Today I remembered Srila Prabhupada. Today I felt challenged.

Dear Srila Prabhupada,

I’m challenged to overcome my weakness. You were unrelentingly attacked from all sides – critical journalists, irate parents, pretentious followers, fault-finding contemporaries and unappreciative officials. A barrage of negativity directed towards a selfless sadhu who only desired the greatest good for everyone. Unfazed and undeterred, you marched forward without hesitation. The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on. When will I get a drop of your determination?

I’m challenged to overcome my selfishness. From morning to night, day after day, in every imaginable forum; teaching, writing, managing, counselling, encouraging, problem solving. You used every iota of energy and every single drop of blood to further the vision of your beloved spiritual master. You taught us the key to happiness: find something bigger than yourself and dedciate your life to it. When will that selflessness manifest in its most natural and spontaneous way?

I’m challenged to overcome my hard-heartedness. Though a staunch general in Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan mission, you humoured the children, personally cared for sick devotees, constantly prayed for the wellbeing of your disciples, and cried when you saw street kids rummaging in the rubbish heap for leftover scraps of food. You taught us how vaisnavas have a heart. The courage of an English soldier, and the love of a Bengali mother. Strength and sensitivity all-in-one. How will I melt this steel-framed heart?

I’m challenged to overcome my shallowness. Genuine teardrops fell when you sang Krishna’s names, you gazed at the Deities with eyes salved with love, and your earnest speech, infused with a heavyweight dose of compassion, penetrated people’s hearts. The depth of your devotion defied human limits. Though traversing the world, you never took a step outside of Vrindavana, residing close to Krishna at every moment. Lord Caitanya was in the innermost chambers of your heart. When will I find that sacred space?

Your life is a constant challenge to think bigger, delve deeper, extend further and become stronger. Fallen but hopeful, somehow I’m still in the game. We live to fight another day. I’m begging for a little more time to get my act together so I can offer you something worthwhile in this life. Ideas are there, but I’m lacking the purity and transcendental intelligence to manifest them. I’ll try a little harder.

I beg to remain, in your transcendental service,

Sutapa das