Dear mind, what do you want? Do you want money, more than enough? Do you want honor, to be given importance wherever you go? Do you want beautiful women to look on you adoringly and serve you devoutly, doing whatever you ask? Or do you just want a life of peace, free from excessive disturbance? No! Give up these aspirations. Know them for what they are: useless. Know for certain that one favorable glance from Śrīla Prabhupāda is infinitely more valuable than any benediction of the material world that has ever been offered, or that can ever be offered.
We can do anything and everything required just to earn Śrīla Prabhupāda’s favorable glance. Even if he doesn’t glance on us favorably, he may at least glance on us unfavorably. Somehow or other we have to get his attention.
Devotee: How will I know what to follow?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You learn. You come to me. I’ll teach you and beat you with shoes and teach you. Come to me. Why am I here? You come! I shall beat you with shoes and teach you. Then you’ll learn. You require some beating with shoes. You are a bad student. So I’ll do that. “Come on.” Yes, I keep always my shoes for my bad students. (Conversation, 25 January 1977)
Śrīla Prabhupāda, I don’t want to be a bad student. I want you to think of me as a good student. But even if you accept me as your bad student, that will be a great benediction, unlimitedly better than not being accepted by you at all, and with the added special benediction of being beaten by your shoes! Śrīla Prabhupāda, I am always being beaten by my mind. Now please beat me with your shoes and purify me.
All of us are going on chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, but for me real Kṛṣṇa consciousness seems such a long way off. I can’t imagine myself dancing along with the gopīs, or anything like that. But I’m not disturbed. There is no reason for despondency, because I am confident that Śrīla Prabhupāda has accepted me. Prabhupāda knows my faults, yet he has given me the assurance that if I just keep holding on to his lotus feet, he will help me. He is not rejecting me. He is always with me, as my ever well-wisher. And if Prabhupāda accepts me, surely I will attain Kṛṣṇa. Probably I will have to go through millions of lifetimes of purification before actually reaching Kṛṣṇa, but my ultimate success is assured. And who knows? The mercy of Kṛṣṇa and Śrīla Prabhupāda is wonderful and inexplicable. By Prabhupāda’s mercy, that which is unimaginable now—pure love of God—may be bestowed on us very soon. After all, Śrīla Prabhupāda wants to give us kṛṣṇa-prema. All his endeavors were for that purpose only.
But enough of these esoteric thoughts. Let’s get on with our business of serving Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mission. Once, at the end of his lecture Prabhupāda was asked, “Should we try to cultivate a desire to go back to Godhead?” to which he replied, “No, you should just work hard to spread this movement all over the world.” (Told by Bhakti Vaibhava Swami)
Śrīla Prabhupāda, you gave me Kṛṣṇa and I gave you my sinful reactions. Kṛṣṇa is unlimited and my sinful reactions were unlimited. So both by giving me Kṛṣṇa and taking my burden of sins, I have become unlimitedly and eternally indebted to you. I cannot ever repay that debt, but I can express my thankfulness by sincerely taking to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, giving Kṛṣṇa to others on your order, and not sinning any more. Your mercy is inconceivable and causeless. Certainly I have never done anything to deserve it, nor in the future will I be able to do so. I have no idea how all this good fortune has come to me. By accepting me, you tied me not only to your heart, but to the hearts of all those who have surrendered to you, to all the pure devotees who have appeared in the past, to all those who will come in the future, and to the dearly beloved of yourself and all pure devotees, namely Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Three or four men liked me very, very much. One was my father, one was Dr. Kartika Chandra Bose, one was my guru-mahārāja, and one my maternal uncle. My guru-mahārāja liked me from the very heart, I know. By his blessing everything has happened. I was not worth. What did I . . . I do not know why he liked me. There were so many disciples. And still, he liked me.
Devotee: He could see how pure you were.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Maybe. Out of his affection, it is his good will. He can like anyone, any dog, doesn’t matter. But I know he liked me. Anyone, by his choice of free will, he can love any damn thing. It doesn’t matter. That is called kṛpā-siddhi: “I like this man. This man must be prominent.” That is his will. It doesn’t depend on qualification. (Conversation, 20 February 1977)
Śrīla Prabhupāda, reading this makes me greedy to have an intimate bond of affection with you. I don’t ask your blessings to become prominent; that may or may not happen, as you say, according to your blessings. What I really want is your affection. Of course I am not worthy of your love even now. So how could I enter into a very deep and meaningful bond of love with you? It just depends on your wish, your kindness. What can I do to invoke that?
Śrīla Prabhupāda, please keep me in the push. I am not a big shot in the ISKCON hierarchy. And I am crippled by so many material desires. But I know that you want us to preach. Even though I have no compassion, even though my heart is hard, still I should preach because it pleases you. So let me do it, although I am unable. Let me not selfishly retire for my own bhajana, neglecting your desire for us to preach, as you did up till the last breath.
I am certainly nothing like a paramahaṁsa. I’m not a great preacher, nor an earth-shattering speaker. I’m not self-controlled, very austere, or a great scholar. Crowds do not run to greet me when I visit an ISKCON temple, nor do I have bundles of fan mail to neglect. Perhaps I can do a few things half-okay, but certainly nothing sensational. And whatever I do, good or bad, does not make much difference to anyone. But my nonentity-ness doesn’t matter at all, because I’m a Prabhupāda man. Yes, despite all my anarthas, despite lacking any other claim to significance, I can hold up my head and say proudly and happily, “I’m a Prabhupāda man.”
When will I stop praying to Śrīla Prabhupāda to forgive me for thinking, saying, and doing things displeasing to him? When will I stop praying to him to forgive me for not thinking, saying, and doing as he wants?