His Divine Grace
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
By Stephen Knapp
All photos taken by Stephen Knapp from 1972 to 1975
In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, in a conversation with Ganga Devi, Lord Krishna describes that after 5,000 years of Kali-yuga have passed, His mantra upasaka, the great sage and worshiper of Krishna's holy names, will appear and spread the chanting of Krishna's names (in the form of the Hare Krishna mantra) not only in India but throughout the world. Lord Krishna explains that by the chanting of His holy names the world will become spiritualized and everyone will be hari-bhaktas, engaged in the process of devotion to the Supreme. The purified devotees will visit the holy places and holy rivers of India and will purify them. They will also purify those with whom they come in contact. Thus, Sri Krishna predicted the appearance of a powerful devotee who would spread the chanting of His names worldwide.
Even in the Sri Caitanya Mangala, a biography of Sri Caitanya, the most recent incarnation of Lord Krishna, written in 1537 by Srila Locana Dasa Thakura (who was born in 1520 A.D.), Lord Caitanya foretold the coming of an empowered devotee who would take the sankirtana process everywhere: "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." This means that, though Sri Caitanya came to establish and spread the process of congregational chanting of Krishna's names in India, there would be one great devotee who would appear and spread it throughout the world.
Later, in the 1800s, Bhaktivinode Thakura, a great devotee in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya line, predicted in his magazine, Sajjana-toshani, in an article called Nityananda Suryodoy, "Soon there will be a time when chanting of Krishna's name will be heard in England, France, Russia, Germany, and America."
In this regard, Bhaktivinode also wrote in his Sajjana-toshani in 1895 that, "Sriman Mahaprabhu [Sri Caitanya] did not descend with His associates to deliver a certain number of human beings in the land of India, but rather His purpose was to deliver and uplift all living beings in all countries of the world by practicing the eternal religion of all souls." In the same article, Bhaktivinode questioned, when will that day come when all greatly fortunate souls take up banners, drums, and hand cymbals and cause the ecstatic waves of harinama-kirtans [songs of the holy names of the Supreme] and the singing of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's holy name to rise in the streets of their towns and cities?
In 1896, Bhaktivinode predicted in his book, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts, on page 62, "The principle of kirtana, as the future church of the world, invites all classes of men without distinction of caste, creed, or clan to the highest cultivation of the spirit. This church will extend all over the world and take the place of all sectarian churches which exclude outsiders from the precincts of their mosque, church or temple."
What all this means is that with his spiritual vision, Bhaktivinode could see how the sankirtana process would be taken in the near future to the western countries and, indeed, all over the planet. In fact, in 1875 Bhaktivinode Thakura also predicted: "A personality will soon appear to preach the teachings of Lord Caitanya and move unrestrictedly over the whole world with His message." But who could this be? Who would do it?
As an answer to these prayers and predictions, on Nandotsava, the annual festival day celebrating Krishna's birth, in the year of 1896, there appeared His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, known as Srila Prabhupada to many. It was Srila Prabhupada who grew up as a pure devotee of Krishna who took the chanting of "Hare Krishna" around the world and made it a household word.
Srila Prabhupada appeared in this world in Calcutta, India. His father was also a pure devotee of Lord Krishna. He would always invite sadhus, holy men, to his house for meals and always asked them to bless his son to become a great devotee of Radharani, Lord Krishna's most beloved devotee and consort. Srila Prabhupada's father once bought him a small cart to pull the Deity of Lord Jagannatha, as they do during the great Rathayatra festival in Jagannatha Puri. So Prabhupada would organize little festivals in his neighborhood. Even then among his playmates, Srila Prabhupada was always considered the leader.
Gour Mohan De was a very humble and kind person, and he found it almost unbearable to chastise his son. Sometimes if Prabhupada would perform something a little naughty, his mother would scold him, saying, “I will tell your father when he comes home.” Later, when his father would be informed of the incident, he would look sternly at Prabhupada and say, “Oh, you have done this?” Then after a moment he would smile and say, “Come, let us go make puns.” This would make Prabhupada very happy. He was very much fond of puns but his mother would not cook them for him, but simply give him chapattis.
