By Gokulananda das ACBSP
Lord Caitanya’s magnanimous desire was to bless the whole world with His infinite mercy by displaying His most sublime lila of tasting and widely distributing the supreme fruit of love of God, Krishna prema. He thus desired to engage all willing souls to help Him distribute His sublime gifts everywhere. To fulfill his divine desire, Lord Nityananda Mahajan became the chief distributor of this transcendental harvest of pure love through the chanting of the nectarean Holy Names of Lord Krishna, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. And Lord Nityananda forever continues to fulfill Mahaprabhu’s merciful desire by empowering so many worthy devoted souls with Gaura-shakti, the divine force to awaken bhakti in all hearts.
Among so many glorious dedicated servants of Gaura-Nitai, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur was specially chosen as the perfect transmitter of the pure Gaura-vani to contemporary mankind. Nurtured by his own exalted father Srila Sacidananda Bhaktivinode, he imbibed from him the deepest compassion for all of suffering mankind. He then dedicated every ounce of his life’s energy to propagate pure bhakti through his missionary institution, the Gaudiya Math, with over 60 temples throughout all of India. And he intensely desired to see Mahaprabhu’s divine gifts brought to the rest of the world.
Among his many qualified disciples, one very rare pure soul, Abhay Charanaravinda Das, specially understood his mind’s desire. Abhay took to heart this first and last instruction he received from his great master, as his only life and soul: to deliver the pure message of Sri Caitanyadev to the English-speaking countries. While deepening his own devotion to Lord Caitanya’s teachings, he also prepared himself for the arduous service of his western spiritual mission by taking the sannyas order in 1959, as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. He then began his life’s magnum opus: his enlightening translation into English of the “Granta Raja” (the king of all scriptures), Srimad Bhagavatam.
Thus, in the summer of 1965, at the advanced age of 69, he finally made his historic journey aboard the steamship Jaladuta to the shores of America, carrying with him his rare matchless gifts: the sacred order of his master and his translation of the Bhagavatam. What he was about to accomplish – the world-wide Hare Krishna explosion – is nothing short of miraculous, as the most rapidly expanded spiritual movement in all of history. Let us succinctly explore the salient features of Srila Prabhupada’s very rare empowerment that demonstrate his unique stature as the most effective preacher of the Bhagavat Dharma in the entire history of Vedic culture (within the present Kali-yuga):
Only Srila Prabhupada fearlessly ventured outside of India as the first Vaisnava sannyasi to inject into the materialistic wasteland of America the sublime vision of God’s true identity and our loving connection to Him. Only Srila Prabhupada brought with him to the West the first english edition of the luminous Srimad Bhagavatam, as the formost theistic exposition of God’s supreme Personhood. Only Srila Prabhupada, moved by universal compassion, sat down alone in the midst of decrepid New York City, to chant Hare Krishna for the pleasure of Lord Caitanya and his guru.
Only he lived among the degraded and confused youth of the Lower East Side to mercifully uplift them back to sanity. Only he masterfully injected into their muddled mentality the sacred words of Lord Krishna to begin their progress towards His eternal service. Only he patiently fanned their spark of sincerity to gradually mold the most receptive into his fledging followers. Only he lovingly nurtured their tender creeper of devotion to allow them to become attached to his strict teachings. Only he was empowered to deliver to the world the pure Gaura-vani (from the bona-fide Sarasvata lineage), in its most complete, succinct and accessible form, within his 60 enlightening books of translations of the essential devotional scriptures. Only he could inspire his growing numbers of dedicated disciples to abundantly distribute these unique works of spiritual genius with millions of copies worldwide. Only he is by now the most abundantly printed and read author in history.
Only he devoted himself day and night to propagate the Sankirtan Movement of Lord Caitanya with such intense enthousiasm that his many disciples were inspired to follow his awesome example and also accomplish super-human feats of devotion. Thus Srila Prabhupada was able to establish over 100 temples worldwide in only 11 years. Only Srila Prabhupada, as a fully-realized rasika-guru, could inject into their hearts a deep taste for the Holy Name and a steady desire to also give access to this great blessing to all future generations.
Srila Prabhupada’s contribution to the spiritual progress of humankind remains unequalled within recent history. And that divine force will continue to grow through his greatest legacy: his pure-hearted followers worldwide. The secret of his miraculous success was, in his own words, his unconditional faith in the words of his own great master. Such pure guru-nistha is the inestimable example he left us all, to nourish our own desire to become his worthy servants and representatives. We will forever remain in awe of his unique greatness, as our constant meditation and strength.
Gokulananda das ACBSP – ISKCON Vancouver, Canada