Jul 132018
 

The Deities of Lord Caitanya and Nityānanda Prabhu in Atlanta are over four feet tall and effulgent. Their lotus feet are usually fully visible, transcendentally poised atop the whorls of lotus flowers. Their arms are upraised about Their heads, and They urge everyone to dance and taste the nectar of the holy names of Kṛṣṇa. Their faces show mild, compassionate smiles. And the mode of worship of God They are delivering, as described by Śrīla Prabhupāda, is very, very lenient and easy to perform for the unfortunate people of the present age.

On his arrival within the Atlanta temple, Śrīla Prabhupāda was very moved to see Gaura-Nitāi. Now in three consecutive stops he had entered each ISKCON temple for the first time and taken the darśana of Gaura-Nitāi. This time, as in Caracas, it overwhelmed him.

About three hundred superenthusiastic devotees had gathered to meet him. Aside from the residential devotees of the Atlanta temple, some forty brahmacārīs from Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami’s Rādhā-Dāmodara bus parties, about a dozen brahmacārīs from Satsvarūpa Mahārāja’s traveling library party, about a dozen men from Tripurāri’s airport book distribution party, the devotee-scientists of Svarūpa Dāamodara’s Bhaktivedanta Institute group, and other visitors were present. They had greeted Prabhupāda outside the building as he had pulled up in a black Lincoln, and now they followed him with an uproarious kīrtana into the temple room within the large house that served as the Atlanta temple.

Śrīla Prabhupāda stood before the Deities. The ceiling and walls of the Deity room were mirrored and produced an unusual effect, multiplying the images of the Gaura-Nitāi Deities. Prabhupāda approved of it. He then walked from the front altar to his vyāsāsana, glancing upon the devotees as they parted their tight ranks and allowed him to pass. He sat upon the vyāsāsana, facing the devotees, who quickly hushed into silence.

“So I am very glad to see you,” Śrīla Prabhupāda began. “I am coming first of all from Mexico City, then Caracas, then Miami. I see your temple is the best.” At this, the assembled devotees, especially the Atlanta devotees, burst into loud, unrestrained cheers and cries of “Jaya!” “Haribol!”

“So Caitanya Mahāprabhu is very kind,” Śrīla Prabhupāda continued. “Parama karuṇa, pahū dui jana. Two Lords, Nitāi-Gauracandra, Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, They are very kind, you see. They have appeared just to reclaim the fallen souls of this age. So They are more kind than Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa, He is also very kind. He comes to deliver, but Kṛṣṇa demands, First of all surrender.” But Caitanya Mahāprabhu does not demand.” At this point, Śrīla Prabhupāda became overwhelmed with transcendental emotion. He tried to speak. He uttered, “He is so kind,” but then his voice broke, and he began to shed tears. He spoke on, but his voice became very high as he was gripped by an ecstasy that made him helpless and inconceivably humble. “So take shelter of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu,” he cried out, “and be happy. Thank you very much.” And then he stopped, unable to say more. The devotees themselves felt carried away and cried out, “‘Haribol!” in loud unison. Then, as if commanded, they all bowed down and uttered obeisances. “nama oṁ viṣṇu-padāya…” Śrīla Prabhupāda’s arrival address was thus completed in two minutes, and he motioned to his servant that he wanted to go. The devotees were stunned at his brief, powerful entry.

That same evening Prabhupāda came down again from his room. Again he sat on his vyāsāsana and said he would teach a song, “Parama Karuṇa”. He started chanting slowly with his karatālas, and the devotees tried to follow, although few knew the song.

parama karuṇa, pahū dui jana,
nitāi-gauracandra
saba avatāra-sāra-śiromaṇi,
kevala ānanda-kanda

