Srila Prabhupada knew he was racing against time. He was eighty years old and with failing health, he said, he had little time to complete the translations and commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam. Yet, while someone else could have cut corners and merely ‘finished’ the work, Srila Prabhupada did his service carefully, choosing every word and commentary diligently, making it relevant to his disciples and the modern readers. Sometimes he spent hours to just get one word right that would explain a point. With bodily limitations and management anxieties, it would be difficult for an ordinary person to write but Srila Prabhupada showed time and again that he was transcendental; he had a mission to serve and please his spiritual master and help humanity.
He was daily averaging hundred digits on his dictating machine but as he neared his eightieth year, he upped the ante and did two hundred daily. And when he stayed in Hawai for two weeks during March 1976, he touched three hundred each night. One night he told Hari Shauri, his servant, that he wouldn’t take his regular massage and instead would translate; that night he worked from nine till five the next morning. He completed the seventh canto that and immediately began the eighth canto expressing his disqualifications and dependence on blessings. He expressed his sincere desire to please his guru, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur.
In the midst of the intense ISKCON management issues and problems that he had to solve personally, he managed to write effectively, with one pointed concentration on his mission. But what’s most amazing about this effort is, besides the devotional mood of his writing, he also had the ability to connect his writings to issues around him. For example in the episode describing Daksha cursing Narada muni for taking away his sons, Srila Prabhupada could relate the episode to his own life. Daksha had cursed Narada that since he had taken away his children from home, he would have no house or family of his own and would instead have to always wander about without any material shelter. Srila Prabhupada wrote how he too had made many young boys and girls’ devotees of Krishna, and the parents of these youth had cursed him to never stay at one place. As a result, although he had many opulent palaces all around the world, still, he constantly travelled and never stayed at one place for long.
To be continued…