Every day we come together, disciples and granddisciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, to worship His Divine Grace in guru-pūjā. Together we acknowledge that if it were not for Prabhupāda, we wouldn’t be together here in ISKCON today. We express our submission and gratefulness to Śrīla Prabhupāda, beg his forgiveness for offenses and failings, pray for strength, and meditate on his divine qualities.
Prabhupāda’s guru-pūjā is an essential part of ISKCON daily life. No one is so great that he does not need to come and formally prostrate himself before Śrīla Prabhupāda. No one is so busy that he can’t spare a few minutes to worship him who has given us everything.
This guru-pūjā is essential, just as the Deity worship is essential. It is not cheap adoration. It is the process of enlightenment, of divya-jñāna. We worship the guru because he gives us superior knowledge. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is divya-jñāna. It is not ordinary knowledge. (Lecture, 1 April 1977)
At guru-pūjā we sing “Śrī Guru-vandanā,” by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. Each and every word of this beautiful song is full of important instruction. Let us meditate on Śrīla Prabhupāda through the words of Narottama dāsa.
bando mui sāvadhana mate
The lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda are the abode of pure devotional service. I bow down to those lotus feet with great care and attention.
The lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda are the only way for us to attain pure devotional service. We have no other way—not by austerities, nor by the power of our sādhana, nor by scholarship. Prabhupāda’s lotus feet are our only hope. Therefore we must worship the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda with great awe, reverence, and attention, on a daily basis. Worship of those lotus feet are the source of all our strength and inspiration. By that worship we get Kṛṣṇa. As Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself says, mad-bhakta-pūjābhyadhikā: “Worship of My devotees is more important than worship of Myself.” (SB 11.19.21)
We must be convinced that we do not belong to this material world. We belong at Prabhupāda’s lotus feet, of which many prabhus have taken shelter. Why are those lotus feet able to give shelter to everyone? Because Śrīla Prabhupāda has taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Prabhu, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Kirāta-hūṇāndhra-pulinda-pulkaśā ābhīra-śumbhā yavanāḥ khasādayaḥ/ ye ’nye ca pāpā yad-apāśrayāśrayāḥ śudhyanti tasmai prabhaviṣṇave namaḥ: “Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkaśa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavana, members of the Khasa races, and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.” (SB 2.4.18)
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings, patita-pavana hetu tava avatāra: “The purpose of Lord Caitanya’s descent is to deliver the most fallen.” Śrīla Prabhupāda has taken power from the Supreme Personality of Godhead to fulfil that mission. His level of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is simply amazing. We poor struggling disciples stand far below. In great awe and reverence we offer prayers with joined palms.
jāhāra prasāde bhāi, ei bhava tariyā jai,
kṛṣṇa-prāpti hoy jāhā ha ’te
By his grace we can cross over the ocean of material suffering. Attainment of Kṛṣṇa is made possible by him.
All obstacles to and disturbances in our daily practice of devotional service are overcome by the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda. And ultimately he takes us across the ocean of birth and death and brings us to Kṛṣṇa. If we stick with Prabhupāda and always pray for his mercy, we will be safe. Otherwise we can be swallowed by māyā at any moment.
guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete koriyā aikya,
āra nā kariho mane āśā
Make the teachings from the lotus mouth of the spiritual master one with your heart, and do not desire anything else.
Śrīla Prabhupāda quoted these lines as being the secret of his success. Because he exactly followed his spiritual master, he was blessed to do wonderful things. The words from the lotus mouth of Śrīla Prabhupāda should be fixed in our hearts. Everything else should be kicked out. No other desires. That is the real meaning of being a Prabhupādānugā: to regularly listen to Prabhupāda’s words, meditate on them, and make them our very life, without desiring anything else. If we stick to this principle we will be safe.
Everything Prabhupāda said was and is authoritative. Nor was it simply ex cathedra. Śrīla Prabhupāda always spoke śāstra. He was totally committed to his role as a teacher. Whether speaking to an important personality or to a single disciple, his mood was always the same: gravely presenting Kṛṣṇa as the Absolute Truth.
