7th September 2004

Dear Srila Prabhupada

You are the best friend of my soul. I prostrate to offer my obeisances at your lotus feet.

Dear father, spiritual master, centre and meaning of my life, what would my life had been, if I hadn't found your blessings. Once more I approach you, determined to firmly grab your lotus feet.

The affinity that I feel for you is nothing sentimental, even though my praises might sound like they are taken from a hagiography, a book about the life of a saint, written by his emotional followers who tend to distort the biographical facts. But this is not what I want to speak about. Here I want to give a testimony from a person who has been saved by you personally, saved from a life without meaning, from a life in danger, from a life deviating from acting for the good of one self, what to say about the good of others. I remember how I looked at the opposite sex, for instance, thinking that one had the right to enjoy everyone. With desperate desire and purpose  I was always frustrated in finding happiness. With the experiences of my senses, I felt inclined to even explore the depth of ignorance.

Your Bhagavad-Gita As It Is was the first book I found that spoke about things as they are, according to scientific morals and regulating principles of freedom. I was already a vegetarian, but only your illumination made me understand how and why  all animals are my small brothers and sisters. What a joy! Thank you so much, Gurudev! Your message had the orientation to care for all humanity. You didn't want to see anyone suffering from poverty or hunger or exploited by injustice. Even so, you gave a perfect explanation of why the conditioned souls have to suffer: because the consequences of our actions come back in the form of instructive experiences, causing us to fall in our own failures.

Your Bhagavad-Gita As It Is was the first book I found that spoke about things as they are, according to scientific morals and regulating principles of freedom. I was already a vegetarian, but only your illumination made me understand how and why  all animals are my small brothers and sisters. What a joy! Thank you so much, Gurudev! Your message had the orientation to care for all humanity. You didn't want to see anyone suffering from poverty or hunger or exploited by injustice. Even so, you gave a perfect explanation of why the conditioned souls have to suffer: because the consequences of our actions come back in the form of instructive experiences, causing us to fall in our own failures.

But many aspiring devotees, among them, my spiritual brothers as well as members of your family under my charge, do not understand this. With harshness and superiority they have even become arrogant and cruel, contaminating your service, rather than guiding and protecting other devotees under their care. But since Lord Krishna even chastised the gopis when they felt proud to have been dancing by His side, equally one who contaminates the loving spiritual atmosphere has to be chastised in one way or  another to change. This is true and we have seen this on too many occasions. The only right that a leader has in your mission is to raise the happy spirit of the devotional service in others, and even when correcting errors, he has to maintain a generous spirit with everyone. Because if your mission had accepted only people without faults, then it would never have started.

Infinite thanks, Srila Prabhupada. In this way your mission is actually flourishing. By some incomprehensible reason I also got involved in this miracle. Your tree of Krishna consciousness has spread out its branches in many ways. Everywhere in the world one can see your disciples and others in your disciplic succession performing different marvels. And the majority of these acts are only partially recognized. So many are preaching strongly, but it is barely noticed. It is like the grass that sometimes grows under rocks and other obstacles, and later emerges surprisingly to the surface. Also by your great inspiration and mercy, many other Gaudiya missions, by purity of heart are embracing the planet, coming to places that not even you could visit personally. All of this increases tremendously the Harinama Sankirtana of Lord Caitanya, and on this day of your 108th Vyasapuja, I want to offer the feast of the tenth anniversary of the World Vaisnava Association (WVA) at your lotus feet.

This association was founded inspired by you and Srila Jiva Goswami, of course. And since the different Vaishnava groups are embracing the planet, conducting the battle against illusion in the most diverse ways, it is of greatest importance to clearly define where their needs and common interests with the other Vaishnava groups are to be found. Without defining this, a circumstance is created that could be compared with an airport where many airplanes land and lift, but where there is no ground control. I already see my readers wrinkle their foreheads. Is it that the World Vaishnava Association wants to control us? No, my friends, the ground control of the airport does not control any airplane, and even less the passengers. It only makes everything possible in order to prevent accidents from happening so that everyone can use the same airport. Thanks to you Srila Prabhupada, because you were one of the most important persons in the construction of these airports everywhere in the world. And today, as we already mentioned, sannyasis, acharyas and many other devotees are lifting and landing everywhere. And we have many common interests. The most notable one can be found on the list of the committees in the World Vaishnava Association website (http://www.wva-vvrs.org).

You, Srila Prabhupada, had unconditional love for all souls, but especially for your spiritual brothers and their families. Naturally, you did not like them to fight or cause any other kind of disturbance to the universal purpose of Krishna consciousness. It is offensive to consider that your love was not endowed with this amplitude, since you are the greatest soul among the great souls of your godbrothers. So, as you shine, they also shine in their efforts to serve Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada. And we must learn to appreciate and be grateful for this great treasure. However if we only appreciate your work and minimize the contribution of other Vaishnavas, our Bhakti will face grave consequences. So this World Vaishnava Association started ten years ago with your dear spiritual brother Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj as its first president, including 27 sannyasis from 17 different Vaishnava missions. The first ten years were devoted to establishing the rebirth of the Visva Vaishnava Raj Sabha. The great majority of devotees fear that this represents another problematic institution. They fail to notice that the World Vaishnava Association does not have an Acarya and does not propose to establish it's own temples and ashrams.

Many still are not convinced that the WVA exists only to serve the cause of all and to show the world that Vaishnavism has become a true world religion, like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Achieving this means gaining a lot more respect in the eyes of the general populace. They should see a world religion with much more confidence in the integrity of the devotees of Lord Krishna. Even though we are generally seen as Hindus, in many cases people have attacked us, considering the Vaishnavas to be followers of an arbitrary sect, guided by some charismatic person with suspicious motives. The World Vaishnava Association definitively aims to change this image, and seeks to establish Lord Chaitanya as the messenger of pure love in the eyes of humanity. In this way great personalities like you, Srila Prabhupada, your messengers and disciples of the message, can alleviate the pains of this world. If it were not for you, Srila Prabhupada and your efforts in the Gaudiya Math and your alliance of devotees, your International Society for Krishna consciousness would not exist.

108 years ago, you made your advent into this world. Coming from where? This is an enigma for the majority of people. Where was the pure devotee before he came into this world? Perhaps this type of inquiry should not be encouraged. Only in the heart of an intimate devotee will the eternal service of the spiritual master be revealed. But your spiritual brothers accept you as a Shakti-Avesa-Avatara, and this is acknowledged without precedent. And they could see for themselves your eagerness to distribute pure love through Sri Sri Radha Govinda, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.

So my only desire is that you be so kind to take me with you some day wherever you wish.

Furthermore I pray to you to show great consideration in granting much mercy to all those whom you have sent to take care of me, because they all need your infinite tenderness and generosity. Without that we are all lost. With these words I take the dust of your feet upon my head, and I pray for the blessings of all the Vaishnavas of the Lord, that this dust from your feet become my only Treasure.

Your eternal servant

Swami B.A. Paramadvaiti