Aarti Devi Dasi
United States, Houston
śrī-śrīmad-bhaktivedānta-nārāyaṇa iti nāmine
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-bhaktāya tad-bhaktāya namo namaḥ
My beloved Gurudeva,
Please accept my million-fold obeisances at your divine lotus feet.
Srila Gurudeva, you are a gift of Srila Swami Maharaj to me. I was constantly crying at the lotus feet of Srila Swami Maharaja to bless me with a guru like him, whom I could serve and surrender my life to. I was desperately hankering for personal association of a sadhu who could satisfactorily answer my spiritual questions, clear all the doubts and guide me on the path of pure devotional service to Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. I used to wonder when will the day come when I will meet such a sadhu whose darshan itself will be purifying.
darśane pavitra koro-ei tomāra guṇa
That auspicious day arrived in late 1995 when I first met you, Srila Gurudeva. After I offered my dandavat pranamas at your lotus feet and then as soon as I looked at you, your deep blue mesmerizing eyes and your effulgent face, radiating with intense spiritual aura and a beaming, captivating smile, I felt spontaneous attraction to your divine personality and almost instantly resolved to surrender myself at your lotus feet. My heart was so overwhelmed with a kind of blissful happiness that I had never experienced before. I immediately knew that I belonged to you, and you are my Gurudeva.
At the time of giving me diksha you explained the meanings of the Gayatri mantras very lucidly and in great detail. You explained how the chanting of these mantras bestows the ‘sambandh gyan’ and when one chants the Holy Names with knowledge of one’s eternal relationship with Krsna, the svarupa-siddhi is achieved. In every harikatha and darshan, you emphasized that we should be very clear about the goal of spiritual life and only when we perform bhajan-sadhan with the goal in mind, we can make progress on the path of pure devotion and achieve spiritual perfection. And you clearly explained what that goal is – Radha-dasyam, to aspire to one day become the palya-dasi of Srimati Radhika.
Then you nourished this desire by explaining deep Gaudiya tattva-siddhanta and also describing the transcendental loving pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Krsna. Like an expert painter who creates magic with different colors, you imbued our hearts with the variegated pastimes of Sri Yugal-Kishore and helped us develop a deep greed for them. Isn’t it more amazing than any magic that dry, stone-hearted persons like me could also develop an appreciation for Rupanuga bhajan? Who, other than a nitya-parikar (eternal associate) of Srimati Radhika like you, could perform such magic?
Srila Gurudeva, in early 1996 after my marriage, before I left for Houston, I went to Mathura for your darshans to seek your blessings.You blessed me and said, ”Go and prepare for my visit. I am coming to Houston. Tell everyone you meet that a sadhu is coming from Vrindavan to distribute Krsna-prema. In return he needs nothing, only your sincerity”.
Though I was very young both in age and devotional understanding and had never really preached, as soon as I reached Houston, I wanted to start informing everyone that “my Gurudeva” was coming to town! Vishnu prabhu and I followed your orders and visited the homes of many people to inform them about your upcoming visit. Even though I did not know much about you or the philosophy, by your mercy, I spoke about you as if I had known you from a long time.
Even though I had no qualification to serve you in any capacity, you made me an instrument to plan your first preaching tour to USA with Houston your very first stop. No body other than Vishnu prabhu and I knew much about you. But just hearing about you, several people were eagerly waiting to have your darshans.
Finally, the day came when you arrived in Houston, our hearts were filled with joy! Even though we had no resources (only a small, single bedroom apartment), somehow by your mercy everything got arranged very nicely. You along with your entourage of over twenty-five devotee stayed for almost ten days and drowned everyone in your divine harikatha. Everyone was mesmerized as no one had heard such deep siddhanta explained in such clear and sweet manner.
Srila Gurudeva, you visited Houston every year for next fourteen years and brought spiritual transformation in the lives of so many people whom you rescued from the clutches of maya. By your mercy, the sanga in Houston grew and many large festivals were held in your divine presence. And finally, you laid the foundation of Sri Govindaji Gaudiya Matha by your mercy alone a beautiful temple manifested. You have engaged me in various services at your temple. This positive spiritual engagement has been a blessing for my devotional life. Without this I may have drifted away but now Sri Sri Radha Govindaji have bound me with Their loving glances.
Srila Gurudeva, you have given us blissful Braja-mandal and Navadvipa parikramas. But for these parikramas, I would have never visited hundreds of pastime places of Sri Yugal Kishore and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as well as our acharyas. Attending the parikramas under your guidance and hearing your nectarean harikatha describing the transcendental pastimes at each of the places, left deep, indelible spiritual impressions on my heart. As you told us, Srila Gurudeva, that wherever we may be, we should reside in the dham by our mind. The impressions that the parikramas have created has help me to try and follow this instruction of yours. Without your mercy and taking us on the parikramas, this would not have been possible. Srila Gurudeva, when will that day come that I will pray at your lotus feet -
boḍo kṛpā kori’, gauḍa-vana mājhe,
godrume diyācho sthāna
ājñā dila more, ei braje bosi’,
hari-nāma koro gāna
"O Gurudeva! You have very mercifully given me a place in Godruma within the forests of Śrī Gauḓa-maṇḍala. You have ordered me to dwell in this place which is [non-different from] Vraja and to chant the holy names of Śrī Hari."
Srila Gurudeva, every meeting with you was an ecstatic spiritual celebration. Throughout the year, our lives revolved around either planning for your visit to Houston or planning our next trip to India to meet you. There was such an excitement and spiritual energy in these preparations alone, what to speak of the spiritual intensity we experienced in your physical presence. It is indescribable, one could only experience it. Words are insufficient to describe that transcendental experience. I was always blissful in anticipation of the meeting or when actually meeting your Divine Grace. Now, I am bereft of that divine experience and my heart constantly pines for it. Srila Gurudeva, I pray at your lotus feet that I can meet you again and serve you again.
Srila Gurudeva, you are antaryami and sarvajna – you know the heart of each of your disciple. You said, “I am closer to you than the air you breathe.” So, Srila Gurudeva, you know me better than I know myself. You know all my anarthas even though I tend to feign that I have none. Please be merciful to me and let me see my shortcomings and try to overcome them so that I can become fixed in my devotional practices, become a better devotee and please you by dedicating my life for your service.
Srila Gurudeva, you answer everyone’s prayers. I have experienced it many times. Even though I am so fallen, every time I prayed to you sincerely, you have responded and taken care of me. You are my only protector as I have no other shelter.
Srila Gurudeva, I am not worthy of being your daughter. I don’t know what sukriti or piety I had performed that I got an opportunity to meet you and serve you. I know it’s only your divine, causeless mercy that you gave me shelter at your lotus feet as I had absolutely no qualification. On this auspicious day of your divine 100th appearance, I bow down at your lotus feet again and again to please keep me always under your shelter life after life.
Aspiring for your causeless mercy and eternal service,