By Kesava Bharati Dasa Goswami
Vyasapuja offering to Srila Prabhupada 2020
My dearest Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept millions of my heartfelt obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet.
Srila Prabhupada, service to your lotus feet, to your instructions – especially those found in your translations of and Bhaktivedanta purports to the most essential works of the vast Vedic scripture, the source of all knowledge – are my life and soul. Indeed, hearing and distributing this transcendental sound is my very life.
Your Divine Grace, for your pleasure, let me attempt to glorify you on this holiest of days marking the 124th year of your appearance in this world.
Your service to your guru maharaja and to the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu reigns unique in history. No one else has spread pure Krsna consciousness throughout the entire world in so many languages and transplanted it into so many cultures. The ways to examine that uniqueness are myriad, but I would like to focus on one aspect of your unique greatness. You mentioned it in a room conversation in Australia:
Brian Singer: What does… When you become Krsna conscious, does it mean you come into the chapel, or can you lead the sort of life that we lead and still…?
Prabhupada: No, going to the chapel, that is one of the means. But there are nine different processes, of which hearing about Krsna is the most important thing, sravanam. If you continuously hear about… Therefore these books are there, hearing and chanting. If you cannot read, I’ll read; you hear. I’ll speak. Or you will speak; I’ll hear. These two processes are very important. Therefore we are presenting in English language the subject matter of Krsna so elaborately. We have published eighty-two books like this. If you read one book… This is the preliminary study. Then, if you read it with great attention, you become Krsna conscious immediately. Then you understand about Krsna from Srimad-Bhagavatam in sixty books, and then you enjoy the transcendental pleasure in Caitanya-caritamrta in seventeen books. So you cannot finish even within your life, so many books are there. And you’ll forget reading other books.
Brian Singer: We’ll just…?
Prabhupada: The first book of reading is this, Bhagavad-gita. The Bhagavad-gita is well known all over the world. Every scholar, religionist, everyone reads, all over the world. But sometimes they are misinterpreted foolishly. We are therefore presenting Bhagavad-gita as it is, without any foolish interpretation. What Krsna says, we repeat the same thing.
Brian Singer: Do you find that in the translation from the thoughts and the Sanskrit to the English words, then from the English words to the mass of the people’s heads, do you find that there is much loss?
Prabhupada: No, if you have grasped the thought, that you can express in any language. But if you cannot grasp the thought, then you cannot express. So the… Our translation is that we have to receive the thoughts as it is by the parampara system. Therefore it is presented so nicely, and people like it. It is… It is the value of the subject matter. That we have to receive from authorities. Just like any scientific book, say medical science. You cannot understand medical science [just] by reading the books. It must be received through a medical man. Then it will be clear. (760422R3 Melbourne)
Srila Prabhupada, the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness is expanding all over the world on the basis of the transcendental literature you have published and continue to publish to this day through your Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. And as you said yourself in the introduction to your Bhagavad-gita As It Is:
Recently an American lady asked me to recommend an English translation of Bhagavad-gita. Of course in America there are so many editions of Bhagavad-gita available in English, but as far as I have seen, not only in America but also in India, none of them can be strictly said to be authoritative because in almost every one of them the commentator has expressed his own opinions without touching the spirit of Bhagavad-gita as it is.
Srila Prabhupada, throughout your Bhaktivedanta purports you repeatedly touch on this concept of how to properly gasp the thoughts contained in the Vedic literature and to explain those intricate spiritual concepts with realization so that any honest and reasonable person who hears them will be able to properly understand them. The result? You did the seemingly impossible. You were able to explain the essence of the Absolute Truth, which is the goal of the Vedas (Bg. 15.15) in a way that any sincere person could understand that God––the Absolute Truth, the source of all knowledge––must be a person.
We are propagating the Krsna consciousness movement simply by following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We may not be very well versed in the Vedanta-sutra aphorisms and may not understand their meaning, but we follow in the footsteps of the acaryas, and because of our strictly and obediently following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it is to be understood that we know everything regarding the Vedanta-sutra.” (Cc Adi-lila 7.148, purport)
One can overcome all misconceptions and entanglement in the material world by practicing bhakti-yoga, and therefore Vyasadeva, acting on the instruction of Sri Narada, has very kindly introduced Srimad-Bhagavatam to relieve the conditioned souls from the clutches of maya. Lord Caitanya’s spiritual master instructed Him, therefore, that one must read Srimad-Bhagavatam regularly and with scrutiny to gradually become attached to the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. (Cc Adi 7.73, purport)
Personal realization does not mean that one should, out of vanity, attempt to show one’s own learning by trying to surpass the previous acarya. One must have full confidence in the previous acarya, and at the same time one must realize the subject matter so nicely that he can present the matter for the particular circumstances in a suitable manner. The original purpose of the text must be maintained. No obscure meaning should be screwed out of it, yet it should be presented in an interesting manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realization. (SB 1.4.1, purport)
Srila Prabhupada, in my offerings to you over the past five years, I have tried to document your desire that we constantly read you books, especially out loud to one another, as you explained above to Brian Singer, in order to understand how to chant the holy names properly, without offense, and achieve love of God through nama sankirtana.
