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Tridandisvami Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja’s Disappearance

Today is a very pure day, on this very nice occasion we have gathered together from early in the morning to celebrate the very excellent and auspicious disappearance day of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. He preached the holy names and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s original prema-dharma, divine love, to the whole world. In this way, he benefited all the souls of this material world. Mahaprabhu Himself said: 

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma 

sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma 

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Antya-khanda 4.126)

[In as many cities, towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy names will be preached and chanted.]

The Lord said, “In all the countries of the whole world, in all villages, everywhere, My name will be preached.” And all of the associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, all of them, fulfilled His desires. Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Vishvanatha Chakravartipada, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, also Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Srila Shyamananda Prabhu, Srila Srinivasa Acharya, etc. All of them fulfilled the desires coming from the inner core of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s heart. 

However, in accordance with name, place and time, eventually this prema-dharma of the Lord, the preaching of original love of Mahaprabhu, was contaminated by sahajiyas and sakhi-bhekhis. For example, the sun is always shining, but sometimes thick black clouds appear and cover our angle of vision and we cannot see the sun or its rays. Then, once the clouds go away, you are again able to see the rays of the sun that now illuminate everything. 

In the same way, according to the influence of the time, sahajiyas and sakhi-bhekhis from apa-sampradayas came and contaminated or covered this pure lineage of thought and conception of pure bhakti which comes from Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu— nama-prema. And now, after time, the Lord’s associates have come and removed the dark clouds from the sky so the rays of prema from the sun can shine on us again.

Similarly, the very near and dear associate of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, travelled to Western countries to preach the nama-prema-dharma of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu— the religion of the holy names and pure love for God. 

Thus, people all over the whole world are indebted to Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. Especially because in Western countries it is very hard to preach the holy names. There, many people are already performing many acts of bhoga-vada and karma-vada (the doctrine of karma), with a full tendency to enjoy. 

Bhoga-vada means to drink and be merry— just enjoy your life. To be merry means to be happy, to enjoy. So, those who are following the path of bhoga-vada, means that they are hedonistic and are always enjoying; some Westerners are even complete atheists. Thus, to preach in these countries is very difficult. People in India have more samskaras, impressions of religion, in their blood. 

What kind of samskaras do Indians have? They have the impression to give donations to worship God and to read sacred books— Indians have a taste for these things naturally. This is because Bharata-varsha is the place of rishis, rishi-sthali. As India is the place of the rishis, naturally, these impressions will be in everyone's blood. Everyone in India has some form of bhakti towards God. Some Indians have more bhakti and some less.

Nowadays, Indians, by the influence of Western countries and its culture, may have these impressions covered over, yet it still remains in their blood. From ancient times, perhaps they have been worshipping demigods, offering many kinds of donations and giving so much charity as this is the tradition in India. We also find that God and all of His avataras appear in India. For this reason, India is very special. 

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra

janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 9.41)

[One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India (Bharata-varsha) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.]

If you are born in India, you have to live your life successfully and also help others. Chaitanya-charitamrita explains, ‘janma sārthaka kari kara para-upakāra’ - If you take birth in India, you have to make your life successful by performing hari-bhajana— chant the holy names.

If you are born in India, and you are not doing bhajana to God, it is a useless life— it would be better to be born as a dog or hog. If you attain a human and you do not do hari-bhajana, then this life is wasted in vain. Hence, those who take birth in India should make their lives successful.

In this regard, this verse uses the phrase ‘para-upakāra’ - meaning, you have to help others, live and let live. As I mentioned earlier, India is the place of rishis and munis, and also the land of the demigods and demigoddesses— Deva-bhumi or Rishi-bhumi. Srimad-Bhagavatam glorifies Bharata-varsha so much. Why am I saying all this? To point out some of the differences between Western countries and India. 

And what is the main difference? That many people in Western countries are complete atheists, nirvishesha-shunyavadi, and completely absorbed in performing acts only for sense gratification. For this reason, the pranama-mantra of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja explains:

nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhūtale 

śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine 

[I offer pranama to om vishnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada), who, in this world, is most dear to Sri Krishna.]

namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe 


[My respectful obeisances unto you, O servant of Sarasvati Gosvami. You preach the message of Sri Gauranga and thus deliver the Western countries, which are filled with voidism and impersonalism.]

