Chapter 123: Spiritual Pride

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 123
Spiritual Pride

Spiritual Pride

A receptive devotee could learn so many things just by sitting quietly and watching Śrīla Prabhupāda. Once, Śrīla Prabhupāda sat up very straight in his garden in New Dwaraka and said, "The devotee is proud to be the servant of Kṛṣṇa." This was a very important lesson for me because balancing humility with the pride of being Kṛṣṇa's servant was a bit confusing.

I was somewhat timid in the execution of my service when it involved requesting help or some service from people outside the devotee community. I mistook devotional humility for mundane bodily apprehension. Instead of being proud of being Kṛṣṇa's servant and Śrīla Prabhupāda's servant, I was apologetic. I denied pride, not realizing that I was misdirected. Deluded, I thought I needed to exude humility.

Śrīla Prabhupāda adorably personified pride in being Kṛṣṇa's servant. Sometimes, when he returned to his sitting room after a morning program, he turned to me and said smiling, "Did your record the lecture today?"

"Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said.

"Play it back," he instructed. "I want to hear it."

On other occasions he would be sitting behind his desk in his room and when his disciples entered the room he would smile and ask, "So, the lecture was all right today?"Of course, his disciples always responded enthusiastically, cherishing every word that flowed from the lotus lips of their spiritual master. The devotees recognized special messages within some of his lectures, and even the dullest of living entities could understand the one point Śrīla Prabhupāda continuously and clearly drove home.

It appeared that Śrīla Prabhupāda took special pride in certain lectures. He seemed to immensely enjoy smashing the Mayavadi philosophy. He proudly presented Kṛṣṇa to everyone, defeating their bogus arguments. He was very proud that Kṛṣṇa was his Lord and Master.

Śrīla Prabhupāda also expressed pride in his disciples. One beautiful afternoon in July of 1973, Śrīla Prabhupāda sat on the lawn at Bhaktivedanta Manor with some of his disciples and Indian guests. I was reading "Lord Caitanya in Five Features," an early and partial printing of "Sri Caitanya-Caritāmṛta." I was doing my best to pronounce the Bengali by using the transliteration. Much to my surprise, after reading for about ten minutes, Śrīla Prabhupāda said, "Just see how nicely he pronounces the Bengali. Although he has never read Bengali in his whole life, with this method, he can pronounce it very nicely."

Many times Śrīla Prabhupāda praised his western disciples before the Indian community. He accomplished many things by doing this. He encouraged his disciples to further their progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He encouraged the Indian community to take more seriously that which was their birthright. He showed everyone that by the mercy of Guru and Gaurāṅga and the potency of the Holy Name even melecchas and yavanas could advance in spiritual life. Śrīla Prabhupāda always credited his Guru Mahārāja and the potency of chanting the Lord's holy name for all that he accomplished. Once in his quarters in New Dwaraka, Śrīla Prabhupāda said to me, "You western boys and girls have taken so much intoxication. If not for the chanting of the Mahā-mantra, you would not be able to accomplish anything."

In May of 1975 in Perth, Australia, Śrīla Prabhupāda was having a conversation with a professor. Śrīla Prabhupāda spoke very strongly about different classes of human beings. Paramahāmsa Mahārāja and I were sitting in the room relishing our spiritual master expressing to the fairly receptive gentleman how almost everyone was a fourth- class man.

"You also are a fourth-class man," he told the professor.

"Well, what can I do?" the professor responded.

"You must become a pure devotee like them!" Śrīla Prabhupāda energetically said.

As he finished the sentence, he pointed to Paramahāmsa and me as examples of pure devotees. My godbrother and I looked at each other and broke out in huge smiles. We knew we weren't pure, but we loved being used as illustrations for our dearmost spiritual master. We knew that Śrīla Prabhupāda would never say, "Become a pure devotee like me." That was one of the beautiful qualities of my spiritual master, the pure devotee of the Lord.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, anything I may have accomplished in this life is due only to your causeless mercy. I am always consumed by false pride, but my greatest pride is to identify myself as your servant. You are my Lord and I am very proud of being your servant. I pray to always remain as such. Please give me the intelligence to never forget my eternal position. Although I have no qualifications, I have faith in your words as you pointed to Paramahāmsa and me. I know that you benedicted us both to attain pure devotional service in this life or some future lifetime. From your mouth to Kṛṣṇa's ears! All glories to you, Śrīla Prabhupāda!