Magnanimous, He Came to Us
"If you want to know me, read my books," said Srila Prabhupada. I found this instruction completely true recently while reading the poem Prabhupada wrote onboard the Jaladuta, "Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna." This rare prayer caught my attention and took me on a voyage deep within the core of Srila Prabhupada's heart. As I repeatedly read the prayer, my appreciation of Prabhupada increased a thousandfold. I now wish to share my reflections with you.
On Monday, September 13, 1965, the thirty-second day of Srila Prabhupada's journey from Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada wrote in his diary that after midnight the ship's lurching had decreased and he felt relief. Just a few days before, he had suffered a violent heart attack. Later that day, sitting by himself in his cabin, in full Krsna consciousness he disclosed his mind to his "companion," Lord Sri Krsna. He wrote in Bengali, giving a glimpse of his life and mission in an amazingly straightforward manner.
In the prayer, Srila Prabhupada's true nature is revealed. He has not even landed in America, yet he talks about spreading the name of Lord Gauranga (Caitanya Mahaprabhu) in all cities, towns, and villages of the earth. He says confidently that everyone will chant the holy name of Krsna. In every word, he expresses complete loyalty and faithfulness to guru and Gauranga, praising his spiritual master, Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, as a great saintly spiritual master, who bestows intense devotion to Krsna in different places throughout the world. In the refrain, krsna taba punya habe bhai, he emphatically invokes Lord Krsna's good fortune for all.
Srila Prabhupada then expresses his boundless compassion: "When all the sinful, miserable living entities become happy, the Vaisnavas' desire is fulfilled." A statement of his humility follows his guru has ordered him to accomplish this mission, but he considers himself unworthy and unfit to do it. Turning to his companion, Sri Krsna ("the wisest and most experienced of all"), Prabhupada begs for His mercy the power to serve his guru and make his life successful.
The prayer intensifies towards the end: "If today the chance to meet You occurs again, then I will surely be able to rejoin You." But despite Prabhupada's words in the ecstasy of separation, one gets the feeling that he is with Krsna face to face. That is not all. He also talks of how he is looking forward to wandering about in the pastures and fields of Vrndavana. "Oh, when will that day be mine?" And in a mood of complete dependence and helplessness he concludes, tumi bina anya gati nai, "O Lord Krsna, except for You, there is no other means of success."
Unto such a wonderful spiritual master, let us offer befitting tribute on the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth year.
Srila Prabhupada created a multifaceted society, in which every member is dedicated to an aspect of his broad mission. As more and more devotees and friends take part in his Centennial celebration, his glories will manifest through myriad activities, all very pleasing to him.
Srila Prabhupada came to us out of his mercy. Let us take every opportunity to spread his glories and continue his mission, with the aim of bringing about "a revolution in the impious lives of the misdirected civilization."
The Centennial Year was launched with a series of inaugural functions in December and January. As this issue of Back to Godhead reaches your hands, we'll probably be about halfway though the first Global Centennial Event the Hare Krsna World Convention in India. Our next step is to prepare for upcoming summer events: the Global Padayatra Week, World Holy Name Day, and the largest continental summer festivals ever held in Europe, CIS, and North America. Let us also get ready to offer Srila Prabhupada an unprecedented ceremony the bathing of his transcendental body with the sacred waters from 1,008 holy places.
May his fame spread all over the three worlds!
