Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada

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Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami
Maharaja Prabhupada

His Life, Teachings, and Pastimes

with Brief Descriptions of the Lives of His Contemporaries

Compiled by

Bhakti Vikasa Swami


During the late 70’s and 80’s, preaching duties in Bengal now and then brought me in contact with direct disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and also with disciples of his disciples. From them I heard stories and teachings of Sarasvati Thakura. Hearing little bits here and there, my heart filled with wonder, and also pride on being connected with such a powerful transcendental personality. My eagerness to hear more increased.

From my very beginning days in Krsna consciousness I — and surely all others in ISKCON also — was attracted by the personality of Sarasvati Thakura. I would often look up at the big painting of him on the wall of our Bury Place (London) temple. It was as if his serious gaze came down directly from Goloka Vrndavana. He was known as simha-guru — a spiritual master as fearsome to non-devotees as a lion. Who would not be impressed on hearing of his austerity, learning, strictness, and above all his unflinching devotion to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Sri Sri Radha Krsna, and his uncompromising, determined preaching of Their glories?

Our own glorious spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada, was another transcendental “superman”. Srila Prabhupada was utterly surrendered at the lotus feet of his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and always considered himself a humble servant of his spiritual master. Those of unbiased mind understand both to be empowered acaryas, saktyavesa-avataras.

By his unbreakable bond of devotion to Srila Sarasvati Thakura, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has, by initiating us, linked us also eternally to his spiritual master.

After the disappearance of our beloved Srila Prabhupada, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami wrote the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta. Gradually more books revealing the lives of Srila Prabhupada and other previous acaryas are being rendered in English. Devotees are hungry for such literature. We conditioned souls need to associate with great devotees, either first-hand by personal contact or by hearing of their pastimes. The acaryas give us inspiration, instruction and hope.

Srila Prabhupada was the first acarya in history about whom so much biographical detail has been recorded. It is a great loss to the world that such records have not been kept about other great devotees in the past. Anything a pure devotee of Krsna does and says is important for us poor conditioned souls who are simply trying to run along behind in their footsteps. This is especially true of those great acaryas who come to this world with the specific purpose of saving the conditioned souls. Thinking like this, I considered that much could still be preserved about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada from his still remaining disciples. I often considered collecting whatever information I could from these disciples, but put off the idea many times. After all, Srila Prabhupada had warned us against mixing intimately with his Godbrothers. Also, as an insignificant member of the Vaisnava community, I felt it presumptuous to take up personally such an important project, which would entail approaching such senior Vaisnavas as my spiritual master’s Godbrothers.

I think it was towards the end of 1988 when I had gradually built up my courage and decided to take up this project. I considered that no-one else was likely to do it, and that the work should be taken up immediately. The number of Sarasvati Thakura’s disciples still present was already much diminished. Very soon it was going to be zero. At that time Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja, who could have revealed oceans of nectarean pastimes, was incapacitated and was hardly speaking to anyone. Shortly thereafter, he passed away from this world. So I missed the opportunity of interviewing him.

At least three biographies of Sarasvati Thakura have been written in Bengali (which I have a good working knowledge of) and one in Oriya. One of them, translated into English and published by the Caitanya Matha, was used as the basis of Rupa-vilasa Prabhu’s “A Ray of Visnu”. Unfortunately, the book on which “A Ray of Visnu” is based is incomplete, biased and slanted. The three biographies of Sarasvati Thakura in Bengali were written by the followers of different parties, after the split in the Gaudiya Matha. All were written with party feelings. They were not objective. For instance, in the book published by the Caitanya Matha, the names of some of the most famous of Sarasvati Thakura’s disciples were not even mentioned. Ananta Vasudeva, Sundarananda Vidyavinoda and others, were prominent associates of Sarasvati Thakura. But the infighting in the Gaudiya Matha was so bitter that opposing factions have literally tried to edit each other out of existence. Each party gives all credit to the spread of the Gaudiya Matha to their own leader.

Another drawback of these biographies is lack of professional biographical style. They are mostly lists of statements such as: “He did this”, “he went there”, “he said that”, “he gave a lecture”, “he met such-and-such a person”, etc. Even that it is valuable. What is lacking are intimate anecdotes which bring out the personality of the acarya.

