By Giriraj Swami
Today, Sri Rama-ekadasi, is a very special day. It is the first Ekadasi in the month of Kartik, or Damodara, and it has special significance as the day on which Srila Prabhupada completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the most important book on the life and precepts of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, which was originally published in seventeen volumes. Every devotee should read it. Actually, every devotee should read every book of Srila Prabhupada’s, from Sri Isopanisad, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, The Nectar of Devotion, and Srimad-Bhagavatam, to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. Although Sri Caitanya-caritamrta covers a wide range of topics, it is a very advanced book of study, and we will read from the end of it.
jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda
“All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaitacandra! And all glories to all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
On this date, Sri Rama-ekadasi, in 1974, we went up the stairs to Srila Prabhupada’s quarters in the F-block in the back of the Juhu property. It was usual for us to go every morning at six o’clock to accompany Srila Prabhupada for his walk on Juhu Beach. But this time we were surprised to find that the door was locked. In fact, both doors—to his quarters and to his staff’s quarters—were locked, and we could not understand why. We knocked on the doors, and eventually Srila Prabhupada’s secretary Harikesa Prabhu opened the staff’s door and told us that Srila Prabhupada had just completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, that he had written the most beautiful glorification of his guru maharaja at the end, that he was in a very jubilant mood, and that he said we should celebrate by having a feast.
Now we shall read Srila Prabhupada’s “Concluding Words” to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
Today, Sunday, November 10, 1974—corresponding to the 10th of Kartika, Caitanya Era 488, the eleventh day of the dark fortnight, the Rama-ekadasi—we have now finished the English translation of Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in accordance with the authorized order of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Gosvami Maharaja, my beloved eternal spiritual master, guide, and friend. Although according to material vision His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada passed away from this material world on the last day of December, 1936, I still consider His Divine Grace to be always present with me by his vani, his words. There are two ways of association—by vani and by vapuh. Vani means “words,” and vapuh means “physical presence.” Physical presence is sometimes appreciable and sometimes not, but vani continues to exist eternally. Therefore we must take advantage of the vani, not the physical presence. The Bhagavad-gita, for example, is the vani of Lord Krsna. Although Krsna was personally present five thousand years ago and is no longer physically present from the materialistic point of view, the Bhagavad-gita continues.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Srila Prabhupada sets the theme for his Concluding Words in the very first sentence by saying that he had completed his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in accordance with the authorized order of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja—the order, the instruction, the words, the vani. Although Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had passed away on the last day of December in 1936, Srila Prabhupada was still connected with him by serving his instructions. Almost forty years after his guru maharaja disappeared, Srila Prabhupada was pleased to offer him his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. In other words, his relationship with his spiritual master was not diminished by the passage of time, because the association of vani continues eternally. In Srila Prabhupada’s dedication to his translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, he wrote, “To my eternal spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja. He lives eternally by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him.”
We never need to feel bereft of the association of the spiritual master or the parampara, because their association is always available through their words (vani), and as Srila Prabhupada wrote, we must take advantage of the vani. For example, Srila Prabhupada’s vani is available in his books. So we have to take advantage of his books. If we don’t read his books, if we don’t study his books, if we don’t discuss his books, how will we have his association? And we want his association.
A householder devotee in England told me that he was concerned about his son—not only his son, but also many other members of the congregation—because his son was focused on only his immediate authority in Krishna consciousness, whom he accepted as his guru. The devotee was concerned that his son should also develop his relationship with Srila Prabhupada, understanding that everything in ISKCON, including Prabhupada’s disciples, was the result of Prabhupada’s mercy. He felt that his son should have a proper, tangible, substantial relationship with Srila Prabhupada.
