ID/Srila Prabhupada: Acarya-Pendiri ISKCON - Sebuah Dokumen Dasar GBC
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Sebuah Catatan dari Komite Eksekutif ISKCON - G.B.C.
Tulisan ini, “Śrīla Prabhupāda: Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON,” yang ditulis oleh Ravīndra Svarūpa Dāsa, secara resmi didukung oleh Komisi Badan Pengelola (GBC) ISKCON.
GBC meminta kepada semua penyembah dan para rekan ISKCON untuk memberikan perhatian yang dalam dan seksama pada tulisan ini. Pelaksanaan hal tersebut akan memperluas pemahaman bersama dan penghargaan kita atas kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda beserta peran unik beliau dalam Masyarakat Internasional untuk Kesadaran Krishna.
Śrīla Prabhupāda tidak hanya sekedar menyampaikan pesan dari Śrī Caitanya dan Śrī Kṛṣṇa kepada kita saja. Di satu sisi hal itu sendiri merupakan tugas yang mulia dan di sisi lain Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri kita telah menciptakan pondasi, fungsi serta visi ISKCON sebagai suatu masyarakat global yang bertujuan untuk menciptakan suatu "respiritualisasi dari seluruh masyarakat manusia."
Peran Śrīla Prabhupāda, sebagaimana yang akan anda baca, sedang terus berlangsung. Kehadiran beliau hendaknya dirasakan di dalam kehidupan setiap penyembah ISKCON saat ini, serta dalam kehidupan penyembah dalam berabad-abad masa yang akan datang. Pemahaman atas bagaimana Śrīla Prabhupāda berada pada pusat kehidupan dan masyarakat kita, serta mengetahui bagaimana cara untuk mempertahankan keberadaan beliau dalam peran penting tersebut merupakan tujuan dari tulisan ini. Sebagaimana yang telah ditulis oleh Bhakti Charu Swami dalam Kata Pengantar bahwa, "Buku ini tidak dimaksudkan sebagai suatu bacaan biasa, melainkan sebagai suatu hal yang hendaknya diterapkan."
Komite Eksekutif GBC
Tidak diragukan lagi, Śrīla Prabhupāda adalah pribadi yang dikirim oleh Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu untuk memenuhi ramalan Beliau bahwa, "Aku telah muncul untuk meresmikan gerakan saṅkīrtana. Aku akan membebaskan semua jiwa yang jatuh di dunia ini ... Di setiap kota dan desa di seluruh dunia, gerakan saṅkīrtana pelantunan Nama SuciKu akan menyebar." (Caitanya Bhāgavata, Antya 4. 120, 126).
Guna memahami peran unik Śrīla Prabhupāda dari sudut pandang Gauḍīya, maka kita harus melakukan perjalanan kembali ke masa lalu untuk mendapatkan wawasan sejarah mengenai bagaimana rencana Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu dalam memenuhi ramalanNya menjadi terungkap secara bertahap.
Sekembalinya dari Gayā, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu memulai misi nāma-saṅkīrtana Beliau. Dalam membagikan nāma prema, "Beliau bersama rekan-rekan Beliau tidak mempertimbangkan siapa calon yang sesuai dan siapa calon yang tidak sesuai untuk menerima pembagian tersebut. Dan juga tidak ada pertimbangan mengenai di mana hendaknya pembagian tersebut boleh dilakukan atau tidak boleh dilakukan. Mereka tidak membuat persyaratan atas hal tersebut. Di manapun terdapat kesempatan untuk itu, maka para anggota Pañca-tattva akan membagikan rasa cinta kasih kepada Tuhan Yang Maha Esa." (Caitanya Caritāmṛita, Ādi-līlā 7.23).
Banjir nāma prema ini melimpah ke segala arah dan terus berlanjut ke seluruh dunia ini di bawah perlindungan dari para pengajar yang berwenang seperti Enam Gosvāmī, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Narottam Das Ṭhākur dan Śyāmānanda Prabhu.
Tetapi sungguh malang, setelah kepulangan Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu bersama rekan-rekan Beliau yang berwenang ini, maka masa yang penuh kegelapan turun menyelimuti dunia Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavisme. Akibat pengaruh Kali, banyak apasampradāya atau sekte-sekte yang menyimpang, mulai sepenuhnya menutupi penyajian ajaran murni Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu tentang kesadaran Kṛṣṇa, melalui doktrin dan praktek materialistik mereka yang tidak bermoral. Dan mereka melakukan semua itu atas nama Beliau! Maka dengan segera, ajaran Beliau menjadi dipersamakan dengan sesuatu yang amoral, dogma dan elemen-elemen anti-sosial. Akibatnya masyarakat India yang terpelajar dan berbudaya mulai mengembangkan rasa enggan yang mendalam terhadap Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Masa kegelapan ini berlanjut hingga selama hampir 250 tahun.
Untuk menghidupkan kembali gerakan saṅkīrtana Beliau dan menerangi kembali angkasa Gauḍīya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu kemudian mengirim salah seorang rekan dekat Beliau, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur, untuk datang ke dunia ini. Melalui kepemilikan atas kecakapan rohaninya, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur menulis tanpa lelah untuk mengalahkan semua filosofi yang tidak sah dan menyimpang, yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu tentang kesadaran Kṛṣṇa. Melalui tulisan beliau yang tanpa kenal lelah serta penuh dedikasi, beliau mengungkap semua filosofi adharma pada waktu itu dan kemudian mengungkapkan kepada dunia jalan dari Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu untuk menuju keberuntungan dan kasih sayang, yaitu misi nāma-saṅkīrtana Beliau. Tulisan-tulisan itu kemudian menjadi landasan filosofis bagi rencana Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura yang sistematis serta berbasis kelembagaan untuk menggerakkan upaya pewujudan atas ramalan Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Penemuan kembali tempat kelahiran Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu oleh Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākur serta pemberian blue-print atau rencana dari hal itu (dalam bentuk "nāmahaṭṭa") untuk mewujudkan keinginan Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu agar nāma-saṅkīrtana disebarkan ke seluruh dunia adalah petunjuk yang sangat jelas dan luar biasa dari keyakinan mutlak beliau terhadap kata-kata Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Namun, beliau memahami bahwa tugas mulia untuk menyebarkan kesadaran Kṛṣṇa ke seluruh dunia ini membutuhkan keterlibatan bersama dari ribuan orang yang meliputi banyak generasi. Ini adalah sesuatu yang mustahil dan tidak akan mungkin menjadi pekerjaan satu orang saja — sehingga keberadaan dari suatu lembaga rohani menjadi suatu kebutuhan yang mutlak.
Doa-doa beliau yang penuh kesungguhan hati kepada Tuhan Śrī Jagannātha dijawab olehNya sehingga kemudian muncullah Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura di dunia ini sebagai putera beliau untuk memberikan wujud nyata dari blue-print atau rencana beliau dalam bentuk misi Gauḍīya. Dalam waktu lima belas tahun yang relatif singkat, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura menyebarkan gerakan saṅkīrtana Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu ke seluruh India dan menarik banyak tokoh pada waktu itu untuk membantu beliau dalam misi tersebut. Enam puluh empat maṭha yang didedikasikan untuk menyebarkan ajaran Śrī Mahāprabhu didirikan di India pada masa tersebut.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura menyadari betapa pentingnya perkumpulan beliau untuk melanjutkan pengajaran yang penuh semangat, setelah kepergian beliau dari dunia ini. Beliau dengan tegas dan sangat terbuka memberikan petunjuk kepada para murid-murid terkemuka beliau, bahwa hendaknya misi Gauḍīya dikelola dan dipelihara oleh suatu Badan Pengelola. Namun yang mengherankan adalah beliau tidak mencalonkan satu orangpun sebagai penerus rohaninya. Beliau meninggalkan dunia ini pada tanggal 1 Januari 1937 dan dengan segera pertikaian dan pertengkaran muncul di dalam misi Gauḍīya. Dengan segera perkumpulan yang selama ini dikenal sebagai gerakan pengajaran Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu yang murni dan tegas, menjadi terkenal karena faksi-faksi dari perkumpulan itu menjadi terlibat dalam pertentangan yang meruncing hingga menjadi kasus-kasus di pengadilan. Dua faksi yang bersaing tersebut saling memperebutkan status ke-ācārya-an, sehingga banyak para murid senior yang meninggalkan lembaga ini dengan rasa muak. Perwujudan kesatuan misi Gauḍīya yang merupakan perwujudan kesatuan dari keseluruhan India yang terdiri dari banyak center, beberapa lembaga pers serta ribuan penyembah melalui kerja sama di bawah kepemimpinan yang menyatu menjadi tidak ada lagi. Angan-angan serta khayalan kepemilikan serta gengsi telah menutupi petunjuk Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura sehingga misi beliau — yaitu pengembangan gerakan ini di seluruh dunia guna menyebarkan ajaran Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu — menjadi terhenti total.
Śrīla Prabhupāda kita, Śrī Śrīmad A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami, menjadi sangat sedih atas terjadinya peristiwa tragis ini, tetapi sangat nampak jelas dari tindakan beliau selanjutnya bahwa beliau sangat memahami suasana hati serta misi guru kerohanian beliau:
➊ Segera setelah beberapa pengikut beliau dari New York menerima ajaran beliau sepenuhnya, maka kemudian beliau mendaftarkan perkumpulannya menjadi suatu lembaga hukum yang sah. Beliau memberi nama perkumpulan itu sebagai Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Krishna dan juga menyatakan ketujuh tujuan dari perkumpulan ini secara resmi. Semua ini berlangsung sejak tahun 1966.
➋ Untuk melanjutkan misi dari Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu dan untuk menyelamatkan warisan rohani ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda dengan sangat sistematis telah membentuk Komisi Badan Pimpinan dan dengan sangat tegas telah memberikan petunjuk kepada para pengikut senior beliau agar, "Jangan membuat kesalahan yang sama seperti yang telah dilakukan oleh para saudara seperguruanku, setelah kepulangan Guru Mahārājaku. Kelolalah perkumpulan ini bersama-sama melalui GBC."
➌ Untuk mengamankan ISKCON dalam kedudukannya sebagai suatu misi rohani yang didasarkan pada filsafat dan budaya yang kuat, maka dengan penuh kecermatan dan tanpa lelah, beliau kemudian menterjemahkan serta memberikan catatan atas ajaran-ajaran Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu yang paling penting dan mulia dalam bentuk Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam serta Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Dan dengan tegas beliau menyatakan bahwa buku-buku beliau merupakan dasar dari gerakan kesadaran Kṛṣṇa dan lembaga ISKCON.
➍ Dan sebagaimana yang dilakukan oleh Guru Mahārāja beliau, Śrīla Prabhupāda juga tidak menunjuk ataupun memilih seseorang sebagai penerus ISKCON, namun beliau lebih menginginkan agar para murud-muridnya secara bersama-sama mengelola lembaga ini melalui Badan Pengelola.
Ketika saya masih menjadi pelayan pribadi Śrīla Prabhupāda, saya berkali-kali menyaksikan betapa beliau akan bersikeras agar gelar Ācārya-Pendiri serta nama lengkap beliau dicetak di bawah nama perkumpulan ISKCON pada segala materi cetak apapun. Saat itu, saya masih sangat muda dan belum berpengalaman, sehingga saya sering bertanya-tanya, "Śrīla Prabhupāda adalah seorang Vaiṣṇava yang sangat agung dan rendah hati, lalu mengapa beliau terus-menerus bersikeras mengenai masalah ini?" Saya tidak pernah mengungkapkan masalah ini secara terbuka kepada Śrīla Prabhupāda, tetapi hal ini terus-menerus membingungkan saya. Tetapi secara perlahan-lahan, melalui karunia belas kasih beliau, maka seiring waktu saya mulai memahami maksudnya. Ungkapan "Ācārya-Pendiri" bukan hanya sekedar suatu gelar belaka, namun merupakan suatu sistem rohani yang dimaksudkan untuk melindungi, melestarikan dan memberikan umur panjang kepada sebuah lembaga yang dipersembahkankan bagi upaya pembebasan massal dari jiwa-jiwa yang terikat di seluruh dunia ini di jaman Kali yang sangat gelap ini.
Para penyembah agung Vaiṣṇava seperti Śrī Madhvācārya dan Śrī Rāmānujācārya berhasil menerapkan sistem ini.
Sangatlah jelas, bahwa pelaksanaan sepenuhnya dari sistem ini di dalam ISKCON sangatlah penting dalam keterkaitan dengan pencapaian keberhasilan untuk memenuhi ramalan dari Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Saya saling berbagi keinsyafan atas hal ini dengan sejumlah saudara seperguruan senior saya dan saya merasa gembira saat mengetahui bahwa Śrīla Prabhupāda juga telah memberi mereka karunia wawasan serta pandangan yang sama.
Kemudian pada tahun 2006, badan GBC membentuk berbagai komite untuk merencanakan dan mencapai tujuan strategis yang berbeda. Salah satu dari komite tersebut adalah Komite Kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda (SPPC), yang misinya adalah membantu upaya yang ada dan mengembangkan inisiatif baru untuk secara kekal menetapkan Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON dan guru śikṣa utama bagi semua penyembah ISKCON. Buku ini merupakan inisiatif dari SPPC.
Śrīman Ravīndra Svarūpa Prabhu, yang tidak diragukan lagi merupakan salah satu pemikir dan penulis paling cemerlang di dalam ISKCON, telah menulis buku ini. Dan semua anggota GBC beserta banyak para pengikut senior telah meneliti isi buku ini dengan penuh keseriusan serta kerajinan.
Buku ini disusun melalui penelitian yang menyeluruh serta didasarkan pada śāstra serta bukti-bukti sejarah. Buku ini juga bersifat akademis dan memberikan suatu dasar di mana kita dapat membangun suatu budaya pendidikan menyeluruh yang dimaksudkan untuk secara tegas dan sangat praktis menetapkan kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON. Tentu saja, kesadaran Kṛṣṇa yang murni tidak menyatakan adanya teknik tertentu — satu-satunya dasar adalah kerendahan hati dan penyerahan diri sepenuhnya. Maka dalam suasana hati itulah kami mempersembahkan penerbitan buku ini kepada Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrīla Prabhupāda dan semua pengikut beliau.
Mohon dicatat bahwa buku ini tidak dimaksudkan sebagai suatu bacaan biasa, melainkan sebagai suatu hal yang hendaknya diterapkan. Jika kita melaksanakan hal ini, maka hubungan pribadi dan hubungan bersama kita dengan Śrīla Prabhupāda akan berkembang tanpa batas dan kita akan memahami secara nyata bahwa Ācārya-Pendiri yang kita cintai tidaklah membeku dalam waktu. Beliau adalah pembantu kekal dari banjir cinta kasih rohani milik Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu serta prema milik Kṛṣṇa. Dan hati beliau telah meleleh untuk kemudian mengalir tanpa batas ataupun halangan kepada siapapun serta kepada setiap orang yang menunjukkan sedikit saja minat kepada ajaran beliau serta kepada misi nāma-saṅkīrtana.
Dengan penuh kerendahan hati, kami memohon dukungan aktif serta kebaikan hati anda dalam mewujudkan langkah penting berikutnya dari rencana Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu untuk membanjiri seluruh dunia dengan Kṛṣṇa prema — yaitu untuk dengan tegas dan sangat nyata menetapkan Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON sepanjang masa.
Pelayan anda dalam bhakti kepada Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Bhakti Charu Swami
Hasil karya penulisan yang ada di tangan anda ini — atau yang ada di layar anda ini — dipersembahkan kepada anda sebagai suatu buah matang dari proyek perencanaan strategis yang intensif dan bercabang banyak, yang diluncurkan pada tahun 2006 oleh Komisi Badan Pengelola ISKCON. Upaya berkelanjutan ini telah menyatukan banyak penyembah di seluruh dunia untuk terlibat dalam suatu perencanaan dan pengembangan yang sistematis, demi mewujudkan masa depan yang subur bagi gerakan Śrīla Prabhupāda. Pada akhirnya, kami bertujuan untuk memberdayakan seluruh organisasi kami — setiap anggotanya, semua unitnya, masing-masing otoritas pengelola dan pembimbingnya — sehingga semuanya bisa bekerja sama dalam kerjasama efektif untuk mewujudkan keinginan Śrīla Prabhupāda dan Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Sejak awal, setiap orang memahami bahwa satu elemen khusus yang penting untuk pencapaian atas hal ini sebagaimana yang biasanya dikatakan adalah, "dengan menempatkan Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai titik pusat."
Dalam hal ini, tim perencanaan strategis sangat menyadari bahwa dalam waktu dekat ISKCON akan menghadapi suatu tantangan kritis, yaitu peralihan yang tak terhindarkan menuju masa di mana semua pengikut yang memiliki pengalaman langsung dengan Ācārya-Pendiri menjadi telah tiada. Kehilangan yang akan segera terjadi ini telah menjadikan suatu dorongan tambahan bagi pekerjaan Komite Kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda (SPPC). Semua anggota komite memahami bahwa kehadiran Śrīla Prabhupāda hendaknya tidak menjadi berkurang bagi generasi berikutnya dibandingkan dengan kehadiran beliau bagi generasi pertama. (Tentu saja, ada beberapa penyembah yang meyakini bahwa beliau bisa melaksanakan hal itu secara lebih banyak lagi.) Jadi, bagaimana cara mengatasi hal ini? Bagaimana cara untuk membantu pengembangan kesadaran yang terus meningkat bagi semua penyembah di ISKCON dari generasi ke generasi, tentang hubungan mendalam mereka dengan Ācārya-Pendiri, sehingga mereka semua bisa bertemu dengan beliau dalam wujud keberadaan yang nyata di dalam kehidupan mereka? Bagaimana misi beliau, ajaran beliau, visi beliau, tekad beliau dan belas kasih beliau bisa menjadi menyatu dalam setiap detak jantung beliau?
Sebagai anggota dari SPPC, saya diberi tugas untuk menulis dokumen dasar bagi para penyembah ISKCON tentang pentingnya kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri.
Setelah menerima tugas ini, saya mendapati diri saya menjadi banyak menghabiskan waktu di sepanjang siang dan malam hari, dengan asyik memikirkan tentang Śrīla Prabhupāda secara agak terobsesi — tentang kehidupan dan peninggalan beliau, tentang pergerakan beliau, tentang diri saya sebagai seorang murid dan juga tentang saudara-saudara seperguruan saya. Di sepanjang siang dan malam hari tersebut, keadaan pikiran dan perasaan saya semakin lama menjadi semakin menguat, namun kemudian terhenti pada suatu titik tanpa adanya pencapaian atas suatu kesimpulan yang pasti. Dan akhirnya saya duduk, lalu dalam dua atau tiga jam berikutnya, saya mengetikkan suatu pernyataan pendek — tidak lebih dari tiga halaman — yang sepertinya muncul dengan sendirinya. Pernyataan itu hanya didasarkan pada sedikit atau bahkan tanpa adanya penelitian sama sekali, serta tanpa adanya suatu temuan baru — hanya sekedar berupa suatu perasaan bathin dan "keinsyafan" saya sendiri saja. Saya kemudian menyusun ulang kembali pernyataan tersebut dan pada kesempatan yang tersedia berikutnya, saya lalu menyajikan pernyatan itu kepada anggota lain dari kelompok perencanaan strategis.
Saya merasa lega, karena tanggapan sangat positif yang muncul meyakinkan saya bahwa setidaknya saya sedang menuju ke arah yang benar. Arah ini diberi bentukan yang nyata melalui suatu petunjuk untuk menindak-lanjuti hal itu. "Bagus," mereka berkata, "Sejauh ini. Sekarang — tulislah sebuah ulasan."
Saya akhirnya mencatat bahwa tanggapan berupa ungkapan "hebat" biasanya muncul dengan disertai oleh iringan komentar-komentar yang rinci — komentar yang berupa permintaan, pada satu bagian atau pada bagian lainnya, permintaan atas lebih banyak dukungan, permintaan klarifikasi atau uraian yang panjang lebar; komentar yang menunjukkan keraguan atau bagian yang masih membingungkan; komentar yang mengusulkan topik lain untuk disertakan atau untuk diselidiki dan sebagainya. Saya menyingkirkan komentar-komentar ini menjauh dari diri saya — dan hal ini ternyata sangat membantu — barulah kemudian setelah sedikit mengutak-atik pernyataan singkat tersebut, saya bisa melakukan apa yang mereka minta dan mulai menulis suatu ulasan.
Akibat dari itu, produk akhir hasil karya ini, yang sekarang sudah berada di tangan, muncul dalam bentuk sebuah naskah yang disertai ulasan pada naskah tersebut. Naskah dengan sendirinya disajikan terlebih dulu. Baru sesudahnya ulasan yang jauh lebih panjang mengikuti. Dalam bagian ini, naskah utama ditampilkan dalam urutan yang sesuai, tetapi dipecah menjadi beberapa bagian demi kenyamanan saat pembacaan. Naskah utama dicetak dengan huruf tebal, sedangkan ulasan atas naskah pada bagian tersebut ditampilkan dengan huruf normal.
Naskah ini merupakan suatu naskah pendek, yang hanya terdiri dari 1.300 kata (5 halaman). Namun ulasannya ternyata cukup panjang, dengan sekitar 21.000 kata (79 halaman). Naskah awal hanya membutuhkan waktu sekitar tiga jam untuk membuatnya, sedangkan ulasannya membutuhkan waktu penyusunan selama enam tahun.
Naskah utama itu sendiri sangat sederhana dan cukup cocok untuk bisa dikonsumsi oleh kalangan luas pembaca. Namun ulasan dari naskah ini secara khusus ditujukan bagi siapa saja yang sedang berusaha atau yang sedang bercita-cita untuk menjadi prabhupāda-śiṣya, seorang siswa śikṣā sejati dari Śrīla Prabhupāda. Hal inilah yang memang sudah seharusnya menjadi tujuan utama dari semua anggota ISKCON. Dan dengan sendirinya, hal ini akan menjadikan terwujudnya keinginan yang sepenuh hati dari Tuhan Śrī Caitanya.
Kerja keras tak terduga yang panjang dan terkadang sulit pada saat penyusunan ulasan ini ternyata membuat saya mendapatkan karunia yang tak terbayangkan sebelumnya. Saya menjadi belajar dan mendalami hal-hal yang sebelumnya hanya saya ketahui secara dangkal atau formal saja. Saya memulai pekerjaan ini dengan pemahaman bahwa Śrīla Prabhupāda adalah seorang murid yang hebat, tetapi sekarang saya justru mendapatkan suatu pengetahuan yang lebih menyeluruh dan mendalam mengenai betapa hebatnya beliau — suatu kesadaran, yang harus saya akui, sedang terus tumbuh dalam diri saya. Apa yang saya temukan ini benar-benar telah sangat meningkatkan pengetahuan saya tentang pencapaian Śrīla Prabhupāda dan hal ini telah melahirkan suatu tunas baru dalam rasa cinta kasih serta rasa syukur saya kepada beliau. Karunia pengetahuan ini juga telah menunjukkan kepada saya, betapa sebagai murid beliau, saya memiliki kewajiban untuk menerangi kebesaran beliau dengan kesaksian saya yang paling tulus, yaitu kesaksian dalam kedudukan saya sendiri sebagai seorang murid.
Lebih dari itu, saya menjadi lebih dapat memahami secara lengkap tujuan yang benar-benar menakjubkan dari gelar mulia yang pantas disandang oleh beliau, “Ācārya-Pendiri dari Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Kṛṣṇa."
Saya berdoa semoga dengan membaca karya penulisan ini, anda juga akan mendapatkan manfaat sebagaimana yang telah diberikan oleh karya penulisan ini kepada saya.
