Our capacity of presenting the matter in adequate language, specially a foreign language, will certainly fail and there may be so many literary discrepancies inspite of our honest attempt to present it in the proper way. But we are sure that with our all faults in this connection the seriousness of the subject matter will be taken into consideration and the leaders of the society will still accept this on account of its being an honest attempt for glorifying the Almighty Great so much now badly needed.
Canto 1, Vol. 1
Bhaktivedanta Swami, accompanied by some of the Keśavajī Math’s devotees, made a short preaching tour of Agra, Kanpur, Jhansi, and Delhi. But he was soon back in his own place at the Vaṁśī-gopālajī temple. No one called him Abhay Bābū any longer; even amongst friends it was Swamiji or Mahārāja. And people often addressed him as Swami Bhaktivedantajī, Swami Mahārāja, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. People readily recognized him as a sādhu and offered respect. Yet his basic problems remained. He wanted to write and print, but he had no money. He wanted to broadcast the message of Godhead, but few were willing to listen. Such things hadn’t been changed by his becoming a swami.
When a librarian advised Bhaktivedanta Swami to write books (they were permanent, whereas newspapers were read once and thrown away), he took it that his spiritual master was speaking through this person. Then an Indian Army officer who liked Back to Godhead suggested the same thing. Bhaktivedanta Swami took it as a revelation from his spiritual master. As a dependent servant constantly meditating on the desires of his transcendental master and seeking his guidance, Bhaktivedanta Swami felt his spiritual master’s reciprocal blessings and personal presence. More and more he was feeling confidential contact with Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, and now he was feeling an inspiration to write books.
He considered Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, because it was the most important and authoritative Vaiṣṇava scripture. Although Bhagavad-gītā was the essence of all Vedic knowledge, presented in a brief ABC fashion, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was elaborate. And Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura had both written Bengali commentaries on the Bhāgavatam. In fact, most of the great Vaiṣṇava ācāryas of the past had commented on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Lord Caitanya Himself had recommended Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as the spotless Vedic literature. An English translation and commentary for this book could one day change the hearts of the entire world. And if he could publish even a few books, his preaching would be enhanced; he could go abroad with confidence and not appear empty-handed.
One day Gauracand Gosvāmī, proprietor of the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, approached Bhaktivedanta Swami, inviting him to come live at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple; being the eternal home of Jīva Gosvāmī and Rūpa Gosvāmī, it would be more suitable for his writing and translating. Bhaktivedanta Swami was interested. He had never stopped his regular visits there, and he always felt inspired in the presence of the samādhi tombs of the great leaders of Lord Caitanya’s movement, Jīva Gosvāmī and Rūpa Gosvāmī. But when he went to look at the two available rooms, he found them in poor repair; they had not been maintained or lived in for many years. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, however, Bhaktivedanta Swami agreed to take the rooms, at five rupees per month. He estimated that for a little more than five hundred rupees he could have electricity installed and extensive repairs made; and when it was finished he could move in.
Bhaktivedanta Swami saw the invitation as auspicious, and living there would complement his new project of presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in English. Of all Vṛndāvana’s temples, Rādhā-Dāmodara had the largest collection of original writings by the six Gosvāmīs and their followers-more than two thousand separate manuscripts, many of them three hundred, some even four hundred years old. Bhaktivedanta Swami looked forward to residing there some day and serving in the company of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī. For now he would remain at the Vaṁśī-gopālajī temple, and with whatever money he could collect he would gradually repair the rooms.
* * *
It was an important maxim of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s that a preacher should go to the cities and not remain in the seclusion of a holy place. So in that spirit, Bhaktivedanta Swami continued commuting to Delhi, even though to him it was a hell and even though he had no fixed residence there. Often he was taken in by businessmen who felt obliged on the basis of Indian culture: a good man, if he wanted to be favored by God, should accommodate the sādhus and give them meals and a place to stay. But the vision of such pious men was a sentimental Hinduism, and their receptions were artificial; they could not really appreciate Bhaktivedanta Swami’s work. And Bhaktivedanta Swami was not of a mind to impose himself upon such hosts.
Then he spoke with Mr. Hitsaran Sharma, manager of the Radha Press. In the past Mr. Sharma had printed flyers and stationery for the League of Devotees, and Bhaktivedanta Swami had stayed in Mr. Sharma’s house on occasion. Mr. Sharma introduced Bhaktivedanta Swami to Pandit Sri Krishna Sharma, a caste brāhmaṇa and active religionist, secretary to the century-old Delhi religious society Sri Naval Prem Sabha. Out of sympathy for Bhaktivedanta Swami’s literary labors, Krishna Pandit gave him a room in his Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa temple in the Chippiwada neighborhood of Old Delhi. Now Bhaktivedanta Swami would have a permanent office in Delhi.
The train from Mathurā would arrive at the Old Delhi station near Chandni Chowk, the broad avenue down which poured a river of workday traffic: rickshas, bicycle riders sometimes a dozen abreast, autos in lesser numbers, men running on foot pulling heavy carts, and beasts of burden-donkeys, oxen, an occasional camel or elephant, carrying heavy loads and being driven by men with whips in their hands.
From the intensely busy Chandni Chowk, Bhaktivedanta Swami would take the short walk to Chippiwada, past the Red Fort, keeping the Gaurī-Śaṅkara temple on his left, then proceeding along a side street past the large, imposing Jama Mosque. Near Chippiwada the streets would become narrow. Chippiwada had been a Muslim neighborhood until the India-Pakistan partition of 1947, when thousands of Punjabi Hindus had settled there. Chippiwada was part of a mixed Hindu-Muslim neighborhood so crowded with people that cars were not allowed to enter the streets; only oxcarts and rickshas could penetrate the narrow, crowded lanes, and in some areas the lanes were planted with iron posts to keep rickshas out. Even a bicycle rider would create havoc amongst the densely packed crowds of shoppers and workers who moved along the streets and lanes. Side streets led to other side streets-lanes so narrow that the second-floor balconies on opposite sides of the street were only inches apart, practically forming a roof over the street, so that a pedestrian could glimpse only the narrowest patch of sky. Private yards, shops, and alleys became almost indistinguishable from the public thoroughfares. Although most shops bore signs in Hindi with subheadings in English, some bore the curvy scripts of Arabic, and women dressed in black with veiled faces were a common sight. In the heart of this intense city life was the narrow entrance of Krishna Pandit’s Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa temple, with a plaque of the demigod Gaṇeśa and a row of nesting pigeons just above its simple arched door.
