Please hear this heart-touching incident which shows that there is no limit to the compassion of our dear Srila Prabhupada-
It was the beginning of 1977. Prabhupada was in the Bombay temple. He was very sick. He had stopped all food intake – he was taking 1/4 a cup of orange juice per day. His body had only bones left – there was no flesh. And yet, he was insisting that he wanted to go to London. The doctors had given up responsibility. But as always, he was adamant.
At this time, one Pancaratrika Pandit from Bangalore named Sampat Kumar Bhattacarya came to know about Srila Prabhupada’s situation. So, he took a flight from Bangalore to Bombay – which in those days was a huge thing for a Brahmin priest – and met Prabhupada, and asked for a private meeting. Generally, nobody was allowed a private meeting, but when he said that he specially came by flight from Bangalore to meet Srila Prabhupada, he was allowed a private meeting. So, everybody was asked to go out, and they talked.
The conversation was like this: Sampat Kumar: ‘Swamiji, I am feeling very pained that you are suffering like this.’
Prabhupada (laying down, in broken words): ‘The whole world is meant for suffering. Dukhalayam asavatam.’
Sampat Kumar: ‘But still Swamiji, there are so many people depending on you. So when you suffer, they suffer.
Prabhupada: ‘What can I do?’
Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, I want to tell you something. In Vrindavan temple, they are having your deity on the altar. And all kinds of people are coming and praying to it and offering flowers to it, and you are still living. According to Pancaratra, when the Acarya is living, if he puts his deity on the altar, then all the sufferings people are having come to his body through the deity. So you please tell your disciples to worship your deity only after you leave your body.’
He was speaking as if he was giving some information to Prabhupada, which Prabhupada did not note.
Prabhupada: ‘I know. I came here to take their suffering.’
Bhattacarya was shocked. He was not giving any new information. This was well known to Prabhupada, and he was determined to suffer for others.
Prabhupada: ‘Do you have anything else to say?’
Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, if that is your wish, what can I say? I am only a priest.’
Prabhupada: ‘Even when I leave, I will keep continuing taking their suffering, and make them free so they can keep chanting Hare Krishna.’
(Told by HG Atma Tattva Das in a Bhagavad Gita class on 9.34 in Los Angeles on the 20th of March 1993)
Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He’s not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear?
We can see that Srila Prabhupada has not disappeared. He is very much here- for us- in every temple, in every devotee’s home and in the heart of his dear followers. We simply need to put our prayer at his lotus feet- he is a unique combination of mercy and potency.
I am posting a blog after a long gap. What better to start by reading some nectar from Srila Prabhupada. I am sharing a very instructing excerpt from a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave in Vrindavan in 1972. Please read it carefully.
Prabhupada– So, in devotional service there are three stages,” “The kanistha-adhikari, the madhyam-adhikari, and the uttama-adhikari, or beginning, middle, and advanced stages. In the beginning, kanistha-adhikari, the devotee engages in Deity worship, makes offerings to the Deity, cleans the floor, etcetera. This isn’t to say that Deity worship is lower than meditation. It’s just the beginning stage.
“Sometimes the kanistha-adhikari thinks that he has realized Krishna just because he has worshiped the Deity nicely, but he must make further advancement. When we say ‘Krishna,’ we do not refer to Krishna alone, but to all of His energies and paraphernalia. When we say, ‘The king is coming’ we don’t mean that the king is coming alone. His ministers, secretaries, queens, soldiers—everyone is coming. Similarly, Krishna is the root of all emanations, and when He comes, His devotees also come with Him. When we recognize Krishna’s devotees and pay them respects, we are further advanced. If a pure devotee comes, the pujari can immediately stop the aratik and go to receive him. Krishna is satisfied more when His devotee is worshiped. That’s a fact.
“Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasya prasadan na gatih kuto’pi. The spiritual master is the representative of God because he’s engaged twenty-four hours daily in Krishna’s service. The spiritual master is considered as good as Hari because he’s Krishna’s most confidential servant. Worship of the spiritual master is not artificial or concocted: it’s recommended in all the Shastras. Advanced devotees accept this and treat the spiritual master accordingly.