Saya ingin menyampaikan ucapan terima kasih serta ungkapan rasa hutang budi yang mendalam kepada semua pihak yang telah memberikan bantuan, dorongan, bimbingan, sarana kemudahan serta perbaikan kepada saya dalam proses penyusunan penulisan ini. Keseluruhan misi perencanaan strategis yang dipimpin oleh Gopāla Baṭṭa Prabhu beserta para asistennya yang cakap, telah menciptakan dan mempertahankan keadaan sedemikian rupa sehingga upaya untuk membuat hasil karya penulisan ini menjadi — sesuatu yang “pantas untuk disampaikan" — bisa dimungkinkan. SPPC, yang saat ini diketuai bersama oleh H.H. Bhakti Charu Swami dan Akrūra Prabhu, telah melewati sejumlah perubahan keanggotaan selama masa tujuh tahun, tetapi masukan serta dorongan yang konsisten dari semua pihak yang memberikan pelayanan serta yang melakukan pelayanan dalam kelompok tersebut telah terbukti jauh lebih bernilai bagi saya dibandingkan dengan kata-kata yang bisa saya ungkapkan. Dan saat ini, dengan penuh rasa terimakasih, saya melaksanakan semua masukan dan dorongan tersebut. Ada banyak para pengikut senior di luar SPPC yang juga melakukan peninjauan kembali atas karya penulisan ini, saat proses tersebut sedang berlangsung. Teristimewanya, dalam suatu pertemuan khusus "Sannyāsī, Guru dan GBC Sanga" yang dihadiri oleh lebih dari seratus orang pimpinan dan dilangsungkan di Māyāpura pada bulan Februari 2013, telah dilakukan peninjauan ulang atas draft konsep pekerjaan ini dan para peserta pertemuan telah meluangkan waktu untuk memberikan komentar serta pemikiran yang tak ternilai harganya. Draft konsep yang sama ini menjadi mendapatkan tambahan keuntungan dari tanggapan serta masukan yang dimohonkan dari duapuluh atau lebih anggota senior lainnya. Dari proses itulah kemudian muncul draft konsep yang "terakhir," yang ditinjau sekali lagi oleh GBC saat diadakan pertemuan di Juhu pada bulan Oktober 2013. Dengan tambahan beberapa saran lagi untuk perbaikan, GBC kemudian memberikan persetujuan sepenuhnya atas pelaksanaan penerbitan hasil karya penulisan ini sebagai pernyataan resmi dari GBC. Saya menyampaikan rasa hutang budi saya kepada para anggota GBC — atas kesabaran mereka, atas bantuan mereka dan terutama atas karunia mereka — yang tidak akan bisa saya bayar kembali.
Saya juga ingin menyampaikan ucapan terima kasih kepada pihak yang paling cepat dan senantiasa siap siaga dalam memberikan bantuan kepada saya. Kepada murid saya, Śraddhā devī dāsī, yang telah memberikan dukungan organisasi serta dukungan teknis yang berkelanjutan untuk upaya penulisan karya ini, sebagaimana juga halnya bantuan serta saran editorialnya yang sempurna. Dan kepada istri saya, Saudāmaṇī devī dāsī, yang juga merupakan seorang pembaca dan kritikus dengan wawasan yang tajam atas pekerjaan yang sedang berjalan, serta juga yang merupakan penyedia dukungan kehidupan yang tanpa henti. Saya adalah orang yang sulit untuk diurus, tetapi entah bagaimana, istri saya bisa melakukan hal itu dengan baik.
Pelayan anda dalam bhakti kepada Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Ravīndra Svarūpa Dāsa
KEDUDUKAN ŚRĪLA PRABHUPĀDA - NASKAH
Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON
Śrīla Prabhupāda menunjukkan perhatian besar bahwasanya kedudukan beliau sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON senantiasa diakui secara nyata. Beliau mewajibkan bahwa setiap halaman judul dan sampul dari setiap buku beliau selalu menampilkan nama beliau secara lengkap, "Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda," dengan susunan kata "Ācārya-Pendiri dari Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Krishna " ditempatkan tepat di bawahnya. Demikian pula, beliau memberi petunjuk agar susunan kata "Ācārya-Pendiri: Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda" berada tepat di bawah susunan kata "Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Krishna" pada semua dokumen resmi ISKCON, kertas kop surat, penerbitan dan papan petunjuk. Melalui cara ini serta melalui cara lainnya, hubungan Śrīla Prabhupāda dengan ISKCON yang khusus dan sangat dekat haruslah selalu dihormati.
Sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri, Śrīla Prabhupāda menempati kedudukan yang unik di ISKCON. Kita perlu memahami hal ini secara mendalam. Sebagai seorang ācārya, perilaku teladan pribadi beliau menjadi contoh dan aturan bagi semua penyembah ISKCON. Sebagai seorang pendiri, maka standar dan prinsip tindakan pribadi serta semangat atau "suasana hati" khusus beliau memenuhi dan membentuk suatu perwujudan masyarakat dalam organisasi yang telah beliau ciptakan. Setiap anggota individu menyerap semangat itu dan memasukkannya ke dalam inti dari identitasnya sendiri. Semangat beliau meresap ke dalam organisasi sebagai suatu intisari dari budaya organisasi itu sendiri. Dan para anggota menjadi perwujudan yang kasat mata dari organisasi di dunia ini.
Kami memberikan penghormatan dan belajar dari banyak ācārya besar dalam garis perguruan kami, namun sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON, maka keberadaan Śrīla Prabhupāda di antara mereka menjadi unik bagi kami. Di dalam ISKCON, Prabhupāda sendiri tetap hadir dari generasi ke generasi, sebagai guru śikṣā tunggal utama yang tetap ada di dalam kehidupan setiap penyembah ISKCON — dalam wujud suatu kehadiran aktif yang membimbing dan mengarahkan secara terus-menerus. Jadi, beliau adalah jiwa ISKCON. Dan dengan demikian, maka Śrīla Prabhupāda sendirilah yang terus bertindak secara efektif di dunia ini, selama ISKCON terus berlangsung sebagai suatu perwujudan nyata dan alat yang menyatu dari keinginan beliau. Dengan cara ini, Śrīla Prabhupāda tetap menjadi jiwa ISKCON dan ISKCON menjadi badan beliau.
Alasan-alasan Pendirian ISKCON oleh Prabhupāda
Ketika Śrīla Prabhupāda berhasil menjadikan gerakan Śrī Caitanya sebagai suatu misi pengajaran dunia, beliau kemudian membuat suatu keputusan penting untuk membentuk suatu organisasi baru, yaitu Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Kṛṣṇa, dengan diri beliau sendiri sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri. Beliau melakukan hal ini berdasarkan keinsyafan atas pengetahuan beliau saja. Intisari pengetahuan tersebut beliau serap dari guru kerohanian beliau sendiri. Sayangnya, setelah Guru Mahārāja Śrīla Prabhupāda wafat, sebagian besar pengetahuan dan keinsyafan itu tidak lagi diwujudkan dalam organisasi milik guru beliau sendiri — yang justru menjadi terpecah belah saat ini. Karena itu Prabhupāda mendirikan sebuah organisasi baru, yang secara keseluruhan dan dalam setiap bagiannya, akan mewujudkan dan mengembangkan keinsyafan itu — suatu keinsyafan yang mewujudkan dirinya sebagai suatu komitmen yang tak tergoyahkan serta tanpa kenal lelah untuk menyampaikan cinta kasih murni Tuhan kepada umat manusia yang sedang menderita di manapun.
Organisasi yang akan mampu mewujudkan komitmen seperti itu, di mana terdapat penyatuan kekuatan yang meliputi bentang ruang dan waktu yang sangat luas, membutuhkan suatu bentuk yang unik. Oleh karena itu, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī menyerukan dibentuknya sebuah organisasi, di mana otoritas tertinggi tidak akan berada dalam kewenangan seorang ācārya otokratis tunggal melainkan ada dalam suatu dewan direksi yang beliau sebut sebagai "Komisi Badan Pengelola". Gauḍīya Maṭha gagal untuk menginsyafi struktur ini dan karena itu, sebagaimana dikatakan oleh Śrīla Prabhupāda, "Menjadi tidak berguna."
Tantangan Utama Kita
Śrīla Prabhupāda membentuk struktur seperti itu untuk ISKCON, dengan menempatkan Komisi Badan Pengelola pada kedudukannya pada tahun 1970 dan mengawasi tahapan-tahapan penyesuaian serta perkembangan dari organisasi tersebut. Dengan mengutarakan keinginan akan hadirnya "ratusan dan ribuan guru kerohanian" di dalam ISKCON, maka beliau telah menyampaikan suatu pesan tersirat bahwa hubungan guru-murid yang baku akan dilaksanakan dan dipertahankan di dalam lembaga terpadu yang berada di bawah arahan dari GBC. Dalam organisasi yang seperti itu, maka ada banyak guru yang akan menjadi mampu bertindak melalui kekuatan bersama serta menyelenggarakan kegiatan bersama-sama dengan para pimpinan dan pengelola lainnya dalam suatu kesepakatan bersama.
Namun selama Śrīla Prabhupāda masih hadir secara fisik sebagai satu-satunya guru ācārya dan guru dīkṣā, maka tentu saja struktur tersebut masih tetap hanya berwujud sebagai suatu embrio, seperti halnya seorang anak yang masih berada di dalam kandungan ibunya, di mana tentunya bentuk dan fungsi dari badan sang anak itu belum berkembang sepenuhnya. Selama berlangsungnya kehadiran Prabhupāda secara fisik, maka sesuai dengan keadaan tersebut, sudah jelas GBC tidak bisa melaksanakan peran sepenuhnya sebagai "otoritas pengelola tertinggi" sehingga Prabhupāda tetap menjadi guru satu-satunya. Oleh karena itu, struktur hasil karya yang lengkap dari pekerjaan Prabhupāda ini harus menunggu saatnya sendiri untuk menjadi terwujud.
Pada akhirnya sesudah beliau berpulang, Śrīla Prabhupāda telah menyerahkan tugas kepada kita untuk sepenuhnya menyesuaikan bentuk dan fungsi ISKCON agar bisa berperan secara efektif di dunia ini. Salah satu tantangan utama adalah untuk memadukan hubungan guru-murid — yang memberikan konsekuensi berupa tuntutan wajar pada kesetiaan mendalam dan komitmen dari pribadi sang guru — dalam masyarakat yang lebih luas, yang dalam arti tertentu, menuntut kesetiaan menyeluruh yang lebih tinggi. Kesetiaan yang dimaksudkan itu adalah ketaatan kita bersama kepada Ācārya-Pendiri kita, Śrīla Prabhupāda. Kesetiaan yang dibuktikan secara nyata melalui kerja sama kita satu sama lain, di dalam struktur yang beliau wariskan kepada kita, untuk memenuhi keinginan beliau yang terdalam.
Kita mendapati bahwa sistem "zonasi-ācārya" awal yang memadukan guru ke dalam suatu struktur yang luas, secara tersirat telah menciptakan suatu zona geografis yang secara individual lebih menyatu dibandingkan dengan organisasi ISKCON secara keseluruhan. Dengan demikian, keutuhan ISKCON menjadi terancam. Sistem ini telah dihapuskan. Namun kita perlu melangkah lebih jauh lagi untuk mewujudkan organisasi yang diinginkan oleh Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Menarik untuk dicatat bahwa dua gerakan anti-ISKCON terkemuka — yang sering kali menyatakan diri sebagai "ISKCON yang asli" — justru dibentuk melalui penolakan khusus terhadap satu atau bagian lain dari keseluruhan sistem milik Śrīla Prabhupāda yaitu: kedudukan "ritvik" yang ingin menyingkirkan guru yang sebenarnya melalui dukungan kepada otoritas kelembagaan GBC, sementara pengikut dari seorang sannyāsī terkemuka atau lainnya yang justru ingin menghapuskan GBC yang sebenarnya dan menjadi bergantung kepada ācārya tunggal yang bersifat karismatik dan otokratis.
ISKCON perlu memupuk kedua unsur ini, yaitu kesetiaan bersama yang kuat kepada ISKCON dan GBC serta hubungan pengajaran yang mendalam serta penuh antara masing-masing guru dengan murid di dalam ISKCON. Kita perlu menyadari bagaimana caranya agar tidak ada pertentangan serta konflik antara keduanya. Kita perlu menyadari bagaimana caranya agar kedua hal tersebut menjadi saling menguatkan dan mendukung.
Suatu unsur penting dalam membangun keterpaduan yang diperlukan dalam hal ini adalah dengan cara mencapai pemahaman yang mendalam tentang kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda dan menerapkan pemahaman tersebut dalam pelaksanaan tindakan — baik jñāna maupun vijñāna. Sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri, Śrīla Prabhupāda sendiri melambangkan — dalam arti tertentu — kesatuan dari ISKCON. Oleh karena itu, beliau hendaknya senantiasa menjadi suatu dominasi rasa yang mutlak hadir dalam kehidupan semua penyembah, tanpa memperdulikan siapapun yang mungkin menjadi guru dīkṣā atau guru śikṣā mereka. Guru yang masih hadir secara fisik di dunia cenderung memberikan dampak yang lebih nyata kepada para pengikutnya dibandingkan dengan mereka yang sudah berpulang. Karena keberadaan fisik dari Śrīla Prabhupāda sudah tidak ada lagi saat ini, maka ketiadaan vapu ini perlu digantikan dengan keinsyafan yang lebih mendalam melalui perwujudan beliau sebagai vāṇi (seperti yang telah beliau ajarkan sendiri).
Kehadiran yang seperti itu harus benar-benar menjadi suatu bagian dari struktur ISKCON, yang merupakan intisari kemashyuran dari budaya organisasi ini, bahwa kehadiran beliau tidak akan menjadi berkurang, sekalipun ketika mereka semua yang secara pribadi mengenal Śrīla Prabhupāda telah berpulang dari dunia ini untuk mengikuti beliau.
Akan ada banyak akibat yang muncul ketika kedudukan Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri terwujud. Diantaranya adalah sebagai berikut:
➊ Generasi demi generasi akan menjadi dimungkinkan untuk menerima belas kasih khusus yang diberikan oleh Śrīla Prabhupāda. Jalan untuk pulang kembali kepada Tuhan yang telah beliau buka akan menjadi semakin sering dilalui.
➋ Dengan berlindung sepenuhnya kepada Śrīla Prabhupāda sebagai śikṣā guru di dalam perwujudan vāṇi beliau, maka semua guru di dalam ISKCON, pada berbagai tingkat kemajuan, akan mampu menyampaikan ajaran Śrīla Prabhupāda yang sebenarnya secara otentik dan sahih, sehingga mereka dapat memberikan bimbingan, tempat bernaung dan perlindungan yang tepat bagi semuanya.
➌ Kehadiran aktif Śrīla Prabhupāda akan mengamankan persatuan dan keutuhan ISKCON.
➍ Ajaran ISKCON akan tetap menjadi sesuai seiring perjalanan melalui ruang dan waktu.
➎ Keinsyafan atas pengetahuan dari Śrīla Prabhupāda — yang telah memberi beliau kekuatan khusus untuk menyebarkan kesadaran Kṛṣṇa — tidak hanya akan dipertahankan tetapi juga menjadi dikembangkan.
➏ Buku-buku beliau akan tetap menjadi penting bagi kita, karena buku-buku itu berisikan wawasan dan arahan yang sedang menantikan diinsyafinya perkembangan masa depan.
➐ Mata Śrīla Prabhupāda akan selalu menjadi lensa yang digunakan oleh semua generasi mendatang untuk memandang dan memahami para ācārya pendahulu kita.
KEDUDUKAN ŚRĪLA PRABHUPĀDA - NASKAH DENGAN ULASAN
Prabhupāda sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON
Śrīla Prabhupāda menunjukkan perhatian besar bahwasanya kedudukan beliau sebagai Ācārya-Pendiri ISKCON senantiasa diakui secara nyata. Beliau mewajibkan bahwa setiap halaman judul dan sampul dari setiap buku beliau selalu menampilkan nama beliau secara lengkap, "Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda," dengan susunan kata "Ācārya-Pendiri dari Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Krishna " ditempatkan tepat di bawahnya. Demikian pula, beliau memberi petunjuk agar susunan kata "Ācārya-Pendiri: Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda" berada tepat di bawah susunan kata "Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Krishna" pada semua dokumen resmi ISKCON, kertas kop surat, penerbitan dan papan petunjuk. Melalui cara ini serta melalui cara lainnya, hubungan Śrīla Prabhupāda dengan ISKCON yang khusus dan sangat dekat haruslah selalu dihormati.
Keprihatinan besar Śrīla Prabhupāda. Pada tahun 1970, beberapa karya tulis Śrīla Prabhupāda yang diproduksi oleh ISKCON Press hanya menampilkan nama penulis tanpa disertai adanya sebutan kehormatan beliau sebagaimana biasanya beserta pencantuman kedudukan beliau di dalam ISKCON yang hanya menggunakan gelar "Ācārya" dan bukannya gelar "Ācārya-Pendiri." Dari kejadian ini, Prabhupāda menemukan adanya upaya bersama yang sedang dilakukan untuk melemahkan kedudukan beliau.
Satsvarūpa dāsa Gosvāmī menceritakan kejadian ini dalam Śrīla Prabhupāda-līlāmṛta (4.93):
Ketika ISKCON Press di Boston melakukan kekeliruan dalam menuliskan nama Prabhupāda pada sebuah buku yang baru, beliau menjadi sangat terganggu.
Sebuah berkas terjilid kecil bersampul tipis dari Skanda Kedua Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam hanya mencantumkan nama beliau di sampulnya sebagai A.C. Bhaktivedanta. Kata yang dihilangkan adalah sebutan kehormatan sebagaimana biasanya yaitu "Śrī Śrīmad" serta "Swami Prabhupāda." Nama Śrīla Prabhupāda terlihat hampir menjadi kehilangan makna rohaninya. Buku terbitan ISKCON Press lainnya mencantumkan Prabhupāda sebagai "Ācārya" ISKCON, meskipun Prabhupāda telah berulang kali menegaskan bahwa beliau adalah Ācārya-Pendiri. Ada banyak ācārya atau guru kerohanian dan di kemudian hari akan ada lebih banyak lagi, tetapi Śrī Śrīmad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda adalah satu-satunya Ācārya-Pendiri dari Masyarakat Internasional Untuk Kesadaran Krishna.
Lebih buruk lagi, ketika Prabhupāda membuka berkas bab Bhāgavatam baru tersebut untuk pertama kalinya, jilidannya robek dan halaman-halamannya terlepas. Prabhupāda memandang dengan marah.
Brahmānanda menceritakan kenangan pribadinya tentang kejadian ini dalam serial video Śrīla Prabhupāda berikut (Los Angeles, Juli-Agustus 1970):
Pada saat itu, ada sesuatu yang dianggap oleh Prabhupāda sebagai upaya peremehan guru kerohanian oleh para pimpinan, utamanya oleh diri saya. Sayalah yang paling terpapar dengan hal ini, sesuatu yang saya sebut sebagai suatu kecemburuan pada guru kerohanian. Pada kunjungan ke Los Angeles saat itu, ada sesuatu yang tidak beres — dari ISKCON Press, yang merupakan lingkup tanggung jawab saya. Buku-buku itu sudah dicetak, tapi gelar Prabhupāda tidak dicantumkan dengan benar. Yang dicantumkan hanyalah A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, gelar "Śrī Śrīmad" tidak dituliskan. Bahkan ada satu buku, salah satu bab Bhāgavatam yang ada, yang hanya mencantumkan A.C. Bhaktivedanta saja — bahkan kata "Swami" telah dihilangkan. Saya menyampaikan kepada Prabhupāda sebuah buku yang sudah kami cetak dari ISKCON Press Boston, lalu saat beliau membuka buku itu, bundel jilidannya tiba-tiba robek dan berkasnya terlepas. Dan hal ini terjadi di temple ketika penyajian resmi dilaksanakan.
Śrīla Prabhupāda suspected this and other untoward incidents were prompted by an "insidious contamination" spreading from India (SPL 4:94-95):
While the local anomalies were weighing heavily on Śrīla Prabhupāda, he learned of strange things his disciples in India had written in their letters, and he became more disturbed. One letter to devotees in America reported that Prabhupāda’s Godbrothers in India objected to his title Prabhupāda. According to them, only Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī should be called Prabhupāda. . . .
Though sometimes ignorant, his disciples, he knew, were not malicious. Yet these letters from India carried a spiritual disease transmitted by several of Prabhupāda’s Godbrothers to his disciples there. . . .
Prabhupāda was sensitive to any threat to ISKCON. . . . But now a few irresponsibly spoken remarks in India were weakening the faith of some of his disciples. Perhaps this insidious contamination that was now spreading had precipitated the blunders at ISKCON Press and even the discrepancies in Los Angeles.
Consequently, Śrīla Prabhupāda took pains to assure that his established policies for recognizing his position were strictly followed. We see his concern directly expressed in letters:
It is very good that you have already opened the center and registered the Society. This is good beginning. One thing, regarding registering, is that our system is to keep the name of the Founder-Acarya His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on all registration documents, as well as all stationery, books, and publications. So I see the name there on the letterhead in Subaladas Swami’s letter, so it is all right. In this way do it. So you can go ahead and register our Society there with taking all proper and necessary steps. Before the finalization of registration takes place I would request you to send me one copy of the constitution for our society there so I can approve it finally. My name should be there as the founder-acharya, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. I should have full authority in all matters.
We can see, then, how Śrīla Prabhupāda quite particularly wanted his position in ISKCON denoted always by the exact title "Founder-Ācārya." In this particular context, Prabhupāda judged the appellation "ācārya", used alone, inadequate and even offensive. He enjoined the use of this exact English-Sanskrit hybrid compound word. It is the title "Founder-Ācārya" that conveys the exceptional intimate connection sustained between Śrīla Prabhupāda and ISKCON.
As Founder-Ācārya Śrīla Prabhupāda holds a unique position in ISKCON. We need to understand it deeply. As ācārya, his exemplary personal behavior is the model and norm for all ISKCON devotees. As founder, his personal standards and principles of action, his particular spirit or "mood," take on a societal shape and form in the organization he created. Each individual member internalizes that spirit, incorporating it into the core of his or her own identity. His spirit pervades the institution as the essence of its own culture, and the members become its visible embodiment in the world.
An Ācārya, or, in Prabhupāda’s words, "a transcendental professor of spiritual science," is a different breed from your modern academician. The transcendental professor takes charge of the disciples and after initiating them into their sacred studies, thoroughly schools them in Vedic knowledge and trains them in its requisite regulations and disciplines.
Ācārya comes from ācāra, a word that denotes the śāstric rules of conduct as well as the observant conduct itself. An ācārya teaches such conduct not only by precept but by personal example. The ācārya is exemplary. Prabhupāda writes, "An ācārya is an ideal teacher who knows the purport of the revealed scriptures, behaves exactly according to their injunctions and teaches his students to adopt these principles also." Such teaching goes beyond theoretical knowledge; it involves the formation of character based upon the students’ modeling themselves after the ideal set before them in the person of the ācārya.
An ācārya must remain faithful to the predecessor ācāryas. "One cannot be an ācārya (spiritual master) without following strictly in the disciplic succession of the ācāryas. One who is actually serious about advancing in devotional service should desire only to satisfy the previous ācāryas." At the same time, the ācārya must combine this profound fidelity with an ability to flexibly devise instructions effective for diverse communities of students. "Every ācārya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement," Prabhupāda writes. "An ācārya should devise a means by which people may somehow or other come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness." With his own experience in mind, he notes:
The teacher (ācārya) has to consider time, candidate and country. He must avoid the principle of niyamāgraha— that is, he should not try to perform the impossible. What is possible in one country may not be possible in another. The ācārya’s duty is to accept the essence of devotional service. There may be a little change here and there as far as yukta-vairāgya (proper renunciation) is concerned.
The ability to maintain strict fidelity to tradition and at the same time to be adroit in adapting that tradition to various audiences and conditions is, Prabhupāda explains, the sign of realized knowledge:
Personal realization does not mean that one should, out of vanity, attempt to show one’s own learning by trying to surpass the previous ācārya. He must have full confidence in the previous ācārya, and at the same time he must realize the subject matter so nicely that he can present the matter for the particular circumstances in a suitable manner. The original purpose of the text must be maintained. No obscure meaning should be screwed out of it, yet it should be presented in an interesting manner for the understanding of the audience. This is called realization.
Realization gives the ācārya his "specific means of propagating his spiritual movement."
An ācārya, then, has mastery of the means to bring the receptive students close to him (upanīti) and by so doing to infuse and enliven them with his own spirit, empowering them with his knowledge and realization. They become his personal representatives, that is to say, those who can, in the fundamental sense of the word, re-present—present all over again—the ācārya to others.
