If I had to pick one book that inspired me the most throughout my devotional life, I guess I would have to say it is “Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas”. I recently went to open it the other day, and it fell open to the Introduction. I took a moment to re-read it. We share it with you here today.
Introduction by Acyutananda Swami
It was my good fortune to be in the service of Srila Prabhupada at Sri Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya, in setting up the groundwork of our Society’s international center there. That year (1971) there was a terrible flood, but although for many days the water was rising, it was diverted from floodinging the Society’s property solely due to the embankment created by a road constructed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, our Parama Guru Maharaja. I wrote a letter to His Divine Grace explaining the situation and I mentioned, “The water has not entered our property. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s road has saved us.” Srila Prabhupada, however, wrote back in answer in a different tone: “Yes”, we are always saved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s road, so go on glorifying the disciplic succession, and your life will be a great success.” Later on, when I suggested writing down the songs of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Narottama Dasa Thakura in English translations, His Divine Grace said, “Yes, we must push on this mission of Bhaktivinoda.” So here in this book, which is the first of a series of translations of the complete works of the Vaisnava acaryas in the line of succession coming after Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I have also included a short life sketch of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. In the following volumes, the lives of Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, Srinivasa Acarya, and other Vaisnava acaryas will appear.
The following article compiled by Ananda devi dasi, has always been one of my favorites. She has captured the essence of the relationship between the disciple and spiritual master in a very scholarly or academic way.
Vani Seva by Ananda devi dasi May 12 2009, UK
In Srimad Bhagavatam 4.28.47 we read: “The disciple and spiritual master are never separated because the spiritual master always keeps company with the disciple as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of Vani. Physical presence is called Vapuh. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciple should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.”
Srila Prabhupada makes it crystal clear that after the disappearance of the Spiritual Master, the disciple follows the instructions of the Spiritual Master. The Spiritual Master left His instructions in the form of Books, verbal instructions, letters, tapes, videos, all these are instructions from the Spiritual Master,Vani.
I met Vishnujana Swami off and on from 1970 to 1976. From the first time I met him to the last, he was always the same, always on a mission, and he was unstoppable. I believe he found his relationship with Krishna in his brief time here on Earth as Srila Prabhupada’s dear disciple. He came to Portland, Oregon temple in 1971 or ’72 I believe, and gave a lecture that put me into a sort of trance that I think I never recovered from. Then he did it again in Los Angeles, and again in New York when I saw him there. So each time I was more inspired to go out on harinamwith him and his traveling group of devotees and experience the real thing, the nectar of the holy name in congregational chanting. Anyone who knew him can tell you that he was created for Harinam Sankirtan. His kirtans set a precedent for full-speed-ahead, lose-yourself-totally-in-the-sound-vibration kirtans. When he danced and sometimes ran with the mridanga in his arms chanting till his voice was cracking, like he was crying out to Krishna, and sweating, and losing contact with the world around him, I would say it affected everyone in an emotional way that would make them also transcend the world around them and transport them into spiritual bliss. He was contagious. The milder side of his nature was deep and mysterious, thoughtful and intelligent. His lectures poured out like some kind of hypnotic river of perfectly timed overflow of nectar. And to this day I have not heard anyone ever preach like that.
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (outcaste).“
So Krsna consciousness means not to make any distinctions of black or white, Christian or Muslim or Hindu, African, American or Indian. Krsna claims everyone as His son. This movement of Krsna consciousness is an attempt to enlighten the whole world on the spiritual platform. We are trying to do this. Please try to help us. By your letter, you appear to be a very intelligent young man. Try to understand this whole philosophy and work cooperatively with Brahmananda Swami to spread Krsna consciousness to all of your countrymen.
Your letter is so nice that I have asked that it be published in our Back to Godhead magazine. Thank you very much for your nice sentiments. I hope this meets you well.
Last week a friend of mine shared this photo with me. It was a picture I had never seen before, one taken a long time ago in Potomac Maryland, 1976. This was the first time I ever met His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
I was told that I could go on a morning walk with Srila Prabhupada, so I tagged along. I remember the morning very clearly. I never took my eyes of Srila Prabhupada the entire time I was in his presence. I don’t remember a thing he said because I was just so in awe of his person.
