Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Aṣṭottara-śata
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Praṇati
नम ॐ विष्णु-पादाय कृष्ण-प्रेष्ठाय भू-तले
श्रीमते भक्तिसिद्धान्त-सरस्वतीति नामिने
nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktisiddhānta-sarasvatīti nāmine
TRANSLATION: I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, who is very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was born in the holy pilgrimage place of Jagannatha Puri to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the great Vaishnava acharya in the line of succession coming from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Although employed as a government magistrate, Srila Bhaktivinoda worked tirelessly to establish the teachings of Lord Chaitanya in India. He envisioned a worldwide spiritual movement and prayed for a son to help him achieve his dream.
On February 6, 1874, in the sacred pilgrimage town of Jagannath Puri, where Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura served as superintendent of the famous Jagannatha temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta appeared in this world. He was given the name Bimala Prasada. At the age of seven, Bimala Prasada had memorized the more than seven hundred Sanskrit verses of the Bhagavad-gita and could speak illuminating commentaries upon them. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the author of many important books and other writings on Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy, trained his son in printing and proofreading.
By the time he was twenty-five years old, Bimala Prasada had acquired an impressive reputation as a scholar of Sanskrit, mathematics, and astronomy. His astronomical treatise, Surya- siddhanta, won him the title Siddhanta Sarasvati in recognition of his immense learning. In 1905, following the advice of his father, Siddhanta Sarasvati accepted spiritual initiation from Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji. Although Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji was illiterate, he was renowned throughout the continent as a great saint and Vaishnava acharya. Siddhanta Sarasvati, although a great scholar, exhibited humility and dedication in the presence of Srila Gaurakishora. Satisfied with such humility and dedication of his highly educated disciple, Srila Gaurakishora gave Siddhanta Sarasvati his full blessings and requested him to “preach the Absolute Truth and keep aside all other work.” Upon the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in 1914, Siddhanta Sarasvati became editor of his father’s spiritual journal, Sajjana-tosani, and founded the Bhagawat Press for the publication of Gaudiya Vaishnava literature. In 1918 Siddhanta Sarasvati accepted the renounced order of spiritual life, assuming the title Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja. For purposes of propagating Gaudiya Vaishnavism throughout India, he organized the Gaudiya Math, with sixty-four branches throughout the country. The headquarters of his mission, the Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, is located in Sridhama Mayapura, the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta adjusted ancient traditions to conform to technological and social conditions of the twentieth century. He considered the printing press a most effective means of spreading this message throughout the world and was himself the author of many important translations, commentaries, and philosophical essays. He was the first spiritual teacher in this line to allow his renounced preachers (sannyasis) to wear Western clothes and travel in modem conveyances rather that on foot. Throughout the 1930s, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta expanded and increased his missionary work and succeeded in reestablishing Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the leading force in Indian spiritual life.
On January 1, 1937, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura passed from this world.
[Text from the eight-volume Harmonist (As It Is) Magazine]
Quotes by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
The Disciplic Succession:
Books : Bhagavad-gita As It Is – Macmillan 1972 Edition : Bg: introduction :
1) Kṛṣṇa, 2) Brahmā, 3) Nārada; 4) Vyāsa, 5) Madhva, 6) Padmanābha, 7) Nṛhari, 8) Mādhava, 9) Akṣobhya, 10) Jayatīrtha, 11) Jñānasindhu, 12) Dayānidhi, 13) Vidyānidhi, 14) Rājendra, 15) Jayadharma, 16) Puruṣottama, 17) Brahmaṇyatīrtha, 18) Vyāsatīrtha, 19) Lakṣmīpati, 20) Mādhavendra Purī, 21) Īśvara Purī, (Nityānanda, Advaita), 22) Lord Caitanya, 23) Rūpa (Svarūpa, Sanātana), 24) Raghunātha, Jīva, 25) Kṛṣṇadāsa, 26) Narottama, 27) Viśvanātha, 28) (Baladeva) Jagannātha, 29) Bhaktivinode, 30) Gaurakiśora, 31) Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, 32) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Srila Prabhupada gives all credit to his Guru Maharaja:
Books : Bhagavad-gita As It Is – Macmillan 1972 Edition : Bg: Preface :
“…In Los Angeles many fathers and mothers used to come to see me to express their feelings of gratitude for my leading the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement throughout the entire world. Some of them said that it is greatly fortunate for the Americans that I have started the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in America. But actually the original father of this movement is Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, since it was started a very long time ago but is coming down to human society by disciplic succession. If I have any credit in this connection, it does not belong to me personally, but it is due to my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace Om Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya 108 Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja Prabhupāda..”
