Mahanidhi Swami

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in a family of pure Gaudiya Vaisnavas in 1896 in Calcutta. From early childhood he showed signs of pure devotion to Lord Sri Krsna.

At the tender age of five, he single handedly organized a neighborhood Ratha yatra festival to glorify Lord Jagannatha. He authentically decorated a small cart to resemble the Lord’s colossal chariot in Puri. Besides leading the kirtana party, he organized cooking and prasadam distribution.

With his enthusiasm and ecstatic love for Lord Krsna he engaged the community in chanting: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Unlike other children his age who would waste their time playing, Srila Prabhupada preferred to visit the local Radha Krsna temple. For hours together, he would lovingly gaze upon the transcendental forms of Radha Govindaji, absorbing Their divine blessings and beautiful darsana.

In his youth, Maharaja Pariksit used to dress a Deity of Krsna. Similarly, from his childhood, Srila Prabhupada also began worshiping small Deities of Radha and Krsna. He quickly mastered the traditional beats and ragas on mrdanga and harmonium. With pure devotion Srila Prabhupada would sing sweet devotional bhajanas to please Radha Govindaji.

At twenty six, he met his eternal spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (Founder Acarya of Gaudiya Math). At their first meeting, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave Srila Prabhupada a divine command: “Go to the West and spread Krsna consciousness in the English language.”

In full faith Srila Prabhupada embraced the order as his life and soul. After realizing his guru’s teachings, he started writing and distributing Back to Godhead, an English language magazine on the science of Krsna consciousness. Although begun in 1944 in a small way, Back to Godhead now circulates worldwide in over fifty languages.

Srila Prabhupada, like all pure Vaisnavas, showed immense compassion for the suffering conditioned souls. Although they are rotting in the materialistic life of ignorance, the stubborn conditioned souls insist that they “have no time for spiritual life.”

Neither their indifference, nor the sizzling summer heat of Delhi could keep Srila Prabhupada from distributing the cooling balm of Krsna consciousness. Once while selling Back to Godhead he collapsed on the street from heat stroke. Yet he remained fixed in his determination to please his spiritual master.

He took sannyasa in 1959 after retiring from household life. Taking shelter of Vrndavana, he rented a bhajana kutira in the Radha Damodara temple where he absorbed the association of Sri Rupa and Sri Jiva Gosvamis. Srila Prabhupada spent the next six years performing intensive Krsna bhajana.

Regularly, he bathed in Yamuna, and took darsana of Madana Mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha, and Radha Ramana. He prayed for the mercy of the six Gosvamis and continued writing and printing. During bhajana he would receive blessings, inspiration, and direct guidance from the all merciful Sri Rupa Gosvami.

At this time, he began his life’s main literary work, an English translation with commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam. For Srila Prabhupada it was more of a devotional outpouring than a mere translation from esoteric Sanskrit to understandable English.

Gaudiya Vaisnava history reveals that some advanced devotees would begin crying in spiritual happiness while reading the Srimad Bhagavatam. Smearing the ink on the pages, their tears would make the lines illegible. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada once said that his Srimad Bhagavatam commentaries are actually expressions of his “devotional ecstasies.”

Working alone, Srila Prabhupada wrote, begged money to print, and personally hauled the paper to publish the first three volumes of Srimad Bhagavatam. Recollecting these times, he once said humbly to his disciples:

“I did not know anything about writing. But my spiritual master told me to spread Lord Krsna’s glories in English. So this is what I tried to do, following in the steps of my Guru Maharaja. He was such a transcendental aristocrat. I had no great personal qualifications. I just tried to follow his instructions.”

Other disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura tried unsuccessfully to preach Krsna consciousness in English speaking Europe. Srila Prabhupada, however, had full faith in his guru and Krsna’s name. Fearless as Abhimanyu, he brought Krsna consciousness to the world’s most powerful country, America.