So, the father prevailed upon the son to start listening to Srila Prabhupada’s tapes and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books—systematically. And that boy started to awaken his relationship with Srila Prabhupada in a very tangible way. He hadn’t understood it before. He hadn’t understood that he could have a real, substantial, tangible relationship with Srila Prabhupada even in Prabhupada’s physical separation by hearing his words, reading his books. And then Srila Prabhupada started to come in his dreams. The boy is very pure. In his teens he went to Vrindavan and joined the twenty-four–hour kirtan party and was ready to live the rest of his life in Vrindavan just chanting the holy name. In particular, he was a very good mridanga player. So, he had a dream in which the deity of Srila Prabhupada sitting on his vyasasana in Vrindavan came to life. Many devotees have had dreams in which the deity of Srila Prabhupada comes to life. And he had another dream in which Srila Prabhupada was standing at the entrance to the temple room at Bhaktivedanta Manor, observing all the youth, including him, doing kirtan. After the kirtan, Srila Prabhupada walked over to him and said, “It is very good that you are engaged in kirtan. However, if one does kirtan simply to attract the opposite sex, this kind of kirtan will take one to the darkest regions of hell.” The boy took the dream as real and took the instruction to heart. And of course, what Srila Prabhupada said is true.
This is just one example of how we can establish our relationship with Srila Prabhupada—or any of the previous acharyas—through vani, through hearing the words, through reading the books.
Srila Prabhupada would take rest at about ten o’clock at night and then wake up at about midnight and translate. While practically everyone else was sleeping, he was translating for us. He was translating so that we would have these books to study and apply. So it is our duty, it is our privilege—it is a blessing, but it is also our duty—to read the books. Otherwise, it means that Srila Prabhupada was wasting his time writing books for us and we don’t even care enough to reciprocate and make the effort to study them. And Srila Prabhupada said that we should not only distribute his books but also read them. He said of his devotees that sankirtana will keep them happy and reading his books will keep them. So, we shall continue.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
In this connection we may call to memory the time when I was fortunate enough to meet His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, sometime in the year 1922. Srila Prabhupada had come to Calcutta from Sridhama Mayapur to start the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha. He was sitting in a house at Ulta Danga when through the inducement of an intimate friend, the late Sriman Narendranath Mullik, I had the opportunity to meet His Divine Grace for the first time. I do not remember the actual date of the meeting, but at that time I was one of the managers of Dr. Bose’s laboratory in Calcutta. I was a newly married young man, addicted to Gandhi’s movement and dressed in khadi. Fortunately, even at our first meeting His Divine Grace advised me to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in English in the Western countries. Because at that time I was a complete nationalist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s, I submitted to His Divine Grace that unless our country were freed from foreign subjugation, no one would hear the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seriously. Of course, we had some argument on this subject, but at last I was defeated and convinced that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message is the only panacea for suffering humanity. I was also convinced that the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was then in the hands of a very expert devotee and that surely the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spread all over the world. I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.
Srila Prabhupada was the leader of his circle of friends, and thus when Narendranath Mullik met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he wanted our Srila Prabhupada also to meet him, to give his verdict about him. Srila Prabhupada also described how across from his home in Calcutta there was a large building with many rooms and many men living there. During the day they would go out and earn money, and then in the evening they would come back and cook and eat their dinner and go to sleep, and then the next morning they would again go out to earn money and come back in the evening. Among them there was one man who, before going out each morning, would put on the robes of a sadhu and go out and collect money and later come back, take off his robes, eat with the other karmis, go to sleep, get up in the morning, and go out again.
Many sadhus would come to Srila Prabhupada’s father’s home, and Prabhupada was not very satisfied with their dealings. So when his friend invited him to meet the sadhu, he was not very eager to go, because he thought, as there were so many bogus sadhus who were cheating innocent people, that this might be another one. So he didn’t want to go. But his friend insisted, and ultimately Srila Prabhupada relented and went and met his eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
When Srila Prabhupada arrived, Srila Sarasvati Thakura was sitting on a raised platform (maybe on a cot that was set up as an asana), and everyone else was sitting down. There were some other seats, and Srila Prabhupada sat on one. And from the very first meeting, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura ordered him to preach the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the English language throughout the world. Srila Prabhupada, as a nationalist, as a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, argued, “Who will listen to India’s message, to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s message, when India is still under foreign subjugation? Even uncivilized countries like Japan have political independence. First India should gain political independence, and then people will be ready to hear the message.” But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did not accept his argument. He said, “The message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is transcendental. It will act independent of factors such as political independence or dependence, and the world needs the knowledge now. We cannot wait for India’s independence. We must present the message now.” And Srila Prabhupada said that he was defeated in argument by his guru maharaja. He said that he had never before been defeated in any argument but that he had been defeated by his guru maharaja and was happy about it.
Srila Prabhupada was newly married and had a small child, and so he could not take up the order of his spiritual master immediately. But he kept the instruction in his heart and was always thinking about when he would be able to take it up. This is an important instruction for us—that if due to circumstances we are unable to take up an instruction from the spiritual master, we should always keep that instruction in our heart and think of how we can execute it, pray to be able to execute it, and wait for the opportune moment when we will be able to do so.
I had an interaction with Srila Prabhupada in which he enunciated the same principle. In 1971 in Gorakhpur we were staying as guests of Sri Hanuman Prasad Poddar and the Gita Press in what had been Mr. Poddar’s estate, Sri Krishna Niketan. A new issue of Back to Godhead magazine had arrived, and the issue had an article that I had written. Srila Prabhupada read the article and called for me. “I’ve read your article,” he told me. “It is very nice. You should write.” And he added, “You can travel with me, and I will personally instruct you how to write.”
Some days later, one of the senior devotees, Hamsaduta, wanted to begin his world sankirtana party, and he asked Srila Prabhupada if he could have me on his party. And Srila Prabhupada agreed. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to travel with Prabhupada and get personal instructions on how to write, but I had faith that whatever he did was ultimately the best for all concerned. So I accepted the decision to go with Hamsaduta.
This was before computers; in India even typewriters were rare. If you needed a document typed, you had to go to the court and find someone outside the courtroom to type your document. The materials for writing were pen and paper. So, when I got the instruction from Srila Prabhupada to write, I went out and bought pens and lined paper. But travelling with Hamsaduta, I did not have much time. We had a very busy schedule, going to Agra and Aligarh. And then Hamsaduta Prabhu got a telegram from Srila Prabhupada saying, “We are planning a big pandal program in Bombay. Come with party immediately.”
So, we all packed up and came to Bombay. Shyamasundar Prabhu was the temple president. He had a meeting with everyone to divide up the duties, and he asked me to collect advertisements for the souvenir magazine to raise funds for the pandal program. I told him that Srila Prabhupada had instructed me to write as my main business. Shyamasundar Prabhu said, “You can write anytime, but this is a special occasion, a time when we can go into any man’s office in Bombay and ask him to give an advertisement for the souvenir. We need to get advertisements to raise funds for the pandal. So do this now, and you can take up your writing later.” I thought that what Shyamasundar Prabhu said made sense, and I also knew that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to cooperate with our authorities, so I agreed.
Then, some days later, Srila Prabhupada arrived, and, as usual, all the disciples entered his sitting room with him, and he glanced around the room, at each disciple, maybe exchanging some few words. When he came to me, he said, “So, Giriraj, how is your writing going?” I was completely flustered; I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to speak, but nothing clear was coming out. Srila Prabhupada said, “Okay, we’ll discuss later.” Then, after a while, he called for me. I was alone in the room with him, and he asked me, “So, what about your writing?” I was in anxiety, because I wasn’t sure if I had done the right thing. But I explained what Shyamasundar Prabhu had said and how it made sense to me and also how I knew that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to cooperate with our authorities, so I thought I should cooperate. “Did I do the right thing?” I asked. He replied, “One can suspend temporarily the order of the spiritual master, but one can never neglect it.” And then he gave his own example: “Like me—my guru maharaja also instructed me to write, but I’m so busy travelling in India, I hardly have time to write. You can suspend the order of the spiritual master, but you can never neglect it.”
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.
In this way I passed my life as a householder until 1950, when I retired from family life as a vanaprastha. With no companion, I loitered here and there until 1958, when I took sannyasa. Then I was completely ready to discharge the order of my spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada describes how he would have dreams in which his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, would come to him and call him to follow him. Srila Prabhupada would wake up in anxiety because he would think, “Oh, Guru Maharaja is calling me to follow him. He wants me to preach. He wants me to leave my family.” And he was in a panic because he was thinking, “How can I leave my family? How can I live alone?” Then one of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers, another disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, His Holiness Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, encouraged him, “You should take sannyasa. You cannot really take up the order of Guru Maharaja to preach unless you take sannyasa.” When that godbrother passed away in 1968, Srila Prabhupada gave a nice talk about him, saying how that godbrother had forced him to take sannyasa. “Actually, he did not force me to take sannyasa,” he said. “My guru maharaja forced me to take sannyasa through my godbrother.” So, this is another instruction—that a sincere disciple can receive instructions from his spiritual master through others.
I had one exchange here in Juhu that suggested the same idea. Srila Prabhupada was staying upstairs in his new quarters, and he was very ill. He was not meeting anyone, he was hardly speaking or eating, and no one was allowed to see him. Tamal Krishna Goswami was Srila Prabhupada’s personal secretary, and he would sit in the front room.
One day, I went up to Prabhupada’s quarters to see Tamal Krishna. Mindful not to disturb Prabhupada, we met in the furthest outside room, where Tamal Krishna had his desk, and spoke in whispers—with two sets of closed doors between us and Prabhupada. Tamal greeted me with a warm embrace and then asked me to go to the bank to make a deposit.
“I am the temple president,” I thought. “I have so much important work to do that nobody else can do. Why me? Why do I have to go to the bank? Anyone can go to the bank and make a deposit.” So I told Tamal, “There are so many devotees who can make a bank deposit, but there are many things that only I can do, so better I do those things and let someone else make the deposit.” Perhaps on some deeper level, based on envy and false ego, I may have been considering, “Who are you to tell me to go to the bank?” Anyway, we were discussing back and forth, in hushed tones, so as not to disturb Prabhupada.
Suddenly Srila Prabhupada rang his bell, and Tamal Krishna and I raced around the outside hallway and entered Prabhupada’s room. Especially then, it was a rare treat to be summoned into his presence.
“Now you have to do so many things,” Prabhupada said to me straight away, chuckling. “Again, another burden. You have to do all these things. So, how is your preaching?”
I wasn’t sure exactly what Prabhupada meant, but he knew that I sometimes felt burdened by management and preferred to preach.
I gave him a report about our recent preaching successes, and he spoke about the mood of a Vaishnava and the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. “If one does not present Bhagavad-gita as it is,” he asked, “then where is its authority?” And then, apparently to illustrate his point, he said, “If I say, ‘Giriraj, you go there, to the bank,’ and ‘No, no, I cannot do this; I can do only this,’ then where is my authority?” Then he laughed. “Just see.”
I didn’t think Prabhupada could possibly have heard my exchange with Tamal Krishna; we had been separated by a room and two closed doors. Krishna, I thought, must have inspired him from within. And further, he had pointed out a defect in my mentality, that I was seeing Tamal Krishna independent of him, thinking he was just my godbrother, and that I should have seen him as Prabhupada’s representative, that it was Prabhupada’s order coming to me through him.
I thought of Prabhupada’s opening words: “Now you have to do so many things. Again, another burden. You have to do all these things.” He had spoken with emphasis: “You have to do all these things.” And I understood that if I saw the service as coming from Prabhupada, I wouldn’t feel it a burden.
Later, when I described the incident to our godbrother Tejyas Prabhu, Tejyas opined that Srila Prabhupada had highly acute senses and could hear things that no one else could hear. We could be whispering, and no one else could hear it, but because of his highly attuned senses, he could have heard the discussion.
In any case, the point is not that Prabhupada knew that I was arguing with Tamal Krishna; his real instruction came in the statement “If I say, ‘Giriraj, you go there, to the bank,’ and ‘No, no, I cannot do this; I can do only this,’ then where is my authority?” Srila Prabhupada was asking me to go to the bank through Tamal Krishna Goswami. I was thinking, “We’re godbrothers. Yes, he is a little more senior, but we’re both godbrothers, and he can’t really tell me what to do. I am the temple president, and as temple president, I am my own authority.” But Srila Prabhupada was saying, “If the spiritual master asks you to go to the bank and you refuse, where is the surrender?” He wanted me to understand that he could be giving me orders or instructions through others, that the orders or instructions didn’t have to come through him directly, and he manifested that mood in relation to his godbrother Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja—“My guru maharaja forced me to take sannyasa through my godbrother.”
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
After he passed away, I started the fortnightly magazine Back to Godhead sometime in 1944 and tried to spread the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu through this magazine. After I took sannyasa, a well-wishing friend suggested that I write books instead of magazines. Magazines, he said, might be thrown away, but books remain perpetually.
