August 22 marks ninety-six years since His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (right), Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, appeared in this world. To honor this auspicious day, we've selected the following homage from this year's Vyasa Puja book, the annual collection of offerings to Srila Prabhupada from his temples and devotees.
Dearest Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. All glories to you on this most auspicious occasion of your appearance within this world!
Each year at this time I sit to reflect and compose my offering to you. Thoughts come, words flow, and I put them down on paper. But one page and one day alone seem inadequate to express my love; it will be more appropriate if I can offer my life to you.
Each year I come to appreciate more the gifts you have given me. As time passes, all that is familiar in this world gradually fades, yet Krsna consciousness remains fresh, and with it my hopes to attain your grace. Birth, death, old age, and disease are no longer unfamiliar; I see them the world over, wherever you send me to preach. With the realities of material life often present, I remember your words to us: "I have been everywhere and seen everything. My advice to you is to take sannyasa."
But I am unable to always see as you say. Though I repeatedly hear, I remain foolishly attached. Nevertheless, you kindly arrange to instruct me. This year when little Visakha broke her neck and lay in the hospital bed, she was informed she would never walk again. On the phone she told me, "Why should I lament? I'm spirit soul this body is only a frame. Besides, one day I'll be back with Krsna again." I wonder at your grace that a child may have such realizations and instruct me in the same.
When I visited her for the first time after the accident, her face glowed and shined. "I've had many realizations," she said.
"But you're only twelve years old!" I thought.
Glancing over at your picture, she said, "I can understand that before the accident I was frivolous and wasn't making the best use of my time. Now I want to become serious and take shelter of Krsna." I prayed for the same.
In the rehabilitation ward, as the doctors struggled in vain to teach her to move, she collapsed like a rag doll on the mat. With pity and compassion they raised her up, only to be amazed at the smile on her face. "Everyone here is in the bodily concept of life," she said to me. "Therefore they can only lament." Such is your mercy that we might live in this world without regret.
As I took her in the wheelchair back to her room, we laughed at the foolishness of the materialists, who only hanker and lament. But I felt we were laughing at me, an older devotee with less realization than that of this child.
As we turned the corner, she looked up and said, "But we can save them if we preach." Her words were the purports I've read in your books, but her realizations were different than mine. What is this great mercy of yours that transcends even time!
That evening I brought my Deities at her request. She stared at them a long time, not casually, as I often do. With deep feeling she said, "I missed Them a lot." And I thought, "Why can't I?"
Srila Prabhupada, thank you for your instructions from the mouth of a child. I've had many realizations now. You know, "Before the accident I was frivolous and wasn't making the best use of my time. Now I want to become serious and take shelter of Krsna."
Your eternal servant,