brothers born in Navadvipa in a respectable brahmana family who later became addicted to all kinds of sinful activities. By the order of Lord Caitanya, both Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura used to preach the cult of Krsna consciousness door to door. In the course of such preaching they found Jagai and Madhai, two maddened drunken brothers, who, upon seeing them, began to chase them. The next day, Madhai struck Nityananda Prabhu on the head with a piece of earthen pot, thus drawing blood. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard of this, He immediately came to the spot, ready to punish both brothers, but when the all-merciful Lord Gauranga saw Jagai’s repentant behavior, He immediately embraced him. By seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face and embracing Him, both the sinful brothers were at once cleansed. Thus they received initiation into the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra from the Lord and were delivered.
“Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura to go into Navadvipa to approach whomever they met on the way and to go door-to-door and request people to chant the name of Krishna, to worship Krishna, to follow Krishna’s instructions (bolo krsna, bhajo krsna, koro krsna-siksa)—and not to distinguish between who was qualified and who was not. And you, Srila Prabhupada, preached in that mood.
“When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was ready to kill Jagai and Madhai because the latter had physically injured Nityananda, the all-merciful Nityananda Prabhu said, ‘No, Lord, don’t do that. Don’t harm them. In Kali-yuga Our mission is not to kill the demons but to deliver them. And in Kali-yuga almost everyone is like Jagai and Madhai.’ ”
In a conversation on June 11, 1975, in Honolulu, you said, “This is a good certificate we have got from some very authoritative person, that we are turning these drug-addicted hippies into servants of Krishna and humanity. Is it not a good certificate?”
“Yes. It’s true. We were all hippies,” Govinda Dasi responded.
And you replied, chuckling, “This is the fact. And I came to America for this purpose. Papi tapi jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo, tara saksi jagai madhai. Hari-name uddharilo, simply by chanting Hare Krishna mantra, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu delivered all sinful men, suffering humanity. Is it true? What is the evidence? Tara saksi jagai madhai. Just see, Jagai and Madhai was drunkard. So, I thought, ‘Why one Jagai and Madhai? Why not hundreds and thousands of them, if hari-nama has got so much power?’ So, actually it has done so. Now you also take it very seriously. Papi-tapi jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo. Papi means sinful, and tapi means suffering. So, these two classes of men are there all over the world: sinful and suffering. As soon as one becomes sinful, he will suffer. So, all these sinful and suffering beings were delivered simply by the method of sankirtana: hari-name uddharilo. Tara saksi jagai madhai. People would actually see Jagai and Madhai, what they were and what they have become. Try to administer this.”
In your purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya, 16.65, you write:
“Jagai and Madhai were delivered solely by Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy. When they injured Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Caitanya became angry and decided to kill them with His Sudarsana cakra, but Nityananda Prabhu saved them from the Lord’s wrath and delivered them. In the incarnation of Gaura-Nitai, the Lord is not supposed to kill demons but is supposed to deliver them by preaching Krsna consciousness. In the case of Jagai and Madhai, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so angry that He would have immediately killed them, but Nityananda Prabhu was so kind that He not only saved them from death but elevated them to the transcendental position. Thus what was not possible for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was carried out by Nityananda Prabhu.
“Similarly, if one is true to Gaura-Nitai’s service in the disciplic succession, he can even excel Nityananda Prabhu’s service. This is the process of disciplic succession. Nityananda Prabhu delivered Jagai and Madhai, but a servant of Nityananda Prabhu, by His grace, can deliver many thousands of Jagais and Madhais. That is the special benediction of the disciplic succession. One who is situated in the disciplic succession can be understood by the result of his activities. This is always true as far as the activities of the Lord and His devotees are concerned. Therefore Lord Siva says:
aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarcanam
‘Of all types of worship, worship of Lord Visnu is best, and better than the worship of Lord Visnu is the worship of His devotee, the Vaisnava.’ (Padma Purana)
“By the grace of Visnu, a Vaisnava can render better service than Visnu; that is the special prerogative of a Vaisnava. The Lord actually wants to see His servants work more gloriously than Himself. . . . If we simply follow Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions and follow in the footsteps of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, this Krsna consciousness movement can advance, and even more difficult tasks can be performed by the preachers remaining faithful to the service of the Lord.”