Padayatra Week: June 2-8
Come and walk with Srila Prabhupada! There are many ways you can take part: host the padayatris, book a hall for an evening program, bring your friends, sponsor prasadam, make banners, pass out pamphlets, organize a reception by local officials, call the media …
World Holy Name Day: June 9
Chant and be happy! The World Holy Name day is a time for chanting the holy name in as many places and ways as possible. You can go on hari-nama-sankirtana, hold a 24-hour kirtana, organize a concert, help your temple organize an interfaith gathering …
• Australian Reunion, Melbourne (April)
• CIS Continental Festival, Moscow (mid-June)
• European Continental Festival, Radhadesh (end of June)
• New York Pilgrimage (June 5-17)
Centennial Year Inaugurated
Devotees of ISKCON San Diego began their Centennial year in early December with a concert by Hari Om Sharan and the launching of the local Sahasra Tirtha Jala program, through which they hope to offer 210 kalasas of sacred water to Srila Prabhupada. Devotees used colorful 9-foot by 9-foot banners and numerous Centennial displays to decorate the rented hall where the inauguration was held. The main attraction in the decor was a reproduction of Mount Kailasa, with water Lowing from Lord Siva's head down the mountain to three pools of water. Sixty kalasas were sponsored that day.
The New Govardhana Farm continental summer festival, held December 30-January 3, marked the start of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial calendar of events in Australasia. The festival of educational and cultural programs featured a Vaisnava Youth Forum, seminars on learning scriptural verses, performances by ISKCON musicians and actors and by Balinese dancers, the yearly Rathayatra on the beach, remembrances of Srila Prabhupada, and more.
On December 31 in Kuala Lumpur, the Sunday feast continued into "Prabhupada Night," with every devotee giving a short talk about Srila Prabhupada. After a video show and prasadam feast, the program ended at midnight with a grand cake-cutting ceremony and the chanting of "Jaya Srila Prabhupada!"
Devotees held a Rathayatra in Kuala Lumpur on January 1. A deity of Srila Prabhupada, carried on a palanquin in front of the Rathayatra chariot, was taken into various temples along the route. The procession ended at a hall, where the public assembled for guru-puja, offerings of Centennial gifts to Srila Prabhupada, and videos. On the same day, processions were held in three other cities in Malaysia.
400 French devotees and congregation members gathered at the New Mayapur farm on December 31 for a Centennial New Year's Eve. At midnight, arati was offered to Srila Prabhupada while devotees prayed for his blessings for the upcoming year. The 3-day event included the opening of a new library, a showing of slides of Prabhupada in France, and a festival marking the end of the annual Prabhupada book-distribution marathon.
On January 5, in the midst of an exuberant kirtana led by Centennial Coordinator Lokanath Swami, devotees offered Srila Prabhupada a sumptuous feast at the Krsna-Balaram Temple. Most of the dishes had been cooked at devotees' homes and brought to the temple for a grand offering. In the evening devotees gathered for talks about Srila Prabhupada. The next day devotees chanted through the streets of Vrndavana and passed out pamphlets to announce the start of the Prabhupada Centennial Year.
• Master Plan
– Strategies for the Srila Prabhupada Centennial Celebrations
• Prabhupada Toshani
– International Newsletter of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial
– International Newsletter for Uniting Prabhupada's Family
• Promotional Items
– Raising Spiritual Standards poster
– 12-petal display
– Sahasra Tirtha Jala video, Lipbook, and poster
– Centennial T-shirts, pens, stickers, badges, posters, bags, etc.
• Padayatra Newsletter
– Promoting the Padayatra Week
• Memorials Manual
– Lotus of Activities (color)
– 108 Ways to Celebrate
– Who is Srila Prabhupada?
– Sahasra Tirtha Jala
– Action '96
Increase Your Good Fortune
Take part in Srila Prabhupada's Maha Vyasa-Puja
Sahasra Tirtha Jala Abhiseka September 6, 1996
To make this event possible, devotees have collected water from 1,008 holy places, including such remote sites as Mana Sarovara in Tibet. This extraordinary feat is the basis for an unprecedented event, which will be celebrated at every ISKCON center. Several thousand copper and silver kalasas (water pots), specially designed and handcrafted for the occasion, are waiting to be shipped from India to sponsors around the world. In Calcutta, the city of Srila Prabhupada's birth, devotees from all over the world will perform the maha-abhiseka bathing ceremony at the prestigious Netaji Subhas Candra indoor stadium. Please contact your local temple for more information.