Seeing him reminded me of a book I read before I joined the Hare Krishna Movement, “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. When young Siddhartha meet the illustrious Gautama Buddha and could recognize by his every movement and gesture that this was an enlightened being, so was my impression of Srila Prabhupada on that morning walk.
My insignificant self is looking over his shoulder, on the right in this picture. -Vyasasan das
This is another fine compilation of quotes, in chronological order, put together by Prabhupada Connection, this time Srila Prabhupada blessing and praising George Harrison.
“When Bhaktivedanta Manor was donated, Srila Prabhupada said of George, ‘Because he has given shelter to Krishna by providing this temple, Krishna will surely provide shelter for him.’ Just before Srila Prabhupada left this world in 1977, he removed the ring on his right hand and said to the disciples around him, ‘This is for George, give it to him.'”
“The Words of the Spiritual Master” by Ananda devi dasi
“Believing in the words of His Spiritual Master, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu introduced the Sankirtana movement, just as the present Krishna Consciousness movement was started with belief in the words of our Spiritual Master. He wanted to preach, we believed in his words and tried somehow or other to fulfill them, and now this movement has become successful all over the world. Therefore faith in the words of the Spiritual Master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the secret of success. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu never disobeyed the orders of His Spiritual Master and stopped propagating the Sankirtana movement.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami, at the time of his passing away, ordered all his disciples to work conjointly to preach the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. Later, however, some self-interested, foolish disciples disobeyed his orders. Each one wanted to become head of the mission, and they fought in the courts, neglecting the orders of their Spiritual Master, and the entire mission was defeated. We are not proud of this, however the truth must be explained. We believed in the words of our Spiritual Master and started in a humble way-in a helpless way – but due to the spiritual force of the Supreme Authority, this movement has become successful.” (From the Chaitanya Charitamrita written and presented by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Prabhupada Cc Adi 7.95-96)
Some Day the Tiny Soul Will Want to Get Out of Illusion
Excerpted from Back to Godhead Magazine
Vol. 1, Number 65, 1974
by His Holiness Visnujana Swami
New York City, March 31, 1974
Instructions to the devotees of the Hare Krsna movement
His Holiness Visnujana Svami, joined the Krsna consciousness movement in San Francisco in 1967. He has recently returned to the U.S. from India, where he sailed down the Ganges, stopping at towns and villages along her banks to chant Hare Krsna, distribute food first offered to Krsna and preach Krsna consciousness.
“One may artificially repress the desires of the senses, although the taste for sensual enjoyment remains; but by ceasing such enjoyments, experiencing a higher taste, one is fixed in consciousness.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.59)
When one experiences ruci, which, means a taste for Spiritual life, he can rise above the attraction of the illusory energy by the mercy of the Lord. Then he is able to feel vairagya. Vairagya is the strength that protects us, even when we are neophytes in Krsna consciousness, from breaking the Krsna conscious regulative principles and being attracted to the flickering sensual enjoyments of the mundane world. Ruci, and vairagya-the taste for spiritual life and the strength to maintain it-are rarely achieved.
It has come to our attention that our dear God-brother and friend, Hansadutta Prabhu, has left his body yesterday. This news came to us this morning by email from Yasodanandan das
Hare Krishna Dear Yasodanandan prabhu, obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I’m sad to inform you that Hansadutta has passed. He left his body earlier today. He had been to hospital a few times with pancreatitis, but then in March doctors discovered a mass in his pancreas and diagnosed cancer. He was unable to eat, so for over three weeks had nothing at all to eat, and refused all medication, but remarkably didn’t feel pain. His family brought him to their home and gave him hospice care, and there he spent his last days murmuring the holy names and listening to Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and bhajans. A eulogy has been published at bhaktivedantas.com and namhatta.com.
I hope you are well. — Your servant, Das Dasanudas devi dasi