Why 16108 ?
Because Lord Sri Krishna married 16,108 wives!


Sri Vyas Puja Offering - 2006

ISKCON Founder-Acharya
His Divine Grace
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Srila Prabhupad

30 years ago...

The year was 1976. It was the last year I had your darshan, the last time I saw you with my eyes, sat before you during a class, walked beside you on a morning walk. 30 long years ago. It seems like last week. Your transcendent smile. Your very loving and yet beckoning glance. Beckoning me to serve you, Mahaprabhu and his mission.

My children brought out the 1976 Vyas Puja book yesterday. I read the list of devotees residing in New Dwarak. I looked at all the Black and White photos, and I could actually feel the freshness, the innocence and transcendent mood of that time. It felt like a soothing breeze upon my weary soul. It wasn't just nostalgic rememberance of the past, it was the feeling I got the first days I set foot in a temple, it was the feelings I got when you would come in our presence. It was the Vaikuntha breeze that always swirled around you. It passed by my mind and soul again, and I realized how much I really miss you.

We never had a private talk. But, you always knew me.

30 years ago... How far time has taken me. Yet, I feel I have only slid backwards. I used to think I was going forward. But, when I look forward, I see I have only gotten further behind.

My Initiation. Dec 10, 1973 in New Dwaraka Mandir, Los Angeles Temple. Behind me in the blue sweater is Hrdayananda Maharaj. To the right is Ramesvar (ex) Maharaj, next to him, holding the beads, is Tripurari. And behind Srila Prabhupad is Karandhar. Jayatirtha, who was LA Temple President at the time, is not visible in this photo, he tied my neck beads that day.

Thank you, Srila Prabhupad, for being so merciful to me. Thank you again and again.

30 years ago? It has been 33 years since, by your causeless mercy, you accepted someone so fallen as me as your initiated disciple. 33 years ago you handed me my japa beads. The same beads I have today.

33 years ago. I left home and I moved into your ashram on Watseka Ave in Los Angeles.

33 years ago - it was sometime around May or April of 1973 - the first day I got to see you personally. It was mystical. So many things were so magical and mystical in those days. I was told to come by 7:30, that class would be over by 8:30. I arrived so late. It was almost 8:30. I entered the foyer entrance. The temple was over filled with devotees. Even the foyer entrance was so crowded. There was hardly room to stand. I tried hard to see you, but could not. So many people standing in front of me.

All I could see were the peacock fans going up in the air. It was if the king of kings were sitting on the heavenly palace throne. I wanted to see you. But, even more, I wanted you to see me. I knew that you already knew me. I knew that. I wanted you to know I was finally coming to surrender to you. But, so many people in front of me, all I could see was the back of their heads. I began to get disappointed. But, then I remembered. I had made my first visit to the temple just earlier in the week. On that visit your disciple Suresvar taught me that one should bow down his head to the ground when entering the temple, he called it 'offering obeisances'. On remembering this I immediately fell to my knees and touched my head to the floor. As I lifted my head, kneeling on my knees, amazingly, the wall of devotees before me quickly gave way as half of the devotees leaned to the right, half leaned to the left. Mystically a sight path was made and there you were. Not only did my eyes see you for the first time, but, you too, were looking straight at me. You had such a look of devotion. And, you were looking directly within me. Yes. You knew I was coming. I felt humbled. I automatically felt compelled to bow my head down to the ground again, being humbled by your presence. As I looked up again, still, the path was open to see you, and still, you were looking directly at me. I knew in my heart that you knew me. I had found my eternal master. I finally made it. The journey home was now almost complete. I was on my way home. What a long, long journey it had been. Countless lives, countless stories, countless trials and tribulations. I was finally on my way home.

33 years ago.

33 years? Actually 36 years ago. The year was 1970. I had found the Bhagavad Gita a year earlier in the library. I had been reading many Vedic books. From those books I knew I needed to find a spiritual master. I had been trying to find my master for the past year, but none were qualified. I had rejected them all, one by one. This Swami, that Sadhu, this Baba, that Baba, I had rejected them all. Faking Fakirs. Cheaters and unrealized conditioned souls. Mystic magicians, but not one was qualified to be my master. Not one.

