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DISAPPEARANCE DAY OF SRILA PRABHUPADA- VYASA PUJA
November 14, 2023 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada departed from this world on November 14, 1977, in Vrindavan, India, in his rooms at the Krishna Balarama temple, surrounded by hundreds of his disciples chanting Hare Krishna. Devotees observe this anniversary with personal remembrances of Srila Prabhupada, reading glorifications and reflecting on what Srila Prabhupada has done for the welfare of mankind.
This year we are celebrating the Vyasa Puja, dissapearance anniversary, of Srila Prabhupada. On this auspcious occassion let us reflect on Srila Prabhupada’s great contribution in spreading Krishna Consciosuness all over the world.
Honestly speaking, I am not at all qualified to write vyasa puja offering to Srila Prabhupada on his disappearance day but I am trying to do so for my own purificaiton. It is said that just by glorifying a vaisnava a person who is extremely sinful also gets purified.
In my humble attempt of discussing the glories of Srila Prabhupada, if I committ any mistake then please do forgive me.
An incident from the life of Srila Prabhupada
Once there was disappearance day celebration of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Since it was Friday so HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj asked devotees to prepare feast in the evening because he thought that in the evening more guests will come.
At around 11 am Srila Prabhupada inquired how the feast preparation is going. HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj informed to Prabhupada that since it was Friday so he decided that the feast will be prepared in the evening when more guests will come. Srila Prabhupada became angry like Lord Narasimhadeva. He immediately went to the kitchen.
Only one mataji was in the kitchen and she was cooking prasadam. Srila Prabhupada asked her why she is not preparing feast for his spiritual master. She said because HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj asked us to prepare it in the evening. This made Prabhupada more angry.
Without wasting a moment, he himself started cooking the feast. Few devotees began assisting him. In an hour Srila Prabhupada was able to prepare ten course feast for sixty devotees. After the feast preparation, there was disappearance day celebration of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. There was arati, kirtan and lecture by Prabhupada.
An important lesson Prabhupada teaches
Once the program was over, devotees sat to relish the feast. Srila Prabhupada went to his room. One devotee carried feast prasadam in a silver plate to Prabhupada’s room. But to the surprise of all, the devotee quickly came out of the room with the silver plate.
Prabhupada did not even touch the feast. He did not eat anything. In fact, he felt very disturbed that his spiritual master’s disappearance day was not celebrated nicely. He felt deep pain in his heart. All the devotees who were relishing the feast, became numb. They all realized that how their carelessness and lack of spiritual understanding had upset Srila Prabhupada.
Narrating this incident, HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj writes in his book “Servant of the Servant”, “Our carefree, festive mood became broken as we realized the sober lesson that without pleasing guru and Krishna, there is no possibility of our own satisfaction.”
Spiritual Initiation not a formality
For Prabhupada initiation was not just a formality. He took each and every instruction of his spiritual master very seriously and did his best to fulfil it. From his life we learn that we should not take spiritual life lightly or casually. No matter how much difficulty he was facing but he never compromised with the principles.
Whatever means he had with that he tried his best to serve the instructions of his spiritual master. He hardly complained and whatever opportunity he got to serve Krishna he made best use of it. From the core of his heart, he always glorified his spiritual master and always wanted to please him.
His spiritual master had asked him to preach the message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world. Also, he had asked him to print books in English and distribute it to the English-speaking people.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would say, “Indians influenced by western culture had started blindly following the western world and are neglecting Vedic culture. So, if people of the west become devotees, then Indians too will become devotees by following their footsteps and will start taking Krishna consciousness seriously.”
Prabhupada took this instruction to his heart and soul and dedicated his life in writing books in English and preaching the message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world.
Never gave any excuse
After taking sannyasa he faced many difficulties. Many times, he could not find a place to stay. He did not have sufficient money or means to have meals. But in spite of these challenges, he continued translating Srimad Bhagavatam in English and continued his preaching activities. He did not give any excuse for not writing or not preaching.
Before embarking to west on a preaching mission he had translated three volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam. In the west too especially in the first year of his stay he faced lots of difficulties, but he persevered. His desire was to translate almost all Vedic literatures in English language so that the entire world is inundated with Krishna Consciousness.
All credit to spiritual master
Whatever he achieved, for that he gave all credit to his spiritual master. Prabhupada took no credit for himself.
He writes in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.29 purport, “Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the great preacher of the principles of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, has stressed the importance of association with sādhus, pure devotees of the Lord. He said that even by a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can achieve all perfection. We are not ashamed to admit that this fact was experienced in our practical life. Were we not favored by His Divine Grace Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, by our first meeting for a few minutes only, it would have been impossible for us to accept this mighty task of describing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in English. Without seeing him at that opportune moment, we could have become a very great business magnate, but never would we have been able to walk the path of liberation and be engaged in the factual service of the Lord under instructions of His Divine Grace.”
A one-man army against Maya
Prabhupada was a one-man army. Material situations and circumstances did not demotivate him. He single- handedly waged war against maya, the illusory energy of Krishna. Maya’s writ ran in the west. But Prabhupada was not enamoured by the glitch and glamour of the west.