After a few moments, he asked devotees to play along with him on mṛdaṅga. A few tried, but no one seemed able to find the right beat. Śrīla Prabhupāda then stopped them and said he would show the right drum pattern. He had a devotee rewind the tape recorder that had just recorded Prabhupāda playing karatālas and chanting, so that he could accompany himself. The devotees were especially surprised since no one could remember exactly how long it had been since he had played the mṛdaṅga. The devotees produced one old mṛdaṅga, but it sounded dead. A second drum was passed forward, but it was also dead. Then a boy offered his personal drum, a mṛdaṅga covered with a bright red and gold cloth. Śrīla Prabhupāda placed it on his lap, tested it, and found it acceptable. He then began to play, while devotees taped a complete recording of Prabhupāda playing karatālas, mṛdaṅga, and singing. In another unusual touch, Śrīla Prabhupāda had put on his glasses, adding an air of studious concentration to his playing and singing.

bhajo bhajo bhāi, caitanya nitāi
sudṛḍha biśwāsa kori’
viṣaya chāḍiyā, se rase majiyā,
mukhe bolo hari hari

When Prabhupāda finished singing, he explained. “Pahū means prabhu. A shortcut of prabhu is pahū. Prabhu means ‘lord’ or ‘master.’ So these two Prabhus are Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is addressed as Mahāprabhu, and others are addressed as Prabhu. So these two Prabhus, Nityānanda Prabhu and Caitanya Mahāprabhu, are very merciful.” It was as if Śrīla Prabhupāda was giving a purport to the uncontrollable ecstasy that overcame him earlier when he was unable to speak.

“Parama karuṇa means ‘extremely merciful,’” Prabhupāda explained. “Extremely merciful because Kṛṣṇa is also merciful, since He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His original feature. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is also Kṛṣṇa, but He is acting as devotee. He is not acting as Kṛṣṇa. He is acting as devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te/ kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne.

Śrīla Prabhupāda then quoted the verse by Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya further describing the mercy of Lord Caitanya. “Lord Caitanya has come to teach us because we are all in the bodily concept of life. He has come to teach us detachment and devotional service to Kṛṣṇa.” Prabhupāda recited another verse, the one Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu offered to Ramānanda Rāya as the perfection of religion. That verse begins jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva. “The meaning,” Śrīla Prabhupāda explained, “is that one should give up other processes and just hear about Kṛṣṇa. And to hear about Him you do not require to change your position. Stāne sthitāḥ. You are scientist, that is all right. You are lawyer, that’s all right. You are fool, that’s all right.… But you do one thing. You use your ear and hear from the realized soul.” In his explanation, Śrīla Prabhupāda told of different events from the life of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. “That Caitanya Mahāprabhu has come here in Atlanta,” he concluded. “So you worship this Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Parama karuṇa, pahū dui jana. They are very, very merciful. A little service will enhance your devotional service to a larger scale.”

The next morning devotees rushed to accompany Śrīla Prabhupada on a walk in Piedmont Park. Book distributors from Tripurāri’s party as well as the library party men went along to ask Śrīla Prabhupāda questions. The weather was unusually cold. Balavanta, the temple president, had warmed up the car ten minutes in advance so that Prabhupāda would not be cold. “This cold is not bad,” Prabhupāda remarked. “Actually it is pleasant.” Nevertheless, Śrīla Prabhupāda wore his full-length saffron coat with hood and lining. He left his head uncovered, and his forehead bore fresh white tilaka marks. Several garlands were draped over his chest. Walking briskly, he strode through the dew-laden park, while devotees ran alongside, covering their heads with cādars and rubbing their hands together in the invigorating, chilly air.

Tripurāri: “Śrīla Prabhupāda, sometimes when we give someone a book, he says, ‘I would never read it.’”

Prabhupāda chuckled. “You ask him, ‘So you want to remain mūḍha?.’”

Tripurari: “‘We say, ‘No, take it home, and some day you will read it.’ But they think they can find out on their own.”

Prabhupāda: “That is foolishness. They cannot. Mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te.”

As they walked, Prabhupāda noticed a big sign by the lake marked “No swimming.” “Oh,” Prabhupāda remarked, “who is going to swim now?” The devotees laughed, a comic relief to their shivering.