The temple, with its resident families, retained some of the tenement atmosphere of the neighborhood. Although the temple room was dark, the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities on the altar were well illuminated. Rādhārāṇī was the color of cream, and Kṛṣṇa was black marble and stood about two feet tall. He was decorated with dots of fresh sandalwood pulp and a mask of yellow sandalwood on His forehead. Both Deities were dressed in silk garments. On the second floor, just above the Deity room, was a guest room, Bhaktivedanta Swami’s room. Its cement walls and floor were completely bare. Protruding up from the floor was a three-foot high concrete pyramid with a spire, indicating that the Deities were directly beneath.
Bhaktivedanta Swami soon found that his room was not secluded but was side by side with other residential rooms. Outside the door, a metal grating smaller than in the Vaṁśī-gopālajī temple and Keśavajī Math revealed the small temple courtyard below. From the roof, hardly a single tree could be seen. The view was of tenement rooftops so tightly crowded together that it seemed one could walk from roof to roof all the way to the colossal Jama Masjid. The mosque’s three large domes, surrounded by taller minarets, rose high above the ordinary buildings, attracting flocks of pigeons, which perched upon the domes or flew in wheeling patterns in the sky.
Krishna Pandit dressed in a black, lightweight cotton coat, the kind made internationally recognizable by Pandit Nehru, and he had the Nehru hat also. He spoke good English and was garrulous. He was well known and respected within the neighborhood. He saw Bhaktivedanta Swami as God-sent-a sādhu for him to take care of and thus prove once again the piety of Hindu culture. He found his new guest likable: a simple, gentle, gracious, and accomplished Vaiṣṇava scholar.
Krishna Pandit said he understood the importance of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s sanātana-dharma mission and his need for a Delhi office, and he vowed to supply his guest with whatever he required. Although Bhaktivedanta Swami was reluctant to ask for anything for himself, Krishna Pandit brought in a sitting mat and a low table, placing them before the pyramid, and he also brought a mattress. He showed Bhaktivedanta Swami how to operate the room’s single light, a bulb and metal shade that hung from a cord and could be raised or lowered by hand. He brought a picture of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa that had been given to his guru by the Mahārāja of Jaipur and set it within a niche in the wall, relishing that Bhaktivedanta Swami could gaze upon it with the eyes of a true devotee.
Bhaktivedanta Swami had wanted a secure place for writing books before going to the West, and Lord Kṛṣṇa had provided it. Now he could work either in Vṛndāvana or in Delhi. Almost immediately he began Back to Godhead again, serializing book excerpts from his previous manuscripts, while at the same time beginning Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
When Krishna Pandit learned of his guest’s lone struggles to produce Back to Godhead, he volunteered to help with some of the business aspects of the publication. Bhaktivedanta Swami was indeed gratified by Krishna Pandit’s sincere help, and in appreciation he gave him an addition to his name: Hari-bhaktānudāsa, “one who serves the Lord’s devotee.” After six months in Chippiwada, Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote an appreciation in the temple’s guest book.
I am pleased to write herein that I have come to Delhi from my H.Q. 1/859, Keshi Ghat, Vrindaban (U.P.) purely on spiritual mission to propagate the cult of devotional service of the Lord. And I am more pleased to mention herewith that Śrīmān Sri Krishna Sharma, Haribhaktanudas, has provided me a suitable room for my literary activities. I am publishing an English fortnightly magazine of the name “Back to Godhead” from this place and the Nawal Prem Shabha of which Sri Krishnaji is the Hony. Secretary is ar ranging for my daily lectures on Śrīmad Bhagwat.
Late Pandit Jyoti Prasad Sharma, father of Shri Krishnaji, was also known to me, and during his lifetime whenever I used to come to Delhi, Late Pandit Jyoti Prasadji would provide me with residential place. His good son is also following in the footprints of his noble father, and as secretary of the Nawal Prem Shabha, he is doing good service in propagating Rama Nama all over the city.
In neat English script, Bhaktivedanta Swami went on to write that, in his opinion, temples should be used solely for educating the public in spiritual values and that it was his personal mission to organize temples for that service.
Temples are not meant for ordinary householders engaged simply in the matters of animal propensities. Those who are actually engaged in the service of the Lord Deity, the predominator of the temple, can only be allowed to remain in the temple, otherwise not.
Trying to compose Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam at Chippiwada while surrounded by sometimes noisy families with their nondevotional domestic habits had impressed upon him the importance of not using a temple as an apartment house.
* * *
Despite his plans to settle down and begin the monumental task of translating Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhaktivedanta Swami was ready to preach in other ways also. In October of 1959 he had encountered a news article in The Times of India. Two American scientists had received the Nobel prize in physics for discovering the antiproton. “According to one of the fundamental assumptions of the new theory,” the article read, “there may exist another world or an anti-world built up of anti-matter.” The “other world” reminded Bhaktivedanta Swami of the eternal spiritual world described in Bhagavad-gītā. He was well aware that the scientists were not speaking of anti-material in the sense of “eternal,” or “spiritual” but he thought of using their scientific terms to capture the interest of scientific-minded people. He conceived of an essay presenting the theistic science of Bhagavad-gītā in terms of the anti-material particle and the anti-material world.
It was a time when the whole world was talking of space travel. Indian news media had reported the Russian Sputnik two years ago, and the race for space had begun. Seizing on the current interest in space travel, Bhaktivedanta Swami described how by bhakti-yoga the soul can travel past the farthest reaches of space to the eternal planets of the spiritual world, where life is blissful and full of knowledge. He gave his own fresh translations of Bhagavad-gītā verses, couched in the language of the new physics, with its anti-material particle and anti-material world. The complete work, Easy Journey to Other Planets, was a fifteen-thousand-word manuscript, and he showed it to Hitsaran Sharma of Radha Press. But he didn’t have enough money to get the little book printed.