This is not my word; this is Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have to associate with kirtana. The reading is also kirtana, and chanting on the beads, that is also kirtana. There is no difference. So make your life in such a way. Either chant Hare Krsna or read books. (Lecture, 02/27/75, Miami)
Persons conducted by such a conception of life can never get liberation from material bondage. But even a person perpetually condemned to the miseries of material existence can get relief from bondage if he simply agrees to hear only krsna-katha. In this Age of Kali, the process of hearing krsna-katha is the most effective means of gaining release from unwanted family affection and thus finding permanent freedom in life. The Age of Kali is full of sinful reactions, and people are more and more addicted to the qualities of this age, but simply by hearing and chanting of krsna-katha one is sure to go back to Godhead. Therefore, people should be trained to hear only krsna-katha – by all means – in order to get relief from all miseries. (SB 3.5.44, purport)
The holy name and the Lord are identical. One who is completely free from the clutches of maya can understand this fact. This knowledge, which is achieved by the mercy of the spiritual master, places one on the supreme transcendental platform. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented Himself as a fool because prior to accepting the shelter of a spiritual master He could not understand that simply by chanting one can be relieved from all material conditions. But as soon as He became a faithful servant of His spiritual master and followed his instructions, He very easily saw the path of liberation. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra must be understood to be devoid of all offenses. The ten offenses against the holy name are as follows: (1) to blaspheme a devotee of the Lord, (2) to consider the Lord and the demigods to be on the same level or to think that there are many gods, (3) to neglect the orders of the spiritual master, (4) to minimize the authority of scriptures (Vedas), (5) to interpret the holy name of God, (6) to commit sins on the strength of chanting, (7) to instruct the glories of the Lord’s name to the unfaithful, (8) to compare the chanting of the holy name with material piety, (9) to be inattentive while chanting the holy name, and (10) to be attached to material things in spite of chanting the holy name.
Srila Prabhupada, now, after reading out loud every day for the past two years your translations over the internet, cover to cover, of the Bhagavad-gita As Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam and now Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, including your Bhaktivedanta purports, the fruits are beginning to show and to ripen. Please allow me to share an atomic drop of what is possible by associating with you through hearing your transcendental books, even as a worldwide health crisis plunges the world into chaos, forcing the total lockdown of entire countries, even shutting down the normal activities of ISKCON’s temples.
The following is a sample from the many letters I am receiving, this one from a devotee who has been listening every day to the Face Book page “Daily Readings of Srila Prabhupada’s Books” (which is now available on the YouTube channel of the same name):
Maharaja, I’d like to share a little update with you on my reading groups in Sydney because I know that you are enthused by sharing and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and you are encouraging devotees to also do this – and that’s what’s given me the enthusiasm to try and do this service. Here in Sydney we’re quickly moving towards lockdown like other countries. I’m mostly at home however my reading groups are getting bigger even though they are all online now and this is really very blissful. This pandemic has meant people have more anxiety and uncertainty in their lives but also more time to search for spiritual solace.
Here’s something that might be nice to share with you. Yesterday after we read from the 6th chapter of Bhagavad-gita on my zoom group, I asked each participant to write a few words about what the reading meant to them. Carole, a 76-year old lady from a country town who just joined yesterday, and was reading Srila Prabhupada’s books for the very first time, said “as we were reading, I felt like things I knew deep down, things I’d lost, were being renewed.” Isn’t that nice! It just shows how Srila Prabhupada’s words are able to reach sincere seekers of all backgrounds.
Vilasa Manjari devi dasi
My dearest Srila Prabhupada, there is no way to repay you for the causeless mercy you have given the world. So again and again, and yet again, I pray to you that I may be able to continue to live in the abode of your transcendental books and to serve you by sharing with as many people as I can the bliss of hearing out loud your transcendental books and spreading this process of bhakti-yoga by associating with you who are uniquely empowered to deliver the Absolute Truth to anyone who agrees to hear, sincerely, submissively, without argument from Your Divine Grace.