Besides speaking English and being a “super power,” America was leading the world in the sinful activities of meat eating, illicit sex, gambling, intoxication. If Americans would take up Krsna consciousness, thought Srila Prabhupada, then surely it would spread to “every town and village,” as Lord Caitanya predicted five hundred years ago. After all, “What’s a glorious victory without a glorious fight,” which Srila Prabhupada would sometimes say.

At the age of seventy, armed with karatalas and a crate of Bhagavatams, Srila Prabhupada set off to America in 1965 on the steamship “Jaladuta.” During the arduous forty day sea journey the ship met heavy storms. For two consecutive nights, he had severe heart attacks which almost killed him.

On the third night, Lord Krsna appeared to Srila Prabhupada in a dream. The Supreme Lord Himself was pulling the ship to America, encouraging Srila Prabhupada and giving him all protection. Srila Prabhupada penned this prayer upon reaching New York City:

“My dear Lord Krsna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me. How shall I make them understand the message of Krsna consciousness?

“I am very unfortunate, unqualified, and most fallen. Therefore, I am seeking Your benediction so I can convince them. For I am powerless to do so on my own.

“O Lord, I am like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance. O Lord, make me dance as You like.”

In Manhattan, Srila Prabhupada struggled through the icy cold snowbound winter of l965. He continued writing and occassionally selling a few Bhagavatams. But for one year nothing really happened.

Gradually, a few yoga students began attending his classes on Bhagavad gita. The word spread that an “Indian swami was in town teaching a unique yoga method: chanting Hare Krsna.” After his room was robbed, he moved into a small storefront apartment at 26 Second Avenue in the Lower East Side.

In nearby Tompkins Square Park, Srila Prabhupada led the first public chanting of Hare Krsna in the Western world. On July 13, 1966, he founded ISKCON (The International Society for Krsna Consciousness) and initiated a dozen disciples.

To receive initiation disciples must promise to give up all forms of illicit sex, meat eating, intoxication, and gambling. Srila Prabhupada was well on his way to realizing his mission.

Under Srila Prabhupada’s pure guidance the Krsna consciousness movement quickly flourished. Within months ISKCON Radha Krsna temples opened in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Montreal, and London. In the l970’s, he traveled around the world fourteen times, establishing 108 Radha Krsna temples in all the major cities of the America, Europe, Africa, India, Asia, and Australia.

He initiated a total of five thousand sincere disciples from different nationalities. He opened asramas and pure vegetarian “Govinda’s” restaurants. On every continent he started Vedic gurukulas and goshallas. Srila Prabhupada was the first spiritual master to introduce both elegant Deity worship of Radha and Krsna and the annual Ratha yatra festival of Lord Jagannatha in the western countries.

ISKCON’s Jagannatha Ratha yatra festivals, complete with three beautiful wooden carts carrying Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra, a thunderous sankirtana procession, and massive prasadam distribution, take place every year in over two hundred cities worldwide.

Though constantly traveling and preaching to priests, princes, politicians, philosophers, scientists, and his disciples, Srila Prabhupada kept translating the Srimad Bhagavatam. He wrote over eighty books about Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Nectar of Devotion, The Science of Self Realization, and English translations with commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad gita As It Is, Isopanisad, Upadesamrta, Narada Bhakti sutras, Mukunda mala stotra, and Caitanya Caritamrta are some of his works.

Prabhupada’s books have been translated into fifty languages such as French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Swahili, Hindi, Bengali. Almost a billion copies have been distributed worldwide.

In only eleven years, between the ages of seventy and eighty one, Srila Prabhupada accomplished his mission. He credited his phenomenal success to personal effort, an unshakeable faith in his spiritual master and the holy names of Lord Sri Krsna.

He was not an ordinary person. Srila Prabhupada was personally chosen and empowered by the Supreme Lord to spread Krsna consciousness and chanting Hare Krsna all over the world.