When he first time landed in the west, he saw skyrise buildings, people driving in fancy cars and everyone flaunting their wealth. Prabhupada was not impressed. He would often ask, “What is the use of all these if you do not know Krishna and have not heard about Lord Chaitanya?”
He saw these material amenities as a ploy of maya to bind the conditioned souls in this material world and make him suffer more and more.
When Prabhupada saw an affluent American proudly riding in a Cadillac, he saw him as an unfortunate soul imprisoned by maya in a dazzling iron box. And when he saw young American boys and girls holding each other and dancing in clubs to the tune of rock music, he saw them as misguided souls who because of utter ignorance are swiftly gliding towards hell. When he saw someone flaunting wealth, he would ask him, “Will you carry it to your next life?”
Never compromised with Krishna Conscious philosophy
Many Indian spiritual leaders who had gone to west to spread Vedic Indian philosophy had got attracted by western culture and had assimilated it in their life. Many hesitated in introducing Vedic culture there for fear of losing followers and influence.
But Srila Prabhupada is the only Indian spiritual leader who had the courage and conviction to completely convince thousands of western people to give up materialistic way of life and adopt Vedic lifestyle.
Many scholars who went to west during Prabhupada’s time preached how to use the principles of Bhagavad Gita to become a materially successful person. It is true that Bhagavad Gita is an encyclopedia of life and if one just follows few of its lessons then one can get material success too. But Prabhupada was not much interested in material success. Why? Because material success is temporary and the sensual gratification which any worldly success provides binds us to this material world and perpetuates suffering.
Also, achieving material success is not the ultimate conclusion of Bhagavad Gita. While concluding his teaching to Arjuna, Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 18.65, “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” The Supreme Lord further says, “Give up everything and just take my shelter.” Bhagavad Gita 18.66
Chosen by Krishna to give Krishna
Prabhupada came to this world to give Krishna. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that seeing the plight of people, Krishna personally sent him to deliver unfortunate souls of this world.
Prabhupada’s unflinching faith in the instruction of his guru and the mercy of Krishna helped him to penetrate the heart of each and every one who met him. And each one was happy to embrace Krishna with open heart.
So, we see that in just few years the western world was flooded with Krishna Consciousness – thousands of people began chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra, gave up all activities which is prohibited in Vedic scriptures and adopted Krishna Conscious lifestyle. Everyone started decorating their body with tilak, men started wearing dhoti-kurta and women saris. And everyone ate only Krishna prasadam.
Prabhupada did not just talk but he walked the talk. By his personal example, he taught us what it means to be a devotee of Krishna. And how if we just take shelter of Krishna, then we will be able to experience the highest pleasure which we are wrongly seeking in this world.
If we look at any picture of Srila Prabhupada, we will find that he is always at peace and is always in control. This is because he is always under the shelter of Krishna, the Supreme Controller.
Srila Prabhupada infiltrated everyone’s heart and convinced all that other than Krishna, nothing can make us happy in this world.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that it is because of Srila Prabhupada that millions of people in this world got the mercy of Krishna and millions of people are still getting attracted to Krishna Consciousness.
Begging mercy of Srila Prabhupada on his Vyasa Puja
And it is because of Srila Prabhupada’s causeless mercy that I have got an opportunity to practice Krishna Consciousness.
On this most auspicious day of the year, I beg Srila Prabhupada to give me shelter of his lotus feet and shower his mercy upon me.
Dear Srila Prabhupada, it is because of you that an unfortunate soul like me of this unfortunate world have got an opportunity to end all suffering of my life.
In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, Chapter Twenty Two, Text Thirty One, it is mentioned that wherever there is Krishna there is no darkness.
kṛṣṇa — sūrya-sama; māyā haya andhakāra
yāhāṅ kṛṣṇa, tāhāṅ nāhi māyāra adhikāra
“Kṛṣṇa is compared to sunshine, and māyā is compared to darkness. Wherever there is sunshine, there cannot be darkness. As soon as one takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the darkness of illusion (the influence of the external energy) will immediately vanish.”
Dear Srila Prabhupada, you came to enlighten people like me so that I can go from darkness to light by taking shelter of Krishna. But because of my past conditionings, I am not able to fully surrender to Krishna.
Without pleasing Prabhupada, I cannot please Krishna
On the auspicious day of your vyasa puja, dear Srila Prabhupada, I beg at your lotus feet to purify my heart of all anarthas, impurities, which keeps me in darkness and is keeping me away from your lotus feet. Without pleasing you, I cannot please Krishna.
And I cannot please you without following your instructions completely. In spite of reading your books and hearing your lectures, I still get attracted to this illusory material world and carry a hope that somehow by my endeavour I will be able to become happy here without Krishna.
Many tried in the past and all have failed. I am too failing again and again. The mighty time is dragging me towards the graveyard. But because of my utter foolishness I still see a glimpse of hope in this material world. My condition is akin to a goat standing in queue in a slaughterhouse enjoying green grass oblivious to the fact that it is slowly inching towards the butcher’s knife.
You appeared in this world to save people like me from unending misery. Please shower your mercy upon me so that I give up all hope of enjoying in this material life and instead develop all attraction for Krishna and become his sincere devotee.
Yours truly ISKCON Nairobi, as Quotted from:
Your eternal insignificant servant
Purushottam Nitai Das