Deconstructing the Lilamrta, Part 33

BY: ROCANA DASA - 7.6 2022

 A critical analysis of the Srila Prabhupada-Lilamrta by Satsvarupa das Goswami.

Today we begin Chapter three of Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta Volume II, entitled "Struggling Alone". After reading the first part of this chapter we are left to understand why Satsvarupa would entitle the chapter "Struggling Alone". What he's really implying is that until he and some of the other disciples joined him, Srila Prabhupada was "alone" and he was "struggling" on account of not having the help of these early disciples. This is not only factually incorrect, it's also philosophically incorrect. Srila Prabhupada had Krsna and all the previous Acaryas, and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates overseeing his activities and ensuring that he was never alone.

In fact, as Satsvarupa himself explains, Srila Prabhupada arrived in NYC and was met at the bus terminal by one of Dr. Mishra's associates. He was immediately taken care of by the Doctor in the sense that he had an apartment to stay at and someone concerned about his well being. He immediately met Ravi Shankar at a program, and undoubtedly made other immediate connections with people. So why would Satsvarupa consider that "struggling alone"?

Yes, it's a fact that Srila Prabhupada had to make the best use of a bad bargain in the sense that Dr. Mishra was a Sankarite and preached Mayavadi philosophy. It's extremely educational and inspiring for devotees to hear how he dealt with that circumstance and how he was completely unfazed by the situation. This is illustrated by all the interviews that were undertaken by agents of the author and included in this book, including those from Dr. Mishra and some of his followers.

It's quite moving and inspiring to see how Srila Prabhupada simply applied Krsna consciousness to the circumstance in such a way as everyone was endeared to him. Everyone had very pleasant memories and experiences with Srila Prabhupada. In a previous chapter, we recently read about how Srila Prabhupada had the same attitude when he was in Butler, Pennsylvania. He cooked prasadam for everyone, and everyone really enjoyed the experience. Unbeknownst to them, having prasadam cooked by a nitya-siddha maha-bhagavata and being served by such an advanced personality is beyond comparison in terms of purification. Of course, Dr. Mishra and his followers had absolutely no idea of what kind of benediction they were receiving. This is quite evident in the way they describe Srila Prabhupada. But interestingly, Satsvarupa doesn't comment on this at all. He doesn't make it clear to the readers what a great benediction these person were getting, or how they were being purified by the exchange.

He goes instead into his usual descriptive, speculative dialogue wherein he's trying to take us into Srila Prabhupada's mind and set of circumstances. He tells us what the city was like, where Srila Prabhupada walked and why he walked, and how he was supposedly worried about his heart so he wouldn't walk here or there… the whole thing is based on speculation, and Satsvarupa takes his usual literary license to speculate under the guise of making Srila Prabhupada's life "more readable" or more "human", or whatever nonsense excuse. These interviews with people were a golden opportunity for any true follower of Srila Prabhupada who understands his exalted position to preach, and to give proper philosophical purports instead of all this descriptive nonsense.

Even when Satsvarupa tries to explain the difference between Vaisnavism and Sankarism he gets the philosophy all mixed up with brahman realization, and doesn't make a differentiation between the jnana-realized yogi and the Mayavadi, although there is a distinct difference. Someone in Satsvarupa's position at the time of this writing should have known this, considering the fact that he was presenting himself as a self-realized Zonal Acarya.

Satsvarupa does quote from Srila Prabhupada's Srimad Bhagavatam purports, but he doesn't specify what purport he's actually quoting. In other words, he doesn't follow Srila Prabhupada's principle that you should always designate which part of sastra you're quoting from.

The reader will find little nuggets of nonsense sprinkled into content all along the way, such as:

"A mendicant, Srila Prabhupada was temporarily dependent on the good will of his Mayavadi acquaintance, with whom he regularly ate and conversed and from whom he accepted shelter. But what a great inconvenience it was! He had come to America to speak purely and boldly about Krsna, but he was being restricted."

This is not a proper perspective. It was Sri Krsna who was giving shelter to Srila Prabhupada, and this Mayavadi was being blessed and benedicted by Srila Prabhupada's association. It may be true to a certain extent that Dr. Mishra felt somewhat threatened by Srila Prabhupada's potency and thus avoided giving him full facility to preach to his followers, understandably. But at the same time, Srila Prabhupada challenged him in a civil way and especially in private, as one of the followers explained. He described how when Srila Prabhupada accompanied Dr. Mishra to their asrama in the country, they would sit in the back of the car and Srila Prabhupada would challenge him. Not that he would stand up during one of the Doctor's classes, start pointing his finger and waving it at Dr. Mishra. He simply took every opportunity, in a dignified way, to try and impress upon the Doctor and any of the followers that there was a much better way to make spiritual advancement - namely, Krsna consciousness. In the end, Srila Prabhupada made a very favourable impression on everybody, including Dr. Mishra.

It's very interesting to read transcripts of the interview of how Srila Prabhupada conducted himself in these circumstances. I found particularly interesting the description of how, while he was cooking, he would instruct one of Dr. Mishra's followers to help him, and they remembered in great detail his attitude and mood.

So many times we have encountered neophyte representatives of Srila Prabhupada who are fanatical, harsh and impersonal when they're dealing with people and circumstances similar to this. They are far less humble than Srila Prabhupada was, even though he is incomparably more advanced than even the best among us.

As the pastime unfolds, Srila Prabhupada resided at his yoga studio rather than at Dr. Mishra's apartment/asrama, although nowhere did Srila Prabhupada say he was asked or forced to leave. In all likelihood he simply preferred this. And from the descriptions that were given, both in comments Srila Prabhupada made and during interviews, we can see that Srila Prabhupada was perfectly happy and satisfied to be in that situation. In fact, the letters that are quoted which he wrote to his godbrothers and to Sumati Morari, the Scandia Steamlines magnate, show that Srila Prabhupada was very positive about America and about preaching here. He had an overall good impression of America and was certain things would work, and that he would be given facility by Lord Krsna to do what he ended up doing. He continually tried to get other people involved, such as his godbrothers or Sumati Morari, in hopes of them giving him enough funds to get a temple started to preach from. In fact, he actually located a place that he wanted and he negotiated a price, but it wasn't forthcoming because his godbrothers wouldn't help him. Interestingly enough, Srila Prabhupada said that he was "a man not to be disappointed."

So all of today's positive thinking gurus could certainly take a lesson from Srila Prabhupada in this regard. Of course, his realization of this principle was so much more advanced than any of these people could understand. It's Krsna in the heart who reciprocates with the desires of his pure devotees. We should all understand the story by this point in time -- Sri Krsna had it planned out how Srila Prabhupada's vision and desires were going to be fulfilled, because they were non-different than Krsna's.

Srila Prabhupada understood the philosophy in the sense that if people just had the opportunity to associate and hear from a nitya-siddha maha-bhagavata pure representative of Lord Caitanya, then everything would come into being. And so it did. The main thing was for people to gain his pure association.