In Vrndavana, during the auspicious month of Kartika in l977 on November 14, while surrounded by loving disciples singing their hearts out in kirtana, Srila Prabhupada chanted Hare Krsna and entered the eternal pastimes of Radha Syamasundara. To this day ISKCON keeps growing through cooperation and strict following of Srila Prabhupada’s pure example and perfect instructions.

As one of the world’s most dynamic religious and cultural movemments, ISKCON has more than three hundred temples on five continents. Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi is in Vrndavana at the ISKCON Krsna Balarama Mandira.

(Book Excerpt: Gaudiya Vaisnava Biographies and Samadhis in Vrndavana by Mahanidhi Swami)

Mahanidhi Swami

By Priya-Priyatama’s merciful plan, the BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS, Srila Prabhupada’s pure Krishna devotional edition, is the most popular and widely distributed multi-lingual edition of Gita in the whole world!

Unlike other editions, Srila Prabhupada’s As It Is speaks the clear, easy to understand, gentle and at times quite forceful message of Absolute Truth.

With its universal principles, philosophy, and reasonable analysis of the material world, time, action, the individual self and the Superself, the Antaryami, Srila Prabhupada’s Gita has profoundly and amazingly purified and transformed the minds, hearts and lives of millions of fortunate human beings.

Srila Prabhupada was a “Gita Man” in the sense that He fully realized the essence of Gita, which is selfless service-based immaculate love divine. For Srila Prabhupada, the Gita was one with his mind, heart, words, teachings and his sterling personal devotional behavior.

Thus, who would know the glories of the Bhagavad-gita more than Srila Prabhupada? I am sure my beloved Gurudeva would be most pleased that his own realized words spoken in praise of Gita were being shared with the world on the most auspicious occasion of Gita Jayanti, Mokshada Ekadashi.

The following amazing statements of Srila Prabhupada will inspire, encourage, enliven and satisfy all classes of devotees. Just by reading them, many seekers of love divine will surely pick up the Bhagavad-gita, and start the most beneficial practice of reading it EVERYDAY!

And for the caring and compassionate transcendental book distributors, these quotes are the perfect “lines” to use in convincing the curious to buy the book. Worlwide Bhagavad-gita book distribution ki jai!

Srila Prabhupada speaks:

I. IDENTITY: Bhagavad-gita is also known as Gitopanishad. It is the essence of Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upaniñads in Vedic literature.

  1. Vedic knowledge is complete because it is above all doubts and mistakes, and Bhagavad-gita is the essence of all that infallible Vedic knowledge.
  2. This one book, Bhagavad-gita, is the essence of all Vedic literatures and [very] special because it is spoken by Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
  3. Bhagavad-gita is a transcendental literature which one should read very carefully.
  4. One need not read any other Vedic literature. One need only attentively and regularly hear and read Bhagavad-gita.
  5. Bhagavad-gita contains perfect knowledge which comes down by the disciplic succession, guru parampara.
  6. Bhagavad-gita is the essence of the Mahabharata, and it is spoken by Bhagavan Sri Krishna Himself.

II. PURPOSE: The purpose of Bhagavad-gita is to deliver mankind from the nescience of material existence.

  1. All the instructions of Bhagavad-gita are intended to awaken one’s pure consciousness, which is the preliminary activity for the transcendentalist.
  2. Bhagavad-gita was spoken by Bhagavan Sri Krishna just to change Arjuna’s point of view [because Arjuna was foolishly stuck in the bodily concept of life].
  3. The whole purpose of Bhagavad-gita is to revive our sanatana dharma, which means the eternal occupation of the living entity [i.e. Sri Krishna’s selfless loving seva].

III. READERS: Those who question why they are suffering; where they came from and where they shall go after death are proper students for understanding Bhagavad-gita.

  1. The ways and the means for ultimate realization, ultimate attainment, are stated in the Bhagavad-gita, and the doors of this knowledge are open for everyone.
  2. The Bhagavad-gita is just like a cow and its milk is the essence of the Vedas. Sri Krishna is milking this cow to feed the calf-like Arjuna. Wise men, great sages and pure devotees should drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gita.

