- Abhimanyu Das (Gainesville, Florida, USA)
"Thank You For Chastising Me!"
Dear Srila Bharati Maharaja, please accept my unlimited obeisances at your lotus feet. On this first tirobhava of yours since your departure from this world, I’m praying to you to continue to inspire me to develop pure love for Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava and their eternal associates as you did for me during your manifested pastimes. I pray to you to always remind me of the spotless examples of pure vaisnavas so that I may stay enthusiastic to awaken my dormant love for Sri-Sri Radha-Krsna more and more each day. My time spent without you has been painful. I lament not spending the last few years of your manifested presence in this world with you. I’m grateful that I have been able to connect with you through your divine teachings recently and that I have had Sripada Tapasvi Maharaja’s association. He has helped me to deepen my relationship with you and remember the blissful times I spent with you in 2014 during the month of Kartik. I am remembering one instance where you lovingly chastised me for my purification. On the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I overworked myself and ate too many sweets, so I fell sick. The next morning, I felt too sick to play the mrdanga at mangal arti, so I simply sang along with everyone else. When I went to touch your lotus feet after all the vaisnavas paid pranamas to each other, you looked at me with a beaming smile and overflowing love and affection and said, “You are a failure.” I was so shocked by this simultaneous outpouring of love and chastisement that I simply paid obeisances and left. Later that morning, while myself and many other devotees were following you as you performed parikrama of Sri-Sri Guru-Gauranga Radha-Madhava, you stopped to speak with the pujari. This was the only time in my life where I have seen you become visibly overwhelmed with devotional emotions. You quoted verses three and five from the Vrndadevyastakam and glorified Srimati Vrnda Devi for her constant service to the divine couple. You told us that there are specific reasons for why the deities wear different colors during specific days like Ekadasi and the new and full moons, and that we will realize this as we come to the stage of bhava. You also said that in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s fourth siksastaka bhajan, which we were singing every day, the line where he prays to the Lord to transfer our attachment for sense gratification to his lotus feet is the most important part of that prayer. Afterwards, we sat around you near the mandir and, this time with a grave tone, you said to me again, “You are a failure.” I was thinking about this all day and asked Ananta Prabhu (now Sripada Tapasvi Maharaja) about this incident. He told me of a similar incident where you told him that he was a very lazy man even though he was so busily engaged in service. Tapasvi Maharaja said that he was purified by thinking intently on why you said he was a lazy man. Later Tapasvi Maharaja asked you about this and you explained to him that he would procrastinate on the services he was instructed to do rather than carrying them out immediately. I ruminated about why you might have said I was a failure since I was also very busily engaged in service and doing sadhana to the best of my ability. I was still sick the next morning. After all the vaisnavas paid pranamas to each other, I asked you why you said I was a failure. You told me emphatically, “Because you’re not playing the mrdanga! You have overworked yourself to the point where you can no longer serve. You need to serve according to your own adhikara without thinking about what others are doing or not doing.” Srila Maharaja, thank you for giving me this loving chastisement by which I can remember your unending love for me and dedicate myself to serving Sri-Sri Guru-Gauranga Radha-Madhava to the best of my ability. One year ago, I found out on Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur’s appearance day that you were about to enter nitya-lila, so I wrote a final offering to you. I have also written this offering on Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur’s appearance day. I pray for his divine grace so that I will be able to relish his transcendental kirtans throughout my life and follow in his footsteps as you taught me to do in your association Srila Maharaja. On you tirobhava-tithi today, as you taught myself and countless others to do on the appearance and disappearance days of great vaisnavas, I pray for your causeless grace so that I may increase the strength of my bhajan and awaken my dormant love for the divine couple. Your humble servant, Abhimanyu Das.