I took up the task of meeting the remaining disciples of Sarasvati Thakura, being well-aware of Prabhupada’s warning about mixing intimately with his Godbrothers. I was determined not to be swayed by anything they might say. Several of our Guru Maharaja’s Godbrothers (Srila Prabhupada once referred to them as “my so-called Godbrothers”) seemed to have nothing better to do than to criticize Srila Prabhupada, his followers, and everything he did or said. Knowing that such persons would not be at all willing to help me (and probably not able to do so) I resolved that, having come in the presence of such persons, and having detected their attitude, I would not stay with them any longer than the time it took to get away from them.

Notwithstanding such fears of unpleasant encounters, my search for disciples of Sarasvati Thakura took me to different places in Bengal and Orissa and also to Vrndavana. Armed with a cassette recorder, I visited first of all different Asramas of the Gaudiya Matha and related organizations. I was able to meet several elderly sannyasis and brahmacaris. Gradually I got to find out the whereabouts of the few remaining disciples of Sarasvati Thakura. The search for his householder disciples led me to some remote places. I undertook a few long journeys with no-one to be found at the end of them. Most of the devotees approached were either not willing to speak, did not take me very seriously, or did not have much to say anyway, having had limited association with Sarasvati Thakura. Curiously enough, those who were living in Mathas, especially sannyasis, were generally the least willing to help. The householder devotees were usually more happy to receive me.

It was my great good fortune to come across Sripada Jyotisekhara Prabhu. From the age of sixteen, he had been a brahmacari in the Gaudiya Matha and had seen and heard much of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. After the break-up of Gaudiya Matha, he could, had he desired, have taken a prominent position in the Gaudiya Mission (one of the main factions). Instead, being disappointed with the infighting, he chose to leave the mission and live a quiet life as a householder. I met him at his residence in Cuttack, a city in Orissa. Cuttack was his birthplace and where he had grown up and gone to school. We sat together on the floor of his tiny thatched-roof temple at his home. Over several visits of several days each, he gradually revealed to me dozens of stories of Sarasvati Thakura. Jyotisekhara Prabhu once told me, “You are like a train and I have got the goods. You will take the goods to the destination. For many years I was carrying these memories of Sarasvati Thakura. Sometimes I remembered them, but, due to being engaged in family affairs, I was mostly forgetting them. But now you have come, these things will not be lost. They will be revealed to the world.” Jyotisekhara Prabhu and his family members were very kind to me. Jyotisekhara Prabhu reflected the kindness and affection which he had received from Sarasvati Thakura.

Great Loss To The World

Those who lives and achievements are extraordinary become natural subjects of biographies. There have been hundreds and thousands of biographies and autobiographies published about this world’s great soldiers, politicians, revolutionaries, intellectuals and philosophers. However, the Vaisnavas know that the only biographical works of any real value are those of Krsna, His expansions, and His devotees. Every moment of every day that a maha-bhagavata Vaisnava appears in this world is full of transcendental meaning. However, it is not possible to record every minute detail of the activities of a Vaisnava. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami has expressed similar feelings of inability in documenting the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. [possible quotes: Antya 5 p.113, Antya 4 p.190, Madhya 6 p.304]

The lives of great people (even those of the mundane world) are packed with interesting, instructive activity, incidents and dialogue. Others who come in contact with such special people also start to become special. We can practically experience in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, that the members of this society, having taken up the mission of the great acaryas, lead transcendentally fulfilled, exciting lives. Every day a new book could be compiled about the adventures of the members of ISKCON, especially of the front-line preachers. How much can be recorded? How much can be saved? Krsnadasa Kaviraja writes... [see above for quotes].

In this book I have gathered just a tiny fraction of the vast treasure house of stories of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakura. If all his disciples, admirers and acquaintances had been interviewed, what a vast stock of transcendental nectar could have been preserved!

Let us not make the same mistake in this generation. Let us collect and publish dozens of books of the pastimes of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. What has been produced so far is just a drop in the ocean. Every disciple of Srila Prabhupada should record and publish their experiences of him, even if it is very little or apparently not very significant.