"Founder-Ācārya" —this hyphenated English-Sanskrit hybrid compound—is the specific term enjoined by Śrīla Prabhupāda to denote his position in relation to ISKCON. We have seen that in this connection Prabhupāda judged the title of "Ācārya," used by itself, not only inadequate but even offensive. Yet we know that the single word "ācārya" is traditionally used as an honorific title for the distinguished head of a spiritual institution. Thus, we must conclude that one bearing the title "Founder-Ācārya" has been granted a weightier commission, a commission that commands specific recognition. Śrīla Prabhupāda is the first ācārya in our line to assume (and, moreover, to insist on) this formal title. While one might expect to find that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had been formally distinguished by this title, such practice is absent from the record.
An examination of the Gauḍīya Maṭha’s English-language periodical The Harmonist discloses that in the earlier years Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura tends to be recognized by two distinct titles. On the one hand, he is "President of Śrī ViśvaVaiṣṇava-rāja Sabhā;" on the other, he is "the Ācārya," used either alone or in relation to an assemblage, as in: the Ācārya "of the Gauḍīya community," "the Madhva-Gauḍīya community," "the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas," and the like. Sometimes the two titles are conjoined yet distinct, as we see in examples like: "the Acharyya (Messiah) of the present age and who is now the president of the said historic Viswa Vaishnava Raj Sabha" (Harm. 28.2:58).10  Closely integrated with the formally revitalized Viśva-Vaiṣṇavarāja Sabhā (which operated under a board of three leading disciples), was the ever-expanding confederation of temples— monastic centers of training, teaching, and preaching—that collectively came to be called "the Gauḍīya Maṭha" and, with increasing frequency, "the Gauḍīya Mission." At the same time, the appellations "Ācārya" and "President" fused into a hyphenated form that gradually became the standard title for Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura: "President-Ācārya." This compound title is used in connection with both "Viśva-VaiṣṇavaRāja Sabhā" and "the Gauḍīya Maṭha" (or variations such as "the Gauḍīya Mission" and "the Mission"). Moreover, the title "President-Ācārya," like the "Ācārya" title, frequently appears as a stand-alone designation for Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. On the other hand, the use of "founder" in titles of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is quite rare. The most notable instance of it occurs in the well-known Vyāsa-Pūjā homage by "Abhay Charan Das, for Members, Sree Gaudiya Math, Bombay" in which our Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī as "the world-teacher Acharyadeva, who is the founder of this Gaudiya Mission and is the President Acharya of Sree Sree Viswa Vaishnab Raj-Shabha: I mean my eternal Divine Master . . . " (Harm. 32:291).
Even though we don’t find "Founder-Ācārya" used as a title for Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, this precise honorific makes a notable appearance within the most prominent of the English-language works of the Gauḍīya Maṭha: Sree Krishna Chaitanya, by Niśikānta Sānyāl.
We have already noted that in 1927 Sajjana-toṣaṇī was transformed into the English-language periodical The Harmonist in order to broadcast Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the world beyond India—a preparatory stage to the eventual dispatch of "preachers of the Mission" to foreign shores in 1933—"The crowning glory," notes Bhakti Vikāśa Swami, "of all Gauḍīya Maṭha activities hitherto" (SBV 1:108). To send these preachers properly armed on their mission, a written work first had to be produced for their use, one that would convey "the message of the Mission" in a manner sufficiently sound, complete, and sophisticated to appeal to the cultured members of advanced nations. This work was Sree Krishna Chaitanya.  Its author, Niśikānta Sānyāl, Professor of History at Ravenshaw College in Cuttack, bore the initiated name Nārāyaṇa Dāsa and the title Bhakti Sudhākara from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. The guru and his disciple used to work in close collaboration on English-language literary projects, and this was no exception. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami relates that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura tarried at the Nilgiri Hill station Ootacamund for two months in the summer of 1932 to concentrate on revising Sree Krishna Chaitanya (SBV 1:243). Apparently, the preachers could not embark on their mission West until they had the book in hand (SBV 2:27):
With Professor Sanyal’s English Sree Krishna Chaitanya published on Gaura-pūrṇimā 1933, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī adjudged that the time had come for propagating Mahāprabhu’s message in Europe. And on 10 April his dream finally came true when Śrīmad Bhakti Pradīpa Tirtha Mahārāja, Śrīmad Bhakti Hṛdaya Bon Mahārāja, and Saṁvidānanda Prabhu set off by ship from Bombay for London.
Thirty-five years later, on March 14, 1967, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote from San Francisco to Brahmānanda Dāsa in New York to proffer his own endorsement of the work:
I am glad to learn that Donald has purchased Prof. Sanyal’s book Krishna Caitanya. Late Prof. N. K. Sanyal was my Godbrother and his book Krishna Caitanya is approved and authoritative. Keep it very carefully and we may publish in Back to Godhead some articles from the book. It will help us a great deal because my Spiritual Master has given His approval to this book. Please keep it carefully and when I return I shall see to it. (670314 - Letter to Brahmananda written from San Francisco)
It is in the pages of Sree Krishna Chaitanya that the English-Sanskrit hybrid title "Founder-Ācārya" receives its prominent introduction, appearing first in the table of contents:
CHAPTER VII— THE FOUNDER-ACHARYAS
The systems of Sree Vishnuswami, Sree Nimbaditya, Sree Ramanuja and Sree Madhva mark the revival of Vaishnavism traceable to the pre-historic records. They embody the reverential worship of Vishnu. Their secondary value consists in being an uncompromising protest against the opinions of the speculative creeds. Their spiritual synthesis, although sound, is incomplete.
The author sets forth an opening overview of the waxing and waning course of human spirituality that comes to focus upon the four normative historical Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas. The Lord Himself initiates these sampradāyas by inspiring those whom Professor Sānyāl calls "the original pre-historic teachers." He explains:
The four communities (sampradayas) of the Iron Age are connected with the ancient times by their recognition of the ulterior authority of the eternal ancient teachers, viz, Lakshmi, Brahma, Rudra and the four Sanas (chatuhsanah), respectively. The four Founder-Acharyas of the Iron Age professed to preach the views of those original teachers of the religion.
We find, then, that each sampradāya possesses a pair of members distinguished above all others for their extensive formative influence upon their successors. The first personage in each pair is one of the "eternal ancient teachers" who becomes the "original pre-historic teacher" for the sampradāya; the second member of the pair is the "Founder-Ācārya," a paradigmatic mentor who revives and reforms the community in Kali-yuga, endowing it with a signature style of thought and action. The title "Founder-Ācārya," as used by Niśikānta Sānyāl, is restricted to those four eminent historical personages, who are otherwise commonly referred to as "the sampradāya-ācāryas." "Founder-Ācārya" was their distinctive designation. In this light, it is understandable that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura did not bear that title himself. Consequently, it is striking to find in the pages of The Harmonist the words "founder Acharyya" introduced, in an unobtrusive yet confident manner, to refer to the President of the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution himself. The phrase, so used, is introduced in an important article, titled "The Gaudiya Math," that saw print in three installments starting with the October 1930 issue of The Harmonist. Its publication thus overlapped the festive inauguration in November of the just-completed palatial temple called "Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha" in Bāg-bazar, Calcutta. That institution, in its newly revealed splendor, is the specific referent of the article’s title. The first installment of "The Gaudiya Math" forms the lead piece of the October issue, and the facing page bears a photograph of the much-honored Jagabandhu Bhakti Rañjana, who funded and directed the temple’s construction. The Harmonist article carries no attribution, a practice that endowed such pieces with the stamp of strong editorial endorsement (if not direct authorship). While celebrating the Mission’s great step toward world preaching, The Harmonist also takes the opportunity to explicate thoroughly the spiritual (and to an extent esoteric) structure and function of its expanding organization. "The Gaudiya Math" presents a definitive essay in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ecclesiology.
The article presupposes a controlling metaphor used by community members to understand the form and activity of their Gauḍīya Maṭha institution: that of a robustly growing tree whose flourishing limbs and branches extend to cover the world. This metaphor is derived, of course, from the ninth chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, "The Desire Tree of Devotional Service." There Mahāprabhu is depicted as a gardener who brings to earth this desire tree, the bhakti-kalpa-taru, plants the seed in the soil of Navadvīpa, and cultivates the plant, which grows to bestow the fruit of Kṛṣṇa prema to all everywhere. Mahāprabhu is not only the gardener, but also the tree itself (kṛṣṇa-premāmara-taruḥ svayam) as well as the enjoyer and the distributor of its fruit.
The Gauḍīya Maṭha institution is a manifestation of that tree. Its seed—so the members understood—had been planted and watered in Navadvīpa, Mahāprabhu’s very birthplace, by his agent Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who retired to that sacred place from 1905 to 1914, chanting 192 rounds a day, in fulfillment of a vow to chant a billion names. Much of this yajña he executed in a cottage he had built on property where, on March 27, 1918, he took sannyāsa. "On the day he took sannyāsa," writes Bhakti Vikāśa Swami, "Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī also established the Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Māyāpur, revealing service to the deities Śrī Śrī Gāndharvikā-Giridhārī alongside the deity of Lord Caitanya before whom he had performed his vow of chanting a billion names." In this way, the tree of the Gauḍīya Mission took root in sacred soil, and soon began to grow and branch out, notably in the form of the Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha, established in 1920 by Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura at 1 Ultadingi Junction Road, Calcutta.
This image of the institution is presented in the very first issue of The Harmonist (June, 1927). "The Gaudiya Math: Its Message and Activities," opening with rhetorical flourishes that give voice to the spirit of dynamic growth, depicts the Gauḍīya Maṭha with the image of a tree—rooted in Māyāpura ("the soil of Advent" of Mahāprabhu), branching to Calcutta, and spreading throughout India :
By the grace of the Lord of the Gaudiyas the message of the Gaudiya Math is to-day not unknown to any one in the whole of Gauda Desh—and not in Gauda Desh only, but over Naimisharanya, Ayodhya, Prayag, Kasi, Sree Brindaban, Mathura on one side and also over Dakshinatya [southern India] and everywhere throughout the tracts of Orissa on the other, [thus it] has been well proclaimed the message of the Gaudiya Math, the principal branch of the Sree Chaitanya Math which is the root implanted in the soil of the Advent of Sreeman Mahaprabhu,— Sree Mayapur Nabadvipa Dhama. Over Gaudamandala, Kshetramandala and Brajamandala the message of the Gaudiya Math has gone forth.
Upon the opening in October 1930 of the relocated Gauḍīya Maṭha at Bāg-bazar—which was expressly constructed to be headquarters for worldwide propagation of gaura-vānī—The Harmonist of that month opened with an explication of the deep meaning of the event (Harm. 28.5:129):
The Gaudiya Math is the embodiment of the highest service of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda made manifest in the modern urban environment by the Grace of the Acharyya
. . . It is the embodiment of the ideal of service of a single individual who does not belong to this or any Age, nor to this world. By the self-sufficing wish of this single individual the ideal of his service of Sri Sri RadhaGovinda has been manifested in the busiest City of this country in the form of an institution for the practice and propagation of the most perfect service of the supreme Lord.
This institution . . . owes its existence both as regards initiative and growth to His Divine Grace Paramhansa Srila Bhaktishiddanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj . . . .
Thus, the Gauḍīya Maṭha is made to appear and to flourish by the grace of the Ācārya. Here is its provenance (Harm. 28.5:130):
The Gaudiya Math [in Calcutta] is the principle branch of Sri Chaitanya Math of Sridham Mayapur. The distinction between the Gaudiya Math and Sri Chaitanya Math is all analogous to that between one lamp lighted by another. The Gaudiya Math is the expansion of the Chaitanya Math in a visible form into the heart of the world. Sri Chaitanya Math is eternally located as the original source even when it is manifested to the view of the people of this world, in the transcendental environment of the eternal Abode of the Divinity. The activities of the Gaudiya Math and of the other sister branch Maths are, however, essentially identical with those of Sri Chaitanya Math and are categorically different from the ordinary activities of this world.
Here, use of the lamp-analogy is telling. Taken from Śrī Brahmasaṁhitā 4.46, where it elucidated the relation between Lord Kṛṣṇa and his expansion, the analogy as used here implies that the institution itself is transcendent and has the same attribute as the Lord Himself, whose multiple expansions and sub-expansions are nondifferent from Him. Hence, the Gauḍīya Maṭha and other branch Maṭhas are spiritually identical with the parent Maṭha in Māyāpura and with each other as well.
And now (Harm. 28.5:131):
The Gaudiya Math is also identical with its founder Acharyya. The associates, followers and abode of His Divine Grace are limbs of himself. None of them claim to be anything but a fully subordinate limb of this single individual. This unconditional, causeless, spontaneous submission to the Head, is found to be not only compatible with, but absolutely necessary for the fullest freedom of initiative of the subordinate limbs.
Throughout this article, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is denoted "the Acharyya," but in this one place, expounding upon the nature of his spiritual relationship with his (equally spiritual) institution, he is explicitly distinguished as "founder Acharyya." He is the one, "the Head," to whom the institution, comprised of all the human and material resources consecrated to his service, "owes its existence both as regards initiative and growth." Under such conditions, the institution is non-different from its Founder-Ācārya.
In the second installment, "The Gaudiya Math" returns to a theological exposition of the structure and function of the institution (Harm. 28.6:165):
All activity of the Gaudiya Math emanates from His Divine Grace Paramahansa Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj, the spiritual successor of Sri Rupa Goswami who was originally authorised by Sri Caitanyadeva to explain the process of loving spiritual devotion for the benefit of all souls. The reality of the whole activity of the Gaudiya Math depends on the initiative of the Acharya. Sri Chaitanya Math of Sridham Mayapur reveals the source of the Gaudiya Math. The Acharya dwells eternally with the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya in His transcendental Abode in Sridham Mayapur, White Island of the Scriptures. From there the Acharya manifests his appearance on the mundane plane for the redemption of souls from the grip of the deluding energy and conferring on them loving devotion to the Feet of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. The offshoots of Sri Chaitanya Math are an extension of the centre of the bestowal of grace for the benefit of souls in all parts of the world. The recognition of the connection with Sridham Mayapur is vital for realising the true nature of the Gaudiya Math and the grace of the Acharya.
It is noteworthy that the use of Founder-Ācārya to refer to Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura occurs a second time in the pages of The Harmonist. In the issue of December 24, 1936 (Harm. 33.4:90-96) an article titled "The Gaudiya Math"—this time explicitly attributed to "Prof. Nisi Kanta Sanyal M.A."— contains these words: "The Gaudiya Math is the instrument and counterpart of His Divine Grace Paramahansa Paribrajakacharyya Sree Sreemad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj. It lives and moves and has its being in the Founder-Acharyya." A week following the publication of these words, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura left this world.
In summary, we see that the precise hyphenated term "Founder-Acharya" makes its appearance in Sree Krishna Chaitanya to distinguish four formative preceptors who, having inherited the primordial ancient teaching imparted originally by God Himself, were able to revive and redact it for durable transmission, without deformation or diminution, in the degraded and degrading milieu of Kali-yuga. Infusing their teachings with their own realized knowledge, they endowed succeeding generations with a normative model of thinking, feeling, and acting, as well as specific salvific power. The palatial Calcutta temple was inaugurated even as Professor Sānyāl was laboring to produce Sree Krishna Chaitanya. The temple, like the book, was viewed as a major component of a worldwide preaching mission. As part of the inaugural observances, The Harmonist carried an authoritative ecclesiological exposition of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s institution. It is significant, on this occasion, that the author of Sree Krishna Chaitanya made use of the words "founder Acharyya" to characterize Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Especially in light of their intimate working relationship, the disciple would take so consequential a step only with the accord of his spiritual master and Editor-in-Chief.
The similarities between "the four Founder-Acharyas of the Iron Age," and the ācārya of the Gauḍīya Mission are clear, in spite of the obvious differences. In the case of the four sampradāyaācāryas, the inaugural divine revelations took place in prehistoric time. In the case of the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, however, the divine disclosure provided by Lord Caitanya occurred within relatively recent historic time. Yet the "original pre-historic teachers," who were graced with direct enlightenment by the Lord, have their Gauḍīya analogue in (primarily) the Six Gosvāmīs. The parallel between the enlightenment of the ṣaḍ-gosvāmī by Lord Caitanya and that of caturmukha Brahmā by Lord Kṛṣṇa was clear to Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī:
Before the creation of this cosmic manifestation, the Lord enlightened the heart of Lord Brahmā with the details of the creation and manifested the Vedic knowledge. In exactly the same way, the Lord, being anxious to revive the Vṛndāvana pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa, impregnated the heart of Rūpa Gosvāmī with spiritual potency [nijaśakti]. By this potency, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī could revive the activities of Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, activities almost lost to memory. In this way, He spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world. (CC Madhya 19.1)
And Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura himself acted analogously to the four Founder-Ācāryas by reviving and reforming a weakened tradition, and engendering a society which, formed and pervaded by his own spirit, embodied the founder’s unassuageable eagerness to satisfy the merciful desires of the Lord. The four sampradāya-ācāryas powerfully countered impersonal monism, restored the true theistic siddhānta of the Vedas, and spread that siddhānta vigorously throughout India. So did Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Moreover, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had been concentrating his resources on going even further: to propagate acintyabhedābheda-tattva—the ultimate synthesis of the teachings of the four sampradāya-ācāryas—throughout the entire planet.
However, following the loss of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s physical presence, his institution unfortunately also suffered the immensely greater loss of his spiritual presence. As a result, the Gauḍīya Mission became deprived of the power to be "an extension of the centre of the bestowal of grace for the benefit of souls in all parts of the world."
Consequently, the servant of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, in order to carry out the order of his master, in order to continue his mission as the enactor of his desire and fulfiller of his aspiration, that servant became the Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He will remain actively present among us, generation after succeeding generation, so long as we remain his unwavering servants in all conditions, as he himself showed us by his own resplendent example.
We revere and learn from the many great ācāryas in our line, yet as ISKCON Founder-Ācārya, Śrīla Prabhupāda becomes unique among them for us. In ISKCON, Prabhupāda himself remains present, generation after generation, as the single prominent śikṣā guru immanent in the life of each and every ISKCON devotee—a perpetual, indwelling active guiding and directing presence. He is thus the soul of ISKCON. As such, Śrīla Prabhupāda himself continues to act effectively in this world so long as ISKCON continues as the coherent expression and unified instrument of his will. In this way Śrīla Prabhupāda remains the soul of ISKCON, and ISKCON his body.
Śrīla Prabhupāda remains present. While Śrīla Prabhupāda was among us, he blessed us with clear instructions for maintaining our association with him during his future physical absence. We find these instructions expounded thoroughly in the Fourth Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, wherein Prabhupāda elucidates Queen Vaidarbhī’s reaction to the death of her royal husband, an incident in Nārada’s allegorical narration regarding King Purañjana. Prabhupāda explains:
Figuratively the queen is supposed to be the disciple of the king; thus when the mortal body of the spiritual master expires, his disciples should cry exactly as the queen cries when the king leaves his body. However, the disciple and spiritual master are never separated because the spiritual master always keeps company with the disciple as long as the disciple follows strictly the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called the association of vāṇī (words). Physical presence is called vapuḥ [body]. As long as the spiritual master is physically present, the disciple should serve the physical body of the spiritual master, and when the spiritual master is no longer physically existing, the disciple should serve the instructions of the spiritual master.
The queen prepares to immolate herself on her husband’s pyre. Her intention, Prabhupāda explains, signifies the determination of a disciple to faithfully execute the spiritual master’s order. Thereupon a learned brāhmaṇa appears—as "an old friend" of the queen—and begins to console and guide her. Allegorically, Prabhupāda says, the brāhmaṇa signifies the Supersoul. Prabhupāda continues:
When one becomes serious to follow the mission of the spiritual master, his resolution is tantamount to seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As explained before, this means meeting the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the instruction of the spiritual master. This is technically called vāṇī-sevā. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura states in his Bhagavad-gītā commentary on the verse vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana (BG 2.41) that one should serve the words of the spiritual master. The disciple must stick to whatever the spiritual master orders. Simply by following on that line, one sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead. . . . In conclusion, if a disciple is very serious to execute the mission of the spiritual master, he immediately associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by vāṇī or vapuḥ. This is the only secret of success in seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Commenting on the next text, Śrīla Prabhupāda further elucidates this inviolable relationship between the faithful follower and the spiritual master:
One who is sincere and pure gets an opportunity to consult with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His Paramātmā feature sitting within everyone’s heart. The Paramātmā is always the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within, and He comes before one externally as the instructor and initiator spiritual master. The Lord can reside within the heart, and He can also come out before a person and give him instructions. Thus the spiritual master is not different from the Supersoul sitting within the heart. . . . When the brāhmaṇa asked the woman who the man lying on the floor was, she answered that he was her spiritual master and that she was perplexed about what to do in his absence. At such a time the Supersoul immediately appears, provided the devotee is purified in heart by following the directions of the spiritual master. A sincere devotee who follows the instructions of the spiritual master certainly gets direct instructions from his heart from the Supersoul. Thus a sincere devotee is always helped directly or indirectly by the spiritual master and the Supersoul.
We should carefully take note that the presence of Śrīla Prabhupāda in ISKCON is conditional upon one thing: the dedication of his committed followers to execute his mission. Śrīla Prabhupāda has here revealed to us the "secret of success." We should accept and treasure this gift.
The soul of ISKCON. Lecturing on the first verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in Caracas on February 21, 1975, Śrīla Prabhupāda used a revealing example. It was not his main point, simply an example offered in passing. Even so, it captures one’s attention:
So here it is said that origin is life, because here it is said, yato ‘nvayād itarataś ca artheṣu abhijñaḥ svarāṭ. [He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent]. Just like if I am taken as the origin of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, that means I know everything directly and indirectly of all this movement. If I do not know directly or indirectly everything of this movement, then I cannot be called the founder-ācārya. And as soon as the origin becomes a knower, he is life. So therefore dull matter cannot be the knower of everything.(750221 - Lecture SB 01.01.01 - Caracas)
As Śrīla Prabhupāda is the soul of ISKCON, so ISKCON is his body. And because the incorporation is a spiritual one, the body is non-different from the embodied. In this same context, the principle (as previously noted) had already been propounded in The Harmonist:
The Gaudiya Math is. . . identical with its founder Acharyya. The associates, followers and abode of His Divine Grace are limbs of himself. None of them claim to be anything but a fully subordinate limb of this single individual.
Nearly four decades later, we find Śrīla Prabhupāda advancing this same principle in a letter to Rāyarāma (VB: Correspondence: Jan. 11, 1968):
You have very nicely stated that I am your life. This means you are my body and so neither life nor body can be separated because on the spiritual platform there is no such distinction. On material platform sometimes life is separated from body, but on the Absolute platform there is no such distinction.
Animated by the indwelling spirit of its Founder-Ācārya, ISKCON is the embodiment in this world of the spiritual potency of Lord Caitanya. As an entity thus ensouled by Śrīla Prabhupāda, ISKCON itself becomes a perdurable social organism. In the manner of a living organism, it embraces and enfolds the diversity of its individual elements—its members and sub-groups—into a transcendent union, in which each of its unique elements enshrines the concentrated unity of the whole, while the unified whole valorizes the distinct individuality of each and every one of its parts. In this fashion, ISKCON exemplifies that ultimate principle of divinity realized in the Vaiṣṇava traditions: "unity in diversity."  Stressing the paramount necessity of its application within ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda explains how "its success will depend upon agreement" (VB: letter to Kīrtanānanda, Oct. 18, 1973):
Material nature means dissension and disagreement, especially in this Kali yuga. But, for this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement its success will depend on agreement, even though there are varieties of engagements. In the material world there are varieties, but there is no agreement. In the spiritual world there are varieties, but there is agreement. That is the difference. The materialist without being able to adjust the varieties and the disagreements makes everything zero. They cannot come into agreement with varieties, but if we keep Kṛṣṇa in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties. This is called unity in diversity. I am therefore suggesting that all our men meet in Mayapur every year during the birth anniversary of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. With all GBC and senior men present we should discuss how to make unity in diversity. But, if we fight on account of diversity, then it is simply the material platform. Please try to maintain the philosophy of unity in diversity. That will make our movement successful.
