Jan 162023

A talk by Giriraj Swami at the conclusion of a meeting held in his honor at the residence of Lalita Sakhi dasi (Smt. Lalita Piramal), in the presence of HH Radhanath Swami and devotees from Juhu and Chowpatty.

Srila Prabhupada is so great we cannot even begin to estimate his greatness. In one sense he is like God, because anyone can surrender to him at any time and in any place and he will reciprocate. He will help the person to connect with the disciplic succession and progress on the spiritual path.

Somehow Srila Prabhupada considered Bombay to be very important. He wrote, “Bombay is the richest city, the gateway to India, and in all respects the most important city. So we must have something here.” A few hours ago, one devotee from South Africa told me about a dream she had this morning. Srila Prabhupada was sitting on his vyasasana in the Juhu temple, relating the whole history of how he had struggled for the Juhu land and temple for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. While describing his struggle, Srila Prabhupada became so emotional that tears were pouring from his eyes. And naturally all the devotees in the audience were also moved to tears. In the end Srila Prabhupada turned to Tamal Krishna Goswami, who was next to him, looked at him in the eyes and said, “I struggled so much.” With a handkerchief Tamal Krishna Goswami wiped the tears from Srila Prabhupada’s cheeks.

How Srila Prabhupada struggled we cannot even say. Of course, he was successful in getting the land, building the temple, and installing the Deities. But he had a vision of preaching that went beyond just installing Deities and attracting people for darshan. And we as his servants are duty bound to fulfill his vision for Juhu and make his effort completely successful. In no way should Srila Prabhupada’s struggle be in vain.

Srila Prabhupada was always a fighter, always a hero. He was never one to be discouraged. Once, when the situation at Juhu seemed completely hopeless Srila Prabhupada declared: “Even if we never get the land or build the temple, we do not mind. We will turn Hare Krishna Land into a bus stop and send out buses with preachers and books.”

So, Srila Prabhupada was interested in preaching—with or without the temple—and I think he would be pleased with all the preaching going on in Bombay.

In the beginning we didn’t really have any proper place for Srila Prabhupada to stay on Hare Krishna Land. So at one stage he was staying in a chatai hut belonging to the Khatau family, near Sumati Morarji’s bungalow in Juhu. Mahamsa Prabhu, Dr. Patel, and I were sitting in the room with Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada had just gotten the title to the land and was anxious to begin construction. He remarked that he needed one crore of rupees. Dr. Patel ventured, “Prabhupada, you should bring the money from abroad.” Disturbed by Dr. Patel’s suggestion, Srila Prabhupada replied, “I could bring the money from America, but what is your credit?” Prabhupada said that Bombay is such a place that if people were willing, we could collect one crore in one day. Dr. Patel went on and on, insisting that people wouldn’t give. “Of course, I don’t want to discourage you, but—” “But,” Srila Prabhupada interjected, “you are discouraging me.”

So, although Srila Prabhupada was superhuman, in one sense he was also very human. He could also feel discouraged.

Shyamasundar Prabhu said once that in the middle of one night in England, he heard some sound. Immediately he got up and found Srila Prabhupada collapsed on the floor. He lifted Srila Prabhupada into his arms. Srila Prabhupada looked up and said, “It is not automatic. The individual endeavor must be there.”

Srila Prabhupada showed us how to endeavor for Krishna. And by his example, we also were caught up with him in his struggle.

Coming back to the discussion at the Khatau house, soon Dr. Patel left and Srila Prabhupada turned his attention to Mahamsa and me. He quoted the verse from the Bhagavatam (5.5.18):

gurur na sa syat sva-jano na sa syat
  pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
  na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum

“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.”

Then he cited some examples: It is the duty of the son to defend the father when the father is attacked, but when Lord Nrsimhadeva attacked Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada did not defend his father. Rather, Prahlada glorified the attacker. But Prahlada was not at fault, because his father was not a real father—he was not helping Prahlada become Krishna conscious. Similarly, it is the duty of the son to obey the mother, but when Kaikeyi told Bharata to sit on the throne of Ayodhya, Bharata refused. Still, he was not at fault because Kaikeyi was not a real mother—she wasn’t helping him to be delivered.  Ultimately Srila Prabhupada said, “So you have left your mothers and fathers, but you have done the right thing. Don’t go back.”

Then Srila Prabhupada encouraged us further. He told us, “Madhvacharya established temples in India just to provide platforms for his disciples to preach. Similarly, I am building this temple at Juhu for you.”

So, we are so indebted to Srila Prabhupada—for engaging us in preaching, for bringing us together in service and association, and for giving me the friendship of HH Radhanath Swami Maharaja, my life and soul.

It is inconceivable: Srila Prabhupada was superhuman and at the same time human, and somehow we have to remember both. Otherwise, if we think he was superhuman and everything was easy for him, we may hesitate to struggle. No, Srila Prabhupada struggled, and we also have to struggle. But then again, if we think that he’s human like us, and like us he can make mistakes, we may neglect his instructions. We may speculate: “Are all of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions really valid? Must we follow absolutely?” And if knowingly or unknowingly we disobey Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, we court disaster. Srila Prabhupada is superhuman. Whatever he said is perfect and we should faithfully follow. But at the same time, he was human. He could feel discouraged—or encouraged. Once he told me, “When I see you all enthusiastic, I also become more enthusiastic.” The human side was also there.

Srila Prabhupada himself gave a little hint in one purport in the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. After the appearance of Lord Krishna in the prison house of Kamsa, Vasudeva and Devaki expressed their fear that Kamsa would come and kill Krishna. In the purport Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Uncivilized men are not in favor of the Krsna consciousness movement. Such persons actually created opposition to our Bombay project, Hare Krishna Land. As Kamsa could never kill Krsna, so uncivilized men can never stop ISKCON. Yet we must face many difficulties in many ways.” (SB 10.3.22 purport) Srila Prabhupada explained that the Krishna consciousness movement is an incarnation of Lord Krishna, and just as Vasudeva and Devaki were always in anxiety that nothing may happen to Krishna, so he was also anxious that nothing may happen to ISKCON.

Just as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna Himself is seen by devotees as both human and superhuman simultaneously, we also understand Srila Prabhupada in both ways. Although Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, out of affection, Vasudeva and Devaki sometime considered Him to be their “human” child. Similarly, although Srila Prabhupada is the Supreme Personality of Servitor Godhead, we may also see how he struggled to serve Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari and preach Krishna consciousness—and feel inspired to help him.

Anyway, I feel that Srila Prabhupada’s will and mercy are being manifest through all of you, and I pray that you always keep me in your company and that together we will always be engaged in service to Guru and Gauranga.

Hare Krishna.