Prabhupada's father also wanted him to be a good mridunga drum player. So Prabhupada had two teachers, one for mridunga and the other for academics. When Prabhupada became too absorbed in the mridunga lesson, the other teacher would be outside waiting for hours. Prabhupada's mother would say this was nonsense. "Do you think that you are going to make a living playing mridunga?" Little did she know that his mridunga playing, that he would use to accompany his public chanting, would become famous around the world.
As soon as Srila Prabhupada could read, he would get the train schedules and calculate how he could get to Vrindavana, Lord Krishna's birthplace. So, even then he was absorbed in thoughts of Lord Krishna.
Prabhupada later attended Scottish Church College in Calcutta, which was administered by the British. Later, he joined Gandhi's Non-cooperation Movement and refused to accept his diploma from that college as a type of protest, although he had actually completed all the requirements for the degree. After this, a friend of his father, Dr. Bose, made him a manager of his chemical company. Thereafter, in 1918, Prabhupada became married and soon started a family.
It was in 1922 when Srila Prabhupada met Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the son of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, for the first time. Bhaktisiddhanta was a highly regarded spiritual authority. Srila Prabhupada went to see him only at the insistence of a friend, who asked him to come along. Prabhupada previously had some bad experiences with "holy men," and was skeptical. Finally he agreed to see him and became very impressed, and agreed that Bhaktisiddhanta was indeed a great holy man. However, because Prabhupada was "addicted to Gandhi's movement," he made some argument that first India should become independent before other countries would take her spiritual message seriously. Nonetheless, Bhaktisiddhanta told Srila Prabhupada that, "You are a nice young man, you know English; therefore, you should preach this mission of Lord Caitanya specifically to the English-speaking countries in the Western world." Srila Prabhupada always remembered this.
After this, Prabhupada left the management of Dr. Bose's chemical company and became a representative of it to start his own store in Allahabad. While there, without any spiritual association, he was still thinking of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and what he might be able to do for him one day. Then in 1928 there was the huge Kumbha Mela festival in Allahabad and some of the disciples of the Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's spiritual institution, came and asked Srila Prabhupada for his help. With his financial assistance, a temple was started there in Allahabad.
In 1933, Srila Prabhupada took formal initiation from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, accepting him as his spiritual master. In 1936, he wrote a nice poem as an offering to Bhaktisiddhanta, who then called him the poet. Also in 1936, Prabhupada sent a nice letter to Bhaktisiddhanta, in which he wrote, "All your disciples, they are serving you so much; I am just a householder, I cannot do anything. Please let me know if there is something I can do for you." Then, just two weeks before Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati left this world on December 31, 1936, he sent one letter to Srila Prabhupada, instructing him again to take this message and spread it to the Western countries. Prabhupada, years later, once laughed and said, "But I did not know that I was going to have to do it."
Following the desire of his spiritual master, Prabhupada began publishing his Back to Godhead magazine in 1944. It was difficult in the beginning. He wrote them himself, had them printed, and even road into town on the bus to distribute these one page sheets. But he never stopped. Srila Prabhupada had also written a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita that was 1100 pages long, but somehow it was stolen. He had also started his League of Devotees, a small organization of Krishna conscious people. This was a forerunner of what was to be The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which he founded after he came to America. Prabhupada's wife, however, was not interested in all this spiritual stuff. She used to protest about the meetings and his preaching activities. So this was getting in the way of his mission.
