My Lord and Master, His Divine Grace.
A poem and essay by HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
On Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur's Vyasa puja.
From Srila Prabhupada's Lilamrita by HH Satsvarupa das Goswami
Submitted by Manoj.
February 25, 1935
It was the sixty-second birthday of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. At Jagannätha Puri, where Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was residing, the devotees observed the day with ceremony. At the small Bombay center, the few disciples planned an evening observance and invited local people. For the occasion, Abhay wrote a poem.
Adore adore ye all the happy day,
Blessed than heaven, Sweeter than May,
When he appeared at Puri, the holy place,
My Lord and Master, His Divine Grace.
Oh! my Master, the evangelic angel,
Give us Thy light, light up the candle.
Struggle for existence a human race
The only hope, His Divine Grace.
Misled we are all going astray,
Save us Lord, our fervent pray,
Wonder Thy ways to turn our face.
Adore Thy feet, Your Divine Grace.
Forgotten Krishna, we fallen souls,
Paying most heavy, the illusion's toll.
Darkness around all untrace,
The only hope, His Divine Grace.
Message of service thou hast brought.
A healthful life as Chaitanya wrought,
Unknown to all, it's full of brace,
That's your gift, Your Divine Grace.
Absolute is sentient thou hast proved,
Impersonal calamity thou hast moved.
This gives us a life - Anew and fresh.
Worship Thy feet, Your Divine Grace.
Had you not come, Who had told
The message of Krishna, forceful and bold,
That's your right, you have the mace.
Save me a fallen, Your Divine Grace.
The line of service as drawn by you
Is pleasing and healthy like morning dew.
The oldest of all but in new dress.
Miracle done, Your Divine Grace.
… Abhay Charan das
Abhay also composed a speech, which he read before the assembled guests and members of the Gaudiya Math. Although his first language was Bengali, his English was clear and natural.
"Gentlemen, the offerings of such a homage as has been arranged this evening to the Acharyadeva is not a sectarian concern, because when we speak of the fundamental principle of Gurudeva or Acharyadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my Guru from that of yours or anyone else's. There is only one Guru who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me and all others. The Guru or Acharyadeva, as we learn from the bona fide scriptures, delivers the message of the absolute world, I mean the transcendental abode of the Absolute Personality where everything nondifferentially serves the Absolute Truth."
Like the poem, the speech was personal, but even more than the poem it was authoritative, philosophical preaching. The Godbrothers were impressed to hear Abhay presenting the Vaisnava philosophy so expertly. How was it possible? Of course, it should not have come as a surprise; he had heard the Vaisnava philosophy from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, just like his Godbrothers. Why should he not be able to enunciate the teachings of his spiritual master, having heard from him and having read Gitä and Bhagavatam and Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu? Was he not a devotee in the parampara? But until now, no one knew he could preach in English so expertly.
"Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the Guru also cannot be two. The Acharyadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the Guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the Jagatguru, or the Guru of all of us, the only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly."
The guru of whom Abhay spoke, of course, was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the representative of the original compiler of the scriptures, Vyasadeva. Abhay explained how Lord Krishna had delivered transcendental knowledge to Brahma, the creator of this particular universe. From Brahma the knowledge had descended to Narada, from Narada to Vyasa, from Vyasa to Madhva… Because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was presenting the Vedic knowledge as is, without any interpretation-in parampara-he was the bona fide acarya who could enlighten others with the revealed knowledge of the Vedas.
"Gentlemen, our knowledge is so poor, our senses are so imperfect and our sources are so limited that it is not possible for us to have even the slightest knowledge of the absolute region without surrendering ourselves at the lotus-feet of Sree Vyasadeva or His bona fide representative."
This transcendental knowledge, Abhay explained, had been known in India for thousands of years, and this knowledge-although presently obscured-was India's real gift to the world.
"We must conclude that the darkness of the present Age is not due to lack of material advancement, but that we have lost the clue to our spiritual advancement which is the prime necessity of human life and the criterion of the highest type of civilisation. Throwing of bombs from aeroplanes is no advancement of civilisation from the primitive, uncivilised way of dropping big stones on the heads of the enemies from the tops of the hills. Improvement of the art of killing our neighbours by inventing machine guns and by means of poisonous gases is certainly no advancement from primitive barbarism priding itself on its art of killing by bows and arrows, nor does the development of a sense of pampered selfishness prove anything more than intellectual animalism"
Thus, while others were yet in the womb of historical oblivion, the sages of India had developed a different kind of civilisation which enables us to know ourselves. They had discovered that we are not at all material entities, but that we are all spiritual, permanent and non-destructible servants of the Absolute."
The speech continued, describing the horrible consequences of a misspent human life, the sufferings of repeated birth and death. Again and again, Abhay stressed the need to surrender to the spiritual master. He criticized empirical, mundane philosophers, godless politicians, and blind sense gratifiers. He repeatedly pointed to the soul's natural and sublime position as the servant of God and as the servant of the pure devotee of God. Abhay, an initiated disciple of his spiritual master for a little more than two years, referring to himself as a student, continued:
"Gentlemen, although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of the transcendence, still His Divine Grace, my Gurudeva, has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate the invincible darkness of the empirical knowledge, and we are so much so on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument of the empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position of our eternal dependence on the lotus-feet of His Divine Grace-and we are prepared to challenge the most erudite scholars of the Mayavada school on this vital issue: that the Personality of Godhead and His transcendental sports in Goloka alone constitute the sublime information of the Vedas.
He then ended his speech with an eloquent prayer of submission."
"Personally I have no hope to have any direct service for the coming crores of births of the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore, let me with all my earnestness pray at the lotus-feet of my Divine Master to let me suffer the lot which I am destined to do for all my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realised through the unflinching mercy of my Divine Master. Let me, therefore, bow down at his lotus-feet with all the humility at my command."
He submitted both the poem and speech to The Harmonist. The poem, Abhay's first publication, announced him as a competent writer in English, and Swami Bhaktipradipa Tirtha, editor of The Harmonist, informally dubbed Abhay as kavi, "learned poet." Some of Abhay's Godbrothers also picked up on the name and began calling him kavi. Most of them, even the sannyasis, were not so proficient in English. But Abhay was not ordinary. They could appreciate that the poem was personal, written out of Abhay's genuine worship and his joy at having accepted a genuine spiritual master, but it was also written strictly in accord with the conclusions of the scriptures.
For Abhay, however, the glory of his "Sree Vyas Puja Homage" came when the poem reached Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and it gave him pleasure. One stanza specifically made Srila Bhaktisiddhanta so happy that he made a point of showing it to all of his guests.
Absolute is sentient
Thou hast proved,
Thou hast moved.
Somehow, in this simple couplet Abhay had captured the essence of his spiritual master's preaching against the Mayavadis, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took it as an indication of how well Abhay knew the mind of his Gurudeva. Abhay was delighted when he heard that the couplet was pleasing to his spiritual master. One of Abhay's Godbrothers compared this verse by Abhay to a verse in which Rupa Gosvami had expressed the inner thinking of Caitanya Mahäprabhu and had thus moved Him to ecstasy.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati also found the essay pleasing, and he showed it to some of his confidential devotees. He instructed the editor of The Harmonist, "Whatever he writes, publish it."