nama om visnu padaya krishna presthaya bhutale
srimate bhaktivedanta swamine iti namine

namas te saraswate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesa sunyavadi pascyata-desa-tarine

My Dear Aindra prabhu, please accept my prostrated dandavat obeisances at your lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Service and all glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I don’t really know what to say because I can’t really separate my experience of Krishna consciousness from you, Aindra prabhu. It is like part of my spiritual experience is now gone. Yet, in a strange way, it is still here. And that ‘spiritual experience’ is you.

Your Prayers To The Dust Of Vraja capture the mystery and depth of the Vrindavan experience for me. In fact, I cannot separate my experience of Vrindavan from your presence there…in the 24-hour kirtan, in front of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Shyamasudara and Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama. What will Vrindavan be without you, prabhu? I feel like one of the goswamis has left our presence.

I remember asking you a question the first time I met you in 1997. ‘How can we be humble?’ You replied, ‘By serving great souls, like the six goswamis. Like Srila Prabhupada. We have to accept Krishna consciousness in parampara, disciplic succession.’ I have asked you many questions since then and your answers cut deep through the maya of conditioned thought. Aindra prahu, you are a genuine sadhu. Sadhu means ‘to cut’…the knot of material attachment in the heart.

I appreciate the way you took me under your wing in Kartik 2007. You were so kind to me and gave me a lot of attention. Every time you saw me you encouraged me to get involved or initiate harinam-sankirtan, the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna. I never left your room without a rasagulla or some other delicious prashadam from your Deities. And I always left with two or three copies of each of your CD’s, especially Prayers To The Dust Of Vraja. One time, when I offered a donation you said, ‘Place Laxmi at the feet of Mahaprabhu.’ Whenever I receive donations, I place them at the feet of my Deity of Mahaprabhu. I am thankful that I was able to make a small donation last year when Arne visited Vrindavan. And, where I am able, I will continue to support the 24-hour Kirtan.

Visiting your room in the brahmacari ashram is something I cherish and will do so until the rest of my days. Sitting there with Your Grace, Govinda and several other devotees was like being with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. A sense of excitement. A glimpse into a more esoteric, off-beat space of Krishna Consciousness. You would have devotees read from Rupa Goswami’s Govinda Lilamrita and would relish detailed descriptions of Radharani’s nose-ring or similar poetic descriptions. What a treat to be there, relishing Krishna consciousness with you and your associates.

Last time I was in your room you told me about your new book, Kirtan Is Bhajan: The Heart Of Book Distribution. You mentioned that book distribution is like the Krishna playing his flute; and kirtan, in the Temple, is like Krishna’s rasa dance. Then you said, ‘They are playing the flute, but there is no rasa dance.’ In other words, we are distributing the books, but there is no kirtan in the Temple. Harinam and book distribution go hand-in-hand, you taught. You informed us that this was Prabhupada’s method of spreading the movement in the 1970’s.

You also mesmerized us with your esoteric descriptions of japa. The chanting of japa was an intimate offering of love between the devotee and Krishna. Unlike kirtan, japa is performed alone, in a kunja (a forest-grove), between the beloved (the devotee) and the lover (Krishna).

I remember proudly announcing to you in 2005 that we had been performing Harinam Sankirtan in Cape Town every day for three months as an extension of a collective Kartik Vrata. You replied, ‘How may of you are performing nam-kirtan?’ I said, ‘About 12.’ And you replied, ‘Why not 112? In Prabhupada’s time we would do Sankirtan with over 100 devotees.’

You also defined what is Sankirtan. First it was Harinam-Sankirtan, chanting in the streets with the accompaniment of musical instruments. Then it became book distribution. Then incense. Then paintings. You emphasized that Sankirtan meant congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna – not the sale of incense and paraphernalia. You also emphasized the principle of madhukara (receiving in charity): ‘Only go to the person once. Don’t go all the time.’

I appreciate your straightforwardness. A devotee gave me a whole lot of your lectures and, although you are considered controversial at times, everything you said made sense and was backed up by sastric references or exact quotes by Srila Prabhupada. That makes your lectures very authoritative and it is understandable that you would find detractors – since you could back up your realizations with accurate references to sadhu, sastra and guru.

I remember standing next to you at Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s Pushpanjali Ceremony during His Disappearance Day in 2007. We both had those sweet-smelling red rose petals in our hands. We were quite far from the Vyasasana. Our flowers were falling way short of the Vyasasana, over the heads of the devotees in front of us. After the last pushpanjali, you turned around and looked at me, ‘Anyway, it’s the thought that counts.’ That was reassuring.

I had the good fortune of being in Vrindavan in Kartik 2007. I was standing by the Temple entrance near Radha Shyamasundara, watching the 24-hour kirtan. You were standing next to me. I was so happy to be in Vrindavan. The atmosphere at Krishna-Balarama Mandir was electric. Every night was an ecstatic festival of chanting and dancing before the Deities. I was wondering why I had not been to Vrindavan in Kartik for so many years. I turned to you and said, ‘Vrindavan in Kartik. There is nothing higher.’ You looked at me and said, ‘Oh yes there is!’ You know of something higher. And now you must be experiencing bliss beyond our, and perhaps even your, comprehension.

You were offering dandavat obeisances to your Deities while your body was been scorched by flames. What tolerance! What surrender!

I am going to miss you, Aindra. Vrindavan will never be the same for me again. Your kirtans and your tunes – which are on the tongues of most devotees all around the world – are going to mean more to me now that you are departed. I will try to follow your instructions with respect to chanting and sharing the Holy Names with others.

These are just some thoughts, by way of an offering on Your Disappearance Day, my dear Aindra prabhu. I see in you all the qualities of great souls described in the Vaishnava scriptures. I see in you total dedication to the process of bhakti, Prabhupada and Krishna. Please be merciful upon us. Give us the shade of your lotus feet. For your fame is spread all over the three worlds. And we take shelter at your divine lotus feet.

Vrindavan will never be the same without you. Then again, you are always in Vrindavan.

His Grace Aindra prabhu ki jaya! His Grace Aindra prabhu ki jaya! His Grace Aindra prabhu ki jaya!

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