Srila Prabhupada chose Srimad-Bhagavatam to reveal his 'spiritual ecstasies'.
Srila Prabhupada's life will always be looked upon as exemplary in terms of it's impact on the modern civilization. The way he changed the frustrated "hippies" to contended "happies" will always be a source of amazement and inspiration for all. No other person has been so impacting in distributing substantial, everlasting happiness to the common man on such a large scale in the recent history.
However, the most important contribution of Srila Prabhupada to this world are indeed, his Bhaktivedanta purports. Srila Prabhupada called them his "devotional ecstasies." He accepted all the pains in his life without even a twitch, just to make sure that he would one day fulfil the order of his spiritual master viz. distribute spiritual literature in the English speaking world. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada based his entire life on this single principle.
During the 13 years that he spent as a sannyas i at Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada lived in a small room at the Radha Damodara temple in humble surroundings. There, he tirelessly studied the vedic scriptures and later compiled the purports to the 1st canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. While writing these purports he would be completely absorbed for hours together. He would refer to t he commentaries of the previous acaryas while preparing his own commentary. He would hardly sleep for about 2-3 hours in the night just so that he could purports. He would do all this so that his commentary would be suitable for the modern context and yet be chaste to the previous acaryas. Sometimes, hours would pass by, before he would even take prasada.
The 1st canto was so important for him that when he finished it, he decided t hat his preparation was complete and the moment had arrived for him to go to the western count ries for fulfilling the order of his spiritual master. During his journey to the west, he had very few personal posessions for his own some cereal, some clothes and an umbrella, but he carried huge crates containing the three volumes of the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam that he had printed in India. He was fully confident that he was armed with whatever was necessa ry to respiritualize the modern human society, which was unhappy in it's misdirected state . He indicated once that everything that is to be known for a devotee to become perfect is present in the 1" canto. On board the ship HJaladwa", he even convinced Captain Arun Pandia, the captain , to buy a set for himself.
Srila Prabhupada gave so much importance to the Srimad-Bhagavatam because it is the real essence of the Vedas. It was written by Srila Vyasadeva in the maturity of his realization, in accordance with the order of his spiritual master, Srila Narada Muni. On one occasion later, Srila Prabhupada revealed to one of his disciples that sometimes he would take as much as 3 days in order to find the correct word to describe something that he wan ted to! For many years, the only book that devotees in the west had was the 1" canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. The Krsna book came much later.
Thus, Srila Prabhupada showed us through his personal example that Srimad-Bhagavatam is indeed the only hope for the modern society. And he gave us his Bhaktivedanta purports, which reveal the inner meaning of the verses and serve as a beacon-light to guide us on this path. It is only through his purports that we can gain access to the Bhagavatam.
Nilesh Chandekar, serves full-time at ISKCON Mttmbai and is part of the BTG India team.