How can we ever fathom his love? He came across many seas, with so many ideas, and because of the sincerity and reality of his understanding, he saw very easily through our disqualifications and saw only the pure essence of what we could potentially give?
How can we ever fathom his vision? He, who is the greatest revolutionary, the greatest prophet, and our greatest friend, who was not beholden to cultural customs of discrimination, who out of the depths of his own heart, simply came to help us understand our own depths, and to meet the Person who lives there.
How can we ever fathom his sacrifice? It is something none of us can ever imitate. So I simply pray to you Srila Prabhupada. I pray to you to somehow fathom just a drop of your love for me, and I pray for the constant opportunity to return that love, although I will never be able to do so in full.
But you are so patient, tolerant, and accepting of any offering I may make....
Our material lives are simply a chain of suffering. As we mature in our spiritual lives, we come to a truth that hurts. It's a truth that with every propensity and action we have against the will and desire of Krsna, we shape another material body in this chain.
This is a truth which flies against all the reasoning of our material conditioning, which offers a stinging challenge to the enjoying spirit we hold dear. In our spiritual maturity, it is a challenge that we do not shy away from, but that we face face-to-face and give all that we can to overcome.
The art of punya-karma, the art of devotional service, is the everyday miracle of courage and strength that gives us the ability to overcome this challenge. Its main facet and potency comes through our hearing the words of Krsna and His devotees, which produce three effects: We develop actual knowledge, we develop actual renunciation, and we develop actual immunity from the effects of our sinful life.
This is a most personal development of realizations and experiences, buoyed by the most personal of exchanges, between ourselves and the Lord. Prabhupada writes in his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.17:
"The Lord is reciprocally respondent to His devotees. When He sees that a devotee is completely sincere in getting admittance to the transcendental service of the Lord and has thus become eager to hear about Him, the Lord acts from within the devotee in such a way that the devotee may easily go back to Him.
The Lord is more anxious to take us back into His kingdom than we can desire. Most of us do not desire at all to go back to Godhead. Only a very few men want to go back to Godhead. But anyone who desires to go back to Godhead, Sri Krsna helps in all respects."
This is one of the main barometers of our spiritual progress. How much are we actually feeling this personal reciprocation from Krsna? How much do we realize that He is a Person, our Best Friend, and how much do we understand his helping presence in our lives?
Two inches of rope. His mercy and our effort. One of the most fundamental levels, yet of course one of the most difficult, is to give up our gross sinful habits. Prabhupada knew very acutely that the young disciples in front of him in the courtyard of the samadhi of Rupa Goswami on this evening were walking a tightrope, that maya's grip was still very much imperative.
Therefore he implored:
"Once we take to Krsna consciousness, we should stop the pillars of sinful activities. Whatever we did in our past life, that is excused, but if we take to Krsna consciousness, and if we go on with our sinful activities, that will not help us. Just like the same fire: you take the fuel and add to the fire, it will burn into ashes. But, at the same time, if you pour some water also, then it will be useless. Similarly, our past sinful activities, that can be burned into ashes provided we don't add any more."
It's easy to see on a somber evening in Manhattan, amidst imposing facades of concrete and poor, lost souls yelling at themselves and to no one in particular, that this material world is place of the most heavy darkness.
Prabhupada stands before us, beckoning, for us to turn to the light of our original nature, our original connection. This is a light which illuminates our whole being, and again, this is a great challenge, for in that illumination we see all that is impure, all that is false, all that we cling to with hopeless fervor.
But in turning towards that brightest of lights, we get a chance to slay our greatest enemy. Prabhupada reveals:
"And this ignorance is our greatest enemy. The human form of life is meant for acquiring knowledge, not to keep one in ignorance. Tamasi ma jyotir gamah. That is the Vedic injunction. "Don't keep yourself in darkness," darkness of ignorance. But jyotir gamah: "Go to the light." That is the Vedic injunction."
Krsna is the very source of this illuminated knowledge, leading us to His most personal loving exchange. This knowledge cannot come, no matter how hard we try, from our own imperfect senses, and from our own imperfect extensions of those senses, namely our earthbound philosophies and theories, nor from our expensive telescopes and microscopes.