Reasons for Prabhupāda’s Founding of ISKCON
When Śrīla Prabhupāda successfully established Lord Caitanya’s movement as a world-preaching mission, he made the weighty decision to form a new institution, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, with himself as Founderācārya. He did this on the basis of his realized knowledge. The essence of that knowledge he imbibed from his own spiritual master. Unfortunately, after Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Guru Mahārāja had passed away, that knowledge and realization largely ceased to be expressed in his guru’s own—but now fragmented— institution. Hence, Prabhupāda founded a new organization that, as a whole and in its every part, would embody and develop that realization—a realization that manifests itself as an unwavering, indefatigable commitment to deliver pure love of God to suffering humanity everywhere.
A new institution. The endeavor that brought Śrīla Prabhupāda to America was in fulfillment of the direct order of his spiritual master. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura on two occasions specifically enjoined his disciple Abhaya Caraṇāravinda Dāsa to preach to the English-speaking people. Abhaya received this direction at his very first meeting with Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in 1922. And in 1936 he received it again by post in their last communication. By this time, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had seen the debilitation of the Gauḍīya Maṭha’s own sustained and concentrated drive that had dispatched preachers to England in 1933. His order to his disciple clearly shows he had not wavered in his resolve. In the long and varied course of fulfilling his master’s divine order, Śrīla Prabhupāda carefully modeled his own creative efforts on the paradigm established by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura with the Gauḍīya Maṭha in 1920s and ’30s. That adventurous course was marked by such milestones as the 1944 appearance of the English-language Back to Godhead, the publication of the three-volume First Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in 1962-65, the 1966 founding of ISKCON in New York City, the establishment of the movement in England and Germany in 1969, and the restoration to India in 1970 of Lord Caitanya’s movement, rejuvenated and revitalized. The historical record gives moving testimony throughout to the devoted regard and painstaking fidelity with which Śrīla Prabhupāda paid homage to the exemplar of his own spiritual master.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s literary production illustrates this fidelity: In 1927 Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had begun rehearsing for worldwide preaching by transforming Sajjana-toṣaṇī into The Harmonist. Following those footsteps, Śrīla Prabhupāda began preparation for his own eventual entrance onto the world-stage by starting up Back to Godhead. 
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura worked closely with Niśikānta Sānyāl on a magisterial English-language book—the projected three-volume Sree Krishna Chaitanya—to impress upon educated Europeans the loftiness and profundity of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava teachings. This work was considered so indispensable that the missionaries of 1933 did not embark until copies of the first volume were in hand. Three decades later Śrīla Prabhupāda reprised this effort—this time working virtually alone—and spent the years 1960-65 in composing, fund-raising, printing, publishing, and distributing the Bhāgavatam First Canto in three volumes—1,100 copies of each volume. He did not embark from Calcutta until he had a steamer trunk crammed with Bhāgavatams to accompany him.
Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived in New York alone and destitute, yet he immediately began working to purchase a respectable property for a temple in Manhattan. The priority he gave this effort also replicates that of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, who had directed a considerable—but ultimately fruitless— effort to establish an impressive temple in London. In this, as in many other instances, the record offers ample testimony as to how closely Śrīla Prabhupāda was guided by the precedent conduct of his spiritual master.
In the context of such fidelity, one momentous act of Śrīla Prabhupāda stands out as an apparent anomaly: his decision to continue his efforts outside the aegis of his spiritual master’s own established organization by founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Further along the way—within two years of ISKCON’s formation—its founder accepted that distinctive honorific that had been borne by his own spiritual master: "Śrīla Prabhupāda." Both acts elicited sometimes virulent criticism from godbrothers. However, a close scrutiny of this undertaking—a kind of reboot-and-recovery of Mahāprabhu’s mission—reveals it to be an act of exemplary fidelity. It could not have been otherwise.
In fact, Śrīla Prabhupāda first proposed to place his hitherto unsupported missionary effort in the West under the mantle of the Gauḍīya Maṭha. In a letter from New York dated November 8, 1965, he pleaded the case for cooperation to his godbrother Bhakti Vilāsa Tīrtha Mahārāja, the then head of the Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Māyāpura. Initiated with the name Kuñja Bihārī Dāsa, he had previously been affiliated with the Ramakrishna Mission, and his worldly competence and managerial skills had lead Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura to establish him as secretary and overseer of the entire Gauḍīya Maṭha institution Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letter is worth quoting at length:
I am here and see here a good field for work but I am alone without men and money. To start a centre here we must have our own buildings. The Ramakrishna Mission or any other mission which are working here all have their own buildings. So if we want to start a centre here we must have also our own building. To have a own building means to pay at least Rs 500,000/-five lacs or one hundred thousand dollars. And to furnish the house with up to date paraphernalia means another two lacs. If attempt is made this money can be had also. But I think for establishing Matha and temples here you may take the charge and I shall be able to make them self independent. There is difficulty of exchange and I think unless you have some special arrangement for starting a branch of Caitanya Math transfer of money will be difficult. But if you can do so with the help of the Bengal or Central Government, here is good chance to open immediately a centre in New York. . . . Without our own house it will not be possible to open our own centre. For me it will take long time but for you it is very easy. The Calcutta Marwaris are in your hand by the Grace of Srila Prabhupada. If you like you can immediately raise a fund of Rs 10,00,000/- ten lacs to open a centre in New Work. One centre started, I shall be able to start many others also. So here is a chance of cooperation between us and I shall be glad to know if you are ready for this cooperation. I came here to study the situation and I find it very nice and if you are also agreeable to cooperate with it will be all very nice by the will Srila Prabhupada. . . . If you agree then take it for granted that I am one of the worker of the Sri Mayapur Caitanya Matha. I have no ambition for becoming the proprietor of any Matha or Mandir but I want working facilities. I am working day and night for my Bhagavatam publication and I need centres in the western countries. If I am successful to start a centre in New york, then my next attempt will be start one in California and Montreal . . . . There is ample scope for working but unfortunately we have simply wasted time by quarreling with one another while the Ramakrishna Mission with misrepresentation have made their position all over the world. Although they are not so popular in these foreign countries they have made a great propaganda only and as a result of such propaganda they are very prosperous in India while the Gaudiya Math people are starving. We should now come to our senses. If possible join with our other godbrothers and let us make an effort combinedly to preach the cult of Gaura Hari in every cities and villages of the western countries. (651108 - Letter to Teertha Maharaj written from New York)
If you agree to cooperate with me as I have suggested above, then I shall extend my Visa period. . . . otherwise I shall return to India. Immediately I want some good assistants to work with me. They must be educated and able to talk in English as also read Sanskrit nicely. For preaching here two languages English and Sanskrit will be very much appreciated. I think under your leadership every camp of our god brothers should supply a man good for this purpose and they must agree to work under my direction. If that is possible then you will see how our beloved Srila Prabhupada will be satisfied on all of us. I think we shall all forget now the past fratricidal war and now come forward for a good cause. If they are not agreeable then do it yourself and I am at your service.
On November 23, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote Tīrtha Mahārāja again, this time with a description of a specific property and amount of down payment, noting: " . . . I think this amount you can arrange immediately and just start a branch of your Sri Caitanya Math or designate the branch as New York Gaudiya Math." (651123 - Letter to Teertha Maharaj written from New York)
When Śrīla Prabhupāda had the prospect of a large donation from India to secure a temple, he wrote to Bon Mahārāja and to Tīrtha Mahārāja with appeals to undertake a specific, promising approach to secure the requisite government approval for transfer of funds to America. "Everything is ready," he wrote to Tīrtha Mahārāja:
namely the house is ready, the donor is ready and my humble service on the spot is also ready. Now you are to give the finishing touch because you are most affectionate disciple of His Divine Grace. I think Srila Prabhupada wants that in this great attempt by my humble self your valued service may also be dovetailed. (660204 - Letter to Teertha Maharaj written from New York)
In the event, these strenuous efforts to secure cooperation from these two godbrothers yielded no fruit. In stark contrast, a young disciple of a godbrother, a brahmacārī named Mangalniloy, wrote Śrīla Prabhupāda to express his admiration for Prabhupāda’s endeavor and his eagerness to assist him. However, Mangalniloy’s spiritual master, Mādhava Mahārāja, did not share the enthusiasm of his disciple. Prabhupāda had asked Mangalniloy to urge Mādhava Mahārāja to take up the effort in India to secure release of funds. However, the reply Prabhupāda received from Mangalniloy inadvertently disclosed the antipathy of yet one more godbrother. Here is Prabhupāda’s highly revealing reaction (VB: Correspondence, June 23, 1966):
I requested for this [help on release of funds] to Sripada Bon Maharaja but he has declined, I requested Sripada Tirtha Maharaja and at first he promised [to] see the President and the Finance Minister but later on he is trying to avoid it. So I have to request Sripada Madhava Maharaja through you for this most important work to see the President and the Finance Minister immediately with reference to my application as it is acknowledged by the Embassy of India in Washington.
You have written to say in your letter under reply that you want to join first with me then talk with Sripada Maharaja about cooperation otherwise your journey to this country may be cancelled by him. I could not follow the import of this proposal. Do you think that cooperation with me prior to your joining me here is not possible? Why this mentality. Is it my private business?
Srila Prabhupada wanted to construct some temples in the Foreign countries as preaching centres of the message of Srila Rupa Raghunatha and I am trying to do this in this part of the world. The money is ready and the opportunity is open. If by seeing the Finance Minister this work can be facilitated why should we wait for time so that you cannot talk with your Guru maharaj about any cooperation because you afraid of your journey here may be cancelled. Please do not think in that way. Take everything as Srila Prabhupada’s work and try to cooperate in that spirit. The Gaudiya Math institution has failed[.]
The last two sentences above remain highly relevant to us in ISKCON today. They reward reflection. In the first sentence, Prabhupāda gives two essential directions for spiritual success: Consider every undertaking as "Śrīla Prabhupāda’s work" (and not as "mine" or "yours"). Animated by this mentality, cooperate together. Prabhupāda’s next sentence bluntly states the consequence of not following the directions just delivered: proven failure.
So it happened that in 1966 Śrīla Prabhupāda gained an unwelcome realization: the spiritual defects that engendered the failure of the Gauḍīya Maṭha remained robust three decades later.
All his hopes for cooperation from donors, government, and godbrothers shattered, Śrīla Prabhupāda would be obliged to start from scratch—just himself, alone. Undeterred, he wrote Mangalniloy, "There is no need for help from any one else."
This, then, is a major component of the context in which the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was born. The other element is the spiritual fulfillment afforded Śrīla Prabhupāda by a steadily increasing number of young Americans who gave their earnest and eager attention to Lord Caitanya’s teachings.
What was Prabhupāda to do? In his first plea for cooperation posted to Tīrtha Mahārāja in November of 1965, just after his arrival in New York City, Prabhupāda had offered to work within his godbrother’s institution:
So here is a chance of cooperation between us and I shall be glad to know if you are ready for this cooperation. I came here to study the situation and I find it very nice and if you are also agreeable to cooperate with it will be all very nice by the will Srila Prabhupada. . . . If you agree then take it for granted that I am one of the worker of the Sri Mayapur Caitanya Matha. (651108 - Letter to Teertha Maharaj written from New York)
The recipient—and many others—having proven themselves uncooperative, Śrīla Prabhupāda then established his own institution.
For doing that, Prabhupāda was duly condemned. Writing some two-and-a-half years later to the secretary of the Gauḍīya Mission in Calcutta, Śrīla Prabhupāda again takes up the key theme of cooperation, repeating the word itself, over and over like a drum beat. And he cites its absence not only to reproach his godbrothers but also to cleverly vindicate his own founding of ISKCON:
. . . . in the matter of my activities of spreading the objective of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja, I am prepared to cooperate with the Gaudiya Mission in all respects, but I do not know under what condition you wish to cooperate with me. But I am prepared to accept any condition for getting your cooperation in full. So I shall be glad to know from you under what condition our cooperation is possible. But I am prepared in every respect and I shall await your reply with interest.
So far as my starting a separate organization known as International Society for Krishna Consciousness, it was inevitable because none of our godbrothers are cooperating with one another. Every one of us is conducting his own institution, and there is difference of opinion even between Gaudiya Mission and Gaudiya Math.
So if it is now possible to combine ourselves together, I shall be the first man to welcome this good opportunity. But apart from others, if Gaudiya Mission is prepared to cooperate with me, I am prepared to accept this cooperation in any condition. Please therefore let me know your terms of cooperation, and I shall be very glad to consider it. (690523 - Letter to Gaudiya Mission written from New Vrindaban, USA)
Three days after writing his response, Śrīla Prabhupāda disclosed his mind in a letter to his disciple Brahmānanda Dāsa:
Regarding the Gaudiya Mission letter of Dr. Syama Sundar Brahmacari, I have replied asking them the terms of cooperation which he has mentioned. Let us see their terms, although it is a hopeless business. Still, as you know, I never become hopeless in any case. So I am negotiating with them to see how we can cooperate.(690526 - Letter to Brahmananda written from New Vrindaban, USA )
It should be noted that Śrīla Prabhupāda went on making efforts at cooperative endeavors with Gauḍīya Maṭha members up until his last breath. His persistence is testimony to his commitment to the order of his spiritual master. This is his spirit, conveyed by an epigram: "It is a hopeless business, but I never become hopeless."
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s persistent invocation of the idea of cooperation in these letters discloses that the word carries special significance for him. We should take a little time to grasp it. The English word is derived from a Latin root meaning simply "to work together with," but in Prabhupāda’s teachings the term becomes freighted with profound spiritual import. In a lecture (Seattle, 1968), Śrīla Prabhupāda conveyed this import with characteristic simplicity: "When you do something in cooperation with the Lord, that is called bhakti." This cooperation with Kṛṣṇa, Prabhupāda stresses, is essentially voluntary (681009 - Lecture - Seattle):
We are persons and Kṛṣṇa is a person, and our relationship with Kṛṣṇa is always open as a voluntary agreement. That voluntary attitude—"Yes, Kṛṣṇa, I shall gladly cooperate. Whatever You say"—that ready willingness to obey is only possible if there is love. Forcing will not make me agree. But if there is love, oh, I shall gladly do it. That is bhakti. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Cooperation is the vital principle of all healthy social relationships, and it attains its highest application in divinity. The Lord is supremely personal. Therefore He is supremely social, for personhood becomes manifest only in relationships with other persons. For that reason, as Prabhupāda said many times, "Kṛṣṇa is never alone." On one occasion, he noted: "When we speak of Kṛṣṇa, ‘Kṛṣṇa’ means Kṛṣṇa with His devotees" (VB: Lecture, Los Angeles, Jan. 10, 1969). The Lord’s devotees even become integral to His own identity. Kṛṣṇa’s own names often illustrate this fact by including names of his intimate devotees: Yaśodānandana, Rāmānuja, Rādhāramaṇa, and so on. Thus, the supremely absolute is at the same time supremely relative—entering into relationships with all varieties of individual devotees. As a result, all those diversities become increasingly integrated into a more perfect union. In such a way, a transcendent relativity is manifest as a society of the utmost harmonious cooperation, and through the conduct of those relationships the Lord—and His associates—eternally increase in beauty, opulence, bliss, and knowledge.
Salvation for a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava means socialization into this highest society—being accepted, for example, into the company of the Six Gosvāmīs or into that circle of gopīs who may serve Rati-mañjarī or Lalitā-sakhī. Damnation is the opposite: isolation and exclusion. We self-alienated, non-cooperative living entities—living here in exile, isolated in solitary confinement by the impervious walls of our egoism—are always summoned to return as fully integrated members of that transcendent society. And bhakti-yoga is the practice by which we become fit to rejoin it. By bhakti, we become increasingly integrated into the divine society, closer to Kṛṣṇa and closer to His associates, and at the same time, we try to bring others with us. "And this is the highest yoga," Śrīla Prabhupāda said in 1968 in San Francisco.
If you push on this movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then you’ll be performing the highest type of yoga. Don’t be misled by so-called ‘yogas.’ This is yoga. Yoga means cooperation, cooperation with the Supreme.(680317 - Lecture BG 07.01 - San Francisco)
Bhakti is the yoga of cooperation. Of all spiritual societies in this world, the Saṅkīrtana movement most fully leads us into this transcendent cooperation. Since saṅkīrtana is the yuga-dharma, in this age of quarrel, we will return to the kingdom of Kṛṣṇa not as isolated individuals but all together. "We will have another ISKCON there," wrote Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda’s founding of ISKCON was "inevitable" because of the failure of cooperation within the Gauḍīya Maṭha. The new, but inevitable, institution was meticulously crafted by Śrīla Prabhupāda, who faithfully accepted as his ecclesiological template his spiritual master’s own institution—by then hopelessly shattered. The incorporation of ISKCON in July of 1966 proved to be only the first of a sequence of five crucial steps in the reconstitution of Lord Caitanya’s movement. In the summer of 1966, the bearer of the grand—if not grandiloquent—title "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" encompassed no more than a seventy-year-old man, a rundown storefront, and a band of ragtag kids. Yet the seed had been planted and would fructify. It took another four years or so for all the requisite elements to become manifest, so that ISKCON was made fit to become the fruition and fulfillment of the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It is a brand-new name for a new society, a name embellished by a neat, entirely au courant acronym. Although the name is new, it harks back to two very old names, and those names disclose that the society, brand-new though it be, is a deeply connected perpetuation of its own ancient and modern heritage. Śrīla Prabhupāda himself depicts his English coinage "Krishna consciousness" as a translation of the Sanskrit compound kṛṣṇabhāvanāmṛta. He writes: "Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore called kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta-saṅgha, the association of persons who are simply satisfied in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa" (SB 9.9.45, purport). Should the reader at this point wonder where the "international" is in kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta-saṅgha, Prabhupāda avers, in effect, that it is inherent in kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta:
One who is absorbed in kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta has no material benefits to ask from Kṛṣṇa. Instead, such a person prays to the Lord for the benediction of being able to spread His glories all over the worlds.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness not only gives bliss to the devotees who possess it but also impels them to give it to others, spreading it "all over the worlds."
Bearing this in mind, we can see that the phrase kṛṣṇabhāvanāmṛta alludes to an important verse in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Ādi-līlā 16.1):
- vande śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyaṁ kṛṣṇa-bhāvāmṛtaṁ hi yaḥ
- āsvādyāsvādayan bhaktān prema-dīkṣām aśikṣayat
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who personally tasted the nectar of ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa and then instructed His devotees how to taste it. Thus He enlightened them about ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa to initiate them into transcendental knowledge.
Here the nature of Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s "ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa" is such that he relishes it himself and causes others to do so. Those devotees who thus receive kṛṣṇa-bhāvāmṛta themselves come to be both tasters and givers of it. In this way, the society for Kṛṣṇa consciousness naturally becomes "international."
Two names for Mahāprabhu appear in the first line of this verse: kṛṣṇa-caitanya and kṛṣṇa-bhāvāmṛta. They are nearly synonymous, both indicating a person whose consciousness is absorbed in Kṛṣṇa. Both words, then, can be rendered equally well as "Kṛṣṇa consciousness." Thus, Lord Caitanya’s personal name—rendered into English as "Kṛṣṇa consciousness"— is encoded in the name of the society founded by Śrīla Prabhupāda.
The other historical progenitor of "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" is "viśva-vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā." These words appear within the ceremonious declaration that closes each book of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s Bhāgavata-sandarbha. The word sabhā means "society." The word viśva means "the whole world," for which "international" will serve. We can take the referent of "vaiṣṇava-rāja"—literally "the king of Vaiṣṇavas"—to be Lord Caitanya, as we find in the Sajjana-toṣaṇī article reporting Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s "reestablishment" of the society in 1919: "Śrī Caitanyadeva is Kṛṣṇacandra Himself, the king of all Vaiṣṇavas in the world, Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-rāja. The gathering of His devotees is the Śrī Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā."
If the words "Krishna Consciousness" in the name of Prabhupāda’s society encodes the name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, and if "vaiṣṇava-rāja" denotes Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, then the appellation "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" also pays homage to viśva-vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā. If, alternatively "vaiṣṇava-rāja" is taken to refer to those leading devotees who have attained an advanced stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s English name for his institution will serve just as well. In any case, we see that the name "International Society for Krishna Consciousness" signifies, by its web of allusions and associations, that the society so named remains profoundly connected with and nourished by its Gauḍīya heritage, even as, at the same time, the society revitalizes that tradition in order to carry it forward, retrofitted for multicultural efficacy on the worldwide stage.
In doing this, Śrīla Prabhupāda is remaining faithful to his own great predecessors in the tradition. In 1919, his own spiritual master had formally "reestablished" Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-Sabhā, restoring its old name Viśva-VaiṣṇavaRāja-Sabhā. On that occasion, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura noted that the eternally situated Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-RājaSabhā, which descended to the world with Mahāprabhu and His associates, has sometimes become occluded by the illusory potency; however, powerful devotees arise to reignite it and dispel the darkness of the world.
So it happened that, after the time of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, the ViśvaVaiṣṇava-Rāja-Sabhā became nearly undetectable, until "In 399 Gaura Era (1885 A.D.), a brilliant star of the universal Vaiṣṇava firmament re-illuminated the Śrī Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā." This "brilliant star" was Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, "the servant of the king of universal Vaiṣṇavas," who endowed his reformed and revitalized Sabhā with spiritual energy and achievement. In 1919, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura recast and reenergized the Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-Rāja-Sabhā, introducing into the Gauḍīya tradition an organized monastic preaching order of sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs centered in temples. The Mission swiftly spread throughout India and made an initial foray into Europe, only to have its light again vanish for thirty long years. Then, in 1966, in New York City—having single-handedly established his tradition in the West, and having discovered what was left of the Gauḍīya Maṭha to have become "useless"  — Śrīla Prabhupāda, following in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessors, effected once again a re-illumination of the Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-Rāja-Sabhā, now restored and re-energized in the name and style of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Followers became initiated, increased in number, and began opening temples in quick succession: San Francisco, then Montreal, Los Angeles, then Boston, and on and on. Devotees advanced in the disciplines of discipleship, and, as they did so, they became increasingly enabled to understand their master. Just as the mahā-mantra gradually reveals itself to those who properly chant, so the spiritual master becomes revealed to the disciples who properly follow. As a result, "the Swami" and "Swamiji" became "Śrīla Prabhupāda." This happened in Boston, in an impromptu exchange. Govinda Dāsī recollects:
All along everyone knew him as Swamiji. This is up until May of 1968. So Goursundar [Govinda Dāsī’s husband] decided he wanted to call me Govindaji, and so he asked Prabhupāda and Prabhupāda said, "No, actually ‘ji’ is a third-class form of address. It’s better not to call her Govindaji." So I piped up, I was sitting right in front of him and I said, "Well, if it’s a third-class form of address, why are we calling you ‘ji’? Why are we calling you Swamiji?" And he said, "It’s not very important." I said, "Oh, no, it’s very important. If it’s a third-class form of address, then we don’t want to call you that. We want to call you the most first-class form of address. So tell us what would be a good name for us to call you by." And he was very humble, very reluctant, but I pressed him, "We’ve got to change this," and he said, "You can call me Gurudev or Guru Mahārāj or Prabhupāda." So I said, "Well, that’s three. We need one." So I said, "Well, which one is the best?" and he answered, "Śrīla Prabhupāda is nice, that is the best." So I said, "From today you will be called Śrīla Prabhupāda." So I told all the devotees. Some of the devotees didn’t like it because it kind of is a tongue twister, "Prabhupāda," and "Swamiji" kind of flows more easily. But we gradually started calling him Śrīla Prabhupāda from that time.
The way of the change was low-key and casual; the change itself, momentous. It would not have been so for "Gurudeva" or "Guru Mahārāja"—since both are in widespread common use. But "Prabhupāda" is exceptional.
The word appears in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Madhya 10.23), which quotes Kāśī Miśra referring to Lord Caitanya Himself as "Prabhupāda." Śrīla Prabhupāda comments:
In this verse the word prabhupāda, referring to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, is significant. Regarding this, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda comments, "Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and all His servants address Him as Prabhupāda. This means that there are many prabhus taking shelter under His lotus feet." The pure Vaiṣṇava is addressed as prabhu, and this address is an etiquette observed between Vaiṣṇavas. When many prabhus remain under the shelter of the lotus feet of another prabhu, the address Prabhupāda is given. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Advaita Prabhu are also addressed as Prabhupāda. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrī Advaita Prabhu and Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu are all viṣṇu-tattva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu. Therefore all living entities are under Their lotus feet. Lord Viṣṇu is the eternal Lord of everyone, and the representative of Lord Viṣṇu is the Lord’s confidential servant. Such a person acts as the spiritual master for neophyte Vaiṣṇavas; therefore the spiritual master is as respectable as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya or Lord Viṣṇu Himself. For this reason the spiritual master is addressed as Oṁ Viṣṇupāda or Prabhupāda.
