Friday, August 26th, 2016
Offering to Guru
I’m taking the liberty to present here my written offering of something called “Vyasa-puja” or the honouring of the guru. The contents include mention of last fall’s walk.
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
On a recent 45-day pilgrimage through the northeastern United States, I had much time to contemplate. It was a walk to express my utter appreciation to you, with 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) under my feet.
Formally, the trek was dubbed “Walking for Our Teachers.” My route took me from Boston’s Commonwealth Pier, where you first landed in America fifty-one years ago, to Butler, Pennsylvania, where you spent a good month, and then to New York City, where you began your mission, ISKCON, officially incorporating it in July 1966.
The society you initiated was a major milestone. The ISKCON Vaiṣṇava culture took hold, but not without trials and tribulations. Like a trekker walking the Pennsylvania mountain/valley terrain, over the last five decades, ISKCON has climbed and descended quite a few steep slopes.
In your endeavour to cement ISKCON within the modern world, you worked to make it a recognizable force grounded in culture and education, rather than merely another religion added to an already pluralistic world of faith. We shall now see how effectively we can continue to market the Prime Entity, Kṛṣṇa, and mold your marvelous Society over the next fifty years. There is much work to be done.
If I may, I would like to present to you and to the society of devotees, my humble analysis of some of your contributions to the world, and what makes you unique.
The Cutting-Edge Guru
1. You pioneered the practice of kīrtana in the West, with emphasis on the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.
2. You introduced to the West the culture of bhakti yoga, an ancient devotional lifestyle, with emphasis on serving the Supreme Deity, Kṛṣṇa.
3. You wrote and published books and articles, and established the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT), presenting a scholarly Vedic library of writings on Eastern thought.
4. You established a worldwide spiritual mission registered as the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness (ISKCON).
5. You became a strong and early voice promoting animal rights, especially the protection of the cow and the bull.
6. You strongly promoted a nonviolent vegetarian way of life (and were perhaps the first teacher of Vedic cooking in the West).
7. You introduced to the West the Vedic consecration of food as prasādam.
8. You promoted a God-centered agrarian culture, a back-to-the-land initiative centered on the family farm, and an eco-friendly existence.
9. You initiated the world’s first large-scale program of sanctified vegetarian food distribution to the needy in Māyāpur.
10. You strongly spoke out against drug and alcohol consumption as harmful.
11. You boldly promoted the science of the soul’s transmigration (reincarnation).
12. You strongly challenged atheism and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and constantly promoted the principle that there is a God, and that He is a person.
13. You introduced to the West the ancient techniques of arcana or pūjā, honouring the Divine in His sacred image.
14. You promoted the anti-racist sentiment by propagating the all-inclusive philosophy that all souls are equal, and that, “We are not these bodies.”
15. You redefined the word party: Sing the holy names! Dance! Play music! Eat karma-free food! No intoxication! No lewdness! Serve each other!
Also, Your Divine Grace was a major positive influence on history’s most popular rock band, The Beatles, especially on George Harrison, who impacted a generation, if not more.
For all of the above, I offer you the utmost reverence and gratitude.
Begging to remain your humble servant,