In ISKCON, Prabhupada himself remains present, generation after generation, as the single prominent siksa-guru immanent in the life of each and every ISKCON devotee-a perpetual, indwelling active guiding and directing presence. He is thus the soul of ISKCON.
As such, Srila Prabhupada himself continues to act effectively in this world so long as ISKCON continues as the coherent expression a unified instrument of his will. In this way Srila Prabhuapada remains the soul of ISKCON, and ISKCON his body.
Srila Prabhupada was undoubtedly the personality sent by
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to fulfil His prediction: "I have
incarnated to inaugurate the sankirtana movement. I will deliver
all the fallen souls of this world... In every town and village of
the world, the chanting of My Nam Sankirtan Movement will
spread." (Caitanya Bhagavata, Antya 4. 120, 126).
To understand Srila Prabhupada’s unique role in Gaudiya
perspective, we must journey back in time and gain historical
insight of how Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s plan to fulfill His
prediction is gradually unfolding.
Upon His return from Gaya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began
His ndma-sankirtana mission. And in distributing ndma prema,
"He and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate
and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should
not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the
opportunity, the members of the Pajica-tattva distributed love of
Godhead" (Caitanya Caritdmrita, Adi-lild 7.23).
This flood of nama prema swelled in all directions and
continued to benedict this world under the shelter of empowered
preachers like the Six Gosvamis, Srinivasa Acarya, Narottam Das
Thakur and Syamananda Prabhu.
Unfortunately, after the disappearance of Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu and these empowered associates of His, a very
dark age descended on the world of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. By
Kali’s influence, many apasampraddyas, deviant sects, totally
eclipsed Caitanya Mahaprabhuw’s pure presentation of Krishna
Consciousness with their unscrupulous, materialistic doctrines
and practices. And they did that in His name! Soon, His teachings
came to be identified with immorality, dogma and anti-social
elements. As a result, the cultured and educated people of Indian
society developed a deep aversion to Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
This dark age continued for almost 250 years.
In order to revive His sankirtana movement and once again
illuminate the Gaudiya sky, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then
sent one of His intimate associates, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, to
this world. Possessed of transcendental prowess, Bhaktivinoda
Thakur wrote tirelessly to defeat all unauthorized and deviant
philosophies opposed to Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s presentation
of Krishna Consciousness. Through his tireless and dedicated
writing, he exposed all the adharmic philosophies of that time and
once again revealed to the world Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s path of
supreme auspiciousness and compassion: His nama-sankirtana
mission. These writings would later form the philosophical
foundation for Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s systematic
and institutionally based plan to set into motion fulfilment
of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction. Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s
rediscovery of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace and his giving
of a blueprint (in the form of his "namahatta" ) to realise Caitanya
Mahaprabhu’s desire that nama-sankirtana be propagated all
over the world were a very clear and remarkable indication of
his absolute conviction in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s words.
However, he knew that this massive task of spreading Krishna
Consciousness all over the world would need the collective
involvement of thousands of people for many generations.
It could not, and would not, be just one man’s work—a
transcendental institution was of absolute necessity.
The work in your hand—or on your screen—is offered to you
as one ripened fruit of the intensive, many-branched strategic
planning project launched in 2006 by the Governing Body
Commission of ISKCON. This ongoing endeavour has brought
together many devotees worldwide to engage in systematic
planning and development to realize a flourishing future for Srila
Prabhupada’s movement. Ultimately, we aim at the empowerment
of our entire organization—every one of its members, all its
various units, each of its managing and guiding authorities—so
that all of them work united in effective cooperation to bring
to fruition the desires of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu. From the beginning, everyone understood that
one particular element essential to this achievement was, as it
was usually put, "to keep Srila Prabhupada in the center."
In this regard, the strategic planning team was acutely
aware that the near future would confront ISKCON with a
critical challenge: the unavoidable transition to a time when
all devotees with direct experience of its Founder-Acdrya are
gone. This imminent loss became an additional incentive for
the work of the Srila Prabhupada’s Position Committee (SPPC).
All its members understood that Srila Prabhupada should be
no less a presence to subsequent generations than he has been
to the first. (Indeed, some believed, he could be even more.)
How to facilitate this? How to foster in all devotees in ISKCON,
generation after generation, an ever-increasing awareness of their
deep connection with its Founder-Acdrya, so that all encounter
him as a living presence in their lives? How will his mission, his
teachings, his vision, his determination, his mercy, become one
with each and every beating heart?
As a member of the SPPC, I was assigned the task of writing
a foundational document for ISKCON devotees on the import of
Srila Prabhupada’s position as Founder-Acarya.
Having accepted this assignment, I found myself spending
many day sand nights absorbed in thinking, somewhat obsessively,
about Srila Prabhupada—about his life and his heritage, about
his movement, about myself as a disciple and similarly, my
god brothers and sisters. During these days and nights, my
mental and emotional states became acutely heightened, and
yet suspended from any determinate conclusions. And then, I
sat down and, in two or three hours, typed a short statement—
no more than three pages—that seemed to come almost of its
own accord. It was based on little or no research, and no new
finding—simply my own intuitions and "realizations." I refined
it somewhat, and, at the next available occasion, presented it to
the other members of the strategic planning group.
To my relief, the overwhelmingly positive response assured
me at least that I was heading in the right direction. This direction
was given a concrete shape by the follow-up instruction. "Great,"
they said, "so far. Now—write a commentary."
I must note that the general "great" became attended by a
entourage of detailed comments—comments requesting, in one
place or another, more support, clarification, or elaboration;
comments indicating misgivings or areas of confusion;
comments proposing other topics for inclusion or investigation,
and so on. I took these comments away with me—they turned
out to be extremely helpful—and then, after tweaking the short
statement, I did as asked, and began to write a commentary.
Consequently, the final product, now at hand, comes in the
form of a text with a commentary on the text. The text is given
first, by itself. The far longer commentary follows. In this part,
the primary text makes its appearance in proper sequence, but
is broken into convenient sections. The primary text is printed
in boldface, while the following commentary on that section is
rendered in regular type.
The text is short, only 1300 words (5 pages). The commentary,
as it turned out, is long, about 21,000 words (79 pages). The text
initially took about three hours to compose; the commentary,
The primary text itself is simple and quite suitable for a wide
audience. The commentary is specifically intended for anyone
who is, or who aspires to be, prabhupdda-sisya, a true siksa
disciple of Srila Prabhupada. That, indeed, should be the fixed
aim of all members of ISKCON, and that, by itself, will bring
about fulfillment of the heartfelt desires of Lord Caitanya.
The unexpectedly long and sometimes difficult labor on the
commentary brought me an unanticipated benediction: I learned
in-depth things that I had previously known only superficially or
formally. | began this work knowing Srila Prabhupada was a great
disciple, but now I have gained a more thorough and profound
knowledge of just how great he is—an awareness, I confess,
that continues to grow. What I discovered vastly increased my
knowledge of Srila Prabhupada’s achievement and engendered
new growth in my love and gratitude toward him. This gift of
knowledge has also shown me just how much it is incumbent
upon me, as his disciple, to illuminate his greatness by the most
sincere testimony, the testimony of my own discipleship.
Moreover, I have been able to see more fully the truly
astounding purport of the glorious title he rightly bears,
"Founder-Acdérya of the International Society for Krishna
I pray that reading this work will do for you, what writing it
has done for me.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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