Teaching By Example

9th Feb 2012
Sajjanapriya Krishna das

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

This is a nectarean letter written by our Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada to Sally Agarwal Mataji. When he first landed in America, Srila Prabhupada initially stayed with their family for some time.

New York
13 November, 1965
My dear daughter Sally,

I thank you very much for your letter of the 9th instant and I am very glad to note that your little Bijo is growing to be more adventurous nowadays. Generally the son acquires the qualities of the mother and the daughter acquires the qualities of the father. And such children become happy in life. You have acquired the qualities of your intelligent father and your son will be as intelligent as you are and thus your son will be as good as your noble father. I wish that you be happy more and more with your growing children. You can take me also as Old Bijo and therefore even at my ripe old age I have taken some adventurous task and as your little Bijo requires your help always in his little adventures so also your old Bijo requires your help in his adventures in America..

Yes I have extended my visa period up to 1st April 1966 by paying ten dollars but I do not know how I shall live. Another ship of Scindia Navigation is starting on the 17th November but my negotiation with some publisher is not yet finished. The Paragon Book Gallery has received the 25 twenty five sets of books as sent by Gopala. The arrangement is that after selling the 25 sets they will pay the money and further sets will be taken. Similarly I may arrange with other booksellers in Los Angeles because it learnt that in California people are more interested in such books. But I cannot go to California for want of money. Besides that I have to embark on ship from New York. California is 3000 miles away from here and it is better to return to India from California directly without coming back here. But I have got my return ticket from New York. The first consideration is that I must be in New York at least for ten to fifteen days more for deciding the publication affair and then I may leave this place for India or California. But the place where I am living now has so many inconveniences which I do not wish to narrate in this small letter. Yes I am taking my meals once only for this inconvenience. In the evening I take some milk and fruit and nowadays the night being very long, I feel sometimes for this night starvation.

More when we meet and hope you are all well. With my blessings and good wishes for you all. Awaiting your reply.

Yours affectionately,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

This letter depicts how His Divine Grace who had come to shower us the unlimited mercy of Krishna consciousness, practiced Srimad Bhagavatam in his life. He has taught by his personal example as to how we need to deal with other living entities and the importance of austerities in devotional service.

1. Loving inquiries to living entities inspite of one's own sufferings: While going through this letter we were reminded of the memories shared by one of the doctors who attended our beloved spiritual master H H Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj during his final days. The doctor said that whenever he went to check Maharaj's health, Maharaj used to lovingly inquire him about his health, whether he had prasadam, his chanting etc. Hearing his inquiries, the doctor used to wonder whether he is treating Maharaj or Maharaj is treating him. Whenever somebody talks to us, our tendency is to tell our problems first, as if we are the ones who are in the greatest suffering. We are proud in declaring our suffering. Maharaj says, it is one of the category of madness. Our nature should be loving inquiries to others inspite of our difficulties.

2. Austerity personified: His Divine Grace's stay in America was very uncertain when he was writing that letter. Place of stay, prasadam, printing books, everything was a challenge for him. But we can see that Srila Prabhupada's unflinching faith in Guru and Krishna made it possible for him to carry on the adventurous task of spreading Krishna consciousness movement, in the most alien atmosphere surcharged with materialism and artificial living. If we were in that position, we would have begged some money to fly back to India and stay back peacefully. Maharaj says, "This body will do everything and anything other than to become a devotee and therefore whatever austerity we perform is very insignificant." Our priority to prasadam is more than hearing Krishna katha. We don't want to do even little austerity to our body by tolerating hunger and thirst for even a little while. So remembering the austerities undergone by our acaryas we should try to change our attitudes.

As grand disciples of His Divine Grace, it is our duty to reciprocate to this most uncommon acarya, who has magnanimously come to our lives uncalled for.

1. We should cultivate the loving inquiries to all living entities without any discrimination. We can see in the above example how His Divine Grace did not discriminate in treating Sally Mataji.

2. The big austerity in kaliyuga is study of Srila Prabhupada's books. The bigger austerity is to study the books and contemplate on those word to word, translation and purports. The biggest austerity is to apply those transcendental knowledge in our day to day lives.

3. We should pray to our dearmost acarya Srila Prabhupada constantly to develop the unflinching faith in his books and applying those in our lives. It should be our primary goal of our existence.

We should remember the beautiful verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 3.9.24, humbly prayed by Lord Brahma while praying for creative energy. We also should pray humbly to His Divine Grace with folded hands by paying obeisances unto him again and again,

nābhi-hradād iha sato ’mbhasi yasya puṁso
vijñāna-śaktir aham āsam ananta-śakteḥ
rūpaṁ vicitram idam asya vivṛṇvato me
mā rīriṣīṣṭa nigamasya girāṁ visargaḥ

The Lord's potencies are innumerable. As He lies down in the water of devastation, I am born as the total universal energy from the navel lake in which the lotus sprouts. I am now engaged in manifesting His diverse energies in the form of the cosmic manifestation. I therefore pray that in the course of my material activities I may not be deviated from the vibration of the Vedic hymns.

The purport is also worth meditating upon. "Unless one is sufficiently protected by the Lord, he may fall down from his spiritual position; therefore one has to pray constantly to the Lord for protection and the blessing to carry out one's duty. Lord Caitanya also entrusted His missionary work to His devotees and assured them of His protection against the onslaught of material affection."

Therefore I pray to Srila Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Krishna that I remember the lessons taught by them and should constantly strive to practice Srimad Bhagavatam in my life.

Thank you very much.
Your humble servant,
Sajjanapriya Krishna das
Abu Dhabi.