Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.
Today I came across below interesting article, which was describing the background of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built.
In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before. Without being discouraged, years later when his son Washington became an engineer, both father and son together started the project. They hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge. The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to walk or talk or even move.
“We told them so.”
“Crazy men and their crazy dreams.”
“It’s foolish to chase wild visions.”
Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever. He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment. It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife which she passed on to the engineers.
For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal. Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realized with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are.
Our Guru Maharaj, Srila Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj too was practically old and invalid by the time he started the world tour about 20 years ago. He had a great vision following in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada and all our stalwart acaryas to unite the entire world through the medium of devotional service. His spiritual projects, his preaching tours, his wisdom and realizations of Bhagavatam, his love of care for all the living entities, his determination and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission has attracted living entities all over the world and turned them into committed devotees. When Gurudev was physically present in this world, we could always gain so much strength from him just by seeing him, hearing from him. Now after his apparent physical absence, we don’t have that luxury. But still by taking shelter of his instructions and doing our sadhana properly we will still be able to hear him and do service to please him. The son in the story did not give up after his father left, but with determination and persistence continued the mission (in spite of himself being bed-ridden due to the accident and in spite of discouragement from others) and was able to complete the mission of the father to build the marvellous bridge. Similar manner it is very important that we don’t give up or slacken in our sadhana and service and always remember the instructions of spiritual master and try our level best to follow it. Material energy is always there and so we will keep getting so many challenges. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita verse 9.14
satatam keertayanto maam / yatantash ca drdha-vrataah namasyantash ca maam bhaktyaa / nitya-yuktaa upaasate
“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.”
For those of us who had met Maharaj even once, we would have seen how Gurudev was doing satatam keertana – He spent every breath of his for Krishna, either chanting Lord’s name or speaking about Bhagavatam. He performed this with great determination (drdha vrataa) – that many times devotees and doctors were completely baffled and taken by the limit upto which he extended himself even when his body was completely not co-operating with him. The phrase namasyantas means bowing down before Lord. Even at the age of 90, Gurudev inspite of suffering from paralytic attacks etc, always offered full dandavat pranams to Lord. Also he used to respect all living entities with great respect, even to people who those don’t provide him proper respect.
I was listening to one of Maharaj’s lectures today where in Gurudev said – "Atleast for one’s own self interest and peace of mind, we should not disrespect others, but just offer all respect to them." Simply following this instruction will save so much of our precious time and we can use it positively in the service of the Lord. Our devotional service to the Lord depends only on how much we sincerely desire to serve Guru and Krishna and not on how any other person in the world thinks about us. If our eagerness is there to serve Guru and Krishna, and we surrender to Them by sincere sadhana, then in spite of all negative circumstances, Guru and Krishna will definitely lift us from the dark bottomless pit where we are present now and help us cross over the bridge of material ocean and if They so wish, by Their mercy we can even become tiny instrument in helping other living entities cross the bridge.
The man in the story only built material bridge. But our founder acarya His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is a living example for person with complete determination, persistence. He built a spiritual bridge to take us from the material world to the spiritual world. He followed the instructions of his dear spiritual master Srila Bhakti Siddantha Saraswathi Maharaj 100% and thats why he was able to achieve such amazing feat. It is very true that we are very very tiny insignificant soul and can never imitate such a great acharya. But we can definitely take inspiration from him and try to follow his instructions and serve Supreme Lord to the best of our capacity.
I pray at the lotus feet of our most merciful spiritual master that we don’t get bewildered or entangled by the miseries of this world, but intensify our devotional service with determination and persistence and behave in manner pleasing to him.