Here’s another example: he took the advice of his friend very seriously because his friend’s advice was in support of his spiritual master’s instruction.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
Then I attempted to write Srimad-Bhagavatam. Before that, when I was a householder, I had written on Srimad Bhagavad-gita and had completed about eleven hundred pages, but somehow or other the manuscript was stolen. In any case, when I had published Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, in three volumes in India, I thought of going to the USA. By the mercy of His Divine Grace, I was able to come to New York on September 17, 1965. Since then, I have translated many books, including Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Teachings of Lord Caitanya (a summary), and many others.
In the meantime, I was induced to translate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and publish it in an elaborate version. In his leisure time in later life, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would simply read Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. It was his favorite book. He used to say that there would be a time when foreigners would learn the Bengali language to read the Caitanya-caritamrta. The work on this translation began about eighteen months ago. Now, by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, it is finished. In this connection I have to thank my American disciples, especially Sriman Pradyumna dasa Adhikari, Sriman Nitai dasa Adhikari, Sriman Jayadvaita dasa Brahmacari and many other boys and girls who are sincerely helping me in writing, editing, and publishing all these literatures.
Srila Prabhupada translated seventeen volumes in eighteen months. That’s one volume a month. No one can do that. No ordinary human being can do that, and while it was happening, Srila Prabhupada was chiding us like anything for not bringing out the books. He had the manuscripts ready, but the books were not being published. So he told Ramesvara Prabhu, who was head of the BBT in Los Angeles, that he wanted all the volumes published in four months. Only maybe two or three had been published, so there were fourteen volumes left. Using material calculation, Ramesvara said, “It is impossible.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary.” Then Ramesvara said, “Well, what if we can’t do it?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Disqualified.” In other words, “If you can’t do it, you are not qualified to be in charge of the BBT and we’ll have to find someone else.”
So, they surrendered to the order. It is said that when the spiritual master gives an instruction, the power to execute that instruction comes with it. And the devotees totally surrendered to the instruction. They reorganized the BBT and were working day and night, hardly eating or sleeping, and they did it.
Here in Juhu, too, Srila Prabhupada had the design for the temple, and he kept complaining that the work was going too slowly. I was bringing people from the construction line to meet him, and finally I brought Mr. G. L. Raheja, who was a big builder in the suburbs. Srila Prabhupada showed him the plans, the blueprints, and said, “I want this temple complex finished in six months. Do you think it can be done?” Mr. Raheja said, “Yes.” So Prabhupada said, “Okay.” Now, it is a long story, but ultimately it was built in two years and eight months, and during that time we felt that we were doing nothing. Prabhupada was constantly asking us, “Why is it going so slow? Why is it going so slow?” Now, when people hear that this huge temple was built in two years and eight months, they think, “That’s really fast. How could you build it so quickly?” But in Srila Prabhupada’s presence it was not fast—it was way too slow.
What I am saying is that Srila Prabhupada could do things that no human being could do, and he gave us instructions that were beyond our capacity. But if we surrendered to his instructions and tried our best, sincerely and with intelligence, we could do things that would be very difficult for ordinary people to do.
Now we come to the penultimate paragraph, and this is revolutionary, so please listen with rapt attention.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
I think that His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is always seeing my activities and guiding me within my heart by his words. As it is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye [SB 1.1.1]. Spiritual inspiration comes from within the heart, wherein the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His Paramatma feature, is always sitting with all His devotees and associates.
We all accept that Krishna is in the heart. It is a basic instruction in the Bhagavad-gita: sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto. But here Srila Prabhupada says that his translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta was guided by his spiritual master within the heart. Now, of course, Srila Prabhupada received the instruction to write in English from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and kept that instruction in his heart, but here Prabhupada seems to be saying more that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was actually sitting in his heart as one of the associates of the Supersoul and from within the heart could give active, dynamic guidance.
This subject is discussed in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam in relation to the disappearance of the spiritual master. It is actually a metaphor—that a king and his wife entered the vanaprastha-ashrama and went into the forest, and the king died, leaving his widow alone. Figuratively, the king is the spiritual master and the widow is the disciple. After the king died, an old friend came to the widow—the old friend who came in the form of a brahman is considered to be the Supersoul, or a representative of the Supersoul.