"A human being cannot give us any perfect knowledge. Therefore all the scientists' statements, all the philosophers' statements, they are simply theories; they are not fact. Because the knowledge is not perfect. Perfect knowledge can be had from one who is not defective. Defective means generally a conditioned soul has four defects: he commits mistake, he is illusioned, he has got a cheating propensity, and his senses are imperfect.
The senses, we are acquiring knowledge through our senses, and if our senses are imperfect, how we can acquire perfect knowledge? Just like we are trying to see the planetary system through microscope or binocular, telescope, but the telescope machine is manufactured by a person who is, whose senses are defective. So through the telescope, how you can have perfect knowledge?"
We want to perfect our pesky knowledge faculties, which so easily lead us astray down the highways of meaningless. When we link ourselves up to the parampara, in a heart-filled connection which one can even experience through this keyboard, through this hyperspace, we find the natural way.
Prabhupada defines this connection as such:
"One has to accept a guru, a spiritual master, who has received knowledge from another perfect spiritual master. Just like Krsna is the origin, perfect spiritual master, guru. So Krsna, what Krsna said, was realized by Arjuna, directly. Therefore if we receive knowledge from Arjuna or his disciplic succession, then our knowledge is perfect. Krsna..., Arjuna accepted Krsna as the Supreme Brahman: param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan [Bg. 10.12].
So if we accept the version of Arjuna, that Krsna is Param Brahman, He's the Supreme Person, He's the origin of everything, then our knowledge is perfect. I may be imperfect, but because I receive knowledge from a perfect person, my knowledge is perfect. This is called parampara system."
This natural way helps us to finally and forever give up our God-project, to cure ourselves of this perpetual fever that robs of the birthright of our own vitality. Prabhupada says:
"Liberated means, as I have several times explained, to be situated in his original position. Just like a, a person gets fever. When his fever is subsided, he's liberated, he's called liberated from the fever. Similarly, when we have perfect knowledge... What is that perfect knowledge? The perfect knowledge: to understand that "I am eternal servant of Krsna." This is perfect knowledge. This is perfect knowledge. Jivera svarupa haya nityera krsnera dasa [Cc. Madhya 20.108]. One has to understand this fact, that "I am not Krsna. I am not like Krsna. I am not equal to Krsna. I cannot become Krsna. I am Krsna's eternal servant."
Our fidelity and chastity to the parampara is also an essential element. In this, we follow the very lotus footprints of Krsna Himself, for as Prabhupada reveals, He also never made it a point to stray from the sastra:
"They are thinking if they can manufacture some new line, adding with Hare Krsna, then he becomes particularly noted. But he spoils the whole thing. That is the... He does not make any new thing. The new thing he does, he spoils the whole thing. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu never did so, although He's Krsna Himself. He stuck to the point of sastra.
Krsna, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He also indicates: yah sastra- vidhim utsrjya vartate kama-karatah na siddhim savapnoti [Bg. 16.23]. He indicates that nobody can give up the injunction of the sastra. Brahma-sutra-padais caiva hetumadbhir viniscitaih [Bg. 13.5]. Krsna says. He can give. Whatever He says, that is sastra, that is Veda. But still, He gives reference to the sastra."
We cannot understand the true meaning of the word liberal until we understand Prabhupada's own liberal vision, which has given each and every one of us a chance to understand love of God.
The most degraded of backgrounds is no disqualification. As we stand like Jagai and Madhai before the Lord, Prabhupada, in the exact mood of Lord Nityananda, begs for us to be given a chance, to show our true colors. He says this evening in Vrndavana:
"In these parts of the world, the Koreans, the Philippines, even the Chinese, some of the Japanese, they're dog-eaters. But even though they are dog-eaters, they attended the meeting and chanted with us so nicely, better than a so-called Vaisnava in India. Yes. They were so nice. It is practically seen. So that is also stated in the, confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita. Svado 'pi sadyah savanaya kalpate.
If one dog-eater, a person born in the family of dog-eaters... Because the dog-eaters are considered lowest of the human kind, candala, sva-paca. In many places it is said. Aho bata svapaco 'pi gariyan yaj-jihvagre nama tubhyam. Sva- paca. Svapaca means dog-eaters. They also become glorious provided they chant offenselessly the Hare Krsna mantra."
Who can fathom his liberal mercy? Let us all pray to Prabhupada to give our whole lives to simply return his favor upon us.