Warning: Follow, Don’t Imitate

This book gives intimate insights into the personality and character of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, and thus helps to reveal the greatness of an actually empowered acarya. Devotees from the group of Radharani’s most intimate associates appear very occasionally in this world. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is one of them. We would not expect such a person, whose level of consciousness is perpetually far above ours, to act, speak or think like an ordinary conditioned soul. As natural as it is for the conditioned souls to be ever immersed in maya, so similarly the Krsna conscious liberated souls are ever averse to maya and prone to Krsna. These anecdotes and pastimes of Sarasvati Thakura reveal the behavior of such a liberated person. In coming to this world he apparently acts as one of us, yet his purpose is to bring us back to that world for which he in separation keenly hankers for at every moment.

Understanding the almost unlimited gap between ourselves and such great souls — a gap which they only out of their mercy make bridgeable — we should be most cautious not to imitate that which is inimitable. The position of great acaryas is incomparable with even the greatest of great persons of this material world. Still, in many ways, an acarya appears to act as an ordinary person. He walks with us, talks with us, eats as we do, goes from place to place by vehicle or on foot, wear clothes as we do. Still, the great devotees’ intense love

for Krsna never fails them even for a particle of a moment. Furthermore, they are clearly set apart by their ability to infuse such devotion into the hearts of those who are bereft of that devotion.

By their mercy, those conditioned souls who they pick up can also become glorified members of the guru-parampara by speaking the same message of Krsna to others. The great acaryas teach us to speak, and by their mercy our preaching may be effective to purify the next generation of devotees after us. However, those who are fresh from the contamination of maya and have barely just begun to stand on their feet in Krsna consciousness, yet who by the order and mercy of the guru parampara are also gurus in parampara, will do well to study the all-around excellence that naturally decorates a nitya-siddha maha-bhagavata. Let us study and worship the behavior and character of the actual Vaisnavas so that we may be purified. Such behavior is our ideal.

Srila Prabhupada advised us to follow in the footsteps of great personalities (anusarana), not to imitate them (anukarana). By speaking on intimate topics of Krsna consciousness and by taking a regal position, senior devotees can advertise themselves to innocent beginners as being highly elevated. But an external show of advancement, if not backed up by the spotlessly pure consciousness which is inherent in great acaryas, may lead to falldown.

On the other hand, if the follower is not an imitator, but speaks the same truths which the great acaryas do, knowing the gap between himself and the great acaryas, and does not pretend to himself or to others about the gap between his speaking and realizations, and thus acts as a humble servant of the great acaryas, then he comes under the shelter of the internal energy.

One who has dedicated his life to the service of the internal energy, may, due to past contamination, sometimes be affected by the external energy. But because of his unpretentiousness in serving the mahatmas who are situated in the spiritual energy, by preaching their message, he is protected by them from falldown into the external energy. Gradually becoming purified, he also becomes fully situated in the internal energy. Then he also acts and speaks wonderfully. Even before full purification, he can do wonderful things by the grace of the previous acaryas. But as soon as one thinks himself great, that by his own prowess he is acting wonderfully, then all his wonderful activities will be reduced to nothing. He may even find himself as a beggar in the street, rejected at least temporarily from the service of the absolute. The absolute can not be served by duality.

A Doubt

It may be questioned how reliable are these anecdotes that I have collected. After all, even immediately after an accident or crime, when police collect eyewitness accounts, they get different versions. How can credit be given to stories that have been told many years after they took place? My reply is that apparent discrepancies in the details of the incidents being related will not blemish the text. What we are trying to present are the instructions and the mood of the acarya. We pray at the lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura that he may be pleased to be present in this book. I do not believe that any of the devotees I interviewed made up any story simply to exercise their imaginations or mislead others. Admittedly exact details may have become obscured by time.

