Founder Acharya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
First I would like to offer my sincere prayers, respect and obeisances to all Gurus who showed me the light so that I could walk on the path of Krishna Consciousness.
Oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ śrī-caitanya-mano-’bhīṣṭaṁ sthāpitaṁ yena bhū-tale svayaṁ rūpaḥ kadā mahyaṁ dadāti sva-padāntikam
I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.
Vande ’haṁ śrī-guroḥ śrī-yuta-pada- kamalaṁ śrī-gurūn vaiṣṇavāṁś ca śrī-rūpaṁ sāgrajātaṁ saha-gaṇa- raghunāthānvitaṁ taṁ sa-jīvam sādvaitaṁ sāvadhūtaṁ parijana- sahitaṁ kṛṣṇa-caitanya-devaṁ śrī-rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pādān saha-gaṇa- lalitā-śrī-viśākhānvitāṁś ca
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master and unto the feet of all Vaiṣṇavas. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī along with his elder brother Sanātana Gosvāmī, as well as Raghunātha Dāsa and Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda along with Advaita Ācārya, Gadādhara, Śrīvāsa and other associates. I
offer my respectful obeisances to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and Sri Kṛṣṇa along with their associates Sri Lalitā and Viśākhā.
He kṛṣṇa karuṇā-sindho dīna-bandho jagat-pate gopeśa gopikā-kānta rādhā-kānta namo ’stu te
O my dear Kṛṣṇa, You are the friend of the distressed and the source of creation. You are the master of the gopīs and the lover of Rādhārāṇī. I offer my respectful obeisances unto you.
Tapta-kāñcana-gaurāṅgi rādhe vṛndāvaneśvari vṛṣabhānu-sute devi praṇamāmi hari-priye
I offer my respects to Rādhārāṇī, whose bodily complexion is like molten gold and who is the Queen of Vṛndāvana. You are the daughter of King Vṛṣabhānu, and you are very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ
I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. They can fulfill the desires of everyone, just like desire trees, and they are full of compassion for the fallen souls.
Śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda śrī-advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi-gaura-bhakta-vṛnda
I offer my obeisances to Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, Prabhu Nityānanda, Śrī Advaita, Gadādhara, Śrīvāsa and all others in the line of devotion.
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SRILA PRABUPADA
Srila Prabupada (nick names: Nandu, Kachorimughi, Nandu Lal, kocha) was Born on 1 September 1896, under a jack fruit tree, the day after Janmastami ,in a humble house of Calcutta in a Bengali Kayastha family. He was named Abhay Charan (Meaning: One who is
fearless, having taken shelter at Lord Krishna’s feet). His parents, Sriman Gour Mohan De and Srimati Rajani De were devout Vaishnavas.
Srila Prabupada father Gour Mohan wanted Vaishnava goals for his son; he wanted Abhay to become a servant of Radharani, to become a preacher of Bhagavatam. He regularly received sadhus in his home, and he would always ask them, “Please bless my son so that Srimati Radharani may be pleased with him and grant him her blessings.” This is the lesson for all of us how to up bring our children in this crazy world of birth and death, of envy, lust and pride by giving them the right knowledge of Krishna Consciousness at the very early age and make them devotees of the Lord.
Srila Prabupada father making Kachori for him at night at 10 pm, and refusing to give his son chicken soup when he was having typhoid and thinking let him die rather than having soup shows how much love he had for his son and same time his determination not to break the religious principle at any cost by giving chicken soup to his son is really appreciative. The seed of Bhakti or devotional service to the Lord Krishna was implanted in young Abhay’ heart at an early age itself. This can be proven when plague was affecting Calcutta some Sadhu’s did Harinam Kirtan, people from all walks of life, all religion joined the Kirtan. Young Abhay Charan who was 4 years old participated in that Kirtan.