Srila Prabhupada explains his birth in a family of transcendentalists and his meeting His Guru Maharaja:
Books : Bhagavad-gita As It Is – Macmillan 1972 Edition : Bg 6: Sankhya-yoga : Bg 6.42 : PURPORT :
Birth in a family of yogīs or transcendentalists-those with great wisdom-is praised herein because the child born in such a family receives spiritual impetus from the very beginning of his life. It is especially the case in the ācārya or gosvāmīfamilies. Such families are very learned and devoted by tradition and training, and thus they become spiritual masters. In India there are many such ācārya families, but they have now degenerated due to insufficient education and training. By the grace of the Lord, there are still families that foster transcendentalists generation after generation. It is certainly very fortunate to take birth in such families. Fortunately, both our spiritual master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and our humble self, had the opportunity to take birth in such families, by the grace of the Lord, and both of us were trained in the devotional service of the Lord from the very beginning of our lives. Later on we met by the order of the transcendental system.
Srila Prabhupada explains the glorious literary contributions of great acharyas like His Guru Maharaja and others:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 1: ”Creation” : SB Introduction : SB Introduction :
Many devotees of Lord Caitanya like Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrī Locana dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Śrī Kavikarṇapūra, Śrī Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and in this latter age within two hundred years, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī, Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana, Śrī Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī, Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and at last Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (our spiritual master) and many other great and renowned scholars and devotees of the Lord have prepared voluminous books and literatures on the life and precepts of the Lord. Such literatures are all based on the śāstras like the Vedas, Purāṇas, Upaniṣads, Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata and other histories and authentic literatures approved by the recognized ācāryas. They are unique in composition and unrivaled in presentation, and they are full of transcendental knowledge. Unfortunately the people of the world are still ignorant of them, but when these literatures, which are mostly in Sanskrit and Bengali, come to light the world and when they are presented before thinking people, then India’s glory and the message of love will overflood this morbid world, which is vainly searching after peace and prosperity by various illusory methods not approved by the ācāryas in the chain of disciplic succession.
Srila Prabhupada credits His Guru Maharaja for helping him to revive his old habit of deity worship:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 1:”Creation” : SB 1.12: Birth of Emperor Pariksit : SB 1.12.30 : PURPORT :
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī remarks in this connection that every child, if given an impression of the Lord from his very childhood, certainly becomes a great devotee of the Lord like Mahārāja Parīkṣit. One may not be as fortunate as Mahārāja Parīkṣit to have the opportunity to see the Lord in the womb of his mother, but even if he is not so fortunate, he can be made so if the parents of the child desire him to be so. There is a practical example in my personal life in this connection. My father was a pure devotee of the Lord, and when I was only four or five years old, my father gave me a couple of forms of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. In a playful manner, I used to worship these Deities along with my sister, and I used to imitate the performances of a neighboring temple of Rādhā-Govinda. By constantly visiting this neighboring temple and copying the ceremonies in connection with my own Deities of play, I developed a natural affinity for the Lord. My father used to observe all the ceremonies befitting my position. Later on, these activities were suspended due to my association in the schools and colleges, and I became completely out of practice. But in my youthful days, when I met my spiritual master, Śrī ŚrīmadBhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, again I revived my old habit, and the same playful Deities became my worshipful Deities in proper regulation. This was followed up until I left the family connection, and I am pleased that my generous father gave the first impression which was developed later into regulative devotional service by His Divine Grace. Mahārāja Prahlāda also advised that such impressions of a godly relation must be impregnated from the beginning of childhood, otherwise one may miss the opportunity of the human form of life, which is very valuable although it is temporary like others.
