I write this homage or rather glorification of HG Uttama Caitanya prabhu, my Friend, Confidante, Spiritual Mentor and Temple President with a heavy heart, filled with deep sorrow. I never even imagined that this day would come....so soon.
Many a times he would invite me to speak on the Vyasa Puja or Disappearance day celebrations of the spiritual masters and I would say, ‘You better be around to say something nice about me when I die” and he would grin and give me that huge open eyed mocking stare, but now, here I am endeavouring to express my heartfelt loss for this wonderful personality where words will indeed not suffice. Nevertheless, I wish to attempt glorifying him the best way I know how....from my heart.
I met Uttama prabhu at Jeyanthi mataji’s husband’s office opening ceremony in 2002. He was performing the prayers and acknowledged my presence with a nod. When I met mataji later that day, she told me that her Temple President asked her to make sure I got lots of prasad...halva. He was astute from the very beginning.
On my first visit to Sri Jaganath Mandir, he was giving a Bhagavad Gita class which I felt completely related to me. After that he approached me and asked me what I thought about the class, to which I replied, “I felt the class was for me, was it prabhu?” and he replied, “well if you feel that way, then yes, it was for you” This was the beginning of our ‘spiritual connection’. He had the amazing ability to gage my spiritual needs and reached out sincerely and mercifully to fulfil them.
I cannot but wholeheartedly agree with all the devotees about the wonderful qualities and attributes possessed by this vaisnava. By the dint of his causeless mercy, I found my shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON once again. He immediately engaged me in devotional service when we met for the first time. On our second meeting, he promised me that if I engaged in devotional service in Sri Jaganath Mandir, I will never leave ISKCON and that I will be spiritually situated once again, after my 18 year absence in the movement. He fulfilled that promise and he walked the spiritual journey with me until he safely placed me at the lotus feet of my spiritual master, HH Bhakti Charu Swami.
Uttama prabhu wore many hats in my relationship with him. The one he wore the most was that of a friend and confidante. He would take time to speak on the pastimes of the Lord, Vrajadhama, Govardhana and many views of what he had read about. He was an avid reader and always had the need to share his knowledge and express himself in a very profound way with devotees.
He was quite a profound person with deep insight into the teachings of the scriptures and Vedic edicts. This was the case when he gave amazing classes. Nevertheless I used to almost scold him for giving classes that stretched for more than an hour and left us mentally exhausted in the heat of the Temple Hall!. That was his mood and like everyone else I tend to think now that he was trying to give as much as possible in this one life time.
He personally helped me organize my Guru Maharaj’s Vyasa Pujas and gave me all the support of a senior devotee and Temple President in the last 7 years. The years when I was away in Ujjain, Prabhuji was my connection to SJMKL and our beautiful Deities. He would describe Sri Jaganatha with such love and reverence. He was very very attached to Them. I used to tell him that I loved the Deity dressing on Tuesdays the most, not knowing that it was his duty to dress Them on that day. He used to laugh in his usual loud manner and say, “oh...I don’t dress Them so opulently....I like to see Them dressed simple and sweet, like Krishna and Balaram”. Many a time he would say, “You know mataji, I would love to see lots and lots of long pearl strands on Gaura Nitai just like how they dress Krishna Balaram in Vrindavan”.That was his mood...that of a Vrajabasi.
I could write so much about this very loved person, how he thought me how to make pancamrita for abhisek, draft newsletters, cut oranges the correct way, so many things but what remains etched in my heart is how he would find the time, look for another prabhu to accompany him to visit me in my home when I was suffering from cancer.
He would bring with him Sri Jaganath’s garland, prasad and tulsi for spiritual strength to persevere. He brought me an MP3, recorded my Gurudev’s lectures and music to engage my mind, he would give me VCDs and say, “Mataji watch this Nimai of Nadia on your own and feel the love of Mahaprabhu and I guarantee you that your heart will melt and you will weep”. He would literally blast me when I was in a mental state, console me when I was lamenting, teach me the art of being focused and diligent in my devotional service....the list just goes on.
I am determined to make his demise a source of inspiration and guide so that I am able to fulfil his many expectations of me as a devotee. He wanted that I always kept my focus on Srila Prabhupada, that I serve my Guru with unflinching faith and that I detach myself from the influence of quarrel, pettiness and spiritual narrow mindedness that may impede on my spiritual growth. He always wanted that I take the mood of my Guru Maharaj and give genuine affection and care to others around me and bring them to Krishna Consciousness. He wanted me to always write and express myself and my realizations like my Gurudev.
I pray to Sri Radhesyam that I may be empowered to fulfil his wishes and imbibe the teachings and practices of a sincere vaisnava.
My dearest Uttama Prabhu, I will miss your funny faces and big white teethed grins. I will miss your teasing and merry making. I shall miss your divine association and spiritual energy that permeates in your very presence. I shall miss your ‘haribols’ and not so funny jokes. I shall even miss your out of tune kirtans and hearing you sing your favourite bhajans. Your absence Prabhuji, has left a deep void in my life but I am convinced that you are already in the embrace of Srila Prabhupada and serving Sri Sri Radha Syamasundar in your original constitutional position in the spiritual world of Goloka Vrindavan, the way you wanted.
Thank you prabhuji for just being you and for enriching my life in so many ways. Please make some arrangement to greet me there in the beautiful abode of the Lord when my time comes too. Until then I shall endeavour to serve vaisnavas with your blessings always in a sincere, honest and caring manner. You would say that in the end of the day, the essence of Krishna Consciousness is love and when the field of the heart is fragrant with love and compassion then we not only are able to give this love genuinely but receive it also many folds, and you are an example of that. By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga I shall begin the fine tuning process on myself.
All Glories to HG Uttama Caitanya das, my Siksa Guru and Friend.
Yours servant in the service of Guru & Gauranga
Chitrangada devi dasi.
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