Vyasa Puja offering for the year 2013

Srila Prabhupäda, Spiritual Revolutionary

 My dear Srila Prabhupäda,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances in the dust of your divine lotus feet. All glories to Your Divine Grace!

Srila Prabhupäda, who can fathom your greatness, your accomplishments, your unbounded causeless mercy and love? In a letter to a sympathizer in India in 1966, you wrote of your experience of America:

The general people are all intoxicated and loafers.  You cannot imagine from there, how difficult it is to make them accept good sad-acara [behavior according to scriptural injunctions]. It is so much mercy from Srila Prabhupäda [Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati] that they are giving up illicit relationships, intoxication, marijuana, tea, coffee, everything. Having given up meat they are eating dal, chapatti, and rice and are very happy. They do kirtana and hari-nama every morning and evening, and do sandhya before Srila Mahaprabhu’s picture. To honor the guru-varga, as soon as they see me they pay obeisances. I never expected so much.

It is not possible to beg here. It is not possible to run a matha or temple if money does not come from earnings. Here it is not possible to go from door to door to beg flour and rice. Without [advance] notice it is not possible to meet with any gentlemen.  Along with all this inconvenience, in this faraway foreign country, I am working alone, helplessly. My only hope is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. I have no one else. In my house my wife and son did not help me, so I left my home. I thought the Godbrothers would help me, but even that I did not get.  In my old age I have taken so much risk, but not to fulfill any of my own desires. Srila Prabhupada had desired this work, and I am trying to fulfill that desire according to my ability. Personally I have no ability. My only hope is Srila Prabhupada.

Some glimpse of your greatness—and your mission—is given in your translation and purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Second Canto, chapter four, text 18:

ābhīra-śumbhā yavanāḥ khasādayaḥ
ye ’nye ca pāpā yad-apāśrayāśrayāḥ
śudhyanti tasmai prabhaviṣṇave namaḥ

“Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkaśa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavanas, members of the Khasa races, and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.”

In your purport you explain:

The above-mentioned historical names are different nations of the world. Even those who are constantly engaged in sinful acts are all corrigible to the standard of perfect human beings if they take shelter of the devotees of the Lord. Jesus Christ and Muhammad, two powerful devotees of the Lord, have done tremendous service on behalf of the Lord on the surface of the globe. And from the version of Srila Sukadeva Goswami it appears that instead of running a godless civilization in the present context of the world situation, if the leadership of world affairs is entrusted to the devotees of the Lord, for which a worldwide organization under the name and style of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has already been started, then by the grace of the Almighty Lord there can be a thorough change of heart in human beings all over the world because the devotees of the Lord are able authorities to effect such a change by purifying the dust-worn minds of the people in general.

Your disciple and Sanskrit editor Pradyumna Däsa, who had read many scriptures, commentaries, and works by previous äcäryas, told me that what struck him as unique about you was that you applied the principles of scripture beyond the individual practitioners’ efforts to the affairs of state and the world. You applied the same principles on a broad scale, as we see immediately in this purport.

The verse says that anyone who is sinful can at once be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord—which is very encouraging for us sinful souls. And you take the principle and extend it—that the whole world is suffering because people are sinful. As you have explained, all suffering is due to sin—transgressing God’s laws—and sin is due to ignorance. So if we become free from ignorance, we will become free from sin and suffering—which can be achieved by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord.

Everyone is under the jurisdiction of some government. If the governments are guided by devotees of the Lord, there will be no more sinful activities, no more sinful reactions, and no more misery, and people will be peaceful and happy.

