120th Vyasa Puja 2016

My most beloved Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my most humble obeisances at the dust of your divine lotus feet on this most auspicious occasion of your 120th Vyasa-puja celebration! It is just remarkable that it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON. All glories to Your Divine Grace!

Vasu Ghosh, an eternal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wrote: yadi gaura na hoito, tabe ki hoito. If Lord Gaura had not appeared, what would have happened? Similiarly, this evokes in my mind a significant thought – yadi Prabhupada na hoito, what would have happened?

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared, performed His pastimes and established sankirtana as the dharma for this age of Kali. He also predicted that the holy name will reach every town and village on the surface of the globe. However, over four hundred years had passed after Mahaprabhu’s appearance and the holy name had not been dispersed. There was some chanting taking place in certain parts of Orissa, Bengal, at Radha-kunda and a few other places. Apart from these sporadic endeavours, the holy name was truly not going anywhere. There was even a thought that Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction would not be realised. Two questions were frequently asked:  Who would make this happen? How would this happen?

Then one hundred and twenty years ago in Kolkata, a phenomenal occurrence took place.  The Lord made your appearance possible. In 1922 HG Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura instructed you to propagate Krishna consciousness in the Western world. After a lifetime of preparation, you went to New York in 1965 and exactly fifty years ago you became the founder acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). You tirelessly encircled the globe fourteen times spreading the holy name and propagating Krishna consciousness. It was you Srila Prabhupada, who made Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction come true.

Sankirtanaika-pitarau Gauranga and Nityananda are the founding fathers of the sankirtana movement, but it was you who formalised that movement. Lord Caitanya made you nimitta-matram, the instrument in founding the Hare Krishna movement fifty years ago. You perfectly executed the will of the Lord. This year marks the Golden Jubilee celebration of ISKCON. It is not a conventional victory celebration, but the supreme victory –  param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam.

I believe that this victory is not commonplace. I recall how it all began – here you were – seventy years old, friendless, and practically penniless with only your Guru’s instruction in your heart. How was it possible that a person with this standing could achieve such victory, opulence and extraordinary power that is exhibited by ISKCON today? This brings to mind the final verse in the Bhagavad-Gita where Sanjaya makes a declaration:

yatra yogesvara krsno

yatra partho dhanur-dharah

tatra srir vijayo bhutir

dhruva nitir matir mama

 Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.

I want to extract srir —opulence; vijayah —victory;bhutih —exceptional power and nitih —morality and delve deeper to illustrate how you are the epitome of these concepts.

 srir is translated as opulence. Srila Prabhupada, you had written “the Krishna consciousness movement actually started with only forty rupees, but now it has more than forty crores worth of property, and all this opulence has been achieved within eight or ten years”(Srimad-Bhagvatam 8.5.47, purport). ISKCON’s assets have grown    immensely since then and continues to expand. I also recall you saying that if an Indian person has a servant from the West, that is an indication of the opulence and prestige of that person. You had close on to five thousand disciples from the West serving you. Your opulence knew no bounds.

Your vijayah is self-evident. Fifty years ago you started with one temple in New York. You informed us that victory meant spreading and conquering. We could ‘conquer’ the West by spreading Krishna consciousness. Caitanya Mahaprabhu had spread the holy names in India and left the task of spreading it all over the world to you, Srila Prabhupada – and ISKCON. Today we have no less than six hundred and fifty ISKCON temples, centres, schools and colleges worldwide. We have distributed five hundred and sixteen million books. One hundred and fifty Padayatra teams with ten thousand  participants have walked a staggering two hundred and sixty-thousand kilometres visiting fifty-two

thousand towns and villages in one hundred and ten countries. More than six thousand festivals are celebrated annually in ISKCON across the world and over one million meals of prasada are served daily as part of the Food for Life programme. It is estimated that more than nine million people worship at ISKCON temples every year.

You had shared with us the maxim that the British Empire was referred to as “the empire on which the sun never sets.” After visiting England you had jokingly remarked that in reality the “sun never rises in England”. In comparison, in the ISKCON Empire our sun is Krsna surya and it never sets. Every fifteen minutes the reverberating sound of a conch shell announces the beginning of mangala arati at an ISKCON temple somewhere on this planet. In that sense the warmth and light of our Krsna surya is omnipotent – constantly and consistently spreading everywhere and truly never setting.

ISKCON’s bhutiḥ is Krsna’s extraordinary power. During the years when the Krishna consciousness movement was trying to make inroads into the former Soviet Union, it was reported that “Semyon Tsvigun, the deputy chief of the KGB under Andropov, had said that the three main threats to the Soviet Union were “pop music, Western culture, and Hare Krishna.” and that the “KGB perceived the distribution of ISKCON literature as a threat since Lenin had also caused a revolution aided by a printing press. (The Telegraph, Calcutta, India, editorial). How could anyone be surprised that a superpower such as the Soviet Union felt threatened by the Hare Krishna’s? If the power of the holy name makes the age of Kali tremble, what can it not do to Russia? In 1976 a magician visited our Krishna-Balaram Mandir and showed you and the devotees his repertoire of tricks. The magician made many objects appear and disappear. After a while you asked the magician: “What about the miseries of life? Can you make these disappear? Birth, death, disease, and old age?” The magician replied submissively, “No, that I cannot.” At these words the magician sat down and you said. “But I can make these things disappear. That is the real magic.” Srila Prabhupada, this is proof of how you were extraordinarily empowered.

You gave your followers four regulative principles: No meat-eating, No illicit sex ,No gambling and No intoxication. There are no better nor higher principles of nitih than this.

Srimad- Bhagvatam 1.12. 126, purport states: “ The symptoms of Kali are (1) wine,  (2)women, (3) gambling and (4)  slaughterhouses. Wise rulers of all states should take  lessons from Maharaja Pariksit in how to maintain peace and morality by subduing…… quarrelsome people who indulge in wine, illicit connection……  gambling and meat- eating. …… So how can they expect peace and morality ……?” You put your stamp on these substantial principles of morality.

You wrote in the Bhagavad-gītā, which  is the supreme instruction in  morality, “man- mana bhava mad-bhaktah …… The instructions of Bhagavad-gita constitute the supreme process of religion and of morality…… surrender unto Krsna (18.78, purport) Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had dispatched his first group of sannayasis to the West. In England they were invited to the House of Lords. Upon meeting these sannyasis, they were asked what it would take to become preachers like them. The sannayasis responded that they should just follow the four regulative principles. However when they heard what these principles were, they said that it was impossible. Srila Prabhupada, you made it possible.

Wherever there is Sri Krsna Caitanya and Your Divine Grace, we will continue to see the attributes of opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality manifesting themselves in your ISKCON. You are eternally Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s  man. I remain,

Your humble servant,

Lokanath Swami


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