Unlimited obeisances unto my spiritual masters, Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja and Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja. Pranam to all practicing Vaisnavas everywhere.
One day in 2005 while doing translating of the great works of the previous Vaisnava acaryas in Oahu, Hawaii at the home of Vrndavan das prabhu, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, ‘Srila Gurudeva’, was noticing the BBT calendar on the wall there. Bhudhara prabhu was in the room with him. After some moments, Srila Gurudeva expressed that we should produce a Vaisnava Calendar each year, filled with beautiful transcendental art and listing holy days like Ekadasi, Gaura Purnima, Janmasthami and Sri Radhasthami and all the appearance and disappearance days of the Vaisnava saints, to remind and enliven the devotees in their practice of bhakti all over the world. Bhudhara prabhu said, “Who should do this, Gurudeva?” “Kilimba.. she will do it”, he said. In my heart I know it to be a loving reciprocation by Srila Gurudeva, ensuring I have responsible service that challenges and engages my mind and heart and calls me to interact with the Vaisnavas (for this cannot be done alone!) and by all of that, that I would continue to make progress on this sublime path of suddha-bhakti. I offer my obeisances to such affection and kindness he has shown, in service to Srila Prabhupada and our Sri Rupanuga Guru-varga.
When the first calendar for 2006 was done, full of the latest artwork of Srimati Syamarani Dasi, produced here in California and offered to him in India, a long way from where I was, he expressed his pleasure to my mother who was there: “Oh, that calendar I asked your elder daughter to do, is very successful, and I give to her my highest blessings.” But when I saw him personally in New Braja that year, handing him the donations collected from sales, over 3k, he only expressed pleasure after I had strained to include and glorify any and all devotees who had anything to do with its production and distribution, even though the feeling was that I had mostly struggled alone with it. He said, “I am happy because all have cooperated for this”. That left me with quite a lesson. Imagine the unfortunate head-swelling that is possible if one tries to establish personal credit for something that is all Sri Guru’s mercy in the first place, even if one must struggle to perform the service. The process had been experienced by me as 90% agony, from feeling inept and empty and finding it difficult to find the right prayers, followed by, usually right near the end, that last 10% being the highest ecstatic inner fulfillment of seeing it come together by some obvious infusion of grace, and finally from having served to please a pure devotee, overshadowing the other 90% with faith-enhancing bliss. I feel it is really quite genius of him to award me this service, which draws me nearer to Krsna consciousness.
Once while greeting him in Houston in 2009, with hundreds of devotees present, he emerged from his car and came right over to me. He said, “Everywhere I go, I see that calendar..and it makes me very happy.” My impression from this was that it is a consistently unifying factor for devotees all over the world, that he was happy it was still happening each year, and that somehow he knows what purification I go through to produce it. In that moment I felt my life to be perfect; the relief of divine mercy which descends; the best-ever, root-level feeling. Since the 2013 production, more and more help has been pouring in, and the calendar is thus fuller than ever with the devotional energy and support of many qualified devotees.
This calendar full of stimulus for remembrance is a manifestation of Grace from the heart of a pure devotee. It unifies, enlivens and reminds devotees all over the world of Krsna, coming through the images and holy days which are themselves like divine protectors. For example when we remember it is Ekadasi, or the appearance day of one of the manifestations of the Lord, or the disappearance day of a great Vaisnava Saint, our entire day is transformed into meditation, service and spiritualized consciousness by the grace of that holy day. Although we are all connected to digital devices and have access to the Vaisnava Calendar online, there is something very present, patient and benevolent about this physical reminder hanging on our wall that may attract us unexpectedly into remembrance of the Lord, something our mind may not think of ‘looking up online’. Know that this is the mercy of a pure Vaisnava who, in service to the pure Vaisnavas who came before him, headed by Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, envisioned that we would all have this living reminder of Sri Krsna and Vaisnavas in view always.