In February of 1960 Bhaktivedanta Swami decided to print it himself in two installments of Back to Godhead. The articles drew an immediate response from a physicist at the Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, Mr. Y. G. Naik, who received Back to Godhead through the mail. Dr. Naik thought Bhaktivedanta Swami’s application of the anti-material principle was “really a grand one… This is no doubt a classic essay…” Dr. Naik was interested in further discussion on physics and transcendental knowledge, and Bhaktivedanta Swami replied with equal enthusiasm, finally asking the physicist to join him in distributing the cultural heritage of India to the whole world.
Convinced that such an essay had great potential to interest educated English-speaking readers, Bhaktivedanta Swami worked hard to raise enough in donations to print Easy Journey to Other Planets as a paperback book. He finally did so in the fall of 1960. A foreword by Dr. N. K. Sidhanta, vice chancellor of the University of Delhi, arrived late but was included in the book as an insert.
While everyone may gain from it, the student community in particular is recommended to read the book with care and practice Bhaktiyoga, which will help to strengthen the mind and build up character. I shall be glad to see this work read by the students and the teachers alike…
Several Indian scientists and scholars contributed reviews, noting the book’s “scientific cum spiritual vision” and “the method of speeding over space not by mechanical acceleration of speed, but through psychological effort and spiritual emancipation.” It was only thirty-eight pages, but it was his first publication aside from the one-page folded newspaper, Back to Godhead. He tried to distribute the little book effectively. He gave one copy to Dr. P. Bannerji of the National Museum of New Delhi.
Dr. Bannerji: He used to come to the library and consult some books, and I met him there. He gave me a book called Easy Journey to Other Planets. He gave me some copies to distribute for a rupee or half a rupee each.
I felt attracted to him. I thought he was a saintly person with pure devotion and without any outward glamor. He was not out to attract people just for name and fame. He had little support from anybody. He was living alone in a small room in Chippiwada. He was devoted to his studies. So I asked him, “Sir, if you have time and you don’t mind coming to my house, could you kindly come on Sundays and recite the Bhāgavata in my house? He readily agreed. He was a good scholar. He was learned in the scriptures, and he was fond of communicating his ideas to others. He was a good speaker and a good conversationalist. He was very polite.
Whatever he said he said very distinctly. He spoke in Bengali and explained the essence of the verses. Sometimes he also referred to the commentaries, just to give me more information. The others were not very much interested in commentary or in difficult aspects, but because he knew that I had some studies in the field, he explained the commentaries for my sake and for the sake of one or two other gentlemen who were also very elderly and very scholarly.
The gatherings at my home would be attended by about twenty or thirty people, and he would continue his explanation for one or two hours. Then he would recite the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and we would also take part with the karatālas and harmonium. So it was a very enjoyable gathering, because he made the difficult things very easy and he explained everything to all of us according to our needs. He knew that this much is for this person, this much is intended for this man, this much for the others.
After the meetings, he used to take a little rest in my house. I requested him to take meals in my house, but he said he did not take meals prepared by others. But when he met my wife and she said she would be happy to prepare the meals, he said, “All right, I will take,” and she used to prepare meals on Sundays when he would come.
He sometimes asked me how to get more and more people attracted towards this field. But as a government worker, I could not persuade anyone very openly. Nor had I the time to organize anything on a big scale for him. But he was not satisfied with that. He asked me if I could organize on a bigger scale. He knew that the people who attended the meetings at my house were very old-seventy, eighty, one was ninety years of age-retired, educated persons.
It lasted for no less than a year. After that, he said he would be trying to go out to other places. He asked me to continue the gatherings, but I said, “I am not initiated.” He said I could continue anyway, because I was born as a brāhmaṇa. He gave me the authority to continue for some time. But I could not continue, because I used to go out. I lost all interest after he left. I was a government servant.
* * *
Easy Journey to Other Planets had been like a warm-up for his real work of presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But now he was even more convinced of the need for books. To preach, he would have to have books-especially if he were to go to the West. With books he could create a spiritual revolution. There was so much literature in the West, but Westerners had nothing like this, nothing to fill their spiritual vacuum.
Although he wanted to give as much time as possible to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, he decided to continue with Back to Godhead by using excerpts from already existing book manuscripts as articles. Occasionally, however, he would write and print a new article. In “Relevant Inquiries” he wrote:
We are just trying to make an humble attempt to save the human being by propaganda of Back to Godhead. This propaganda is not fictitious. If there is any reality at all this propaganda of Back to Godhead is the beginning of that era-of-reality.
In “A Godless Civilization” Bhaktivedanta Swami referred to Prime Minister Nehru’s complaints about the misuse of public funds in the name of religion. Bhaktivedanta Swami noted that although there were undoubtedly instances in which religious leaders were implicated in criminal offenses, if statistics were compared the religious cheaters would be outnumbered by the political cheaters. Although Pandit Nehru had been right in warning of religious fraud, the warning could not be effective without a thorough reform of spiritual institutions, and that reform could be accomplished only with the cooperation of government leaders. Bhaktivedanta Swami quoted from his letter in which he had asked Prime Minister Nehru to take up the study of Bhagavad-gītā; but, as he informed his Back to Godhead readers, Pandit Nehru had never replied. “Because of his lack of spiritual knowledge… he thought that this institution [the League of Devotees] might be something like the so many mathas and temples which have become the source of headache for the Pandit.”
Bhaktivedanta Swami charged that Pandit Nehru thought that any spiritual organization “is a dungeon for accumulating public funds and then misuse it for questionable purposes.”
He, however, approves of the so-called Sadhus who do social service and talk nonsense in the spiritual science. This is so because he has no depth of spiritual knowledge for himself although he is Brahmin and Pandit. Ignorance in spiritual knowledge is the qualification of the Sudras or the labouring class.
He requested Pandit Nehru not to be afraid of the word God or Kṛṣṇa: “but we can assure him that there is no such cause of fear, because Krishna is everyone’s friend and… able to render real help to everyone…” Bhaktivedanta Swami ended by suggesting that immoral practices were not confined only to the temples of India, but were common to materialistic civilizations all over the world. In particular he cited the disturbances amongst youth that were becoming rampant in the 1960s.