‘Namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe’ - by the mercy of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, his disciple, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, also known as Srila Prabhupada, was able to preach in Western countries, despite it being full of nihilism and atheism. 

‘Nirviśeṣa-śūnyavādi’-  they think God has no form, they believe everything is zero— nihilism. Thus, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja gave nama and prema to everyone and delivered everyone in Western countries - ‘pāścātya-deśa-tāriṇe’.  

Initially, he was preaching for one year but it was not successful. So he thought, “God does not want me to preach in Western countries.” Then he went to New York, to Tompkins Square Park where he started singing: 

śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda 

śrī-advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi-gaura-bhakta-vṛnda

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare 

Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare

Then, a miracle occurred. At that time, there was a revolution in America, and the American police were arresting many young people and enrolling them in the army by force. The United States was in a war with Vietnam. For this reason, they were, by force, taking young people and sending them to the army to fight in Vietnam. So at that time, some young people who did not want to go to the army, instead became hippies and started to wander here and there. They had long hair, and were drinking, smoking cigarettes and other things— many kinds of intoxicants. 

So when Srila Svami Maharaja began kirtana in Tompkins Square Park, he was amongst a group of hippies who came and began dancing along to his kirtana. Some had a cigarette in one hand, some were taking LSD or drinking alcohol, and some held the hands of their girlfriends and danced. Just look, how Srila Svami Maharaja gave them so much mercy and God also gave them mercy. And all of them, slowly, slowly, gave up everything, and surrendered themselves to the lotus feet of Srila Svami Maharaja. 

They shaved their heads, kept a shikha (sacred tuft of hair at the back of the head), put kanthi-mala on their necks with three rounds of tulasi, placed tilaka (sacred clay markings) on twelve parts of the body, and wore beautiful brahmachari (celebate monk) clothes. They now followed shuddha-sadachara (perfect behaviour) by chanting the holy names according to the instructions of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. And they began chanting with so much faith. Then, according to the instructions of guru, they started to preach and helped publish books. 

Because the best weapon for preaching is books. The publishing of books is called brihad-mridanga-seva. Only by this brihad-mridanga-seva, will the desire of Mahaprabhu be fulfilled— “I will reach one corner to another corner of the Earth planet.” This is the best service. Many times, I have repeated these words again and again. There are two kinds of guru-seva: one is vapu-seva - serving guru’s physical body and the other is vani-seva - service to guru’s instructions. 

Of them both, the glories of vani-seva is the highest of all. Of course vapu-seva, physical service to gurudeva, is important. Washing his clothes, cooking for him and massaging his feet are all necessary examples of vapu-seva. And what is vani-seva? Manifesting hari-katha in the form of books. That way, the message will reach from one corner of the Earth to the other— this is brihad-mridanga-seva

When you play the mridanga (sacred clay drum), its sound will perhaps only reach three or four metres maximum. However, the books, the brihad-mridanga, will reach all corners of Earth. For thousands and thousands of miles, thousands of people will benefit from these books. This is why grantha-seva is so important, even more important than other services. Thus, brhad-mrdanga-seva is also vani-seva

And the disciples of Srila Svami Maharaja, all of them are so absorbed in vani-seva. Vani-seva is so important, as it is necessary. All of the preaching that is going on all over the world is because of this vani-seva. Why did Vyasadeva compose books? So that the meaning of Bhagavatam, of bhagavat-katha, will reach everyone— this is why he wrote many books. And this is called shabda-brahma, transcendental sound. 

Actually, Bhagavatam is vani-maya-murti, the sound incarnation of God which is coming to this world to benefit and give welfare to all living entities. Bhagavad-katha is called vani-maya-katha, the sound incarnation of God— Bhagavan Himself appeared as this sound incarnation. And in this way, God is giving benefit and helping every jiva

