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03 : Introduction

The purpose of this book, first and foremost, is to glorify Śrīla Prabhupāda. Kṛṣṇa is more pleased when His pure devotee is praised than when He Himself is glorified. Glorifying the devotee is more important than glorifying the Lord directly. (Taken from notes at the end of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Tenth Canto, Chapter One.) If Kṛṣṇa sees our sincere endeavor to glorify Śrīla Prabhupāda, He will recognize us as worthy candidates to receive His mercy in the form of benedictions to spread the saṅkīrtana movement. Spreading the saṅkīrtana movement means to tell people about Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His great devotees. Prabhupāda is the greatest devotee of the modern age. Therefore preaching about Śrīla Prabhupāda is at least as important as preaching about Kṛṣṇa.

Many people are looking for spiritual guidance but are misled by cheaters, impersonalists, and hypocrites. When they come to know about Śrīla Prabhupāda, surely they will realize that here is someone different: Here is a true lover of God, a person who knows God and how to give Him to others.

The members of ISKCON are fortunate to have received the mercy and blessings of such a great personality as Śrīla Prabhupāda. Now it is fitting that we seriously endeavor to let others know about him. When we sincerely glorify Śrīla Prabhupāda, we become purified and feel his mercy being bestowed upon us. If we do not enthusiastically glorify Śrīla Prabhupāda, it means that we have not understood how wonderful are the gifts he gave us.

A major theme of this book is the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yasya prasādād bhagavat prasādo, yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ’pi: “By the mercy of the spiritual master, one receives the benediction of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement.” Yasya prasāda means “his mercy.” We need the mercy of a first-class devotee, a mahā-bhāgavata. We need Śrīla Prabhupāda; we need his mercy. Dhyāyan stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ, vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam: “I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.”

We meditate on Śrīla Prabhupāda at least three times a day while chanting the Gāyatrī mantra. But ideally we should always think of him by being absorbed in his mission. “Such a spiritual master” means one who assists the gopīs, who experiences transformations of the body in the ecstasy of saṅkīrtana, and who is as good as Hari. Such a spiritual master is Śrīla Prabhupāda. Such a spiritual master should always be remembered and prayed to for mercy.

Śrīla Prabhupāda’s prolific production and distribution of books introduced a new phenomenon into Western scholasticism: Vaiṣṇava literature. And now Prabhupāda’s disciples are enriching the stock of Vaiṣṇava literature by publishing their own books, magazines, and journals on all aspects of Kṛṣṇa consciousness—from translations of classics, to devotional cooking, to Vaiṣṇava polemics. A new and increasing category of Vaiṣṇava literature is “Prabhupāda literature,” books about Śrīla Prabhupāda. This book will be another for those who relish hearing about Śrīla Prabhupāda, and whose appetite is never satiated.

Jaya Śrīla Prabhupāda! is an anthology of anecdotes and realizations about Śrīla Prabhupāda collected over several years. It is based mostly on personal realizations, but I have also incorporated thoughts and observations from other devotees.

That Śrīla Prabhupāda is clearly not an ordinary person is succinctly established in the opening chapters of this book. Yet subsequent chapters describe incidents in which Śrīla Prabhupāda apparently acts as an ordinary person. Those with developed faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda will be charmed by such narrations, appreciating that although the ācārya is always the ācārya, he is never a stereotype. Even if apparently acting in an ordinary way, he is always extraordinary.

It is the injunction of the Vedas that the Spiritual Master should not be treated as an ordinary man even sometimes the Spiritual Master behaves like ordinary man. It is the duty of the disciple to accept Him as a Superhuman Man. (Letter, 31 July 1970)

Despite the logic that “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” a devotee should not be disturbed by the activities of his spiritual master and should not try to criticize him. A devotee should be fixed in the conclusion that the spiritual master cannot be subject to criticism and should never be considered equal to a common man. Even if there appears to be some discrepancy according to an imperfect devotee’s estimation, the devotee should be fixed in the conviction that even if his spiritual master goes to a liquor shop, he is not a drunkard; rather, he must have some purpose in going there. (Cc Antya 3.11 Purport)

Only those with less developed understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda may upon hearing of his apparently ordinary activities be bewildered into thinking him somehow mundanely influenced. However, this book is meant for and can be properly appreciated by those who have strong faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda based on careful study of his books and activities. Those who have properly assimilated Prabhupāda’s books will never doubt the absolute correctness of anything he did or said.

The points discussed herein have been only briefly touched upon. Prabhupāda’s mercy, feeling separation from him, his gratitude—each of these subjects could be expanded into volumes. I have given just hints of the qualities that make up the great, transcendental, kaleidoscopic personality of our beloved spiritual master, Śrīla Prabhupāda. I cannot dare to say that I know or understand him properly, but by these meditations I hope to purify myself by glorifying him.

Jaya Śrīla Prabhupāda! also features numerous excerpts from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s writings, lectures, and conversations. Should the value of reprinting that which is published elsewhere be questioned, my reply is that repetition of a good thing is desirable. As hearing about Kṛṣṇa is purifying and helps us become attached to Him, so also hearing about Śrīla Prabhupāda has a similar effect.

Directly or indirectly, anyone who thinks of Kṛṣṇa, talks of Kṛṣṇa, or worships Kṛṣṇa becomes attached to Him. Because Kṛṣṇa is absolute, there is no difference between His name, form, quality, etc. Our intimate relation with Kṛṣṇa can be confidentially revived by our talking of, hearing of, or remembering Him. It is so done due to spiritual potency. (SB 1.10.14 Purport.)

Similarly, the more we hear about Śrīla Prabhupāda, the more we become amazed and inspired by his extraordinary achievements and wonderful personality, and the more we become attached to him. And the more we become attached to Prabhupāda, the more our hearts become cleansed and the more we advance in spiritual life.

This book is meant to help us understand Śrīla Prabhupāda more fully, bring us closer to him, and help us always remember him. It may not be that I have anything new to say; and it might well be that others can express similar realizations better.

If there are any faults in this book they are of my doing, for there are no faults in Prabhupāda. Similarly, whatever is good in this book is because of Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Should anyone perhaps get the wrong impression, I’d like to make it clear that my authoring this book should not imply that I’m a special devotee with special realizations about Śrīla Prabhupāda. I’m simply dovetailing my propensity to write, that’s all. Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted his disciples to write, and sannyasis especially are supposed to write. Furthermore, in Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa instructs, ācāryopāsanam: “the ācārya should be worshiped and glorified.” As a disciple, it is my duty to glorify my spiritual master. Śrīla Prabhupāda was very fond of books, so what better way to glorify him than to write books about him?

This is not only our duty but our great pleasure. Others express their love for Prabhupāda by milking Kṛṣṇa’s cows, managing His temples, washing His pots, preaching His glories, or distributing books about Him. Love does not mean only words, but practical action also. Prabhupāda was full of words—constantly speaking and writing about Kṛṣṇa—but he was an organizer, a leader, and an inspiration also. Sometimes he even became the floor cleaner. Eloquence is nice, but it isn’t everything.

I pray that Śrīla Prabhupāda enjoys this book, and that his followers enjoy it also.

Bhakti Vikāsa Swami