The best thing will be for the physician to heal himself first. Because in Godless civilisation, while the occupants of the Mathas and temples have been the cause of headache for the Pandit, the same thing under a different label has become the cause of headache for other European and Asian statesmen. The unbridled youngsters of those countries under the name of “Teddy Boys” in England, the “Rebels without Cause” in America, and the “Half Strong” in Germany, the “Leather Jackets” in Sweden, the “Children of the Sun” in Japan, and the “Style Boys” in U.S.S.R. are some of the by-products of a Godless Civilisation. And that is the root cause of all headache. That requires a thorough treatment.
* * *
At Chippiwada, Bhaktivedanta Swami followed much the same daily schedule as at Keśi-ghāṭa, except that with Krishna Pandit doing some of the secretarial work for Back to Godhead, he was free to devote more hours to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Krishna Pandit: He used to translate Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam before dawn, about 3:00 A.M. In the beginning there was no typewriter, but then he arranged a portable typewriter. He would do his daily work and then cook his food himself. I arranged raw materials for his cooking. Sometimes he used to come to my family asking my wife to get some food. Sometimes he would also bathe at 5:00 or 6:00 in the afternoon.
Every day he was typing. And he himself was reading some Bhāgavatam. And he was going down in the temple for darśana. Then he was going outside, sometimes returning at 2:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Then he was typing and sending the proofs of Back to Godhead to a place and checking them. He was doing by hand all this type of work. His main activity was typing many hours a day.
Bhaktivedanta Swami worked from a Sanskrit and Bengali Bhāgavatam, edited by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and a large book containing the original commentaries of twelve great ācāryas. He had a standard format: he made a roman transliteration of the Sanskrit devanāgarī script, then word-for-word English synonyms, an English prose translation, and finally his English purport on that verse. Before writing his own purport, however, he would consult the commentaries of the ācāryas, especially Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī, Jīva Gosvāmī, Vijayadhvaja Tīrtha, and Śrīdhara Svāmī.
He contemplated the size of the project he was attempting. The Bhāgavatam contained eighteen thousand verses. The First Canto’s seventeen chapters would fill three volumes of four hundred pages each, and the Second Canto, with ten chapters, would take two volumes. Up through the Ninth Canto there would be maybe thirty volumes. The Tenth Canto, containing ninety chapters, would take twenty volumes. There were twelve cantos, and so the total would be at least sixty volumes. He thought he might be able to finish it in five to seven years: “If the Lord keeps me physically fit, then in the fulfillment of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s will I could complete this work.”
He decided to introduce the first volume with a biographical sketch of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, “The Ideal Preacher of the Bhāgavatam.” The reader could best appreciate the Bhāgavatam by seeing its practical demonstration in the life of Lord Caitanya. The special feature of Lord Caitanya’s presentation had been His desire that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam “be preached in every nook and corner of the world by everyone who happens to take his birth in India.” Lord Caitanya had called Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the “spotless Purāṇa” and had considered the chanting and hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam along with the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra to be a complete scientific process for developing pure love of God.
Working from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s commentary on Caitanya-caritāmṛta and Caitanya-bhāgavata, Bhaktivedanta Swami gave a fifty-page synopsis of Lord Caitanya’s life and His saṅkīrtana movement. He described Lord Caitanya’s divine ecstasies, His philosophical confrontations with leading scholars of the day, and His inauguration of the saṅkīrtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy name. Bhaktivedanta Swami especially connected Lord Caitanya’s life and teachings to what he saw as the present crucial time in history. Help for humanity in “this momentous hour of need” lay in the Vedic literature, and especially in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
We know that the foreign invaders of India could break down some of the monumental architectural work in India, but they were unable to break up the perfect ideals of human civilisation so far kept hidden within the Sanskrit language of Vedic wisdom.
The Sanskrit language had protected the secret for thousands of centuries, but now the secret had to be released to the world.
As he approached the first verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhakti vedanta Swami became absorbed in the Bhāgavatam’s purpose. The verses stressed that the Bhāgavatam alone could save society from the evil influences of the Age of Kali. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam’s recommendation for this age was simply to hear from the pure devotees about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa.
The setting of the Bhāgavatam was a gathering of sages at Naimiṣāraṇya about five thousand years ago, at the dawn of the present Age of Kali. Foreseeing the degradation of humanity, the sages asked the senior member of the assembly, Sūta Gosvāmī, “Now that Lord Kṛṣṇa, the shelter of all religious principles, has returned to His spiritual abode, where are religious principles to be found?” Sūta’s answer was that the epic Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, “which is as brilliant as the sun,” was a literary incarnation of God and would give direction to persons lost in the dense darkness of Kali-yuga.
In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Vyāsadeva, under the instruction of his spiritual master, Nārada Muni, sat down and entered a deep meditation. In trance he saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His energies, and the suffering souls of Kali-yuga. He also saw that the remedy for their suffering was pure devotional service. With this vision and the instructions of his spiritual master as his inspiration, Vyāsadeva set about to compile Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to give the highest benefit to the suffering souls of Kali-yuga.
In presenting the literary incarnation of God, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, for the benefit of the Western world, Bhaktivedanta Swami realized that he was performing an important task, following in the footsteps of Śrīla Vyāsadeva. As Śrīla Vyāsadeva had had a vision of Kṛṣṇa and had received direction from his spiritual master before beginning his literary mission, Bhaktivedanta Swami had his vision and had received instructions from his spiritual master. Bhaktivedanta Swami envisioned distributing in mass the book of Śrīla Vyāsadeva. He would not merely translate it; he would personally take it to the West, present it, and teach people in the West-through the book and in person-how to develop pure love of God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The communist party has become popular simply by distributing their literatures. In Calcutta, the communist agents were inviting friends and reading their literature. The Russians never came to India, but by distributing literature in every language they got a pretty good number of followers. If it is possible for ordinary, third-class, mundane literature, why shouldn’t transcendental literature create devotees all over the world? There is good potency for pushing on these literatures very vigorously from village to village. The bhāgavata-dharma is the original religion of the human society. Whatever else may be passing as religion has come from the Vedic literature. People are after these books. They are hankering for them. Lord Caitanya said that in every town and village on the surface of the world they will know the message of the saṅkīrtana movement. This means that in every village and town all over the world there are many candidates who are awaiting this message. It is transcendental literature. Nobody can challenge it. It is done so nicely, without any spot, the spotless Purāṇa.
