Srila Prabhupada ki jay! Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ki jay!
Srila Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj ki jay!
It is very interesting what you feel when someone leaves their body. It's actually a very important event because we all have to leave our bodies one day. My relationship to Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj was essentially based on our mutual appreciation, though we did not have a close working relationship. He was a distinguished member of Srila Prabhupada's mission because even before he met Prabhupada, he had obtained a PHd in chemistry and mathematics. Prabhupada appreciated very much having a Manipuri Vaisnava disciple who was a scientist. They had famous talks known later as the "Life After Life" talks which were subsequently published. In these conversations, he gave Prabhupada the chance to smash all the foolish material scientific theories against the soul and our true spiritual identity. He was a sannyas, a spiritual leader. He preached in scientific circles by starting the Bhaktivedanta Institute. This institution focused on many subjects, but mainly on defeating the Darwinistic theory that life comes from nature. He was always traveling to scientific venues, attending conferences such as the Convention on Science and Religion in Calcutta.
I last saw him a few months ago at the Delhi airport where we had short and sweet exchange. Now Swami is not here with us anymore; Krishna has called his devotee back to Him. So how do we feel about the departure of such a beloved soul?
What we feel does not compare to what his disciples and close relatives are feeling. Nevertheless, anytime somebody departs from this world, there is an important lesson since spiritual life is really about learning the science of the art of dying. When we die it is such a subtle transition that we hardly notice what is happening. My young flexible body has been gone for so long, and even though sometimes I would like to have it back, I have already transformed into a different body during this lifetime. At the moment of death the same thing happens, but more dramatically. The soul travels to unknown areas for those who stay back, and of course if one becomes a devotee with an untarnished Vaishnava reputation (very hard to achieve in Kali Yuga) this is a good foundation for spiritual success. In the case of this devotee, the causeless mercy of the Lord touched somebody who then went on to open many temples, to guide so many devotees and to always be there for Srila Prabupada and his plans. He will always be a reminder to make spiritual efforts, challenges and attempts to bring down the kingdom of illusion in the scientific guise of researching the reality which actually is a disguise of the materialistic exploitative mentality, the cause of our suffering in this world today. Since atheism and consumerism is all leaning on this so called proof that life has no higher sense or meaning, Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj was a soldier of Mahaprabhu in the field of science. This cannot be denied. We don't have to pray for his soul, we have to pray to him for our soul.
A pure devotee has gone back to Krishna.
So now we have to continue our spiritual lives praying because prayer is a daily activity that keeps us in constant contact with Krishna. Pray to Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual master and all the pure devotees, such as Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj. One minute someone is alive and all important, and suddenly he dies and is all gone. He is no more to be consulted or intervene closely in our lives. We then have to continue struggling to remember and fulfill his ideals and the efforts that were done for him. This is a buarden that we must bear. Everybody is born with the same burden, whether they accept it or not. If you don't, it means you think you only need comfort and enjoyment in the trivial world. If you do, you understand the development of consciousness is most pleasing to the Lord and the objective of our existence.
So Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj was one of those exemplary souls who preached for the sake of a higher consciousness. Of course his absence brings a certain degree of sadness, especially for those whose hearts feel shattered today. But more than that, the acceptance of our responsibility for going on in the world of ideals is an essential feature. His sudden demise knocks on our door to remind us that we also may go at anytime. We have to clean up our show and make sure that we work on behalf of love and truth, that we are aligned with the sweet will of the Supreme and that we give our heartfelt effort to the best of our abilities. For only in this way we will grow towards joy.
There's no joy in amassing material satisfaction and utensils. The more utensils you have, the more trouble you get and the more envy you attract. You have to give wholeheartedly your enthusiasm, your help. Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj was a sannyas who was always on the road preaching about Vedic culture, Vedic science and the Maha Mantra.
He was not subdued by the institutional restriction. He understood very well that Krishna consciousness is not institutional consciousness. He knew that our ultimate duty is to be truthful. So I put my words in prayer to Srila Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj and send my deepest love and prayers to all his many disciples in the world for the health and strength to continue following his instructions. Let them become very successful in their spiritual lives so that they can serve their guru in separation. When my god brothers and I approached Srila B.R Sridhara Maharaja after Srila Prabhupada's departure and received so much responsibility, Srila B.R. Sridhara commented to us: Wow! It is really time for you to surrender!
Unfortunately some of us did not appreciate that commentary, thinking that if we were not already surrendered then how could so much service have come to us. Seriously speaking, a deveotee should never think he is surrendered, and if there is a good reason for him to think "now I really have to surrender, now I really have to reach more deeply than even before" then he is getting a great benefit by feeling that way. So in this way I also send my heartfelt recommendations to all of them, as well as to myself: Now we really have to surrender because this divine guide who looks after us and corrects our faults easily is not there anymore, and if we do not surrender then our faults will drag us down.
To be surrendered means to be enguided by the inner protection of the Paramatma and the Guru, and that your clarity of understanding becomes precise and brilliant. I hope this call on us really helps us surrender and marks a big challenge in our life in name of our brother father and friend. We must rescue those who have not enough association, those who are not strong enough, those who have not received enough experience in spiritual life. It is up to you to become a genuine representative of Srila Prabhupada's mission. If his followers are not up to his figure and are not really surrendered and sincere, then what hope is left? A seed is given from guru to disciple, so if the disciple does not grow this seed to grow more seeds, then the original seed is lost forever and this is a great calamity. So by some reason Krishna has decided that one of his seed-planting agents is going back to him to enjoy some other activities most likely in Goloka Vrindavan. There is no doubt that Krishna's plan for his pure devotees is to have them close to him. We who remain behind keep praying to him and Krishna so that our own seeds may mature to that degree that we can plant them in the hearts of those to come on the line of Bhakti. This is the wish of Mahaprabhu, Bhaktivinod Thakur, Srila Prabhupad, all pure devotees and obviously our beloved and always well-remembered Bhakti Svarupa Damodar Maharaj.
The fact that the bombing occurred in the temple of Manipur Impal for the opening of the Jamastami Festival, once again shows how urgent the need for Krishna Consciousness has become. When people with a mundane mentality of selfish interest are capable of dropping bombs on innocent people at religious events, it is such a disgusting show of their lack of spirituality and lack of knowledge for the laws of karma. We can only draw the incredible determination to preach dharma strongly anywhere and everywhere because what other hope is there for the world but to understand the laws of dharma?
The bombing took place in Manipur because a Vaisnava tradition was confronted with the modern world and political interests. It shows that if we don't have spiritual guidance, our politics will be the cause of our ruin. Therefore dharma is the line of teaching coming from the Mahabaharta, from Yudhisthira Maharaj, and nobody has expounded the need for it more beautifully than Srila Prahupab. So spreading his message of dharma and Vedic wisdom should be a very essential element of our life because people need this very much.
Thank you very much for your enthusiasm, for not going astray in the world of self gratification, intoxication, greed for money or cheating mentality for the opposite sex. Thank you for chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna, continuing the sadhana and mongul arti and so many other most valuable activities which Prabupada has taught us. We live far away from each other, so when we come together for Kartik, it will be the most wonderful thing if we can meet to remember a pure devotee and his pastimes. We can encourage each other in the service of what is called union in separation. Without the service to the Guru there is no union with the Guru, and there's also no sincere feeling of separation. Only if we feel and serve in separation can there be union coming about that cannot be disturbed by the material energy.
Srila Prabhupad ki jay!