Miracles of a spiritual warrior who brought revolution in the lives of world’s misdirected civilization On 23rd August 1965, a cargo ship named “Jaladuta” entered the Red Sea. On this ship was a 69 year old man, he was all alone and had almost nothing with him. On the ship he started suffering from seasickness, dizziness, headache, appetite loss and vomiting. Within two days he suffered two massive heart attacks. The crew members were afraid; they knew that if the third one comes then this old man would die. However during the night of the second heart attack the old man had a beautiful dream. In his dream he saw Lord Krishna, in His many forms, rowing a boat and asking him not to fear anything. The Lord assured him that He is with him. On 19th September, 1965 he reached United States of America. He did not know whether to turn right or left. He had almost no money (he was carrying just 40 Indian rupees), no permanent place to stay, no guarantee of regular supply of food, no source of income, no close relatives to take care. He was also warned by people about death at such an old age. But he had deep faith in the order of his spiritual master and the mercy of Lord Krishna.
And Few Months Later
He started kirtans of Hare Krishna in Tompkins Square Park in New York alone and gradually hundreds of hippies joined. Krishna reciprocated with his pure desires. After his persistence struggle and faith in Holy Names of Lord, eventually hundreds of thousands of American men and women wearing traditional Indian clothes, having tilaka on their forehead, playing cymbals, mrindang & cymbles, chanting HareKrishna Mahämantra were pulling huge chariots carrying the deities of Lord Jagannäth, Lord Baladeva and Subhdrä Devi through the streets of San Francisco in 1967. People were mesmerized seeing such a large numbers of devotees joyfully dancing and blissfully singing in front of the Lord. Seeing the huge popularity of first Rath–Yätra the mayor declared it as the ‘Rath–Yätra Day of San Francisco”. That old man was none other than srila Prabhupada, a great spiritual saint who revolutionized the whole world by the Hare Krishna Movement also known as International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Srila Prabhupaa’s magnanimity and his unflinching devotion for Lord Krishna transformed the lives of millions of people across the world. One such incident from 1966 succinctly illustrates Prabhupada’s influence on people’s lives. Sam Speerstra, a young American boy, had just begun his devotional life under the guidance of Srila Prabhupäda. He had got the task of carving the Jagannath Deities. But he had a very bad habit of smoking cigarette. And unfortunately he was smoking while carving the deities. Once Srila Prabhupäda came personally to inspect his work. Sam immediately tried to hide his cigarette. Prabhupäda saw the work and appreciated him, but did not say anything about the cigarette. Sam heaved a sigh of relief. But just before leaving Srila Prabhupäda comments "Such a small thing that is separating us from Krishna" That statement touched Sam Speerstra’s heart deeply and from that moment onwards he never ever touched cigarette in his entire life. He became one of the most sincere devotees of Lord Krishna and came to be known as Syamasundara Das. This is one of the innumerable examples of Prabhupada’s impact on people’s lives. Under the divine guidance of this illustrious saint, people willingly gave up abominable activities like meat eating, intoxication, illicit – sex and gambling and accepted joyful process of Krishna Bhakti. It is due to Srila Prabhupäda’s efforts that today Lord Krishna temple is present in every major city of the planet, in Africa, in Europe, in Asia, in America, in Australia.And also in almost every city where ISKCON temple is present, Rath Yatra is being celebrated. Srila Prabhupada appeared in this world on September 1, 1896, the day after Janmästami in Tollygunge suburb of Kolkata, India. He was named as Abhay Charan "one who is fearless, having taken shelter at Lord Krishna's feet." His father Sriman Gour Mohan De and Srimati Rajani De were great devotee of Lord Krishna and Srimati Rajani. He stayed at 151 Harrison Road (now known as M.G. Road) in Kolkata, where he was brought up and educated. Gaur Mohan De desired spiritual goals for his son; he wanted Abhay to become a servant of Rädhä and Krishna and to become a preacher of Bhägavatam. As soon as Abhay was old enough to walk, his father would take him to a nearby Radha–Govinda Mandir where they would offer prayers for hours.
