Let me offer my most respectful and humble obeisances to the lotus feet of my spiritual master His Divine Grace Sri Jagat Guru Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Sri Srimad A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Let me also offer my most respectful and humble obeisances to all of Srila Prabhupada's eternal servants, paraphernalia, and pastimes. By the boundless mercy of His Divine Grace, vast numbers of conditioned souls are being drawn to the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Radha-Govinda.
I humbly bow my head in the dust of the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and sincerely pray that he will accept me as one of his eternal servitor associates.
The disciples of Srila Prabhupada worship His Divine Grace as the dearmost servant of Srimati Radharani in the line of Sri Rupa Goswami. I must therefore beg forgiveness at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and before all of you, the listeners and readers, for any fault or offense that I have committed in my attempt to glorify His Divine Grace.
sarva-vaisnavera pa'ye kari namaskara
ithe aparadha kichu nahuka amara
"If I have committed any offense when dealing with so many subtle and exalted things about the great personalities, please, Nityananda Prabhu, absolve me of that offense and restore me to my normal position."
We shall always remember Srila Prabhupada, our eternal father, as the empowered representative of the most glorious and beautiful queen of Sri Vrndavana, Srimati Radharani, and we shall forever aspire for the shelter of his lotus feet. What follows are eight transcendental remembrances of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's manifest pastimes in Sri Chaitanyadeva's ongoing sankirtana-lila, all of which point to his eternal service in the camp of Sri Radha.
An Eternal Resident of Goloka Vrndavana
It was Nandotsava, the day after Janmastami, the advent day of Lord Krsna, when Srila Prabhupada appeared in this world in a small village on the outskirts of Calcutta. It was a very auspicious day and all the people in the three worlds were engaged in a wonderful festival celebrating the birth of Sri Krsnachandra, who had advented at Sri Vrndavana Dhama almost five thousand years before. At this auspicious time, Srimati Radharani, the queen of Vrndavana, called her dear servant and said, "Please go to earth and give them Krsna's mercy." Thus her own servant was sent to this world to spread Krsna-consciousness in every town and village. Who else but the dearmost servant of Srimati Radharani could be worthy fo such a task?
The same year as Srila Prabhupada's appearance (1896), Srila Thakura Bhaktivinode's introductory book in English, Sri Chaitanya: His Life and Precepts, appeared at Mc.Gill University in Canada. This was the first book about Sri Chaitanya to reach Western shores. Shortly after that, Bhaktivinode also predicted that a great soul would soon come to fulfill Sri Chaitanya's prediction from Chaitanya-Bhagavata: prthivite ache yada nagaradi-grama sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama. "In every town and village in the world, the holy name of Krsna will be sung."
That Thakura Bhaktivinode's first publication came to the West in the same year that Srila Prabhupada appeared in this world as "the ambassador to fulfill the prediction of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu" is felt in the hearts of Srila Prabhupada's eternal servants as an eternal transcendental truth.
Srila Prabhupada is always situated in eternal pastimes of the divine couple Sri Sri Radha-Govinda in the transcendental realm of Goloka Vrndavana. Thus the place of Srila Prabhupada's appearance in this mundane world is considered nondifferent from Goloka Vrndavana.
"To teach others by example how to be a faithful disciple of sri guru, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the birthplace of Isvara Puri at Kamarhatty and collected some earth from his birthsite. This Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu kept very carefully, he used to eat a small portion of it daily." (Chaitanya-Bhagavata Ch. 12)
Let us therefore eternally worship the auspicious day and the auspicious place where Srila Prabhupada manifest his humble appearance in this world.
A Pure Devotee of Krsna
Gour Mohan De, a pure devotee of Krsna, desired the very best for his son. "Please bless him," he used to say, whenever holy men used to visit his home. "Please bless my son that he will become a great devotee of Srimati Radharani."
Srila Prabhupada said, "My father also trained me and instructed me to his best capacity, and he prayed for me that Radharani may be pleased upon me, and I think by my father's blessings and grace, I may have come to this position, and I have gotten into relationship with His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja also by his mercy. So it is Krsna's grace that I got a good father and also a good spiritual master."
What else did Gour Mohan desire for his son? "He should learn to play mrdanga very nicely and he should engage in the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda."
Srila Prabhupada's father made all these arrangements: mrdanga lessons and Deities of Radha-Govinda for Srila Prabhupada's childhood worship. In due course of time, everything became wonderfully manifest in Srila Prabhupada, as per his father's transcendental desires.