Then, in a dream, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta appeared to him and called him to take sannyasa, the renounced order of life. Prabhupada later related, "I was horrified. Take sannyasa? Leave my family? Give up my business? I did not want to do this. But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta forced me to do it. That is his mercy." Thus, in 1959, Srila Prabhupada accepted the order of sannyasa at the Gaudiya Matha Keshava Temple in Mathura to give up materialistic life and further execute the order of his spiritual master by preaching and writing in the English language. Thereafter, he took up residence in Vrindavana, the land of Krishna's birth. After some years, he occupied a room in the Radha-Damodara temple. While living there, though almost penniless and sometimes only eating every other day, he continued writing and distributing his small magazine. However, a friend mentioned to him that instead of writing a magazine, which could easily be thrown away, he should write books, which a person would keep after purchasing. Srila Prabhupada took this up seriously and spent most of his time from 1959 to 1965 translating the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
By 1965 he had raised funds to publish the first three volumes of the Bhagavatam. Armed with this, Prabhupada felt ready to finally carry out the instructions his spiritual master had given him nearly 40 years earlier. Then he decided to travel to America.
Srila Prabhupada came to America in 1965 on the steamship Jaladuta with little money, a pair of hand cymbals, and a small trunk of his books, without knowing anyone. With enormous odds, Srila Prabhupada thought, "I am an old man, I cannot do very much. But what I can do, let me do in this New York City, which is the biggest of all cities in the world." He maintained himself by selling just enough books to get by, and staying here and there. Prabhupada wrote, “Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life they think themselves very happy and satisfied. Therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva. I do not know how they will be able to understand it.” Humbly considering himself to be the most insignificant servant of his spiritual master, Prabhupada pushed on with great determination to try to do just some little thing before the time he would die.
Once, sharing an apartment with a young man, Srila Prabhupada discovered that he was keeping meat and dog food and other abominable things in the refrigerator. Prabhupada began crying, thinking, “Now I have broken my vow of sannyasa. I am living in a place where they are keeping meat.” But, determined to serve his spiritual master, he went on. It was because of this great determination and faith, even in the midst of so many difficulties, that Srila Prabhupada gained the grace of his spiritual master and became successful.
Formerly, so-called yogis had come to the West, simply to get their pictures taken with some political big-wigs, for the purpose of returning to India and advertising themselves as international celebrities. Prabhupada was not out to make such a cheap display, but rather to preach Krishna Consciousness. We never see him pictured with some so-called important man. Instead, we have all seen the famous picture of Prabhupada standing in Tompkin’s Square Park chanting Hare Krishna under a big tree.
In July of 1966, Prabhupada secured a storefront with an adjoining apartment at 26 Second Avenue. He began holding Bhagavad-gita classes at 6 AM and 7 PM and at long last, 10 months after his arrival, prospective devotees started coming. Boys that later became Brahmananda Swami, Kirtanananda Swami, Hayagriva, Satsva-rupa Gosvami, Umapati, Acyutananda Swami and others would stop in. These boys used to come early in the morning, picking a few flowers along the way to offer to Prabhupada. His Divine Grace would spend most of the night translating Bhagavad-gita As It Is and would read some of what he had written for class the next day. During these times almost anyone could come and spend practically the whole day with Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada was now undertaking the role of acharya, or one who teaches by example. These new American Vaishnavas had to be shown how to eat nice prasadam [food offered to Krishna], how to chant on beads, how to cleanse the temple and themselves. There was no one to teach them except Prabhupada. With great patience and affection he spoon fed his first disciples the basic tenets of Krishna Consciousness.
Gradually the devotees began to live with Prabhupada and thus the first Krishna Conscious temple was established in the West. Late in 1966, Prabhupada officially founded The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Some devotees argued for using ‘God Consciousness’ instead, so that Westerners would not be frightened off. But Prabhupada replied sternly, “God has a name—Krishna. So why not use it?”
In those early days Srila Prabhupada established his basic program for spreading Krishna Consciousness, from which he never deviated. Every night he would sleep only one or two hours, then rise early to translate. In the morning hours he would have the early morning worship of mangala aratika and then give class. The remainder of the day was devoted to preaching, managing, and teaching his students about Krishna.
One of Prabhupada’s greatest concerns was the fear that perhaps American boys would not appreciate Krishna prasada (food prepared for offering to the Lord). Prabhupada personally cooked and served the prasada, encouraging them to eat more and more. Eventually the initial reluctances were overcome and the devotees soon became addicted to consuming vast amounts of prasada. Prabhupada inaugurated Sunday love feasts which are still the tradition in all of ISKCON’s numerous centers. The devotees used to eat so much that they would pass out on the floor, right next to the pots. Then, upon awakening hours later they would finish off what was left. The ecstasy of relishing Krishna prasada was destroying their attachment for material addictions.