Srila Prabhupada explains the power of sadhu-sanga and the powerful favor of His Guru Maharaja:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 1:”Creation” : SB 1.13: Dhrtarastra Quits Home : SB 1.13.29 : PURPORT :
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the great preacher of the principles of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, has stressed the importance of association with sādhus, pure devotees of the Lord. He said that even by a moments association with a pure devotee, one can achieve all perfection. We are not ashamed to admit that this fact was experienced in our practical life. Were we not favored by His Divine Grace Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, by our first meeting for a few minutes only, it would have been impossible for us to accept this mighty task of describing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in English. Without seeing him at that opportune moment, we could have become a very great business magnate, but never would we have been able to walk the path of liberation and be engaged in the factual service of the Lord under instructions of His Divine Grace.
Srila Prabhupada explains the about the power of a true representative of the Lord like Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 2: “The Cosmic Manifestation” : SB 2.8: Questions by King Pariksit : SB 2.8.5 : PURPORT :
In other words, the cleansing of the polluted heart by other methods (like the culture of empiric knowledge or mystic gymnastics) can simply cleanse one’s own heart, but devotional service to the Lord is so powerful that it can cleanse the hearts of the people in general, by the devotional service of the pure, empowered devotee. A true representative of the Lord like Nārada, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Lord Caitanya, the six Gosvāmīs and later Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and ŚrīmadBhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, etc., can deliver all people by their empowered devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada describes His Guru Maharaja as an avowed brahmacari:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: “The Status Quo” : SB 3.12: Creation of the Kumaras and Others : SB 3.12.42 : PURPORT :
During student life the brahmacārīs were given full instructions about the importance of the human form of life. Thus the basic education was designed to encourage the student in becoming free from family encumbrances. Only students unable to accept such a vow in life were allowed to go home and marry a suitable wife. Otherwise, the student would remain a permanent brahmacārī, observing complete abstinence from sex life for his whole life. It all depended on the quality of the student’s training. We had the opportunity to meet an avowed brahmacārī in the personality of our spiritual master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Such a great soul is called a naiṣṭhika-brahmacārī.
Srila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who at the present moment is preaching the philosophy of Lord Caitanya throughout the entire world through his bona fide disciples:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: “The Status Quo” : SB 3.22: The Marriage of Kardama Muni and Devahuti : SB3.22.19 : PURPORT :
After fulfilling his responsibility to produce a nice child, one should take sannyāsa and engage in the perfectionalparamahaṁsa stage. paramahaṁsa refers to the most highly elevated perfectional stage of life. There are four stages withinsannyāsa life, and paramahaṁsa is the highest order. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is called the paramahaṁsa-saṁhitā, the treatise for the highest class of human beings. The paramahaṁsa is free from envy. In other stages, even in the householder stage of life, there is competition and envy, but since the activities of the human being in the paramahaṁsa stage are completely engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or devotional service, there is no scope for envy. In the same order as Kardama Muni, about one hundred years ago, Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda also wanted to beget a child who could preach the philosophy and teachings of Lord Caitanya to the fullest extent. By his prayers to the Lord he had as his childBhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who at the present moment is preaching the philosophy of Lord Caitanya throughout the entire world through his bona fide disciples.
Srila Prabhupada explains that Gaura kishora accepted Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati as His disciple:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: “The Creation of the Fourth Order” : SB 4.2: Daksa Curses Lord Siva : SB 4.2.18 : PURPORT :
Because of this curse, Śiva was deprived of his share in the oblations of Vedic sacrifices. It was due to the curse of Dakṣa, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments in this connection, that Lord Śiva was saved from the calamity of taking part with other demigods, who were all materialistic. Lord Śiva is the greatest devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and it is not fitting for him to eat or sit with materialistic persons like the demigods. Thus the curse of Dakṣa was indirectly a blessing, for Śiva would not have to eat or sit with other demigods, who were too materialistic. There is a practical example set for us by Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, who used to sit on the side of a latrine to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Many materialistic persons used to come and bother him and disturb his daily routine of chanting, so to avoid their company he used to sit by the side of a latrine, where materialistic persons would not go because of the filth and the obnoxious smell. However, Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja was so great that he was accepted as the spiritual master of such a great personality as His Divine Grace Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. The conclusion is that Lord Śiva behaved in his own way to avoid materialistic persons who might disturb him in his prosecution of devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada says that He simply following in the footsteps of His Guru Maharaja in fulfilling the prediction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: “The Creation of the Fourth Order” : SB 4.22: Prthu Maharaja’s Meeting with the Four Kumaras : SB 4.22.42 : PURPORT :
When Lord Viṣṇu appeared in the great arena of sacrifice at the time when King Pṛthu was performing a great sacrifice (aśvamedha), He predicted that the Kumāras would very soon come and advise the King. Therefore Pṛthu Mahārāja remembered the causeless mercy of the Lord and thus welcomed the arrival of the Kumāras, who were fulfilling the Lord’s prediction. In other words, when the Lord makes a prediction, He fulfills that prediction through some of His devotees. Similarly, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu predicted that both His glorious names and the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra would be broadcast in all the towns and villages of the world. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla BhaktisiddhāntaSarasvatī Prabhupāda desired to fulfill this great prediction, and we are following in their footsteps.
