Presented on September 4, 2018 by Sravaniya Devi Dasi, ACBSP
kaliṁ sattva-haraṁ puṁsāṁ
“We think that we have met Your Goodness by the will of providence, just so that we may accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the difficult ocean of Kali, which deteriorates all the good qualities of a human being.” (SB 1.1.22)
I have always been interested in subjects that apparently have no commercial potential. As a teenager I was trying to figure out what to study. Psychology? Not exactly. I was interested in consciousness and reality but there were no college courses in that.
I went to visit the St. Louis Temple in May 1971 on a Thursday night. I heard Bhagavad Gita As It Is from a devotee and that was it. I had found what I was looking for! They asked if I wanted to stay and I said yes. I didn’t go home that night. The next morning I woke up and chanted 16 rounds of Hare Krishna mahamantra. Srila Prabhupada accepted me as his disciple 3 months later via long distance and I received my initiated beads in the mail. In his letter to me Srila Prabhupada wrote:
“I have given you the name Sravaniya - “that which is to be heard,” the Vedic literatures. So keep chanting at least 16 rounds of japa daily and reading my books. This will give you the strength to preach this message more and more.”
Those were my marching orders.
Nearly all of my devotional life I spent associating with Prabhupada in vani (hearing his teachings) not vapu (personal association). I listened to his recorded lectures and bhajans while I did my temple service and in between I read his books.
Books are not mere lumps of paper. They are minds alive on the shelves. Reading Prabhupada’s books is direct association with him and the others in our sampradaya. He lives forever in his books and the follower lives with him.
From Bombay my husband at the time and I went to Hong Kong temple to take over administration since Panca Dravida Swami wanted to go to a different location. In 1976 my son Nimai Sarana Dasa was born here in Hong Kong. The temple was in Mody Road on the 4th floor. In 1983 we were in charge of the temple in Taipei, Taiwan for a couple of years. I had already learned to speak Pu Tong Hwa in New York in 1979 since I wanted to come back to the Far East someday. Things were not going smoothly, however, and In 1985 in Taiwan, I wrote the following in my diary:
Somewhere on the edge
vision is failing —
desert sands erase
the faces of friends.
Once we danced and sang together,
But those days have disappeared;
All that is left now is
a list of names.
Fallen comrades, slain by our enemy —
How can only I remain?
When the time comes
May I perish sword in hand.
Stranger in a strange land,
There is no resting place;
Only the constant struggle to push on.
Wounds obtained in battle
heal slower than before -
The sword has grown heavy,
The road, interminable.
Expectations of relief vanish in the mists.
Though stars become clouded,
there is no alternative.
Thirst and hunger are the only companions;
The handmaids, Loneliness and Frustration
attend me constantly.
Father, father — where have you gone?
Where are the happy days of childhood?
All that is left is this war:
Even if commanders forget us,
We can never stop fulfilling our mission.
June 16, 1985
Srila Prabhupada was well acquainted with the stigma and anxiety associated with being a devotee of Krishna in the material world. In a letter dated May 06, 1977, he wrote:
My dear beloved disciples, Please accept my blessings. I know that over the past years you have suffered so many tribulations to push forward Krsna consciousness in Germany. But this has not stopped you from your determination to serve the cause of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. A devotee is pleased when there is difficulty, for in these difficulties he is forced to remember Krsna. We cannot expect that the people of Kali-yuga will welcome our attempt to spread Krsna consciousness. It is just like a lunatic asylum: The patients are running around madly and when the doctor tries to give them treatment, they insist that they are not crazy. Sometimes the patient even strikes the doctor. So our task is like that. We cannot stand to see people suffering due to ignorance. What is that ignorance? They do not know that they are not their body. This Krsna consciousness movement is meant to deliver people to the proper understanding that they are not their body, that they are pure spirit soul. We may or may not be appreciated, that is not our concern. We must execute the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu which is:
āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra’ ei deśa
(CC Madhya 7.128)
Go on spreading the sankirtana movement more and more. I am only one person, but because all of you have kindly cooperated with me, this movement has now become a success all over the world. Be assured that there is no more direct way to preach than to distribute Krsna conscious books. Whoever gets a book is benefitted. If he reads the book he is benefitted still more, or if he gives the book to someone else for reading, both he and the other person is benefitted. Even if one does not read the book but simply holds if and sees it, he is benefitted. If he simply gives small donation towards the work of Krsna consciousness he is benefitted. And anyone who distributes these transcendental literatures, he is also benefitted. Therefore sankirtana is the prime benediction for the age:
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ
Hoping this meets you all well.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
People today are interested in healing their emotional trauma, anxiety and distress. But what is the disease? Srila Prabhupada said that the disease is this body. The recommended medicine is the chanting of Hare Krishna and hearing about Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So keep taking the medicine and distributing it to others. Srila Prabhupada will be pleased. And we won’t have to die to go back to Godhead — we will discover that we are already there.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!