125th Vyasa Puja 2021


My Dearest Śrīla Prabhupāda,

On this 125th Birth Anniversary year of Your Divine Grace, I offer my most prostrated, humble obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace.

As I write this year’s Vyāsa-pūjā offering, year-long celebrations are ongoing of Your Divine Grace’s 125th birth. Your anniversary festival coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Hare Kṛṣṇa Festival at Cross Maidan, Bombay. For me, year 2021 represents the golden anniversary of my first-ever meeting with Your Divine Grace and Their Lordships, Śrī Śrī Rādhā Rāsabihārī. I still vividly recall every minute of 1971 Hare Kṛṣṇa festival when you addressed the thousands of people who attended this eleven-day event. Your darśana and instructions flowed with abundant benevolence and struck a chord in me. I had finally found the answers to how I could serve society and humanity at large. You quoted a verse from the Bhāgavatam that stated that by pouring water on the root of a tree, it nourishes the trunk, branches, leaves and everything else. Similarly, one can serve humanity by serving Kṛṣṇa, Who is the seed giving Father of all living entities. I personally etched your spoken words into my heart and mind. They not only made my life meaningful, but clarified my life’s mission.

One could say that I was conceived during this Hare Kṛṣṇa Festival at Cross Maidan. In the time between the end of this festival and the next one, a year later, I had resolved to join Your Divine Grace’s movement, but did not know the whereabouts of the Hare Kṛṣṇa devotees in Bombay. Then at the beginning of 1972 there was another Hare Kṛṣṇa festival at Hare Kṛṣṇa Land, Juhu. This time I wasted no time in submitting my application to the temple president, Girirāja Dāsa Brahmacārī, to join ISKCON and immediately became a full time devotee. With this, my nurturing and development continued.

I was finally delivered in Kārtika, 1972 in Vṛndāvana, when during initiation Your Divine Grace handed me my beads and said, “Your name is Lokanath.” Then, just a few months later, in January 1973, I was recommended for second initiation. Śrīla Prabhupāda, you transformed a cowherd farmer’s son and elevated me to a status of a brahmāna by giving me the Gāyatrī mantra and engaging me in the personal services of Their Lordships, Śrī Śrī Rādhā Rāsabihārī, Whom I had darśana of for the very first time, along with you, at the 1971 Pandal Festival.

In early 1975 our new and Indian Governing Body Commission (GBC) representative for Bombay, Gopāla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa, in consultation with you, Śrīla Prabhupāda, informed me that I had been assigned the post of co-president of Bombay temple. ISKCON was being branded as an American-European movement, therefore I understood that my appointment was also a means of minimizing claims that only foreign disciples were in charge. Although I took up this newly added management responsibility as per Your Divine Grace’s wishes, I still had the desire to travel and preach. I approached you for sannyāsa initiation which you kindly awarded me in Vṛndāvana on 6 December 1975. Śrīla Prabhupāda, the instructions you gave me on that day, I always carry close to my heart: “So you should always keep yourself fixed up in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is not very difficult. Strictly follow the rules and regulation and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra as many times … for a sannyāsī, you should increase. Then you will be fixed up. And go on preaching.

bhārata-bhūmite manuṣya janma haila yāra janma sārthaka kari kara para-upakāra (Cc. Madhya 7.128)

This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission, that every Indian should learn what is this Kṛṣṇa consciousness and preach it all over the world. That is His order. So from that platform you go on preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness. By executing the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu you’ll be glorified, the country will be glorified, the whole world will benefit.”

After the Mayapur-Vṛndāvana Festival in 1976, you freed me from my services at ISKCON Bombay by approving my traveling and preaching with the new Nitāi-Gaura World Traveling Saṅkīrtana Party. You fulfilled my inner desire to travel and preach and in so doing I accomplished the role of a sannyāsī. After about six months or so, while vigorously preaching and traveling through the North Indian states – holding festivals, distributing your books and performing kīrtana everywhere, you were pleased with our preaching results and reports. Upon meeting with us in Delhi we informed you that the carnet (permits) of the Mercedes buses from Germany had expired. Your response was, “… You don’t need to travel with the bus in India. You can go by bullock cart.” It was then on 1 September 1976, on the auspicious day of Rādhāṣṭamī, that you instructed me to start the Bullock Cart Saṅkīrtana Party from Vṛndāvana to Mayapur. While expressing your great pleasure with how the Bullock Cart Saṅkīrtana Party was successfully preaching from village to village, Your Divine Grace wrote a prophetic statement, “We can introduce many millions of such carts all over the world.”

The Bullock Cart Saṅkīrtana Party was victoriously carrying on its mission on the road. Śrīla Prabhupāda, on Gopal Kṛṣṇa Prabhu’s request you instructed me to start the BBT Traveling Saṅkīrtana Book Distribution Party and manage both parties simultaneously. I was on the road with this Book Distribution Party when you wrote a letter to me, dated, 30 July 1977:

Our Lokanath Swami is just like Saint Tukārāma. The whole of India and specifically your Maharashtra are enthused with Kṛṣṇa. Now you have to revive their Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is Tukārāma’s country … so revive them by the process of the saṅkīrtana movement. I am very glad that you are preaching village to village and will cover all of Maharashtra.

You further instructed me in the same communication:
Organise very solidly and thus increase the number of books distributed, the number of devotees made, and develop centres of Kṛṣṇa consciousness everywhere.

And then, finally in Kārtika 1977 you asked me to arrange for a bullock cart because you wanted to start your travels, making Govardhana your first stop. Śrīla Prabhupāda, you had expressed a desire to go on bullock cart traveling. You had personally trained me in bullock cart travelling and now I had the experience as well, and so you felt I was the right person to make all the arrangements. Although I had organised the bullock cart and made all the necessary arrangements of traveling to Govardhana, considering your delicate health condition, this plan had to be dropped.

But by suggesting this idea, Śrīla Prabhupāda, you had ingeniously set the scene to undertake the pilgrimage with more vigour and dedication, this time with a bus party. You wanted to go on pilgrimage with a bus party and visit all the holy places in India. As the new travel plans were being discussed, you gave me one more, final instruction, “You will be the leader (of the bus party).” Amidst all these preparations, on the unfortunate day, 14 November 1977, you suddenly left us. As you had desired to go on pilgrimage in a bullock cart as one of your last wishes, Śrīla Prabhupāda, executing your will and for your pleasure ISKCON padayātrā devotees have walked over 300,000 kilometres to date in India and worldwide.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, in your physical presence, you were there for me at every step of the journey, purifying and empowering me during the seven-year spiritual journey which commenced at Cross Maidan on 25 March 1971 in Bombay concluded on 14 November 1977 in Vṛndāvana.

You have been with me for the past fifty years, to this very day, this very moment. All your vāṇī, all your personal instructions have kept me focused on my service to Your Divine Grace. I have no purpose in my life, other than what your will is for me. I am made up of your mercy.

jogyatā-vicāre, kichu nāhi pāi, tomāra karuṇā-sāra karuṇā nā hoile, kāndiyā kāndiyā, prāṇa nā rākhibo āra

“If you examine me, you will find no qualities. Your mercy is all that I am made of. If you are not merciful unto me, I can only weep, and I will not be able to maintain my life.”

Your humble servant,

Lokanath Swami


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