His Divine Grace
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was a rasika acarya, an expert in relishing the mellows of pure devotion as taught by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Such capacity to relish hearing and chanting about Godhead’s transcendental name, form, attributes, and pastimes is uncommon. The great Srimad Bhagavatam (6.14.5) informs us:
muktanam api siddhanam
kotisv api maha-mune
“Out of thousands of perfected souls, it is very rare to find one that is a pure devotee of God.”
Perfection, or self-realization, is indeed a noteworthy accomplishment, yet it pales in comparison to unalloyed devotion. One need not fully surrender to God to achieve liberation from the flawed existence of material life. Any number of techniques may be employed in this attempt, but absolute humility of heart is not a requirement. Pure devotion, on the other hand, acknowledges no technique, while humility and absolute surrender are the stage on which the drama of divine love is eternally performed. His Divine Grace had such humility, such surrender, although he was at the same time often very demanding, insisting on a high standard from his disciples. Yet his assertiveness was all on behalf of Godhead and therefore justified. His assertiveness was an example of the dynamic face of humility, not an abstract, sterile humility, but the concrete and productive humility of doing God’s bidding.
Srila Prabhupada came to America in 1965 as “an aggressor.” Aggression against illusion is the highest service to humanity. The cost of this war is absolute humility, for souls in this world are often less than thankful, unaware as they are of their own self-in- terest. The reward, however, is great. It is the dignity of the soul. This was the work of His Divine Grace: to bring dignity to all souls, and he did so with all of the humility at his command. It has been said that what Mohammed did with the sword, what Christianity did with wealth, he did with a humble heart—inundating the entire planet with love of God. The day will come when all men, women, and children from all races, countries, and creeds sing his praise.
For twelve years, beginning in 1965 until he disappeared from mortal vision in 1977, His Divine Grace circled the globe transplanting what was thought by many to be an Indian religion onto foreign soil. He demonstrated practically that Gaudiya Vaishnavism is not a product of a particular culture, but the dharma of the soul. He took the living conception of what he called Krishna consciousness and extended its life beyond what the greatest Gaudiya thinkers and practitioners of the time imagined was even remotely possible. Deep realization lies within the ability to adapt the spiritual reality to diverse material circumstances, making it accessible to one and all. This is the work of an acarya, who teaches both by precept and example. The acarya is not frozen in time. He is melted in love of Godhead, and flows without restriction to anyone and everyone who shows even the slightest interest in pure devotion. This was the work of His Divine Grace. He left a legacy of love, not law, for any and all of his immediate followers to embrace and con- tinue. He gave to all, and looked for one—one who could actually understand his message.
Who was His Divine Grace? Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, father, friend, and saktyavesa-avatara (empowered incarnation of a particular potency of God). Nityanandavesa, the empowerment of Sripad Nityananda Prabhu—the Godhead himself in his most merciful disposition—can only describe what we could see of him with the outer eye attuned to the spiritual mind. The inner truth of Srila Prabhupada’s eternal form and personality will forever remain concealed to those who fail to embrace not merely the form, but the substance of all that he taught and all that he exemplified. The darsana (spiritual revelation) of his inner identity is his prerogative. May His Divine Grace mercifully bestow that most precious vision upon all who earnestly seek it.