Today the whole world became God consciousness only because of Prabupada. Before Prabupada came in 1965 to America so many swamis, so many yogis, sadhus, educated persons came to spread about word of god but it was not effective. When Bhagavad Gita was given to the whole world that time people became god consciousness. Prabhupad translated the Gita and other scriptures in simple English that everyone could understand the deeper meaning.
Srila Prabhupada was alone as he arrived in America in 1965. But he was filled with faith in Krishna and determination to establish Krishna consciousness in the West and thus fulfill the desire of his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Srila Prabhupada was convinced that devotional service to Lord Krishna is life’s goal and that to engage others in devotional service is the highest welfare activity. And these convictions drove him in his traveling and preaching on behalf of his spiritual master and Krishna. Even though he faced lots of difficulties, oppositions to spread the love of god in a godless world still he decided to spread Krishna conscious around the world. That shows his tolerance, kindness and unflinching determination of a pure devotee of Lord Krishna because of that most of the people in this whole world became Vaishnava’s like American’s, Europeans etc. As Caitanya-caritāmṛta states, kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana: “Only one empowered by Lord Krishna can actually spread the chanting of Hare Krishna around the world.” At his birth, he said, an astrologer had predicted that at age seventy he would leave India and establish many temples”.
Why is it important to talk about a Guru
There is an important verse from Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4. Verse 34.
Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā upadekṣyanti Te jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.
Krishna says that if we want to understand the truth we have to understand from, the person who had understood the truth that is “GURU”. If a person does not represent Krishna in pure sense then that person is not a guru that he should be rejected. Example from scripture is Bali Maharaja rejected Sukracharya, who did not give right instruction, when Vishnu came in disguise as a Vamana. The main qualification of a guru is to give right instruction and lead us to Krishna. Nor by independent study of books of knowledge can one progress in spiritual life. One has to approach a bona fide spiritual master to receive the knowledge. Such a spiritual master should be accepted in full surrender, and one should serve the spiritual master like a menial servant, without false prestige. Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret of advancement in spiritual life. Inquiries and submission constitute the proper combination for spiritual understanding. Unless there is submission and service, inquiries from the learned spiritual master will not be effective. One must be able to pass the test of the spiritual master, and when he sees the genuine desire of the disciple, he automatically blesses the disciple with genuine spiritual understanding. In this verse, both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned
In fact all scriptures says that:
Sakshad-dharitvena samasta-shastrair uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhihi kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya vande guroh sri-charanaravindam
The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bonafide representative of Sri Hari [Krishna].
According to this slokha Guru should be worshipped like how we would worship Krishna. If we have the opportunity to see Krishna and Guru we should bow or do our obeisances to Guru first. Without guru there is no question of Krishna because only a Guru can show the light. Anyone who follow the footsteps of Guru and give us light are called as Shiksha Gurus and Deeksha gurus. Anyone who gives Shiksha in the footsteps of Deeksha guru (initiating Spiritual master) is also called as Shiksha gurus. The reason why we give importance to Guru is the term “Gur” means heavy. He can keep us in balance (like a paper weight kept on papers). If guru is not heavy he is not Guru then he is a Lagu.
Srila Prabupada is not an ordinary guru but Jagath Guru. He is the Founder Acharya (one who lays down rules and regulations) He revolutionized the whole world with Krishna consciousness by giving Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) by uttering that people made imminent progress. We are all coming from different backgrounds like meat eating background, worshipping Demigods and all still Prabupada gave this mantra freely to everyone, taught us the importance of Chanting in this age of Kali and following the 4 regulative principles ( No meat eating, No illicit sex, No gambling, No intoxication) to attain purity. Lord Chaitanya says if a person chant Hare Krishna mantra or say the name Krishna once he is considered as a Vaishnava.