Continuing the purport:

The politicians of the world may remain in their respective positions because the pure devotees of the Lord are not interested in political leadership or diplomatic implications. The devotees are interested only in seeing that the people in general are not misguided by political propaganda and in seeing that the valuable life of a human being is not spoiled in following a type of civilization which is ultimately doomed. If the politicians, therefore, would be guided by the good counsel of the devotees, then certainly there would be a great change in the world situation by the purifying propaganda of the devotees, as shown by Lord Caitanya. As Sukadeva Goswami began his prayer by discussing the word yat-kirtanam, so also Lord Caitanya recommended that simply by glorifying the Lord’s holy name, a tremendous change of heart can take place by which the complete misunderstanding between the human nations created by politicians can at once be extinguished. And after the extinction of the fire of misunderstanding, other profits will follow. The destination is to go back home, back to Godhead.

As described by Lord Caitanya in His Shikshastaka, the chanting of the holy name cleanses the mirror of the heart. And Sukadeva Goswami recommends yat-kirtanam—the same thing.

One may think of the verses of the Shikshastaka in a very personal way, in terms of one’s own spiritual advancement, but here you extend the principle: if the government leaders propagate harinäma-sankirtana, then all of the benefits mentioned in the first verse of the Shikshastaka, such as extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence, can be achieved, not only on the level of the individual and family but also on the level of nations. On every level people can be delivered from the blazing fire of material existence by taking shelter of the devotees’ instructions and performing sankirtana.

A little further in the purport:

In the Bhagavad-gita (9.32) it is said by the Lord that there is no bar to becoming a devotee of the Lord (even for those who are lowborn, or women, shudras, or vaisyas), and by becoming a devotee everyone is eligible to return home, back to Godhead. The only qualification is that one take shelter of a pure devotee of the Lord who has thorough knowledge in the transcendental science of Krishna (the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhägavatam).

Tamäl Krishna Goswami once dreamed that you were reporting to the previous äcäryas about the situation on the planet earth: “The people now have no good qualities. They have no background in pious activities, no background in Vedic culture, and no background in scriptural knowledge. But they do have one good quality: They have full faith in me, and whatever I tell them they do.”

Hearing the dream, you smiled in agreement. “The only qualification is that one take shelter of a pure devotee of the Lord who has thorough knowledge in the transcendental science of Krishna. Anyone from any part of the world who becomes well conversant in the science of Krishna becomes a pure devotee and a spiritual master for the general mass of people and may reclaim them by purification of heart.”

Here you are referring to Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 8.128):

“Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a shudra—regardless of what he is—he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna” And you are extending the principle that regardless of one’s background—no matter how sinful—if one takes shelter of a devotee of the Lord who is conversant with the science of Krishna and learns the science from him, one in turn can become a guru, a teacher of the transcendental science.

“A Vaisnava, therefore, can accept a bona fide disciple from any part of the world without any consideration of caste and creed and promote him by regulative principles to the status of a pure Vaisnava who is transcendental to brahminical culture.”

Your stance was revolutionary. Srila Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvati Thakura enunciated the principle, with evidence from shästra, that even a person not born a brahmana can become a Vaisnava and that when one is actually a Vaisnava he surpasses even the brahminical qualifications. And he implemented the principle in his Matha, awarding the sacred thread to devotees not born in brahmana families.

You, Srila Prabhupäda, extended the same principle even to those born outside India or Hindu society.

In India we met—and one still meets—people who objected to your awarding the sacred thread to those born outside brahmana families. In Madras Acyutänanda had an argument with our host, a so-called orthodox Hindu, who believed that you cannot be a brahmana unless you are born in a brahmana family. Still, he conceded, “You can be a Vaisnava, and a Vaisnava is more than a brahmana—but you are not a brahmana. To become a brahmana you have to take birth as a brahmana in your next life.”

Acyutänanda explained, “One takes birth in a particular family according to his karma, his previous pious and sinful activities, and thus someone who has engaged in sinful activities may not take birth in a brahmana family. But by chanting the holy name of the Lord you can immediately eradicate all sinful reactions, without a change of body.” In conclusion, he questioned our host, “What is stronger—the holy name or sin?” And the man had to admit that the holy name is stronger.