Almost all of Srila Svami Maharaja’s disciples were encouraged by him to serve by publishing and distributing books. They distributed his books, Chaitanya-charitamrita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad-gita, everywhere, and they are translated and published in almost every language on this Earth. Not only in English, Hindi and Bengali, but even in Muslin, Urdu language. This is called real guru-seva, service to the guru. And by this service, God becomes so pleased with us. This is why we should always serve enthusiastically. You have to also have enthusiasm towards preaching, vani-seva. Because to preach vani is the best.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja also established so many temples, nama-hattas, preaching centres and places. Because to fully enter into spiritual life, three things are important and necessary. First, we need a bona fide guru, someone who can point out the way and give us the necessary directions to guide us on the perfect path. A bona fide guru is important and necessary. Second, we need books, hari-katha manifested in the form of books. What is a grantha actually? It is evidence. Whatever I have said, this will stay, yuga after yuga, age after age, these books will stay here as evidence. Like Vyasadeva who came five thousand years ago and wrote Srimad-Bhagavatam. Despite it being written five thousand years ago, we still have this Bhagavatam today. Actually, Vyasadeva dictated his words and Ganesha then wrote it all down. 

And this same Bhagavatam is still being published and is available today. If Vyasadeva would not have composed Bhagavatam, how would we read it now? Five thousand years have passed and the same Bhagavad-gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas, Puranas, Upanishadas, all of them are still being distributed and read. These books will remain, age after age, even when time  changes, as time always changes. 

How many things happen on Earth? How many calamities happen? How many earthquakes occur? Yet, these books will stay with us for many ages to come. This is why publishing books is such an important service. Granthas are also known as “law books”. If you go to court, the lawyer has many arguments prepared to protect his client, and he has to provide them according to the law. Thus these granthas, are actually our law books because all of our injunctions are found there.

So first, we all need somebody to guide us, a bona fide guru. And he will nicely guide  and take us on the right path. Second, we need law books, books containing evidence of the scriptures. Third, we need a place to gather together, a place where we can sit and hear nectarean hari-katha together. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the six Gosvamis and all of Mahaprabhu’s eternal associates until the time of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, were bhajananandi— absorbed in their own spiritual lives. 

However, what did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada do? He established goshthananda— the process of bhajana. Meaning that everyone would sit together, read and listen to bhagavad-katha. Thus, there is a need for this sort of place or for a mandira, temple— this is also important. The more Kali-yuga grows, the more our human bodies become weak and full of diseases. This Kali-yuga is the age of faults. 

So because Kali-yuga has many faults, it is necessary to have a place for devotees to gather. If you gather outside in the cold, you will feel cold, then you will become sick and get the flu. Then the next day, you cannot come for hari-katha. That is why you need a roof. What I am trying to say is that human beings in Kali-yuga are slowly degrading and are becoming so lazy. So if there are many facilities with comforts, then at least a person will be able to try to do some bhajana

You cannot be like Sanatana Gosvami or Rupa Sanatana and perform bhajana in the way the Gosvamis did theirs. They would sit each night under one tree. You cannot do this as some mosquitos will come and bite you. Then, the next day you have dengue, the third day you are in the hospital and on the fourth, you die.

So, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja’s pranama-mantra says:

nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhūtale 

śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine 

[I offer pranama to om vishnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada), who, in this world, is most dear to Sri Krishna.]

namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe 


[My respectful obeisances unto you, O servant of Sarasvati Gosvami. You preach the message of Sri Gauranga and thus deliver the Western countries, which are filled with voidism and impersonalism.]

‘Namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe’ - Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja knew the mood of his Gurudeva, and he preached the gaura-vani - message of Mahaprabhu - in this world. And what is the vani of Mahaprabhu?

ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛṇdāvanaṁ 

ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū- vargeṇā yā kalpitā 

śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalaṁ premā pumartho mahān 

śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhor matam idaṁ tatrādaro naḥ paraḥ 


[Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krishna is our exclusive object of worship and love. In the same way that He is worshipful, so is His transcendental abode, Sri Vrindavana Dhama. The mood in which the young brides of Vraja worship Him is the highest and ultimate form of love of God. Srimad-Bhagavatam alone is the immaculate scriptural evidence of this. Krishna-prema is the supreme objective of life. This is the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We hold this conclusion in supreme regard.]

