Ravindra Svarupa dasa
A paper delivered at the Vaishnava Academy conference held in Weisbaden, Germany in January 1994. Published in ISKCON Communications Journal, No. 3 (January-June 1994), 43-52 (Part 1) and No. 4 (July-December 1994), 25-33 (Part 2).
In 1971 I underwent the profoundly wrenching change of becoming a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, leaving one life and embarking on another. I abandoned old associations to immerse myself totally in the life of a tight-knit temple commune; I radically restyled my exterior to complement my utterly changed interior. I became a stranger in my own land.
I undertook such an arduous passage because I was convinced that I was thereby effecting an ontological crossing: I was leaving the material dimension for the spiritual, awakening from the nightmare of history to the peace of eternity. ISKCON temples were embassies of the kingdom of God. Although apparently located in Maya’s realm, they were under direct divine jurisdiction. There the powers of material conditioning and desire had no sway. This is what I believed.
Looking back at that younger self of mine—twenty-six years old at the time—I am appalled by his naiveté—”stupidity” would be appropriate—and at the same time awed by his sacrificial commitment. Foolish and ignorant though he was, I am more than ever convinced that, by the grace of God, he made the right choice. That decision of my younger self is indeed the spiritual capital on which I still live. My self-doubt, rather, is whether I would at this time have the courage to make such a decision, knowing what I know now. Continue reading
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This work, Śrīla Prabhupāda: The Founder-Ācāryaof ISKCON, authored by Ravīndra Svarūpa Dāsa, is officially endorsed byISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC).
The GBC requests all devotees and friends of ISKCON to give deep and careful attention to this work. To do so will
broaden our collective understanding of, and appreciation for, the position of Śrīla Prabhupāda and his unique role in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
In this regard, the strategic planning team was acutely aware that the near future would confront ISKCON with a critical challenge: the unavoidable transition to a time when all devotees with direct experience of its Founder-Ācārya are gone. This imminent loss became an additional incentive for the work of the Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Position Committee (SPPC). All its members understood that Śrīla Prabhupāda should be no less a presence to subsequent generations than he has been to the first. (Indeed, some believed, he could be even more.) How to facilitate this? How to foster in all devotees in ISKCON, generation after generation, an ever-increasing awareness of their deep connection with its Founder-Ācārya, so that all encounter him as a living presence in their lives? How will his mission, his teachings, his vision, his determination, his mercy, become one with each and every beating heart?
On the eleventh of July, 1966, in New York, Srila Prabhupada incorporated the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. By then, Prabhupada had already discovered an audience for his exposition of Srimad Bhagavatam, an expositon he characterised as ‘a cultural presentation for the respiritualisation of the entire human society’ (Bhag. Canto 1, Preface). In a further step toward the culture of ‘respiritualisation’, he established ISKCON. ISKCON was to be an exemplary society, within which the culture of Srimad-Bhagavatam would be realised and by which it would be spread to the rest of the world.
While that much has always been bedrock truth to ISKCON’s members, it is a fact that over ISKCON’s thirty-three years, their ideas of what exactly ISKCON is, in terms of its internal articulation, and of how it should relate itself to the surrounding society have been fluid. The ideas of its members have undergone changes. It seems that even Prabhupada’s ideas changed. Continue reading
Our print and electronic media abound in forecasts—weather, economic, scientific, political, fashion, and on and on. There’s a demand for forecasts. It helps to know the future. Therefore, we seek eagerly the vision of experts, the adept. Among these seers we must note that special class called sages or saints. Their forecasts are accorded the upgrade to prophecy, to revelation, since the divine is alleged to enlighten their visions.
So the followers of Shrila Prabhupada received his prediction, made on April 4, 1975, of the imminent outbreak of World War III. Taking his regular early morning constitutional, striding among an entourage of aides through the green fields of Mayapur, conversing about the delusions of modernity—of the “Western adventure”—Prabhupada suddenly said: “Now it will be smashed by the next war. Next war will come very soon.”
The devotees around him were shocked. It was hard to remember if this type of prediction had ever come from Prabhupada before. And the content of this prediction was especially alarming. Continue reading
Five hundred and twenty three years ago, on this full moon night in the month of Govinda, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in the world, the avatāra descended to deliver Kṛṣṇa prema to the extremely fallen people of this Kali-yuga.
Caitanya is Kṛṣṇa himself. In order to most completely offer his divine mercy, he does not come as the Lord. Covering his Godhood, he appears in the form of his own devotee (bhakta-rupa). The mercy of the Lord has ever been most fully delivered through his devotees. Not to be outdone, the Lord himself takes on the emotions and actions of his own devotee. He is thus both the supreme master and the supreme servant.
When he descends as Caitanya, he brings with him his divine expansions and energies, the closest of whom also act with him as devotees. The Lord and his four immediate associates constitute a set called the Pañca-tattva. Continue reading