IV. TEACHINGS: The subject of the Bhagavad-gétä entails the comprehension of five basic truths [i.e. the tattvas: Ishvara, Prakrti, Kala, Karma and Jivatma.]

  1. The Bhagavad-gita teaches that we have to purify this materially contaminated consciousness.
  2. The Bhagavad-gita teaches that the complete whole is comprised of the supreme controller, the controlled living entities, the cosmic manifestation, eternal time and activities [Ishvara, jivas, prakrti, nitya kala, karma].
  3. The Gita teaches that the living entity is never born and never dies. The jivatma, living entity, is eternal and indestructible. He continues to live after the destruction of his/her temporary material body.
  4. Through the Bhagavad-gita’s instructions, we are given information how to leave the material world and begin a truly blissful life in the spiritual sky.
  5. The Bhagavad-gita gives the real picture of the material world.
  6. The Bhagavad-gita teaches how to absorb the mind and intelligence in the thought of Lord Sri Krishna and thus transfer one’s self to the kingdom of the Lord.
  7. This is the art! And this is also the secret of Bhagavad-gita: total absorption in the thought of Sri Krishna.

V. BENEFITS: If we properly utilize the instructions of Bhagavad-gita, then our whole life will become purified, and ultimately we will be able to reach the spiritual sky [Krishnaloka].

  1. If one properly follows the instructions of Bhagavad-gita, one can be freed from all miseries and anxieties in this life, and one’s next life will be spiritual.
  2. If one reads Bhagavad-gita very sincerely and with all seriousness, then by the grace of Bhagavan Sri Krishna the reactions of his past misdeeds (papa karma phala) will not act upon him.
  3. One who takes his bath only once in the sacred Ganges water of the Gita cleanses away all the dirt of material life.
  4. In conclusion, Bhagavad-gita is a transcendental literature which one should read very carefully because it is capable of saving one from all fear. (all quotations from Srila Prabhupada’s personally written Introduction of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.)

Gita Jayanti ki jai! Srimad Bhagavad-gita ki jai! Daily Gita reading ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

I took birth in an exciting life of Krishna consciousness 43 years ago from the mother of Srila Prabhupada’s wonderful transcendental books: Krsna Book, Nectar of Devotion and Bhagavad-gita As It Is.

For one year, I did not see or even know who my father was. Mama told me, “Your father is very busy traveling around the world expanding our family business of writing and distributing spiritual books. You will see him after some time.”

That didn’t matter so much anyway, because I myself was too busy being loved, fed and fattened by my Mama. In that tender first year of my life, mother showered me with so much compassion, patience and care.

I just can’t believe how she so slowly and personally taught me how to correctly think and desire, feel, love and act, not only for my own benefit, but interestingly enough for the benefit of everyone around me too. Believe it or not, after one year of being Mama’s wild, wining babe, I soon became a “fairly” good Krishna conscious kid.

Then Papa finally came home. “How radiant, down-to-earth, warm and compassionate,” I thought as I gazed upon his beautiful, golden transcendental form with my clear and innocent baby eyes.

Father picked me up, and held me tightly in his arms with the kind of embrace that says, “I will always be here to help you, protect you and guide you throughout your life. Don’t worry and don’t be afraid of anything!”

My little baby heart whimpered a reply, “Yes, father! I fully believe you. I will take shelter in your words, and always follow the transcendental teachings received from mother.”

Since we are often asked, “What do you think about Srila Prabhupada and his books?” This short story is my reply, along with the obvious fact that whatever I am and have attained, wherever I am, and wherever I am going it is…

ALL BECAUSE OF SRILA PRABHUPADA AND HIS WONDERFUL TRANSCENDENTAL BOOKS!”

Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental book distribution ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

In 1972, Srila Prabhupada wrote a very important letter concerning forbidden foods which ISKCON members CAN’T EAT! Of course, as always in Kali-yuga, there are many views, takes, personal anecdotes and “Prabhupada told me personally” quotes on this sweet and bitter topic.

Most senior ISKCON devotees grew up in their spiritual lives not eating this and not missing it. Who needs it—especially when you have Sri Krishna maha-prasada burfi, sandesh, rabri, rasagulla, gulabjamuns, rasa-malai, halavah, simply wonderfuls, lugloos, and date gur kheer.

Besides, it is definitely something that Srimati Radharani NEVER COOKS OR OFFERS to Her dearly beloved Sri Shyamasundaraji. Despite the flurry of opinions and personal anecdotes regarding this topic, the following letter serves as concrete evidence that this eatable SHOULD NOT BE EATEN BECAUSE IT IS AN INTOXICANT!!

What is this mysterious food which fills kids everywhere with supercharged passion?

In the official BBT Folio collection of all Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, we find the following letter wherein Srila Prabhupada says:

“My dear Surasrestha,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter. COCOA and CHOCOLATE ARE NOT TO BE TAKEN as they are intoxicants!” (SPLetter to Surasrestha, Los Angeles 14 June, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada ki jai! Sri Jagannatha maha-prasadam ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

For forty years we repeatedly heard the following popular sayings. We were told that Srila Prabhupada personally spoke or wrote these sayings in his books. Being curious we recently searched the BBT Folio complete collection of all of Srila Prabhupada’s actual “AS IT IS” original words and writings.

The truths revealed by our research are most surprising and eye-opening. We herein share these truths with you for your reflection and consideration.

In one handbooks and references publication on the BBT Folio titled “Leadership Excellence Newletters” we found the following title and list:

Srila Prabhupada’s Principles

  1. “Work now samadhi later.”
  2. “Preaching is the essence; books are the basis; utility is the principle; purity is the force.”
  3. “Do the needful.”
  4. “First deserve than desire.”

RESEARCH CONCLUSION

Although very popular in some places, the following sayings were

NEVER EVER SPOKEN OR WRITTEN EVEN ONCE by Srila Prabhupada:

  1. “Work now samadhi later.”

This phrase is found only 20 times in the entire BBT Folio archive collection. And most surprisingly, it is only mentioned by devotees in their personal publications or Vyasa-puja offerings to Srila Prabhupada. Here’s a sample of devotee quotes:

— ”He [Srila Prabhupada] had always urged us on, saying, “work now, samadhi later.”

— “Srila Prabhupada coined the phrase, ‘work now, samadhi later.’”

— “Srila Prabhupada, you always stressed “work now, samadhi later.’”

— “By teaching us ‘work now, samadhi later’ you [Srila Prabhupada].”

— “Srila Prabhupada instructed us, ‘Work now, samadhi later.’”

— “You [Srila Prabhupada] said, ‘Work now, samadhi later.’”

TRUTH NUMBER ONE:

SRILA PRABHUPADA HIMSELF NEVER PERSONALLY WROTE OR SPOKE THIS popular saying, “Work now, samadhi later”, which has so deeply molded the minds, and influenced the entire lives of legions of sincere bhaktas! Indeed, this is most amazing.

  1. “Books are the basis, preaching is the essence, utility is the principle and purity is the force.”

According to the BBT Folio, this popular saying originates with an unnamed person called “Devotee” who said: “Prabhupada, this is a Chinese character scroll. It says, “Books are the basis, preaching is the essence, utility is the principle and purity is the force.” It was translated poorly by myself, and the characters were written by… (BBT Folio 770225ED.MAY)

Although the saying does contain some valuable and relevant truths, the fact is that it was NEVER EVER SPOKEN OR WRITTEN BY SRILA PRABHUPADA. What Srila Prabhupada did write but never spoke on this subject is this:

** “Practically, books are the basis of our Movement.” (Letters 72-01-20 Mandali Bhadra; 76-01-09 Tusta Krishna)

Only the following two of the four popular sayings listed above in the Folio collection were actually used by Srila Prabhupada.