Kirtan [congregational singing and chanting of Krishna’s holy names] was stressed just as strongly. Beating on an old tom-tom, Srila Prabhupada would lead kirtan (the singing of the Lord's holy names) for at least 45 minutes before and after each one-hour class. On Sundays the devotees would go to the park to chant and these weekly kirtans sometimes lasted for 2 to 3 hours. Prabhupada was tireless and wore out his disciples who were younger by 40 to 50 years. Finally, Prabhupada spoke, mostly on Bhagavad-gita, with the greatest conviction and air of authority. The young disciples were struck by the assurance with which Prabhupada declared, “It is a fact. Krishna says... No one can deny it,” and so on instead of, “I think,” or, “In my opinion,” or, “Maybe it is like this.” Altogether four principles formed the foundation of Prabhupada’s preaching movement: chanting, dancing, feasting, and philosophy, and in this way Srila Prabhupada and his disciples had opened over 100 Krishna Conscious temples in the 10 years while Prabhupada was preaching.
Then one day a note appeared pinned to the door on the bathroom. It stated matter-of-factly the basic regulative principles. All initiated devotees must avoid illicit sex, gambling, meat eating, intoxications, always chant Hare Krishna, and not talk any nonsense. So Prabhupada had begun to lay down the law. Of course, he was always most compassionate. He said; “I am 80 percent lenient. If I gave you all of the rules and regulations, you would faint.”
When things were doing nicely in New York, Srila Prabhupada left with Kirtanananda and Hayagriva prabhus for San Francisco where he opened another temple in 1967. Kirtanananda Swami only remained there a few days and then he flew to Montreal, where a third Krishna Conscious temple was begun.
It was in 1967 that Srila Prabhupada suffered a severe stroke which almost ended his life. As the stroke came on Prabhupada cried out, “Hare Krsna!” and collapsed into the arms of Kirtanananda. Later on he said that that was the time appointed for him to leave his body, but that Krishna wanted him to finish his work first. Prabhupada went back to India to recover.
Prabhupada’s potency began spreading to those who associated with him. His disciples were going out and opening more and more new branches. Temples were opened in Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and Columbus. The list grew and grew. All the while Srila Prabhupada was going on with his translating work. Prabhupada would take rest late in the evening around 11 PM, sleep for one or two hours and then wake up and translate around 2 or 3 hours a night while everyone else would be taking rest.
First of all, he published Bhagavad-gitaAs It Is, then The Teachings of Lord Caitanya, then Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a summary of the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, then The Nectar of Devotion, which is a summary of Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Bhakti-rasamrta sindhu. In addition the work on the Srimad-Bhagavatam was going on constantly and the original three volumes Prabhupada had published in 1965 grew to thirty by 1977.
The work on Srimad-Bhagavatam was set aside for 18 months during 1974-5 while Srila Prabhupada translated the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, a 17 volume work considered, “the post graduate course in Vedic study.” In this way, Prabhupada’s preaching work went on incessantly, opening more and more centers, publishing more and more books. Wherever he went he sowed the seeds of Krishna Consciousness.
Once Prabhupada’s plane was held over for one hour on the remote island of Fiji. And in that one hour one Indian man who had known Srila Prabhupada previously, took the opportunity to come to the airport and talk with him. Prabhupada infused in him the idea of beginning a Krishna Conscious temple there and in the fall of 1977 that plan was actualized with the opening of the Krishna-Kaliya temple. So, simply by being in a remote place for one hour, Srila Prabhupada established another center for Krishna Consciousness.
As for his books, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust which was formed exclusively for publishing the works of Srila Prabhupada, is now the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy. During those days, over ten million pieces of literature written by Srila Prabhupada were being distributed annually.