Bhaktivedanta Swami put his faith in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, giving up almost all other kinds of missionary activity. And this had been the advice and example of his spiritual master and of Lord Caitanya. They had not been interested in building costly temples or in creating many neophyte disciples. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had stressed preaching. Preaching meant books, and the best book was Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. To write and publish the Bhāgavatam for the enlightenment of the general populace was real service to the Lord. That was Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s opinion. He had preferred publishing books to establishing temples, and he had specifically told his disciples to write books. It was the business of advanced, empowered devotees to write books, publish them, and distribute them widely. A program to distribute transcendental literature everywhere (with even more expertise than the communists) would create a great positive effect on the people of Europe and America. And if Europeans and Americans turned to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then the rest of the world would follow. Bhaktivedanta Swami continued working alone in his room at Chippiwada, absorbed in thoughts of spreading the news of Kṛṣṇa on a scale never before attempted.
He sometimes wondered how Westerners, who were so far removed from the Vedic culture, could adopt it. They were meat-eaters, mlecchas. When one of his Godbrothers had gone to England, the Marquis of Zetland, on hearing the four prohibitions against sinful life, had laughed scornfully, “Impossible!” But Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam spoke for itself.
“Sri Krishna the Personality of Godhead who is also the Paramatma in every one’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, does cleanse the desire for material enjoyment in the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge for hearing His (Krishna’s) messages which are themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.”
Although he was known as an English preacher, Bhaktivedanta Swami knew there were always faults in his presentation in that foreign language; and there was no editor to correct them. But such technical faults would not keep him from printing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. This idea was also presented in the opening chapters of the Bhāgavatam. “The literature which is full with description of transcendental glories of the Name, Fame, Forms, Pastimes etc. of the Unlimited Supreme Lord, is a different creation of transcendental vocabulary all meant for bringing about a revolution in the impious life of a misdirected civilization of the world. Such transcendental literatures even though irregularly composed, is heard, sung and accepted by the purified men who are thoroughly honest.”
Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote in his purport: “We know that in our honest attempt for presenting this great literature conveying transcendental message for reviving the God-consciousness of the people in general, as a matter of re-spiritualisation of the world atmosphere, is fret with many difficulties… our capacity of presenting the matter in adequate language, specially a foreign language, will certainly fail and there may be so many literary discrepancies inspite of our honest attempt to present it in the proper way. But we are sure that with our all faults in this connection the seriousness of the subject matter will be taken into consideration and the leaders of the society will still accept this on account of its being an honest attempt for glorifying the Almighty Great so much now badly needed. When there is fire in the house, the inmates of the house go out for help from the neighbours who may be foreigners to such inmates and yet without any adequate language the victims of the fire express themselves and the neighbours understand the need even though not expressed in adequate language. The same spirit of cooperation is needed in the matter of broadcasting this transcendental message of the Śrīmad Bhagwatam throughout the whole polluted atmosphere of the present day world situation. After all it is a technical science of spiritual values and as such we are concerned with the techniques and not with the language. If the techniques of this great literature are understood by the people of the world, there is the success.”
Certainly Kali-yuga was such an emergency-the house was on fire. Honest men who could understand the need would welcome Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, even though it was now being presented “with so many faulty and broken linguistic technicalities…” Bhaktivedanta Swami was presenting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam unchanged, with the greatest respect for Śrīla Vyāsadeva. And that was his cardinal virtue. He was adding his own realizations, but not in a spirit of trying to surpass the previous spiritual masters. In the all-important matter of presenting the subject strictly in paramparā, Bhaktivedanta Swami suffered from no “faulty and broken technicalities.” He knew that without the paramparā the Bhāgavatam purports would have no value. Day and night he typed at his desk beneath the small adjustable light that dangled from the ceiling on its cord. He sat on a thin mat, his back to the large pyramid that stood oddly upright within the bare room. Pages accumulated, and he kept them in place with stones. Food and sleep, although necessary, were only incidental. He was completely convinced that his Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam would create a revolution in a misdirected civilization. Thus he translated each word and gave each purport with exacting care and concentration. But it had to be done as quickly as possible.
* * *
In February of 1961, on Vyāsa-pūjā day, the anniversary of the appearance of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Bhaktivedanta Swami was again in Vṛndāvana. In honor of their spiritual master, some of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s disciples had gathered, offered flowers before his picture, and held congregational chanting in the temple. But Bhaktivedanta Swami thought that they should be doing much more than that; they should be planning and executing the worldwide preaching mission that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had desired. Instead, they were a gathering of independent individuals, each with his own small idea, each maintaining a small center or living at a center, but with no world programs, not even a program for India. Most of them had no plans or vision beyond their own bodily maintenance. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had asked for a governing body to conduct his movement, but there was no governing body, and practically there was no movement. Some who had fought bitterly were again on speaking terms and feared that any sudden organizational attempts now might simply stir up old animosities. At least they could gather together and make an offering to their spiritual master.
Amongst his Godbrothers, Bhaktivedanta Swami was a junior sannyāsī. Although a recognized writer and editor, he had no temple or followers. Yet he knew he was trying to follow Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. He saw himself helpless and alone against the vast forces of māyā. His Godbrothers were not an army united against māyā’s forces, but were more like apathetic monks, growing old, holding on to religious principles and rituals, devoid of life. How could they gather to worship their spiritual master without distressfully admitting their failure and, in the spirit of “better late than never,” trying to rectify it?
Since the custom on Vyāsa-pūjā day was for each disciple to write an offering glorifying his spiritual master and to share it within the assembly of Godbrothers, Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote an offering-more like an explosion than a eulogy-and humbly placed it before his Godbrothers for their response.
Even now, my Godbrothers, you return here on the order of our master,
and together we engage in this pūjā.
