By Indradyumna Swami
Dearest Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet.
Today is the anniversary of your disappearance from this world 27 years ago. You once said that when the Lord disappears from the world, He simultaneously appears elsewhere in some other universe to begin His pastimes again. You gave the analogy of the sun: as it disappears on the horizon, causing darkness to descend, it simultaneously appears elsewhere on the earth, bringing the soft rays of morning light.
In a similar way, your disappearance from our lives has enveloped us in a long night of darkness that has yet to recede. No doubt your appearance elsewhere has given great joy to those who received you, but to this very moment, the fire of separation from you still burns within my heart. Out of social etiquette, such feelings are not often shared with others, but rather are kept confidential, to be expressed only at opportune moments, such as today.
Since the day you left, I have reflected many times on a letter you wrote to me soon after I joined your movement. It was as if you were preparing me even then for your inevitable departure from this world with words of consolation:
“I very much appreciate your feelings of separation, after my departure from Detroit. I am also feeling separation from my guru maharaja, but I always feel that he is watching over and protecting me.” Srila Prabhupada, I would also like to have the same conviction: that you are always watching over and protecting me, but I know I must merit such mercy. The spiritual master is by nature benevolent, but his sustained association, like that of the Lord, can only be had by steadfast devotional service over many years, or even lifetimes. Such association is not cheap and must never be taken for granted.
The few opportunities I had to be in your association in this life – in New York when you gave me your own dhoti in appreciation for serving your mission; on the flight to London when we laughed heartily at what you called the humor of Krsna in the antics of Charlie Chaplin; and in your room at the Bury Place temple when you slapped me on the back in fatherly appreciation – were certainly only your causeless mercy upon me.
In retrospect, I see those brief moments as an impetus to gain your association forever. The Lord Himself appeared before Narada early in Narada’s devotional career but then suddenly disappeared leaving him with the following words:
hantasmin janmani bhavan
ma mam drastum iharhati
avipakva kasa yanam
durdarso ham kuyoginam
“O Narada, I regret that during this lifetime you will not be able to see Me again. Those who are incomplete in service – and who are not completely free from all material taints – can hardly see me.”
[Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.21 ]
sakrd yad darsitam rupam
etat kamaya te ‘nagha
mat-kamah sanakaih sadhu
sarvan muncati hrc-chayan
“O virtuous one, you have only once seen my person, and this is just to increase your desire for Me, because the more your hanker for me, the more you will become free from material desires.”
[ Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.22 ]
Srila Prabhupada, I also hanker for your association and service. Therefore on this auspicious day, I will take my cue from the words of the Lord to Narada, I will refocus myself, and in the few years remaining in this life make every effort to become complete in my service to you and free from all material desires.
Just as a father takes pride in seeing his children grow, you take great pleasure in seeing us, your disciples, advance in spiritual life. Advancement implies becoming free from selfish material desires and rendering constant service to you, but I cannot free myself from such selfish desires alone. I need your mercy.
Please help me kick out all unwanted things from my heart so that I can be a valuable instrument in your cherished service of preaching the glories of your beloved Lord. Only by serving this mood of yours here in the world of matter will I become eligible to serve your mood in the spiritual abode.
On many occasions I saw how strongly you wanted the fallen souls of this world to hear the holy names of the Lord, read His words of wisdom, and taste His blessed food. Once I walked into your room in New Mayapura and saw you looking out the window, as hundreds of devotees began to take prasad. As you turned around, you looked at me and although you said nothing, the tears welling up in your eyes were worth more than a thousand words. Your heart was melting out of compassion, seeing your devotees relish the mercy of the Lord.
Srila Prabhupada, please bring me to the stage were I can also cry out of compassion for the fallen souls, and with a humble heart go out daily to preach the divine command. In such a state of mind, I will lose all attraction to this material world and my only desire will be to become your servant birth after birth. Only by such service will I gain your favor and one day realize the truth of your words to me: that you are in fact always watching over and protecting me.
Forever your servant,