The words from Prabhupāda’s lotus mouth are all cintāmaṇī. Anything that he said is far more valuable than all the proclamations of the world’s so-called big men. Every day the newspapers and television report the words of politicians and other famous men, but all these so-called important speeches merge into meaninglessness as the politicians and their followers are crushed by time. It is all asat-kathā. However, any words from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lotus mouth, even “Bring me a glass of water,” are supremely valuable because they are spoken by one who is in full contact with Kṛṣṇa. Whatever the materialists might say that happens to be in line with Prabhupāda’s teachings, that much we can accept—anything and everything else, we reject as speculation.
This might sound like fanaticism, but “foolish and brainwashed” as we are, we absolutely accept Śrīla Prabhupāda, and only Śrīla Prabhupāda. We can trust that which is given in the Vedas through the ācāryas as it is spoken by Prabhupāda. Unlike others who only cheated us and will always cheat us, Prabhupāda never cheated us and will never cheat us. Rather, he will always save us from being cheated. We are completely safe in the shelter of his lotus feet.
Our wealth, our shelter, our everything is Śrīla Prabhupāda. We are not sentimentalists. We are not fools. We are right because we follow Prabhupāda, who is right. Śrīla Prabhupāda is right because he follows Kṛṣṇa, who is the Supreme Absolute Truth, and who is axiomatically always correct.
śrī-guru-caraṇe-rati, ei se uttama-gati,
je prasāde pūre sarva āśā
Attachment to the lotus feet of the spiritual master is the topmost situation. By his mercy all desires for spiritual perfection are fulfilled.
Rati means “strong attachment,” like sexual attachment. Such adherence to Prabhupāda’s lotus feet is in itself the topmost transcendental achievement. By such attachment all spiritual desires can be fulfilled. Let us always remember Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lotus feet and cling to them.
cakhu-dān dilo jei, janme janme prabhu sei
He who has given me the gift of transcendental vision is my lord birth after birth.
Śrīla Prabhupāda explains:
You cannot see. I see. I am not a fool like you. I can see, therefore I offer. But you cannot see, so I have to open your eyes. You come to me. That is our propaganda. You are blind; you are suffering with cataract. I shall operate and you’ll see also. You have to get the eyes, that I say. Because you are blind, you have cataract, I have to operate. You’ll see, you’ll see. You come to treatment. Therefore the śāstra says, “Go to guru and be treated and try to understand.” But how can you see with your blind eyes, cataract eyes? (Conversation, 7 December 1973)
Prabhupāda, you forcibly opened my eyes! You are my eternal spiritual master, birth after birth. It was you who saved me. How could I ever dream of being so ungrateful as to run off here and there looking for “another spiritual master”? When one has the incalculable good fortune as to have the greatest spiritual master in the universe, what kind of madness is it to minimize his value and go to someone else? Śrīla Prabhupāda, I know you are still with us, because you still reveal transcendental knowledge to us. To the degree that we surrender to you, that much you reciprocate with us.
A devotee once asked Prabhupāda, “Do you love all your disciples equally?” “Yes,” Śrīla Prabhupāda replied. “ But if someone comes forward for service, I reciprocate.” (Told by Girirāja Swami)
divya-jñāna hṛde prokāśito
By his mercy, divine knowledge is revealed within the heart.
Śāstra states that a disciple can never repay to his spiritual master the debt for having received even one syllable of transcendental knowledge from him. The whole world has received and continues to receive volumes of spiritual instruction from Śrīla Prabhupāda, principally in the form of his books.
prema-bhakti jāhā hoite, avidyā vināśa jāte,
vede gāy jāhāra carito
He bestows prema-bhakti and destroys ignorance. The Vedic scriptures sing of his character.
Prema-bhakti is available from Śrīla Prabhupāda (not “emanates” from him). We don’t have to go anywhere else for prema-bhakti. Just stick with Prabhupāda. Anyway, for most of us prema is still a long way off—first comes avidyā-vināśa, destruction of ignorance. The guru’s duty is to remove the ignorance of his disciples. Śrīla Prabhupāda constantly endeavored to enlighten his disciples by speaking to them about Kṛṣṇa. It is this quality of the topmost paramahaṁsa guru which is repeatedly extolled in the Vedic literatures.
