Nama Om Vishnu Padaya Krishna Presthaya Bhutale
Srimate Bhaktivedanta Swamin Iti Namine
Namas Te Saraswati Deve Gaura Vani Precarine
Nirvisesha Sunyavadi Pascatya Desa Tarine
Dear Srila Prabhupada.
In your early childhood, your parents impressed upon you that, “if a grain of rice falls on the floor, you must pick it up and touch it to your head to show respect…” (Room Conversation, Melbourne, June 29, 1974). Later, you drew upon this early life lesson to instruct your disciples saying, “We are teaching how to utilize everything for Krishna, how to understand Krishna in everything. That is our mission... Krishna says, ‘Anyone who sees Me everywhere, and everything in Me, is perfect.’ This simple, yet profound message holds within it the entire philosophy of Bhakti Yoga. Not just perceiving everything as Krishna’s property, but utilizing it all in Krishna’s service. (Morning Walk, May 14, 1973, Los Angeles. Also quoted in BTG #28-05, 1994, Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out, "We Worship Everything.)"
After risking your life to obey the order of your glorious Spiritual Master to preach in English, you arrived on the shores of New York, aghast at what you saw; a mis-guided nation with an ever-increasing disrespect for human, plant and animal life. You almost turned back several times until finally, after much endeavor you glimpsed a flicker of hope for their salvation.
Later, as you reflected with your disciples’ after they inquired how you boldly single-handedly shouldered the task of transforming a culture so buried beneath the darkness of ignorance, you humbly replied “I simply obeyed the order of my Guru” relentlessly praying to him and Lord Gauranga, “How can I do it? How can I do it? How can I do it?” Strictly following the insights and guidance that emerged as a result of your heart-felt prayers, you wracked your brain how not to waste a single drop of energy, a single moment, a single talent, a flicker of potential, whatever resources came to you in any form: money or human-power, you understood this one principle, that because everything is Krishna’s property it must be used in His service. In doing so, the otherwise fallen world of darkness, becomes redeemed.
For all the blood, sweat and tears you poured out in your efforts, you were not interested in merely teaching people how to be clean, dress modestly, or eat vegetarian food, although along the way doing so became an obvious response to your message of love. You were not interested in simply creating a new religious group of do-gooder moralists, who conformed to a mundane standard of religious piety although those who understood and followed your teachings automatically became “good” and “moral” people . You were aiming for the impossible; handing down that one simple instruction your parents gave you and getting all people to practice that in every area of their lives; “see Krishna in everything, and use everything in His service.”
Over and over you beat your drum in your letters to your disciples saying, “"Simply offer all your talents and energies in this service of the Lord and know that Krishna promises that for one who surrenders fully unto Him, He fully protects such devotees from all kinds of material distresses and sinful reactions." (Srila Prabhupada Letter, February 4, 1971); and “Krishna says, svakarmana, ‘Whatever talent you have got, you can serve Me and be perfect.’ That is the program”. (Srila Prabhupada Conversation, January 16, 1976).
When you observed your disciples’ hearts light up with even the tiniest spark of enthusiasm to preach, you fanned it until it blazed with the same fearless joy you knew as an ambassador of The Holy Name. You utilized everything and everyone in the sankirtan mission regardless of their bodily designation. Men, women, children, householders, business wo/men, artists, educators, scholars, builders, crafts persons, carpenters, etc. Everyone was urged to join the war effort to kill the demonic mentality of this age of Kali.
When asked by your dear disciple Mulaprakriti dasi what she said to people when she distributed books you pulled out the Srimad-Bhagavatam and slowly and carefully read the verse, "This Bhagavat Purana is as brilliant as the sun. This verse is so wonderful, if you just tell people this verse how can they resist? You don’t need to say anything. The Srimad Bhagavatam will sell itself." Then, you said “in this age it was actually a benefit to be a woman and that, "In Kali-yuga, things are so degraded that people don’t trust men. Hardly anybody will allow a man to come up to them or will open their door if a man knocks." You said that when you were a young man, a company was selling Brahmi Hair Oil and sent respectable young women door to door and everybody opened their door and bought the Brahmi Hair Oil. Chuckling as you mused, "It was never even proven that Brahmi Hair Oil had any medicinal properties" emphasizing the clever utilization of women’s natural propensity to influence and inspire. In this way, you explained, "Lord Chaitanya is sending nice young women to help the poor conditioned souls go back to Godhead. This is His plan." (Reference: Memories Anecdotes of a Modern Day Saint - Volume 1 by Siddhanta Dasa — with Susan Murray and 3 others).
In addition to noting the many ways women contributed to your movement, you “credited your movement’s success to their presence amidst the men, nearly all of whom, you reasoned, would not have otherwise stayed” (A Living Theology of Krishna Bhakti by Tamal Krishna Goswami).
You write, “Personally, I am so much engladdened that the pairs of young boys and girls whom I have placed in householder life are doing so nicely in the Western world. When Lord Caitanya delivered Jagai and Madhai He was also a householder, but when Jagai and Madhai were actually reclaimed, His wife, Visnupriya, was not there. But in this case and in many other cases also, I find that my disciples combined together, husband and wife, are doing this preaching work so nicely. So, I am especially proud how my householder disciples are preaching Lord Caitanya's Mission. This is a new thing in the history of the Sankirtana Movement. In India all the acaryas and their descendants later on acted only from the man's side. Their wives were at home because that is the system from old times that women are not required to go out. But in Bhagavad-gita we find that women are also equally competent like the men in the matter of Krishna Consciousness Movement. Please therefore carry on these missionary activities, and prove it by practical example that there is no bar for anyone in the matter of preaching work for Krishna Consciousness. (Letter to: Himavati — London 20 December, 1969).
“Being full of contradictions all forms of religion but bhagavata-dharma work under conceptions of fruitive results and distinctions of “you and I’ and “yours and mine.” The followers of Srimad-Bhagavatam have no such consciousness, thinking that they are Krsna’s and Krsna is theirs.”
In your purports you say, “Bhagavata-dharma is called sarvotkrsta, the best of all religious systems, because those who follow bhagavata-dharma are not envious of anyone. Pure bhagavatas, pure devotees, invite everyone, without envy, to join the Krishna Consciousness movement. A devotee is therefore exactly like the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Suhrdam sarva-bhutanam: s/he is the friend of all living entities. Therefore it is the best of all religious systems. Whereas so-called religions are meant for a particular type of person who believes in a particular way, such discrimination has no place in Krishna Consciousness, or bhagavata-dharma” (SB 6.16.41 purport)
As your movement continues to flourish and grow, may we stay focused on this simple yet profound instruction that your saintly parents instilled in you; “Understand that everything is Krishna’s property and engage it in His service.”
All glories to you Srila Prabhupada!
Rambhoru Dasi ACBSP on behalf of the ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry
2019 Vyasa Puja Offering for Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja book