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Remembering Srila Prabhupada- Early Difficulties


Early difficulties

As a second World War overtakes humanity, Viceroy Linlithgow declares that India is at war with Germany. Indian troops are dispatched to battlefields around Asia, and the country is plunged into deprivation.

The Japanese soon take Burma and are now on the doorstep of Bengal. The British destroy Bengal's entire rice crop, fearing that it might fall into the hands of the Japanese. There is widespread famine.

In December 1942 the bombing begins. Japanese planes bomb Calcutta every day. People evacuate the city. Blackouts are mandatory. At night the entire city is dark.

In the midst of this terrible war, Abhay realizes that, more than ever, there is a need for Krsna consciousness in the world. With great resolve, he decides to produce a journal called Back to Godhead. The first issue is published in 1944 on the advent day of his Guru Maharaja. Its forty-four pages deal mostly with the crisis of war. In the article "Congregational Chanting," Abhay reveals his confidence in Lord Caitanya's prophecy with his own prophetic statement:

From this foretelling we can hope that the cult of Samkirtan will take very shortly a universal form of religious movement, and this universal religion -- wherein there is no harm in chanting the Name of the Lord nor is there any question of quarrel -- will continue for years, as we can know from the pages of authoritative scriptures.

One night he has a powerful dream. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur appears before him, beckoning that he leave home and take sannyasa. He awakens deeply moved and ponders its profound meaning. It will become a recurrent dream.

Due to a lack of funds, he cannot continue publishing Back to Godhead after the second issue. Instead, Abhay undertakes an English translation andcommentary of the Bhagavad-gita.

After the war another nightmare hits India. Gandhi's independence movement, with its goal to unite India's different communities, fails. Instead of unity, India is partitioned in 1947. Two nations emerge, Pakistan and Hindustan. Millions of Hindus are stranded in Pakistan. Millions of Muslims are stranded in Hindustan. The great migration begins. The violence that erupts claims hundreds of thousands of lives as people of opposing faiths riot.

In Calcutta the hatred is especially poisonous as temples and mosques are desecrated. Each side tries to destroy the opposing side's religion.

Srila Prabhupada: In Bhag Bazaar there were heaps of dead bodies. And when it was a dead body, nobody could understand who was Hindu and who was Muslim. Simply it was to be cleared from the road. (Lecture Mayapur, October 11, 1974)

In the confusion and turmoil of partition, Abhay's business once again fails. Hisemployees and servants steal everything of value. He sees in this action the hand of God, an opportunity to take up full-time preaching work. His family sees otherwise. They become increasingly distant, not appreciating his dwindling financial support. He, on the other hand, regrets their lack of spiritual support.

One day he finds his Bhagavad-gita manuscript missing, although he had kept it safely at home. No one knows anything about it.. Thoroughly disappointed, he decides to travel in an effort to fulfill the directive given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. His heart is burning with desire to satisfy his spiritual master and execute his final instruction to preach the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

At the age of fifty-seven, he journeys to Jhansi and establishes the League of Devotees in 1953. He goes out on sankirtana every day, enthusiastically chanting the maha-mantra with a group that increases up to fifty people. He maintains regularcontact with his family and sends them money whenever possible. Over time, however, the climate in Jhansi becomes less favorable, and finally sours.

Soon after returning home, his wife sells his Bhagavatam one day to purchase tea biscuits. Thirty-five years of family life have finally come to this. Disappointed but determined, Abhay seeks shelter in Mathura with his godbrother B.P. Kesava Maharaja, to whom he donates the Deity of Lord Caitanya that he had originally hoped to install in Jhansi. Kesava Maharaja requests Abhay to become the editor for the Gaudiya Patrika journal. After a few issues, Abhay receives another invitation from B.S. Goswami Maharaja to come to Delhi and take over the editorship of the journal Sajjana Tosani. But after several months of struggling to improve the periodical, his service is terminated.


- From the "Radha-Damodara Vilasa" by HG Vaiyasakidasa


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