MY BELOVED MASTERS

MY BELOVED MASTERS

$12.00

                     Introduction

In his poem Vaiṣṇava Ke, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda has described that the main impediments to bhajana are kanaka (wealth), kāminī (objects of desire) and pratiṣṭhā (prestige). Although abandoning the thirst for kanaka and kāminī is certainly not without its challenges, the thirst for pratiṣṭhā, Māyā-devī’s final assault, is even more formidable. Its subtlety allows it to remain deeply rooted in the heart without being detected by others or, tragically, even oneself. pratiṣṭhāśā dhṛṣṭā śvapaca-ramaṇī me hṛdi naṭet kathaṁ sādhu-premā spṛśati śucir etan nanu manaḥ sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ yathā tāṁ niṣkāśya tvaritam iha taṁ veśayati saḥ Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā (7) In this verse, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has explained that the immaculate sun of prema, divine love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, will never rise in the heart as long as a hankering for pratiṣṭhā dwells there. Are the sincere practitioners on the path of bhakti then hopeless? “No!” Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī assures us. “There is a way!” He explains, “sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu dayita sāmantaṁ atulaṁ—always serve our Prabhu’s incomparably powerful commanders.” These words refer to the beloved (dayita) and incomparably (atulaṁ) powerful commanders (sāmantam) in the armies of either Prabhu Śrī Kṛṣṇa or Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanyadeva—such as Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī and others. However, many different meanings arise in my heart when I read, remember or recite this phrase. A few of these meanings are as follows: 1. Prabhu-dayita refers to Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who revealed his eternal identity as Śrī Vārṣabhanāvī-dayita dāsa, and sāmantam-atulaṁ refers to his ‘incomparably powerful commanders,’ like my most worshipful gurupāda-padma, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. 2. Prabhu refers to ‘my beloved masters,’ the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, dayita refers to Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (Śrī Vārṣabhanāvī-dayita dāsa), and sāmantam-atulaṁ refers to ‘the incomparable commanders’ of his army. 3. Prabhu refers to Śrīla Prabhupāda, and dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ refers to his ‘most beloved and incomparably powerful commander,’ Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. 4. Prabhu refers to śrī guru, and dayita refers to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who is sāmantam atulaṁ, an ‘incomparably powerful commander.’ 5. Prabhu refers to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ refers either to His ‘most beloved and incomparably powerful commander,’ Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, or to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who appeared as a bright sun on the horizon of my good fortune. Although these meanings may not perfectly comply with the rules of Sanskrit grammar, I request the devotees to accept the essence of the intended import of these explanations. The title of this book is inspired by the second of the above mentioned meanings. When Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His associates appeared before Śrīla Prabhupāda in a vision and instructed him to immerse himself in the service of preaching, the Lord promised, “I will arrange for the required men and money.” We can therefore infer that those who took shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda were associates of the Lord sent by Him. Hence, they too are included among the beloved, incomparable commanders sent by Mahāprabhu, and constantly serving them banishes the deviancy of pratiṣṭhā from the heart. It is the duty of an army commander to lead his troops to victory in defeating the enemy, thereby protecting and expanding his king’s empire. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, the foremost commander of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s army, was so eager to serve the Lord’s order that without selfish interest and at risk to His own life, He delivered His master’s message to even the most sinful persons. Just as a commander executes every order given by the ruler of his nation, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, on the command of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, manifested the pastime places of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa that had become hidden over the passage of time. Additionally, they personally directed many devotees to the path of bhakti by providing guidance and composed many bhakti literatures in which they established the teachings of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and conclusively defeated the heretical doctrines of their opponents—apadharma (improper religion), upadharma (false religion) and chala-dharma (cheating religion). An army’s commanders peacefully tolerate all hardships for the protection of their country. They perform their duties despite any hostile conditions they might encounter. In the same manner, the army of Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepts all sorts of difficulties in