  1. “Do the needful.”

The BBT Folio contains 813 entries of this saying (470: Srila Prabhupada; 343: devotees).

This popular saying which was actually used hundreds of times by Srila Prabhupada is a very clear and practical universal principle followed by most everyone in the world.

  1. “First deserve, then desire.”

For many different purposes, this phrase is being used and has been said thousands of times by various devotees. However, during his entire preaching campaign, Srila Prabhupada spoke it only 8 times! And he used it only in very specific circumstances. It is not meant to be a universal axiom to guide everyone’s spiritual lives.

Conclusion

The conclusion of our BBT Folio Archival collection of all of Srila Prabhupada’s actual words and writings is that Srila Prabhupada NEVER even once spoke or wrote two of the four popular sayings.

Of the balance, Srila Prabhupada hundreds of times used “Do the needful”. As for the saying “First deserve, then desire”, Srila Prabhupada used it a mere 8 times, which clearly indicates that it is not very significant. And nor is it a universal principle to be used in the many ways it is used today.

We hope these truths will bring you the comfort, confidence and hope that the light of knowledge brings to sincere seekers of “reality distinguished from illusion” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.2). As one poet rightly said, “May the truth set you free!”

Srila Prabhupada said ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

In Sridhama Mayapura (1976), Srila Prabhupada had the following conversation which fully concurs with the tattva siddhanta of the Srutis, Upanisads, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. It is recounted in a BBT book titled “A Transcendental Diary” by Sri Hari Sauri Dasji, a senior disciple of His Divine Grace.

The basic question is “Do We Have Free Will”? The answer is NO. Everyone and everything is completely under the control of Svatantra Bhagavan Sri Krishna. From the following conversation, it seems clear that Srila Prabhupada agrees with the fact that the JIVA HAS NO FREE WILL whatsoever.

Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the Supreme Controller and Doer of everything as proven throughout the Gita (i.e. Bhagavat Gita 3.27). Srila Prabhupada clearly agrees with the popular saying, “man/woman proposes and God disposes”, which means no free will. You may want this or that, or choose to do this or that. But without Krishna’s will, His acceptance of “your want or choice”, His sanction and His arrangement, IT WILL NEVER BE!

As the Bilble says, “O God, Thy will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” And so it is!

Thus with all our heart we pray, “O Krishna! Hey Bhagavan, saranagati Prabhu! Please save me, please uplift me, and please accept me as Your loving slave forever!”

Srila Prabhupada on Free Will:

Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, where is the question of the free will of the individual?

Srila Prabhupada: [You have] free will under Krishna. Your free will is sanctioned by Krishna. However, you are not so free that whatever you like, you can do.

Devotee: If I want to perform some pious deed, it is only by Krishna’s mercy that I will do it?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes! It isn’t just a question of our free will; Krishna has His free will also, and that is supreme. You cannot bind Krishna to dictate in a similar way. If Krishna likes, He may act and if He doesn’t like, He may not act. That is Krishna.

Devotee: [Then no matter how much we preach or sell books] ultimately it is simply by the mercy of Krishna that a living entity comes back to Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So it is Krishna’s business where to show mercy. But you cannot oblige [order] Krishna that: ‘You show mercy everywhere’.

Srila Prabhupada: No! You cannot oblige Krishna, ‘You do this’. That is not Krishna. Therefore whatever Krishna likes, He will do. If Krishna likes, He can give you mercy. And if Krishna does not like, He may not.

(BBT: Folio “Transcendental Diary” Vol.1 Sri Dhama Mayapur 14/3/1976)

Svatantra Bhagavan Sri Krishna ki jai! Srila Prabhupada ki jai! No free will ki jai! Surrender to Sri Krishna ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!