THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY IKSVAKU DAS, A SENIOR DISCIPLE OF ACHARYADEVA.
By Krishna’s grace, during the month of February, I had the opportunity to travel and do some service for Srila Acaryadeva while on his trip from Uvalde, Texas to San Luis Obispo, California.
Something very unique about Acharyadeva’s personality is that, despite his many activities, he is constantly absorbed in thoughts of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna and in his unconditional service, with a genuine detachment from the material world.
Acaryadeva commented that Krishna revealed to him that his most important service is writing. He had many intense programs in Houston and other places, where he literally left in ecstasy after preaching and attending many people, especially young and intelligent students that were very interested in his presentation. Nevertheless, a few days after this he was exhausted. He felt that he practically lost all his strength, so he understood that Krishna wants him to continue his literary work. This kind of preaching will assuredly reach millions of people of many coming generations, and not just a limited group of people that would attend a determined spiritual program of 30 or 50 people. What he is preparing is definitely a Maha Brihad Mrindanga.
On the route from Ugalde to Sanderson, Texas, he kindly commented on some passages of Mahabaratha so that I could understand his interesting academic approach to this great literature so that the most intelligent people of society can feel attracted and inspired by its reading.
Acaryadeva is a person that thoroughly depends on the mercy of the Lord. I cooked some brown rice and some steamed vegetables in the preaching center of San Antonio. During the trip, since there were almost no facilities to cook, Acaryadeva ate the same rice for two or three days along with other very simple things. He keeps a very healthy and simple diet, and he eats very measurably. He gets up very early to begin his sadhana and service. He is a genuine sadhu of the 21st century.
During his daily walks, sometimes very long ones, he would absorb himself in the Holy Name, although he would occasionally make some comments, sometimes philosophical, sometimes informal. Every time he would hear an ambulance, he would raise his hands in sign of prayer, with great emotion, and he would say, “What a shame. There goes a suffering soul.” On another occasion, in Alpine, Texas, two puppies had their heads stuck in a fence. When he saw them, he immediately went back and we tried to help them release themselves until some neighbors arrived. Acaryadeva waited until the puppies were completely liberated- beyond mukti, I think.
Sometimes, when he was relaxed, he would discuss some interesting cultural topics. For example, one day the topic of Jane Austen came up. I told him that one of my favorite authors was Leo Tolstoy. He made a very interesting Krishna-conscious comment about that. He told me that, unlike the books of Tolstoy (who regretted writing a few of the things he had written later in his old age), in Jane Austen’s books, you can’t even imagine that a protagonist could commit adultery, not even mentally. This is contrary to the Tolstoy’s novel, Ana Karenina, where the protagonist is an adulterer, or in Tolstoy’s novel, War and Peace, where a young woman protagonist longs for the company of a married man. This never happens in Jane Austen’s books. Her reading really promotes elevated values. Interestingly, she never got married and lived like a brahmacarini. What I would like to emphasize with this is that Acaryadeva’s very healthy and valid, yet so-called “distractions,” have a high level of culture and they promote values according to Krishna consciousness- like also the case of Bach or Handel, who are musicians preferred by Srila Acaryadeva and whom both agreed that music not intended for God´s pleasure is useless.
On another occasion in Alpine, one day in the morning, he said in a very jovial mood that he had finished some important manuscripts. To see him writing for hours is a very common scene in the life of Acaryadeva. He accepts his service to Srila Prabhupada as the most important and essential part of his life.
An amusing anecdote is that one day we were walking on a snowy path in the freezing mountains of Lone Pine, California. He was stepping on firm snow, and I over melting snow. As we were walking, Acaryadeva was chanting the Holy names and suddenly he said something that I didn’t get, so I thought it was about the scenery of something, so I thought it wasn’t appropriate to interrupt him by asking him what he had said. Seconds later, I had a “mystical” fall, better than those in Jiu Jitsu. He turned around very calmly and said, “that’s why I told you better not to walk there.”
Once in the evening, after reciting his gayatri mantra at the base of the mountain, he suddenly got very serious and with great intensity said, “We can’t be hypocrites. We must serve and meditate on Krishna, who is our Great Master, and Srila Prabhupada, who is His transcendental general. We must do something to help save the world; military discipline.”
So the life of Acaryadeva is a life full of Krishna consciousness, an example of simple life and high thinking, a life of full absorption in the service of his most beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, a pure and transparent life.
Literally, by the grace of Krishna, he found a very nice place to execute his service in Santa Monica, California, very close to the Los Angeles ISKCON temple of Rukmini-Dvarkadish, for whom Acaryadeva has very special feelings for. I accompanied him for several days looking for a proper place, not finding it, because in Santa Monica the places for rent are so desirable that owners renting them do not even answer the calls. On one of those searching walks, he saw a nice place and a telephone number and said, “I’ll call just as a matter of duty.¨ Acaryadeva called and a Russian fellow mystically answered the call. After all the bad experiences of nobody answering nor returning our messages, it was as if a miracle. Amazingly, he was just a few doors away from the building so he came to show us the place. Acaryadeva saw it and liked it, and a plus was that the place was in the process of renovation so that everything- bathrooms, windows, carpets, etc- will be new. The apartment is nicely located and the rent is much lower that the standard prices there. Acharyadeva filled out the application and played some ping pong (there was a ping pong table in the office) with the Russian guy who seemed to like Acaryadeva a lot.
From there we went to San Luis Obispo so that Acaryadeva could wait for the complete renovation of his apartment. Acaryadeva likes San Luis Obispo because the people there are very gentle and highly educated and because there are lot of libraries and health food stores.
When I had to fly back to Leon, Mexico, I traveled by train from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. Acaryadeva, in a very gentleman-like way, took me to the train and even got on it to say goodbye in a very joyful and kind manner. My conclusion after spending some days with him is that the message of Lord Caitanya, in this age of globalization, is truly and pragmatically protected in his hands.
Thank you, Acaryadeva, for tolerating me during this time.