The World Acarya
BY: RUPANUGA DAS (ACBSP '66)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Aug 21, 2011 FLORIDA, USA (SUN)
Even though Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam were spoken and recorded in 3,000 B.C., it wasn't until 1965 A.D., 5,000 years later, that these original sastras containing the Yuga Dharma were released from India by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Bhaktivinode Thakur had previously inaugurated the Hare Krsna Movement, the emblem of that Yuga Dharma, when he sent his Caitanya—His Life and Precepts to McGill University, Canada, in 1896. More copies of this sublime volume have been found in other countries, suggesting that the Thakur made an extensive mailing to the major English-speaking universities of his day.
From 1914, the year of Bhaktivinode Thakur's disappearance, until 1918, the son of Bhaktivinode, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, meditated upon how to execute his father's order to go forward and fulfill his premonition that people from all over the world would chant and dance at Mayapur. It has been Lord Caitanya's prediction that His Name would be known in every town and village of the world. To this end Srila Bhaktisiddhanta established 64 maths, large and small, mostly in Bengal, with the intention of training up Indians to preach in the West.
So it was at the very first meeting of Abhay Charan De, destined to become his principle disciple, that he admonished the educated young men present to prepare themselves for preaching in English in the West. It was Abhay Charan who would become A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the next Srila Prabhupada, and go not only to the English-speaking countries, but to people on every continent, where dozens of different languages were spoken. Who knew? Who could have known all this would happen? But one thing is noteworthy. In 1896, when Srila Prabhupada appeared, there were three giant Vaisnavas already present, namely Gour Kishore das Babji, Bhaktivinode Thakur and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Bhaktivinode Thakur and Gour Kishore didn't disappear until 1914 and 1915 respectively. By that time Abhay Charan De was approaching his 20th year. These four great personalities being present on Earth simultaneously clearly foretold a spiritual critical mass approaching in Lord Caitanya's world-wide movement.
That critical mass was not to be reached in India, but far away, 10,000 miles away in "the land of voidism and impersonalism," ruled not by Buddhist or Mayavada philosophy but by materialistic science and sectarian religion. From childhood, the Americans were taught that asking about the purpose of life was a meaningless question, that there was no proof of life after death or advanced life on other planets. Nature was running automatically, following laws that somehow evolved. The theory of evolution was taught in the schools as a law of nature. Those who believed in God had such a vague idea that love of God remained theoretical and practices ritualistic. Many thought reaching their heaven was guaranteed even if they remained sinful. It would take many pages to describe the complex society that awaited Srila Prabhupada's arrival, but it was basically a frustrating time of "perhaps, maybe" futuristic science and the philosophy of life: "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die."
That critical mass was reached in 1966, when Srila Prabhupada, then Swamiji, opened the door of his little rented storefront. At that moment the transcendental plane, like a bolt of lightening, intersected the mundane plane, igniting a chain reaction that continues around the world, burning to ashes the most cherished illusions of conditioned souls.
Comprehending how Srila Prabhupada acquired the benediction of spiritual potency he carried with him to America requires some historical review. Srila Prabhupada once explained that Lord Caitanya picked Srila Rupa Goswami because he was qualified to bear the burden of the responsibility of teaching the science of devotional service. He was fit. "Nana-sastra-vicaranaika-nilpunau sad-dharma-samsthapakau," the Goswamis led by Rupa Goswami scrutinizingly studied the Vedic literatures to extract the essence of "Krsna Bhakti rasabhavamrta," translated by Srila Prabhupada in his Nectar of Devotion as "Krsna consciousness." In his turn, Srila Prabhupada studied the Six Goswamis and previous Acaryas, compiled the realizations of these great souls and included them in purports along with his own infallible wisdom – all in a way just suitable for the understanding of modern man.
The magnitude of Srila Prabhupada's accomplishment must be viewed on the cosmic scale. Lord Krsna appears once only in a day of Lord Brahma, of 4,320,000 x 1,000 solar years, a period of time beyond human imagination. Although there are many hundreds of thousands of planets in this middle planetary system, Earth is the planet where Lord Krsna Himself appears to display His eternal pastimes, not elsewhere. 4,320,000 solar years equals one cycle of four yugas, and in each yuga there appears a Yuga Avatar to teach the Yuga Dharma. The Yuga Avatar is white in Satya, red in Treta, syama (dark blue) in Dvapara and blackish in Kali. The Kali-yuga Avatar is usually blackish, "but in special cases pita (yellow) as Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the Kali-yuga (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20.246 purport).