The First Rath–Yatra Celebration:
As a child Abhay was very much excited about the Rath Yäträ festival. When he was just six years old he decided to organize a Rath Yäträ festival of his own. To celebrate the Rath yäträ he invited all the children of his neighborhoods and requested ladies to cook prasäd. On the Rath Yäträ day, little Abahy decorated the cart beautifully, placed Lord Jagannäth on the cart and started the Rath Yäträ procession. His friends, family members, relatives, father’s friends and neighbors participated in the procession; they were singing devotional songs, playing kartäls and mrindanga. Prasäd was distributed to all. This festival was celebrated for 8 days. From that year onwards little Abhay always celebrated the Rath Yäträ. With these devotional impressions from childhood, Abhay was inspired later to have Rath Yäträ all over the world.
Preparation for a Glorious Mission
Abhay Charan first met his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, in 1922 at the age of 26, at Sri Gaudiya Math, at 1, Ultadanga Junction Road, Kolkata. In the first meeting itself Bhaktisiddhänta Saraswati Thakura said, “You are an educated young man. Why don’t you preach Lord Caitanya’s message throughout the whole world.” Highly impressed by the honesty, purity and devotion of Bhaktisiddhänta Saraswati Thakura for the Lord, Abhay Charan accepted him as his spiritual master. He took initiation from Bhaktisiddhänta Saraswati Thakura in 1932. In 1950, at the age of 54, he retired from married life, adopting the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. He stayed in the historic medieval temple of Rädhä – Dämodara in the holy town of Vrindavan where he began his commentary and translation of Bhägavata Purana. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyäsa) in 1959 and his name became Abhay Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swämi. Later he was lovingly called as Srila Prabhupada.
Glorious Mission Begins:
As per the instruction of his spiritual master, he travelled to United States of America to spread the message of Krishna in 1965. And in a short span of 12 years he changed the face of the entire world, the Hare Krishna movement spread in almost every part of the world. Some of Srila Prabhupada's greatest achievements are: He removed the superficial differences based on cast, creed, nationality, color, sex etc by imparting genuine spiritual education of “Oneness in quality with God and subordination to God, Sri Krishna, thus creating global unity. It is verily said, “Prabhupäda built a house in which whole world can live together happily”. He established more than 108 temples all over the world in a short span of 12 years. He established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in July 1966 in New York. ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 600 temples, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools and 90 restaurants. He is the founder of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) which today has become the world’s largest publisher of Vaishnava philosophy.He introduced Vedic gurukul system of education in the western world. He has written over 80 books which includes the translation of over 60 volumes of classic Vedic scriptures (such as Bhagavad – Geta and Cremd Bhagavatam) into English language. His books have been translated into more than 80 languages. More than 3 Crores copies of Bhagavad – Gita have been sold worldwide Back to Godhead (BTG) magazine started by Srila Prabhupäda in 1944 is still being published in several national and international languages worldwide. For their authority, depth, clarity and genuineness his books have won praise from professors at colleges and universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, and several others.
ISKCON’s Food for Life:
In 1974, Srila Prabhupada felt deep pain when he saw few village children fighting with street dogs for food in Mäyäpur, West Bengal, India. He immediately told his disciples: "No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry . . . I want you to immediately begin serving food." Thus began ISKCON’s Food for Life program. Today "Food for Life" is the world’s largest vegetarian non- profit food relief organization, it is presently working in 60 countries serving 1,500,000 meal per day.
A Messenger from the Spiritual World
Srila Prabhupäda rose like a sun in the 20th century to illuminate the world and to awaken the people from their spiritual slumber. He is still shining brilliantly through his books. His message of Krishna Consciousness transformed the lives of millions of people all over the world. Srila Prabhupäda left this world on November 14, 1977 in Vrindavan, India.