Concluding Words

perfect questions, perfect answers1

Continuing with our series of a True account entitled Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers… A search for meaning carries Bob Cohen, a young American Peace Corps worker halfway around the world, to an ancient village in the midst of West Bengal. There, in a small bamboo hut, he finds a teacher who is able to tell him everything he ever wanted to know.

This is the finial installment, the last chapter in the book, and the concluding words are written by Bob, who later became initiated by Srila Prabhupada and was given the name Brahmatīrtha dāsa.

Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

Concluding words

On July 19, 1976, His Divine Grace Śrīla Prabhupāda accepted my wife and me as his disciples and initiated us with the names Bhakti-devī dāsī and Brahmatīrtha dāsa. As I reflect back on that day, I can see how fortunate I was to have met His Divine Grace and my Godbrothers in the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement.

When I was handed my beads at initiation, I promised to follow the regulative principles and to chant God’s names daily. Four years previously, Śrīla Prabhupāda had advised me to follow these principles, and within six months, he said, I could be like the other devotees; all unnecessary things (anarthas), such as mundane movies and restaurants, would cease to attract me. “The whole human life is meant for purification,” he said. I was interested in being purified, even though I did not really know what purification meant. I had gone to India with the Peace Corps hoping to find a higher level of consciousness. I could not believe that satisfying the senses was the all in all, yet I myself was bound by the senses. Later I could understand that yoga means becoming free from the dictation of the senses.

Upon returning to America, I started graduate school in geology, got married, and became somewhat entangled in domestic responsibilities, but I would very often think of my conversations with Śrīla Prabhupāda and of his instructions. One of his primary instructions was simply to associate with the devotees, and this I gladly did. Devotees are different: by understanding that loving service to the Supreme Lord is the goal of life, they avoid getting caught up in the petty affairs of sense gratification and false ego. Visiting the temple was most refreshing. Gradually, my wife and I became friends with many devotees and wanted somehow to do some service for the movement. I sponsored a bhakti-yoga club at the university, and our apartment served as a way station for traveling parties of devotees.

As we followed Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions, even our eating became purified. In India I had told Śrīla Prabhupāda that I could not offer my food as the devotees do because I did not understand that Kṛṣṇa is God. So he told me simply to thank God for my food before eating. This we did, and finally our devotion matured, and we started actually offering our food to the Supreme Lord. What a wonderful feeling, to be cooking for the Supreme Lord! This actually freed us from the control of the tongue.

Finally, we were ready to become involved fully in temple life. By Kṛṣṇa’s grace, I obtained a job near a temple in Texas and began to take part in all the temple programs. In this way, all the anarthas disappeared, just as Śrīla Prabhupāda had predicted. It was like having a burden lifted from our shoulders. We were no longer servants of our senses, but servants of God and His devotees. The value of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions had become clear. A human being is not meant to labor like an ass and enjoy like a dog. Purification means coming to a higher level of consciousness.

Even though I have been initiated, I still admire my Godbrothers’ spiritual awareness and wish to advance. Actually, initiation is the beginning.

Brahmatīrtha dāsa Adhikārī
(Bob Cohen)

Houston, Texas
October 16, 1976

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