order to fulfill His command to guard the realm of bhakti from the attack of envious opponents. Now the question arises: How can we possibly serve these beloved, incomparable commanders of our Prabhu in perpetuity once they conceal their pastimes in this world and enter into the Lord’s eternal pastimes? The answer is that at such a time, they are served by repeatedly hearing, reciting and remembering the conceptual legacy they practiced and preached. vaiṣṇavera guṇa-gāna, karôye jīvera trāṇa śuniyāchi sādhu-guru-mukhe Śrī Gopāla-govinda Māhanta Śrīla Prabhupāda-vandanā (18) Singing the glories of the Vaiṣṇavas causes the conditioned souls’ deliverance; this I have heard from the mouths of sādhus and śrī guru. Remembering Vaiṣṇavas is our prosperity, and forgetting them causes calamity. With this in mind, when vaiṣṇava-sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja came to know that our most worshipful parama-gurudeva Śrīla Prabhupāda was an expert in astrology, he mercifully instructed him to publish the Śrī Navadvīpa-pañjikā calendar. He told him that in it, he should note the appearance and disappearance days of Vaiṣṇavas, so that when such holy days arrive, the community of ardent devotees may properly hear about, glorify and remember them. Indeed, it is an offence not to remember them on their appearance or disappearance days. From the very beginning of my residency in the maṭha, I witnessed that on the disappearance and appearance days of Vaiṣṇavas, my most worshipful Guru Mahārāja, oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, as well as oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvāmī Mahārāja and the many disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda would retire whichever book or series was regularly being read in their daily classes to instead speak on the specialty of that particular day. For many years without fail, I have followed their legacy by consulting the Vaiṣṇava calendar practically every morning and, as much as possible, accordingly observed the holy occasions recorded therein. Although the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas glorified in this publication may at times appear to have different approaches to serving Śrī Viṣṇu and the Vaiṣṇavas, sincere sādhakas should view such differences not as inconsistencies or deviations, but as specialties. If a person compares the various ācāryas’ conduct without obtaining the necessary qualification, it only proves he has not learned the first thing about the transcendental nature of the Vaiṣṇavas. Such a critic undoubtedly invites his own destruction: ĵe pāpiṣṭha eka vaiṣṇavera pakṣa haya anya vaiṣṇavere ninde sei ĵāya kṣaya Śrī Caitanya-Bhāgavata (Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.161) Those sinful persons who take the side of one Vaiṣṇava and blaspheme another are certainly ruined. Therefore, taking into account their conditioned nature, sādhakas should avoid approaching matters beyond their capacity of understanding, lest they cause their own annihilation. Those who are qualified to see beyond the veil of external appearances and distinguish between the Vaiṣṇavas’ marginal and intrinsic characteristics, however, are never bewildered. Just as a cook may prepare a delicious curry by mixing two generally incompatible ingredients such as jaggery and chili, and just as the dissimilarity of the sounds of assorted instruments in kīrtana—karatāla, mṛdanga and kaṅsa —is secondary when they all converge into a single, cohesive rhythm, similarly, although the various ācāryas’ approaches may be multifarious, the end result of their collective preaching is tastefully harmonious. An inexperienced person can only attempt an approximation, and therefore, whatever he produces will be laughable; he can never effect the palatable result of an experienced cook or kīrtanīya, who understands how to properly employ diversity to his advantage. There is another consideration in this: for intelligent discerning persons, no amount of secondary ingredients can make up for the absence of the primary ingredient, whereas the mere presence of the primary ingredient is sufficient to arouse appreciation, even without the support of secondary ingredients. For example, a lack of bhāva, or heartfelt sincerity, is for a singer a fatal flaw, no matter how melodious, in-key or on-beat he may be. Inversely, if a chef adds just the right amount of salt to a curry, no deficiency or overabundance of the other spices used will displease his patrons. In this way, the exclusive surrender to Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas exemplified by the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas described in this publication should be taken as the key ingredient in their preaching, and all other secondary circumstances should be seen in light of this one harmonizing and unifying quality. During his early days in the United States, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja’s disciples found a copy of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Śrī Caitanya: His Life and Precepts in a library. This demonstrates that Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda’s teachings reached the West without him having to set foot outside of India. In the same way, although Śrīla Prabhupāda and the majority of his disciples never physically left India, it is by their combined dedicated efforts that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s conceptual legacy is gaining recognition due to extensive preaching. Although a few of my beloved masters—the incomparable commanders of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s army—acted ‘on stage,’ the majority served from ‘behind the curtain.’ One who has truly performed sādhu-saṅga will be blessed with the ability to comprehend the proper method by which to honor such Vaiṣṇavas and thereby recognize and appreciate their tremendous contributions. Otherwise, the devotee will fail at any attempts at reconciliation, and his condition will be like that of a young child who, upon watching a television program, sees only the actors appearing on-screen and remains unaware of the laborious efforts of show’s director, writers, producers, cinematographer, designers and artists working off-camera. Indeed, his disinterest during the closing credits reflects his ignorance. We are greatly delighted to see that gradually, devotees are emerging within the Vaiṣṇava community who are developing a firm grasp of the multitude of deep concepts at hand and offering due respect unhesitatingly. In my lectures and conversations over the years, I often illustrate the glories and qualities of those disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda with whom, by the ceaseless compassion of my Guru Mahārāja, I was blessed with the opportunity to associate and serve. Although I have associated with many disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda other than those glorified in this abridged edition, because of my advanced age, I am unable to recollect the many memorable experiences I had with them. Sometimes, by their mercy, such remembrances appear from the archives of my memory when the need arises. My hope is to include my memories of these incomparable commanders of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s army in a future edition of this book. However, whether this actualizes depends upon on the sweet, independent will of these personalities. Until today, no one has ever attempted to publish my anecdotes about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples, whom I regard as saviors of the world, nor had it occurred to me that my experiences, conceptions and narrations were of a caliber worth publishing. But now, at almost ninety-one years of age, when my condition is such that I may at any moment leave this world by the will of the Lord, a number of devotees have become convinced that my glorifications of these Vaiṣṇavas would benefit the entire world. For this reason, they began collecting and transcribing whatever I spoke. Whenever they felt they were unable to establish the essence of a particular story, they would consult with me, and I would resolve the issue with everincreasing enthusiasm. They then edited that adjusted draft and organized its contents. Incidentally, this process sparked an even deeper level of remembrance in me, thus unearthing long since forgotten memories of the Vaiṣṇavas. This publication has been presented in the style known as bhāva-anuvāda, which clearly conveys the moods and intended meanings of my spoken words. As with any anthology of anecdotes, the stories herein are independent accounts that can be read without concern for sequence. The reader can start and stop at any point without loss. I am deeply appreciative of the devotees involved in this publication for their ardent efforts and genuine desire to preserve the glories of the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda described herein. In this book, the publishers have, in a manner utterly devoid of speculation, presented the vāṇī and conduct of our guru-varga purely, just as I have heard and witnessed it. Unfortunately, it was impossible to present the Vaiṣṇavas in order of their seniority. In the words of Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī, who narrated the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates, “keha kôribāre nāre jyeṣṭhalaghu-krama—the sequence of who was senior and who was junior could not be given” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 10.5). Therefore, just as Śrī Devakīnandana dāsa has expressed in his Vaiṣṇava-vandanā, I say, “karmabhaṅga doṣa nā laibā—please do not take offense to my deviating from the proper sequence.” I beg forgiveness for my inability to do so. I am now old and the diminishing strength of my memory presents substantial impediments. I am unable to do anything but penance and remember the words “nija karma-doṣe, ei deha hôilā bhajanera pratibandha—due to the faults of my actions, this body has become an obstacle to performing bhajana.” Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has cautioned that one who does not glorify the Vaiṣṇavas is guilty of ungratefulness. I am therefore relieved that today, this publication serves as a testament to my undying gratitude to the Vaiṣṇavas from whom I have received everything. The example the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda have set in the service they rendered to their guru and their firm conviction in him is our ideal. Indeed, it is our very life. May such conviction appear in our hearts. With this prayer, I conclude my introduction. “Vaiṣṇavera nāma labā, āra kichu nā karibā—I will do nothing other than take the names of the Vaiṣṇavas.”