Tripurari: “Once Balavanta was very sick when he was dealing with politicians, and I heard that you said that it was because by touching them and associating with them he accepted some of their sinful reactions.”

Prabhupāda chuckled again. “I did not say. But it may be.”

Tripurari: “So I was wondering, sometimes our men on saṅkīrtana are shaking hands—”

Prabhupāda: “If you are on saṅkīrtana, you cannot be infected. If somebody is infected, then preaching will stop. If a doctor is infected, then treatment will stop. But the doctor is never infected. They have good precautions. Similarly, when you are engaged in saṅkīrtana, māyā cannot touch. Māyām etāṁ taranti te.”

One of the devotees from the library party spoke up and told some of their experiences in dealing with professors.

Devotee: “When we take your books out on the library party to the professors, they say that they are very surprised that one person has written so many books.”

“So I am also surprised,” Prabhupāda said, “how I have written so many, what to speak of them. It is all Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.”

Devotee: “One professor the other day was saying just like a devotee that you were coming in disciplic succession and were authorized to translate all these books.”

“Yes, that is right,” Prabhupāda agreed. “In fact, that authority I have got. I was explaining last evening, Don’t speculate. That is the qualification. All others, they are simply speculating.” For most of the devotees on the walk that morning, it was the first time they had ever been able to approach Śrīla Prabhupāda in person. They had been dedicatedly serving him day and night for years, and this was the chance of a lifetime. In some cases, the questions they asked were calculated to wash away all their doubts and would be the basis of their entire devotional strength in the future. In this mood one of the library party distributors, Mahābuddhi, moved in close beside Prabhupāda.

“Śrīla Prabhupāda,” Mahābuddhi said, “in my service I have to always meet many educated people, much more educated than I am. So we are trying to present the philosophy, but I’m not so inclined to study all your books. I’m just not scholarly inclined.”

Prabhupāda laughed and replied, “Just pray to Kṛṣṇa then. Teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam.… Pray like this to Kṛṣṇa every day. “My dear Kṛṣṇa, please give me the intelligence so that I may be able to become empowered.”

On the second day of Prabhupāda’s jam-packed stay in Atlanta, the devotee-scientists wanted to see him. Śrīla Prabhupada had already given his Ph.D. disciple Svarfipa Damodara many instructions on defeating the atheistic theories of the scientists, and Svarapa Damodara had written a small book, The Scientific Basis of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, which pleased Śrīla Prabhupada very much. Now Svarūpa Dāmodara, Sadāpūta, and other Ph.D. scientists who had become Śrīla Prabhupāda’s initiated disciples gathered in Atlanta to get his darśana and further advice. They also hoped to hear Śrīla Prabhupāda talk with some guests they had invited from the scientific world.

In a meeting with these disciple-scientists, Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed his intense desire to see Kṛṣṇa conscious philosophy defeat the bombastic claims of science that life occurs by chance or from matter. “These people have no common sense,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said. “And they all pass as scientists. That we must protest, because we are servants of God. We are not servants of scientists. Call them directly ‘rascal.’ We are not a scientist, but we speak from common sense. That’s all. So many people are being misled by these scientists and politicians.”

Śrīla Prabhupāda commented that the creation is already created, and therefore the scientists should get no credit in their latest attempts to imitate the creation with their “test tube babies.”

“We have got the test tube—” Śrīla Prabhupāda said, “Bhagavad-gītā. As soon as you see a man who has not surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, all right, then he is a mūḍha. That’s all.”

Like the book distributors, Svarūpa Dāmodara and his scientist-Godbrothers questioned Prabhupāda to their hearts’ content, and with great enthusiasm he urged them to answer as he was doing and “expose the rascals.”

On the same day, in the presence of his scientist-disciples, Śrīla Prabhupāda met with an Indian scientist who was a specialist in nutrition. The man explained that his work benefited mankind by finding the cause of and treating protein deficiencies. Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “Suppose the birds and beasts have no research institute. Yet there is sufficient protein supplied by nature. An elephant has got a big body and so much strength, but they have not found that by your scientific research. The nature is supplying. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ. It is being done. Why you are wasting time in this way? You study what is prakṛti and what is behind prakṛti. That is real study. The protein supply is already being done. Just like a cow is eating grass. And she is supplying milk, full of protein. So do you think that the protein is coming from the grass? Can you eat grass?”

