This morning at the barn Mother Kaulini was talking to me about the current trend amongst devotees to use “namo namah” and “Sri Guru Jayatah” in emails as opposed to the good old-fashioned “Please accept my humble obeisances” and “Jaya Srila Prabhupada.”
Mother Kaulini, who’s mood of “strict with oneself, lenient with others” is the example I struggle to follow, became very animated while talking on this subject. She gesticulated and shook her head back and forth in disbelief. Usually Mother Kaulini is very grave in the sense that she is hard to read, but there was no mistaking her disapproval this morning.
“When the servant starts thinking he knows more than the master, than this is a big problem.”
She continued, “These things are very, very subtle.” Citing a class she just heard on her iPod, she related how Prabhupada said that he is not very learned in all this fancy sanskrit.
Mother Kaulini’s position was clear. Srila Prabhupada set the example and we shouldn’t become so puffed up to think that his example is not good enough for us. There will be no advancement if we harbor this offensive mentality. By disregarding Prabhupada’s example, we disregard his mercy, too.
Mother Kaulini has lived at Gita Nagari for 31 years continuously. I think she joined 3 years prior to moving here. Definitely, she is an example of what it means to be fixed.
I was thinking about her words and agreed, but thought maybe it was a bit fundamental. The times they are a changing, as the saying goes. I mentioned how one devotee, a committed practitioner and an intellectual scholar, has taken to writing “obeisance” as opposed to “obeisances.” The former isn’t in the dictionary.
In a way I can see his point. While I prefer the early 70’s sounding “Jaya Swami Prabhupada,” I understand that everyone may not be as inspired as I am by invoking the mood of the early days. For preaching, he needs to sound erudite. By accepting a position in academia, he may have to replace devotee jargon with academic jargon. What could be the harm in a minor adjustment?
After the barn, I went home and was hanging laundry. And that is when I remembered that pastime of a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja who took a book to the printer. (Of course, maybe the story is not about a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja….my memory is not so good. If anyone would like to post the real story…that would make me so happy…) The printer tells the devotee, “this word here, it is not in the dictionary, you need to change it.” The disciple replies that if the word is not in the dictionary, than the dictionary needs to be changed.
The lesson here is simple. Do we want to be Dictionary das or Prabhupada das?
I appreciate Mother Kaulini’s stalwart devotion to Srila Prabhupada. She is one of the few devotees I have met who are able to maintain this mood of complete dedication to Srila Prabhupada while staying open-hearted to all Vaisnavas.
Someone else may express these same sentiments that Mother Kaulini expressed to me this morning, but their motivation may not be the same. Truly concerned and in the mood of a well-wisher, Mother Kaulini’s critique of this social phenomena is not meant as a personal criticism directed towards any one individual. Rather, she has seen so much in her time as a devotee and simply wants to safegaurd the devotees and the movement from Maya’s offensive.
Mother Kaulini is such an exemplarary soul. I don’t think anyone can quite compare to her specific uniqueness. She has remained so simple, perfecting her devotional service at Gita Nagari, despite so many external changes and challenges. She serves Krishna without hesitation. Her dedication to Prabhpada is unquestionable.
That is why she is able to love all the Vaisnavas so freely.