“Although the spiritual master is offered respects like Hari, he doesn’t think himself Hari. He considers his disciples to be his spiritual masters. He thinks, ‘Krishna has sent me so many spiritual masters.’ He doesn’t even think of himself as a guru but as a servant to his disciples, because Krishna has given him the task to train them.
“When one is advanced, he can see the importance of other devotees. An advanced devotee never offends another devotee. That is a very serious offense. Therefore we address one another as ‘Prabhu.’ This should not simply be spoken with the lips. It should be realized. One should think of other devotees as his prabhus, his masters. Not that he should try to become master himself.
We should always be willing to offer respects not only to other devotees but to everyone. Everyone. Why? Because every living entity is originally a devotee of Krishna. Circumstantially, being covered by the modes of nature, he seems like a demon, but his original nature is that of Krishna’s servant.
“The process of bhakti really begins when one is self-realized. Before that, if one engages in Deity worship yet thinks that he is the body and does not give respect to devotees, he is at the first stage, kanistha-adhikari. Although seated on the material platform, he’s trying to improve his condition by following the directions of the spiritual master and Shastra.
“We should not remain perpetual neophytes. We should try to advance to madhyam-adhikari. On this platform, we distinguish between four different kinds of living entities: Krishna, Krishna’s devotees, innocent people, and atheists. We should not superficially say, ‘In my view, everyone is the same.’ Of course, that is the last stage, but because we are neophyte, this is not our vision. This vision of the maha-bhagavat should never be imitated. Imitation is artificial.
“In the second stage, that of madhyam-adhikari, one treats all types of men according to their position and tries to increase his love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and also make friends with the devotees. He doesn’t envy the devotees. If a devotee is superior, we should take lessons from him; if equal, we should make friends with him; and if lower, we should try to help him.
“A madhyam-adhikari does not simply give respect to other devotees: he teaches others to become devotees as well. This means preaching. A preacher should approach others and say, ‘You’re wasting your life in material activities. You should become Krishna’s devotee.’ This is preaching. One should preach Krishna consciousness to the innocent. The atheists should be avoided because as soon as an atheist hears about God, he becomes envious and vicious.
“At the last stage, that of maha-bhagavat or uttama-adhikari, one doesn’t see devotees and nondevotees. He sees everyone as a better devotee than himself. Nor does he pretend to have this consciousness. No. He actually thinks like this. He’s naturally humble: he wants to pay respects to everyone, and he wants no respect for himself. If one wants respect for himself, he’s still at the secondary stage. The maha-bhagavat is ready to give respect even to an ant.
“When one attains this highest platform, there’s no more friend, no more enemy, no more preaching. The maha-bhagavat sees everyone engaged in the Lord’s service, with the exception of himself. This platform, however, should not be imitated. It must be sincere, not superficial.
“Those who are preachers must remain on the second platform, that of madhyam-adhikari. Even when a maha-bhagavat wants to preach, he must come down to that second platform. He cannot remain on the highest and preach. He plays the part of second-class devotee. For instance, in the Bible, Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have many things to say, but you are not qualified to understand them.’
There are many gems in the above excerpt. However I wish to focus upon if we could see how Srila Prabhupada expects every ISKCON devotee to graduate to the level of a madhyam-adhikari, he does not want us to become complacent in Bhakti, which affects many of us. He also instructs us what qualities an aspiring devotee should develop to come to the platform of a madhyam-adhikari.
There is nothing bad in being in a primary school, everyone has to go through it but one does not remain in a primary school, one graduates to secondary school. The same is true for Krishna consciousness as well.
And lastly, we heard how important it is to be engaged in preaching service, which attracts even a Maha-bhagavat or an uttama-adhikari to come down to the level of a madhayam-adhikari. Like Srila Prabhupada did.
In the next blog, I will share from the above-quoted lecture, Srila Prabhupada’s instruction on how to preach properly.