Prabhupada’s books are dynamic, not stagnant or useless. They contain the master plan for perfect living on a personal, national and even universal scale. Their effect is ever-increasingly expanding. So many large scale projects have sprung from these books. In 1968 Srila Prabhupada established the New Vrindaban Community in West Virginia, introducing self-sufficient Vedic style living with Krishna in the center, as the only positive alternative to the hell bound chaos of modern urban life. Since that time dozens of similar communities have sprung up in all continents of the globe.
In India the Sridhama Mayapur project aims at establishing a complete Vedic city which will include the largest temple in India, a football-sized ‘kirtan stadium’, planetarium, and even an airport. This project is becoming the largest construction effort ever undertaken in India.
Thus, Srila Prabhupada tirelessly expanded his Krishna Consciousness movement. He has always been especially concerned with prasada distribution. Prabhupada wants restaurants in all the cities where we have temples. He has given us a program of going to new cities and beginning first by having restaurant-reading rooms where one can come take prasada, read the books, develop some taste for the philosophy and then, when there is some interest, open a new temple. So in this way the Krishna Consciousness movement can grow. This is the meaning of a Vaishnava. A Vaishnava’s business is not for himself, but for others. Srila Prabhupada was always fully realized, God conscious. There was no need for him to leave Vrndavana which was so dear to him, and to come to this horrible place. But out of his intense compassion and desire to please his spiritual master, he did so.
Thereafter, he continued to distribute this spiritual knowledge and the process of singing and chanting Hare Krishna all over the world. He traveled around the world 12 times and visited every major country to take bhakti-yoga and harinama sankirtana (congregational singing of the holy names of the Lord) to the western countries. He gave thousands of lectures, wrote thousands of letters, and met with many important scholars and dignitaries who very much appreciated his efforts. Therefore, it was Srila Prabhupada who had been predicted by the previous acharyas, and by Sri Caitanya, and even by Lord Krishna in the ancient Puranas, as the person who would spread this new spiritual awareness.
Even though Srila Prabhupada left this world in 1977, he wrote 51 volumes of books with translations in 28 languages, especially Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, so anyone can take advantage of this knowledge. He established 108 temples in most major cities around the world, and touched so many people who can also teach this philosophy that this genuine spiritual knowledge will continue to spread and be available for the next 10,000 years, throughout the length of this Golden Age in Kali-yuga.
Now it is the duty of those who have been so fortunate as to have received his association to continue his work. This is all that Prabhupada ever wanted, that his disciples all become pure devotees and that they continue spreading this chanting of Hare Krishna. Prabhupada’s wisdom, his determination, his strength, his example and his love; all these are available to anyone who simply desires them above everything else. Giving up all attachment to material things, the devotee takes the instructions of his spiritual master to be his life and soul. Srila Prabhupada has written, “Although my Guru Maharaja ordered me to accomplish this mission, I am not worthy or fit to do it. I am very fallen and insignificant. Therefore, O Lord, now I am begging for Your Mercy. Let me become worthy, for You are the wisest and most experienced of all. If You bestow Your power by serving the spiritual master, one attains the Absolute Truth—one’s life becomes successful. If that service is obtained, then one becomes happy and gets Your association due to good fortune.”
For a complete gallery of vintage and never before published photographs of Srila Prabhupada, click here to see our Prabhupada Photo Gallery.
And [Click here] for eight additional vintage photos of Srila Prabhupada taken of him while he was visiting New Vrindavana, West Virginia in June of 1969, provided by Chintamani devi dasi.
For more information and books about the life and teachings of Srila Prabhupada, please see our "Links to Websites" page for various outlets from which you can place orders.
Some of Srila Prabhupada's Unparalleled Achievements
In 1965, at seventy years of age, he ventured outside India for the first time to fulfill the order of his spiritual master. During his voyage at sea, he suffered two severe heart attacks. He reached the shores of America with the equivalent of seven dollars to his name.