Scientist: “Something must be—”

Prabhupāda: “That is something, that is not perfect knowledge. Everyone knows the cow does not take any protein food. She takes on the grass.”

Scientist: “Grass is quite rich in protein.”

Prabhupāda: “Then you take. Why are you searching after protein?”

Scientist: “Because we cannot digest the fiber in it.”

Prabhupāda: “Then it is not suitable for you. Therefore nature’s arrangement is that protein can be produced through the body of the cow.”

Scientist: “I think, Swamiji, nature’s arrangement was not made for that many human beings as we have now on the earth.”

Prabhupāda: “Nature was defective, you mean to say?”

Scientist: “No, sir.”

Prabhupāda: “Then?”

Scientist: “I mean nature’s way is designed that the ecological balance of the…”

And so it went. When the Indian scientist said that the flesh of the cow was valuable for its protein, Prabhupāda became disgusted. “But however much protein you may accumulate,” Prabhupāda challenged, “can you stop your death?”

After debating some forty minutes with the Indian scientist, the devotees abruptly brought a professor of religion from Emory University into the room. It was simply one meeting after another for Śrīla Prabhupāda. The devotees were perhaps not completely aware that they were, in effect, asking Śrīla Prabhupāda to talk nonstop all day. But he did not complain. He immediately asked the professor, “What is your definition of religion?” And then in the silence Prabhupāda launched into a definitive discussion of God consciousness according to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Along with the professor had come several Orthodox Christians. In the course of the discussion, one of them said to Śrīla Prabhupāda, “God is my life. Without Him I cannot live. I understand what you are saying, but I believe that our tradition from the Old Testament says that we were created by God.” Śrīla Prabhupāda had been explaining that the living entity is never created but is eternal, just like God.

Prabhupāda: “Yes, in one sense we are created. Just like the father creates the sons. It is not that the sons create the father. In that sense we are created. So taking this word, the sons are created; therefore the father existed before our creation.”

The Orthodox Christian respected Prabhupāda’s explanation and seemed to sense that behind the apparent differences, Prabhupāda, like he, was a follower of God.

“It’s a mystery,” the Christian said reverently. “We can only bow down before Him then.”

“That is our business,” Prabhupāda said. Prabhupāda had recognized God’s ultimately inconceivable nature in such a simple but sublime way by saying, “That is our business” that everyone in the room laughed in appreciation—both at the inconceivable nature of God and at the magical moment created before their eyes by God’s pure devotee, Śrīla Prabhupāda.

March 2

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s third and last day in Atlanta, was filled to the brim and overflowing with his distribution of Lord Caitanya’s mercy. It happened to be the appearance day of his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and so in the morning Śrīla Prabhupāda held a special observance. The devotees placed a large picture of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī on a special vyāsāsana, and they hoped Prabhupāda himself would perform the ārati, although they did not dare ask him. No one else stepped forward to perform the ceremony, however, and Śrīla Prabhupāda could understand the hearts of the assembled devotees.

“Maybe I should perform the ārati,” he said to Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. “I should do it.”

“All the devotees think so, Śrīla Prabhupāda. They would be very happy if you did.”

“Yes, I will do it.” So Śrīla Prabhupāda performed another rarely seen activity in Atlanta, as he offered each article, the ghee wick flame, the water and the conchshell, and so on, before the picture of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī.

That morning Śrīla Prabhupāda spoke about serving the spiritual master in separation. “You should always pray,” Prabhupāda said, “that only by the grace of the spiritual master we achieve the grace or mercy of Kṛṣṇa. This is the meaning of Vyāsa-pūjā. As far as possible we have tried to give you instruction, books. But remain always faithful to the spiritual master and try to understand Kṛṣṇa. Any other so-called understanding is simply a waste of time.”

