This statement reveals the humility of Srila Prabhupada. Although he is the Founder Acarya of a worldwide Organization, he never considers himself to be the best of the Vaishnavas; rather he considers himself unqualified and insignificant. This is one of the shining characteristics of great souls.
Great souls see smallness in themselves and greatness in others. Small souls consider themselves the best devotees. A Kanishtha Adhikari feels, “I am the best devotee.” “atmano bhakti darpatah”. Thus his devotion is like a raw mango. When one becomes pure at heart, their humility tastes like a ripe Mango.
Once when a man challenged Srila Prabhupada, “You are talking about first class, second class and fourth class etc. What class do you belong to?” Srila Prabhupada humbly said, “I am a servant of all classes.”
Thus it can be seen that although Srila Prabhupada used to preach boldly, he was simultaneously experiencing deep humility in his heart. He criticized culture of sense gratification in the West, but he lived in bowery to deliver those whom he criticized as living like cats and dogs, by paving way for their deliverance. This is Prabhupada’s humility. There are many proud brahmanas in India who criticize dog eaters and cow-eaters, but did nothing to deliver them. Such pride arises from a sense of superiority. On the contrary, Prabhupada’s criticism of godless civilization arises from his compassion in the core of his heart.
When I preach, I realized that a sense of superiority over those to whom I preach, sneaks into the heart without our knowing it. And when that grows in size, it leads to argumentation, arrogance, harshness towards juniors, self-righteousness considering, “I can never be wrong” etc. The moment I realized it is doing no good, I found the root of this bad quality – false pride or unnecessary pride – which Prahlada was free from. When I searched for a solution in SB, I found the verse, `dambham mahad upasaya’ [SB 7.15.23], by serving great souls like Srila Prabhupada and other pure devotees who are his successors, I can get access to their humility. By observing their humility in various situations, I slowly started developing a desire to cultivate such humility. That is why one should always keep a watch on not allowing anarthas like pride to creep in, in the name of bold preaching.
Reading the statements of Srila Prabhupada in this section of Dhruva maharaja going back to Godhead is really heart-rending and humbles me, helping me to see my insignificance. Also it teaches me, how I should consider those who come to learn from me as my prabhus and not consider them inferior to me.
The above article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 4.1-14), by Radheshyam Dasa, to the question: “I am crippled in many ways, if one of my disciples becomes as strong as Dhruva maharaj, then he will be able to carry me with him to Vaikuntha loka.” – Present your thoughts and learning on reading this statement by Srila Prabhupada?”