He founded the International Society for Krsna Consciousness with a small group of disciples, after a year of struggling alone in New York City. This marked the only time in history that a Krsna devotee successfully trained non-Indians in the strict disciplines of Vaisnavism. Amazingly, this was achieved during the blossoming of America's hedonistic counterculture movement.
He sent his followers, chanting the names of God, into the streets of cities and towns everywhere and Hare Krsna became famous in every corner of the earth.
He sent his disciples to London, where they recorded the single, "Hare Krsna Mantra", with George Harrison, in 1969. It became the fastest selling of all the Apple Corporation's releases, including those of the Beatles. The record reached #3 in Czechoslovakia, #9 in Britain, and made the top ten in Germany, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Yugoslavia, and many other
He formally initiated approximately five thousand disciples. These initiates represented a sweeping diversity of nationalities, races, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds.
He established 108 Krsna temples on six continents, installed the deity of Krsna in each center and trained his disciples in the process of deity worship. Thirty-two new temples (almost three a month) were opened in a single year, between 1970 and 1971.
He inaugurated the Rathayatra Festival of Lord Jaganatha in major cities around the globe, in effect, bringing the temple to the people.
He instituted the brahmacarini ashram, something previously unheard of in Vedic culture, to give shelter to single women wishing to practice Krsna consciousness.
He instructed his disciples in 1967 to start an incense business to provide financial support for the temples. Within four years the business, Spiritual Sky Incense, generated an annual revenue of one million dollars (equivalent to $4,600,000 in 2004).
He introduced the "Sunday Love Feast" and other prasadam (sanctified food) distribution programs that provided millions of free meals to the public.
He created the world's first chain of vegetarian restaurants.
He spoke daily on the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, delivering thousands of formal lectures. Over 2,200 were recorded and archived.
He conducted many hundreds of informal conversations on the science of Krsna consciousness with disciples, guests and friends. Over 1,300 were recorded and archived.
He had scores of interviews and philosophical discussions with news reporters, scientists, religious leaders and politicians, as well as meetings with world-renowned dignitaries and celebrities like Indira Gandhi, Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Alice Coltrane, John Lennon and George Harrison.
He recorded more than twenty albums of devotional music.
He published the monthly magazine, Back to Godhead, which he called the backbone of his movement. At the height of its circulation in the mid seventies, over a million copies per issue were sold.
He launched the ISKCON Life Membership Program that enrolled tens of thousands of members.
He built major temples in Bombay and Vrndavana, and founded a spiritual city at Mayapur. All became international sites of pilgrimage.
He established primary schools to provide education in the principles of devotional service.
He founded the Bhaktivedanta Institute to advance Krsna consciousness within the scientific community, engaging serious academics in the consideration of the science of self-realization.
He formed the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to unearth and renovate the holy places of Lord Caitanya's pastimes.
He set up farm communities to teach "simple living and high thinking", emphasizing cow protection and dependence on God and nature.
He commissioned his artist disciples to produce hundreds of illustrations of Krsna's pastimes based on his meticulous instructions and the descriptions in his books.
He directed some of his followers to learn the Indian art of "doll making" to present Vedic philosophy through dioramas. This project became the FATE Museums.
He counseled his disciples on complex managerial, philosophical and personal issues in more than 6,000 archived letters.
He was the subject of more than 30,000 archival photos and more than seventy hours of documentary film footage.
He wrote approximately seventy books on the science of Krsna consciousness, sleeping only a few hours per day. Dozens of prominent scholars and educators from leading universities praised his work. The Encyclopaedia Britannica proclaimed that his voluminous translations from the original Sanskrit and his lucid commentaries "have astounded literary and academic communities worldwide." This feat is even more astonishing considering the translations and commentaries were in English, which was a second language to the author.
He founded the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) in 1972, to produce his books. By 1976, over 55,000,000 literatures had been published in twenty-five languages and distributed in almost every country, making the BBT the world's largest publisher of Indian religious and philosophical texts. One printing alone of Bhagavad-gita As It Is required seventy-six train cars to ship the paper needed to print it.
He completed the entire Caitanya-caritamrta manuscript (seventeen volumes) in eighteen months.