But simply a festival of flowers and fruits does not constitute worship. The
one who serves the message of the guru really worships him…
Oh, shame! My dear brothers, aren’t you embarrassed? In the manner of businessmen you increase your disciples.
Our master said to preach! Let the neophytes remain inside the temples and simply ring the bells…
But just take a good look at the terrible situation that has arisen. Everyone has become a sense enjoyer and has given up preaching…
From the seas, across the earth, penetrate the universal shell; come together and preach this Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Then our master’s service will be in proper order. Make your promise today. Give up all your politics and diplomacy.
If the disciples of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī could join and preach together, there was every chance that they could create a spiritual revolution within the sinful world. That had been the hope of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and Bhaktivedanta Swami expressed that hope in his Vyāsa-pūjā offering.
When will that day come when a temple will be established in every house in every corner of the world?
When will the high-court judge be a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava with tilaka beautifully decorating his forehead?
When will a Vaiṣṇava winning votes be elected president of the land and preaching be spread everywhere?
As he read the poem, its truth exploding in the midst of the gathering of aging sannyāsīs, some approved, and some were incensed. Their meeting, however, took no new direction; they did not sit down together and plan as he had pleaded. Swami Mahārāja’s poem was taken as another poetic expression or as an opinion. The Godbrothers were inclined to let the old wounds heal with the passing of time. To go back over the whole thing again and reconstruct the mission as it had been before, when Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had been present, and to attempt all those ambitious programs-how was it possible? They were getting old. Some did not want to leave the shelter of Vṛndāvana. They would worship Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī within the holy dhāma. If Bhaktivedanta Swami could do something more, let him go ahead and try.
Bhaktivedanta Swami returned to Keśi-ghāṭa, thoughtful. For many years he had been unable to take a leading part in the mission because of family commitments. In 1935, in Bombay, his Godbrothers had even asked him to be president of the maṭha there, but Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had said that it was not necessary that Abhay Charan join them; he would come in his own way. Now, by the grace of his spiritual master, he was ready to fulfill the meaning of sannyāsa. The Kṛṣṇa conscious world he had described in his poem was not a utopia, presented merely to incite his Godbrothers, a dreamer’s talk of the impossible. It was possible. But in any case, he had to write and print Kṛṣṇa conscious books and preach abroad. It was what Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī wanted. If his Godbrothers would not do it jointly, then he would do it.
* * *
In January of 1961 one of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s Delhi acquaintances had shown him an announcement for the Congress for Cultivating Human Spirit, a convention to be held in Tokyo, May 10-20. The theme was world peace through cultivating human spirit. International participants were invited. As soon as Bhaktivedanta Swami had seen it, he had wanted to go. Although his main interest had always been the U.S., if Japan presented itself first, why not? And their invitation was in English. If they accepted his reservation, they would pay for his board and lodging at the convention hotel, although he would have to pay his own travel expenses.
Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote to the sponsors, the International Foundation for Cultural Harmony, and proposed a speech, “How Should One Cultivate Human Spirit?” The secretary general of the foundation, Mr. Toshihiro Nakano, wrote back to him at Keśi-ghāṭa, expressing his high regard both for Indian spiritual culture and for his proposed presentation. Mr. Nakano also enclosed an official certificate, as he had requested, stating that Bhaktivedanta Swami was a bona fide visitor to their convention whose expenses in Japan would be paid. They requested- “To Whom It May Concern”-that his passport and visa be granted in time for his May 10 arrival in Japan.
Bhaktivedanta Swami then conceived a special project for the convention. The Tenth Canto, Twentieth Chapter, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam presents a description of autumn in Vṛndāvana, and for each seasonal phenomenon the Bhāgavatam presents a parallel teaching from the Vedas. For example, it compares the dark, cloudy evening of the rainy autumn season to the present Age of Kali, when the bright stars of Vedic wisdom (the saints and scriptures) are temporarily obscured by a godless civilization. The chapter contains dozens of such examples, and Bhaktivedanta Swami proposed fifty commentaries to accompany fifty illustrations to be displayed at the convention. He began preparing the commentaries, which he entitled “The Light of Bhagwat.” He wrote directions from which an artist could design a painting to go with each “Lesson from the Picture.” Fifty pictures and commentaries, Bhaktivedanta Swami felt, would make an impressive display for visitors at the convention. The convention organizers liked the idea.
As for your proposal to get pictures drawing by artists according to your suggestion, the institution department of the congress will immediately take people disposal for it under the full consideration of about some specimen idea of picture which will be given to us by you, so I should like to get them as soon as possible.
Bhaktivedanta Swami worked quickly to produce a twenty-thousand-word manuscript-fifty lessons for fifty illustrations. The pictures were to depict the forests, fields, and skies of Vṛndāvana during the rainy season, and the lessons were sometimes criticisms of godless governments, materialists, and false religionists, sometimes assertions of moral principles and God consciousness, and sometimes depictions of Lord Kṛṣṇa and His eternal associates in Vṛndāvana.
Everything went smoothly between Bhaktivedanta Swami and the sponsors in Japan. The problem was to raise the travel fare. He approached the likely sources, writing to the central government’s Ministry for Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs; he presented his certificate from Mr. Nakano and explained his position as a sannyāsī. In late March the ministry sent him a form to complete and return. Time was getting short. On March 29 he wrote the vice president, Dr. Radhakrishnan, with whom he had a speaking acquaintance (as well as a philosophical difference).
You know that I am a Sannyasi without any relation with Bank, neither I am attached with financing institution. But the Japanese organisers have liked my literatures and they want me to be present there.
He pleaded that since the great ācāryas of India had formerly presented their knowledge for the benefit of the world, the Indian government today should send representatives of the ācāryas “to deliver the message of Atma or the Human Spirit.” He also wrote the deputy manager of Scindia Steam Navigation Company in Bombay, reminding him of his 1958 offer to give a fifty-percent concession on a ticket to the United States. After explaining his invitation from Mr. Nakano in Japan, Bhaktivedanta Swami pointed out that the full round-trip fare to Japan would be less than half the fare to the United States.