So, there’s a lot of discussion how one can get guidance from the spiritual master after the disappearance of the spiritual master. The widow was ready to enter into fire—sati—and Srila Prabhupada explains that this means that the disciple should be ready to lay down his life for the mission of the spiritual master. When the disciple is ready to take up the order of the spiritual master or the mission of the spiritual master without any consideration of personal gain or loss, he is ready to lay down his life to execute the order of the spiritual master; he would rather die than fail to execute the order of the spiritual master. At that time the spiritual master appears to the disciple to give him instruction.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master, because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work.
There was another time when Srila Prabhupada was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter in America after having published so many books in such a short time. And he said that actually he hadn’t written the books; Krishna had. The newspaper reporter was a little confused about what that meant, and one of Prabhupada’s disciples explained that Prabhupada had meant that Krishna had given him the intelligence to write the books. But Srila Prabhupada said, “No. Krishna wrote directly.” And he would read his own books. Any ordinary author, when he writes a book, that’s the end of it; he doesn’t read the book he just wrote. And he’ll go on to the next book. But Srila Prabhupada would read his own books. What author reads his own books? Only if the subject is transcendental will an author read his own books.
Srutakirti Prabhu went into Srila Prabhupada’s room one day when Prabhupada was reading Krsna book. “These books are so wonderful,” Prabhupada said. “If you just read this book Krsna, you can become completely Krishna conscious.” Then he said, “Not even the whole book—if you read just one chapter, you can become completely Krishna conscious.” And then he said, “Not even one chapter—if you read one page, you can become completely Krishna conscious. Not even a page—if you read just one paragraph, you can become completely Krishna conscious. Not even a paragraph—if you read just one sentence, you can become completely Krishna conscious. Not even a full sentence—if you read just one word, you can become completely Krishna conscious.” Because these books are Krishna. They are written by Krishna or Krishna’s pure devotees, and they are Krishna. You are associating with Krishna. By associating with Krishna, you can become fully Krishna conscious, which is what we are meant to do.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
It is to be admitted that whatever translation work I have done is through the inspiration of my spiritual master, because personally I am most insignificant and incompetent to do this materially impossible work. I do not think myself a very learned scholar, but I have full faith in the service of my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. If there is any credit to my activities of translating, it is all due to His Divine Grace.
Prabhupada is not taking any credit for himself. He is giving all credit to his spiritual master.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
Certainly if His Divine Grace were physically present at this time, it would have been a great occasion for jubilation, but even though he is not physically present, I am confident that he is very much pleased by this work of translation. He was very fond of seeing many books published to spread the Krsna consciousness movement. Therefore our society, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has been formed to execute the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
So, we come back to the theme of the order of the spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada began by saying that he translated Sri Caitanya-caritamrta under the authorized instruction of his spiritual master. Now he is saying that he formed the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to execute the order of the spiritual master and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. What order? The order to print and distribute books. There are other orders, of course, but specifically Prabhupada is focusing on the order to print and distribute books.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
It is my wish that devotees of Lord Caitanya all over the world enjoy this translation . . .
The same thing: we shouldn’t just distribute the books; we should read them. We should relish them, we should enjoy them, we should make ourselves one with them.
CONCLUDING WORDS (continued)
. . . and I am glad to express my gratitude to the learned men in the Western countries who are so pleased with my work that they are ordering in advance all my books that will be published in the future. On this occasion, therefore, I request my disciples who are determined to help me in this work . . .
We are all disciples—some siksa disciples, some diksa disciples.
CONCLUDING WORDS (concluded)
On this occasion, therefore, I request my disciples who are determined to help me in this work to continue their cooperation fully, so that philosophers, scholars, religionists, and people in general all over the world will benefit by reading our transcendental literatures, such as Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta dated November 10th, 1974, at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Bombay.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta ki jaya!
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust ki jaya!
Hare Krishna Land ki jaya!
Gaura-bhakta-vrnda ki jaya!
So, it is very good that today is Ekadasi, because we don’t have to worry about prasada. We can follow Srila Prabhupada’s instruction, or Rupa Gosvami’s instruction, that on Ekadasi one should spend the day and night chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. Still, I do not want to cause any disturbance, so I will limit the questions and answers according to my discretion.
