Srila Prabhupada – Our Beloved Spiritual Master
Over five hundred years ago, the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna appeared as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the village of Navadvipa (West Bengal) to inaugurate the Sankirtana Movement and propagate the chanting of the holy names of Lord Sri Krishna. He predicted that a powerful spiritual ambassador will carry His message to every town and village on this globe. Srila Prabhupada appeared to fulfil the prophecy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We, at ISOKRSNA, try sincerely to serve the mission of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. This website is a tribute to our spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada Biography
- Birth Name: Abhay Caran De
- Initiated Name or Diksha Name: Abhay Caranarvinda Dasa
- Sannyasa Initiation Name: Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami
- As known among disciples and ISKCON: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada or simply as Srila Prabhupada
- 1896 – Srila Prabhupada was born on Tuesday, 1st Sep 1896 on the next day of Janasmastami. He was third son to his father Gaura Mohon Dev and mother Rajani Devi in the family of one of very respectable Gold merchant aristocracy of Calcutta.
Gotra – original genealogical line
- Our family gotra, or original genealogical line, is the Gautama-gotra, or line of disciples of Gautama Muni, and our surname is De.
- Srila Prabhupada recalls “So in my childhood, when I was one and one-half years old, I suffered from typhoid, and the Dr. Karttika Candra Bose, he said that he, “Please give him chicken juice.” So my father refused: “No, no, we cannot.” “No, no he has to be given. Now he has become very weak.” “No, no, I cannot allow.” “Don’t mind, I shall prepare in my own house and send. You simply…” So it was sent from his house, and when it was given to me, immediately I began to vomit. And my father threw it away, and when the doctor asked that this was the… “No, no, then don’t bother.” This story I heard.”
- Their older brothers, the eldest one was my very, very intimate friend, Siddheshvar Mullik. We used to ride on the same perambulator when we were three, four years old.
- When Srila Prabhupada was three or four years old he used to daily visit the Rādhā-Govinda deity of Mullik family in Mahatma Gandhi Road Calcutta. This deity was about 200 years old and established by mother of Kashinath Mullik. Srila Prabhupada says for the deities “that is the inspiration of my devotional life.”
- Srila Prabhupada describes Sri Rādhā-Govinda deity and Ratha Yatra – “And that is the inspiration of my devotional life. Then I asked my father that “Give me Rādhā-Govinda Deity; I shall worship.” So my father was also Vaiṣṇava. He gave me small Rādhā-Govinda Deity. I was worshiping in my house. Whatever I was eating, I was offering, and I was following the ceremonies of this Rādhā-Govinda with my small Deity. That Deity is still existing. I have given to my sister. So then I introduced Ratha-yātrā. So I…. My Ratha-yātrā was being performed very gloriously. My father used to spend money. In those days ten rupees, twenty rupees was sufficient. I hired one kīrtana party and a small friends, they…, I think the brother of the present generation, and there was another De family here, so we performed this Ratha-yātrā ceremony. According to our children’s imagination, it was very gorgeous.”
- when we were five, six years old, this system of hearing in the evening, in every village there was current. And my maternal uncle’s house was in the suburb of Calcutta. So in our childhood, when we used to go to our maternal uncle’s house, all the ladies and members being discussed. They will sit down. All the members of the neighboring people, they will come, very big crowd, and they will hear, and whatever they can pay, they will pay. And with that impression, at nine o’clock or ten o’clock, they will go to bed. Very nice arrangement. Usually the meeting was taking place after night, dinner, you see? Say, about at nine o’clock. And from nine to ten, eleven, the discussion would go on, and then the members dispersed and go to their respective home. We have seen. And all the ladies, whole road, they were discussing, “The priest told me…” They discussed very seriously to understand. So they don’t require any education. Simply by hearing they become advanced. This is recommended. Śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ… Śṛṇvatāṁ. Just try to hear, hear, hear. Very nice process.