Later that day, Tripurāri and other book distributors met with Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Tripurāri: “We have been trying harder and harder, Śrīla Prabhupāda, to make our techniques of distribution more honest and to be straightforward and not to cheat so much as some of the methods in the past.”

Prabhupāda: “No, the thing is that Kṛṣṇa’s service is so sublime that even if we cheat, we are not culprit. But because we have to deal with the worldly men, we have to go according to their rules and regulations on cheating. Otherwise, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he never cheats. He never cheats, whatever he does. The mother says to the child, ‘My dear child, if you take this medicine I will give you this laḍḍu.’ The child is deviated. He is not able to digest the laḍḍu, but the mother sometimes cheats, and when he takes the medicine, the laḍḍu is not delivered. Similarly, we have to say so many things very pleasing to him. But our business is let him take this medicine. That is our tactic. That is not cheating. If the mother helps the child drinking medicine, then afterwards she does not supply the laḍḍu, that is not cheating. Somehow or other, that is the instruction of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Tasmāt kenāpy upāyena manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet. Somehow or other let everyone be Kṛṣṇa conscious. The other rules and regulations will act as the servant, but the main business is to bring one to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We are not meant for cheating anyone; we have no such business. But to lead one to Kṛṣṇa consciousness we may sometimes say some things, and that is not cheating.”

Tripurāri: “Just by distributing your books we can become self-realized?”

Prabhupāda: “You are already self-realized. Otherwise how you can push on the books? You love Kṛṣṇa; therefore you are taking so much labor for pushing on. That is self-realization. If anyone tries to establish that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, that is self-realization.”

Tripurāri: “‘Sometimes the devotees ask if they can take birth again distributing books for you.”

Prabhupāda: “Very good. That is real devotion. A devotee does not want to go to Vaikuṇṭha or any liberation. They are satisfied with service. That is pure devotion. And distributing books for the benefit of going to Kṛṣṇa, that is selfishness. But I want to simply distribute the books without any remuneration, without any personal desire. That is pure devotee. Prahlāda Mahārāja says, ‘I do not wish to go to Vaikuṇṭha unless I take all these rascals with me.’ That is pure devotee.”

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami: At that time I took the liberty to introduce many devotees from our Rādhā-Dāmodara party to Śrīla Prabhupāda, because I had an intimate relationship with Prabhupāda in India that carried over also in America, and I felt that he would personally want to meet all the devotees on our party. So one by one every devotee from our party—only about half of our party was there, say about forty devotees—was introduced to Prabhupāda. “This person is a mechanic,” I would say, and, “This person is a cook,” or “This person is sewing for the Deities.” In this way Prabhupāda met each devotee, and at the end he said, “Kṛṣṇa has sent you every type of assistant in order to make this program a great success.” Then Prabhupāda proceeded to give a very powerful lecture about remaining brahmacārī, telling the men, “Why bother to get married? When you get married, your wife will immediately say, ‘Where is the house? Where are the children? Where is the clothing? Where is the food?’ In this way there will be so many problems.” He said it was better to stay simple and remain brahmacārī and preach Lord Caitanya’s mission.

Śrīla Prabhupāda passed the rest of the day with the hundreds of devotees and guests who had gathered for the Sunday feast. He gave a long lecture, and then for one and a half hours he answered questions. When a devotee asked, “How can we please you the most?” Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “‘By loving Kṛṣṇa.”

Afterwards, the devotees performed a play depicting Lord Caitanya’s civil disobedience movement. In the drama one of the smārta-brāhmaṇas was complaining to the Muslim Kazi about the public chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra by Lord Caitanya and His followers. The brāhmaṇa said that the potency of the mantra would be lost by the public chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa. Here Śrīla Prabhupāda interrupted the play, exclaiming, “But it has already increased!” When Prabhupāda said that, hundreds of joyous devotees began crying out, “Haribol!” “Jaya!” as a testimony to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words. By the grace of Śrīla Prabhupāda, the potency of Hare Kṛṣṇa was expanded more and more.

