A highly respected Sanskrit scholar uses "the language of the gods" to pay homage to Srila Prabhupada.
ekatra loke puruse 'vatirnah
sa eva casmad-guru-sarvabhaumah
"The great river of the nectar of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu's compassion has descended to earth in one person. That is our Srila Prabhupada, the emperor among spiritual masters."
From Srila Prabhupada Satakam
If There Is One Verse that nearly everyone knows from the Bhagavad-gita, it is Krsna's famous promise to uphold religion on earth: "Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendent of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I descend myself." (Bg. 4.7)
Usually Krsna comes Himself in one of His wonderful forms, such as Rama, Nrsimha, or Varaha. To uphold righteousness in the world, He protects the pious and destroys the demoniac. But sometimes Krsna sends his pure devotee instead, just as the president sends an ambassador to a foreign land. Krsna's devotee has the same mission as the Lord, but he accomplishes it in a different way. The Lord's representative does not kill the de-mons. Instead, he turns them into devotees, using the powerful weapon of compassion.
Srila Prabhupada was such a devotee of the Lord, and during his life span of eighty-one years, he distributed the culture of Krsna consciousness more widely than ever in history. He gave Krsna freely, removing the barriers that keep people from devotional service. He dismantled the barrier of language by translating the Vedic scriptures into English (and now, through his disciples, most other languages). He removed the barriers of caste and gender by offering spiritual initiation to men and women of all countries. He removed the barrier of nationality by establishing temples of Krsna all over the world. And he defied the barrier of age by doing all this after the age of seventy.
A Unique Tribute
Last November, devotees around the world observed the twenty-fifty anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's passing. His followers and admirers paid homage to his life and teachings. The departure of a Vaisnava is an occasion for both sadness and joy sadness because we have lost the association of a great soul, and joy because he has returned to Lord Krsna's abode.
One of the unique tributes offered to Srila Prabhupada on this occasion was a piece of Sanskrit poetry called Srila Prabhupada Satakam a collection of one hundred Sanskrit verses in praise of Srila Prabhupada's life, character, teachings, and disciples. The author is Dr. Mudumbai Narasimhachary, who recently retired as the head of the Department of Vaishnavism at the University of Madras, in Chennai, India, and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Oxford in England. The verses are composed in a variety of Sanskrit meters, and the language is erudite but sweet.
Sanskrit is known as devavani, "the language of the gods." The Vedas are revealed in Sanskrit, and when Krsna came to earth five thousand years ago, he spoke in Sanskrit. Today, the language is used by followers of Vedic culture all over the world as the medium for praising the Lord and his devotees. Srila Prabhupada spent his life translating the Vedic scriptures so that people of all countries could benefit from transcendental knowledge. Now, twenty-five years later, it is fitting that we express our appreciation for his work by glorifying him in the language of the Vedas.
Few people could be more qualified to compose such a work than Dr. Narasimhachary. He is a widely respected scholar of Sanskrit, Vaisnava theology, and Vedanta philosophy. He has written several books on these subjects, and lectures at universities in the United States, Europe, Malaysia, and India. He is currently collaborating with several international scholars on various publishing projects.
Most of all, Dr. Narasimhachary is loved for his ability to compose Sanskrit poetry. He has been honored with numerous titles in recognition of his skill, such as Sastrakavirat, "king of scholarly poets," Sahityavisara-da, "master of literature," and Asukavisekhara, "best among those who can compose poetry extempore." Professor Narasimhachary often composes beautiful Sanskrit verses at a moment's notice.
Dr. Narasimhachary is a devout practitioner and spiritual master in the Sri Vaisnava sampradaya of Ramanujacarya. He is an ardent worshiper of Sri Laksmi-Hayagriva, the presiding deities of Vedic knowledge. He always wears the Vaisnava tilaka and maintains his Vaisnava diet and practice wherever he travels. His appreciation for Srila Prabhupada began when he first came to Oxford, England, three years ago. He was invited by the Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies, an academic institution that aids the study of Vaisnava theology at Oxford University. The Centre's director and many of the students are ISKCON devotees.
It was there that Dr. Narasimhachary began reading Srila Prabhupada's biography by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. He was so moved by Srila Prabhupada's story of sacrifice, courage, and compassion that he decided to compose one hundred verses in his praise.
For the professor, the visible proof of Srila Prabhupada's power and purity is his society of devotees. Dr. Narasimhachary appreciated the association of devotees, and especially their ability to practice strict Vaisnavism while living in Western countries. He visited several ISKCON centers in England, and found them to be vibrant and welcoming.
The one hundred verses of the Satakam describe different aspects of Srila Prabhupada's teachings and person-ality. Several verses focus on his ac-complishments, his constant medita-tion on Radha and Krsna, his concern for his disciples, and his deep knowledge of the scriptures. Using a traditional method of Sanskrit eulogy, Dr. Narasimhachary describes Srila Prabhupada's form from his lotus feet to his face. The professor also devotes a section of verses to glorification of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, since the chanting of the holy names was the essence of Srila Prabhupada's teachings and the foundation of his success.