So by taking shelter of the holy name, under the guidance of a pure devotee, one can be freed from sinful actions and reactions, even without changing one’s body, and thus transcend the position of even a material brahmana. One can become more than a brahmana—and also a brahmana.

Further on in your purport:

So by the order of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, the cult of Srimad-Bhägavatam or the Bhagavad-gita can be preached all over the world, reclaiming all persons willing to accept the transcendental cult. Such cultural propaganda by the devotees will certainly be accepted by all persons who are reasonable and inquisitive, without any particular bias for the custom of the country. The Vaisnava never accepts another Vaisnava on the basis of birthright, just as he never thinks of the Deity of the Lord in a temple as an idol.

Here you refer indirectly to a verse from the Padma Purana: “One who thinks the Deity in the temple to be made of wood or stone, who thinks of the spiritual master in the disciplic succession as an ordinary man, who thinks the Vaisnava in the Acyuta-gotra to belong to a certain caste or creed, or who thinks of caranamrita or Ganges water as ordinary water is taken to be a resident of hell.”

Just as the Deity is transcendental—not stone or wood or metal but Krishna Himself—so too a Vaisnava who has been reinstated in his or her constitutional position as an eternal servant of Krishna is not a brahmana or vaisya or shudra or mleccha or Indian or American or Chinese or man or woman. He or she is a Vaisnava, servant of Vishnu.

Your purport continues:

And to remove all doubts in this connection, Srila Sukadeva Goswami has invoked the blessings of the Lord, who is all-powerful (prabhavisnave namah). As the all-powerful Lord accepts the humble service of His devotee in devotional activities of the arcana, His form as the worshipable Deity in the temple, similarly the body of a pure Vaisnava changes transcendentally at once when he gives himself up to the service of the Lord and is trained by a qualified Vaisnava.


Here you refer to Lord Caitanya’s instruction to Srila Sanätana Goswami in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita

(Antya 4.192):

“At the time of initiation, when a devotee fully surrenders unto the service of the Lord, Krishna accepts him to be as good as Himself” (not in quantity, of course, but in quality). And Sanätana Goswami confirms the same principle in his Hari-bhakti-viläsa (2.12), as you often quote: “As bell metal is turned to gold when mixed with mercury in an alchemical process, so one who is properly trained and initiated by a bona fide spiritual master immediately becomes a brahmana.”

Concluding your purport to Srimad-Bhägavatam 2.4.18:

The conclusion is that the Lord, being all-powerful, can, under any and every circumstance, accept anyone from any part of the world, either personally or through His bona fide manifestation as the spiritual master. Lord Caitanya accepted many devotees from communities other than the varnasramites, and He Himself declared, to teach us, that He does not belong to any caste or social order of life, but that He is the eternal servant of the servant of the Lord who maintains the damsels of Vrindavana (Lord Krishna). That is the way of self-realization.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrita indicates the value, or stature, or significance of someone—you—who can actually purify people addicted to sinful acts. That principle was there in the Bhägavatam, but until you left India and crossed the ocean, it had not been done outside of India.

The Caitanya-caritamrita describes the Caitanya tree, with Lord Caitanya being simultaneously the tree and the gardener tending the tree. Different branches of the tree are described, one as sarvottama, “the best of all”:

On the western side were the forty-third, forty-fourth, and forty-fifth branches—Sri Sanätana, Sri Rüpa, and Anupäma. They were the best of all. (Cc. Ädi 10.84)

By the will of the supreme gardener, the branches of Srila Rüpa Goswami and Sanätana Goswami grew many times over, expanding throughout the western countries [pascima desa] and covering the entire region. (Cc. Ädi 10.86)

Reading these verses, we are struck by the resemblance between what Krishnadäsa Kaviräja Goswami says about Sri Rüpa and Sri Sanätana and what we know to be true of you.