Before departing Atlanta, Prabhupāda spoke with the temple president, Balavanta, concerning political preaching. Prabhupāda had been attracted previously when Balavanta had run for mayor of Atlanta. Subsequently, Balavanta and others had formed the political party “In God We Trust,” which Prabhupāda had also approved until the devotees showed signs of diverting funds and energy from the mainstream activities of ISKCON. Therefore, for the time being Balavanta had stopped political preaching, neither did he bring it up to Prabhupāda in this visit. But in his room Prabhupāda sat with Balavanta, talking.

“So you want to take again election?” Prabhupāda asked, and he chuckled.

“Not if you don’t want me to, Prabhupāda,” Balavanta replied. “I just take it as an opportunity to preach if you want it. But if you’re not very enthusiastic about it, I don’t want to do it.”

“No, I am enthusiastic,” Prabhupāda said, “provided you don’t want money.”

“I think we can get our own. I can get the money. It doesn’t have to cost very much. The whole thing we would need is maybe two men to help. That’s only for two or three months of the year.

“Then you can do it,” Prabhupāda concluded. “If it makes you well known in the city, and you get the opportunity of criticizing the demons.”

Balavanta: When Prabhupāda was leaving at the airport, I was determined to stay with him until the last moment. On the way down the hall he had given me a rose. I followed him all the way onto the plane. I was thinking, “I am going to stand here in my post in front of Prabhupāda’s seat and guard against any demons that disturb Prabhupāda.” I saw how insignificant the karmīs were in comparison to him. I was thinking that I will not let them interfere with my service of standing in front of Prabhupāda. So I was blocking the aisle, and people were having to squeeze to get around. Prabhupāda sort of chastised me lightly with his eyes, that I should be courteous to people and mindful, not impolite and disturbing. And I noticed that was the way he was. Although when he walked through the airport he dominated the people’s consciousness, he did not try to do that. That happened automatically. When he was on the plane, he was very nicely sitting in his seat in a gentlemanly way, without creating a big disturbance. From his behavior I gathered how the devotees should go through this material world, not trying to cause a big disturbance, not being neglectful of others’ positions, but being respectful and not causing anyone any mental anxiety, living peacefully but taking every opportunity to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness in an appropriate way. I could see that here was a representative of God. We have never seen a representative of God before, so immediately it was very important for us to see how he behaved. It was important for everyone to see. But at the same time Prabhupāda was very careful to represent Kṛṣṇa in an appropriate way, because those who don’t recognize him as a representative of God cannot be forced to.

* * *

After Atlanta, Śrīla Prabhupāda traveled to Dallas, New York, London, and Tehran, staying only a few days in each place, before flying to Bombay and then onto Calcutta and Māyāpur in time for the annual festival of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s appearance day. After Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s appearance day came the grand opening of the Krishna-Balaram temple in Vṛndāvana, and then Śrīla Prabhupāda set out traveling again on another around-the-world saṅkīrtana orbit.

Śrīla Prabhupāda himself said that he was an old man, hampered by age, and requiring three assistants to help him move about. But actually he was moving transcendentally; otherwise, how was it possible? His around-the-world journey was not a matter of merely moving over the earth by jet or car. Such a mundane journey many ordinary men can make. But Śrīla Prabhupāda’s journey was one in which the traveler—being a pure devotee—gave pure love of Kṛṣṇa to people everywhere.

Kṛṣṇadasa Kaviraja praises Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta for possessing kṛṣṇa-śakti—the full power of Kṛṣṇa—because He delivered love of Kṛṣṇa all over the world. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s travels around the world similarly establish his kṛṣṇa-śakti, because wherever he and his movement traveled, the inhabitants took to kali-kālera-dharma, the method of pure religion intended for humanity in the age of Kali. Inducing sinful people in sinful cultures to take up pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not something an “old man” or a “common man” can do.

