Any talk about Prabhupāda Memories series that doesn’t give due credit to the deep love devotees feel for him would be incomplete. In fact, it’s the only lesson we really need to learn, everything else is superficial and only accommodates for our temporary interests. Śrīla Prabhupāda was/is their life and soul, and life and soul are far more important than the condition of our body, mind, or intelligence.
Unfortunately, and we can see it in real life, devotees had to accommodate their material desires, they drifted away, made careers, raised families, but all of this is superficial, even our dogfights over philosophical and institutional points. Kali yuga is the age of diversity, to put it mildly, conflicts arise for smallest of matters, people insult each other, commit offenses against the holy name, lose their taste and eventually their position in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but it’s all temporary and most of it doesn’t even register with Kṛṣṇa.
At the moment of our death we might feel strong attachments to material pleasures and it can be problematic but at least we don’t have to worry about Kṛṣṇa holding our sins against us, they don’t matter to Him. So, if we manage to remember Him when we die then all the superficial transgressions caused by the material nature will be written off as if they never happened. The only thing we need is our life and soul being where they belong – at the lotus feet of our guru and Kṛṣṇa.
So far I’ve come across two videos where devotees, when speaking about Prabhupāda, completely chocked on their emotions and broke down in tears. One was Kṛṣṇa Premī Dāsi, a well established singer who made quite a few sweet devotional records, so one would expect her to be a little sentimental, but it wasn’t like that at all. She wasn’t waxing lyrical and wasn’t even talking about singing but rather about quite an ordinary advice from Śrīla Prabhupāda – if you help Lord Caitanya to spread this movement He will give you all His blessings.
Simple things like that can completely trip up grown up men (or women, in this case). The whole talk was about how she and her husband should go about preaching in Sweden – whether it’s okay to wear suits when preaching in universities, what deities they should have, whether they should fly or travel overland. Then Prabhupāda went quiet and just watched them for a few minutes, and then he opened his eyes widely and asked her: “Who do you love more, Kṛṣṇa or your husband?”
She was caught completely off guard and couldn’t understand Prabhupāda’s mind. She realized that she didn’t love Kṛṣṇa at all, and, on second thought, she didn’t love her husband either. Seeing her confusion, Śrīla Prabhupāda grinned and delivered this blessing that she still can’t remember without breaking in tears. From the interview it appears they’ve discussed the content and she was going to talk about “Who do you love more?” question but, however prepared, she just couldn’t contain herself.
Simplest things can go so deep in our hearts that when we remember them all the outside world just goes away. That might not be technically a perfection in absolute terms but from our degraded position it’s as good as it ever going to get.
Another case was also of a musician, but this time a grown ass man Maṅgalānanda Prabhu. He didn’t have much personal association with Śrīla Prabhupāda, only attended a half a dozen lectures, following Prabhupāda on his tours of the US. His personal interest was in writing Kṛṣṇa conscious music using guitar and he was a part of some road show that eventually wound down.
I understand that not all of those roadshows were approved by either Prabhupāda or GBC, sometimes they went off the rails and were seen as over the top, so I can see why his local authorities were cool to the idea and didn’t offer much support, if not outright obstructed to using western instruments and western tunes, but that didn’t stop Maṅgalānanda who found his moment alone with Prabhupāda after a recording session in Los-Angeles.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was about to leave when Maṅgalānanda thought that it was now or never. He and his friend prepared a little demo and he came up to Prabhupāda, gave him the lyrics, and said that they had a few songs to show. The mere fact that Prabhupāda accepted his offering, sat down and agreed to listen melts Maṅgalānanda heart when he remembers the occasion.
Prabhupāda seemed to like the songs and asked what was the problem. Maṅgalānanda said that some of the big men didn’t approve of his approach to preaching but Prabhupāda said that sometimes you have to let the cows moo. “Go ahead,” he said, “and you will be successful.” This simple blessing, no big deal, as we hear this all the time in our movement, etched in that devotee’s heart forever.
These days we don’t give much weight to blessings, everybody’s got them, the problem is making them successful and we usually blame ourselves for bungling the mercy but it wasn’t like that for Maṅgalānanda, or for Kṛṣṇa Premī. They took these simple blessings very very personally and kept them deep within their hearts for the rest of their lives. Who can say their lives weren’t successful, devotionally speaking?
I can’t avoid a little doubt in my mind, however. Both of these devotees are musicians and so are somewhat more emotional than the general public so there’s always an excuse of sentimentalism, but I would rather put it down to incredibly soft hears of Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. AND they’ve been singing Kṛṣṇa’s glories all their lives. Why shouldn’t their hearts melt with love of God and Śrīla Prabhupāda? They are doing everything Lord Caitanya wanted us to do so their alleged sentimentalism is authorized.
Just listen to this video of one of Maṅgalānanda’s songs. It’s simple and pure, just as devotee’s heart should be. There’s nothing wrong with Kṛṣṇa Premī’s singing either, it’s perfect. Our musical tastes might be different but devotionally they are both absolutely perfect artists, and guru and Kṛṣṇa are clearly their life and soul.