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Symptoms of a Sadhu
During the Karttika festival of 1972, Shrila Prabhupada lectured daily at the Radha-Damodara temple from The Nectar of Devotion. He sat under the same tree the Gosvamls used to sit under and discuss topics about Krsna and how to spread Krsna consciousness. Shrila Prabhupada said that once he was sitting in front of Rupa Gosvaml's samddhi and Rupa GosvamI personally told him to go and preach Krsna consciousness in the Western countries. At that time, Shrila Prabhupada was already into the retirement years. Nowadays, they retire people at the age of sixty or sixty-five and give them retirement benefits, because they can no longer work efficiently and earn their pay. But Shrila Prabhupada was writing Srlmad-Bhdgavatam and performing bhajana—hearing and chanting the holy name of the Lord— under the direct inspiration and instruction of Shrila Rupa GosvamI. And now in his old age, he was going to America. By going West, Shrila Prabhupada displayed the symptoms of a saintly personality, a sadhu. A real sadhu is titiksavah kdrunikah suhrdah sarva-dehindm. Titiksavah—tolerant; ka-runikdh—merciful; suhrdah sarva-dehindm—the best well-wishing friend of all living entities.
Shrila Prabhupada was so tolerant. While following the order of his spiritual master and going to America, he tolerated much suffering and difficulty. First, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat. I know what it means to be on a boat. Once I took a ferry from Sweden to Poland. It took twenty-seven hours. I spent the ferry ride as sick as ten dogs. After that, I swore that I would never take a boat again as long as I live, and I haven't. If you just mention a boat, I get seasick. Shrila Prabhupada, on the other hand, was on a cargo carrier for thirty-eight days. While at sea, he tolerated severe seasickness and several heart attacks. But he was assured of Krsna's protection. Krsna and all of His incarnations appeared to him in a dream. They were in another boat, pulling him through the water and encouraging him onward with the words, "Yes, you must go to America." After arriving in America, he first stayed with a family who didn't know anything about Krsna consciousness and then at a YMCA. Then, without friends, money, or facilities, he went to the most degraded place in New York City—the Bowery. In this hellish place, as well as in the equally hellish Lower East Side, there were many obstacles, but he went on with his preaching. He worked hard, even cooking for the devotees and distributing prasddam to them, because he was kdrunikah—merciful.
We are all made of Shrila Prabhupada's mercy. Without his great tolerance and mercy, we would never have received this Krsna consciousness movement. Who in the history of Gaudlya Vaisnavism or before that ever even thought of going to the Western world and preaching Krsna consciousness? Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had introduced Krsna consciousness by sending books to the West, but nobody had ever gone there to preach to the mlecchas and yavanas, live among them, and make them Krsna conscious. We can never glorify Shrila Prabhupada enough, because if he had not come, none of us would be here today. We would still be rotting in the material world, performing obnoxious activities. We all know perfectly well what we would be doing if it had not been for Shrila Prabhupada. We owe our lives to him. Therefore we should completely surrender our entire lives at the lotus feet of the Founder-Acarya of this society, Shrila Prabhupada. This will make us qualified to satisfy the previous dcdryas and Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nothing more is to be gained in the world than this.
Shrila Prabhupada's mood was simple to understand. He was in the mood of Prahlada Maharaja. Once in South Africa, while Shrila Prabhupada was writing the section of Srlmad-Bhdgavatam that tells of Prahlada Maharaja, I happened to mention, "Shrila Prabhupada, you are always absorbed in the mood of Prahlada Maharaja," and he said, "Yes, I am always thinking of how to save these fools and rascals." We can read about Prahlada Maharaja and try to enter into his mood. Then we will understand the mood of the preacher, whose only concern is to give Krsna consciousness to the people of this world. The disciple should want to share the mood of his spiritual master to spread Krsna consciousness throughout the world. That is why we travel from town to town and village to village with Shrila Prabhupada's books, expanding Shrila Prabhupada's preaching mission and bringing new people to the Krsna consciousness movement. By doing this the disciple can become perfect. This is the real meaning of mercy—to only think of the best thing for people's Krsna consciousness and to try to help them advance in spiritual life.
To spread Krsna consciousness Shrila Prabhupada continually traveled worldwide, writing and preaching wherever he went. It was a great austerity, but because he felt love and compassion for all living entities, suhrdah sarva-dehindm, preaching was his life. He was preaching early every morning by writing his transcendental purports, he was preaching during the morning walk, and he continued preaching by giving morning class. All day and night, in every activity and at every opportunity, Prabhupada was preaching. He was always absorbed in Krsna's philosophy, Krsna's words, and preaching Krsna's glories. Everything he saw would remind him of a philosophical point, with which he would expand our consciousness and understanding of Krsna. It was wonderful to have his association and hear his explanations. Shrila Prabhupada was not only learned, but he also gave us everything in his books. He translated the texts from the original Sanskrit and manifested his emotional ecstasies in incomparable purports. When people open their minds and begin to read Shrila Prabhupada's words, his great love and mercy enter and gradually change their hearts.
Shrila Prabhupada is so pleased that we are printing his books in all different languages. We just print books and fill up the warehouses, never worrying about printing too many books. We often have a competition between the BBT devotees and the distributors: the BBT devotees are only happy when the warehouse is full of books, and the distributors are only happy when the warehouse is completely empty. We have so much work ahead of us. We have so many books to be distributed. Shrila Prabhupada was the first book distributor. He went to America with almost nothing except two wooden cases of his transcendental books. By selling them, he managed to survive. Later, when the Krsna books were printed, he was the first one to distribute them. During the 1970 Ratha-yatra in San Francisco, Shrila Prabhupada was on the stage, and someone brought the first ten copies up to him. Prabhupada announced: "Now an important moment in history has come. For the first time these beautifully bound Krsna books are available in the English language. Who will come up and take these books? Ten dollars each. And I will sign them!" Hundreds of people ran up to the stage with ten dollar bills in their hands. The books were sold in an instant, and he didn't even keep a copy for himself. This is suhrdah sarva-dehinam. Nowadays, when we want to start a new project, we need a pile of money in the bank and so much paraphernalia before we can do anything. What now takes many of us to do, Shrila Prabhupada did by himself. He is the personification of Krsna's mercy, and he descended into this world just to perform this most ecstatic mission. Therefore we want to develop attachment to his lotus feet and go on with his mission.