Premanjana dasa: My question is that I—most of us—have never seen Srila Prabhupada, so how can we have a strong attachment to him? How can we love him? How can we serve him more and more, and how can we know more about him? We have his books, of course. But personal association makes a difference. There is a difference between my speaking with you and my reading your books.
Giriraj Swami: That’s true. So, your question is how to increase your attachment for Srila Prabhupada?
Premanjana dasa: Right now Srila Prabhupada’s disciples are present, but maybe after twenty or thirty years, there will be no one. So who will guide us who have never seen Srila Prabhupada?
Giriraj Swami: As you said, there are the books, and there are recorded talks and conversations, but there are also books about Srila Prabhupada, such as Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. Everyone should read Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. And Yadubara Prabhu has compiled a wonderful video series called Following Srila Prabhupada with all the live footage of Srila Prabhupada, with, where possible, live recorded sound, or, otherwise, memories from devotees who were there. Another disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Siddhanta dasa, has brought out the series Remembering Srila Prabhupada, in which disciples share memories of Srila Prabhupada. And, as you hinted, the direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada who have imbibed his mood and are following his instructions—by their association you can get a sense of Srila Prabhupada.
Still, there is a difference between books and physical presence. Srimad-Bhagavatam states, nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya: by serving the book Bhagavata or the person bhagavata, one gets the same result. A disciple once asked Srila Prabhupada if one was better than the other, and Prabhupada replied that the person bhagavata was better, because the person bhagavata can catch you by the ear. The theme of the Concluding Words is that the book Bhagavata is better, because the books continue perpetually. So in that sense the book Bhagavata is better, but in another sense the person bhagavata is better.
Devotee (2): Maharaja, first of all it was a very nice krsna-katha. My question is: We know that we have to give importance to the instructions of the spiritual master or the orders of our authorities, which sometimes seem to be different, even contrary to each other. And we are always fearful if we try to follow the orders of our spiritual master that in fulfilling the orders of the authority we somehow fail to follow the orders of our spiritual master. Then what?
Giriraj Swami: This is a very intelligent question. Such a situation took place in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Svayambhuva Manu, the first manu in this period of time, had a son named Priyavrata. Narada Muni instructed Priyavrata that he should not marry but should dedicate himself fully to spiritual life. But Svayambhuva Manu wanted Priyavrata to marry and take charge of the kingdom, because Svayambhuva Manu himself wanted to retire to enter vanaprastha-ashrama, and he needed Priyavrata to manage the kingdom.
Now, both were authorities. Not only was Svayambhuva Manu Priyavrata’s father, but he is also one of the mahajanas, one of the twelve mahajanas—Svayambhu, Narada, Sambhu. Manu is one of the twelve. So, Priyavrata was in a dilemma because he received one instruction from one bona fide authority and a different instruction from another bona fide authority. What to do?
So, it was a very tense situation. Then Lord Brahma came personally. Lord Brahma is also a mahajana—Svayambhu, Narada, Sambhu, Kapila, Manu. And he was superior to both because he is the father of Manu and Narada. He told Priyavrata that he should marry because his father wanted to renounce his material responsibilities and dedicate himself to God. Priyavrata was in a dilemma.
Srila Prabhupada explains that the disciple must be intelligent enough to reconcile different instructions from bona fide authorities—from the spiritual master and the grand spiritual master—because Narada was Priyavrata’s spiritual master and Brahma was his grand spiritual master. So, what did Priyavrata do? Externally he got married and took charge of the kingdom, but internally he remained detached, like what we read and discussed earlier. Although he could not immediately execute the order to renounce material responsibilities, he always kept it in his heart and abided the time when he could take up the order. Then, when he was sufficiently old and there were others to take charge of the kingdom, he and his wife, who had faithfully assisted him, renounced their material responsibilities—though, in a way, it is all spiritual—and fully absorbed themselves in God. The Bhagavatam describes that at the end Priyavrata went back home, back to Godhead, and his wife also went back home, back to Godhead.
So, as Srila Prabhupada said, the disciple has to be intelligent enough to reconcile different bona fide instructions from different bona fide authorities and somehow fulfill the demands of all the instructions of all the authorities.
Devotee (3): Throughout your talk, you used the title Srila before “Prabhupada.” That honorific title is often omitted by speakers. This shows deeper love and reverence. Are others also supposed to use Srila before “Prabhupada”?