You took up the same mood of approaching anyone and everyone—pious or sinful, qualified or unqualified—without discrimination. As Nityananda Prabhu said, in Kali-yuga practically everyone is like Jagai and Madhai. That may be more apparent in America and Europe than in India—though I did hear a talk in which you were discussing how demonic Western civilization is and how the leaders, and pretty much everyone, are demons, but then added, “Actually in my country also, 80 percent are demons.” But still, what you encountered in 1965 when you came to America was something that people now, especially people in India, can hardly imagine.
Krsna Candra Prabhu (Hrishikesh Mafatlal) from Mumbai used to say that people cannot imagine who you encountered when you went to America. He recommended that everyone see the DVDs of you when you came to America, first at 26 Second Avenue in New York, then at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. People can’t believe, can’t imagine, the type of people you were approaching. And they didn’t always receive you well. To get some idea of what you experienced, everyone should read Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta and watch the DVD series Following Srila Prabhupada.
One of the most dramatic incidents occurred in the summer of 1966, when you were living in a loft in New York’s Bowery, which was the most degraded part of the city, its “Skid Row,” and was inhabited mostly by drunks. But even they had a little respect. They would be sprawled out on the sidewalk and on the stairs leading up to your apartment, but somehow they sensed that you were a saintly person, and so they would try to move over and make room for you to pass.
You were staying with a young man who seemed interested in Krishna consciousness. In fact, you thought, “I’ll train him as a Vaishnava.” But one day the young man went crazy, probably from taking LSD—the 1960s equivalent of the strong liquor Jagai and Madhai were taking five hundred years ago. In his crazed state he threatened to attack you. Indeed, he seemed ready to kill you, just as Madhai was ready to kill Nityananda Prabhu. You bolted out of the room and ran down the stairs, much as Haridasa Thakura and Nityananda Prabhu had fled from Jagai and Madhai.
It’s quite a history. In fact, how you stayed in different people’s places and endured so much hardship for the sake of delivering the mercy of Gaura-Nitai is inconceivable. On the boat to America you had suffered two heart attacks, and even in America you had a lot of physical problems. But you endured everything—all these “attacks of maya”—for the sake of delivering Gaura-Nitai’s mercy to us. And what Nityananda Prabhu wanted in India has been fulfilled by you outside India. What Nityananda Prabhu wanted was fulfilled in Bengal, but through you it’s been fulfilled throughout the world. So, you are really the embodiment of that mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. There had not been anyone in the history of our sampradaya, no one after Nityananda Prabhu, who had taken up that mood of approaching anyone and everyone without discrimination, without considering who is qualified and who is not.
And you gave the same message: chant Krishna’s name, worship Krishna, accept Krishna as your life and soul—but not in so many words, because the people that you were approaching didn’t even know who Krishna was. When Nityananda approached people in Navadvipa and told them, “Chant Krishna’s name, worship Krishna, follow Krishna’s instructions,” they knew who Krishna was, they knew what Nityananda was saying, but in America and Europe nobody knew who Krishna was. So “Chant Krishna’s name, worship Krishna” had to be explained in books, and thus you wrote so many books to explain who is Krishna, what is Krishna’s name, how to chant Krishna’s name, how to worship Krishna, why we should accept Krishna as our life and soul, why we should surrender to Krishna —the same message that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu to deliver to everyone, but in an expanded form, because the people you were approaching had no idea of Krishna’s identity or instructions.