Trying all possibilities at once, and with less than a month and a half before the convention, he wrote to another potential donor, Mr. Brijratan S. Mohatta, who had once expressed his willingness to send Bhaktivedanta Swami to South America when an Indian sponsor there had written expressing interest. At that time, Bhaktivedanta Swami had been unable to get the proper certification from the Indian government. But here, he explained, was a new opportunity to present the message of the Vedic literature to an international gathering of interested people; and passage to Japan was less than to South America. On the same day he wrote to Mr. Mohatta he also mailed his completed form to the Ministry for Scientific Research. In answer to their question as to why he was asking for a donation and whether he had done so before, he replied:
Before this I never asked the Ministry for any financial assistance as there was no need for it. As Sannyasi I can ask for financial help when there is absolute necessity. Our life is dedicated to render service to the humanity at large for reviving the dormant spiritual consciousness.
Meanwhile, his other arrangements proceeded with full cooperation from Japan. He had already sent Mr. Nakano the first twenty illustrative ideas from “The Light of Bhagwat.” “Japan is famous for artistic work,” he wrote, “and India is famous for spiritual culture. We should now combine…” He suggested they also print the text and pictures as a book.
Mr. Nakano assured Bhaktivedanta Swami that they would be eager to meet him at Haneda airport; they would be readily recognizable, since they would be holding a flag. And if he liked, he could stay in Japan for an entire month and hold local meetings after the scheduled convention. Mr. Nakano also asked a favor of Bhaktivedanta Swami. To solidify relations with the mayors of three Japanese cities, he asked that Bhaktivedanta Swami send letters to the mayors, requesting their full support of the Human Spirit Congress. Bhaktivedanta Swami immediately complied.
By now it was April, and no money had come. Finally, after a personal interview in which he received a definite no from Dr. Radhakrishnan, Bhaktivedanta Swami turned to Mr. Nakano in disappointment. On April 18 he wrote:
I am in due receipt of your letter of the 9th instant and I am grateful to you for all that you have said for me. I am a humble creature and I am just trying to do my bit in this connection because I was so ordered by my spiritual master, Shri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj…
While I am feeling too much ecstasy for the reception arrangement you are doing for me, I beg to inform you that my passage expenses which is near about Rs. 3500/- is not yet settled. I submitted one application to the Govt. of India for help and the copy of my application is also sent herewith. I also wrote a private letter to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in this connection and the reply which I have received is also enclosed herewith.
All these are not very encouraging for me. I therefore saw the Vice President today personally but he says the same thing as he has written in his letter. Although the matter is not yet hopeless altogether I am disturbed in my mind thinking what shall I do in case the Govt. denies to help. I am therefore seeking your good advice in this connection. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan said to me that you had also invited him to attend your congress and he opines that the passage expenses might have been paid by you.
The hope and expectation of the congress is undoubtedly very great and I wish that I may fully utilise this opportunity for general welfare of the entire human society. I have fully explained my views authoritatively in my statements already sent to you for publication and the gist idea is expressed in the letter of the Mayors, the copy of which is also enclosed.
As a Sannyasi, I have no personal purse for expenditure. Under the circumstances if the Government denies to help for the passage then I will have to ask for the same from you otherwise my going to the congress will end in dream only. I have very little faith in the dealings of the politicians and specially of the Indian politicians.
From the conversation of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, it appeared to me that the Govt. does not approve of such congress as are organised by private persons and as such they do not participate in such congress. I shall wait for the final decision for one week more when the matter will be clear, yes or no.
Replies from prospective donors in India were all negative. On April 20, he cabled Mr. Nakano.
As you have developed a deep love for me, I dare to ask you to send me financial help to take me to Japan. I think you can immediately instruct your Embassy in Delhi to do the needful and dispatch me to Japan on your behalf. I am feeling too much to meet you and the congress so that we can build up a solid institute for spiritual cultivation. I shall await your instruction by cable to fix up my programme.
But Mr. Nakano could not help. And Bhaktivedanta Swami’s effort ended in a dream only.
* * *
In July 1962 Bhaktivedanta Swami changed his Vṛndāvana residence from Vaṁśī-gopālajī temple to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. For three years he had been paying the rent of five rupees per month for his Rādhā-Dāmodara rooms and paying for the extensive repairs. Now the main room had electric lighting and a fan, and the walls had been plastered and painted. The room was seven feet by fifteen feet, with smooth plaster walls and a floor of sandstone squares of uneven sizes, the same as the stone tiles cemented in front of the samādhi of Rūpa Gosvāmī. The room was furnished with a small, low desk, a kuśa mat, and a wooden cot with a rope-woven surface to lie on. The view was not the panorama he had enjoyed at Keśi-ghāṭa, and the neighborhood was not so secluded, but now, without even moving from his room, he could look into the temple and see a portion of the altar and the four-foot-high form of Vṛndāvana-candra, the black marble Kṛṣṇa Deity Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja had worshiped hundreds of years ago. The main room was connected to the kitchen by a ten-foot-long veranda, which faced the courtyard, and from his kitchen he could see the samādhi of Rūpa Gosvāmī. So the place was superior to his room at the Vaṁśī-gopālajī temple, because now he was living in the temple of Jīva Gosvāmī, where great souls like the Gosvāmīs Rūpa, Sanātana, Raghunātha, and Jīva had all gathered, taken prasādam, chanted, and discussed Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya. It was the best place to work on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
* * *
At 1:00 A.M., when no one else was up and it was very quiet, Bhaktivedanta Swami would wake and begin writing. Since electric failures were not uncommon in Vṛndāvana, he would often work by lantern light. But in any case, a beam of light would shine out from his room onto the veranda, while inside the room he worked under its brightness. While he wrote in stillness, sometimes a toad, as dry as the stone floor, would hop out of hiding and across the floor, exiting through the cement latticework of the opposite wall. Sometimes a tiny mouse would run out from behind a window shutter and hide in another place. Otherwise, the room was complete sanctified stillness, and the inspiration of being in the presence of the six Gosvāmīs was strong. Above the open courtyard, the sky would be full of clearly visible stars. As he worked, the only sounds would come from the town, perhaps of a dog barking in the distance.