What wonderful arrangements the Lord makes for his pure devotees. Let the holy remembrance of Sri Gour Mohan De, the father of Srila Prabhupada and a pure devotee of Krsna, be ever present in our thoughts.
My Guru Maharaja was a Vaikuntha Man
Srila Prabhupada said, "The ideas I imbibed from my father in my childhood days were later on solidified by my spiritual master, the eternal father, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."
Who was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, the spiritual master of our beloved spiritual master? The eternal ego of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura is disclosed here in these two beautiful prayers:
su-vicaraka iva jivaka iti sadhubhir-uditam
pranamami ca caranantika-paricaraka-sahitam
"O Dayita dasa, your divine personality exists within the spiritual realm, and your manner of movement is quite gentle while your divine figure fondly engages in the Lord's srngara-rasa pastimes. In addition, your external appearance radiates the prestige of a dignified renunciate-far superior to any class of demigod-and possesses the intelligence of a pure devotee. Every aspect of your distinct personality is exactly parallel with those magnificent devotees Srila Sanatana, Srila Raghunatha Dasa, and Srila Rupa Goswami. Due to your wonderful and precise judgement, the devotees have declared that you are the life-image of Srila Jiva Goswami. On your auspicious appearance day, I humbly offer my respects unto the tips of your lotus toes in the association of your favorite servitors. O Gurudeva, you are the dearmost object of King Vrsabhanu's daughter, Srimati Radharani."
nite yasmin nisante nayana-jala-bharai snata-gatrarbudanam
ucchair utkrosatam sri-vrsa-kapi-sutaya-dhiraya sviya-gosthim
prthivi gadhandhakarair-hrta-nayana-manivavrta yena hina
yatrasau tatra sighram krpana-nayana he niyatam kinkaro 'yam
"At the close of night, early morn, there were thousands of devotees freshly bathed and loudly wailing, their eyes overflowing with sorrowful tears of hopelessness. Srimati Radhika, that radiantly beautiful queen of Vraja and daughter of King Vrsabhanu, had summoned her intimate servant Sri Dayita dasa to return to her divine camp, their personal family. Now in the absence of Nayana-mani-manjari, the earth planet has been vacuumed into the deepest, vacant darkness. Oh! With no further delay, kindly accept this fallen soul as your servant. O Dayita dasa, I am hoping against hope to be embraced within the fold of your divine company." (Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja)
Let the transcendental memory of Srila Prabhupada as the eternal servant of the servant of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda become our exclusive meditation and bhajana.
His Guru's Instructions
Srila Prabhupada often spoke about the instructions of his Guru Maharaja to preach and publish Krsna-conscious literature. Srila Prabhupada was especially fond of mentioning the story of how he received his most important instructions from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura at Sri Radha-kunda. Srila Prabhupada recalled that at the time Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was feeling some dissatisfaction in regard to some disciples competing over who would live in which rooms in the newly constructed temple in Calcutta.
While walking along the banks of Radha-kunda, the place of the most intimate pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura revealed his mind. "I think it would be better to sell this temple and the marble and print books." Then, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura turned to Srila Prabhupada and said, "If you ever get money, print books."
Srila Prabhupada told this story many times and he would usually add these words: "And so, I am doing. Printing books is our first business. Print books and distribute them all over the world and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will bless you."
In great humility Srila Prabhupada used to say that his only qualification was that he had firm faith, guru-nistha, in the order of his spiritual master.
The ultimate conception of the spiritual master in the Gaudiya-sampradaya is that the guru is the representative of Srimati Radharani. Srila Prabhupada saw his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, in that way and that is the standard that we are to adopt if we are to enter deeply within the ocean of Krsna-consciousness.
Let us always worship the holiest of holy places, Sri Radha-kunda, and let us always remember the instructions of Srimati Radharani to her most confidential servant at that most holy place.
His Holy Place of Bhajana
The Radha-Damodara Temple
Once in Vrndavana Srila Prabhupada informed a small group of his devotees of something very sublime, "I live eternally in my rooms at the Radha-Damodara temple." The real substance of this statement is of course only fully known to Srila Prabhupada himself, but we can feel with our heart that this clearly indicates that Srila Prabhupada is an eternal member of the camp of Srila Rupa Goswami.