It was 36 years ago and one night I prayed so intensely. I prayed to my Father, whom I now called Paramatma, the Lord in my heart. I prayed to God so intensely with one pointed request. I begged him, please send me my Master. Please send me my Master. And, send me one book that describes to me who You, God, are. I want to see you. I want to know how You look, I want to know what You do in Your Eternal Kingdom. Please God, send me one book that describes all this in detail.

That was my request 36 years ago. I stayed up all night praying. Then, I went to the library. I looked on the same shelves I always went to, the Hindu section in the religious aisle. I was looking for an old book, one that had been written decades and decades ago. It would be a book that my Guru, my master would have written just for me. But, no one else would know. Somehow, it was going to just appear on that shelf that day. It had to. I had begged God, my Father, for this with every ounce of energy I had in my being. When I went to the library that day, I simply knew I would find the book I had been seeking.

Quickly I could see, there was no old, old book there. But, there was something flashing on the shelf above me. It was silver with pulsating red letters. An odd combination of letters, a K, then an R with a dot under it. An S with a dot under it, and a N with a dot. Then another small 'a'. As I reached for the book I tried to pronounce it. Kers-na. I now had the book in my hand, Kras-na. No, the dots under the letters, that is Sanskrit. Yes, I had just been learning Sanskrit from 16 books of the Upanishads I had recently found at the library. The dot under the r, oh yeah, that makes a 'ree' sound, and the dot under the s, oh yeah, that is an 'sh' sound. As I brought the book off the shelf and turned it over to see the front cover, I pronounced "Krishna". Krishna. That is the one who spoke the Bhagavad Gita. That is God. As I read the title, KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead. Godhead. The topmost feature of God. I was looking at the picture of Krsna - yes - yes - this is God, this is He - The Lord. This is HE. I have been looking for Him all these years. I have prayed to see Him, to know what He looks like. And, here He has come to me. He came to me in this picture on this book. I wanted so badly to see what my Lord looks like, now I am seeing Him before me in this picture.

But, wait, who is that girl? There is a most beautiful young maiden standing with Him. God is both Male and Female. Everything is in Him. Yes, this is God. This book was not abridged, this is the full unabridged detailed personality of God. I was holding Him in my hand in the form of this book. I realized this. I then opened the book and immediately saw so many full color plates. As you, Srila Prabhupad, called them, "Windows to the Spiritual World". I could see, yes, this is what the Kingdom of God looks like. These are God's activities. His Pastimes. My prayers were answered. The book that would tell me all the details about who God is, what He looks like, what He does. That book I was now, at long last, holding in my hand.

But, wait, what about my Spiritual Master? Who wrote this book? As I was saying in my mind, "Who ever wrote this book, he is my Spiritual Master", I turned the book over and saw your photo on the back. This is my master. I have found you, also. Oh Srila Prabhupad, what a glorious day for me that was. What a glorious day. ALL my prayers were answered in Full. I immediately accepted you, Srila Prabhupad, on that day as my Lord, my master and spiritual preceptor. All the other gurus - when i read just a few pages of what they taught, i would reject - no, not this one. He is not my master. Srila Prabhupad, this never happened once, not even a hint, ever, when I read your books. Page after page, book after book, not one thing you taught did I reject. Not one thing you said did I question. It was the truth that i was seeking. This had never happened before. Every other guru, I would find faults in what they taught. There would always be something that they said that I disagreed with. This never happened to this day with one single word i read in your books. Everything you said agreed with me, fully.

My long search was now over. 36 years ago. It has been a long time.

I am humbled. I have not been able to serve you for so long. I feel helpless again, Srila Prabhupad. I feel so helpless not able to do the many things I long to do for you. I feel so helpless. Useless. What is the use if i can't do anything for you.

So many years, i feel i have very little to offer you. But, i have 3 children, i am trying to make them understand. I am trying to make them devotees first. They are my offering to you, Srila Prabhupad. Other then them, i have so little to offer. But, they are now growing up.

So many years have past. Who knows how many short years lay ahead.

This is a day to praise your glories, not a day for me to again beg favors from you. But, there is one favor i cannot help but to beg. Please, Srila Prabhupad, give me the strength to do something wonderful for you. Please give me your mercy to allow me to increase my service to you.

As you would always end your classes, by thanking us... what did we do for you? Practically nothing compared to what you have done for us. It is we, Srila Prabhupad, who must THANK YOU.

aspiring to become the humble and worthy servant of your servant's servant - the insignificant and lowly ameyatma das




Last modified August 17, 2006