SRI ANTARDWIP (Atma-nivedan)


Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad's Mission


By Om Vishnupad Jagad-Guru Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj


By the mercy of Sri Gurupadpadma, we have now come from Sri Nanda Acharya Bhavan to the headquarters of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), as well as the puspa-samadhi mandir of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad.

Srila Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad has made a channel to the West, and so many devotees come now through that channel. Without his mercy we would not have been able to think anything today, but now, getting the association of international devotees, we feel very happy.

You have all heard that Sriman Mahaprabhu has made the following prediction:

পৃথিবীতে আছে যত নগরাদি গ্রাম
সর্ব্বত্র প্রচার হইবে মোর নাম

prithivite achhe yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra prachara haibe mora nama

"My Name will spread to every village and town on this earth."

Bhagavan Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur tried in many ways to spread the nectar of Sri Krishna-katha and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in the West and East, he sent many disciples abroad, but they were not particularly successful. However, Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur had a disciple on whom he bestowed his special mercy—this great soul and exalted Vaishnav is Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. Srila Swami Maharaj preached all over the world and conquered all Western and Eastern countries through Krishna consciousness.

Srila Swami Maharaj met our Srila Param Guru Maharaj (Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj) for the first time in Allahabad when Srila Guru Maharaj went there for preaching. Both had not yet taken sannyas at that time—Srila Guru Maharaj was a brahmachari and Srila Swami Maharaj a grihastha. Following their meeting, they both very soon developed a very intimate relationship.

When Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur entered his eternal pastimes and some time later our Param Guru Maharaj established Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in Sri Nabadwip Dham, Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad invited Srila Guru Maharaj to stay at his house at 7-8 Sitakanta Banerjee Lane. Srila Guru Maharaj accepted the invitation and stayed there for 8-10 years with our Sri Gurupadpadma Om Vishnupad Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj. During this time, Srila Guru Maharaj would often participate in various preaching programmes in Kolkata together with Srila Swami Maharaj.

Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupad was always very enthusiastic to preach Krishna consciousness. Sometimes, he would also take our Sri Gurupadpadma for preaching—he would tell Srila Gurudev (at that time Srila Swami Maharaj was a grihastha, and Srila Gurudev a brahmachari), "Gaurendu, you are wearing saffron, so you sit at the vyasa-asan and read Bhagavatam, and I will sit on the ground and give explanation." Sometimes, Srila Swami Maharaj would also take Srila Sridhar Maharaj for preaching. In whichever possible way, wherever there was any opportunity to preach, Srila Swami Maharaj always wanted to preach. Although he was a grihastha, he would still go door to door and tried to preach.

I have heard from my Sri Gurupadpadma that when he stayed in Kolkata with Srila Swami Maharaj, he would sometimes go begging door to door. One day, somebody asked him, "Why are you worshipping Krishna instead of Kali?" Gurudev was a new brahmachari at that time, so he did not reply anything, but later he came back home and asked Srila Swami Maharaj about it. Srila Swami Maharaj smiled and said,

"Gaurendu, could you not say anything in reply to that man? Why did you not tell that man what the worship of Kali gives one? If you worship Kali, what will you eat and who will be your friends? Have you seen Ma Kali's munda-mala (a garland of heads)? Are there any Vaishnav tilaks (forehead marks) on this garland? There are not—all tilaks are asura tilak (marks of demons)! How does Ma Kali live? Your Ma Kali lives naked and she attracts you by showing her tongue to you, and, although you are her son, you run to enjoy with her. As soon as you come close, she grabs you by your hair, cuts off your head and puts it on her neck as a garland or sometimes she throws it to jackals and ghosts! She always runs in all directions, and her husband (Sivji Maharaj) falls at her feet to stop her! This is your mother for you.

"However, if you worship Lord Krishna, you will get so many nice things—the bank of the Yamuna, beautiful forests, gardens, fragrant flowers, sweets, nectar, etc. It is a transcendental environment. There, you will eat curd, cheese, condensed milk, laddus, luchi, transcendental fruits, etc.—you will get there all the nice things, and you will play, dance, chant, and enjoy rasa-lila with Lord Krishna.

"And if you worship Kali, you will go to the cremation ghat where dead body are burnt. You will see there many jackals, witches, and demons—you too will get a form like them and dance drinking blood of demons and liquor. It is up to you, do as you like."

Such was Srila Swami Maharaj's preaching. "I am giving you an alternative. If you go in this direction, you will get this, and if you go in another direction, you will get that. If you like to drink blood and wine, if you like witches and ghosts, then go ahead and worship Kali."

When Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj stayed in Srila Swami Maharaj's house, they spent much time discussing Krishna consciousness every day. Many years later, having seen their excited conversation and not being able to understand the language (they spoke in Bengali), one foreign devotee asked Srila Swami Maharaj, "Prabhupad, what did you talk about?" In reply, Srila Prabhupad only said, "If I tell you, you will faint!" Such was the relationship between Srila Swami Maharaj and our Srila Guru Maharaj.

