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44 : Who Is Śrīla Prabhupāda?

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:

yadyapi amāra guru—caitanyera dāsa
tathāpi janiye āmi tāṅhāra prakāśa

Although I know that my spiritual master is a servitor of Śrī Caitanya, I know him also as a plenary manifestation of the Lord.

(Cc Ādi 1.44)

Who is Śrīla Prabhupāda? We cannot say exactly, as we can say that Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura is Kamalā Mañjarī. (From Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Navadvīpa-Bhāva-Taraṅga) The nitya-svarūpa of the previous ācāryas in our disciplic succession is known. Prabhupāda’s is not. What we do know is that Śrīla Prabhupāda is the founder-ācārya of ISKCON. He is the original BBT author, publisher, and worldwide book distribution manager. He is an ocean of transcendental mercy and the deliverer of the conditioned souls. He is the special envoy of Lord Caitanya to fulfill His prediction of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness to every town and village.

Śrīla Prabhupāda is sākṣād-dharitvena: “as good as God.” He is our spiritual master, and he is giving us Kṛṣṇa. He saved us. Even if we superficially, technically knew Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, what would we understand of that? Do we even understand his position as the great world ācārya? Have we properly appreciated the greatness of what he has revealed to us?

When once asked who he really is, Śrīla Prabhupāda responded, “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”