At 4:00 A.M., the temple pūjārī, who slept under a shelter near the Deity doors, would awake, turn on an electric light and, with a long pole, clear the bats from the rafters. At 5:00 A.M., after waking the Deities, the pūjārī would open the doors before the altar and begin maṅgala-ārati. He would offer a flame while a few resident devotees gathered and chanted, playing instruments; usually someone would bang a gong while someone else rang a large bell.
Any sound from the courtyard carried immediately to Bhaktivedanta Swami’s quarters, and the clanging bell and gong would suddenly reverberate against the walls of his small room. From his sitting place, he could see only Vṛndāvana-candra, on the left of the altar. Sometimes he would pause at his work and walk into the courtyard to see the Deities and Their ārati. The altar was filled with Deities of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa who had been worshiped by Jīva Gosvāmī and other Vaiṣṇava ācāryas hundreds of years ago. After ten minutes, the pūjārī, having offered the flame and then a conchshell filled with water, would turn and sprinkle offered water on the heads of the devotees, and the ceremony would end.
After working a few hours on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhaktivedanta Swami would sit in his room and chant japa. As the morning sky turned light blue, the stars would vanish, and residents of Vṛndāvana would arrive to visit the Deities and the samādhis of the Gosvāmīs. Old women would enter the temple, calling out, “Jaya Rādhe” in broken voices.
When Bhaktivedanta Swami opened the shutters, his room would fill with light. His windows faced a courtyard, but they were not so much windows as cement latticework in the wall; although passersby could not easily see into the room, the latticework allowed light to enter. In the morning light, the room was clearly revealed: the arched ceiling, the freshly painted walls with arched niches, the floor of inlaid stone. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s thin sannyāsa daṇḍa, wrapped in heavy saffron khādī, leaned against one corner of the room. On one shelf he had placed a picture of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, on another a stack of books and manuscripts. The room’s two doors appeared flimsy even when locked, and the whole room tilted slightly to the left. It was bare but peaceful.
Often, sitting on the veranda between the two rooms, he would view the courtyard, the altar, and the Deities. Rādhā-Dāmodara, Vṛndāvana-candra, and several other Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities awaited Their visitors. During the morning, the Deity doors remained open as a regular file of visitors turned the temple into a bustling place of pilgrimage. No one stayed very long. Some had rigid schedules to visit many temples and hurried on. Poor people and also local businessmen, their wives in colorful sārīs-all devotees-headed towards the altar, calling, “Jaya ho,” “Jaya Rādhe!” After greeting the Deities, they would disappear through the door to the outdoor area of the temple compound to visit the samādhis.
Although in Vṛndāvana there were hundreds of small templelike tombs honoring past Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, Bhaktivedanta Swami regularly visited the chief samādhis, those of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī. Within a separate area of the temple compound were the bhajana-kuṭīr and the samādhi of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Bhaktivedanta Swami often sat chanting japa before Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi. The line of pilgrims from the temple would continue entering the outdoor area of the compound, coming to offer daṇḍavats to Rūpa Gosvāmī. Most pilgrims considered this the most important feature of their visit to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, and even if they offered respect nowhere else, they would stop before the samādhi of Rūpa Gosvāmī. They would stop with folded hands and bow, chanting Jaya Rādhe or, with their hands in their bead bags, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, circumambulating the samādhi.
Bhaktivedanta Swami would sit and chant even after the early-morning rush of visitors, or sometimes he would walk to the nearby temples of Rādhā-Śyāmasundara or Rādhā-Madana-mohana, always returning by eleven to cook his meal. As he cooked, and later as he sat to take his prasādam, he could see through the latticework the samādhi of Rūpa Gosvāmī. Feeling Rūpa Gosvāmī’s presence, he would think of his own mission for his spiritual master.
The devotees of Lord Caitanya are known as rūpānugas, followers of Rūpa Gosvāmī; without following the teachings and example of Rūpa Gosvāmī, one cannot enter the path of pure devotion to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī was especially known as a strict rūpānuga, as described in the Sanskrit prayers written in his honor: “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, the personified energy of Śrī Caitanya’s mercy, who delivers devotional service enriched with conjugal love of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, who are the personified teachings of Lord Caitanya. You are the deliverer of the fallen souls. You do not tolerate any statement that is against the teachings of devotional service enunciated by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.”
Bhaktivedanta Swami’s spiritual master and the previous spiritual masters in the disciplic succession had wanted the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement to spread all over the world, and as Bhaktivedanta Swami daily gathered inspiration, sitting before Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi, he prayed to his spiritual predecessors for guidance. The intimate direction he received from them was an absolute dictation, and no government, no publisher, nor anyone else could shake or diminish it. Rūpa Gosvāmī wanted him to go to the West; Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī wanted him to go to the West; Kṛṣṇa had arranged that he be brought to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple to receive their blessings. At the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, he felt he had entered an eternal residence known only to pure devotees of the Lord. Yet although they were allowing him to associate intimately with them in the place of their pastimes, they were ordering him to leave-to leave Rādhā-Dāmodara and Vṛndāvana and to deliver the message of the ācāryas to forgetful parts of the world.
* * *
In June the weather became intolerably hot, and one could not remain active through the afternoon. During the most oppressive hours, Bhaktivedanta Swami would shut his doors and shutters and run the overhead fan. By evening the heat would abate, again a flurry of visitors would arrive, and in the temple compound there would be evening kīrtanas. Sitting on his veranda, Bhaktivedanta Swami would sometimes talk with visitors, or sometimes they would come to his door and observe him as he worked at his typewriter. He was known in Vṛndāvana as a scholar and a sublime devotee. But he kept to himself as much as possible, especially in the summer of 1962, working on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
That was his real purpose in coming here: to prepare the books he could distribute to the people of the West. Although as yet he had no means for traveling even as far as Japan, and no means for printing books, these were the goals for which he worked. He had not come to Vṛndāvana to die and return to Godhead. Rather, he had come because it was the ideal place to gain spiritual strength for his main life’s work. The exact shape of his future mission Bhaktivedanta Swami did not know, but he did know that he must prepare himself for preaching Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to the English-speaking Western world. He must become a perfectly equipped instrument of his masters. And if they desired, they would send him.
This post has already been read 68 times