He ordered and supervised the BBT in publishing seventeen volumes of his books in only two months time, in 1974.
Srila Prabhupada increased the standard of Deity worship in all the temples in Vrindavana, India when he installed the Deities in the Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama Mandir in the Vrindavana. Before this many of the Deities in the temples there were dressed in sheets, poor clothes, and even had bugs crawling on Them, and were often only offered tulasi water and no food offerings. Now everything has changed because of Srila Prabhupada, and numerous temples have beautiful worship for the Deities. Even the shop owners who cater to the needs of the growing number of devotees, many of whom are Western, have become rich because of Srila Prabhupada. Many also have his portrait hanging in their shops.
Prabhupada also circled the globe fourteen times, visiting twenty-four countries, preaching, inspiring his followers and making countless public appearances before multitudes of people.
He skillfully managed his international society simply through letters and personal meetings, virtually without the use of a telephone.
Prophecies of Srila Prabhupada and His Mission
idam sthanam parityajya videsam gamyate maya
“I will leave this place [Vrndavana] and travel to foreign lands...”
Bhakti Devi speaking to Narada, in Srimad Bhagavata Mahatmyam (Padmapurana, Uttarakhanda) translated by Sri Satyanarayana Dasa
[The Srimad Bhagavata Mahatmyam (The Glories of Srimad Bhagavatam) is a section of the Padma Purana. It tells the story of how Bhakti can be revived in Kali yuga through recital of Srimad Bhagavatam. When Srila Prabhupada left Vrndavana and came to America, it is significant that his only possession was a trunk containing the first volumes of his Srimad Bhagavatam, which he considered his most important work. It is also significant that he instituted daily recitation of the Bhagavatam as the foundation of the temple program, and that Srimad Bhagavatam (in the form of Krsna Book) was the first of Srila Prabhupada's books to be distributed in large quantities. Until Srila Prabhupada came west, devotional service (Bhakti) had never been successfully introduced in foreign lands.]
kalau nasta-drsam esa
“This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.43)
(Lord Caitanya speaking of the reasons for His descent):
ebe nama sankirtana tikshna khadaga laiya, antara asura jivera phelibe katiya
“Taking the sharp sword of the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, (nama-sankirtana) I will root out & destroy the demoniac mentality in the hearts of all the conditioned souls.”
yadi papi chadi dharma dure dese yaya
mora senapati-bhakta yaibe tathaya
“If some sinful people escape and giving up religious principles go to far off countries, then my Senapati Bhakta will come at that time to give them Krsna consciousness.” (senapati - a military field commander, bhakta - a devotee. Lord Caitanya will empower His own devotee to spread Krsna Consciousness around the world.)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
Sri Caitanya Mangala, Sutra-Khanda
by Locana das Thakura
prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
“In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126
“Very soon the unparalleled path of hari-nama sankirtana will be propagated all over the world. Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mridangas, and karatalas and raise kirtana through their streets and towns! When will that day come?”
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Sajjana Tosani 4.3, 'Nityadharma Suryodoy'
Prabhupada: Just like Thakura Bhaktivinoda. In 1896 he sent the Caitanya Mahaprabhu's message to McGill University. That book you have seen. The letter was there. And these are coincidence. Now, after so many years, a servant of that disciplic succession has come here again to preach. So these things are significant.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 7.149-171
San Francisco, March 18, 1967
Prabhupada: ...in 1896. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was the first origin of this movement. But he simply thought of it. And he was expecting some others that willing to take up the work. Well, somebody says that I am the same man. And I was born in 1896.
Room Conversation with Canadian Ambassador to Iran Iran, March 13, 1975
“Anyway please try to save temple of Jiva Goswami because in very near future many people from all parts of the world will come to see the Temple and Samadhi of Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami.”
Letter to Nripen Babu, San Francisco, March 18, 1967
8. & 9.
