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Srila Prabhupada – The Journey before Iskcon

Following is an excerpt from the lecture on Srila Prabhupada – The Journey before Iskcon by HG Vraj Bihari Prabhu.

Three important teachings that Srila Prabhupada’s life teaches us are Samskhara, Suffering and Shelter. Samskhara means power of giving Krishna conscious to your children and family. Samskhara also means purificatory ceremonies. Suffering means all the material and mental problems we face in our life whoever we are.

Srila Prabhupada was born as Abhay Charan on Nandotsava day of 1896 in Bengal to Gaur Mohan De and Rajani. Gaur Mohan was doing a cloth business and he is such a devotee that Prabhupada tells that main business of his father is chanting and worshipping and cloth business is a side business. Even at a very little age around 4 years, Abhay went with a Babuji to help in Plague. His father taught him “If Krishna wants to give you, how much you can receive in your two hands? And If Krishna wants to take from you, how much you can stop with your two hands?” Gaur Mohan did not let Abhay go to English Society saying that he may be attracted to sense gratification. Instead he taught Abhay Srimad Bhagavatam. His parents gave the best to Abhay – Good education, Samskhara and Unconditional love.

In 1905, many Hindu-Muslim problems were going on Bengal. Once Abhay was lost in a Hindu-Muslim raid and got into the hands of Muslims. He narrowly survived and later united with his family. Around when he was 16 years old, his mom died, leaving him so worried. Abhay was admitted to Scottish Church College. Abhay was involved in many things like English society, Sanskrit society, Economics, Philosophy, Theatre group and Freedom movement and he was excellent in most things. But sometimes he sat alone in library and felt that he was not being true to himself. Even though his parents want him to pure devotee, they got him married to Radharani Devi at the age of 22 years. He sacrificed his affection to another girl for his father’s words. One day, at his dream, Krishna deity that his father gave him long back came and asked Abhay “Why you stopped worshipping us?” Abhay realized what he wants truly and never stopped worshipping again.

During freedom struggle, he got attracted to Mahatma Gandhi and got faith in Vedic culture of India. He thought that independence will bring back spirituality in India. Abhay followed Khadi movement and rejected his degree in protest. In advice of his father, Abhay joined with Kartik Bose who is a famous pharmaceutical merchant. Soon Abhay became wealthy and got two children.

One day, his friend Narandranath Malik compelled him to attain a session of Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. Abhay attended without interest and when he was about to leave, Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur ordered him “As you are a man who learned English, you should spread the words of Lord Chaitanya in English”. On hearing this, Abhay got tensed and said that “When India is under the British rule, who will hear the words of Krishna and Chaitanya. We need independence first”. Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur replied with no change in reaction “The message of Krishna conscious cannot wait till independence as this is the only problem in the world now”. After a two-hour debate, Abhay was convinced by Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur logically.

Abhay went to Allahabad for expanding business and opened Prayag Pharmacy. It became great success and his contact circle became bigger and business had increased exponentially. After six years of meeting with Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, Abhay gain met the devotees of Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur and gave all help they need. After that, he went to Vrindavan to see Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. After sometime, Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur came to Allahabad and Abhay finally met his spiritual master. Also he got his initiation and came close to his master.

After that Abhay met with great failure in business and had to leave Allahabad unemployed. So he came to Bombay and started his new business. But he didn’t leave chanting and preaching. He made every effort and made the Bombay temple real. When he met his master he asked “How can I serve you”. Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur told him to write books and preach Krishna consciousness. Once again, Abhay faced losses in his business and had to leave Bombay. He then started a business in Calcutta which also felt the same fate. At that time, Abhay read a verse in Srimad Bhagavatam in which Krishna says “To whom I love much, I will take away all his wealth”. Other devotees told him to leave everything and start preaching. But still Abhay felt that he had to complete his family responsibilities. So he started business again. But that too felt the same fate as before. Even his master Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakur came in his dream and told him to take up preaching. But Abhay still believe in completing his family responsibilities. At last, he became so poor and his wife had left him. His son also went mad due to continuous problems.

Now he had no financial support, no moral support and almost be like a beggar. Then he took shelter in Krishna and started preaching Krishna conscious to all. Prabhupada started writing and selling books to all with no financial support. He left home and started a periodical called “Back to Godhead”. He personally went home to home selling the periodical. He knows that writing is a best way to avoid depression and also to preach many. He also asked many persons for sponsor and got some help. Few years later, Prabhupada came back to Vrindavan and wished to preach in Western world. He also did complete his wish and created many temples in Western world.

This is very beautifully explained in this Video, please play this video and listen to this video.

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