Most people suffer because they are trapped by their own self-interest. At one end of life’s spectrum we have people who think only of self- ‘Am I happy? Are my finances in place?’ Their thoughts and feelings revolve around their own parochial understanding; ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’. Ironically such men and women are perennially sad, and even if they do get all that they desire, there’s something not right in their life, and hence they are distressed. Really speaking what’s not right is the ‘I’ consciousness! Those who can’t think beyond the self, create many unbreakable chains of desires. Being bound by these ropes, they run everywhere, grab as much as they can. Yet ironically they remain dissatisfied because this world and its resources are not our creation. To be a go getter in this world is akin to a man grabbing things that doesn’t belong to him. Such a person will surely remain in anxiety of being apprehended, and as the Cuban hero of nineteenth century, Jose Marti said, “A selfish man is nothing but a thief”
A pure devotee of God lives on the other end of life’s spectrum- of selfless service. He only thinks of God or Krishna’s pleasure and that motivates him to extend himself for others. As soon as he thinks of God, spiritual emotions are triggered, and that more than compensates with happiness for the act of sacrificing for others. Saints of various religious traditions exemplify this.
Srila Prabhupada who spread the message of God is a shining example of this principle. At the age of seventy, braving two massive heart attacks on a cargo ship, Srila Prabhupada sailed off to USA with just forty rupees and lived in the ghettos of New York and extended himself to serve the young, lost and misdirected hippies of the counter culture movement. He was filled with compassion which is a natural outpouring of God intoxicated heart. When Srila Prabhupada visited London first time, a reported asked him why had he come there, and instantly he replied, “I have come to remind you what you have forgotten” Srila Prabhupada considered the mission of reviving our dormant consciousness of love for God as his own loving service to God and humanity. Hence he could live for others.
Interestingly as people get older, they are preoccupied with thoughts on self; they worry too often, and regret past mistakes and events that went wrong. However Srila Prabhupada even at eighty one was a diehard optimist, and he envisioned a world where people lived happily loving God and serving each other.
That explains how he travelled far and wide, defying bodily and mental challenges, jet lags, hostile reception, and sleeping a mere two to three hours a day. Once in Melbourne at the La Trobe university a group of radical students hurled expletives, threw paint and attacked Srila Prabhupada. His disciples rushed him to a car, and they quickly sped off even as a young fanatic kicked and spat at Srila Prabhupada’s vehicle. Seated behind the driver, Srila Prabhupada silently chanted Krishna’s Holy Names on his beads as they drove off the campus. For someone who was widely respected and regarded as a devotional scholar of repute in India, to face people who didn’t know him, and worse humiliate him confirms his unparalleled compassion and love.
It’s thirty eight years since Srila Prabhupada left this world, yet today thousands are inspired each year to take up to the cause of spreading this message of love of God all over the world. From Mayapur to Miami, Belgaum to Belgium, Kolhapur to Singapore, and from Chennai to Chile, in every corner of the globe, the message of God is resounding!
That’s the power of selfless love. On the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance from this world, let’s instill in our hearts a desire to love God and serve others as an instrument of Srila Prabhupada’s love and compassion.