Giriraj Swami: I feel more comfortable using the honorific Srila. In the early days of the movement we used to call Prabhupada Swamiji, but then he commented that Swamiji was not a very good term. So we started to call him Prabhupada, and then the Srila got added. I’m used to that culture, and I feel it is more respectful, but I would hesitate to judge someone on the basis of whether or not he says “Srila.”
Devotee (4): Maharaja, you spoke about how Prabhupada emphasized surrender. In the Bhagavad-gita there is a verse that in surrendering one should not fear. So, can you explain that? Even Priyavrata was fearing, in his surrender. So, is there a role of fear in surrendering, or one should not fear at all?
Giriraj Swami: Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: “Surrender unto Me.” Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo: “I will free you from all sinful reactions.” Ma sucah: “Do not fear.” So we should not fear that Krishna will not protect us if we surrender to Him. We should not fear that if we are following the orders of Krishna and perhaps neglecting some mundane duties, that we are doing the wrong thing or that we will suffer. But we should be afraid of deviating from Krishna’s instructions. In other words, we should be afraid of maya. That type of fear is healthy, but we should not be afraid that if we surrender to Krishna we will lose. We should not have that fear. But the surrender has to be genuine, with sincerity and intelligence. Surrender to Krishna doesn’t mean that we sit down and do nothing and wait for Krishna to put food in our mouth. Yes, we depend on Krishna for our necessities, but we do our duty—and depend on Krishna for the result. If we neglect our duty in the name of depending on Krishna, that is not actual surrender. We do our duty and depend on Krishna. Only when one is in the paramahamsa stage is he considered completely transcendental to one’s duties in varna and ashrama, and then he can just chant Hare Krishna and depend completely on Krishna. But preachers such as Srila Prabhupada, even if they are on the most advanced stage, when they take responsibility to preach, they act like madhyama-bhaktas to set the example for others.
Devotee (5): We want to follow the instructions of our spiritual master wholeheartedly, but seeing that in ISKCON there are many gurus who have many disciples and sometimes there is politics and partiality, how should we respond to such a situation?
Giriraj Swami: In The Nectar of Devotion Srila Prabhupada writes, Rupa Gosvami writes, that the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu will deal with principles but not details. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that to follow the orders of the spiritual master is a principle and that the fact that one spiritual master’s orders may differ from another spiritual master’s orders is a detail. In other words, one spiritual master may give an instruction, and another spiritual master may give a different instruction, but that’s a detail; the principle is that we should follow the order of the spiritual master.
Coming back to the example of Priyavrata, Srila Prabhupada is the founder-acharya and either the spiritual master or grand spiritual master of all the devotees in ISKCON, so we should follow Srila Prabhupada—but Srila Prabhupada also told us that we should follow his representatives. That’s also following Srila Prabhupada. For example, Srila Prabhupada told me to write and Shyamasundar Prabhu told me to collect, but Prabhupada also said to follow his representative. Shyamasundar was his representative—he was the temple president—so by following him, I was following Srila Prabhupada’s other instruction to follow his appointed representatives. So, somehow we have to reconcile these things.
As far as partiality, in principle the authorities should be impartial. They shouldn’t favor their disciples. But my question to you is, Why does it bother you? Bhakti Tirtha Swami was born in a black body, and he told Srila Prabhupada, “Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON is supposed to be a spiritual movement, but there’s prejudice against black devotees.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “If you identify yourself as a black devotee and get disturbed by the prejudice against black devotees, you’re the same as they are.”
But to be given contradictory instructions by superior authorities is a difficult situation to be in. The best thing is for the superior authorities to discuss between themselves and together agree upon a conclusion for you. So one approach, if practical, would be for you to say, “Guru Maharaja, you are telling me one thing and the other authority is telling me something else—I am in an awkward situation.” Or you tell the other authority, “You are telling me something and my guru maharaja is telling me something else—I am in an awkward position. If the two of you could please discuss what you want me to do and when the two of you agree, let me know, I will be happy to do it.” That would be the best thing. Otherwise you are caught in between.
Thank you very much.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta ki jaya!
Gaura-bhakta-vrnda ki jaya!
[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Sri Rama-ekadasi, October 23, 2011, Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari Temple, Juhu, Mumbai]