9th June '17, Medolago, Italy,
On the auspicious Snan Yatra of the Lord Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada bestowed His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj the renounced/ sanyasa order of life 40 years earlier.
On this auspicious occassion this year Sri Guru Maharaj HH Bhakti Charu Swami addressing a gathering of devotees at Medolago, Italy, a place known as the Oasis of Srila Prabhupadadesh spoke so beautifully over his feelings on receiving sannyasa and shared the most important instructions that Srila Prabhupada imparted on him. Below is the essence of the address. Guru Maharaja started off by sharing how certain GBC members were opposed to his sannyasa initiation, because he had been in the movement for just a little while.
Sri Guru Maharaja said:
“ I was cooking in the kitchen, Tamal Krishna Maharaja and Bhavananda Maharaja came to me. Tamal Krishna Maharaja’s expression was, “Boy, you made it! Srila Prabhupada decided to give you sannyasa tomorrow.” [laughs] I said, “Okay, fine. It doesn’t really matter.” And I remember, when I was cooking for Srila Prabhupada, it was playing in the back of my mind, I was thinking like, “Why do they want to stop me from taking sannyasa? Whether I get sannyasa or not, what difference does it make? My business is to become a devotee and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “In order to become a devotee you don’t have to be a brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra; you don’t have to be a brahmachari, grihastha, vanaprasthaor sannyasi – all you have to do is become a devotee of Krishna. So I don’t need any designation. I don’t need any title. Whether I get sannyasa or not, it doesn’t matter.” I remember at the same time I was also thinking that I am already asannyasi.
I was thinking that I travelled so much, like a sannyasi (a sannyasi is supposed to travel). I travelled not only in India, but I travelled all over the Middle East and Europe. And I was searching for a guru at that time, and I was thinking in my heart I was already a sannyasi. During those days in India, my feeling actually was that when you take to spiritual life, you become a sannyasi. It is something like that, because in India when you take to spiritual life, you don’t think of going back to householder life. And also, Prabhupada once told me, when we were in Mayapur, “Just offer this life to Krishna.” And then Prabhupada explained what it actually meant to offer one’s life to Krishna: to become free from sense gratification, not to have any desire to enjoy your senses and offer your life to serve Krishna, glorify Krishna, spread Krishna Consciousness, teach others about Krishna Consciousness. So in this way Prabhupada explained and then finally Prabhupada told me, “Just offer this life to Krishna and see what happens. If nothing happens, what’s the loss? It is just one life out of so many lifetimes. Just one life you offer to Krishna and even if nothing happens, what’s the loss? You can risk one life and see what happens.” So I was just reflecting on those incidences and I was thinking in the back of my mind – I was cooking and at the same time all these thoughts were coming up in the back of my mind – what difference does it make if I don’t get sannyasa? Or, what difference does it make whether I get the title of a sannyasi, because I am already a sannyasi in my heart. So at that time Tamal Krishna Maharaja and Bhavananda Maharaja came and told me Prabhupada decided to give me sannyasa. It was a very nice occasion and Srila Prabhupada gave me so many wonderful instructions' .
So this is how very mercifully Srila Prabhupada situated me in Krishna Consciousness. He gave me so much mercy and he secured me so nicely in my spiritual life. I feel very fortunate that Srila Prabhupada made this beautiful arrangement for me to become situated and serve his lotus feet without deviation. So forty years went by, and over the course of time there had been many difficulties, but by Prabhupada’s mercy we have been able to overcome those difficulties and had the opportunity to serve his mission, serve ISKCON.
