Once, I was in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room, not long before he left this world. Several other sannyāsīs were also present, and Śrīla Prabhupāda asked us each to recite a śloka in praise of the guru. At last my turn came. By then however, others had already recited all of the verses that I knew by memory. So I began:
nama oṁ viṣṇupādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhūtale
śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmīn iti nāmine
Then I explained the meaning. Prabhupāda sat gravely and replied, “That is good, but you should learn another śloka as well.” Embarrassed, I vowed to take his instruction to heart.
Many years and many verses later, I found myself in an assembly of devotees and I heard a beautiful verse in praise of Śrī Guru, which was originally composed by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī in his Mukta-carita. Its purport was revealed at the time, and I knew within my heart that this was the verse Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted me to learn. Thinking that the time allotted for speaking on this occasion might be short, I wrote a short offering to Śrīla Prabhupāda in which this verse and its deep meaning are discussed. Let me read it to you.
The matchless gift that His Divine Grace Śrī Viśvācārya Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda has so graciously given to his disciples, followers, and ultimately the whole world is nicely expressed by Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī in the following prayer to his spiritual master. What we find expressed here by Dāsa Gosvāmī is indeed the essence of our Gauḍīya sampradāya.
nāma-śreṣṭhaṁ manum api śacī-putram atra svarūpaṁ
rūpaṁ tasyāgrajam uru-purīṁ māthurīṁ goṣṭavātīṁ
rādhā-kuṇḍaṁ giri-varam aho rādhikā-mādhavāśāṁ
prāpto yasya prathita-kṛpayā śrī guruṁ taṁ nato ‘smi
“I am fully indebted to Śrī Guru. Why? Because he has given me so many matchless gifts. What are they? He has given me the highest conception of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, the highest form of sound, which contains the highest form of thought, aspiration, ideal, everything. He has given me my dīkṣā-mantra, which contains a particular kind of meditation for my heart’s inner fulfilment, and he has given me the service of Śrī Śacīnandana, the son of Mother Śacī.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda has brought me in connection with the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s favourite personal assistant, Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, the representative of Lalitā-devī, the dearest friend of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has brought me in connection with Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the head of our sampradāya, who was personally selected by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to distribute bhakti-rasa, the highest mellow of spontaneous devotion, rāgānuga-bhakti. Śrīla Prabhupāda has given me the connection of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, who adjusts our position in relation to rāgānuga-bhakti by giving us sambandha-jñāna, or the knowledge of what is what, and a proper acquaintance with the environment of pure devotion.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has given me Mathurā-maṇḍala and Śrī Vṛndāvana, where Rādhā and Govinda eternally perform their loving pastimes. In that transcendental land all the forests, creepers, shrubs, grains of sand, hills and water – everything bears the remembrance of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s līlā. I am now becoming acquainted with the association of those cow-herd people of Śrī Vṛndāvana, their nature, and their feelings of love for Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has given me the acquaintance of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, the favourite place of Rādhā-Govinda for Their pastimes, and the great Govardhana Hill. Last but not least, Śrīla Prabhupāda has given me the great hope that one day I may be accepted into the confidential camp of servitors who are always eagerly serving the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Rādhikā-Mādhava-sundara. All these inconceivable, matchless gifts are given by Śrīla Prabhupāda. Therefore, I bow down before his lotus feet.
This prayer certainly expresses all the wonders that are the matchless gifts of His Divine Grace Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda.
These matchless gifts are the exclusive property of the ācāryas in the disciplic succession of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu coming down from Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. These matchless gifts are not available in other sampradāyas or through the transcendental teachings of the Vedas. These matchless gifts are available only by the grace of the eternal associates of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who have descended to this world from Goloka Vṛndāvana and Śrī Svetadvīpa – Navadvīpa-dhāma.
If we are conscious of all these wonders that our ācārya Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda has descended to give us, then we can consider that we have properly approached the lotus feet of our guru. Devoid of this understanding, what have we really gained? May the supremely radiant conceptions of Rūpa-Raghunātha illuminate our hearts forever.
Let us always remember the lotus feet of our Divine Master, who is the benefactor of eternal joy in the hearts of his surrendered servants and who is a torchlight of inspiration to all the members of the Gauḍīya sampradāya in the matter of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world.
(From a lecture given on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disappearance day at Kṛṣṇa- Balarāma Temple, Vṛndāvana, on November 17th, 1993)