The “Prabhupada” Controversy

According to Hari-bhakti-vilasa, the spiritual master is to be honored with titles such as Visnupada or Prabhupada. The caste Goswamis of Bengal regularly confer the title Prabhupada on dubious “gurus” of no particular stature. However, in the actual sampradaya of Lord Caitanya, the title Prabhupada has only been used for outstanding acaryas who have made monumental contributions of literature and/or preaching. It is a title which implies the utmost respect, for one hundred percent pure devotees who are transparent via mediums of the parampara and are really as good as God inasmuch as they totally represents, understand, realize and preach the mission of God.

Examples of Prabhupadas are Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada and Srila Jiva Goswami Prabhupada. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Prabhupada was generally referred to as “Srila Prabhupada” by his disciples, who, after his departure, decided that in future the title Prabhupada not be given to anyone else. Such a sentiment precluded the transcendental reality that God regularly sends His messengers to this world to perform mighty acts on His behalf.

To date, the disciples, grand-disciples and subsequent disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati who are not in ISKCON, refer to him only as “Srila Prabhupada.” Many of them resent that members of ISKCON use the title “Srila Prabhupada” to refer to A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Thus, the usage of the title of Prabhupada for ISKCON’s founder-acarya unnecessarily remains a point of contention. There is no strong reason for the claim that the title Prabhupada be used only for Sarasvati Thakura. Clearly, the achievements of A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami demand that he also be known as Prabhupada. Only those influenced by envy can deny it.

However, it is true that some confusion may be caused by using the same title for two acaryas, especially if one is a disciple of the other. Therefore throughout this book Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has been referred to as “Sarasvati Thakura” and A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami as “our Srila Prabhupada.” Srila Prabhupada is referred to as Abhaya De in anecdotes related about him before he took sannyasa. “De” is a Bengali appellant to a name signifying an older brother, and implying affection and respect.

Avoiding Controversy

It is not my position to judge or pass comment on senior Vaisnavas. Still, I cannot but resent the attempt of anyone to even subtly infer something against Prabhupada, or to minimize his position. If a so-called advanced or senior Vaisnava cannot appreciate the unique achievements of Srila Prabhupada, that is his misfortune. Some of our Godbrothers have approached Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers as curiosity seekers, trying to find out something “higher,” “deeper,” “more” than what Prabhupada taught us. In my mind there was no question of such meaningless, dangerous frivolities. I have firm faith that Srila Prabhupada has given us everything needed to become fully Krsna consciousness. Even if we never read any books other than his, the knowledge contained therein is totally sufficient for achieving all perfection. My endeavor to collect some valuable jewels of information about Sarasvati Thakura was devoid of the foolish attempt of trying to surpass my spiritual master. With this attitude, I felt chaste and protected. Jyotisekhara Prabhu understood and appreciated my position. He informed me that Jiva Goswami states in his Bhakti Sandarbha that the siksa-guru should instruct so as to complement, not disturb, the teachings of the diksa-guru.

Despite Srila Prabhupada’s warnings not to mix intimately with his Godbrothers, I felt protected in my position. My attitude in undertaking this research was one of service. I was not going as a novelty seeker. I was attempting to glorify the parampara by collecting some biographical details which would otherwise have been lost. I had accepted that Srila Prabhupada has fulfilled Sarasvati Thakura’s mission.

Jyotisekhara Prabhu appreciated his Godbrother Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and what he had done for spreading Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s mission. He also appreciated the work of ISKCON. Still, as an honest writer, I must record that he was not without his criticism and difference of opinion over certain things which Prabhupada had done.

Jyotisekhara Prabhu has been a lifelong supporter of Ananta Vasudeva (later known as Bhakti Prasada Puri Goswami Maharaja) and Bhakti Kevala Audalomi Maharaja — both controversial figures in the modern history of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Being junior to Jyotisekhara Prabhu, being a guest in his house, and anyway being little inclined to enter into a controversial discussion which would almost certainly have been fractious and inconclusive, I avoided deep discussion of points over which there would have been definite differences of opinion. Rather, we met on the happy ground of jointly glorifying Sarasvati Thakura to the world. Thus we have developed a relationship of affection and mutual respect. Jyotisekhara Prabhu is humble and gentle. He treats me respectfully as a householder to a sannyasi, although I am in every respect, except consideration of asrama, junior to him.

Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivedanta: Oneness and Difference

Most of these stories are beyond any question of controversy. But in several instances we find that Sarasvati Thakura’s instructions seem to differ from those of His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Actually there is no difference of opinion whatsoever between Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and “our” Srila Prabhupada. Only, according to time, place and circumstances they have presented Krsna consciousness a little differently. In siddhanta there is absolutely no difference at all.

The ocean of Vedic thought is vast, but the actual conclusion only one: surrender to Krsna. Different acaryas, preaching in different times and places, present the Vedic message in the manner most suitable to bring those they work among to the lotus feet of Krsna.

“Our” Srila Prabhupada, being empowered by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to fulfill his mission of worldwide preaching, did make some adjustments in the details of sadhana and organization. The time and place in which Srila Prabhupada operated were quite different from those of his guru. Both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada were revolutionaries. They both adopted whatever means were necessary to widely preach the message of Rupa and Raghunatha Goswamis in a rapidly changing world. Still, Sarasvati Thakura’s preaching mission was, in the cultural sense, more traditional than that of his successor, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Sarasvati Thakura was living and preaching in an India that, although degraded by the influence of Kali-yuga, was still far closer to her original culture and much less materialistic and confused than the India of today. In that relatively favorable atmosphere, Sarasvati Thakura and his followers were able to live more like traditional sadhus, with strong emphasis on practical renunciation. Although many of the things Sarasvati Thakura did were considered modern and revolutionary, still, the thrust of his preaching closely emphasized the same points that traditional Vaisnava acaryas had in the past.

True to his name, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was always meditating on and explaining the real siddhanta [conclusion] of the Vedas: bhakti, devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna. Non-devotee speculators try to explain the Vedic conclusions in their own way. They interpret the sastra to suit their own imaginary ideas. Modern Vedic culture is thus mixed with apasiddhantas, wrong conclusions supposedly or otherwise extrapolated from the Vedic texts. Sarasvati Thakura, like Jiva Gosvami before him, expertly presented the real meaning of the scriptures and established Krsna consciousness as supreme. His message was clear: surrender to Krsna. The main obstacles to Krsna consciousness which he had to challenge were Mayavada and sahajiya-ism. His language was almost forbiddingly scholarly, being aimed at the highly educated classes, who had at least some knowledge of Vedic philosophy.

Much of his preaching was aimed at exposing and correcting the prevalent misconceptions and distortions of Vedic philosophy. He preached mostly in Bengali, a language 90% derived from Sanskrit. The whole preaching condition lent itself to constant absorption in deep and subtle philosophical concepts and use of highly Sanskritized language. Although he often used simple analogies and instructive stories, his general presentation was complex.

Our Srila Prabhupada took the same message to the whole world. Necessarily, he explained everything clearly and simply so that even those unfamiliar with Vedic philosophy could easily understand. He had to preach in a totally different ethos, to people who had no idea of actual philosophy. Actual philosophy means Vedic philosophy, but most of his audience had never heard of the Vedas and certainly did not accept their authority. Only after much endeavor by Srila Prabhupada was he able to convince a few Westerners of the very first lesson of Vedic knowledge: “You are not this body.” Even in India, people were far more fallen than in his spiritual master’s time. Finding the people of the world initially unfit for receiving the Vedic philosophy in its full depth, he put much concentration into exposing the defects of the modern “hog and dog” civilization. In bringing Krsna consciousness to the masses, Srila Prabhupada preached extensively against sinful life (especially the rampant illicit sex and animal slaughter he encountered in the western world), bogus science and atheistic governments.

Gradually, Srila Prabhupada revealed more and more of the intricacies of Vedic philosophy to his disciples. Anyone who spent any time with Srila Prabhupada knows that he incessantly expounded Vedic philosophy.

Furthermore, he left us a complete treasury of Vedic knowledge in his books. As he said, “All that you need to know is in my books.” However, both in speaking and writing, Srila Prabhupada deliberately kept his presentation simple. He repeated the same basic points again and again: “You are not this body. You are eternal spirit soul, an eternal servant of God. Krsna is God. He is the Supreme Person. _ Sastra is the evidence. Bhakti is the only auspicious path for all living beings. In this age chanting the holy names is the recommended process.”