Within our lineage "Prabhupāda" is used in particular to honor the luminaries who comprise the Six Gosvāmīs, and then— centuries later—Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. The title thus places ISKCON’s founder in very rarefied company. More immediately, the sharing of the appellation "Śrīla Prabhupāda" between guru and disciple intimates an affinity both profound and exceptional between the two personages and their achievements.
Nearly a year after the conversation with Govinda Dāsī, Back to Godhead No. 23 (April 18, 1969) devoted a full-page spread under the banner headline "Prabhupada" to herald the honorific. "Prabhupad" makes only a single appearance in No. 25 (September 1969) (1969 Back to Godhead Number 25), but after that it rapidly becomes the norm. And in issue No. 27 (undated)(1969 Back to Godhead Number 27) "Swamiji" makes its final appearance in the pages of Back to Godhead.
We have been describing in chronological sequence the critical steps or stages by which ISKCON took form under Śrīla Prabhupāda’s supervision:
➊ The founding of an institution under the name "International Society for Krishna Consciousness."
➋ The recognition of that founder with the title "Prabhupāda."
Three more essential elements yet remained to be manifest in the morphology of ISKCON. All of them were finally in place by early 1971. They are:
➌ The further recognition of Prabhupāda with the title "Founder-ācārya."
➍ The establishment of the Governing Body Commission.
➎ The acquisition of land in Śrīdhāma Māyāpura for ISKCON’s "world headquarters," and ceremoniously establishing there the foundation of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.
With that, all the core elements of ISKCON will have been set in place by its Founder-ācārya.
Founder-ācārya. This highly consequential title of Śrīla Prabhupāda took some time to gain its proper prominence. When it did, in 1970 the title "ācārya" by itself was deemed both inadequate and offensive. Yet it is evident that Śrīla Prabhupāda knew exactly what he wanted from the beginning.
Nevertheless, just after incorporating ISKCON in 1966, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal ISKCON letterhead stationery displays his position simply as "Acharya: Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta." Similarly, the line "Acharya: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami" received public circulation on the famous "Stay High Forever!" flyer of September, 1966." When we examine the first few years of Back to Godhead,  we find nowhere any formal letter or masthead-style lines displaying Śrīla Prabhupāda’s name and position in relation to ISKCON—with two quite striking exceptions. These occur only in the second (September 12, 1966) and the fourth (December 15, 1966) issues—and both of such a common prominence, format, and style as to indicate the guiding hand of Śrīla Prabhupāda, and making their utter absence elsewhere somewhat mysterious.
In the second and fourth issue of Back to Godhead, the inside front cover displays a nearly full-page photograph of Śrīla Prabhupāda. (There are two different photos, each capturing Prabhupāda before the sturdy elm in Tompkins Square Park, both from the same article in The East Village Other.) In the space above each photograph stand the words:
HIS DIVINE GRACE
SWAMI A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC.
After these two early issues, the title of "Founder-ācārya" vanishes until issue number 28 (in late 1969), whereupon it re-emerges as part of a treatment almost identical to the two of late 1966. In the 1969 issue, a photograph of Śrīla Prabhupāda takes up the entire first page, with room only for the caption below:
SRI SRIMAD A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI
THE FOUNDER ACHARYA OF ISKCON AND THE GREATEST EXPONENT
OF KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE WESTERN WORLD.
However, nearly a year passes before we again see such a treatment of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position. Then, with Back to Godhead No. 36 (late in 1970) (1970 Back to Godhead Number 36) we find the start of a regular standard presentation of Śrīla Prabhupāda as we are accustomed to seeing it today—and which had its prototype in two of the very first issues of Back to Godhead—a large photograph above his name and position given in full:
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Even though the title of Founder-ācārya took some time to become thus normalized in use, it is clear that Śrīla Prabhupāda had it in mind very early on. The particular presentations of Prabhupāda as Founder-ācārya in those three early issues are certainly few and irregular. Yet all three so closely adhere to a common exemplar—as if directed by an editorial style-sheet— that one can see the guiding hand of Śrīla Prabhupāda behind it.
The grave crisis of 1970—touched on at the outset of this commentary—prompted Śrīla Prabhupāda to undertake powerful remedial actions to fortify his movement. Among them was the firm establishment of standards for the use of "Founder-ācārya" as his title in reference to ISKCON. By so doing, Prabhupāda intended to impress upon all ISKCON members our need to deepen our understanding of his position and to keep it actively in mind.
What makes this so important? The spiritual power of ISKCON depends on it. That spiritual potency, in the beginning of ISKCON, reposed entirely in Śrīla Prabhupāda. By following his directions, his disciples—even though raw and wavering— became themselves empowered by his potency. With just neophyte devotees acting as his effective agents, by 1971 Śrīla Prabhupāda had spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world:
in addition to the increasing number of temples in North America, ISKCON centers had been established in London, Paris, Hamburg, and Tokyo, and the movement was going strong. How was Śrīla Prabhupāda able to accomplish this? By cherishing the order of his spiritual master as his greatest treasure and by serving that order without reservation, Śrīla Prabhupāda had been enabled—though alone and unaided— to pick up the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement exactly where Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had left it off, and then to propel it onward with the same resolute drive that had animated his own spiritual master. Astonishingly, the goal that the unified forces of "a great institution" had concentrated on for nearly two decades, had been realized, in the event, by a single agent of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura acting alone.
Thus Śrīla Prabhupāda had seen for himself—had proven in action—the potency of discipleship, of servitorship. Owing to servitorship alone, it seemed that the single divine energy—gauraśakti—had seamlessly continued to act, without interruption, merely transferring itself from one willing instrument to the next. Now Prabhupāda’s challenge was to instill the same art of spiritual servitorship within his own disciples. If successful, they in turn will pass it on, as the living cultural legacy of ISKCON. If his followers can receive and be worthy of his legacy, developing it and improving it just as he had done, keeping cooperative servitorship at the core of all action—then his work as Founderācārya will find its fulfillment.
During this same period, Śrīla Prabhupāda complied with a request from some disciples to be able to honor him with a special, or personal, praṇāma-mantra.  It would normally fall to a competent disciple to compose such a mantra in his gurudeva’s honor. Since at the time, no disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda was sufficiently qualified spiritually and linguistically to do so, Prabhupāda was placed in the awkward position of coming up with a mantra himself. As a result, we have been given Prabhupāda’s own representation of himself, how he thought of himself, and how he wanted us to remember him as we daily invoked his presence:
- namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe
Sārasvata is the name in this verse by which Śrīla Prabhupāda wishes to be remembered, his name in relation to his spiritual master. Sārasvata is his patronymic; it means "son [or disciple] of [Bhaktisiddhānta] Sarasvatī." As Prabhupāda explains (CC Ādi 10.84, purport): "As members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we belong to the family, or disciplic succession, of Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, and thus we are known as Sārasvatas. Obeisances are therefore offered to the spiritual master as sārasvata-deva, or a member of the Sārasvata family . . . ." Thus, his own name in this praṇāma-mantra is simply the name of his spiritual master, which, by means of a few grammatical tweaks— changing the first a to ā, and modifying the word-ending— becomes his own. In this way, "Sārasvata" directs attention to their deep affinity and suggests that achievements of the son— accomplished in his father’s name—belong to the father, his creator and director. In this instance, the son represents the father in the literal sense of the term: to "represent" is to "represent"—to present over again.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s praṇāma-mantra recognizes him as being the one who spreads (pracāriṇa) Lord Caitanya teaching (gauravāṇī) to the West (pāścātya-deśa). His achievement had been the concerted aim of the Gauḍīya Maṭha, which had attained a toehold in Europe in 1933 but nothing further. Had that position become secured—particularly by the construction of a London temple—Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura would have gone to the West himself. Circumstantially, his intent seems to have been frustrated. Even so, in the ripeness of time, he had one faithful Sārasvata who fulfilled his heartfelt desire.
The name sārasvata-deva indicates that its bearer is the continuation of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in another form. In that form, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura succeeded in fulfilling his heartfelt desire. When his most dedicated servant realized that success was at hand, and that it bore the name and form of "International Society for Krishna Consciousness," Śrīla Prabhupāda accepted the title "Founder-ācārya." This confident, self-assured act of Śrīla Prabhupāda indicates that he knew very well that this title had been prepared to recognize the crowning success of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in establishing Kṛṣṇa consciousness as a global movement, and that Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had achieved this success through his own Sārasvata.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s praṇāma-mantra recognizes two kinds of achievements: widespread propagation of devotional service to the Supreme Lord, and overthrowing nihilism and impersonalism. These were also the aims of the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution under Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and the signature achievements of the sampradāya-ācāryas as well.
It is notable that Śrīla Prabhupāda was able to recognize his own achievement, and accept the honors that properly belong to it, without a tinge of pride. It is evident that at a certain time, Śrīla Prabhupāda realized that in spite of all impediments, he would be able to execute his spiritual mater’s order. He recognized that he had been empowered. It is a natural characteristic of spiritual psychology, observable in great devotees and saints, that the experience of empowerment is inevitably accompanied by the experience of extreme humility, and the more empowerment bears fruit, the further humility increases. This compact blend of great accomplishment and great humility is beyond the scope of experience of ordinary materialistic persons. They cannot begin to imagine it.
When visible success began to attend upon Śrīla Prabhupāda’s efforts, he discounted his own effort, gave credit to others, and was filled with gratitude.
On several memorable occasions, he disclosed his mind in public addresses. For example, speaking to his disciples gathered in London to celebrate Śrī Vyāsa-pūjā on August 22, 1973, Śrīla Prabhupāda said:
Anyone who is connected with our movement, he’s not ordinary living being. Actually, he’s liberated soul. And I am very much hopeful that my disciples who are now participating today, even if I die, my movement will not stop, I am very much hopeful. . . . My Guru Mahārāja, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, he also attempted to send his disciples to preach Caitanya cult in the Western world. . . . First meeting, perhaps you know, he asked me to preach. So at that time I was young man, only twenty-five years old, and I was also householder. So I should have joined and executed his desire immediately, but due to my ill luck I could not immediately execute his order, but it was in my heart that it is to be done. So better late than never, I executed his order at the age of seventy years, not at the age of twenty-five. So actually I wasted so much time, I can understand that. . . . The message was there when I was twenty-five years old, but I began at the age of seventy years. But I did not forget the message. Otherwise, how could I do? That was, that is a fact. I was simply finding out the opportunity, how to do it. So anyway, although I began very late, at the age of seventy years, so by the help of my disciples this movement is gaining ground and is spreading all over the world. So therefore I have to thank you. It is all due to you. It is not my credit, but it is your credit that you are helping me in executing the order of my Guru Mahārāja. (730822 - Lecture Festival Appearance Day, Sri Vyasa-puja - London)
Later that year in Los Angeles, Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed similar thoughts, with more visible emotion, on the Disappearance Day of his spiritual master (VB: Lecture, Dec. 31, 1973):
So in this way, gradually, I became attached to these Gauḍīya Matha activities, and by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, my business also was not going very well. [laughs] Yes. Kṛṣṇa says yasyāham anughṛṇāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ. If somebody wants to be actually devotee of Kṛṣṇa, at the same time, keeps his material attachment, then Kṛṣṇa’s business is He takes away everything material, so that cent percent he becomes, I mean to say, dependent on Kṛṣṇa. So that actually happened to my life. I was obliged to come to this movement to take up this very seriously.
And I was dreaming that: "Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is calling me, ‘Please come out with me!’" [pause] So I was sometimes horrified, "Oh, what is this? I have give up my family life? Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is calling me? I have to take sannyāsa?" Oh, I was horrified. But I saw several times, calling me. So anyway, it is by his grace I was forced to give up my family life, my so-called business life. And he brought me some way or other in preaching his gospel.
So this is a memorable day. What he desired, I am trying little bit, and you are all helping me. So I have to thank you more. You are actually representative of my Guru Mahārāja [begins to cry] because you are helping me in executing the order of my Guru Mahārāja. . . .
When appreciative Indians began praising Śrīla Prabhupāda as a magician or miracle-maker, he denied having any special powers. Here is his account given in Bombay on January 9, 1973:
Yes, we should not be very much proud that "I have created wonderful." Why? . . . Sometimes people, they give me so much honor: "Swamijī, you have created wonderful." I do not feel that I have created wonderful. What I have done? I say that I’m not a magician, I do not know how to create wonderful. I have simply presenting Bhagavad-gītā as it is, that’s all. If there is any credit, this is only credit. Anyone can do it. The Bhagavad-gītā is there, and anyone can present Bhagavad-gītā as it is. So it will act wonderful. I am not a magician. I do not know the tricks of magic and the yoga-siddhi. . . . So my only credit is, I do not want to mix with this pure Bhagavadgītā teaching, any rascaldom, that’s all. That is my credit. And whatever little miracle has been done, only on this principle. That’s all. (721127 - Lecture BG 02.23 - Hyderabad)
Governing Body Commission. The upheaval of 1970 in ISKCON provided the occasion for Śrīla Prabhupāda to satisfy another unfulfilled desire of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura: the formation of a governing body to manage the whole institution. This instruction was among the final directions imparted by Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura to his disciples in his last days. Disobedience to this order, according to Śrīla Prabhupāda, led to the disintegration of the Gauḍīya Maṭha (CC Ādi 12.8, purport):
In the beginning, during the presence of Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, all the disciples worked in agreement; but just after his disappearance, they disagreed. One party strictly followed the instructions of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, but another group created their own concoction about executing his desires. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities cooperatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next ācārya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of ācārya, and they split into two factions [the Calcutta "Gauḍīya Mission" and the Mayapura "Gauḍīya Maṭha"] over who the next ācārya would be. Consequently, both factions were asāra, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master. Despite the spiritual master’s order to form a governing body and execute the missionary activities of the Gauḍīya Maṭha, the two unauthorized factions began litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision.
Therefore, we do not belong to any faction. But because the two parties, busy dividing the material assets of the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution, stopped the preaching work, we took up the mission of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura to preach the cult of Caitanya Mahāprabhu all over the world, under the protection of all the predecessor ācāryas, and we find that our humble attempt has been successful.
We followed the principles especially explained by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā verse beginning vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana (BG 2.41). According to this instruction of Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, it is the duty of a disciple to follow strictly the orders of his spiritual master. The secret of success in advancement in spiritual life is the firm faith of the disciple in the orders of his spiritual master. . . . . One must judge every action by its result. The members of the self-appointed ācārya’s party who occupied the property of the Gauḍīya Maṭha are satisfied, but they could make no progress in preaching. Therefore by the result of their actions one should know that they are asāra, or useless, whereas the success of the ISKCON party, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which strictly follows guru and Gaurāṅga, is increasing daily all over the world.
The establishment of the Governing Body Commission on July 28, 1970 was Śrīla Prabhupāda’s second potent counter-measure against the imp of disunity let loose in ISKCON. The GBC is the type of institution—a committee—that both demands and fosters cooperation. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s leaders failed to realize such a governing board. Had the Gauḍīya Maṭha not been dismembered by their disobedience, there would have been many disciples of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura working together in the West. In the event, Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived alone, and alone he resuscitated the Krishna Consciousness movement. When godbrothers actively or passively spurned cooperation, he was left no alternative but to be the single ācārya at the head of ISKCON.
Yet his spiritual master himself had asked for a governing board to succeed him at the head of his institution. Śrīla Prabhupāda took this request to heart. Here was another desire of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura left unsatisfied, and Śrīla Prabhupāda, the faithful Sārasvata, undertook to satisfy him: He would establish such a board, oversee its development, and have it ready to act as his successor at the head of ISKCON.
It is customary in India for an ācārya to leave his institution to his chosen successor as a legacy in his will. The action Śrīla Prabhupāda took in 1970—establishing the GBC— allowed him in 1977 to set this down as the first provision of his "Declaration of Will": "The Governing Body Commission (GBC) will be the ultimate managing authority of the entire International Society for Krishna Consciousness." By thus establishing the GBC and leaving it as his chosen successor at the head of ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda insured that the order of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura would continue to work efficaciously in the world and bear fruit.
The final stage in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s installation of the essential components in ISKCON’s spiritual morphology was also initiated around this time. After great difficulty and many setbacks, mainly occasioned by passive and active opposition of godbrothers, Śrīla Prabhupāda was able to purchase land in Māyāpura for ISKCON, and he quickly revealed his plans for a monumental temple there. Writing to Govinda Dāsī from Calcutta (May 28, 1971), he said:
You will be glad to learn that we have purchased about five acres of land in Mayapur, the birthsite of Lord Caitanya and we have proposed to hold a nice festival there from Janmastami day for two weeks. At that time the foundation stone [for the temple] will be set down. I wish that all our leading disciples come to India at that time. There are 50 branches, so at least one from each branch should attend the function . . . . (710528 - Letter to Govinda dasi written from Calcutta)
By performing the ceremony for establishing the temple’s foundation, Śrīla Prabhupāda committed himself to the completion of the structure. As it turned out, the foundationlaying itself was delayed until Gaura Pūrṇimā of 1972, and in the ensuing years many more vicissitudes sent ISKCON leaders repeatedly back to the drawing board. Yet Śrīla Prabhupāda’s own commitment, established in 1972 as if a vow, has proved to contain a potency that has driven the concerted effort over, under, around and through all impediments, and the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium rises on the alluvial soil of Antardvīpa.
Śrīla Prabhupāda gave high priority to acquiring land in Māyāpura for ISKCON’s "world headquarters" and constructing on it an extraordinary temple. Gradually, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s leaders began to grasp its importance for him. For example (SPL 5:9):
During this visit to Calcutta [November, 1971], Prabhupāda had also spoken of his plans for Māyāpur. Nara-Nārāyaṇa had built a scale model of the building ISKCON would construct on the newly acquired property, and Prabhupāda had shown it to all his guests and had asked them to help. Seeing Prabhupāda’s absorption in this project, Girirāja had volunteered to help in any way required. "It seems the two things you want most," Girirāja had said, "are for the books to be distributed and to build a temple at Māyāpur." "Yes," Prabhupāda had said, smiling. "Yes, thank you."
We gain a deeper grasp of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s priority when we understand this temple in light of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ecclesiology that lay, as we have seen, at the foundation of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s institution. We have already noted that Śrīla Prabhupāda constructed ISKCON on the basis of that same ecclesiology. In the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution, the Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Māyāpura is the central or "parent" temple and all others are its branches: "The distinction between the Gaudiya Math [in Calcutta] and Sri Chaitanya Math is all analogous to that between one lamp lighted by another," The Harmonist article explains (with an allusion to Brahmasaṁhitā 5.46). The central temple, being located in Māyāpura, the descended spiritual realm (Śvetadvīpa), is really the visible mundane complement or counterpart of its transcendentally located original, where the Lord and the ācārya dwell eternally together. The diverse branches are places for training aspirants for service in the place of the ācārya in the transcendent Māyāpura. The central or parent temple of the institution, being thus located on the border, as it were, between two realms, serves as a kind of gateway. Its associated branches, though dispersed further throughout the mundane realm, by virtue of their links with the center also function in themselves as gateways.
Situated at the center, the Śrī Caitanya Maṭha teaches by its very architecture with its embellishments and appurtenances, the spiritual science which sets forth the unified principle that make such a gateway possible: acintya-bhedābheda-tattva. The paved parikramā path around the central dome brings the circumambulating visitor around to encounter, one after another, the forms of the four Vaiṣṇava Founder-Ācāryas, each within his own shrine set into the outward body of the dome. They are spaced evenly around the base of the dome, but the structure itself draws them together around Śrī Caitanya Maṭha.
Each of these Founder-Ācāryas propounded a specific teaching concerning the relationship between the Lord and his energies. While each doctrine is sound, it is also incomplete, asserts Niśikānta Sānyāl in Sree Krishna Chaitanya. But the teaching of Lord Caitanya—formalized as acintya-bhedābhedatattva—"reconciles, harmonizes and perfects them" (SKC 164). The temple embodies this Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava teaching and so presents the case—so thoroughly advanced in Sree Krishna Chaitanya—that Mahāprabhu, the yuga-avatāra, offers the consummation and the fulfillment of theism.
The ISKCON Temple of the Vedic Planetarium presents the same teaching portrayed by the Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in a more detailed and more comprehensive manner. On a cosmological scale, it maps, models, and illustrates the realized truth of acintyabhedābheda-tattva: that nothing is different from Kṛṣṇa, yet Kṛṣṇa is different from everything. Within the main dome of the temple we see the cosmos displayed as it discloses itself to those who experience it with unoccluded perception: as pervaded by and connected to Kṛṣṇa as the Lord’s own potencies. The temple thus counters the two kinds of widespread false perception, both of which separate Kṛṣṇa from His energies. One is the way of monism or impersonalism (nirviśeṣa-vāda), which denies the reality of the divine energies and relegates both the personality of Godhead and the creation to illusion. The other is the way of materialism or nihilism (śūnya-vāda), which recognizes only the energies, which have no origin or foundation.
Displaying the connections between the Lord and the creation, the temple can provide a kind of map of the pathway to divinity (together with the various way stations, detours, and diversions). Set into the inner wall of the dome, ascending concentric galleries offer the visitor a sequence of artistically rendered representations of the regions encountered on the cosmic journey by Gopa-kumāra, passing through multiple material and spiritual realms to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, as depicted by Sanātana Gosvāmī in Bṛhad-Bhāgavatāmṛta. The temple thus previews the ultimate ascent that draws all sentient life onward.
It is the last of the five steps by Śrīla Prabhupāda, all accomplished by 1972, that puts all core components of ISKCON in place. The temple completes the whole spiritual structure of the visible ISKCON. The centers and temples scattered throughout the world are joined together in a network that converges on the center at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura. Like the widely spread roots of a tree that draw water to the central trunk, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s ISKCON brings conditioned souls to Māyāpura, where the central temple opens a gateway to the vertical dimension, that, like a tree-trunk, soars upward to branch out luxuriantly in the spiritual sky.
This is the work of a Founder-Ācārya. A Founder-Ācārya opens an avenue that leads through the cosmos and crosses over into transcendence. Having laid out the illustrious path—from the beginning root tip to ending leaf tip—the Founder-Ācārya makes provision for its regular maintenance and for the trained guides who will direct, protect, and encourage those who traverse it. He continuously oversees its functioning as long as there are those who act under his direction. In a sense, this lane to the land of the living is identical with its own craftsman. Naming his construction ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda engineered it so that this entirely spiritual artifact should be manifest not only to the wise (who recognize what they see), but even to the foolish (who cannot). Especially for them, he assembled a vast array of visible entrances to the path, spread in a network covering the world. All converge on the center in Antardvīpa, where the map of the luminous path—in cosmological cartography—is marvelously displayed, and each step of the journey into transcendence finely depicted. Thus the temple discloses itself as a cosmic portal or gateway leading through the heavens and into the eternal realms of Kṛṣṇa.
In the ISKCON temples and centers, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s specially placed mūrtis indicate his guardianship over the entranceways onto the path. At their convergence point in Navadvīpa-dhāma, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presiding presence over all of earthly ISKCON is proclaimed by his radiant form of gold in his puṣpa-samādhi; from that coign of vantage he surveys the entrance of the great temple, gateway to the ultimate passage. And then, at the passage’s terminus in Śvetadvīpa, Śrīla Prabhupāda himself presides to welcome and gather the new arrivals into the everlasting transcendent ISKCON of gaura-līlā.  In this way, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s spiritual thoroughfare conveys the recovered and rescued jīvas safely to the highest destination.
