The gift of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad

By Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj

The religion of non-enviousness

Today we are remembering our divine master Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. His disappearance day is today. He left us and left this world today in Vrndavan Dham. If Prabhupad was not so merciful to us, we could not conceive of coming to the West. This worldwide Hari-nam-sankirtan movement has come through Prabhupad, and everyone knows it. At present the whole world is over-flooded with the Hare Krishna mahamantra. People do not know what ‘Hare Krishna’ means, people do not know what Krishna consciousness is, but they know these people are ‘Hare Krishna’ people.

Srimad Bhagavat says that this Hare Krishna religion is akaitava, free from deception and cheating.

dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
vedyaṁ vāstavam atra vastu śivadaṁ tāpa-trayonmūlanam
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiṁ vā parair īśvaraḥ
sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate ’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.1.2)

[“Here, the highest dharma, in which cheating is utterly rejected, is given for the sadhus who are free from envy. Here, can be known the Absolute Truth, which reveals the highest good and uproots the three miseries. What need is there of any other scripture than this Srimad Bhagavatam compiled by the best of the sages? Here, the Lord is immediately bound within the heart by the fortunate souls who desire to listen to it from the moment they begin.”]

This is the second verse of Srimad Bhagavat. There it is told, “Dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo: there is no cheating tendency here.” Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur also very bravely told:

pṛthivīte yata kathā dharma-nāme chale
bhāgavata kahe saba paripūrṇa chhale

“However many religions we see in this world, they are all doing cheating business.” This is Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s statement. I am not telling it! This was told by Bhakti Vinod Thakur and Prabhupad. What Bhakti Vinod Thakur told and what Srimad Bhagavat told was also told by Srila Prabhupad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Here is no himsa: no violence and no cheating. Nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ: all the devotees are very humble, very tolerant, and giving honour to the devotees of Srimad Bhagavat’s principal worshippable Deity, Sri Krishna.

pṛthivīte yata kathā dharma-nāme chale
bhāgavata kahe saba paripūrṇa chhale

This is the Hare Krishna movement. This movement was organised by Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupad. He had that capacity, he had that talent, and he had that determination: “Guru Maharaj told me to preach Krishna consciousness in the English speaking world, and I shall speak that in any way.”

Early years

We are very fortunate that Srila Guru Maharaj met with Prabhupad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami when he was Abhay Charan De, still in the grhastha ashram. From that time they were very good friends. Srila Prabhupad was very intimate with Guru Maharaj, and we are very fortunate that we are in Krishna consciousness under the guidance of Srila Guru Maharaj. When I joined later in 1947, Srila Prabhupad was also a grhastha at that time. I was Srila Guru Maharaj’s servant, and in Srila Prabhupad’s house I was the marketeer.

When Srila Prabhupad first met with Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, he heard some Hari-katha from him, and when he left he told his friends, “At last in these days one man has appeared in this world who is telling the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.” His Bengali expression was, “Eta dine Mahāprabhura kathaka eka-jana mānuṣera mata mānuṣera hāte paḍechhe.” From that time he was very closely related with Srila Guru Maharaj. There were two reasons for this. One was that he had a business, and so it was not always possible to meet with Srila Saraswati Thakur. He was a brilliant and clean-hearted Vaisnava, and so he chose Srila Guru Maharaj as his Siksa-guru from that day. Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj published the book Guardian of Devotion, and if you read that, you will understand what the relationship was between Guru Maharaj and Srila Prabhupad. What is published there is all from the tapes of Prabhupad’s conversations with Guru Maharaj. It was made when Prabhupad disappeared and there was some disturbance in ISKCON.

In his life Srila Swami Maharaj met with Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur for only twelve or fifteen days. Later, after Srila Saraswati Thakur left and some illusory disturbance came in the Gaudiya Maṭh, Srila Sridhar Maharaj came out from the Mission, and Srila Swami Maharaj took him in at his own house in Kolkata.

He had two houses: one small one was his laboratory, and the other was his residential house. He gave honorary accommodation to Srila Guru Maharaj in the rooms above his laboratory. When Guru Mahārāj was staying in that house, Srila Swami Maharaj would meet with him every morning, and they would discuss the scriptures. Actually, Srila Swami Maharaj was learning from Srila Guru Mahārāj as a student at that time.

This Krishna consciousness gives a very high conception about Sri Krishna.

yat preṣṭhair apy alam asulabhaṁ kiṁ punar bhakti-bhājāṁ
(Śrī Upadeśāmṛta: 11)

[“(The divine love bestowed upon those who bathe in Radha Kunda even once) is extremely difficult for those who are dear to Krishna to attain, what to speak of practitioners of devotion.”]

Through this verse we get some dig-darsan, some indication, of what standard of dealings in Krishna consciousness were between Srila Prabhupad and Guru Maharaj. Their dealings were of that level of Krishna consciousness.

Infectious enthusiasm

Srila Guru Maharaj said, “I am a back pusher man.” He was always going back, not forward like Prabhupad who was a forward man. He could never go back. Fortunately, I have got some of Prabhupad’s nature. Our natures were shown even when I was a brahmachari and Prabhupad was grhastha. Prabhupad was always trying to preach Krishna consciousness and not with only Guru Maharaj, but with very junior class brahmacharis like myself. He would take me out with him preaching door to door in Kolkata. It was my good fortune that Prabhupad taught me very happily, seeing me as a good student.