Srila Prabhupada also made some adjustments in the lifestyle of his devotees. He never asked his disciples to lead very austere lives. He adopted all kinds of means for spreading Krsna consciousness. He promoted aggressive book-sales and fund-raising. He even allowed unmarried women to live in the Asrama (separate from men) as brahmacarinis, gave brahminical initiation to women, and engaged them in Deity worship!

As Srila Prabhupada said, “I am 80% more lenient than my spiritual master.” Had he not been, Krsna consciousness could not have been spread all over the world.

For Indian people, austerity comes naturally. The public in India know how to receive and respect sadhus. But the western countries are soaked in sense gratification and cynicism. Indian devotees who have never been to the West cannot understand what a miracle Srila Prabhupada performed in spreading Krsna consciousness there, and why he needed to make the adjustments he did. That Srila Prabhupada was successful in spreading the name of Krsna all over the world is in itself proof that he never deviated even slightly from the mission of his Guru Maharaja. Had he deviated, how could he have got the potency and blessings to do what he did? Rather, as Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrother H.H.B.V.Puri Maharaja points out, “Bhaktivedanta Swami was the only disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who actually got his mercy.” Srila Prabhupada’s adjustments are not at all a deviation; rather, they imply expert application of the same principle of yukta-vairagya that Sarasvati Thakura made the principle of his mission.

Sarasvati Thakura and Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are both eternally liberated residents of Goloka Vrndavana who came to this world to preach Krsna consciousness. Both stood boldly and uncompromisingly against the world. Both risked everything for Krsna. Both successfully conducted the same mission of delivering many conditioned souls back to Godhead. Both were expert preachers, able not only to attract many followers to the camp of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but to engage them meaningfully in His service. Both were recognized scholars and profuse authors. The only difference is that Sarasvati Thakura’s presentation was complex, characterized by high, difficult language, and that his disciple, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, presented everything very simply. Whereas Sarasvati Thakura mostly contended with misinterpretations of Vedic philosophy, our Srila Prabhupada faced gross ignorance of even the basic tenets of Vedic life. Preaching among the mlecchas was a task his Godbrothers had given up as impossible. Srila Prabhupada not only brought thousands of so-called mlecchas to Krsna consciousness, he also elevated at least some of them to the position of world spiritual leaders. Those who still argue that Srila Prabhupada did not properly follow Sarasvati Thakura must be blind, mad, or afflicted with the poison of envy.

There is no need for confusion. Still, explanatory footnotes have been included to help clear up any potentially controversial points. Those looking for excuses to deviate from the straight path of the parampara will find faults even where there are none. Those who simply accept the reality — that Srila Prabhupada has fulfilled the wishes of Sarasvati Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the whole guru-parampara — will not become confused by imagining controversy where it does not exist.

Communication Problems

Many of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s instructions were coined in beautiful, original Bengali and Sanskrit idioms. As I am familiar with Bengali, it was a delightful experience to hear them re-spoken in the original by Jyotisekhara Prabhu. However, as almost all the readers of this book will not be able to appreciate these linguistic subtleties or the beauty of the language used, I have not attempted to communicate most of them in this book, but have simply re-stated them in simple English.

Kick On My Head

This is undoubtedly a rather unusual book. It largely consists of anecdotes of Sarasvati Thakura, most of which have never been published before in any language. It also includes some philosophical explanations given by Sarasvati Thakura, many of which have been recorded here and there in books and magazine articles in Bengali. These philosophical glimpses give insights into the transcendental intellectual depth and originality of Sarasvati Thakura. There are also some little pieces about Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora dasa Babaji and Jagannatha dasa Babaji, which I collected while interviewing disciples of Sarasvati Thakura.

Despite all the faults of this book, I am confident that most readers will find it enlivening and interesting. It is valuable because it preserves a part of our Vaisnava legacy that would otherwise have been lost to the world. It has many important instructions helpful for devotees practicing sadhana-bhakti and preaching Krsna consciousness.

At least it has increased my appreciation of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada. That alone is sufficient reward for me. If my readers also find their appreciation of the “lion-guru” enhanced, my endeavors will be further blessed.

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