How much struggle Srila Prabupada went through to give Krishna Consciousness to the people of West. The land of America where all regulative principles are broken. He sailed to the United States in 1965. Prabupada could have enjoyed a retirement life but at the age of 70 he crossed the ocean to come to the west to deliver fallen souls. In fact he was living in Vrindavan, the holiest of all places. And he left that place, first to come to Bombay and then to go on cargo ship with hardly any money. When we go back and forth from India to America, we fly in airplanes that take less than one day; and we have a place to go when we get off of that plane. Srila Prabhupada was not even on a passenger ship. He was on a freighter. The only treasure he had is repeating the words of his Guru Deva, simply chanting the holy name and that will attain perfection of life. He had such a huge responsibility, patience, austerity, a painstaking commitment to give this Krishna conscious to the people and make them stop all this nonsense and make them accept the path of bhakti, making them understand the importance of chanting, how to worship Krishna, how to do Aarathi in a simple way ( If Prabhupad had taught us all the 64 elements of Aarathi we would have gone discouraged), the importance of Ratha Yatra ( Started in San Francisco, California), the importance of celebrating festivals like Janmastami, Balaram Jayanthi and other festivals, making our life colorful and meaningful, if these things were not there, we would have nothing only watching Television and sitting in front of computer. It is said every step is a dance in spiritual world. Every word is a song in spiritual world, we have to take the process of Krishna Consciousness which Prabupada made easy for us.
Then through his laborious actions he actually changed the hearts of millions. Srila Prabupada taught that the disciples and the spiritual master are never separated, because the spiritual
master always keeps company with the disciple, as long as the disciple follows the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of “Vani”. Physical presence is called “Vapu”. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciples should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.
Prabhupad knew he did not have much time. In the twelve years from his arrival in New York until his final days, he:
• Circled the globe many time giving his valuable lectures
• Initiated many disciples, awarding sannyasa initiations.
• Introduced Vedic Gurukul education to a Western audience
• Directed the founding of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, which claims to be the world’s largest publisher of ancient and classical Vaishnava religious texts
• Authored more than eighty book on Vedantic philosophy, religion, literature and culture
• Introduced international celebrations such as Jagannatha Processions
• Watched ISKCON grow to more than 108 temples, various institutes, and farm communities
• Translated over sixty volumes of classic Vedic such as the Bhagavad Gita, Chaitanya Charitamrita and Srimad Bhagavatam in to English language. Prabhupada reminded his devotees before his death that he would live forever in his books, and through them would remain present as a spiritual master or Guru. He considered printing press more than anything important.
• Believed that his books will deliver the whole world. Even if people give up Krishna consciousness in future his books had the power to revive them back to Krishna consciousness. It is said in Srimad Bhagavatam that if all the knowledge is lost in the world, if Bhagavatam remains then nothing is lost. These books are his heart and his best service to Lord Krishna
Srila Prabupad spent his last days in his Vṛndavana residence. Abstaining from food in his last months, he taught exemplary lessons in how a human being should ready himself to leave his body and return to the eternal spiritual world by always chanting and hearing about Lord Krishna. And by allowing his disciples to associate intimately with him in these last days, he taught final instructions in love, a love that endures beyond death.
It is said that Lord Caitanya travelled only India to spread the message of Krishna Consciousness. Maha Prabhu could have delivered the whole world instantly by his will but he choose his Senapathi Bhakta to deliver the fallen souls all over the world so that his Bhakta could get all the credit. This is similar to what happened in Bhagavad Gita where Krishna could have killed everyone in the Battle of Kurukshetra but he allowed Arjuna to do so .Krishna wanted his true devotee to get all the credit. Actually it is a taboo one is not supposed to cross
the ocean they will be excommited from the society but still Prabupada took all the risk and came to rescue the fallen souls.
Why do we celebrate the Appearance day and Disappearance day of a Guru
The Birthday of a Guru is called as Appearance day because they are the empowered souls who had come to this earth on his own accord seeing the suffering of fallen souls like us and wanted to relieve us from the sufferings of this material world and to uplift us, liberate us, take us back to Krishna. Prabupada was not force to take birth like us. We had some karma we have to get rid of it that is why we are born in this material world. It is foolish to think they are born here.
