Found in Sanga, Sanga 1999.

He Gave Us Everything

November 1st, 1999 | No Comments

An address given at the Krishna-Balarama Mandira by Swami B. V. Tripurari on the tirobhava mahotsava of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Today, let me speak to you from my heart about my realization of Srila Prabhupada, especially what I have learned over the last eight years serving him outside the formal boundaries of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

I hope you will accept my appreciation of Srila Prabhupada, even though it may speak of a different vision of His Divine Grace from what you are familiar with. After all, each and every atom of this world may be examined from many, many angles of vision—what to speak of a person whose every atomic particle of existence is cent percent dedicated to the service of the Supreme Lord. As Krishna himself is like a bright jewel who shows himself to his devotee as he himself sees fit, so his pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, is a multifaceted personality who shows himself to his followers in many wonderful and diverse ways at the same time.

Let us not limit Prabhupada to our own vision of His Divine Grace. Rather, on this occasion of his disappearance, we might do well to question whether any of us have ever seen him “as he is.” Guru-tattva is a vast subject, an elusive tattva. We are humbled in our attempt to say anything about Prabhupada at all, and to do so certainly requires his grace.

Srila Rupa Goswami has said in Ujjvala-nilamani that love, like a snake, moves in a crooked way, aher iva gatih premnah svabhava-kutila bhavet. Hetor ahetos ca, with cause or without cause, sometimes in love differences arise. This is the nature of loving affairs. Let us consider, on this occasion where there is considerable talk of unity, that the differences between Vaisnavas arise out of love and everything that is spoken is not the whole truth. Srila Prabhupada said many things about his godbrothers, and they have often been quoted out of context to establish a policy that falls short of unifying all Gaudiya Vaisnavas, which he so desired.

In the last days of his manifest lila, I was present when Akincana Krishnadasa Babaji Maharaja and other godbrothers assembled at Srila Prabhupada’s bedside. At that time, Srila Prabhupada asked for forgiveness for any offenses he may have committed. Babaji Maharaja was quick to reply, “All you have said was spoken in the service of preaching and in that there is no offense.” Prabhupada replied, “Now the war is over. Please try to help them (my disciples).” For the last eight years, I have been trying to realize this vision, an expanded vision of Srila Prabhupada’s family. He was a maha-bhagavata, he loved all, what to speak of his godbrothers, even while he criticized them.

I would like to suggest that there is much to gain for all from unification. As far as it is possible, we should strive for it. It was something that Srila Prabhupada held dear. But in order to do so, we must learn to be flexible, while at the same time resolute within the philosophical parameters of our Gaudiya siddhanta. We must broaden our outlook from that of a bhara-vahi Vaisnava, to that of a saragrahi Vaisnava. We must become essential Vaisnavas, not merely formal Vaisnavas. We must move from the outer terrain of forms, titles, corporate and geographical identification, to the inner landscape that Vaisnavism is all about.

Where are we in terms of the Brahmanda, the Viraja, Brahmaloka, Vaikuntha, Ayodhya, Dvaraka, and ultimately Goloka, that should be our only concern. In this inner world of realization we can find both gradation and the possibility of unity. We must leave the kanistha-adhikari conception of Vaisnavism and act as madhyama-adhikaris. We must question and learn to look deeply within ourselves. We must examine the scriptures and the words of our spiritual master in terms of their essential meaning. We must become acquainted, not merely with the outside, the vapu, of those instructions, but with the vani, or spirit, of those words. In doing so, our faith is challenged and we thus run the risk of losing our heart, our faith. But shallow faith is not what we are interested in, but only inasmuch as it serves to help us go deeper into the heart of Sri Caitanya’s teachings.

Srila Prabhupada was a great Vaisnava. It is said that the symptom of the highest devotee is that whoever sees him immediately begins to chant the Holy Name of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada was so great that whoever saw him, or whoever sees his disciples or grand disciples, shouts Hare Krishna. We may not be that kind of Vaisnava, but at least we can learn to appreciate, to smile, when we see another Vaisnava, regardless of where he rests at night. Let us be careful that in shouting, amara guru jagad guru (my guru is the best guru), that we do not fall short in this glorification by putting greater emphasis on amara (my) than on jagad. For, by doing so, we may only be glorifying ourselves.

Let us remember that we are all moving in this world with our own realization of Srila Prabhupada. We have not captured him in our fist. And we cannot pound our limited realization of him into everyone else’s head and expect to realize the desired unity. We must have a generous attitude with one another and with all those who claim faith in our savior, Sri Caitanya.

Love moves in a crooked way. Its ways are wonderful, yet difficult to understand. We have gathered here to glorify Srila Prabhupada, yet he is not alone. There is a land of Prabhupadas. In the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, “A land of gurus.” There, we may find the likes of Uddhava, Brahma, or Mahadeva in a grain of sand. We are trying in our service to Srila Prabhupada to approach that plane, but we have no qualification. The confidence we have should be derived, not from our ability to practice, but from our realization of the generous nature of that great welfare state. Our guru’s generosity is like that of the mother who names her blind son “lotus eyed.” Realizing this generosity, we have some hope.

Let us position ourselves to realize this truth, and thus realize Mahaprabhu’s vision of humility and tolerance. When he said one should be more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, he was not merely making a poetic statement. When Mahaprabhu saw the grass, when he saw the trees, this is what came to his mind. We are seeing grass and trees every day as well, yet we do not read the environment the way Mahaprabhu did. We must strive for this vision—Caitanya darsana. We must learn to worship everything by drawing inspiration to serve God and guru from even the inanimate world; what, then, to speak of our own godbrothers, godsisters, uncles, and cousins—our own family.

Someone once told me, “Srila Prabhupada gave us everything—we don’t need anyone else.” I replied, “Srila Prabhupada gave us everything—he gave us everyone else.” On this I stake my activities of the last eight years outside the formal institution of our gurudeva. And those whom I have met, those who are also part of Srila Prabhupada’s family, whatever I have gathered from them, I am using in His Divine Grace’s service. This, to me, is unity in diversity, acintya-bhedabheda. This, to me, is a glimpse at the heart where unity may be found.

And in pursuing this vision, I hope that, if not today, then in some distant future, you will accept me as your godbrother. By embracing this spirit, by showing our love for him through cooperation, my prayer is that together we will see Srila Prabhupada as he is for the first time in our eternal life.

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