Srila Prabhupada

People often write descriptions of Srila Prabhupada based on their values and motivations, and there are many available on-line. Institutionalists will emphasize his corporate organization and its size. Those of party spirit will remind us of which teachings make them appear to be his only true followers. Nevertheless, the essence of what he did and taught and why he was so uniquely empowered by the supreme personality of Godhead, Krishna, has absolutely nothing to do with this world.

Srila Prabhupada’s complete surrender to that Supreme Being provides an actual window, or parting of the world’s darkness and vanity, to the spiritual realm and its consciousness. He made this available to all so that they might begin or continue their journey there. He set the example for how to serve and surrender to the Lord, and he actively engaged his followers in that service so that they might also surrender completely. To realize or know God, one must come to constantly acknowledge His superiority; and proof of that acknowledgement is demonstrated by serving Him, most specifically through His representative, a pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita:

bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
viśate tad-anantaram
“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” Bhagavad-gita 18.55

Krishna consciousness is therefore not just another sectarian belief. It is the science of reawakening ones eternal constitutional spiritual awareness apart from the bodily and mental illusion. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Krishna and founder of the process of reawakening for this age of Kali, the chanting of God’s names, said:

jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya–kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
kṛṣṇera ‘taṭasthā-śakti’ ‘bhedābheda-prakāśa
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa because he is the marginal energy of Kṛṣṇa and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord.” Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya lila 20.108

Because his surrender was so complete, the Lord used Srila  Prabhupada to export pure devotional service to Krishna from India to the rest of the world so that eventually Hare Krishna would become a household world in many countries. Millions got the opportunity to hear the pure holy names of the Lord from him and his disciples, who made steps back to Godhead through his parting of the darkness. Srila Prabhupada was not even slightly interested in creating anything of this world. He came to revolutionize all materialistic mentality through his preaching and translations of Krishna conscious scripture.

tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ṅkitāni yac
chṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
“On the other hand, that literature which is full with descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, form and pastimes of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a transcendental creation meant to bring about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though irregularly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.5.11

Srila Prabhupada’s unique achievements were the result of his being the embodiment of his own spiritual master’s mission and desires, a similarly surrendered devotee who had ordered him to preach Krishna consciousness in English at their first meeting in 1922. That devotee, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, had written:

“The supreme Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya in pursuance of the teaching of the scriptures enjoins all absence of conventionalism for the teachers of the eternal religion. It does not follow that the mechanical adoption of the unconventional life by any person will make him a fit teacher of religion. Regulation is necessary for controlling the inherent worldliness of conditioned souls. But no mechanical regulation has any value even for such a purpose. The bonafide teacher of the religion is neither any product nor the favorer of any mechanical system. In his hands no system has likewise the chance of degenerating is not a lifeless arrangement.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, Putana, Sri Sajjana Tosani or The Harmonist, January 1932

Srila Prabhupada was one of those bonafide teachers. He literally changed the world spiritually. He and his unconventional, extraordinary activities were predicted as long as hundreds of years before his appearance. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself said:

“I want to flood the whole world with the chanting of the holy names. I will personally preach and flood India with harinama sankirtana, chanting of the holy names. And My senapati bhakta (great devotee commander) will come, preach in different countries and flood the world with the chanting of Hare Krishna.” Srila Locana Dasa Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mangala, a biography of Sri Caitanya, written in 1537

Srila Prabhupada was the Lord’s amazing senapati bhakta. Also in 1875, 21 years before his appearance, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada’s father, wrote in his magazine:

“A personality will soon appear to preach the teachings of Lord Caitanya and move unrestrictedly over the whole world with His message.” Sri Sajjana Tosani, Nityananda Suryodoy, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Another incident concerning Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada occurred several decades before Srila Prabhupada came to the West:

“Bhaktisiddhanta lectured to a crowd that had assembled for a parikrama or walking tour of Mayapur, the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. ‘Guru Maharaj was looking out at the large crowd of devotees,’ Nayanananda Das Babaji recalled. ‘Then he turned his head toward the left side where I was standing. He was looking intently at someone behind me and became silent for a long moment. I turned and saw that the person with whom he was making eye contact was Abhay Charanaravinda Prabhu (Srila Prabhupada). “I have a prediction,” Bhaktisiddhanta announced. “However long in the future it may be, one of my disciples will cross the ocean. That devotee will bring back the whole world.”’” Our Srila Prabhupada, a Friend to All 

Srila Prabhupada had helplessly prayed to the great devotees who were the foremost disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the six Goswami’s Srila Rupa and Sanatana, to be able to fulfill his spiritual master’s order to preach to the English speaking world. From an interview with Sripada Hrdayananda Babaji Maharaja, an associate at Radha Damodara temple in Vrindavana, concerning Srila Prabhupada’s residency there just prior to coming to the West:

“At the beginning of the interview, upon being asked if he knew Srila Prabhupada, Babaji Maharaja began to cry. ‘Never have I seen anyone do sadhana like he did. I have lived all my life in Vraja (town of Krishna’s childhood pastimes), and I have never seen anyone like him. Prabhupada did many arduous things, he worked very hard there at the Radha Damodara Temple. At that time, it was austere, undeveloped, and very muddy and dirty with no facilities.’ Weeping, Babaji Maharaja quoted a sloka from Caitanya-caritamrta, from Sanatana Goswami, about the importance of sadhana. Then, quoting Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, he said, ‘Without sadhana one can never attain krsna-prema. Also, prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama… Many years later, when I heard that it was actually he who had been chosen by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to spread the Hare Krsna maha-mantra around the world, I was not surprised. Prabhupada spread this Krsna consciousness by the mercy of Rupa Goswami. Prabhupada used to pray to Rupa Goswami, “You please give me your mercy.” And then he got that mercy. I know that because I saw some things he did at the Radha Damodara temple. My room is still located in the same place as it was in 1964 or 65. Many times in the middle of the night, at midnight, or one or two in the morning I would hear a voice crying from inside the courtyard by Rupa Goswami’s samadhi-mandira. That voice was calling out and crying but I did not know what it was because I was trying to take rest. But one night, on the full moon I heard that voice again, so I climbed up to the roof of our house and looked down into the Radha Damodara courtyard. I saw something very amazing. Srila Prabhupada was sweeping the courtyard of Rupa Goswami’s samadhi. He was bending down with a small broom and, as he swept the ground by the samadhi, he was crying out, “He Rupa! He Sanatana! He Gurudeva! Please give me your mercy. Without your mercy I cannot do anything. Give me the mercy. Give me the strength that I may fulfill your orders.” Then I realized that it was he who almost every night was calling out as he was sweeping like this. The Lord has utilized such an empowered person to spread His mission. Anything like that has to be done with a heavy and strong sadhana. Krishna rewarded him because he had so much nishthaa and shraddha. I have never seen such sadhana and feeling as his.’” Our Srila Prabhupada, a Friend to All

Srila Prabhupada’s devotion and service was thus that of the all-pure residents of Lord Krishna’s Goloka Vrindavana planet in the spiritual sky. The Krishna consciousness movement that he led was alive with enthusiasm for the fruit of surrender to Lord Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission, the vision of that spiritual sky. When it functioned according to Srila Prabhupada’s desires it was also not of this world. The opportunity for that surrender is nevertheless still available. One simply has to hear Srila Prabhupada’s instructions from devotees who are capable of repeating them without addition or subtraction. Please chant:

Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare
Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare

And be happy forevermore! All glories to His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Nitya Lila Pravista 108 Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada!

nama oḿ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine
”I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, who is very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.”

namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe
“Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvatī Gosvāmī. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.”