Another nice conversation of Srila Prabhupada with Allen Ginsberg reveals few more early life in his own words – Allen Ginsberg: But do you understand your previous lives from the descriptions in authoritative texts, or from any introspective recollection…Prabhupāda: No, we have to corroborate.Allen Ginsberg: …of your own?Prabhupāda: Corroborate. Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā, it is said that śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate [Bg. 6.41]. One who could not finish this Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he gets birth in two places, either in very rich family, or in a very pure brāhmaṇa family, brahminical cultured family. So from my life I experience, when I was very little child six or seven years old, I was very much fond of Kṛṣṇa. And I got the opportunity of this two things. Although my father was not very rich, but he was pure Vaiṣṇava. He was great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.Allen Ginsberg: I assume Calcutta.Prabhupāda: In Calcutta, and accidentally, I was born in a very rich family. You have seen that picture in my Calcutta, dancing. In that, there is a Kashi Mallik’s family.Indian Woman: (Bengali) Kashi Malliker?Prabhupāda: They are very aristocratic family. I do, I did not belong to that family, but I was born in that family, you see? And from the very beginning the Kashi Mallik, they have got nice Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa temple. So I was standing before the deity, and I was seeing, “Oh, He is Kṛṣṇa. Oh, people say He is dead. How he is dead?” Like that I was thinking. And then my, I asked my father, “Oh, I shall worship Kṛṣṇa, give me.” So my father gave me Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, so I, whatever I was eating, I was offering them. So the statement of the śāstraand my practical experience corroborates. So we we have to take instance like that, you see? Sādhu śāstraguru vākya. We have to test everything from three positions: the spiritual master, scripture, and holy man. Scripture means, just like Bible. What is Bible? Scripture. Why the scripture? It is fully contains the instruction of sādhu, holy man, or spiritual master, Lord Jesus Christ, therefore is scripture. The scripture means the statement of liberated holy man. That is sādhu. Therefore, scripture should be tested through the holy man and spiritual master. Spiritual master should be tested through scripture and holy man, and holy man should be tested through spiritual master and scripture.
- My father would never take food at anyone’s house or in the hotel. He will find out some temple and pay them and take prasādam. Still there are many temples. So I was about ten years old at that time, say, seventy years ago. So he paid two annas to the pūjārī and he gave us so much. It can be eaten by five, six men. Kicheri, vegetables, varieties. So much. Two annas.
- I had some experience in my childhood in 1911. I was thirteen years old. There was a riot. So our house was there in Mahātmā Gandhi Road, and all sides Muhammadans. We are simply… The Mulliks and our house are simply some respectable men. Otherwise it was surrounded (surrendered?) by… That is called Kwalabala and Bastik, all Muhammadans, backside fully Muhammadans. So the riot was there, and I went to play. There is a square, Marker(?) Square. So I did not know the riot has taken place. I was coming home. So one of my class friends said that “You do not go to your house. That side is rioting now.” So because we are in the Muhammadan quarter, this fighting between two parties, that was going on. It is usual. So I thought it may be like that, that two guṇḍāsare fighting. I have seen. One guṇḍā is stabbing the other guṇḍā. I have seen. And they are pickpockets. When you are passing they would… I have seen, he is pickpocketing. (laughter) And they were our neighbor men. So I thought “It must be like that. This is going on.” But when I came the crossing of Mahatma Gandhi… At that time Harrison Road it was. Harrison Road and Holi…, Holiday, Halliday Street, yes. So one shop was being plundered. Putamat putamat putamat…” So I was child, a boy. I became… “What is this happening?” In the meantime all, my father, mother, members: “Oh, the child has not come.” They became so mad, they came out of home expecting, “Wherefrom the child will come?” So what could I do? When I saw, then I began to run towards our house, and one Muhammadan, he wanted to kill me. He took his lāṭhi and actually… But I passed through some way or other. I was saved. So as soon as I came before ourgate they got their life. So without speaking anything I went to the bedroom, and it was in the month of… It is winter. So I… Without saying anything I laid down, wrapping myself with quilt. So that time I was rising: “Is it ended? The riot is ended?” I was asking. I remember. So I would have been killed in that riot. So I have got experience of this riot. That is the first riot in Calcutta, in 1911.
- My mother was very much fond of pickles. After resting in the afternoon, she would take something very sour, pickle. We used to take with her also. (laughs) We were small children, my mother died when I was only 14 years old.
- 1918 – Married in 1918 with Radharani Devi while studying as a third year student for graduation. His wife was ten years younger.
- 1920 – Completed graduation – BA from Scottish Churches College in Calcutta. Subhash Chandra Bose was his college friend and one year senior to Srila Prabhupada.
- 1920 – Joined Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement and quit education in revolt. He also visited Jagannath Puri for the first time in 1920 after his exams.
- 1921 – Appointed as Asst Manager of Dr. Bose Laboratory Ltd in Calcutta
- 1921 – Srila Prabhupada becomes father for the first time.
- 1922 – Srila Prabhupada first met his spiritual master His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura Gosvami in 1922
- 1923 – Srila Prabupada left Calcutta for business and moved to Allahabad
- 1925 – He visited Kashmir and on the way visited Lahore, Amritsar etc. He also visited Vrindavana for the first time while visiting Agra for business purpose. He purchased a Buick car for Rs 8,000 to help his nephew drive it as a taxi for livelihood.
- 1933 – Srila Prabhupada was initiated
- 1936 – Srila Prabupada’s Guru Maharaja His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisddhanta Thakura Gosvami left this world