The śāstras describe the conditioned souls as wandering in the material world. Transmigrating from body to body, one after another. In each species they suffer birth, death, disease, and old age. Because there are millions of desires and millions of species of life in which to fulfill those desires, there is little hope that the soul can ever end his journey from one body to another, life after life. Also, because the soul, especially in the human form of life, commits many abominable acts against the will of God, the jīva takes birth again and again to suffer the reactions for the pains he has caused others. That is the stiff, inflexible law of nature. For killing a cow, for example, a human being must take as many births as there are hairs on the body of that cow and be killed himself in each birth. For committing the sin of abortion one has to be killed within the mother’s womb life after life, again and again. Such acts as animal slaughter and contraception are commonplace in the present age; therefore there is little chance for a person to save himself from the continued repetition of birth, suffering, and death.

But Śrīla Prabhupāda’s preaching contained the potency to deliver any sinful person from such perpetual sufferings, and this is the real significance of Prabhupāda’s traveling. Not understanding the facts of karma or the pure devotee’s power to deliver a person from karma, people misunderstood Prabhupāda to be, at best, the pious representative of an Indian religion. Kṛṣṇa declares in Bhagavad-gītā, “Give up all religion and just surrender to Me. I will release you from the reactions to your sins. Do not worry.” But only by the merciful intervention of the pure devotee does Kṛṣṇa pardon our sins. And because most sinful people are not seeking relief unless the pure devotee comes to deliver them, their lives are hopeless.

If externally it appeared that Śrīla Prabhupāda was suffering from old age and from his constant traveling—or if sometimes Śrīla Prabhupāda described himself as an “old man” unfit for such rigorous traveling, then we should take this as a further indication that Śrīla Prabhupāda endured much austerity to carry the message of Kṛṣṇa throughout the world. But internally he was always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, and therefore he was not disturbed. The order of his spiritual master impelled him to travel.

And his travels bore great fruit, so much so that by 1975 he was traveling not as a lone pioneer but as the founder-ācārya of a large world religion. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was being more and more appreciated as the movement of pure devotional service to God, a movement available for men in all religions and lands who hanker for pure worship and pure service unto the Personality of Godhead.

As the authorized representative of Lord Caitanya, Śrīla Prabhupāda had a special insight into the great leniency and compassion of Lord Caitanya in delivering the fallen. As stated in the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa, “Only by chanting the holy name, only by chanting the holy name, only by chanting the holy name can persons be saved in the age of Kali. There is no other way.” Śrīla Prabhupāda realized this verse by practical experience, as he saw firsthand the mercy of Lord Caitanya at work. Therefore, when Prabhupāda would arrive at an ISKCON temple and come before Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda who stand on the temple altar, he would sometimes become overwhelmed by the mercy of the Lord and be unable to check his own ecstatic loving emotions. Śrīla Prabhupāda was very dear to Kṛṣṇa, and certainly Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu observed Śrīla Prabhupāda’s preaching and traveling activities—perhaps in the same mood in which He heard the compassionate prayer of Vāsudeva Datta. As expressed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta,

When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard Vāsudeva Datta’s statement, His heart became very soft. Tears flowed from His eyes, and He began to tremble.

As Śrīla Prabhupāda has described Vāsudeva Datta, who wanted to save all the conditioned souls of the universe, so I would also like to describe Śrīla Prabhupāda, not out of partiality, but on the evidence of Prabhupāda’s life and teachings and on the strength of śāstra:

A Vaiṣṇava is so liberal that he is prepared to risk everything to rescue the conditioned souls from material existence.… He was a most exalted personality who wanted to show mercy upon conditioned souls.… He was a Vaiṣṇava—para-duḥkha-duḥkhī—very much aggrieved to see others suffer.… One who executes Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission must be considered to be eternally liberated. He is a transcendental person and does not belong to this material world. Such a devotee engaging in the deliverance of the total population is as magnanimous as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself.… Such a personality factually represents Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu because his heart is always filled with compassion for conditioned souls.

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