The day that Srila Prabupada ceased to be visible to our mortal eyes as he attained the eternal world of Lord Krishna is celebrated as the Disappearance day. On this day the devotees gather at the temple to offer their tributes to Srila Prabupada to glorify his mission to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world to people who were addicted to material life and made them saintly persons. That is why we don’t differentiate between appearance day and disappearance day. Prabhupad is still alive like before. If we ask Prabupad disciples they will say that they can still communicate with him though their heart directly. He still lives in his books.
There are several incidents where people read Prabupad’s book without any help from a preacher or a devotee and their heart getting transformed. One such example is of a thief who got in to a house to steal, but got a Bhagavad Gita accidently kept on the table, he started to read it since any way he stole it, his heart finally got transformed and became a devotee, and now he is a preacher. This shows that when we read Srila Prabupad’s books we are directly associating with Prabubad so he is actually present so whatever talents we have we have to use it in the service of Krishna. There is a beautiful song composed by one of Srila Prabupad’s disciple HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj “Yadi Prabhupada na haita tabe ki haita ……” which describes if Srila Prabupad had not come, what would have happen, how could we have passed our life, who else would have distributed the unlimited mercy of Lord Nitayanada and Lord Gauranga all over the world. This is so true. We are so fortunate to get this opportunity in our life to cultivate our bhakti, to have association with devotees, to do various devotional services in the temple, To Chant Hare Krishna Maha mantra which will eventually purify and liberate us from the cycle of birth and death.
Past Times of Prabhupad
There are so many wonderful pastimes of Srila Prabhupad. One such story is that Srila Prabhupad travelling to South America with his two servants. This story can be divided in to two parts. First part is the temple where they’d been gave them a packed lunch for the plane, so in the air Srutakirti Prabhupad’s servant opened Prabhupad’s lunch pack and served him his prasadam of puffed rice and peanuts. Prabhupad had his fill and handed over the remnants to Srutakirti who’d just began eating when the lady air hostess comes over and in one motion says that looks tasty and grabs a handful throws it in her mouth. Prabhupad smiled, Srutakirti was somewhat shocked. She then asked why bring your own food. Srutakirti informed her that
they are vegetarians etc. She immediately said is there anything else I can get you, fruit milk? Prabhupad said “Hot milk”. Five minutes later she returned with three cups of hot milk she got from First class. Prabhupad thanked her and the devotees discussed among themselves Prabhupad remarking that it is a natural nature of a pious woman to serve……. Anyway over the years this had become one of Srutakirti’s favorite Prabhupad past time to tell
Anyway now the second part of this story is that , he was recently again in South America doing a preaching tour enlivening devotees there and he told that story in Brazil. Afterward one devotee came up to him and asked would Srutakirti Prabhu like to hear an amazing story? This devotee was out in some remote village going door to door selling books when he knocked on a door a lady opened the door wearing tilak. She then invited the devotee in and her house was like a little temple, an altar with Deities, pictures on the walls and all of Prabhupad’s books in Portuguese in her bookshelf. The devotee just had to ask her how she became a devotee……. She said she used to be an airline hostess some years ago and she met the author of these books, he was so saintly and gentle and kind that she looked up who he was and what he did from his boarding pass name. She then got some of his books and began to read, they said to chant so she chanted and offer her food to Krishna, so she did all that and became a devotee from that small contact. Srutakirti got surprised, while at the same time understood the potency of Prasadam and even a moment’s association with a pure devotee like Srila Prabhupad.
Srila Prabhupada lived amongst the most fallen people of the West and personally spoon fed them to give them God Consciousness. Now it is our duty to walk in the footsteps shown by our Shikha Gurus and Deeksha Guru, to follow their instruction, Give importance to our Saddhana like chanting Hare Krishna Maha mantra to purify ourselves, read Prabupad’s book- he is still there to guide us, we will be able to feel his presence in our heart by reading his book and finally when our last moments come we will surely be able to think of Krishna and go back to Goloka-our eternal abode-never to come back to this material world of suffering.