Out of the four bona fide Vaisnava Sampradayas, Lord Caitanya chose to appear in the Brahma-Madhva Sampradaya. Why He did so can be surmised from the following explanations in the Caitanya-caritamrta:
"Srila Bhaktisiddhanta remarks that in the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya – up to the advent of His Holiness Sripada Laksmipati Tirtha – only Lord Krsna was worshipped. After Srila Madhavendra Puri worship of both Radha and Krsna was established. For this reason Sri Madhavendra Puri is accepted as the root of worship in ecstatic love. Unless one is connected to the disciplic succession of Madhavendra Puri, there is no possibility of awakening the symptoms of ecstatic love." (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 9.289 purport)
"The process of worship in the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya was full of ritualistic ceremonies, with hardly a sign of love of Godhead; Sri Madhavendra Puri was the first person in the disciplic succession to exhibit symptoms of love of Godhead." (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 9.10 purport)
"Out of the four sampradayas, Sri Madhva Sampradaya was accepted by Madhavendra Puri. Beginning from Madhvacarya down to the spiritual master of Madhavendra Puri… there was no realization of devotional service in conjugal love. Sri Madhavendra Puri introduced the conception of conjugal love for the first time in the Madhavacarya Sampradaya…" (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 4.197 purport)
Now according to the symptoms of Kali-yuga described in the Srimad Bhagavatam, things are degrading very quickly, considering only 5,000 years have passed out of 432,000 total. Fifty or sixty years ago abortion was criminal, rape was a capital offense, gambling was restricted to special locations, pornography and cursing in the media was forbidden and strictly monitored by government agencies, child abuse was rarely in the news, and "serial killers", "home invasions", and organized international terrorism were unheard of. Could it be that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's appearance in this particular Kali-yuga signals it to be especially pernicious? Winter is winter, but some winters are severe.
Be that as it may, still we are most fortunate to be here now, so close in time to Lord Krsna and Lord Caitanya's appearances. Close enough to guarantee that Their spoken words and pastimes would be passed on in our disciplic succession without change in meaning, as epitomized by Srila Prabhupada's teachings. After all, there are innumerable living entities, spirit-souls, persons like us but in different dresses all around us, yet we find ourselves in human form, born at the right time and the right place to obtain Srila Prabhupada's mercy. Our reciprocation, our mission is simple: pass it on as it is. Srila Prabhupada said, "I am the tenth Acarya in line from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and you are next."
Although not officially accepted by other Vaisnava sampradayas, Lord Caitanya is confirmed as "Krsna-varnam", the same category or division as Krsna Himself (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32). Lord Caitanya's characteristic and mission is confirmed in numerous sastras, including the Arthava Veda, Sama Veda, Mundaka Upanisad, Garuda Purana, Nrisimha Purana, Ananta-samhita, Brahmayama, Kulanava Tantra, et al. For example, in the Devi Purana it is said: "The Supreme Personality will appear again in this world. His name will be Krsna Caitanya and He will spread the chanting of the Lord's holy names." And in the Padma Purana it is stated, "In the 1st Sandhya of Kali-yuga I will appear on Earth in a beautiful place by Ganges' shores. I will be the son of Saci-devi and my complexion will be golden."
So by appearing in the Brahma-Madhava Sampradaya, teaching and demonstrating the highest conceptions of God and love of God, Lord Krsna Caitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, made the succeeding Acaryas in that line the highest authorities on the Science of God. As Srila Prabhupada remarked about Lord Krsna's Gita, "Nobody can explain God better than God Himself." The same holds true for Lord Caitanya's instructions as recorded by His exalted followers such as the Six Goswamis and Krsnadas Kaviraj and perfectly translated and explained by Srila Prabhupada.
The Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, therefore, presents the summum bonum, the ultimate siddhanta and realization of the Absolute Personality of Godhead – beyond that of other sampradayas, what to speak of sectarian religions of the day – as exemplified by the concept of "inconceivably simultaneously one and different." Because Srila Prabhupada became the topmost preacher in the sampradaya in which Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught, he is qualified to be Acarya of all Vaisnavas in whichever sampradaya or community they may be. There is simply no higher Vaisnava siddhanta than Srila Prabhupada has already preached around the world, purporting exactly what Lord Caitanya and the Goswamis taught without changing the meaning, at all. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada is everyone's Acarya, a true universal Acarya, and actually the world Acarya beyond any doubt. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivinode Thakur are also World Acaryas, teachers of everyone. But it is through Srila Prabhupada that these greatest of souls have acted in a missionary spirit, that same missionary spirit of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They are teaching through Srila Prabhupada, their perfect transparent medium and they must be understood through him, not directly. That is the meaning of parampara, one cannot jump over to a previous Acarya for understanding.
For example, when asked whether his disciples could translate and publish the writings of other previous Acaryas after his disappearance, Srila Prabhupada replied, "A realized soul, must be. Otherwise, simply imitating A-B-C-D will not help. My purports are liked by people because it is presented as practical experience… Our translation must be document. They are not ordinary… One cannot become unless one is very realized. It is not A-B-C-D translation." (May 28, 1977, Vrindavan). In other words, Srila Prabhupada is giving permission for a disciple who has first fully realized his teachings, not simply theoretically or grammatically. Such a fully realized soul would be competent to translate previous Acaryas.
Recent history has demonstrated Srila Prabhupada to be by far the greatest exponent of Lord Caitanya's teachings, who freed them, carried them from the Indian sub-continent to the rest of the world. It is said that Nityananda Prabhu plundered the storehouse of love of God when preaching in Bengal by the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. 477 years later Srila Prabhupada again plundered that storehouse, only to return with the treasure to India to distribute it once again! These feats are impossible to duplicate. They have already changed the course of history.
In 1972, Sridham Mayapur, after a morning lecture all the assembled devotees were paying their obeisances to Srila Prabhupada. One old Bengali gentleman stood up, and leaning on his cane he spoke up loudly, "Save the whole world Prabhupada. Prabhupada save the whole world!" Yes! And in due time, people will understand the true meaning of "Prabhupada" – the Master (Prabhu) at whose lotus feet (pada) all others pay their obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada…
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