By Niraj Bidawatka
Yesterday, during a visit to a government office for some personal work, when I was sitting in front of the clerk’s table, perusing some documents, one elderly gentleman came near the clerk’s table, where I was sitting, and said something. I thought he was speaking to the clerk, so I did not pay any attention to what he was saying. Moreover I was busy reading something important, so my attention was fixed on the document that I was reading. But then he drew my attention by repeating what he had just said.
He was saying, “I said Hare Krishna.” I thought he was speaking to the clerk, but in fact he was greeting me by saying Hare Krishna. Since I was engrossed in perusing the documents, I didn’t pay attention to what he was saying. In fact, he saw the vaishnava tilak on my forehead and thus having identified me as a Hare Krishna, he greeted me by saying Hare Krishna.
The gentleman broke the ice by saying that he had personally seen Srila Prabhupāda in the 1970s during the Cross-Maidan Festival of Bombay. He said that Prabhupāda was a real sadhu and that he considered him as one of those rare saints who are not after money. Therefore he said that he really admired Prabhupāda. He further informed that when he was Dubai, he used to attend the programs organized by Hare Krishna devotees on Fridays.
So I asked him whether he was chanting Hare Krishna regularly.
He said, “No.”
“So how do you call yourself a bhakti-mārgi,” I counteracted.
Just at the start of the conversation he had bragged that he was also a bhakti-mārgi, i.e. a follower of the path of devotional service, or bhakti.
He gave me his business card and invited me to come to his office so that we could discuss more on the subject. Clearly he was non-committal about the systematic chanting of Hare Krishna.
I meet so many people who appreciate Srila Prabhupāda but I find that they do not follow his instructions. Appreciation of Srila Prabhupāda is indeed a very good and noble act. But real appreciation of the spiritual master is when you start following his instructions. Prabhupāda has instructed all of us to chant a minimum of sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra and he has also directed us to follow the four regulative principles – no meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex and no gambling. So if we really appreciate Prabhupāda, we should follow his instructions also. If we do that, Prabhupāda will be extremely pleased and he will take us back to home, back to Godhead.