Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

ALTHOUGH AGNOSTICS and atheists often speculate that God is dead, Srila Prabhupada said the pure devotee can hand us Krsna. Krsna is the property of the pure devotee, and if we are willing to receive Him we can meet Him.

Prabhupada was so convinced in his own faith that people found him able to arouse their faith in Krsna even when they had never heard of Krsna before.

Srila Prabhupada says something so astounding to the Western mind that it's amazing that any of us accepted it. Prabhupada says that the cause of all causes is a bluish cowherd boy named Krsna. Krsna's transcendental body is completely spiritual, and from that body comes all existence. Krsna spreads throughout all existence in His energies, yet He is always in Vrndavana, playing a flute.

Prabhupada teaches this matter-of-factly, and he insists that it is not a sectarian idea. To practice any religion is fine, he says, as long as its basis is loving devotion, but ultimately this beautiful bluish cowherd boy with a flute in His hands is the supreme attractive form.

The doubting mind tells us that there is no reason to believe all this, but Prabhupada says there is every reason to believe it. As a matter of fact, there is no reason not to believe it. He is so strong in his conviction that he cuts our doubts at the root. He doesn't allow us to relegate Krsna to Hindu philosophy or discount Him in any way at all. So Prabhupada's followers have become soldiers, writers, teachers, and philosophers in this cause of spreading Krsna consciousness, and don't expect me to speak otherwise. I have come to agree with Prabhupada: Krsna is the most attractive form of God, and chanting His name holds the best hope for going back home, back to Godhead.

Still, someone may ask, why the specific person Krsna out of all the world's gurus, messiahs, avataras, and prophets?

I remember being with Prabhupada in Atlanta, Georgia. I had been out distributing full sets of his books in universities around the country. Prabhupada asked, "Are the professors liking our books?" I told him they were buying the books but they didn't really accept what he was teaching as truth. Rather, they thought of us as representatives of yet another sect.

Prabhupada readily agreed, "Yes, we are one of many sects, but we are the sect of the Absolute Truth."

That was Prabhupada's Krsna. To Prabhupada, Krsna was not a vague or ephemeral figure but a substantial person, someone Prabhupada knew personally. And yet Krsna is the Absolute Truth.

This reminds me of how the residents of Vrndavana referred to Krsna as Nanda Maharaja's Krsna, because when Krsna appeared He played as the son of the cowherd Nanda. Although many amazing things happened in Vrndavana after Krsna's appearance, the elder members of the cowherd community always discounted Krsna's role in them. Demons were killed, devastating forest fires stemmed, twin arjuna trees felled, but the elder members always managed to find a cause other than Krsna. After all, Krsna was just a tiny child, dependent on them for His meals.

Then Krsna held aloft the giant Govardhana Hill for seven days, and the residents of Vrndavana all took shelter under the hill. They all saw Him do it, and it confused them. And there was something else they didn't understand. They asked Nanda, "We do not know why we are so attracted by your son Krsna. We want to forget Him, but this is impossible. Why are we so naturally affectionate toward Him?"

"Your son Krsna." As one devotee prays, "Let others, fearing material existence, worship the Vedas, the Vedic supplementary Puranas, and the Mahabharata. But I shall worship Nanda Maharaja, in whose courtyard the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Brahman, is crawling as a child."

Prabhupada, of course, represents teachings received in a disciplic chain. In fact, he said that his success came from his simply repeating his spiritual master's words. Still, Srila Prabhupada, with his own realization of Krsna, has sweetened the teachings he so faithfully represents.

It is not incompatible that Prabhupada faithfully carries a message and yet lends the message his own special taste. Just as a parrot is said to sweeten a fruit by touching it with its beak, so Prabhupada sweetens the presentation of Krsna by speaking it from his own realization. Therefore, I simply pray to come to know Krsna as Srila Prabhupada knows Him.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.