Our Founder-Ācārya marked the beginning of his project with his first book, Easy Journey to Other Planets, and he continued his effort through the writing, printing and distributing of books and the simultaneous construction of a worldwide institution. His handiwork continues and now is at last crowned with its consolidating apex, the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, which unifies both Bhāgavatam and Bhāgavata, book and person. It marks the core and center of the Founder-Ācārya’s creation, and it indicates the location of the true world-axis at sacred Śrīdhāma Māyāpura, the descended spiritual realm.
The "four Founder-Acharyas of the Iron Age" each formulated an explication of Vedānta that recovered the theistic, Vaiṣṇava understanding of Vedavyāsa, and each energetically taught it and trained others to do so. In this way the illusive facade of impersonalism was dismantled, and the veridical Vedic siddhānta became propagated throughout India. In Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s depiction, the four were preparing the way for the yuga-avatāra Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who was to make the most highly confidential revelation of the Vedas open and accessible to all through saṅkīrtana. Mahāprabhu inspired his closest associates to systematically formulate his teaching as acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, which included and completed the systems of the Founder-Ācāryas. These intimate associates of Mahāprabhu bore the special title of "Prabhupāda."
Now two more followers of Mahāprabhu have appeared who also bear the title "Prabhupāda"—Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda and A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda. The first practically formulated the strategy and tactics for systematic worldwide propagation of Mahāprabhu’s movement; the second carried his plan to completion. Within the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution, the title "Founder-Ācārya" had been prepared for Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda to assume, but circumstantially he could not complete his plans himself and establish Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the Western countries. In his name, however, A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, having understood the heart of his spiritual master, picked up where Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura left off and in twelve eventful years established the yuga-dharma throughout the world. In this way, the compassionate efforts of the four Founder-Ācāryas were, by the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and his instruments, expanded and completed by one more who bears that title.
The extraordinary achievements of Śrīla Prabhupāda certainly make him worthy of the title, but it does not, in this case, imply that he originated a "new sampradāya." By faithfully transmitting the teachings and practices as he received them in the Gauḍīyasampradāya, he continued the tradition. Nevertheless, Śrīla Prabhupāda transmitted his received tradition with a distinct and decisive articulation, uniquely his own, as the fruit of his realized knowledge. Consequently, under his direction the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, in his refreshed and revitalized reiteration, has been able to extend beyond its natal ground, to sink down roots around the globe, and so to flourish everywhere.
The Gauḍīya-sampradāya appears historically as a branch of the Brahmā-Madhva-sampradāya because Lord Caitanya—in reality the one fountainhead of all four sampradāyas—appeared as a devotee (bhakta-rūpa). As such, He sought and accepted proper Vaiṣṇava initiation into one of the four authorized sampradāyas. However, His teaching, systematized and expounded by the Six Gosvāmīs, were so clearly distinct from the standard teaching of the Madhvite community into which He was initiated, that the followers of Mahāprabhu naturally became recognized as a distinct community or sampradāya. Challenged, as such, to establish its bona fides, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa successfully responded by producing a Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇava commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, the Govinda-bhāṣya. Thus there was formal acknowledgment of the Gauḍīya-sampradāya as distinct from the others early in the eighteenth century.
Even so, the Gauḍīya-sampradāya has a special status, and we cannot regard it simply as a new sampradāya, taking its place as one more among many. Rather, the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, correctly understood, should be recognized as the unified completion and fulfillment of the four earlier sampradāyas of Kali-yuga. Such is the understanding propounded by the realization—and revelation—of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, documented by him in his visionary Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāmamāhātmya of 1890. There Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura offers a detailed account—as of an eyewitness—of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī performing (soon after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya) navadvīpaparikramā under the guidance of Prabhu Nityānanda. In the course of their excursion, Nityānanda Prabhu relates to Śrī Jīva how each of the four Founder-Ācāryas of Kali-yuga, while themselves on pilgrimage to Jagannātha Purī or Navadvīpa, is favored with a confidential revelation of the future advent of the yuga-avatāra.  Binding them to secrecy, Lord Caitanya uplifts and inspires each of them to work so as to prepare the way for His future advent. For example, the Lord appears in a dream to Madhvācārya and tells him (NDM 68):
Everyone knows you are my eternal servant. When I appear in Navadvīpa, I will accept your sampradāya. Now, go everywhere and carefully uproot all the false scriptures of the māyāvādīs. Reveal the glories to worshiping the Deity of the Lord. Later, I will broadcast your pure teachings.
When Lord Caitanya appears to Nimbāditya (or Nimbārka), the Lord discloses how in the future He will unveil a consummate teaching that will include, sublate, unify, and complete the teaching of each of the four Founder-Ācāryas (NDM 73):
Later, when I begin the saṅkīrtana movement, I Myself will preach the essence of the four Vaiṣṇava philosophies. From Madhva I will receive two essential items: his complete defeat of the Māyāvāda philosophy, and his service to the Deity of Kṛṣṇa, accepting the Deity as an eternal spiritual being. From Rāmānuja I will accept two great teachings: the concept of bhakti unpolluted by karma and jñāna, and service to the devotees. From Viṣṇusvāmī’s teachings I will accept two main elements: the sentiment of excusive dependence on Kṛṣṇa, and the path of rāga-bhakti. And from you I will receive two excellent principles: the necessity of taking shelter of Rādhā, and the high esteem for the gopīs’ love of Kṛṣṇa.
In conclusion, the advent of Lord Caitanya is itself the consummation of the four sampradāyas. That consummation heralds a new beginning, with Mahāprabhu as the originator of an unprecedentedly magnanimous revelation, with the Six Gosvāmīs as the first receivers and transmitters of that revelation, and with Śrīla Prabhupāda as the ācārya who founded and developed a global community of kṛṣṇa-bhaktas, who christened that community as the "International Society for Krishna Consciousness," who energized the society so engendered with the life-force of his realized knowledge, and who established its foremost temple at its world headquarters in Antardvīpa, the descended Śvetadvīpa, from which his society conveys the revelation of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya to the world, and the world back to Him.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s realized knowledge. It is our good fortune that Śrīla Prabhupāda was quite open in sharing with us how he gained his realized knowledge and how that knowledge enabled him to fulfill the desire of his spiritual master and establish Lord Caitanya’s movement as a global venture. Śrīla Prabhupāda offered one remarkable disclosure in 1968 at the temple in Los Angeles, occasioned by the observance of the disappearance of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Looking at the rows of young American faces lifted up to him, Śrīla Prabhupāda wondered out loud:
I was born in a different family; my Guru Mahārāja was born in a different family. Who knew that I will come to his protection? Who knew that I would come in America? Who knew that you American boys will come to me? These are all Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement. We cannot understand how things are taking place.
But then, Śrīla Prabhupāda goes on to tell how his presence that day in Los Angeles came about.
In 1936—today is ninth December, 1968—that means thirty-two years ago, in Bombay, I was then doing some business: All of a sudden—perhaps on this date, sometimes between ninth or tenth of December (at that time, Guru Mahārāja was indisposed little, and he was staying at Jagannātha Purī, on the seashore)—so, I wrote him a letter: "My dear master, your other disciples— brahmacārī, sannyāsī—they are rendering you direct service. And I am a householder: I cannot live with you, I cannot serve you nicely. So I do not know. How can I serve you?" Simply an idea: I was thinking of serving him, "How can I serve him seriously?"
The seed from which all else grew was "simply an idea." Discontent with his occupation in business, feeling himself incapacitated by the obligations of his āśrama, on an impulse ("all of a sudden") Prabhupāda wrote his Guru Mahārāja with a plea, a cry from the heart. He felt himself locked in a position which made proper service impossible, yet still the desire to do it was there. So he confessed his desire and his frustration to his spiritual master.
So the reply was dated 13 December, 1936. In that letter he wrote, "My dear such and such, I am very glad to receive your letter. I think you should try to push our movement in English." That was his writing. "And that will do good to you and to the people who will help you." That was his instruction. And then in 1936, on the thirty-first of December—that means just after writing this letter a fortnight before his departure—he passed away. But I took that order of my spiritual master very seriously, but I did not think that I’ll have to do such and such thing. I was at that time a householder. But this is the arrangement of Kṛṣṇa. If we strictly try to serve the spiritual master, his order, then Kṛṣṇa will give us all facilities. That is the secret. Although there was no possibility—I never thought—.
It was a startling, an unexpected, an incongruous, an entirely improbable order. "Push on our movement in English": that was, in fact, the cutting edge of the Gauḍīya Maṭha’s preaching. It meant: Go to the West—to Europe, to America. It was a wellknown order, already conveyed to many leaders, sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs, in the Gauḍīya Maṭha. But now the recipient was a householder doing business in Bombay, entangled in domestic and commercial matters, helping out the temple as much as he could. He was, as we say today, a "congregational member." Prabhupāda confesses that he could not envision any concrete circumstances in which it could be realized. ("I did not think that I’ll have to do such and such thing," "Although there was no possibility—I never thought—".) Nevertheless, he took it "very seriously." At the same time, it was the last direct communication he received from his spiritual master. That gave it even more weight. (And he surely remembered this order echoed the request he received on his very first meeting with Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, fourteen years previously.) So he understood he must take it seriously, even though he was initially baffled: How in the world will it happen? As it turns out, it happened by "the arrangement of Kṛṣṇa."
Yet something more is still required. For what prompts Kṛṣṇa to make such an arrangement? The seriousness of the disciple. "If we strictly try to serve the spiritual master, his order, then Kṛṣṇa will give us all facilities. That is the secret." This is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s "realized knowledge."
Now Prabhupāda goes to tell us how—again by Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement—he learned this secret:
Although there was no possibility—I never thought— but I took it little seriously by studying a commentary by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura on the Bhagavad-gītā. In the Bhagavad-gītā there is the verse, vyavasāyātmikābuddhir ekeha kuru-nandana. In connection with that verse, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura gives his commentary that we should take up the words from the spiritual master as our life and soul. We should try to carry out the instruction, the specific instruction of the spiritual master, very rigidly, without caring for our personal benefit or loss.
Here is the immediate source of Prabhupāda’s inspiration: the realization he received from reading Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura’s commentary on Bhagavad-gītā 2.41. It was the key that unlocked the order of his spiritual master. It became the foundation of his life and achievement, the "only secret" of his success. Again and again, Prabhupāda directly and indirectly refers to this defining moment of his life, when he was granted the realization to make the total commitment that, come what may, he would make the order of his spiritual master his life and soul. Because of that commitment alone, Kṛṣṇa has brought him to America and given him success:
So I tried a little bit in that spirit. So he has given me all facilities to serve him. Things have come to this stage, that in this old age I have come to your country, and you are also taking this movement seriously, trying to understand it. We have got some books now. So there is little foothold of this movement.
Now Prabhupāda requests his own disciples to enact the same commitment to his order that he has evinced to that of his Guru Mahārāja:
So on this occasion of my spiritual master’s departure, as I am trying to execute his will, similarly, I shall also request you to execute the same order through my will. I am an old man, I can also pass away at any moment. That is nature’s law. Nobody can check it. So that is not very astonishing, but my appeal to you on this auspicious day of the departure of my Guru Mahārāja, that at least to some extent you have understood the essence of Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. You should try to push it on. (681209 - Lecture Festival Disappearance Day, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati - Los Angeles)
"Execute his will" is a play on words. The expression means, of course, to carry out the order of some one, but it is also the formal legal term to refer to the process by which a person’s assets become those of his heirs. By his commitment to execute Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s will, Śrīla Prabhupāda inherited from him his specific potency to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness. On this occasion Śrīla Prabhupāda is now making his will: "I shall also request you to execute the same order through my will. I am an old man." By his will, Prabhupāda has made us his heirs. He imparts, as his legacy, the instructions that, if accepted, transfers to us the same potency to deliver people to the shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s feet.
"I shall also request you to execute the same order through my will:" This is an extraordinary moment; it is the act of transmission of spiritual potency, by which we all can become empowered just as Śrīla Prabhupāda himself became empowered. Then Śrīla Prabhupāda tells us what "that same order" is:
. . . . at least to some extent you have understood the essence of Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. You should try to push it on. People are suffering for want of this consciousness. As we daily pray about devotees:
vāñchā-kalpatarubhyaś ca kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca
patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ
A Vaiṣṇava, or devotee of Lord, his life is dedicated for the benefit of the people. You know—most of you belong to Christian community—how Lord Jesus Christ, he said that for your sinful activities he has sacrificed himself. That is the determination of devotee of the Lord. They don’t care for personal comforts. Because they love Kṛṣṇa or God, therefore they love all living entities because all living entities are in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. So similarly you should learn. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement means to become Vaiṣṇava and feel for the suffering humanity.
The order he received in the form "push on our movement in English" is now retransmitted to us in the form "become Vaiṣṇavas and feel for the suffering of humanity." Śrīla Prabhupāda took this to heart, as the song instructs:
- guru-mukha-padma-vākya, cittete kariyā aikya,
- āra nā kariha mane āśā
"Make the words from the lotus mouth of Śrī Gurudeva one with your heart; aspire for nothing else."
The achievement of Śrīla Prabhupāda is proof of the potency of these instructions. Many others had received the same order from Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, but in the event, the demonstration of vyavasāyātmikā-buddhi was his alone.
Hence, Prabhupāda founded a new organization that, as a whole and in its every part, would embody and develop that realization—a realization that manifests itself as an unwavering, indefatigable commitment to deliver pure love of God to suffering humanity everywhere.
Suffering humanity. The acute feeling for human suffering— so prominent in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s inheritance from Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura—possesses a natural ramification: an urgent need to muster and deploy all resources together—material, personnel, finances, infrastructure, organization—to deliver as much relief as possible in the shortest possible time. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s innovation was to create a unified, coordinated institution that could accomplish this. When the voluntary service of devotees was rationally organized and coordinated, its effective energy, thus consolidated and concentrated, became hugely multiplied.
The institution that would be able to act on this commitment with united force over large spans of space and time needs a unique form. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī therefore called for an organization in which the ultimate authority would reside not in the person of a single autocratic ācārya but rather in a board of directors, which he called the "Governing Body Commission." In the event, the Gauḍīya Maṭha failed to realize this structure, and so, Prabhupāda said, became "useless."
A board of directors. A board of directors is a modern Western institution for joint management and oversight. Śrīla Prabhupāda put into place the standard, generally familiar, elements of such an organization: the annual general meeting, resolutions adopted by a majority of the voting members, following rules of formal parliamentary procedure (as given in Robert’s Rule of Order), the adopted resolution recorded into a minutes book by the secretary, and so on.
The "single autocratic ācārya" exemplifies an older, more basic, and perhaps more instinctively natural, form of organization. It has, of course, become a standard arrangement in Indian culture, developing originally out of, say, a sannyāsī and his brahmacārī students.
When over time institutions grow up around a single powerful, charismatic teacher or leader, a result of the gradual accumulation of followers, land, temples, housing, and wealthy patronage, then the person at the top needs to be spiritually advanced in order not to fall victim to the temptations of power, money, fame, and the like. At the same time, the prospect of controlling and enjoying such assets may attract precisely the wrong kind of person—who must of course feign indifference to such things. In these cases, hypocrisy, faultfinding, backstabbing, underhanded dealing, etc., may become endemic, and institutions tend toward disintegration.
The advantage of a governing board is that power is more dispersed, and the members act to check and balance each other. The institution is inherently more stable: If at some time there is no single outstanding charismatic leader, the institution continues. On the other hand, the existence of two or more supremely qualified leaders can be smoothly accommodated. With a governing board they become an asset—the more the merrier. But if there is a single head, two or more highly qualified leaders will leave all but one under-engaged or unfulfilled, a condition that will foster schisms.
Thus a governing board is more stable, stronger and far more resilient than a single ācārya. But what if there are a number of exceptionally empowered—let’s call them "self-effulgent"— ācāryas on that board? Will they pull things apart? No: If they are indeed elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then they will be certain to exemplify the principle of cooperative service at the lotus feet of Śrīla Prabhupāda and make the governing board all the stronger.
Our Central Challenge
Śrīla Prabhupāda established such a structure for ISKCON, putting the Governing Body Commission in place in 1970 and overseeing its gradual articulation and development. Stating that he wanted there to be "hundreds and thousands of spiritual masters" within ISKCON, he implied that the normative guru-disciple relationship would be perpetuated within the unified institution under the direction of the GBC. In such an organization, many gurus would be able to act with concerted force, operating together with other leaders and managers in collegial accord.
Hundreds and thousands of spiritual masters. In New York on August 17, 1966, while speaking on Bhagavad-gītā 4.34-38, Śrīla Prabhupāda said:
So there is no bar for anyone, that one cannot become the spiritual master. Everyone can become spiritual master, provided he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa. . . . This is the science of Kṛṣṇa, this Bhagavad-gītā. If anyone knows perfectly, then he becomes the spiritual master. . . . So we require hundreds and thousands of spiritual masters who has understood this Kṛṣṇa science. And preach all over the world. . . . . Therefore we have formed this society and we invite all sincere souls to take part in the society and become a spiritual master, and preach this science all over the world. (660815 - Lecture BG 04.34-38 - New York)
Śrīla Prabhupāda explained his expectation to Tuṣṭa-kṛṣṇa (VB: Correspondence, Dec. 2, 1975):
Every student is expected to become Acarya. Acarya means one who knows the scriptural injunctions and follows them practically in life, and teaches them to his disciples. . . . Keep trained up very rigidly and then you are bona fide Guru, and you can accept disciples on the same principle. But as a matter of etiquette it is the custom that during the lifetime of your Spiritual master you bring the prospective disciples to him, and in his absence or disappearance you can accept disciples without any limitation. This is the law of disciplic succession. I want to see my disciples become bona fide Spiritual Master and spread Krishna consciousness very widely, that will make me and Krishna very happy.
Śrīla Prabhupāda stated on these and many other occasions the need of huge numbers of gurus, and his desire that "every student" help meet that need. Since he very much wanted his disciples and followers to remain within ISKCON, he envisioned a vast increase in spiritual and material force generated by the efficiencies and mutual reinforcements of cooperative service. By working and preaching together in a concerted, organized fashion, our internal and external power become far more than the sum of that of the individual parts.
After all, our practice is saṅkīrtana, not just kīrtana, and the full import of the prefix saṁ—indicating not only union, but also thoroughness, intensity and completeness—needs realization.
Yet as long as Prabhupāda was present as the sole ācārya and dīkṣā guru, the structure necessarily remained in embryonic form, a child still in the womb of its mother, its form and function necessarily not fully developed. During Prabhupāda’s manifest presence, by the very nature of the situation, the GBC clearly could not assume its full role as the "ultimate managing authority," and Prabhupāda remained the only guru. Therefore the completed product of Prabhupāda’s work had to await its time to be manifest.
Consequently, Prabhupāda has left to us the task, after his departure, of fully articulating the form and functions of ISKCON for effective action in the world. One central challenge is to integrate the guru-disciple relationship—which carries its own proper demand for deep loyalty and commitment to the person of the guru—within a larger society that demands, in a certain sense, a higher, all-encompassing, loyalty. That loyalty is our common fidelity to our Founder-Ācārya Śrīla Prabhupāda, a loyalty proven in practice by our cooperation with each other, within the structure he bequeathed us, to fulfill his deepest desire.
Our cooperation with each other. The foundation of cooperation is love. "A whole society is carrying my order, not because I am superior person," said Śrīla Prabhupāda (Philosophy Discussion on Arthur Schopenhauer).
There is love. Without love, you cannot do so. You have got some bit of love for me, therefore you carry my order. Otherwise it is not possible. And I cannot also. You are foreigners, you are Americans; I came from another country. I have no [bank] account. I cannot also order you: "You must do it, otherwise I will chastise you." Because there is love. It is a connection of love. I can also become bold enough to chastise you, but you also, in whatever condition you carry my order due to the basic principle is love. And our whole philosophy is love.
On May 23, 1977, Śrīla Prabhupāda made a well-know statement about the test of our love.
As recorded by Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami:
Śrīla Prabhupāda emphasized, "Your love for me will be tested how after my departure you maintain this institution. We have glamour and people are feeling our weight. This should be maintained. Not like Gauḍīya Math. After Guru Mahārāja’s departure so many ācaryās came up."
Bhakti Charu Swami was present when Śrīla Prabhupāda made this statement. He recalls:
When Srila Prabhupada was in Vrindavan during his last days, Tamal Krsna Maharaja used to read out loud the letters that devotees wrote to Srila Prabhupada, and His Divine Grace used to dictate his replies, and sometimes he also used to make some comments. Once one devotee wrote how he wanted to offer his longevity to Srila Prabhupada so that he could continue to be with us on this planet. It was a very sweet letter, steeped with emotion. However, Srila Prabhupada reacted in a rather unusual way and commented that our real love for him would be shown by how we cooperate with each other to continue his mission. That incident left a very deep impression in my heart, and I became aware that the best way to show my love for Srila Prabhupada is through my cooperation with the devotees of ISKCON who are serving His Divine Grace so sincerely to continue his mission.
In his final days, Śrīla Prabhupāda asked from us a more compelling proof of love than heartfelt expressions, however sincere. This, he says, will convince him: Our cooperation with one another to advance his mission after his departure.
This standard established by Śrīla Prabhupāda—actions that disclose far more than ardent words— also expresses the essence of the vāṇī-sevā by which we attain and sustain association with Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Furthermore, to cooperate together to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the very meaning of saṇkīrtana. Śrīla Prabhupāda has explained this wonderfully:
The purport of the verse is that even Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu—He is God himself, Kṛṣṇa Himself—He felt, alone, unable to do this task. He felt. So this is the position. You are cooperating; therefore I am getting the credit. Otherwise alone what could I do? Ekākī āmāra nāhi pāya bolo. Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself wanted our cooperation. He is God, Kṛṣṇa. And therefore cooperation is very important thing. Nobody should think that "I have got so great ability. I can do." No. It is simply by cooperation we can do very big thing. "United we stand; divided we fall." This is our. . . . So be strong in pushing on Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Kṛṣṇa will help. He is the strongest. Still, we must be combined together. Saṅkīrtana. Saṅkīrtana means many men combined together chanting. That is saṅkīrtana. Otherwise kīrtana. Saṅkīrtana. Bahubhir militvā kīrtayatīti saṅkīrtanam. Bahu: bahu means many, many combined together. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission, combined together.
After two influential leaders had left ISKCON, Śrīla Prabhupāda gave this counsel to Babhru Dāsa on December 9, 1973. May it always remain in our hearts:
Now, we have by Krsna’s Grace built up something significant in the shape of this ISKCON and we are all one family. Sometimes there may be disagreement and quarrel but we should not go away. These inebrieties can be adjusted by the cooperative spirit, tolerance and maturity so I request you to kindly remain in the association of our devotees and work together. The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the Spiritual Master will be in this mutual cooperative spirit to push on this Movement and not make factions and deviate. (731209 - Letter to Babhru written from Los Angeles)
We discovered that the initial "zonal-ācārya" system of integrating the guru into a broad structure implicitly created geographical zones that were individually more unified than ISKCON as a whole. The integrity of ISKCON came in to jeopardy. That system has been abolished. Yet we need to go much further in realizing the organization Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted.
We need to go much further. We look forward to establishing a culture in ISKCON of committed cooperative servitorship under Śrīla Prabhupāda. When this becomes established as a culture, each and every member—top to bottom— shares equally in it. It is so thoroughly part of the essence of existence in the Krishna Consciousness movement that it dwells even in the smallest gesture. Children take it in with their mother’s milk. It is all pervading. We will be perpetually in the presence of Śrīla Prabhupāda—and of those in whose presence he dwells.
and distribute?" In his purport, Śrīla Prabhupāda points out: "Here Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu indicates that the distribution of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra should be performed by combined forces."
It is interesting to note that two prominent anti-ISKCON movements—often claiming to be the "real ISKCON"—have formed by specific rejection of one or the other component of Prabhupāda’s whole: the "ritvik" position wishes to do away with actual gurus in favor of GBC institutional authority, while the followers of one prominent sannyāsī or another wish to eliminate an actual GBC and rely on the charismatic, autocratic single ācārya.
Specific rejection of one or the other component. As we learn from the Gauḍīya Maṭha, it is clearly a challenge to get it right. We now have our own schismatic groups, and we should treat them as Śrīla Prabhupāda did the remnant factions of the Gauḍīya Maṭha: With a clear and incisive understanding of their deviations; with a generous, well-wishing attitude; and with endless patience.