Srila Prabhupada explains how everyone can follow in the footsteps of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: “The Creation of the Fourth Order” : SB 4.23: Maharaja Prthu’s Going Back Home : SB 4.23.5 : PURPORT :
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, after retiring from his minister’s seat in the government, went to Vṛndāvana and lived beneath a tree, like Mahārāja Pṛthu. Since then, many people have gone to Vṛndāvana to imitate Rūpa Gosvāmī’s behavior. Instead of advancing in spiritual life, many have fallen into material habits and even in Vṛndāvana have become victims of illicit sex, gambling and intoxication. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement has been introduced in the Western countries, but it is not possible for Westerners to go to the forest and practice the severe austerities which were ideally practiced by Pṛthu Mahārāja or Rūpa Gosvāmī. However, Westerners or anyone else can follow in the footsteps of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura by living in a temple, which is transcendental to residence in a forest, and to vow to accept kṛṣṇa-prasāda and nothing else, follow the regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. In this way, one’s spiritual life will never be disturbed.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains the unwanted creepers of bhakti:
Books : Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition : Cc. Madhya-lila : Madhya 19: Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Instructs Srila Rupa Gosvami : Madhya 19.160 : PURPORT : ‘nisiddhacara’, ‘kutinati’, jiva-himsana’ ‘labha’, ‘puja’, ‘pratisthadi’ yata upasakha-gana :
The unwanted creepers have been described by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. He states that if one hears and chants without trying to give up offenses, one becomes materially attached to sense gratification. One may also desire freedom from material bondage like the Māyāvādīs, or one may become attached to the yoga-siddhis and desire wonderful yogic powers. If one is attached to wonderful material activities, one is called siddhi-lobhī, greedy for material perfection. One may also be victimized by diplomatic or crooked behavior, or one may associate with women for illicit sex. Others may make a show of devotional service like the prākṛta-sahajiyās, or one may try to support his philosophy by joining some caste or identifying himself with a certain dynasty, claiming a monopoly on spiritual advancement. Thus with the support of family tradition, one may become a pseudo guru or so-called spiritual master. One may become attached to the four sinful activities-illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat eating, or one may consider a Vaiṣṇava to belong to a mundane caste or creed. One may think, “This is a Hindu Vaiṣṇava, and this is a European Vaiṣṇava. A European Vaiṣṇava is not allowed to enter the temples.” In other words, one may consider Vaiṣṇavas in terms of birth, thinking one a brāhmaṇaVaiṣṇava, a śūdra Vaiṣṇava, a mleccha Vaiṣṇava and so on. One may also try to carry out a professional business while chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra or reading Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, or one may try to increase his monetary strength by illegal means. One may also try to be a cheap Vaiṣṇava by chanting in a secluded place for material adoration, or one may desire mundane reputation by making compromises with nondevotees, compromising one’s philosophy or spiritual life, or one may become a supporter of a hereditary caste system. All these are pitfalls of personal sense gratification. Just to cheat some innocent people, one makes a show of advanced spiritual life and becomes known as a sādhu, mahātmā or religious person. All this means that the so-called devotee has become victimized by all these unwanted creepers and that the real creeper of bhakti-latā-bīja has been stunted.