Rüpa and Sanätana are glorified because they spread Krishna consciousness in the western regions of Bhärata (India). By the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, the supreme gardener, you went even further west, across the ocean to America, and across the next ocean, to China. Thus you are appreciated for nirvisesa-sunyavadi-paschatya-desa-tarine: “delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.”

The people in general on the western side of India were neither intelligent nor well behaved, but by the influence of Srila Rüpa Goswami and Sanätana Goswami they were trained in devotional service and good behavior. (Cc. Ädi 10.89)

Such was the condition of the population on the western side of India during Lord Caitanya’s time—what to speak of the western hemisphere when you went. Still, you trained us in devotional service (bhakti) and good behavior (sad-äcära).

As you yourself explain in your purport,

Until five thousand years ago. the Vedic culture was current everywhere. Gradually, however, people were influenced by non-Vedic culture, and they lost sight of how to behave in connection with devotional service. Srila Rüpa Goswami and Sanätana Goswami very kindly preached the bhakti cult in western India, and following in their footsteps the propagators of the Caitanya cult in the Western countries are spreading the sankirtana movement and inculcating the principles of Vaisnava behavior, thus purifying and reforming many persons who were previously accustomed to the culture of mlecchas and yavanas. All of our devotees in the Western countries give up their old habits of illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. Of course, five hundred years ago these practices were unknown in India—at least in eastern India—but unfortunately at present all of India has been victimized by these non-Vedic principles, which are sometimes even supported by the government.

When you first returned to India and came to Bombay in 1970, there was a large gathering of sädhus at Chowpatty Beach. Many Mayavadis were on the stage, with thousands of people in the audience. The sädhus gave many longwinded, dry, impersonal, speculative discourses, and when finally your turn came, you spoke for only a few minutes:

The problem is. how we can make everyone accustomed to take up good habits—sad-äcära. I think in this age, Kali-yuga, there are many faults.

You proceeded to explain the power of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement to clean the hearts of everyone, referring to the two great rogues whom Lord Caitanya had delivered, Jagäi and Mädhäi:

Now we are saving, wholesale, Jagäis and Mädhäis. Therefore, if we want peace, if we want to be situated on the sad-äcära platform, then we must spread the harinäma mahä-mantra all over the world. And it has been practically proven. The American and European Vaisnavas who have come here, who have chanted Hare Krishna mantra—they were cow-flesh eaters, drunkards, illicit-sex mongers, all kinds of gamblers. But having taken to this Krishna consciousness movement, they have given up everything abominable. Sad-äcära has come automatically. They are no more meat-eaters, no more gamblers, no more illicit-sex mongers, no more intoxicators. They do not even take tea or coffee, or even smoke, which I think is very rare to be found in India. But they have given up. Why? Because they have taken to this Krishna consciousness.

I do not feel that I have to say very much. You can see what is the result of Krishna consciousness. It is not something artificial. It is there in everyone. I have not done anything magical. But this Krishna consciousness is present in all of us. We simply have to revive it.

Thus you did with people all over the world what Rüpa Goswami and Sanätana Goswami had done in the western regions of India—trained people who were neither intelligent nor trained in devotional service or good behavior.

In your talk, and in your purport, you boldly pointed out that your disciples had given up all these sinful activities because they had taken shelter of a pure devotee and engaged in chanting the holy name of the Lord. So, if we maintain that position of following the instructions of the pure devotee and chanting the holy names, we will have the strength to resist the force of previous bad habits and the false propaganda of materialistic leaders. It is not automatic; but if we make a conscious, deliberate effort to maintain the shelter of the pure devotee and the holy name, mäyä will not be able to touch us.

Krishna is like the sun, and mäyä is like darkness. As long as we remain in the sun of Krishna consciousness, the darkness of mäyä cannot touch us. And so we should continually chant, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare, under your perfect guidance.

On this occasion we pray that we may always remain in the light of Krishna consciousness and fulfill your words and desires.


Hare Krishna


Your fallen servant,

Giriräj  Swami