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Becoming Fortunate,
An Open Letter to Mother Maharani

from Umapati Swami

Dear Mother Maharani,

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Thank you for your "Open Letter" and your more recent posting, "Ask an Architect." I will talk about both of them here, since the solution to all the problems you speak of is the same.

You say I am fortunate because Srila Prabhupada was my guru. Yes, I am indeed fortunate. Sometimes Srila Prabhupada scolded me, sometimes he humiliated me, sometimes he made me laugh, sometimes he defeated me, sometimes he encouraged me, sometimes he gave me personal instructions. I sat facing him when he gave class, and I watched him build ISKCON from the ground up.

Srila Prabhupada taught me to dance. A few of us were sitting in Srila Prabhupada’s office one day when someone put on a recording of music. I don’t remember whether it was kirtan or Srila Prabhupada singing. Srila Prabhupada called on one of the boys. "Stradisa," he said, "why don’t you dance?"

Stradisa got up and started dancing a disco step. "That is not how I taught you to dance," said Srila Prabhupada. "Why don’t you dance the way I taught you?"

"I don’t remember how, Swamiji," replied Stradisa.

Srila Prabhupada stood up, raised his arms, and started dancing what we now call the Swami Step. Then the rest of us stood up and started dancing, and we all danced in a circle, one in back of the other, including Srila Prabhupada.

Fortunate, yes. But if we think this good fortune is no longer here, then we insult Srila Prabhupada. The good fortune is in being a disciple or a disciple of a disciple, near or far. Srila Prabhupada said that the good fortune was in following his instructions. In fact, I feel closer to Srila Prabhupada now than ever before.

We have to associate with Srila Prabhupada through his books and his instructions. That’s the most important. Harikesa and Kirtanananda had much more personal association with Srila Prabhupada than I did, but they missed something.

You see, there is a catch to it. There is a trick, and I will gladly tell you what it is. It’s this: You have to accept Srila Prabhupada on Srila Prabhupada’s terms. You have to accept Srila Prabhupada in his entirety. You cannot disassemble Srila Prabhupada and just take the parts you like. It’s all or nothing.

You cannot tell Srila Prabhupada when to come and when to go, when to speak and when to be silent. You cannot make the conditions. You cannot dismiss any of Srila Prabhupada’s words as irrelevant, even if they hurt or make your head spin or make you fear the derision of your co-workers.

True, I never asked Srila Prabhupada how to program a computer or where to put the relative pronoun in a French sentence. Srila Prabhupada did not offer this information, but he did offer information about the relative intelligence of women and the positions of the sun, moon, and stars. If you dismiss any of it as irrelevant, you lose Srila Prabhupada’s association.

Maybe you do not believe me, but then ask Indradyumna Maharaja: "He [Giriraja Maharaja] merits the most prestigious title any ISKCON devotee can achieve, that of being ‘a Prabhupada man.’ " ("Diary of a Traveling Preacher," 4.1)

And if you still do not believe me, don’t bother telling me I’m fortunate. How can I be fortunate if I never understood? But then, who can tell me I am wrong?

If Srila Prabhupada’s words are irrelevant, why did Srila Vyasadeva include these topics in Srimad Bhagavatam? "Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart. The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all." (SB 1.1.2)

Did Srila Vyasadeva make a mistake? Did he fail in his mission to his spiritual master? I hope you don’t think so. Sri Narada Muni told him to write something that described the glories of the Lord and nothing more: "Whatever you desire to describe that is separate in vision from the Lord simply reacts, with different forms, names and results, to agitate the mind as the wind agitates a boat which has no resting place." (SB 1.5.14)

Yet Srila Vyasadeva included knowledge of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as knowledge about the nature of women. This knowledge, therefore, is not irrelevant, nor are Srila Prabhupada’s words. I suggest you read my article "Drop the Snake," where I discuss this topic in more detail. Mother Niscala has simply avoided answering my questions on the subject, so I assume she has no answer.

Srila Prabhupada told me that only the representative of Srila Vyasadeva can sit on the Vyasasana. Did Srila Prabhupada have the right to sit on the Vyasasana? Then his words are never irrelevant.

You have to be a Prabhupada man (or woman). Prabhupada, Prabhupada, Prabhupada, and nothing else.

Let’s be honest. We don’t want to accept Srila Prabhupada’s words about the sun and the moon because we are afraid the materialists will laugh at us. "How naïve!" they will say. "Come back to reality."

How will we answer? We need the power of our conviction, and this power comes when we become a Prabhupada person.

We do not need more GBC regulations to help us understand who is a bona fide guru. Just ask this question: Is this person a Prabhupada person? All the way? One hundred percent? Nothing else?

Do we want to share in the good fortune of associating with Srila Prabhupada? Just ask the same question: Am I a Prabhupada person? All the way? One hundred percent? Nothing else?

You will find that the good old days are still here. ISKCON is alive and well. Just be a Prabhupada person. All the way. One hundred percent. Nothing else.

© Umapati Swami
CHAKRA 17 October 2001

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