Book Title MY BELOVED MASTERS
Vender Rasbihari Lal & Sons

                     Introduction

In his poem Vaiṣṇava Ke, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda has described that the main impediments to bhajana are kanaka (wealth), kāminī (objects of desire) and pratiṣṭhā (prestige). Although abandoning the thirst for kanaka and kāminī is certainly not without its challenges, the thirst for pratiṣṭhā, Māyā-devī’s final assault, is even more formidable. Its subtlety allows it to remain deeply rooted in the heart without being detected by others or, tragically, even oneself. pratiṣṭhāśā dhṛṣṭā śvapaca-ramaṇī me hṛdi naṭet kathaṁ sādhu-premā spṛśati śucir etan nanu manaḥ sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ yathā tāṁ niṣkāśya tvaritam iha taṁ veśayati saḥ Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā (7) In this verse, Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has explained that the immaculate sun of prema, divine love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, will never rise in the heart as long as a hankering for pratiṣṭhā dwells there. Are the sincere practitioners on the path of bhakti then hopeless? “No!” Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī assures us. “There is a way!” He explains, “sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu dayita sāmantaṁ atulaṁ—always serve our Prabhu’s incomparably powerful commanders.” These words refer to the beloved (dayita) and incomparably (atulaṁ) powerful commanders (sāmantam) in the armies of either Prabhu Śrī Kṛṣṇa or Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanyadeva—such as Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī and others. However, many different meanings arise in my heart when I read, remember or recite this phrase. A few of these meanings are as follows: 1. Prabhu-dayita refers to Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who revealed his eternal identity as Śrī Vārṣabhanāvī-dayita dāsa, and sāmantam-atulaṁ refers to his ‘incomparably powerful commanders,’ like my most worshipful gurupāda-padma, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. 2. Prabhu refers to ‘my beloved masters,’ the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, dayita refers to Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (Śrī Vārṣabhanāvī-dayita dāsa), and sāmantam-atulaṁ refers to ‘the incomparable commanders’ of his army. 3. Prabhu refers to Śrīla Prabhupāda, and dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ refers to his ‘most beloved and incomparably powerful commander,’ Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. 4. Prabhu refers to śrī guru, and dayita refers to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who is sāmantam atulaṁ, an ‘incomparably powerful commander.’ 5. Prabhu refers to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ refers either to His ‘most beloved and incomparably powerful commander,’ Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, or to Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who appeared as a bright sun on the horizon of my good fortune. Although these meanings may not perfectly comply with the rules of Sanskrit grammar, I request the devotees to accept the essence of the intended import of these explanations. The title of this book is inspired by the second of the above mentioned meanings. When Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His associates appeared before Śrīla Prabhupāda in a vision and instructed him to immerse himself in the service of preaching, the Lord promised, “I will arrange for the required men and money.” We can therefore infer that those who took shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda were associates of the Lord sent by Him. Hence, they too are included among the beloved, incomparable commanders sent by Mahāprabhu, and constantly serving them banishes the deviancy of pratiṣṭhā from the heart. It is the duty of an army commander to lead his troops to victory in defeating the enemy, thereby protecting and expanding his king’s empire. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, the foremost commander of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s army, was so eager to serve the Lord’s order that without selfish interest and at risk to His own life, He delivered His master’s message to even the most sinful persons. Just as a commander executes every order given by the ruler of his nation, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, on the command of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, manifested the pastime places of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa that had become hidden over the passage of time. Additionally, they personally directed many devotees to the path of bhakti by providing guidance and composed many bhakti literatures in which they established the teachings of Śrīman Mahāprabhu and conclusively defeated the heretical doctrines of their opponents—apadharma (improper religion), upadharma (false religion) and chala-dharma (cheating religion). An army’s commanders peacefully tolerate all hardships for the protection of their country. They perform their duties despite any hostile conditions they might encounter. In the same manner, the army of Śrīman Mahāprabhu accepts all sorts of difficulties in order to fulfill His command to guard the realm of