Then time came when I had to take up the responsibility of a GBC member in Prabhupada’s management structure. Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON has developed so wonderfully and Srila Prabhupada gave us the responsibility to maintain the institution, serve him by serving his movement. Prabhupada gave us the responsibility and the instruction that we have to show our love for him through our co-operation. These are the things that Prabhupada expected from us. In order to push this movement forward, we have to co-operate. Co-operate means work together. When we try to exploit others, we remain isolated, we cannot co-operate, rather, we exploit, we use everybody for my sake, for my purpose. But when we serve, then we automatically develop this spirit of co-operation. When we serve, then, yes, you are serving Krishna, I am serving Krishna, he is serving Krishna, she is serving Krishna, so let’s all get together to serve Krishna. So when there is a service attitude, co-operation becomes natural, but when there is exploitation, externally or verbally I may say, “Oh, let’s co-operate! Let’s co-operate!”, but what is going on in the back of my mind? “I’ll use you for my sense gratification.” Like these big, big companies, they have these mottos: We are all for each other. No, we are not all for each other; we are all for that big guy. [points upwards] He is telling us, “All for each other”, but his agenda is, yes, you all work together to serve him and you also think, “Oh, he is such a nice man! He is giving me so much money.” But we don’t consider that he is giving me x amount of money in order to make x multiplied by y for himself. So that is the material nature. In the material nature that kind of co-operation – although it takes place – it is not possible. But in Krishna Consciousness it becomes a reality, and when we co-operate, then Krishna’s mercy flows. When Krishna sees that we are sincerely trying to serve Him, then He empowers us, He provides us with the facilities.
So we must remember that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to co-operate, and co-operate for what? To push this movement forward. We have to push this Krishna Consciousness movement forward. And the more we co-operate, the stronger become our endeavours, our efforts. In that respect I heard – not that I heard from Srila Prabhupada, but somebody told me – that Prabhupada said, “In Krishna Consciousness 1 is 1, 2 is 11, 3 is 111, 4 is 1.111.” So that is the strength of co-operation. Such a wonderful example: when we co-operate, our ability multiplies, our ability increases. It is through our co-operation that we will be able to successfully establish Krishna Consciousness. As I mentioned, co-operation comes out of the sincere desire to serve Krishna. When we sincerely try to serve Krishna, then Krishna’s mercy flows through us. Krishna’s mercy flows through us, Krishna empowers. Krishna empowers His devotees to achieve wonderful things, just the way we saw how Krishna empowered Srila Prabhupada.
Anyway, so I feel very fortunate that by Prabhupada’s mercy I have been able to maintain my sannyasa vow for the last forty years. Actually, after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance so many sannyasis and leaders fell down, so at times I used to get into anxiety and pray to Krishna that I don’t fall down. In a way it is good to be in anxiety, because that gives us the protection. Prabhupada once mentioned that the problem with us is that we are not afraid of maya. We are not afraid ofmaya. We think that, “Well, I can deal with maya.” No, maya is so strong! We should never feel that we are strong enough to withstand maya. Prabhupada mentioned that even he is afraid of maya! [laughs] So we should never think that we are so fixed up, we are so strong that we don’t care about maya. No, maya is Krishna’s illusory energy. But in that respect Srila Prabhupada also gave a very wonderful instruction: the way to overcome the onslaught of maya is by remaining in the association of devotees. And then Prabhupada said, “Maya is Krishna’s energy, but maya is Krishna’s external energy, whereas the association of devotees is Krishna’s internal energy. The internal energy is stronger than the external energy. So to remain in the association of devotees means to be in Krishna’s internal potency, and then we will be free from the influence of maya. Therefore, we have to be always very, very careful that we always remain in the association of devotees, the association of good devotees who are fixed up in their Krishna Consciousness.
Another thing that Prabhupada made very clear: Our institution is an institution of servants. ISKCON is the institution of servants. Krishna’s devotees means Krishna’s servants. So ISKCON is an institution of servants, and in that institution, the higher you go, the bigger servant you become. Like, you are just a temple devotee, the temple-president is your leader, but he should consider that I am a servant of all these devotees who are under my care. The GBC should feel that he is the servant of all the devotees who are in the zone. In this way, the higher you go, or the bigger leader you are, the more of a servant you become. You consider that those devotees who are under me, I am their servant, and my responsibility is to assist them in their service to Krishna, facilitate them in their service to Krishna.
|Guru Maharaj HH Bhakti Charu Swami |
at Naamhat Boxtel, 2015
Thank you all very much! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!”
(Ranga Radhika Dasi transcribed this lecture and was distributed on BCS Istagosti forum)