Srila Prabupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur had a very clear desire—he wanted to spread Krishna-katha, Mahaprabhu's message and prediction door to door all over the world. When Srila Swami Maharaj first came to Srila Prabhupad, Srila Prabhupad looked at him and said, "You are an educated person. You can preach Mahaprabhu's message to the English speaking world. You can preach in the West." Srila Swami Maharaj always remembered these words and was extremely enthusiastic to preach. In the end, he felt such a deep inspiration to fulfil the desire of his Gurudev that he decided to leave his family and take sannyas.

At first, Srila Swami Maharaj came to Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj to ask him for sannyas, but Srila Guru Maharaj said, "Prabhu, I have some relationship with your family. If I give you sannyas, they will hate me because I have stayed at your house comfortably and now I am taking the husband away from the family. They will all accuse me. It does not look good, and it will be inauspicious for you also. Besides, you and I are friends, if you take sannyas from me, how can I think of you as my disciple? You also will not be able to give me respect as your sannyas guru. Here is what I suggest. Go to Vrindavan, stay there for six months or one year, and then you can take sannyas and leave—in this case, nobody will blame me." However, Srila Swami Maharaj did not agree—he said, "No, Maharaj. I cannot wait so long. I want to take sannyas now and go abroad right away." Then Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "Go to Sripad Keshav Maharaj. I will tell you your sannyas name, and as for the mantra, I have given it to him, you can take sannyas from him. It will be good—then you can maintain the same relationship with me as before." Srila Swami Maharaj did so.

After that, Srila Swami Maharaj went to Vrindavan and stayed at the Radha-Damodar temple where he translated Srimad Bhagavatam into English. Some time later, he felt some inspiration that he had to go abroad. Before leaving, he asked Srila Sridhar Maharaj for his blessing; he wrote "Maharaj, please bestow your mercy on me. I am going abroad. Please give me your blessing so that I can preach there." Then, in 1965, despite his age (he was sixty-nine years old(!) at that time), Srila Swami Maharaj travelled to America without any money, almost empty-handed. He only had some clothes and a truck full of scriptures with him. Tolerating all danger and austerity, Srila Swami Maharaj started preaching in the USA. We have heard that he would sit alone under a tree in some part, play kartals and chant the maha-mantra, and all the hippies would dance around him. Gradually, some people noticed him and starting coming regularly to listen Krishna-katha from him. In this way, struggling so much, trying so hard, becoming fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna, Srila Swami Maharaj conquered the mind of foreigners and planted the seed of devotional creeper in that soil. When my Srila Gurupadpadma (Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj) heard how much austerity Srila Swami Maharaj had to tolerate there and how he manifest his paramahamsa mood (transcendental devotional mood), he said, "I want to break my head at Srila Swami Maharaj's lotus feet!"

On time, when Srila Swami Maharaj was preaching in the West, abroad, he fell very sick. Feeling apprehensive, he wrote a letter to Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj saying, "Maharaj, I have left Vrindavan and I am so far now. I have fallen sick recently and I am thinking perhaps I will not survive. What should I do now? Should I return to India or stay here? I will do as you say." Srila Sridhar Maharaj wrote in reply, "Maharaj, you are not an ordinary person. You are preaching in the West, it is your great fortune. You have done what many great Vaishnavs have tried but have been unable to do before! So, wherever you are, you are always in Vrindavan. Do not worry. Besides, you actually turn the West into Vrindavan through your good association and Hari-katha." When Srila Swami Maharaj read this, he felt peaceful and did not return at that time.

A few years later, when Srila Swami Maharaj decided to return to India together with a few foreign disciples, he sent letters to all his godbrothers informing them of his return, but nobody wanted to accept him at that time—everybody had strict brahmanical mentality and thought that because he had gone to the melchha countries, he must have become a mlechha himself. Nobody wanted to keep any connection with him. However, when Srila Sridhar Maharaj heard the news about Srila Swami Maharaj's imminent arrival, he became very excited and happy—he told my Gurudev, "Gaurendu, immediately send him a reply, say that he can stay here, and try to arrange a proper reception in Nabadwip in honour of his arrival." Gurudev (Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj) arranged everything, and all the godbrothers from Gaudiya Math also came there because the reception was organised by Srila Sridhar Maharaj. Everybody held Srila Sridhar Maharaj in a very high esteem, so when they saw that Srila Guru Maharaj praised Srila Swami Maharaj, they too started to praise him.