ISKCON needs to foster both elements: an intense common loyalty to ISKCON and the GBC, and the deep and full teaching relationship between individual gurus and disciples within ISKCON. We need to realize how there is no contradiction and no conflict. We need to realize how they reinforce and support each other.
'A crucial element in establishing this necessary synthesis is achieving a deep understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position and putting that understanding into action—both jñāna and vijñāna. As Founder-Ācārya, Śrīla Prabhupāda himself symbolizes—and, in a sense, is—the unity of ISKCON. Therefore he must become an inescapable predominate felt presence in the lives of all devotees, no matter who else may serve as their dīkṣā or śikṣā gurus. Gurus still manifest in the world tend to make a more vivid impact on their followers than those now unmanifest in form. Because Śrīla Prabhupāda’s person is now unmanifest as such, this absence of vapu needs to be compensated for by an ever-deepening realization of his manifestation as vāṇi (as he himself taught).
Understanding Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position. It is hoped that the present paper will be one among many more that aim to foster ever-deepening understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda as FounderĀcārya and ever-increasing devoted service to him.
Such presence needs to become so much a part of the fabric of ISKCON, to become the essential savor of its culture, that his presence will not diminish even when all who personally knew Śrīla Prabhupāda follow him from this world.
His presence will not diminish. Culture has been defined by anthropologists as the sum total of learned behavior of a group that is transmitted from generation to generation. The great gift to posterity each generation of ISKCON can give is the gift of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
There will be many consequences when Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position as Founder-Ācārya is realized. Among them:
➊ Generation after generation will be enabled to receive the special mercy offered by Śrīla Prabhupāda. The path back to Godhead he opened will become ever-increasingly travelled.
➋ By taking full shelter of Śrīla Prabhupāda as śikṣā guru in his vāṇi manifestation, all teachers in ISKCON, on various levels of advancement, will be able to authentically convey Śrīla Prabhupāda’s real teaching, thus giving proper guidance, shelter, and protection to all.
➌ Śrīla Prabhupāda’s active presence will secure the unity and integrity of ISKCON.
➍ ISKCON’s teachings will remain consistent over space and time.
➎ Śrīla Prabhupāda’s realized knowledge—endowing him with the specific potency to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness— will not only be preserved but also developed.
➏ His books will remain central to us, for they contain insights and directions that await future development to be realized.
➐ Śrīla Prabhupāda’s eyes will always remain the lens through which all future generations see our predecessor ācāryas.
CB: Caitanya Bhagavat
BTG: Back to Godhead
HKE: The Hare Krishna Explosion
Harm: The Harmonist
Kṛṣṇa: Kṛṣṇa, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
MHP: Modern Hindu Personalism
SS: Servant of the Servant
SKC: Sree Krishna Caitanya
SBV: Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Vaibhava
SPL: Śrīla Prabhupāda-lilamrita
TKG: TKG’s Diary
Back to Godhead. Accessed October 8, 2013. http:///www.backtogodhead.in.
Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Goswami Ṭhākura. Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā. Bombay: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1991.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, A.C.. Bhagavad Gītā As It Is. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989.
———. Kṛṣṇa: The Supreme Personality of Godhead. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, 1996.
———. Śrī Caitanya Caritāmrita of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī. Botany: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1996.
———. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1976.
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: The Complete Teaching of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. CD-ROM, 2003.1. Bhaktivedanta Archives.
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Māhātmya. Translated by Bhānu Swami. n.p., n.d.
Dasa, Hayagriva. The Hare Krishna Explosion. Singapore: Palace Press, 1985.
Following Srila Prabhupada: DVD 1, compiled by Yadubara Dāsa, British Columbia, Canada: ISKCON Cinema, 2006.
Goswami, Satsvarūpa dāsa. Śrīla Prabhupāda-līlāmṛta: A Biography of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. 6 vols. Los Angeles: Bhakivedanta Book Trust, 1980-1983.
Goswami, Tamal Krishna. Servant of the Servant. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1984.
———. TKG’s Diary. Dallas: Pundits Press, 1998.
Harmonist, The. Edited by Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaj. Vols. 24-33. Calcutta: Sri Gaudiya Math, 1927- 1936. Note: The Bhaktivedanta Research Centre holds a collection of original issues of The Harmonist, bound in ten volumes. (This collection was previously part of the library of Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda.) In the 8th bound volume (containing Volume 32 of The Harmonist), there are no issues 22 and 24. The 9th bound volume, containing Volume 33, holds only four issues, two for November and two for December 1936. The 10th and final bound volume, containing The Harmonist Volume 34 (1937), holds six issues—published after the demise of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura—beginning in August and ending in November.
Sanyal, Nisikanta. Sree Krishna Chaitanya. Vol. 1. Royapettah, Madras: Sree Gaudiya Math, 1933.
Sardella, Ferdinando. Modern Hinduism Personalism: The History, Life, and Thought of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Sraman, Bhakitikusum. Prabhupāda Srila Sarasvati Thākura. Māyāpur: Śrī Caitanya Maṭha, 1982.
Swami, Bhakti Vikāsa. Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Vaibhava: The Grandeur and Glory of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. 3 vols. Surat, India: Bhakti Vikas Trust, 2009.
ACCORD: AGREEMENT OR HARMONY.
ADROIT: SKILLFUL IN USING THE HANDS OR MIND; DEXTEROUS, ACTIVE, CLEVER.
AEGIS: THE PROTECTION, BACKING, OR SUPPORT OF A PARTICULAR PERSON OR ORGANIZATION.
ALLEGORY: DESCRIPTION OF A SUBJECT UNDER THE GUISE OF SOME OTHER SUBJECT OF APTLY SUGGESTIVE RESEMBLANCE; A STORY, POEM, OR PICTURE THAT CAN BE INTERPRETED TO REVEAL A HIDDEN MEANING, TYPICALLY A MORAL OR POLITICAL ONE; A SYMBOL.
ALLUSION: IMPLIED, OR INDIRECT REFERENCE; AN EXPRESSION DESIGNED TO CALL SOMETHING TO MIND WITHOUT MENTIONING IT EXPLICITLY; AN INDIRECT OR PASSING REFERENCE.
ALLUVIAL: OF, PERTAINING TO, OR CONSISTING OF ALLUVIUM; DEPOSITED FROM FLOWING WATER; OR PERTAINING TO SUCH A DEPOSIT.
ANALOGOUS: COMPARABLE IN CERTAIN RESPECTS, TYPICALLY IN A WAY THAT MAKES CLEARER THE NATURE OF THE THINGS COMPARED.
ANALOGUE: AN ANALOGOUS WORD OR THING; A REPRESENTATIVE IN DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES OR SITUATION; SOMETHING PERFORMING A CORRESPONDING PART.
ANOMALY: SOMETHING THAT DEVIATES FROM WHAT IS STANDARD, NORMAL, OR EXPECTED.
ANTIPATHY: FEELING AGAINST, HOSTILE FEELING TOWARDS; CONSTITUTIONAL OR SETTLED AVERSION OR DISLIKE.
APHORISM: A PITHY OBSERVATION THAT CONTAINS A GENERAL TRUTH.
APPELLATION: A DESIGNATION, NAME, OR TITLE GIVEN.
APPURTENANCE: A THING WHICH NATURALLY AND FITLY FORMS A SUBORDINATE PART OF, OR BELONGS TO, A WHOLE SYSTEM; A CONTRIBUTORY ADJUNCT, AN ACCESSORY.
ARDENT: ENTHUSIASTIC OR PASSIONATE.
ATTESTATION: PROVIDE OR SERVE AS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF.
ATTRIBUTION: ASCRIBE A WORK OR REMARK TO (A PARTICULAR AUTHOR, ARTIST, OR SPEAKER).
AU COURANT: AWARE OF WHAT IS GOING ON; WELL INFORMED; FASHIONABLE.
AVER: TO DECLARE TRUE, ASSERT THE TRUTH OF (A STATEMENT).
CARTOGRAPHY: THE SCIENCE OR PRACTICE OF DRAWING MAPS.
CHRISTEN: GIVE TO (SOMEONE OR SOMETHING) A NAME THAT REFLECTS A NOTABLE QUALITY OR CHARACTERISTIC.
COIGN OF VANTAGE: A FAVORABLE POSITION FOR OBSERVATION OR ACTION.
COINAGE: THE (DELIBERATE) FORMATION OF A NEW WORD.
CONSUMMATE: COMPLETED, PERFECTED, FULLY ACCOMPLISHED.
CONSUMMATION: THE POINT AT WHICH SOMETHING IS COMPLETE OR FINALIZED.
CONTROLLING METAPHOR: A METAPHOR THAT PERVADES OR ORGANIZES AN ENTIRE LITERARY WORK.
ECCLESIOLOGY: THEOLOGY AS APPLIED TO THE NATURE AND STRUCTURE OF A CHURCH.
EFFICACIOUS: SUCCESSFUL IN PRODUCING A DESIRED OR INTENDED RESULT; EFFECTIVE.
ELUCIDATE: MAKE (SOMETHING) CLEAR; EXPLAIN.
EMBRYONIC: (OF A SYSTEM, IDEA, OR ORGANIZATION) IN A RUDIMENTARY STAGE WITH POTENTIAL FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT; IMMATURE, UNDEVELOPED.
EMINENT: OF PERSONS: EXALTED, DIGNIFIED IN RANK OR STATION.
ENACTOR: SOMEONE WHO PUT INTO PRACTICE (A BELIEF, IDEA, OR SUGGESTION).
ENDEMIC: CONSTANTLY OR REGULARLY FOUND AMONG A (SPECIFIED) PEOPLE.
ENGENDER: CAUSE OR GIVE RISE TO (A FEELING, SITUATION, OR CONDITION); TO FORM, ORIGINATE, BE PRODUCED.
ENSUE: TO HAPPEN OR OCCUR AFTERWARD.
EPIGRAM: A PITHY SAYING OR REMARK EXPRESSING AN IDEA IN A CLEVER AND AMUSING WAY.
EVINCE: TO PROVE BY ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE; TO ESTABLISH.
ETYMOLOGY: THE ORIGIN OF A WORD AND THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ITS MEANING.
EXPLICATION: THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING OR BRINGING OUT WHAT IS IMPLICITLY CONTAINED IN A NOTION, PROPOSITION, PRINCIPLE, ETC.; THE RESULT OF THIS PROCESS.
EXPOUND: PRESENT AND EXPLAIN (A THEORY OR IDEA) SYSTEMATICALLY AND IN DETAIL.
EXPOSITION: A COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION AND EXPLANATION OF AN IDEA OR THEORY.
FACADE: AN OUTWARD APPEARANCE THAT IS MAINTAINED TO CONCEAL A LESS PLEASANT OR CREDITABLE REALITY.
FEIGN: PRETEND TO BE AFFECTED BY.
FORAY: AN ATTEMPT TO BECOME INVOLVED IN A NEW ACTIVITY OR SPHERE.
FREIGHT: TO LOAD, STORE; TO BEAR UPON AS A LOAD.
GRANDILOQUENT: EXTRAVAGANT IN LANGUAGE, STYLE, OR MANNER, ESPECIALLY IN A WAY THAT IS INTENDED TO IMPRESS.
IMMOLATE: KILL OR OFFER AS A SACRIFICE, ESPECIALLY BY BURNING.
IMPROMPTU: DONE WITHOUT BEING PLANNED, ORGANIZED, OR REHEARSED.
IMP: A LITTLE DEVIL OR DEMON, AN EVIL SPIRIT.
INDEFATIGABLE: INCAPABLE OF BEING WEARIED; THAT CANNOT BE TIRED OUT; UNWEARIED, UNTIRING, UNREMITTING IN LABOUR OR EFFORT.
INDIFFERENCE: LACK OF INTEREST, CONCERN, OR SYMPATHY.
INSIDIOUS: TREACHEROUS, DECEITFUL, UNDERHAND, CUNNING, CRAFTY.
INVIOLABLE: NEVER TO BE BROKEN, INFRINGED, OR DISHONORED.
LUMINARY: A PERSON WHO INSPIRES OR INFLUENCES OTHERS, ESP. ONE PROMINENT IN A PARTICULAR SPHERE.
MAGISTERIAL: HAVING OR SHOWING GREAT AUTHORITY; OF OR PERTAINING TO A MASTER-WORKMAN; DISPLAYING A MASTER’S SKILL.
MATRONYMIC: A NAME DERIVED FROM THE NAME OF A MOTHER OR FEMALE ANCESTOR.
MILIEU: A MEDIUM, ENVIRONMENT, ‘SURROUNDINGS’.
MORPHOLOGY: SHAPE, FORM, EXTERNAL STRUCTURE OR ARRANGEMENT.
NATAL: OF OR RELATING TO THE PLACE OR TIME OF ONE’S BIRTH.
NIHILISM: AN EXTREME FORM OF SCEPTICISM, INVOLVING THE DENIAL OF ALL EXISTENCE.
OCCLUDE: STOP, CLOSE UP, OR OBSTRUCT.
PALATIAL: RESEMBLING A PALACE IN BEING SPACIOUS AND SPLENDID.
PARADIGMATIC: SERVING AS A PATTERN; EXEMPLARY.
PATRONYMIC: A NAME DERIVED FROM THE NAME OF A FATHER OR ANCESTOR, TYPICALLY BY THE ADDITION OF A PREFIX OR SUFFIX.
PARAMOUNT: MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE; SUPREME.
PERDURABLE: ENDURING CONTINUOUSLY; IMPERISHABLE.
POSTERITY: ALL FUTURE GENERATIONS OF PEOPLE.
PRECEPTOR: ONE WHO INSTRUCTS; A TEACHER, INSTRUCTOR.
PRIMORDIAL: EXISTING AT OR FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME.
PROFFER: TO BRING OR PUT BEFORE A PERSON FOR ACCEPTANCE; TO OFFER, PRESENT.
PROGENITOR: A PERSON OR THING FROM WHICH SOMETHING ORIGINATES; AN ANCESTOR OR PARENT.
PROMINENCE: THE FACT OR CONDITION OF STANDING OUT FROM SOMETHING BY PHYSICALLY PROJECTING OR BEING PARTICULARLY NOTICEABLE.
PROPOUND: PUT FORWARD (AN IDEA, THEORY, OR POINT OF VIEW) FOR CONSIDERATION BY OTHERS.
PROTOTYPE: A FIRST, TYPICAL OR PRELIMINARY MODEL OF SOMETHING, FROM WHICH OTHER FORMS ARE DEVELOPED OR COPIED.
PROVENANCE: THE PLACE OF ORIGIN OR EARLIEST KNOWN HISTORY OF SOMETHING.
PYRE: A PILE OR HEAP OF COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL, ESPECIALLY WOOD; USUALLY, A FUNERAL PILE FOR BURNING A DEAD BODY.
RAGTAG: UNTIDY, DISORGANIZED, OR INCONGRUOUSLY VARIED IN CHARACTER.
RAREFIED: OF OR RELATING TO A SELECT GROUP.
REDACT: TO PUT (MATTER) INTO PROPER LITERARY FORM; TO WORK UP, ARRANGE, OR EDIT.
REFERENT: THAT WHICH IS REFERRED TO BY A WORD OR EXPRESSION.
REPOSED: BE SITUATED OR KEPT IN A PARTICULAR PLACE; PLACE SOMETHING, ESPECIALLY CONFIDENCE OR TRUST, IN.
REPRISE: A REPETITION OR FURTHER PERFORMANCE OF SOMETHING.
RESOLUTE: ADMIRABLY PURPOSEFUL, DETERMINED, AND UNWAVERING.
RESPLENDENT: ATTRACTIVE AND IMPRESSIVE THROUGH BEING RICHLY COLORFUL OR SUMPTUOUS.
RHETORICAL: EXPRESSED IN TERMS INTENDED TO PERSUADE OR IMPRESS.
SALVIFIC: TENDING TO SAVE, CAUSING SALVATION.
SCHISM: A SPLIT OR DIVISION BETWEEN STRONGLY OPPOSED SECTIONS OR PARTIES, CAUSED BY DIFFERENCES IN OPINION OR BELIEF.
SPURN: REJECT WITH DISDAIN OR CONTEMPT.
SUBLATE: ASSIMILATE (A SMALLER ENTITY) INTO A LARGER ONE.
TARRY: TO ABIDE TEMPORARILY, TO SOJOURN; TO STAY, REMAIN, LODGE (IN A PLACE).
TERMINUS: A FINAL POINT IN SPACE OR TIME; AN END OR EXTREMITY.
TOEHOLD: A RELATIVELY INSIGNIFICANT POSITION FROM WHICH FURTHER PROGRESS MAY BE MADE.
UNASSUAGEABLE: NOT ABLE TO BE SOOTHED OR RELIEVED.
UNDETERRED: PERSEVERING WITH SOMETHING DESPITE SETBACKS.
UNOBTRUSIVE: NOT CONSPICUOUS OR ATTRACTING ATTENTION.
UNOCCLUDED: NOT OBSTRUCTED.
UNTOWARD: UNEXPECTED AND INAPPROPRIATE OR INCONVENIENT.
VALORIZE: GIVE OR ASCRIBE VALUE OR VALIDITY TO (SOMETHING).
VERIDICAL: TRUTHFUL; COINCIDING WITH REALITY.
VICISSITUDE: A CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES OR FORTUNE, TYPICALLY ONE THAT IS UNWELCOME OR UNPLEASANT.
VINDICATE: SHOW OR PROVE TO BE RIGHT, REASONABLE, OR JUSTIFIED.
VIRULENT: BITTERLY HOSTILE.
Definitions taken from the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford American English Dictionary.
- 741113 - Letter to Deoji Punja written from Bombay
- 741229 - Letter to Mr. Punja written from Bombay
- CC Adi 1.46
- CC Adi 7.37
- CC Madhya 19.156
- CC Adi 7.37
- CC Madhya 23.105
- SB 1.4.1
- In June 1927 Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura transformed Sajjana-toṣaṇī (started in 1881 by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura) into an English-language periodical named The Harmonist. (This title, as the first issue announced, is "the free English equivalent" of Sajjana-toṣaṇī.) The Harmonist commences with volume number twenty-five, for it is the continuation of Sajjana-toṣaṇī—which has now "array[ed] herself in English to make her appeals to the world at Large" (Harm. 25:4). The magazine was published monthly until June 1933 (Vol. 30, no. 12), and, after a gap of fourteen months, resumed as a revamped fortnightly.
- The Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-rāja Sabhā is "historic" because it made its appearance during the period of the Six Gosvāmīs. After enduring episodes of eclipse, the Sabhā was ceremoniously re-inaugurated by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in 1886 (under the shortened title of Viśva-Vaiṣṇava Sabhā), and in 1918 "re-illuminated" (under the older name) by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. As he explained it, viśva-vaiṣṇava-rāja means "the King of all Vaiṣṇavas in the world," that is to say, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and the sabhā is the gathering or congregation of those who worship Him (Sajjana-toṣaṇī, quoted in SBV I:70-73).
- The term "Gauḍīya Mission" becomes used often as inclusive of both Gauḍīya Maṭha and Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-Rāja Sabhā. The Sabhā, as Bhakti Vikāśa Swami puts it (SBV 1:259) "served as the official organ of the Gauḍīya Maṭh institution." The following items will convey some idea of the relationship between the Maṭha and the Sabhā: 1) A numbered list of the Gauḍīya Maṭhas appeared on the inside back cover of The Harmonist between 1927-1933 under the title "Maths associated with Shree Visva Vaishnava Raja Sabha." 2) Invitations to major events at the Maṭhas were issued by the secretaries of Śrī Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-Rāja Sabhā, sometimes on stationery displaying the letterheads of both "Sree Viswa Vaishnava Raj Sabha" and "Shree Gaudiya Math" at the top (Harm. 28:57-58, 104, 30:32). 3) The Sabhā is credited with organizing the large-scale "Theistic Exhibition" staged in Māyāpura, adjacent the grounds of Śrī Caitanya Maṭha, in February, 1930, restaged in September, 1931 at Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha, Calcutta, and yet again in January 1933 at Dacca. 4) Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Māyāpura, the designated "Parent Math" of the entire Gauḍīya Maṭha institution, is also described as "the Head-Quarters of the Viswa Vaishnaba Raj Sabha" (Harm. 27:269) as well as "the principal Parent Math of Sree Visva Vaishnav Raj-Sabha, established for the purpose of infusing the whole universe with Nam Samkirtana as promulgated by Sree Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu" (Harm. 31:140). 5) The article "Life inside the Gaudiya Math" begins: "The Supreme Lord Sree Krishna Chaitanya with His Own abides eternally in Sree Chaitanya Math and its affiliated Gaudiya Math that have been manifesting themselves all over the country by the Grace of Sree Krishna Chaitanya under the auspices of Sree Visva Vaishnava-Raj Sabha" (Harm. 30:141). 6) The article "Gaudiya Mission to the West" states: "Sree-Viswa-Vaishnava-Raj Sabha is sending out to the West a party of preachers for carrying the Message of Sree Krishna Chaitanya to those civilized peoples" (Harm. 30:322-25). 7) Most issues of The Harmonist contained a feature presenting news of activities in the Mission. While continuing to report the same types of events, the feature underwent a successive change of titles: "Ourselves," to "Round the Maths," to "The Gaudiya Mission" to "Sri Vishwa Vaishnava Raj Sabha (The Gaudiya Mission)" to, finally, "Sri Vishwa Vaishnava Raj Sabha."
- Some samples: The published "Programme" of the 1932 "Sree Sree Brajamandal Parikrama Ceremony" gives the title of the guide, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, as "President-Acharyya of Sree Viswa Vaisnav Raj Sabha" (Harm. 30:92). At the reception of the Governor of Bengal at Māyāpura, Pandit A.C. Banerjee "Secretary of Sree Viswa Vaishnava Raj Sabha" in his welcoming speech "on behalf of the Mission" (Harm. 31:253), refers to Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura as "the President-Acarya of this Mission" (Harm. 31:260). In the article "The Message of Sree Chaitanya," Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is "the President-Acharya of Sree Gaudiya Math and the present spiritual Head of the Sabha" (Harm. 32:12); similarly, in an "Address of Welcome" to B.H. Bon Mahārāja "The Citizens of Calcutta" make reference to "your most illustrious spiritual master, paramahamsa sreemad bhakti siddhanta saraswati goswami maharaj, President-Acharyya of the Gaudiya Math" (Harm. 32:115).
- Addressing the teachers of the Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda Institute in Māyāpura, Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha Mahārāja refers to Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura as "the Founder-President of this Institute" (Harm. 31:397). He is "the FounderPresident of Sree Gaudiya Math" in "Sree Gaudiya Math: An Historical and Descriptive Sketch," a long article by "Mahopadesaka Sripad K. M. Bhaktibandhab B.L." (Harm. 32:394). We should also note that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is occasionally titled "the Organiser-in-Chief of the Gauḍīya Mission" (Harm. 26:221, 30:256, 32:254).
- It was the first of three projected volumes. The second volume was not published until 2004 (Kolkata: Gaudiya Mission); the third, apparently never written.
- Bhakti Vikāśa Swami writes (SBV 2:362-63): "As the de facto editor of and chief contributor to the Harmonist, Bhakti Sudhākara occupied a uniquely prestigious position among his godbrothers. Competent both in philosophical understanding and complex English expression, and his heart one with his gurudeva’s, he was practically the alter ego of Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s kīrtana as expressed in English; thus Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura sometimes published his own articles under the name of Prof. Nishi Kant Sanyal, M.A., and vice versa . . . Another important project entrusted to him was compilation of the definitive book Sree Krishna Chaitanya. And he was commissioned to write lectures for Śrīmad Bon Mahārāja to deliver in England."
- The Ravenshaw Professor of History provides their chronological order: "The original pre-historic teachers, who are the ultimate source of the four communities, in the chronological order of their appearance, are (1) Lakshmi, the eternal and inseparable Consort of Vishnu, (2) Brahma sprung from the navellotus of Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, (3) Rudra sprung from the second Purusha, and (4) the four Sanas who are the sons of Brahma born from the mind. The chronological order of the Acharyas of the Iron Age is (1) Sree Vishnuswami, (2) Sree Nimbaditya, (3) Sree Ramanuja, and (4) Sree Madhva" (SKC 150).
