118th Vyasa Puja 2014

My Dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my most humble obeisances at the dust of your divine Lotus feeton this most auspicious occasion of your Sri Vyasa-puja. It is the 119th anniversary of your appearance as well as the Golden  anniversary of yourdeparture to America. Your incredible journey was no accident, but a divinearrangement of the Supreme Lord.

Actually, Srila Prabhupad, your mission was a lifetime in preparation.  In the business world there is a phrase  – “80% preparation, 20% execution”. The greater the quality time devoted to preparation, the more effective and successful  the execution. 80% of your lifetime was in preparation to execute the will of the Lord and you spent just 11 years, 20% with us.

In Kolkata,1922, your Guru Maharaja,  HDG Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakursingled you out in an assembly of devotees and guests with the words: “ You arean intelligent young man. Why don’t you preach Lord Caitanya’s messagethroughout the world?”  Thus began a chain of events which culminated in thelast encounter with your wife when you issued her with the ultimatum, “You have to choose between me or tea. Either the tea goes or I go.”. Being finally freefrom your family obligations, the time had come to solely concentrate on themost important mission. This was to fulfil your Guru Maharaja’s instruction ofpreaching in the West.

You thought of becoming successful in business in order support your family,but more importantly to help support your Guru Maharaja’s mission of spreadingKrsna consciousness. In order toachieve this you moved to Allahabad andtogether with Dr. Ghosh you opened up Prayag Pharmacy. You generously servedthe Gaudiya Math when they approached you. Although you travelled extensivelythroughout India to promote your business, your mind was constantly engaged inthoughts of your Guru Maharaja. This culminated in your Guru Maharajaaccepting you as a disciple in 1933 in Allahabad. As Abhay Caranaravrinda youstarted translating and publishing articles. In 1947 the Gaudiya VaisnavaSociety honoured you with the title “Bhaktivedanta.” It was in 1950, at the ageof fifty-four, Srila Prabhupad, that you retired from married life.  In 1952,

in Jhansi you prepared a League of Devotees charter and a year later on 16 May,its opening in which you already had the vision of expanding beyond India.

It was this League of Devotees in Jhansi which was the seed that blossomed intoISKCON. Just recently I was in Jhansi and the devotees there proudly statedthat ISKCON had its conception in Jhansi, with its gestation period inVrindavana and its delivery in New York.

Srila Prabhupad, you then traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana to the templeof Rupa Goswami’s samadhi, not to retire but because this is where you wantedto be to prepare for this great preaching mission. You lived a simple life inthe temple of Radha-Damodara. By residing at this samadhi and bhajan kutir, byreceiving his blessings, you prayed that Rupa Goswami would empower you totranslate and give purports of Srimad Bhagvatam in the English language.  Youwere also writing  Back to Godhead.  Although Vrndavana is your eternal home,on a regular basis  you had to take the train all the way up to Delhi, to getthose books printed. Then you would go into the streets of Delhi and personallydistribute them. You were reminded of what Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur hadordered you at Radhakunda, “If you get money, print and distribute books”. Youdid not have much money, but with the little you had, you followed thatinstruction. So it was here in Vrndavana that you lived for six full yearsfurther solidifying your preaching strategy. and preparing yourself thismission.

So now you were prepared, but how would you travel and reach the West? Therewere limitations, hurdles, suffering and endless waiting in offices, but SriCaitanya Mahaprabhu was not going to let his senapati bhakta down and arrangedyour voyage on a ship to America. You Prabhupad  devadutta the messenger ofGod, preparing to travel on the Jaladuta. In your diary which later becameknown as the Jaladuta Diary, you wrote meticulously that you undertook thetrain journey to Kolkata commencing in Bombay. Srila Prabhupad you wrote ,” Tostart for Calcutta by the Calcutta Mail via Nagpur. Starting from Borbander at19 hours in the evening. Vide Ticket Dt 24/7/65. Luggage booked. Receipt No.A116695 paid Rs. 12/20.” ISKCON devotees in Nagpur are very proud of the factthat our Srila Prabhupad travelled to New York via Nagpur on the Calcutta Mail.To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this day in1965, the Nagpur devotees areplanning a grand celebration on 24 July 2015 when the exact train arrives atthe station.