Prabhupada: And in my horoscope there was written there, “After seventieth year this man will go outside India and establish so many temples.” I could not understand. "What is this, that I have to go outside India? That is not..." And Guru Maharaja foretold. He told my Godbrothers, Sridhara Maharaja and others, that "He'll do the needful when time comes. Nobody requires to help him." He told in 1935. And after all, this was true. Guru Maharaja told. And in the beginning, first sight, he told, "You have to do this."
Room Conversation, Vrndavana, June 17, 1977
He (Srila Prabhupada) seemed to know that he would have temples filled up with devotees. He would look out and say, "I am not a poor man, I am rich. There are temples and books, they are existing, they are there, but the time is separating us from them."
Mr. Ruben, (subway conductor who met Prabhupada in 1965)
Fulfillment of these prophecies was also confirmed by Srila Prabhupada's Godbrothers:
“This return back to homeland of Srila Prabhupada is particularly significant because this time he comes back with a host of his western disciples. This signifies to me the meeting of the East and the West, or at least the beginning of such a meeting. This signifies the victory of spiritualism over materialism, of good over evil. This is really a rare moment in history, for the first time in the history of the world, for the first time at least living memory, Vaisnavism, the message of Vaisnavism, the message of Mahaprabhu, the message of devotion and of pure devotion has been carried to the west and carried so successfully. I am sure that historians of the future will have a lot to say about Prabhupada and his movement, and they will be even envious of us for living in a time when this movement was begun and for participating in it.”
Introduction Speech By Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor, Vrndavana, October 15, 1972
“And what about the qualities he had? All devotional qualities he possess. And that we can know him that he is great only by preaching. Less than 10 years. There is no history, no recording anywhere. Preaching in 10 years he has established this divine name everywhere. As is told in Mahaprabhu's future [prediction].”
His Holiness B.V. Puri Maharaj, ITV, Memories of Srila Prabhupada
“Sripada Sridhara Maharaja also appreciated my service. He said that Caitanya Mahaprabhu's prediction: prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama/ sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama, would remain a dream only, but he congratulated me that I have done it practically.”
Srila Prabhupada letter to Bon Maharaja, Evanston, Illinois, July 7, 1975
“Any one of the feats mentioned above would be a significant feather in anyone's cap, even if it were the only thing a person accomplished in a lifetime. That Srila Prabhupada did all these things in just twelve years, and fulfilled so many predictions of sastra, great devotees, acaryas and astrologers, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, is patent validation of his inimitable role in Vaisnava history. By his efforts, uncountable millions have read about Krsna, honored Krsna prasadam, and heard and chanted the maha mantra. Through his teachings, he continues to relieve humanity from the maladies spawned by doctrines of monism and voidism, while holding open the door of Krsna bhakti for many generations to come. Let us recognize and remember his unprecedented contributions and strive to bring him honor throughout the world.”
Devotee: Prabhupada, they said that if Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted Krsna consciousness in the Western countries, why didn't He go there Himself? That's what they told us.
Prabhupada: So He left the credit for me. (laughter)
Morning Walk, Nellore, January 4, 1976
All glories to Om Visnu-pada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Astotarra-sata Sri Srimad
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada!
Books by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
Srimad-Bhagavatam, cantos 1-10, (29 vols.)
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (17 vols.)
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
The Nectar of Devotion
Easy Journey to Other Planets
Krsna Consciousness: The Topmost Yoga System
Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (3 vols.)
Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers
Dialectical Spiritualism -- A Vedic View of Western Philosophy
Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti
Transcendental Teachings of Prahlad Maharaja
Teachings of Queen Kunti
Krsna, the Reservoir of Pleasure
The Science of Self-Realization
The Path of Perfection
Life Comes From Life
The Perfection of Yoga
Beyond Birth and Death
On the Way to Krsna
Raja-vidya: The King of Knowledge
Elevation to Krsna Consciousness
Krsna Consciousness: The Matchless Gift
Other articles that may interest you in connection with this are:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and His Great Accomplishments
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura: The Lion Guru
The Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Disciplic Succession and Its Unique Characteristics: Of Which We are a Part
[The article available at www.stephen-knapp.com]
[Back to the "Articles" page]