- This is the term usually employed by Śrīla Prabhupāda. In the Gauḍīya Maṭha, the term "Founder-Ācārya" was similarly reserved to denote this group. A revealing example: In the Harmonist of October 1931 (Harm. 29.4: 125) we find mention of "Srila Vishnu Swami, Founder-Acharyya of one of the four Vaishnava Sampradayas." (This is in a description of the displays in "The Exhibition of Theistic Education" held that year in Calcutta.) On the same page, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura is denoted "the Acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas." (Interestingly, Shree Krishna Chaitanya was not published until March, 1933.)
- Harm. 28.5:129-135, 28.6:163-168, 28.7:216-220
- A highly successful entrepreneur who became a disciple of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. For an account of this householder devotee, see SBV 2:364-371.
- The style as well as the content clearly indicates Niśikānta Sānyāl as the author. See note 15 above for his close relationship—particularly in the realm of English writing—with Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura
- "Ecclesiology" denotes the branch of theology dealing with the spiritual constitution and function of the church (ecclesia). The term was coined in 19th century England to indicate reflections concerning church architecture—the construction and ornamentation of the physical structure. Nowadays the term, in its Christian context, has become widened to deal with issues like: What is the relation of the Church to Jesus or God? Or to the Kingdom of God? How does the Church save? What is the church’s relation to the world or to secular society? Our own Vaiṣṇava tradition has a de facto ecclesiology, so we can conveniently adapt the term. The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition for "ecclesia:" "A Greek word for a regularly convoked assembly; chiefly applied to the general assembly of Athenian citizens. On the introduction of Christianity it became the regular word for church." The word thus fits our own situation nicely: we are also an assembly, a congregation—a sabhā, as in "Viśva-Vaiṣṇava-rāja Sabhā." And, as we shall see, sacred architecture plays a prominent role in ISKCON, as it did in its precursor.
- "Controlling metaphor" is borrowed from literary criticism. It denotes a metaphor that pervades or organizes an entire literary work.
- SBV 1:66. This account of the origin of the Gauḍīya Mission is based on material in SBV, "Part One: Biographical Overview" (SBV I:1-122).
- This premises was secured in 1918 as a center for Calcutta preaching with the name "Bhaktivinoda Āsana." At that time four gṛhasthas with their families resided there; Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had quarters on the roof (SBV 1:68-9). The place was turned into a temple with the name "Gauḍīya Maṭha" in 1920. It was here, two years later, that Śrīla Prabhupāda first met his spiritual master.
- "Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī directed [Jagabandhu] to erect a temple wherefrom Gaurasundara’s message could be broadcast throughout the globe" (SBV 2:366).
- We find this same ecclesiology restated in The Harmonist some five years later (March 15, 1935). In an article titled "Sreedham Mayapur" (Harm. 32.14:313- 315), a proposal to relocate the "parent Math" from Śrī Caitanya Maṭha in Māyāpur to Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Calcutta, though "asked with every appearance of honest enquiry," is firmly rejected on the grounds that "Sreedham Mayapur is the descended Divine Realm," and "The Gaudiya Math of Calcutta and the branch Maths of the Mission all over the world have their spiritual justification to territorial existence as training centers for the service of Sreedham Mayapur."
- Here the author has adapted a well-known phrase from the Christian Bible: "For in him [the Lord] we live, and move, and have our being . . . ." (Acts 17:28).
- Śrīla Prabhupāda: "The ācārya gives the suitable method for crossing the ocean of nescience by accepting the boat of the Lord’s lotus feet, and if this method is strictly followed, the followers will ultimately reach the destination, by the grace of the Lord. This method is called ācārya-sampradāya. It is therefore said, sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ [A mantra received outside of an authorized succession of strict followers is without effect.] (Padma Purāṇa). The ācārya-sampradāya is strictly bona fide. Therefore one must accept the ācāryasampradāya; otherwise one’s endeavor will be futile" (SB 10.2.31, purport).
- SB 4.28.47
- SB 4.28.51
- The statement “ISKCON is my body" has repeatedly been cited as a remark by Śrīla Prabhupāda himself. (See, for example, the introduction to the 1986 Vyāsa Pūjā book by Draviḍa Dāsa, as well as the Vyāsa Pūjā offerings from China in 1986, from Gaṇapati Dāsa Swami in 1987, from Kīrtirāja Dāsa in 1991, from Nityodita Swami in 1995. In an offering of 1997 Tamāl Krishna Goswami reflects with feeling on this “well-known statement" of Śrīla Prabhupāda, and the next year Giridhārī Swami notes in his homage, “We have all heard your well-known saying ‘ISKCON is my body.’") However, we currently have no direct attestation for this assertion. Nevertheless, we can accept the truth of the statement simply on our understanding the meaning of “Founder-Ācārya" as presented in The Harmonist.
- "The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the living entities, the material energy, the spiritual energy and the entire creation are all individual substances. In the ultimate analysis, however, together they constitute the supreme one, the Personality of Godhead. Therefore those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge see unity in diversity" (SB 6.8.32-33). In his purport to CC Madhya 10.113, Prabhupāda states that "the principle of unity in diversity" is "philosophically known as acintya-bhedābheda—simultaneous oneness and difference." (CC Madhya 10.113)
- Bhakti Vikāśa Swami: "The crowing glory of all Gauḍīya Maṭha activities hitherto came in 1933, with the dispatching of preachers to the West" (SBV 1:108).
- The Harmonist had ceased publication in 1937
- On October 1, 1935, the chief of the European missionaries, Bhakti Hṛdaya Bon Mahārāja, paid a formal visit to the Mahārāja of Tripura. An exuberant account of the occasion appeared in The Harmonist of November 7, 1935 (Harm. 32.5:116- 118) under the title "First Hindu Temple in London." In it we read: "Swamiji [B. H. Bon] then referred to the activities of the Gaudiya Math in England and Central Europe, and intimated to His Highness the wish of His Divine Master, the Head of the Gaudiya Math, for the erection of the first Hindu Temple in London and a Home for the diffusion of the spiritual culture of India in the West. His Highness listened graciously to the proposals of Swamiji and was pleased to convey to him in the afternoon his kind decision to meet the entire cost of erection of the London Gaudiya Math Temple . . . ." However, a year later, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura became much displeased with Bon Mahārāja, so much so that he recalled him from London (refusing even to grant him audience upon his return) and wrote the Mahārāja of Tripura to give no further money to Bon Mahārāja (SBV 2:302).
- For a profile of Bhakti Vilāsa Tīrtha Mahārāja, see SBV 2:332-339. To this it should be added that according to Śrīla Prabhupāda the unauthorized action of Tīrtha Mahārāja initiated the break-up of the Gauḍīya Maṭha (VB: Room Conversation, Bombay, 23 Sept. 1973).
- This is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s spelling, which captures the Bengali pronunciation of his Sanskrit initiation name, Maṅgala-nilāya Dāsa. (In Śrīla Prabhupāda-lilamrita this devotee appears under the pseudonym "Mukti.")
- (VB: Letter to Mangalniloy, July 16, 1966). (The date is three days after Prabhupāda incorporated ISKCON.)
- VB: Letter to the Secretary, Gaudiya Mission, May 23, 1969. "Gauḍīya Mission": In his purport to Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā, 12.8, Prabhupāda refers to the split of the Gauḍīya Maṭha institution into "two factions" over rival claimants to be the next ācārya. Much litigation ensued. The faction headquartered at the Calcutta Bāg-bazar temple took the name "Gauḍīya Mission," while the faction headquartered at the Māyāpura Śrī Caitanya Maṭha under Tīrtha Mahārāja was called "Gauḍīya Maṭha." Even now a sign placed by the main altar there proclaims: It is the parent Math of all the Gaudiya Maths Sri Chaitanya Math Sri Mandir
- In his last two month on earth, Śrīla Prabhupāda put time and energy into establishing the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust, with the central aim of uniting the Sārasvata family—the followers of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura—in a cooperative effort to restore and develop Gaura-maṇḍala-bhūmi. Tamal Krishna Goswami recorded how Śrīla Prabhupāda laid down the aim and provided a concrete example. Prabhupāda said, "No more non-cooperation. Now everyone cooperate to spread Lord Caitanya’s movement. Just like Śrīdhara Mahārāja is having trouble finishing his Nath Mandir. So in that way, cooperate" (TKG 293).
- Letter to an unnamed Gurukula teacher, quoted in BTG 54.17 (1973).
- Letter to Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa. Ahmedabad, 14 Dec., 1972.
- The "seed" itself is Śrīla Prabhupāda, sprung from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s Gauḍīya Maṭha. Although the parent plant perished, its seed was borne across the waters, whereupon it took root, flourished, and fructified. Of course, Prabhupāda is described as "planting the seed," for the neonatal ISKCON is a seed as well. Both can be called seeds, on the ecclesiological principle that the spiritual institution is non-different from the Founder-Ācārya
- Yet still on condition that ISKCON remained wholesome.
- This may be somewhat more so when the Caitanya-caritāmṛita’s kṛṣṇa-bhāvāmṛta becomes tweaked to kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta. There is little difference between the meanings of the two words, but to put a nice point on it, kṛṣṇa-bhāva can be taken to denote a feeling; kṛṣṇa-bhāvana, a complete state of being. However, the nature of kṛṣṇa-bhāva itself is such that it is all-absorbing kṛṣṇa-bhāvana. This later word, we should note, makes a eminent appearance in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava literature, as Śrīla Prabhupāda points out: "Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has given us a transcendental literary work entitled Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, which is full with Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. Exalted devotees can remain absorbed in Kṛṣṇa-thought by reading such books" (Kṛṣṇa Ch. 46).
- See SBV I:70-73, for an English translation of the article
- This sense is widespread. For example: "‘Visva-vaishnava-raja-sabha’ refers to the society which is composed of those Vaishnavas who are the kings (i.e. the foremost) of all the Vaishnavas present in this world" (Bhakitikusum Sraman 355).
- CC Ādi 12.8, purport. Such statements do not express the whole of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s attitude toward his godbrothers. Another, more appreciative, perspective occasionally finds expression. Here are two examples. In the purport to SB 4.28.31, Prabhupāda writes: "The disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja are all Godbrothers, and although there are some differences of opinion, and although we are not acting conjointly, every one of us is spreading this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement according to his own capacity and producing many disciples to spread it all over the world." And in a letter of November 18, 1967 to his disciple Brahmānanda, Prabhupāda explains: "Even amongst our God-brothers we have misunderstanding but none of us is astray from the service of Krishna. My Guru Maharaja ordered us to execute his mission combinedly. Unfortunately we are now separated. But none of us have stopped preaching Krishna Consciousness. Even if there was misunderstanding amongst the Godbrothers of my Guru Maharaja none of them deviated from the transcendental loving service of Krishna. The idea is that provocation and misunderstanding may remain between one man and another. But our staunch faith in Krishna Consciousness may not allow any material disruption."
- Govinda Dāsī, DVD 1: "November 1965 – Summer 1970." Following Śrīla Prabhupāda : A Chronological Series. (ISKCON Cinema, 2006). Transcription from The Bhaktivedanta VedaBase 2011.1.
- In referring to the Six Gosvāmīs, Śrīla Prabhupāda himself tends to confine his use of "Prabhupāda" to Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Jīva. Previous ācāryas have applied the honorific to other members as well. For example, in a lecture of October 16, 1932, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura refers to Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī as "Dāsa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda" (VB: Amṛta Vāṇī, Appendix), and in his commentary to Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi 1.25, he quotes Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, who refers to Sanātana Gosvāmī as "Our Prabhupāda, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī." We should note that this exalted title has fallen into cheap usage within some deviant communities (apa-sampradāyas). Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to this when, in his purport to CC Madhya 10.23, he writes: "The prākṛta-sahajiyās are not even worthy of being called Vaiṣṇavas. They think that only caste gosvāmīs should be called Prabhupāda. Such ignorant sahajiyās . . . are envious of a bona fide spiritual master who is addressed as Prabhupāda, and they commit offenses by considering a bona fide spiritual master an ordinary human being or a member of a certain caste." Jayapatāka Swāmī also recounts a conversation with Śrīla Prabhupāda directly after Prabhupāda had met with some godbrothers: "Prabhupāda called us back in. He said, ‘They are upset that I am using the name Prabhupāda, so I said, ‘"What can I do? My disciples call me that."’ Then Prabhupāda said that actually the name Prabhupāda was very common among the caste gosvāmīs and other residents of Navadvīpa. So it was not an isolated name. He liked to keep it because he felt, ‘Why only the apa-sampradāyas should have monopoly over the name Prabhupāda?’" (Personal communication)
- The article explains the meanings and import of the name and announces that "[W]e American and European servants of His Divine Grace . . . prefer to address His Grace our Spiritual Master as Prabhupāda, and he has kindly said ‘Yes.’" (BTG 25:24) (1969 Back to Godhead Number 23)
- In BTG No. 26 (October, 1969)(1969 Back to Godhead Number 26), the article "The Hare Krishna Explosion" by Hayagriva has "Prabhupad" throughout. In BTG No. 28 (1969 Back to Godhead Number 28), the main feature, "The Great Soul Who Walks Among Us" (pp. 7-11), is mainly composed of large photographs of Prabhupāda (one full page; two others, one-and-three-fourths of a page). In the accompanying text, he is still "Swamiji." However, in other articles in the issue he is called "Prabhupad" or "Prabhupad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami." In the article "Boston Wedding" (which also features many photographs), his first mention is "His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada," and after he is "Prabhupada" and "His Divine Grace."
- To be sure, other very important hallmarks of ISKCON were also in place by 1971, most notably: the brahmacārī, brahmacāriṇī, gṛhastha, and sannyāsa āśramas; the New Vrindavan rural community project; and the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (which was established the day after the GBC). As significant as these are, they do not seem to function as core components, considered in terms of ecclesiology
- A photocopy of this stationery, used for a letter to Hayagriva, can be found in Hayagriva Dasa, The Hare Krishna Explosion among the photographs sectioned between pp. 128-129. Beneath "International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc.," "Acharya: Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta" appears in bold capitals at the left margin. Directly below that stands the word "Trustees" (also in bold capitals), above nine names in a column below it. His name appeared the same way on letterhead bearing the San Francisco temple address on a letter Prabhupāda wrote in 1967 from that city. In other letters he is "A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Acarya" or, under his signature, "Acarya International Society for Krishna Consciousness" (VB: Correspondence: Feb. 1, 1968 to Hare Krishna Aggarwal; Aug. 22, 1968 to David Exley). In a long letter of February 5, 1970 to Hanuman Prasad Poddar describing the activities and achievement of ISKCON, he notes ". . . in each banking account my name is there as Acarya."
- See BTG No. 26 (October, 1969) for a photocopy of the flyer
- Scanned copies of these are accessible at www.backtogodhead.in.
- The small, boxed Back to Godhead masthead in every issue contains "Founder: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami." But "Founder" here has reference to Back to Godhead, not ISKCON.
- Back to Godhead ceased dating its issues with no. 26 (October, 1969).
- Certain godbrothers in India, having gained a measure of access to a few of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples, had insidiously undermined Prabhupāda’s authority and position, leading eventually to a compromise in the faith and allegiance of even some of his leaders. Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to such godbrothers in his purport to CC ādi. 10.7: "When our disciples similarly wanted to address their spiritual master as Prabhupāda, some foolish people became envious. Not considering the propaganda work of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, simply because these disciples addressed their spiritual master as Prabhupāda they became so envious that they formed a faction along with other such envious persons just to minimize the value of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement."
- Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami: "When we had approached Prabhupāda and told him that as his disciples we would like a special prayer which we could recite in his honor, he had composed a verse in which he described his mission" (SS 187). A "personal" mantra, that is, honoring a certain spiritual master for some particular personal characteristic or achievement. The first praṇāma-mantra is "generic," that is, suitable being directed to any guru whose name is inserted within the mantra. The date of the new praṇāma-mantra: In a letter of April 9, 1970 to Pradyumna Dāsa, Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to it as "the new prayer addition," and proposes a grammatical modification to the Sanskrit.
- There is a rule in Sanskrit grammar for the formation of a patronymic or matronymic, that is, a name derived from one’s father or mother. In English, common surnames like "Johnson" or "Erickson" were originally patronymics ("John’s son"). In Scotland, the prefix "Mac-" or "Mc-" is the sign of a patronymic, "MacDonald" being (originally) Donald’s son; in Ireland FitzGerald was Gerald’s son. In Russian, "Ivanovitch" is a patronymic. Following the Sanskrit rule, Prabhupāda denoted himself with the name "Sārasvata," the son or servant of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
- The Harmonist of July 12, 1935 (Harm. 31:521-22) reports that "Her Highness Majarani Indira Devi, Regent Shaeba of Cooch Behar paid a visit to Sree Gaudiya Math, Baghbazar, Calcutta," where she met with Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. During that meeting, the magazine reports: "Her Highness very earnestly enquired about the proposed visit of the Editor [Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura] to Europe for further extension of the propaganda in the West."
- We don’t know the precise time he realized this. In any case, there is no doubt that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s knowledge of the future was not that of ordinary, conditioned persons. In late fall of l965, Śrīla Prabhupāda sat on a park bench and chatted with Paul Ruben, a New York City subway conductor, who recollects (SPL 2:28): ‘‘He seemed to know he would have temples filled with devotees. He would look out and say, ‘I am not a poor man, I am rich. There are temples and books, they are existing, they are there, but the time is separating us from them.’"
- This instruction was set down on December 31, 1936 in the recorded minutes of his will. The original document is preserved at the Bhaktivedanta Research Center in Kolkata. For a photocopy, see MHP 289.
- Etymologically, the word goes back to the Latin committere, "to unite, connect."
- Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami relates (SPL 4:95): "Though sometimes ignorant, his disciples, he knew, were not malicious. Yet these letters from India carried a spiritual disease transmitted by several of Prabhupāda’s Godbrothers to his disciples there. Prabhupāda had already been troubled when some of his Godbrothers had refused to help him secure land in Māyāpur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. Although he had asked them to help his inexperienced disciples purchase land, they had not complied. In fact, some of them had worked against him. Prabhupāda had written to one of his Godbrothers, ‘I am so sorry to learn that there is a sort of conspiracy by some of our Godbrothers as not to give me a place at Māyāpur.’"
- Two memorable, aphoristic formulations of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva by Śrīla Prabhupāda: "Nothing is different from the Supreme. But the Supreme is always different from everything" (BG 18.78, purport). And: "In a sense, there is nothing but Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and yet nothing is Śrī Kṛṣṇa save and except His primeval personality" (CC Ādi 1.51, purport).
- This "portal" is, in truth, an outward manifestation of the heart of Śrīla Prabhupāda. That heart is large and magnanimous, and so is its manifestation in a path that girdles the world and a central temple that embraces the universe and beyond. All this resided in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s heart when he walked alone on the chilled concrete of Manhattan in 1966. Now, it is becoming hugely manifest to bestow its benediction munificently
- "We shall have another ISKCON there (in the spiritual sky)." See 721214 - Letter to Tusta Krsna written from Ahmedabad
- The Lord similarly appears to Śaṅkarācārya, acknowledges him as "My servant," and bids him: "Do not contaminate the inhabitants of Navadvīpa." Śaṅkara goes away with "devotion instilled in his heart"(NDM 68-9).
- In a conversation with Rāmeśvara (VB: Jan. 13, 1977, Allahabad), Prabhupāda explains how he received "all facilities": "I started my activities when I was seventy years old. So they [his Godbrothers] thought, ‘This man is gṛhastha. He is embarrassed with family life. What he’ll do?’ (laughs) That was their impression. But I never neglected. Guru Mahārāja told me. I was simply thinking, ‘How to do it? How to do it?’ I thought, ‘Let me become a rich businessman. The money will be required.’ That was my thought. But Guru Mahārāja was asking me, ‘You give up this. I’ll give you money.’ That I could not understand. I was planning. My plan was not wrong. But I was thinking ‘The money required, so let me earn some money. Then I shall begin.’ And Guru Mahārāja said, ‘You give up this moneyearning endeavor. You come completely. I’ll give you money.’ I can understand now. But my desire was there. Therefore he guided me."
- One of many examples: "Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura states in his Bhagavad-gītā commentary on the verse vyavasāyātmikā buddhir ekeha kurunandana that one should serve the words of the spiritual master. The disciple must stick to whatever the spiritual master orders. Simply by following on that line, one sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead. . . . [I]f one sticks to the principles enunciated by the spiritual master, somehow or other he is in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since the Lord is in the heart, He can advise a sincere disciple from within. . . . In conclusion, if a disciple is very serious to execute the mission of the spiritual master, he immediately associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by vāṇī or vapuḥ. This is the only secret of success in seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead" (SB 4.28.51, purport).
- Lectures: Philosophy Discussion: Discussion with Śyāmasundara: Arthur Schopenhauer.
- (TKG 45) In Śrīla Prabhupāda-Līlāmṛta, Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami records a slightly variant version: "‘Your love for me,’ said Śrīla Prabhupāda, ‘will be shown by how much you cooperate to keep this institution together after I am gone’’’ (SPL 6:313). Regarding the difference between the two versions, Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami states: "I heard it from Tamala Krsna Maharaja and wrote it down exactly as he told me. Tamala Krsna Maharaja has written the statement in TKG’s Diary with a slightly different sentence structure but the meaning is the same." Posted by Badrinārāyaṇa Dāsa on the electronic forum GBC.Discussions@pamho. net on June 21, 2013.
- Posted on [email protected], by Bhakti Charu Swami, June 21, 2013.
- The verse Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to is Ādi 9.34. Lord Caitanya says: "I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute?" In his purport, Śrīla Prabhupāda points out: "Here Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu indicates that the distribution of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra should be performed by combined forces." See Conversation with Rādhā-Dāmodara Saṅkīrtana Party. March 16, 1976, Māyāpur
- BG 2.41
- BG 18.78
- CC Adi 1.46
- CC Adi 1.51
- CC Adi 7.23
- CC Adi 7.37
- CC Adi 10.84
- CC Adi 12.8
- CC Adi 16.1
- CC Madhya 10.23
- CC Madhya 10.113
- CC Madhya 19.1
- CC Madhya 19.156
- CC Madhya 23.105
- KB 46 (1996+)
- SB 1.4.1
- SB 4.28.47
- SB 4.28.51
- SB 6.8.32-33
- SB 9.9.45
- SB 10.2.31
- 1969 Back to Godhead Number 23
- 1969 Back to Godhead Number 25
- 1969 Back to Godhead Number 26
- 1969 Back to Godhead Number 27
- 1970 Back to Godhead Number 36
- Philosophy Discussion on Arthur Schopenhauer
- 660815 - Lecture BG 04.34-38 - New York
- 680317 - Lecture BG 07.01 - San Francisco
- 681009 - Lecture - Seattle
- 681209 - Lecture Festival Disappearance Day, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati - Los Angeles
- 721127 - Lecture BG 02.23 - Hyderabad
- 730822 - Lecture Festival Appearance Day, Sri Vyasa-puja - London
- 731213 - Lecture Festival Disappearance Day, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati - Los Angeles
- 750221 - Lecture SB 01.01.01 - Caracas
- 690110 - Bhajan and Purport to Gaura Pahu - Los Angeles
- 651108 - Letter to Teertha Maharaj written from New York)
- 660204 - Letter to Teertha Maharaj written from New York
- 660623 - Letter to Mangalaniloy Brahmacari written from New York
- 660716 - Letter to Mangalaniloy Brahmacari written from New York
- 670314 - Letter to Brahmananda written from San Francisco
- 680111 - Letter to Rayarama written from Los Angeles
- 680201 - Letter to HareKrishna Aggarwal written from Los Angeles
- 690523 - Letter to Gaudiya Mission written from New Vrindaban, USA
- 690526 - Letter to Brahmananda written from New Vrindaban, USA
- 710528 - Letter to Govinda dasi written from Calcutta
- 721214 - Letter to Tusta Krsna written from Ahmedabad
- 731018 - Letter to Kirtanananda written from Bombay
- 731209 - Letter to Babhru written from Los Angeles
- 741113 - Letter to Deoji Punja written from Bombay
- 741229 - Letter to Mr. Punja written from Bombay
- 751202 - Letter to Tusta Krsna written from Delhi