In times where so many face disillusion and disappointment, a lecture from Srila Prabhupada from 2nd of August 1970, given in Los Angeles, may be a constant source of inspiration.
As followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda, we have been taught that service to the instructions of the guru (vāṇī) are given more importance than service to the form of the guru (vapuḥ). All of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s followers know this. However, sometimes according to personal taste or circumstance, we may focus more on one or the other.
This year in Vṛndāvana on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disappearance day, there was an occasion to see this. In the morning during the ceremony in honor of His Divine Grace, various disciples of his were called upon to glorify their eternal spiritual master and share some remembrance of him with the rest of us. Many told personal stories of some pastime of his they personally witnessed or had the great fortune to be a part of.
It was noted that some devotees tended to give special emphasis to his instructions or tried to explain their experience with him with reference to śāstra. These were classified as vāṇī presentations. Others tended to focus on some interaction he had with him, how he dealt with them, how they were encouraged by him, and so forth. These were classified as vapuḥ presentations.
Jagannatha dasa, the BBT Sanskrit editor has just returned from Vrndavana. This afternoon he reported to Srila Prabhupada. Just a week ago Prabhupada received news that Jagannatha and Nitai dasa were no longer working on his books. Jagannatha informed Prabhupada Nitai is now the head pujari in Vrndavana.
Jagannatha had a question to ask. He wanted to know whether siddha-pranali was bona fide. (Although this is a very elevated form of spiritual practice, there is a concocted initiation rite going on under the same name being given by bogus sadhus and babajis in the Vrndavana area. In it a person is told what his name and original spiritual form is in Goloka Vrndavana. The initiate then practices being a gopi, a peacock, etc., while still remaining habituated to material impulses. Thus the ritual is a mockery of the authentic process or worse.)
Prabhupada’s anger flared up at the very mention of it. He demanded to know why Jagannatha and Nitai had been associating with the “nonsense babajis who proclaim such things.” “Their siddha-deha,” he said, “is smoking beedis and keeping three or four women. And our men are becoming polluted by such things. This is very dangerous.”
Prabhupada: Niskincanasya. One who has decided that “This world is useless. I have to take birth repeatedly and accept different types of bodies and suffer.” Body means… Those who have understood this fact and disgusted, so bhakti line is for them. One who has the tendency to enjoy this material world, and they are taking advantage of God, “Give me good wife, give me good work, good meal, good enjoyment,” they are not in the bhakti line. They are in the very nascent stage.
Tamala Krsna: Nescient stage?
Prabhupada: Lower stage. Vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti-yogam [Cc. Madhya 6.254]. That… There is one verse written by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. What page I don’t… Siksartham. The bhakti-yoga, nija-bhakti-yoga… Bhakti-yoga means devotion to Krsna. And that is vairagya-vidya, how to learn, renounce this world. Otherwise why Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave up His grhastha life? He’s the same person. Why Rupa Gosvami gave up their ministership? By their personal behavior they are showing this is not required. This is vairagya-vidya. So under the circumstances, those who have no vairagya, they cannot live in the temple. They are taking advantage of the temple facilities for their sense enjoyment. Do you understand?
“What is that?” Prabhupada asked pleasantly as we offered our obeisances and sat before him.
“Well, the devotees are selling hot drinking chocolate at the new snack bar, Srila Prabhupada,” I said, “and I don’t think it’s bona fide. Mahavira prabhu thinks it is, so we thought we should ask you.”
“Hmm. So, what is it made from?” Prabhupada asked thoughtfully.
Mahavira raced back to the shop and brought the can. He read out the ingredients. “It’s mainly from cocoa, Srila Prabhupada.”
“Oh, cocoa. That, there is cocoa bean, it comes from this?”
“Yes, Srila Prabhupada.”
“No, then it is not all right. If it is from cocoa bean you cannot take. That means caffeine.”
So that was it. The issue was settled, and hot drinking chocolate is no longer on the menu.
Transcendental Diary 5-3: Sri Vrndavana Dhama
Without any stridency in his tone, he raised his topic of concern. “Now for our practical life we are known all over the world as shaven headed. Is it not? Now we are becoming hair headed. We are forgetting shaving because there is a little leniency. Immediately faulty things are creeping in. So we should be known as shaven headed, not long hair headed. This is discrepancy. At least once in a month you must be clearly shaven headed. In the bright fortnight on the day of purnima, four days after ekadasi, once in a month in the bright fortnight, you must be shaved.”
“Do not be disturbed. There is no cause for anxiety. You are doing your best to serve Krishna, that is very much appreciated, so do not lose enthusiasm out of frustration, that will spoil everything. Krishna Consciousness means we should always be satisfied and happy, not that we must work something impossible, becoming overburdened, and then because we are unhappy by so much trouble we lose enthusiasm altogether and give up all hope. No, if too much endeavour is there, that is to be avoided. By all means we must preserve our spiritual status, that is the point, not that we are mad after big buildings, many devotees, life-members, this, that—no, these are only ways to engage the devotees so that they may apply the principles of devotional living to some kind of work for practical realization of these principles. It is not the result of the work we want. If only one person daily, if we sincerely preach to such one person in a day, that is sufficient, never mind big, big programmes. So my request to you is that you do not be bothered by these things, and I have instructed Tamala Krishna and Syamasundara to send you men, so they will do it, rest assured. Krishna does not like to see His sincere devotee suffer or become frustrated or depressed. He will not stand idly by in any such case, so do not fear on that account. Krishna has got some plan for you, always think in that way, and very soon He will provide everything to your heart’s desire.” (Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Tejyas, Dec. 19, 1972)
(excerpt from Transcendental Diary 1, Sridham Mayapur by HG Hari Sauri das)
There was a very amusing incident in mid-morning, when Prabhupada had a visit from a yogini, Yogashakti Ma. She came smiling into Prabhupada’s room, her long hair streaming over saffron clothing, accompanied by three male followers. She wanted to invite Prabhupada to a World Yoga and Peace Conference they plan to hold. The address they gave was an apartment in Calcutta.
She expressed her hope that leaders of various yoga and peace groups could get together and exchange their different experiences to everyone’s benefit, so that the world could be a better place to live, where everyone could become happy. Of course, she would be at the center of it, as the organizer.
There are two things in accounting; one thing is I am receiving some amount, and the other thing is I am paying some amount. The paying or receiving will come under certain account. Whatever I receive is put under debtor column. Debtor means receiver, and the particular begins with the word “to.” Whatever I am paying is entered into the creditor column. Creditor means payer. In this way, after the whole day’s transactions, you make a total of the debtor column and creditor column, and if there is any balance, it is adjusted by the words “balance carried forward.” This balance is entered in the creditor column. So we have to see that the amount in the debtor column and the amount in the creditor column is equal. This is called a correct account. Next day you begin with “To Balance B.F.” That means whatever balance you had the day before you put in the debtor column with particulars To Balance B.F.. Then begin your transactions as in the previous day. This is the system of keeping an account in general. For the time being, keep your account in that way, and later on, as you inquire, I will let you know more about how to keep books.
From the letter to Krsna dasa (Columbus, Ohio 8 May, 1969)