You all know how Srila Sridhar Maharaj lived and what he was like. He slept on a broken bed, he wore clothes that must have had a hundred stitched holes. Srila Guru Maharaj was very simple. So, when Srila Sridhar Maharaj heard Srila Swami Maharaj was coming from the West, he became excited and cleaned his room and bed thinking, "Srila Swami Maharaj will stay and sleep here!" However, when Srila Swami Maharaj came to our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math temple in Sri Nabadwip Dham and saw that Srila Guru Maharaj had prepared his room for him, he said to our Gurudev (Srila Govinda Maharaj, at that time his name was Gaurendu Brahmachari), "Gosh, this is Srila Sridhar Maharaj's bed! I must stay in the room that I pay my obeisance to? It is impossible! I will not sleep on my Master's bed. What to speak of sleeping on this bed, I cannot even sit on it! Hey, Gaurendu, where is your room? I will stay with you!" In this way, Srila Swami Maharaj spent some days in our Math together with our Gurudev.

When Srila Swami Maharaj returned from the West, he first met with Srila Sridhar Maharaj and told him everything—how he preached, how the preaching was spreading in the West, etc. Srila Sridhar Maharaj was very pleased to hear it.

After that, Srila Swami Maharaj bought this land in Sri Dham Mayapur and established here the headquarters of ISKCON. This Sri Chandradaya Mandir was inaugurated in 1973. Srila Swami Maharaj invited all his godbrothers to the inauguration, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj came to the inauguration ceremony with our Gurudev (Srila Govinda Maharaj, his name was Gaurendu Brahmachari at that time) and Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj. When they came there, Srila Gurudev asked Srila Swami Maharaj, "Maharaj, you have invited us to the inauguration of the temple, but I cannot see any yajna..." Srila Swami Maharaj replied, "What is the need for a yajna? Srila Sridhar Maharaj has come, so the temple is already inaugurated!" That day, during the lecture, Srila Swami Maharaj requested Srila Sridhar Maharaj to speak some Hari-katha, but Srila Sridhar Maharaj said, "I am not feeling very well today, so Gaurendu Prabhu will say something on my behalf." During his lecture Srila Gurudev recited one sloka,

কম্প্রতি কথয়িতুমীশে সম্প্রতি কো বা প্রতীতিমায়াতু ।
গোপতি-তনয়াকুঞ্জে গোপবধূটী-বিঢং ব্রহ্ম ॥

kam prati kathayitum ise samprati ko va pratitim ayatu
go-pati-tanaya-kunje gopa-vadhude-vidam brahma

"To whom can I speak? Who will believe me when I say that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is hunting the gopis in the bushes by the banks of the river Yamuna? In this way the Lord demonstrates His pastimes."

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 19.98)

He said, "Whom shall I tell and who will believe it if I say that the Supreme Lord is playing in a jungle with milkmaids? In the same way, whom shall I tell that our Abhay Babu, whom we all know as a simple householder, has now become a great Jagad-Guru and is spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world? He has done an impossible work!"

As soon as Srila Krishna Das Babaji Maharaj heard this sloka and understood what Srila Gurudev was going to say, he immediately jumped up and cried, "Hari bol! Hari bol!" That day, hearing Srila Gurudev's lecture, everybody was very pleased, and at the end, Srila Swami Maharaj also said about our Srila Gurudev, "He is my dearest son!"

Srila Sridhar Maharaj said about Srila Swami Maharaj:

"Our Swami Maharaj has done a miracle! What Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur conceived and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupad tried, according to his conception, to put into action, we find that these revelations have been fulfilled through Srila Swami Maharaj in his last days. We are happy, we are glad, we are proud of Srila Swami Maharaj! Moreover, it is not a small thing that Mahaprabhu's grace has been spread all over the world through Srila Swami Maharaj. I have gradually come to realise that he was a saktya-vesa avatara—some divine potency descended unto him. Ordinary things can be spread, but it is not an ordinary deed to distribute such things of the highest quality so extensively all over the world. Some divine potency came down to him. It is very rare to find such a saint amongst millions of Vaishnavs, but I can see that by his grace this greatest gift is now being thrown around all over the world without any restriction. We see transcendental Vaishnava perfection in him, and this is all inconceivable. Mahaprabhu said, "Prithivite achhe yata nagaradi grama sarvatra prachara haibe mora Nama. My Name will spread to every village and town on this earth," and this was Srila Swami Maharaj's intent. He has always been very affectionate and kind towards me, this is my great fortune."

In the end, the Lord fulfilled His devotee's desire—it was Srila Swami Maharaj's heart-felt desire to leave his body in Vrindavan. So, in the end, he became very weak, he was lying on his bed and suddenly he threw his arms in the air and shouted, "Hare! Hare Krishna!!" and after that entered his eternal abode and eternal pastimes...

We all pray to the holy lotus feet of this Srila Swami Maharaj that even now when he is in his abode in Goloka Vrindavan he may bestow his mercy on us so that we could serve devotees by his grace. We do not know how long, how many more days we will be alive in this world, but we only pray, "Please, give us some mercy, please give us some place at your lotus feet." Everybody must pray for the mercy of Srila Swami Maharaj.

Jay Om Vishnupad Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad ki jay
Sri Nabadwip Dham parikrama ki jay
Sri Dham parikrama palankari bhakta-vrinda ki jay