In his small rooms overlooking the samadhi of Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Prabhupada used to execute his daily bhajana of chanting the holy name of Krsna and writing the Bhaktivedanta purports in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada also informed us that, "I got inspiration for going to the West simply by performing my bhajana and praying before the samadhi of Srila Rupa Goswami." There he did his bhajana and there he daily sang Narottama dasa Thakura's song "Sri Rupa Manjari Pada ." It is in this song that we find the highest aspiration of the followers of the Rupanuga sampradaya in the service of Sri Radha.
The Radha-Damodara temple is located within the rasa-mandala of Sri Vrndavana Dhama and it occupies a most exalted position as the place of highly confidential lila of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. It was here also that the renowned devotee Srila Jiva Goswami prepared transcendental literature on the science of Krsna-consciousness.
Damodara generally means bound by the ropes of love of Mother Yasoda. But there is another meaning of Damodara which is known only to the followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Damodara means bound by the love and affection of Srimati Radharani. So great is Srimati Radharani's love for Krsna that she has captured Krsna and bound her Lord making him Her exclusive property and servitor.
The Radha-Damodara temple now stands at that place where Lord Krsna became a slave to the love of Srimati Radharani, where he bowed to her holy feet in radha pada seva, and this also is the eternal place of service and bhajana of Srila Prabhupada.
Let us always remember the Radha-Damodara temple, the place of holy bhajana of Srila Prabhupada and let us never forget his most exalted position as a servant of Srimati Radharani in the camp of Srila Rupa Goswami.
You Will Obtain Your Good Fortune
When the good ship Jaladutta was crossing the Atlantic Ocean en route to Boston Harbor on Sept. 13, 1965, Srila Prabhupada composed a beautiful prayer in his native Bengali language. The refrain appeals to Sri Krsna, who is bound by Radharani's love.
krsna taba punya habe bhai
e-punya koribe jabe radharani khusi habe
dhruva ati boli toma tai
Commenting on Srila Prabhupada's poem, Srila Sridhara Maharaja once said, "I consider him to be a saktyavesa-avatara and this is confirmed in his writings on his spiritual journey through the Atlantic. How he arrived in America, the nature of his beginning the movement, his intense degree of dependence and dedication to Krsna, and how much he made himself empty of any other desire than the order of his gurudeva corroborate that Krsna came down to help him. In his poem Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna , we find him pleading with Krsna, 'My dear brother, your good fortune will come to you only when Srimati Radharani becomes pleased with you.' Seeing his gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, as Radharani's delegation and his order as her divine service, he humbly submitted that he did not feel himself worthy or fit to discharge the divine service, so he enlisted Krsna in the service of his guru. He had completely dedicated himself to the purpose; he was so earnest in his prayer to Krsna that divine force came down to help him. Otherwise, it is impossible. It is not an ordinary thing that anyone can do, rather the highest thing was extensively taken down to the lowest position, to the fallen souls. It cannot but be the divine power, embodied and in a great intensity and magnitude! So, saktyavesa-avatara, I cannot but take him to be so."
The longest journey begins with the first step and certainly any and all progress in Krsna-consciousness begins by first approaching Srimati Radharani. Just as all the planets revolve around the pole star, Dhruvaloka, so divine service revolves around Sri Radha. Therefore, with emphasis (dhruva) Prabhupada wrote, dhruva ati boli toma tai, emphatically imploring Krsna, "you will only be happy if Radharani is pleased; therefore, you must help me to do her service."
It is the desire of Srimati Radharani to spread Krsna-consciousness all over the world and it is the desire of Sri Krsna to spread the glories of Srimati Radharani amongst the surrendered souls. Both these elements are present in the very beginning of Srila Prabhupadas attempt to start the Krsna-consciousness movement in the Western world.
Once Srila Prabhupada commented that, "Krsna alone is not so beautiful." The meaning is that without Srimati Radharani by his side Krsna is incomplete. The ultimate truth is that Radha and Krsna are together eternally-they actually never separate even for a moment. As Krsna never takes even a step out of Vrndavana, similarly Krsna never leaves the side or Srimati Radharani even for a moment. The two are eternally united.
The pure devotees of Krsna never desire to enjoy separately with Krsna-rather they eternally desire to serve the divine couple Sri Sri Radha-Krsna by attending to all their needs or transcendental necessities.
Let us always remember the lotus feet of our divine master, His Divine Grace, who has obtained the greatest fortune from the Supreme Lord Krsna by the grace of Srimati Radharani and who is eternally engaged in their most intimate service.