bhakti from the attack of envious opponents. Now the question arises: How can we possibly serve these beloved, incomparable commanders of our Prabhu in perpetuity once they conceal their pastimes in this world and enter into the Lord’s eternal pastimes? The answer is that at such a time, they are served by repeatedly hearing, reciting and remembering the conceptual legacy they practiced and preached. vaiṣṇavera guṇa-gāna, karôye jīvera trāṇa śuniyāchi sādhu-guru-mukhe Śrī Gopāla-govinda Māhanta Śrīla Prabhupāda-vandanā (18) Singing the glories of the Vaiṣṇavas causes the conditioned souls’ deliverance; this I have heard from the mouths of sādhus and śrī guru. Remembering Vaiṣṇavas is our prosperity, and forgetting them causes calamity. With this in mind, when vaiṣṇava-sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja came to know that our most worshipful parama-gurudeva Śrīla Prabhupāda was an expert in astrology, he mercifully instructed him to publish the Śrī Navadvīpa-pañjikā calendar. He told him that in it, he should note the appearance and disappearance days of Vaiṣṇavas, so that when such holy days arrive, the community of ardent devotees may properly hear about, glorify and remember them. Indeed, it is an offence not to remember them on their appearance or disappearance days. From the very beginning of my residency in the maṭha, I witnessed that on the disappearance and appearance days of Vaiṣṇavas, my most worshipful Guru Mahārāja, oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Dayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, as well as oṁ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvāmī Mahārāja and the many disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda would retire whichever book or series was regularly being read in their daily classes to instead speak on the specialty of that particular day. For many years without fail, I have followed their legacy by consulting the Vaiṣṇava calendar practically every morning and, as much as possible, accordingly observed the holy occasions recorded therein. Although the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas glorified in this publication may at times appear to have different approaches to serving Śrī Viṣṇu and the Vaiṣṇavas, sincere sādhakas should view such differences not as inconsistencies or deviations, but as specialties. If a person compares the various ācāryas’ conduct without obtaining the necessary qualification, it only proves he has not learned the first thing about the transcendental nature of the Vaiṣṇavas. Such a critic undoubtedly invites his own destruction: ĵe pāpiṣṭha eka vaiṣṇavera pakṣa haya anya vaiṣṇavere ninde sei ĵāya kṣaya Śrī Caitanya-Bhāgavata (Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.161) Those sinful persons who take the side of one Vaiṣṇava and blaspheme another are certainly ruined. Therefore, taking into account their conditioned nature, sādhakas should avoid approaching matters beyond their capacity of understanding, lest they cause their own annihilation. Those who are qualified to see beyond the veil of external appearances and distinguish between the Vaiṣṇavas’ marginal and intrinsic characteristics, however, are never bewildered. Just as a cook may prepare a delicious curry by mixing two generally incompatible ingredients such as jaggery and chili, and just as the dissimilarity of the sounds of assorted instruments in kīrtana—karatāla, mṛdanga and kaṅsa —is secondary when they all converge into a single, cohesive rhythm, similarly, although the various ācāryas’ approaches may be multifarious, the end result of their collective preaching is tastefully harmonious. An inexperienced person can only attempt an approximation, and therefore, whatever he produces will be laughable; he can never effect the palatable result of an experienced cook or kīrtanīya, who understands how to properly employ diversity to his advantage. There is another consideration in this: for intelligent discerning persons, no amount of secondary ingredients can make up for the absence of the primary ingredient, whereas the mere presence of the primary ingredient is sufficient to arouse appreciation, even without the support of secondary ingredients. For example, a lack of bhāva, or heartfelt sincerity, is for a singer a fatal flaw, no matter how melodious, in-key or on-beat he may be. Inversely, if a chef adds just the right amount of salt to a curry, no deficiency or overabundance of the other spices used will displease his patrons. In this way, the exclusive surrender to Śrī Hari, guru and Vaiṣṇavas exemplified by the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas described in this publication should be taken as the key ingredient in their preaching, and all other secondary circumstances should be seen in light of this one harmonizing and unifying quality. During his early days in the United States, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja’s disciples found a copy of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Śrī Caitanya: His Life and Precepts in a library. This demonstrates that Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda’s teachings reached the West without him having to set foot outside of India. In the same way, although Śrīla Prabhupāda and the majority of his disciples never physically left India, it is by their combined dedicated efforts that Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s conceptual legacy is gaining recognition due to extensive preaching. Although a few of my beloved masters—the incomparable commanders of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s army—acted ‘on stage,’ the majority served from ‘behind the curtain.’ One who has truly performed sādhu-saṅga will be blessed with the ability to comprehend the proper method by which to honor such Vaiṣṇavas and thereby recognize and appreciate their tremendous contributions. Otherwise, the devotee will fail at any attempts at reconciliation, and his condition will be like that of a young child who, upon watching a television program, sees only the actors appearing on-screen and remains unaware of the laborious efforts of show’s director, writers, producers, cinematographer, designers and artists working off-camera. Indeed, his disinterest during the closing credits reflects his ignorance. We are greatly delighted to see that gradually, devotees are emerging within the Vaiṣṇava community who are developing a firm grasp of the multitude of deep concepts at hand and offering due respect unhesitatingly. In my lectures and conversations over the years, I often illustrate the glories and qualities of those disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda with whom, by the ceaseless compassion of my Guru Mahārāja, I was blessed with the opportunity to associate and serve. Although I have associated with many disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda other than those glorified in this abridged edition, because of my advanced age, I am unable to recollect the many memorable experiences I had with them. Sometimes, by their mercy, such remembrances appear from the archives of my memory when the need arises. My hope is to include my memories of these incomparable commanders of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s army in a future edition of this book. However, whether this actualizes depends upon on the sweet, independent will of these personalities. Until today, no one has ever attempted to publish my anecdotes about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples, whom I regard as saviors of the world, nor had it occurred to me that my experiences, conceptions and narrations were of a caliber worth publishing. But now, at almost ninety-one years of age, when my condition is such that I may at any moment leave this world by the will of the Lord, a number of devotees have become convinced that my glorifications of these Vaiṣṇavas would benefit the entire world. For this reason, they began collecting and transcribing whatever I spoke. Whenever they felt they were unable to establish the essence of a particular story, they would consult with me, and I would resolve the issue with everincreasing enthusiasm. They then edited that adjusted draft and organized its contents. Incidentally, this process sparked an even deeper level of remembrance in me, thus unearthing long since forgotten memories of the Vaiṣṇavas. This publication has been presented in the style known as bhāva-anuvāda, which clearly conveys the moods and intended meanings of my spoken words. As with any anthology of anecdotes, the stories herein are independent accounts that can be read without concern for sequence. The reader can start and stop at any point without loss. I am deeply appreciative of the devotees involved in this publication for their ardent efforts and genuine desire to preserve the glories of the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda described herein. In this book, the publishers have, in a manner utterly devoid of speculation, presented the vāṇī and conduct of our guru-varga purely, just as I have heard and witnessed it. Unfortunately, it was impossible to present the Vaiṣṇavas in order of their seniority. In the words of Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī, who narrated the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His associates, “keha kôribāre nāre jyeṣṭhalaghu-krama—the sequence of who was senior and who was junior could not be given” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 10.5). Therefore, just as Śrī Devakīnandana dāsa has expressed in his Vaiṣṇava-vandanā, I say, “karmabhaṅga doṣa nā laibā—please do not take offense to my deviating from the proper sequence.” I beg forgiveness for my inability to do so. I am now old and the diminishing strength of my memory presents substantial impediments. I am unable to do anything but penance and remember the words “nija karma-doṣe, ei deha hôilā bhajanera pratibandha—due to the faults of my actions, this body has become an obstacle to performing bhajana.” Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has cautioned that one who does not glorify the Vaiṣṇavas is guilty of ungratefulness. I am therefore relieved that today, this publication serves as a testament to my undying gratitude to the Vaiṣṇavas from whom I have received everything. The example the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda have set in the service they rendered to their guru and their firm conviction in him is our ideal. Indeed, it is our very life. May such conviction appear in our hearts. With this prayer, I conclude my introduction. “Vaiṣṇavera nāma labā, āra kichu nā karibā—I will do nothing other than take the names of the Vaiṣṇavas.”