śrī-guru-karuṇā-sindhu, adhama janāra bandhu,
lokanātha lokera jīvana
O spiritual master, ocean of mercy and friend of the fallen souls, you are the teacher of everyone and the life of all people.
This song was specifically written by Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura in his ecstasy of love for his spiritual master, Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī. But its words are true for any Vaiṣṇava ācārya, especially Śrīla Prabhupāda. Who has shown more mercy than Prabhupāda? Who has been a greater friend of the fallen than he?
It is Kali-yuga. Everyone is fallen. Almost all of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples were so fallen that the word adhama (fallen) has found its proper usage in describing us.
Even though we want to be Kṛṣṇa conscious, rotten, nasty contaminations burden our hearts. The way back to Kṛṣṇa seems long and almost unnavigable. Although we cannot cease trying to overcome our sinful mentality, still we fear that it will be a long and arduous task. Remembrance of Prabhupāda gives us hope, our only hope. We know that however low our mind may take us (and there seems to be no bottom limit), Śrīla Prabhupāda is always ready to help us as long as we have the tiniest spark of sincerity to follow his basic instructions. This hope keeps us alive in devotional service. Otherwise, out of weakness and frustration we might have given up long ago.
How Śrīla Prabhupāda is adhama janāra bandhu could be the subject of thousands of grateful poems and songs. He is also lokanātha (the master of the devotees) and the life of the devotees. Without Prabhupāda we have no life. With Prabhupāda we are fixed on the path back to Godhead. And if we forget Śrīla Prabhupāda, we will fall back to speculation, forget all about our chanting and principles, be overcome by false ego, again be subject to birth, death, old age, and disease, and finally fall into hell.
hā hā prabhu koro doyā, deho more pada-chāyā
O master! Be merciful unto me and give me the shade of your lotus feet.
Śrīla Prabhupāda! Falling down helplessly at your lotus feet, Iam begging for your mercy. Please be kind to this fallen wretch. Keep me in the shade of your lotus feet. I am a fool, but somehow or other you are engaging me in your service. Now I am pleading, “Keep me with you. Don’t kick me away.”
ebe jaśa ghuṣuk tribhuvana
May your glories now be proclaimed throughout the three worlds.
Let Śrīla Prabhupāda’s glories be spread throughout the three worlds!
Although the demigods are surely engaged in regular discussion of Śrīla Prabhupāda, praising his activities with great wonder, the dull-headed, unfortunate people of this planet still do not recognize him. But surely that day is coming when Prabhupāda’s glories will be widely spread throughout this world. He will be constantly praised via radio and television, in schools and colleges, and in great assemblies. So many books will be written about him. Places that Śrīla Prabhupāda visited even briefly will be considered important pilgrimage sites. His books will be scrutinized to give direction to human society for the next ten thousand years. And because of their connection with him, Prabhupāda’s genuine followers will also be glorified.
Everyone is spending his life eating, sleeping, copulating, excreting, and dying. Out of millions and billions of people in this world, only a handful have some understanding of the importance of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Just as a blind man does not know of the sun’s rising and setting, so the people of this world do not even know that the most important personality in centuries has already come and gone. But Prabhupāda continues to live through his instructions and books. And those who actually know Śrīla Prabhupāda, know his order to distribute his books and spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
As I think more and more about what Prabhupāda has done for us, I become more and more amazed at how great and merciful he is, how little appreciation of him I have, and how urgent it is that he be known by the world. Let us not think that Śrīla Prabhupāda is the founder of a small religious sect struggling for recognition. He is jagat-guru, the spiritual master of the entire universe. He can give shelter to and solve the problems of everyone. Everyone needs to know Prabhupāda. When they do, they will be so grateful to him and will also feel his love. Let us not be lazy in the matter of giving Śrīla Prabhupāda to everyone.