In Vrindavan, the bhava or the feeling of prema or love between the devotee and Krishna with Krishna in the center of the devotee’s is a love of union and separation. We heard beautiful heartfelt expressions of dedication, gratitude, and loving surrender, saranagati for His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada by these exalted and very dear speakers this evening.
Radhanath Swami recounts the initial days of Srila Prabhupada in US
Srila Prabhupada got off the cargo ship in New York City in 1965. He didn’t know a single person, he had no money; he had already reached 70 years old. On the cargo ship of 38 days across two oceans and three continents, he had heart attacks. Yet, his burning compassion impelled him to give his heart and soul to help others to understand that we are all eternal souls, we are all beyond birth and death, and it is our nature. And that Krishna is the Supreme, all beautiful, all merciful, and all loving, Personality of Godhead. He is the ultimate object of everyone’s love, and by awakening that love that is dormant within our heart we can cherish the true happiness of life. the By the chanting of Krishna’s name, kirtan, by the association of saintly people, satsang, and by hearing the divine message of Krishna’s lilas and teachings, Hari katha, this love is awakened. It is not considered what are one’s material qualifications or disqualifications, because spiritually this is our true potential. All that is required is a sincere and earnest heart to receive the grace of Krishna through his loving devotee.
At that time, he had just a small following. The senior most people had hardly been practicing bhakti for a year; mostly people were in their early 20s or late teens. Srila Prabhupada gave them so much. He was our mother, our father, our brother, our sister, our guide, our guru, and our everything. In some places where there was only one bathroom and devotees were lined up to take a shower, Prabhupada would just stand behind them and wait in line; devotees didn’t even have the culture to put him in the front of the line and he didn’t object. He just gave us the time to actually understand what the culture of respect and Vaishnavism is. You see, Srila Prabhupada never demanded respect, he commanded respect because of how much he gave, because of his wisdom, because of the power of his love, and because of what he was giving was so deep and so transforming to people’s lives. It was out of love and gratitude that we learned to respect him and honor him. To these devotee’s, what he gave them was the most precious treasure and the only thing that was really meaningful to truly live for in life.
Srila Prabhupada had a stroke and is health really deteriorated. This was 10 years before the incident that Bhakti Charu Maharaj told us. Srila Prabhupada said to the devotees, “I will go Vrindavan and when I am in Vrindavan Srimati Radharani and Krishna will decide whether I should remain with you in this world or whether they want to take me back home back to Godhead.” He said, “What better place for me to regain my health than my home Vrindavan and what better place for me to depart from this world than Vrindavan. Whatever Krishna desires!” This was quite revolutionary because we were used to reading about yogis who could fly, who could do all mystic things, and who could just leave this world whenever they decided to leave. But Srila Prabhupada is teaching us the yoga of love. The yoga of love is sharanagati, “I am Krishna’s. Whenever Krishna wants me to go, I am his and however long Krishna wants me to remain, I am his.” When Srila Prabhupada was at the airport, the group of devotees were weeping and crying. Some of them were only for a few months but they had surrendered their lives in those few months. They were crying, “What are we going to do if you leave us?” Srila Prabhupada explained that if I am chanting Krishna’s name and you are chanting ‘Hare Krishna,’ we are always together, nothing can separate us.
Vani and Vapu, Vapu was the physical body and the Vani is the message and the grace that the physical body is instrumental to bestow upon the world. For those who are sincere the vani, the instruction and the grace that comes through that is between the souls with Krishna in the center, and nothing can separate us on the spiritual level. – Radhanath Swami
But when the physical body is either in a distant place within this world or beyond this world, the feeling of separation from that sacred medium by which we can receive love and give love is one of the greatest pains in all of existence. But because that pain is built on the foundation of truth that we are all eternal souls, we are all forever together in bhakti, in Krishna’s grace, and then that pain is ecstasy because it is an expression of love.
Radhanath Swami shares what is love in separation and meditation on this festival
Krishna lived in Vrindavan for hardly 10 1/2 years before he went to Mathura and Dwarka. Uddhava came to Vrindavan as a messenger of Krishna from Mathura. Krishna sent Uddhava because he was the closest most intimate relative and friend. He was in constant association with Krishna: they would sit together, they would eat together, and they would lie down together, and talk and joke together. Krishna would ask advice, Uddhava would ask advice, but they were deep friends. Uddhava saw the gopis headed by Sri Radha and the gopas, Subala, Sridama, Stoka Krishna and Sudama and the elders Nanda, Yashoda, were constantly crying for Krishna, and constantly waiting for Krishna to return. The gopis would make garlands all day long with the hope that Krishna would return that day. When Uddhava saw the nature of the vrajvasis love in separation from Krishna, he realized that Krishna is most with them and they are most with Krishna. He realized that his love was insignificant, although he was a constant association. He prayed to be a little shrub near Govardhan Hill with the hope that someday the gopas and the gopis would step on his head with their feet and then he would also be affected by the kind of love that they have. This is union in separation. In feelings of separation when connected on that spiritual platform is the deepest most profound union. When our loved one is before our eyes our, love pours from our heart out toward our beloved, but when our beloved is not physically there, on the spiritual platform our love goes deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper within, and Krishna embraces us intimately within. Similarly Krishna’s representative, the guru, who is the manifestation of Krishna’s divine grace will always reciprocate with us.
His Holiness Sachinandana Swami, Arjuna prabhu, Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj, Bhurijan Prabhu, all of these devotees, who we have heard and seen tonight, did wonderful service for Srila Prabhupada when he was physically present. But, they have done thousands of times more service with even deeper love in separation. Union in separation, that is tirobhava, the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada, it is a day to meditate upon what he is given us, who he was. It is a day to cry in separation but those tears, those tears are offerings of love to celebrate the union that we forever have with him, and through him with Sri Sri Radha Govinda in Vrindavan. It is a day of prayer, it is a day of reevaluating our priorities in life and it is also a day of a very bitter-sweet celebration. So let us celebrate. Srila Prabhupada’s greatest happiness was when we are happy chanting Krishna’s name together and dancing. So let us have a beautiful kirtan singing from our heart of hearts, crying out Krishna’s name, and offering every limb of our body and every emotion of our heart and our very soul itself in sankirtan.