I was mainly staying in Kolkata to study Sanskrit, and Guru Maharaj would also push me to Prabhupad, “Learn from Srila Prabhupad when I am not here in Kolkata.” Guru Maharaj was mostly living in Nabadwip and would come to Kolkata from time to time, and so I had the opportunity to mix with Srila Prabhupad. I was in my young age, and his enthusiasm entered my mind.

Business failure

When Prabhupad’s business became unsuccessful, he decided to take sannyas and came to Guru Maharaj. I know why his business became unsuccessful: when his customers came to him to buy something, he would preach to them about Krishna consciousness. That was his fault, that he was not thinking about his business, he was only thinking about preaching Krishna consciousness. In this way his whole business went. Lastly, I saw that he was selling a few bottles of distilled water. But he discovered many medicines, like Vimaltone. His laboratory’s name was Vimaltone Laboratory. It was a very famous medicine, but it was necessary to make production, distribution, and so on. A twelve year court case happened with this medicine: Bengal Chemicals said it was their discovery, not Prabhupad’s discovery! But Prabhupad proved that it was his discovery in the court, and they were defeated. Then there was no difficulty with that, the only difficulty was that he was preaching Krishna consciousness to the customers!


Then Prabhupad became very poor, and his sister Bhavani Didi, who I called ‘Mother’ and many called ‘Pishima’, told him, “Brother, this is not your life, you should take sannyas.”

Prabhupad said, “Who will look after my family?”

She said, “I have seven sons, and we will all maintain your family.” She had seven sons, and they were not poor, they had some wealth. When Bhavani Didi told this to Prabhupad, Prabhupad immediately came to Guru Maharaj. But Guru Maharaj was very familiar with his family: when he was in Kolkata he was living next door to them. Guru Maharaj said, “If I give you sannyas, your whole family will come and chastise me. It is natural. If you first go and stay somewhere else, then after six months I will give you sannyas.”

Prabhupad said, “No, I need sannyas immediately. I want to go for preaching Krishna consciousness outside of India.”

Guru Maharaj said, “No, I cannot give it to you now. But if you are very much desirous, then go to Keshav Maharaj. I gave my sannyas mantram to Keshav Maharaj, and you can take it from him.”

This is one example of Guru Maharaj’s ‘back-pusher’ nature.

Srila Prabhupad then went to Keshav Maharaj in Vrndavan. At that time he also stayed with Goswami Maharaj’s party in Delhi sometimes, and joined with a patrika [magazine] of Goswami Maharaj’s. In 1955, I published the Gaudiya Darshan magazine and he got that in Delhi.

After taking sannyas, Srila Prabhupad tried to see how he could he go out of India. This is the background history of Prabhupad’s life. Everyone knows what Prabhupad did after sannyas.

Western preaching

Sumati Morarji, a business lady, gave him the opportunity of a free ticket to Boston. At that time aeroplanes were active, but Prabhupad did not get that opportunity, so he came by ship to Boston. It was a business ship.

He struggled so much for one year in America, with no money, and only one or two kartals and a mrdanga. He had no meeting hall, and he started under a tree in New York City. I have seen that place. Under the tree he was chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. That was all: he was not making a big philosophical presentation to the public. He also had some experience having seen the preaching standard of Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur’s two sannyasis that were sent to London. They met with high class, high rank people like Lord Zetland and many others and tried to preach Krishna consciousness to them, but no fruit came through that. Then, Srila Swami Maharaj tried a very low preaching ground, sitting under the tree and chanting Hare Krishna. He followed this process.

Krishna was very merciful to him, Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur was very happy with him, Srila Guru Maharaj was extremely happy and relished his preaching, and finally he was very successful in this Western world. This is the first life history of Srila Prabhupad.

In Hindi there is a phrase, “Khuda jab deta, tab chappad phad ke deta: when Lord Krishna is merciful, when Gurudev is merciful, then your plate will be full.”  There will be no question about where you have got it from: it is coming from above. Chappad phad ke deta means it will blast the roof and come down.

I feel it: Mahaprabhu and Krishna want to give Themselves in this material world, and especially in the countries outside of India. In India, Srila Prabhupad Saraswati Thakur preached happily on such a big scale. He made sixty-two Maths all over India, and then through Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad he gave that unlimited mercy to the Western world.

Who can resist?

We know that Nama [the Name] and Nami [the Named] are nondifferent. If what is written in the scriptures is true, then Mahaprabhu Himself is Nami and His Divine Name is ‘Hare Krishna’ because He is the nondifferent form of Radha-Krishna. It is written in the scriptures, and the whole spiritual world knows it.

That Mahaprabhu wants to give Himself to the conditioned souls:

ābhīra-śumbhā yavanāḥ khasādayaḥ
ye ’nye cha pāpā yad-apāśrayāśrayāḥ
śudhyanti tasmai prabhaviṣṇave namaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.4.18)

[“Kirātas, Hūṇas, Andhras, Pulindas, Pukkaśas, Ābhīras, Śuhmas, Yavanas, Khaśas, and others of sinful birth, as well as persons of sinful action, become purified by taking shelter of those who are sheltered in Him. I offer my obeisance unto Him, the Almighty.”]

Who can control it? When Mahaprabhu wants to go inside your heart, when Nitai-Chaitanya, Nitai-Gauranga, Gaurachandra, in the form of Parama Karuna have come here, who can resist Him?


An address to the devotees in Caracas, Venezuela, on 16 November 2004, the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad.

Listen to the original audio recording here.

Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern representative of the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Both definitive and progressive, his exemplary life, practice, and teachings brilliantly illuminate the path of divine love. For more information on Srila Govinda Maharaj, please visit his biography page.

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