In Kolkata, you embarked upon your journey on The  Jaladuta, which departed at9am on Friday 13 August 1965 carrying you as the most precious cargo that wouldever land in America. Your personal possessions were only a suitcase, anumbrella and some dry cereal. At Cochin, Kerala  where the boat dockedovernight, two hundred, three volume sets of your Srimad Bhagavatam were loadedonto the cargo boat.

Srila Prabhupad, some years ago I had the opportunity to visit the ScindiaNavigation Company Guesthouse cum office. This was exactly the place where youhad stayed when the boat had docked overnight.  We were surprised to meet thevery same lady who had cooked for you way back in 1965. She mentioned how thaton the eve of your departure you had managed to conduct a preaching programme,never failing to seize the opportunity to propagate Krishna consciousness.

In the middle of the vast Atlantic ocean on board the Jaladuta, you experiencedsea sickness and suffered heart attacks. But Krsna took care of His devaduttaand you celebrated Janmastami in the company of the ship’s crew. Fifty yearslater Janmastami is celebrated on a mammoth scale throughout the world withthousands of people in attendance. In Mumbai and Delhi alone there are overhalf a million guests attending the festival. You single handedly rejuvenatedthe celebrations of Sri Janmastami on a global scale and it is celebrated inone hundred and fifty countries worldwide.

Fifty years ago the Americans would not have paused for even a moment, but nowthey have stopped everything and are following your instruction of ” you do asi did.” Now fifty years later, the Commonwealth Pier in Boston will beresounding with the sound of kirtans, mrdanga and karatals “welcoming” you intoAmerica. The announcement of your arrival in Boston has reached every corner ofthe world and thousands of Americans and devotees from all corners of the worldwill will be eagerly awaiting your arrival on October 3, 2015.

Your first arrival at Boston’s Commonwealth Pier was unannounced and unknown.You had just arrived in a major American city. Captain Arun Pandia requestedyou to join him for a walk into Boston. You walked into a busy commercial areaand perceived a densely populated city determined to stay the way it was -people working tirelessly towards material happiness. Observing the fast paceof the American lifestyle, you were inspired to write your poem markine bhagavat-dharma  which comprises of your prayers and realisations. Thisprofound poem is the full manifestation of your humility, Srila Prabhupad. Itwas here that you composed the now famous lines in ISKCON, ”O Lord, I’m justlike a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then makeme dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like. I have no devotion,nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith the holy name of Krsna.Ihave been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now, if You like, You can fulfil thereal purport of Bhaktivedanta.”

This year there is a single most important theme that is concurrently pervadingthroughout ISKCON – and that is your, our Founder-acarya’s arrival in America.ISKCON worldwide is preparing for major celebrations of this rare moment in theplanet’s history, where we will all enthusiastically rejoin and rejoice thetranscendental journey of  our senapati bhakta – from Kolkata to Allahabad toJhansi to Vrindavana to Mumbai, Nagpur, onto to Kolkata, Cochin, to Boston and  then finally  New York.

On September 19,  the Jaladuta sailed into the New York Harbour.  And you Srila Prabhupada as the founder acharya. It was in NewYork that ISKCON has its foundation. On 13 July 1966, The International Societyfor Krishna Consciousness was  officially established with its Founder Acarya – A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupad

Srila Prabhupad, I am indebted; we  are indebted; In fact the whole world is completely indebted to you.

Once in a meeting with your disciples you were asked the question how we couldbecome free from this debt. Your initial response was that it was not possible.After a pause, you responded: “ There is one thing you could do. You do as Idid.” Then there was also your final instruction, “Your love of me will beshown by how much you co-operate to keep this institution together after I am  gone.”

We will rededicate ourselves to spreading Lord Caitanya’s message andcontinuing with your instructions “you do as I did” and your final directive.

Your humble servant,

Lokanath Swami


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