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Journey of Srila Prabhupada – From India to USA

Following is an excerpt from the lecture on Journey of Srila Prabhupada – from India to USA – Vraja Bihari Das.

Material attachment is very painful which will only give suffering. But at the same time if you can develope the same intensity of attachment to Krishna’s pure devotees, it will open the doors of liberation. So we are very fortunate to hear about Srila Prabhupada by reading his past times, we can develop this attachment to Srila Prabhupada and then an internal life with happiness is guaranteed.

Srila prabhupada who mercifully traveled across the ocean, who left the shores of India, was only following the order of his spiritual master to give Krishna consciousness to everyone. If you see Srila Prabhupada’s past times from 1896 when he was born till the time he established ISKCON in 1966 , it is simply set-backs that came one after another. So if anybody wants to study the subject matter on failure and stepping stone to success then the most inspiring example would be Srila Prabhupada who’s life was nothing but one set-back after another. His business collapsed, he made major losses in his investments and sometimes there were initial success but eventually failures and the institutional support also broke apart because of the politics and fights.

There was no financial support, family life slowly crumbled. Eventually, Srila Prabhupada’s failures and set-backs were many and a normal person would not handle it. But Srila prabhupada displayed unflinching faith in the order of his spiritual master which is unprecedented. It wasn’t easy after going to USA to spread Krishna consciousness because people were not waiting for Srila Prabhupada at the airport with garlands to welcome him thinking that a pure devotee has come to start ISKCON. It was again failures after failures.

Logically and materially there are many reasons of what Srila prabhupada is planning cannot happen.
1. Externally if you see, Srila prabhupada has only faced failures in all situation where he is embarking upon the most ambitious project of all time and it was not he has establised ISKCON in India and not he is going to US to do the same.
2. No prior knowledge about the country and he went to America.
If you’re going to a country to preach then you should know what is the country like and what are the people over there are like. Srila Prabhupada himself admitted that he does not have any knowledge about America. Still you can go to a new place and preach if you at least have a clear plan of action and Srila Prabhupada admitted that he didn’t have any plan of action.
3. The place where Srila Prabhupada lived was a horrible place in America. Imagine the worst place where there are prostitutes, drug lords and, crazy homeless people wandering and then imagine somebody living in that place and starting a world wide spiritual movement. So where Srila Prabhupada lived makes it highly improbable for Krishna consciousness to spread all over the world.
4. The time when Srila Prabhupada was planning to spread Krishna consciousness in America in mid 1960’s was the time when drug and counter culture movement was going on against the established cultural norms and there was lot of emphasis on drug addiction.
5. What was Srila Prabhupada presenting in this period of time place and circumstances. He is preaching exactly opposite of what the social scene was at that time.

It was just like Srila Prabhupada was building a house where there is cyclone of material energies, destroying everything that comes in the middle and in that Srila Prabhupada was building a house where the whole world can live by establishing ISKCON. So here is an old sadhu sanyasi coming to this environment to preach his message. And what happens then is a remarkable story of faith, devotion and success which is beyond human comprehension and human explanation. In fact we should not be surprised if after some decades maybe after our life time, it is highly possible that people will read Srila Prabhupada’s past time and be shocked and skepticism thinking this is mythology.

The first Sankirtan happened in New York. This was the first public Kirtan of Hare Krishna held in Washington Square Park in New York on a Sunday afternoon. Srila Prabhupada saw that his disciples were organizing his lectures in big halls and only 4-5 people would come for the lecture so one day Srila prabhupada said to his student “Today, we will do Kirtan in park” the students obviously were shocked because they had never done Kirtan outside the room, 26 2nd Avenue. The students still were not sure of doing the Kirtan in an open park but Srila prabhupada assured them not to worry and started walking towards the park and his students followed him fearing what will happen now because nobody has done it in the history of America.

Srila Prabhupada sat in the park and started the Kirtan and his students had this awkwardness among themselves and suddenly a policemen appears and asks the students that who was in-charge of them and everybody looked at Srila Prabhupada because he was the one to instruct everyone. The policeman said to Srila Prabhupada that “Can’t you read the sign board” which said Keep off the grass, so Srila Prabhupada looked at the sign board and just took step and got off the grass and sat on the pavement and stared doing Kirtan again, The Policemen were also bewailed because they couldn’t do anything. Slowly the Kirtan got faster and everybody got up and started dancing, Srila prabhupada broke the American silence and actually gave the holy name to America and then it became a sensation and after the Kirtan, Srila prabhupada walked back to his place and lots of people started following him. And that is how he attracted lot of young boys and girls. That is how Srila Prabhupada had spread Krishna Consciousness in New York. And from New York he went to San Francisco and from there he trained his disciples which is how Krishna Consciousness spread all over the world.

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