When we go out with your books, it is like when Mahaprabhu sent Nityananda and Haridasa to approach people with that message. Sometimes devotees are not well received, but even Nityananda and Haridasa were not always well received. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would have nocturnal kirtans in Srivasa Thakura’s house, and if anyone was proud, he was not allowed to enter. Only humble, pure devotees were allowed. So all the proud people in Navadvipa were upset that they weren’t allowed to join the kirtan, and when Nityananda and Haridasa came to their doors, they were angry with them—“Oh, you’ve come from that Nimai Pandit and Srivasa Thakura”—and they spread rumors about them: “They are thieves. They come to your door and say to chant Krishna’s name and worship Krishna, but really what they’re doing is looking in your house to see what you have so that they can come back at night and steal it.” They were spreading a lot of false propaganda. So, we have to accept that—expect it and accept it—without being deterred. It didn’t stop Nityananda and Haridasa, and it didn’t stop you, and it shouldn’t stop any of us.
ISKCON is the continuation of Nityananda Prabhu’s mission, and you really had His magnanimous mood. When one of your early disciples came to India and the Calcutta temple president phoned you in Bombay to tell you that the devotee was smoking ganja, marijuana, and asked what to do, you told your secretary to relay your response: “Tell him that if he doesn’t stop smoking ganja I will reject him.” Afterwards, Tamal Krishna Goswami asked you, “Is it true that if he doesn’t stop smoking ganja you will reject him?” And you said, “No—I cannot reject anyone.” Tamal Krishna Goswami asked, “But don’t you have to draw the line somewhere?” And you replied, “The mercy of Lord Nityananda is unlimited.” So that was your mood: you were in the mood of Nityananda Prabhu.
We are the recipients of Gaura-Nitai’s mercy through you. By your mercy we are chanting Krishna’s name, worshiping Krishna, and following Krishna’s instructions, accepting Krishna as the goal of our lives. And it is also by your mercy and order that we preach the same message to others. We can speak to our capacity, and whatever our capacity to speak may or may not be, we can give people your books, which convey the same message of Mahaprabhu. We just elaborate on it and present it in a way that people without any background in Vedic knowledge can understand.
So, on this most sacred and blessed occasion, we pray to you to inspire and empower us with your mood of humble persuasion. I saw that mood in you. You often instructed us, but I saw it personally. When we first came to Bombay, there was a program on the terrace of the house where we were staying—Seksaria Bhavan, on Marine Drive. It was very nice, very glamorous, near the sea, and our host, Kailash Seksaria, had invited all the elite, affluent, aristocratic people he knew in Bombay. And you, with the same humility as Nityananda Prabhu, implored them, “I am taking the straw in my mouth and begging you, Please chant Hare Krishna.”
You often quoted a verse by Prabodhananda Sarasvati about how we should approach people. The verse is, dante nidhaya trnakam padayor nipatya: “Taking a straw in my mouth [a sign of utter humility], I bow at your feet.” Krtva ca kaku-satam etad aham bravimi. “And I flatter you a hundred times.” He sadhavah: “O greatly learned man.” Sakalam eva vihaya durad: “Whatever you have learned, you keep it far away from you.” And gauranga-candra-carane kurutanuragam: “Just accept the mercy of Lord Gauranga, just surrender to Lord Gauranga, become attached to Lord Gauranga’s lotus feet.” You approached people in that mood.
One of my favorite statements of yours is “To approach Radha and Krishna, you need the mercy of Lord Chaitanya; to get the mercy of Lord Chaitanya, you need the mercy of Lord Nityananda; and to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, you have to approach people like Jagai and Madhai.” If we ever feel, “Oh, I’m too high, I’m too holy, I can’t approach these people,” we should think of that instruction and your example and really pray, beg, to be humble instruments of your love and mercy and compassion. As your guru-maharaja told you, “That will be good for you and good for the people who hear you.”
Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for all you have done for us—for the world. Kindly engage me as your servants’ servants’ servant.
Your eternal, grateful servant,