His Message-A Matchless Gift
We Have Come Here to Receive the Greatest Gift
The matchless gift that His Divine Grace so graciously gave to his disciples, followers, and ultimately the whole world is nicely expressed by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami in the following prayer to his spiritual master. What we find expressed here by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is truly the essence of the mission of His Divine Grace and the most refined understanding of the substance of our Gaudiya-sampradaya.
nama-srestham manum api saci-putram atra svarupam
rupam tasyagrajam uru-purim mathurim gostavatim
radha-kundam giri-varam aho radhika-madhavasam
prapto yasya prathita-krpaya sri gurum tam nato 'smi
Here Dasa Goswami prays to his gurudeva, and if we can understand the things represented in this verse, we can say that we have understood Srila Prabhupadas message. By the grace of His Divine Grace, we have received the highest conception of the Holy Name of Krsna and the shelter of Sri Chaitanya. Sri Chaitanya's personal secretary, Svarupa Damodara, is none other than Sri Lalita Sakhi, the closest friend of Sri Radha, who canvasses widely on her behalf. By Srila Prabhupadas grace, we have come to her shelter and also the shelter of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis. By their grace we can become acquainted with our eternal place of service at Govardhana and sometimes be called to Radha-kunda in the service of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.
Let us always remember the lotus feet of His Divine Grace, who is the giver of the matchless gift of eternal joy in the hearts of his surrendered servants and who is a torchlight of inspiration to all the members of the Gaudiya-sampradaya in the matter of spreading Krsna-consciousness all over the world.
Govardhana & Karttika
After preaching Krsna-consciousness around the world fifteen times in only twelve years, His Divine Grace lastly returned to Sri Vrndavana Dhama where he manifest his final pastimes before our eyes and gave us his last instructions.
His Divine Grace showed us many things by his personal example and inspired us to continue preaching this Krsna-consciousness movement all over the world. Then in the month of Karttika a few days before Govardhana-puja, His Divine Grace suddenly manifest a great desire to go to Govardhana Hill. It came almost as a shock to the devotees who could not tolerate the idea that His Divine Grace might make such an arduous journey. Then with the help of Krsna Dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Prabhupadas desire was relaxed, at least from the external point of view.
What was it that His Divine Grace was teaching us or what did he actually express by telling us that he wanted to go to Govardhana Hill? It was not simply Govardhana Hill that can be reached by either car or bullock cart to which His Divine Grace desired to go, but it was the infinite play of his eternal Lord in the service of Sri Radha at Govardhana to which he desired to return. As Dasa Goswami realized when Sri Chaitanya gave him the Govardhana sila and gunja-mala, "Mahaprabhu has given me a place at Govardhana in the service of Sri Radhika," so His Divine Grace instructed us about these truths through his disappearance.
Karttika is the most revered time of year in Vrndavana because it represents the month of Srimati Radharani, and Sri Govardhana Hill is the place of unlimited eternal, intimate pastimes of the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. His Divine Grace was being called to return to those wonderful pastimes of divine love.
The days and moments past and the devotees stood by helplessly--then suddenly the only meaning in our poor lives disappeared from our sight. Our most beloved guide, master, father, and friend had returned to the side of his most worshipful Lord--simultaneously, he had entered our hearts forever. The devotees shed an ocean of tears, yet to this day we have not extinguished the fire of separation felt for his affectionate and reassuring presence. How shall we maintain our lives now?
His Divine Grace expressed his inner desire to go to Govardhana Hill and he chose the time of Karttika, the month of Srimati Radharani, for his departure from this world. Thus he has shown us the way and he has drawn the whole world to Govardhana Hill and the Karttika festival. This we have understood by our practical experience, as yearly thousands of devotees from all over the world celebrate Karttika in Vrndavana and circumambulate Govardhana Hill.
Let us always remember our Divine Master, His Divine Grace, as an eternal servant and resident of the eternal pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda and let us carry the impression of his lotus feet and his instructions in the core of our hearts and continue on, as he so strongly desired, to become pure devotees and to spread the Krsna-consciousness movement to every corner of the world.
Everything is possible by the will of Radha and Krsna, and His Divine Grace is also always present before us. His Divine Grace has given us the assurance and blessing that through his instructions he will be by our side at every moment. May we all be blessed with his everlasting memory and his transcendental association via faith, surrender, and transcendental loving service.