This is the message of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Who is our worshipable deity? Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krishna. ‘Ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛṇdāvanaṁ’. Where is His dhama? Vrindavana-dhama. ‘Ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū- vargeṇā yā kalpitā’. And how is He worshipped? By the paramour mood of the vraja-gopis. This paramour mood has been described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless Purana, and has described the highest prema of the vraja-gopis, which is called parakiya-bhava, paramour mood. And this spotless Purana, Srimad-Bhagavatam, is our evidence. ‘Śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalaṁ premā pumartho mahān’Srimad-Bhagavatam glorifies vraja-prema. Our goal is not the four goals of karma, jnana, artha and moksha, but rather, the fifth goal of life which is krishna-prema. And the highest form of love is: love for Srimati Radhika.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja fulfilled all the desires of his guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and also all the desires of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. A bona fide guru desires for his katha to reach each and every person. I want my hari-katha to reach each and every person. This is for the benefit of the entire world, jagat kalyana, which means: benefit for people's welfare. 

In this world, many people give donations, charity and help others. Some distribute clothes, others give blankets. But, what is the best donation? Giving bhagavat-katha. If you make someone drink the nectar of bhagavat-katha, that person will never be sick— that person will actually become immortal.

tava kathāmṛtaṁ tapta-jīvanaṁ 

kavibhir īḍitaṁ kalmaṣāpaham 

śravaṇa-maṅgalaṁ śrīmad ātataṁ 

bhuvi gṛṇanti ye bhūri-dā janāḥ 

Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.31.9)

[Nectarean discussions about You are the life and soul of those who are tormented by separation from You, and greatly learned personalities, such as Brahma, Shiva and the four Kumaras, sing of them. Those narrations vanquish the distress of past sins (prarabdha and aprarabdha). Immediately upon being heard, they bestow the highest auspiciousness, and especially the wealth of prema. The nectar of Your narrations is expanded by those who glorify Your pastimes, and therefore such narrators are truly the most generous benefactors in the world.]

‘Bhūri-dā janāḥ’ - the best donor is someone who preaches krishna-katha in this world. Why am I saying this? Because this is the gift Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja gave to the jivas of this world. He gave krishna-katha, krishna-nama. Especially in Western countries, where he made everyone dance and become completely intoxicated with the holy names and krishna-prema— this is what he distributed. 

So many Vaishnavas came to Western countries before Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja and they also preached. However, nobody preached like Srila Svami Maharaja, he taught so extensively. Until now, nobody has done anything like he did, his preaching is incomparable. What I want to say is, ‘namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe’, he was preaching gaura-vani, which is the instruction of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: our worshipable deity is Krishna in Vrindavana-dhama. And evidence of the highest goal of human life is found in Bhagavatam, which states that the gopis paramour mood is the highest goal of human life— this is the opinion of Gaurasundara. 

That thing which Lord Chaitanya came to give to the jivas of this world, He gave indiscriminately. To give this again and again to jivas, is the contribution of Mahaprabhu and is His topmost mercy and compassion. For what reasons did Sriman Mahaprabhu appear in this world? 

prema-rasa-niryāsa karite āsvādana 

rāga-mārga bhakti loke karite pracāraṇa 

rasika-śekhara kṛṣṇa parama-karuṇa 

ei dui hetu haite icchāra udgama 

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 4.15–16)

[Sri Krishna’s desire to appear was born from two reasons: He wanted to relish the sweet essence of prema-rasa, and He wanted to propagate devotional service in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction, raga-bhakti. Thus He is known as the topmost relisher of rasa and as supremely merciful.]

Mahaprabhu came to relish this highest mood of Srimati Radhika, and to also make everyone relish this love, prema-rasa-niryāsa— the essence of prema-rasa. The Lord Himself is relishing this prema and also makes the jivas relish it as well. Lord Chaitanya, Sri Krishna, tasted the highest prema of Srimati Radhika, and simultaneously, distributed it to others. For this reason, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s murti (deity) raises one hand, while the other faces downward. In one hand, He is taking the highest prema, and with the other, He is distributing it to us. 

In this Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu avatara, He did not discriminate between who is qualified and who is unqualified. He gave prema to every soul that would come. He would give to even those who did not come to Him. He used to go to their house and gave the highest prema to them by force, “Take this.” 

Especially when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu travelled to South India. During that time, He gave prema to everyone. Just by only seeing Mahaprabhu, prema would appear in their hearts. Even if someone was seeing Him from afar, krishna-prema would still manifest in that person's heart. Who can be more merciful than Mahaprabhu? 

He is most magnificent and magnanimous. This is the speciality of Lord Chaitanya. And when Mahaprabhu travelled in Jharikhanda, Bihar, the Lord  intoxicated all of the living entities by the divine holy names. Even lions, elephants, snakes, and tigers! Everyone became intoxicated with krishna-prema

Once, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu chanted the holy names while walking in the deep forest of Jharikhanda. Behind, were His two servants, Balabhadra Bhattacharya and a brahmana boy, who was cooking for Mahaprabhu. It was now midnight, and ahead  one very ferocious tiger was blocking the way as he slept in the middle of the path. By only having felt the touch of Lord Chaitanya's lotus feet, the tiger arose. Then, Balabhadra Bhattacharya and the brahmana became so afraid that the tiger might attack them. 

However, when Mahaprabhu told the tiger, “Chant the holy names, chant Krishna’s names,” the tiger began to dance! The Lord said, “Chant the holy names,” and the tiger raised his two front paws and chanted the holy names while dancing and singing. Witnessing this extraordinary sight, the brahmana and Balabhadra Bhattacharya became very surprised. In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu distributed the highest prema to every living entity. 

One day, Mahaprabhu was bathing in a pond. Suddenly, a mad elephant came, and Balabhadra Bhattacharya and the brahmana became very afraid again. Then, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took water in His hand, and threw it on the body of the elephant. The moment this sprinkle of water touched his body, the elephant started to chant the holy names: 

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare 

Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare 

Just look how krishna-prema easily manifested in their hearts. Why am I saying this? To compare how, in the same way, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja preached in Western countries and made all the atheists intoxicated with krishna-prema and crazy for krishna-prema. All devotees feel indebted to Srila Svami Maharaja and his preaching, and many have come to India to celebrate this special disappearance day. 

This is one of the special contributions of Srila Svami Maharaja, his preaching. I mentioned how, before him, many preachers came to Western countries. But, no one in the past or future has, or will, preach in the way he has. It has now been more than forty years since his preaching took place, yet still the same prema-dharma is preserved and now coming to you. 

Nowadays, everyone is still glorifying and remembering him, thinking about him and reading his books. This special gift, which Mahaprabhu came to this material world to give, Srila Svami Maharaja has put in his books. However, some people cannot understand his books and his message. That is why you have to study books like Bhagavatam under the guidance of Vaishnavas, in order to completely surrender to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. 

You have to study books and Bhagavatam, and sit at the feet of the Vaishnavas and listen to hari-katha from their mouths. You should never listen to hari-katha from the mouths of non-vaishnavas, rather only from the lips of Vaishnavas— this is pure hari-katha. The example of milk is given. 

If you drink milk, you will become healthy. However, if that same milk is contaminated by the poisonous mouth of a snake, and you accidentally drink it,  you will become sick. The meaning here is that you must only hear hari-katha from a Vaishnava’s lotus mouth, not from non-vaishnavas. For this reason, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja preached over the whole world. 

Even people who were consuming cow meat— these kinds of people were delivered by him. Those who previously never gave any consideration to what they ate or drank. To make these types of people follow pure behaviours is very hard, but he accomplished this. Even those who had abandoned society and were not following any rules whatsoever, had now  started to follow shuddha-sadachara, pure behaviours.  

They began adorning their necks with kanthi-mala, and applied tilaka on their foreheads. They started to follow shuddha-sadachara, and were intoxicated by Krishna’s holy names. Until today, more than forty years later, this same lineage is ongoing.

I have also witnessed  how the preaching in Western countries has grown and continues to happen because of the Ratha-yatra festivals Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja helped establish all over the world. People feel so much enthusiasm for the Ratha-yatra of Lord Jagannatha. So many Christians have even converted their churches into temples, even Buddhists. In this way, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja intoxicated everyone in krishna-prema. This was his contribution and his speciality, which we are remembering today.

Gaura Premanande!

Hari Hari bol!

[Jaya Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja ki jaya!]

Date: 8 November 2021 Location: Govardhana


Transcriber: Shyamapriya dasi (Holland) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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