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10. THE GOLDEN AGE
Devotee: In an article entitled Srila Prabhupada: The Founder-acdrya of the Golden Age, it is constantly emphasized that the formation of Srila Prabhupada's institution is the beginning of the Golden Age of Kali-yuga, and Srila Prabhupada is the acdrya for the Golden Age. Furthermore, the phrase, "For ten thousand years my books will guide the world," is often repeated. Are we to regard such statements as authoritative for all Vaisnavas, or could the author have been carried away by his own sentiments? Is Srila Prabhupada (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada) the acdrya for the Golden Age?Narasingha Maharaja: I think that the author has been carried away by his own sentiments. In the manuscript of reference, many statements are out of context, or rather statements are made with the bias of dmdra guru jagat-guru, 'my guru is jagat-guru.' Such statements have no universal application, however well intended their author.In any event, the phrase attributed to Srila Prabhupada, "For ten thousand years my books will guide the world," is actually not verifiable. He may or he may not have said it. Obviously, some devotees think that he did, otherwise they would not quote it. But it is not mentioned in any of the main writings, books, lectures, letters, room conversations, morning walks and so forth which have been recorded and preserved in the archives of our Guru Maharaja. Therefore, we do not accept such hearsay as an absolute or authoritative statement. There are 484 references by Srila Prabhupada in the Veda-Base Folio to "my books." None of them includes the famous quote about the 10,000 years, even remotely. In the Prabhupada Lilamrta we find the quote. Satsvarupa Maharaja writes: "One day in the car he had said, "My books will be the law-books for human society for the next ten thousand years." It is not mentioned where Srila Prabhupada said this, or when, or who was present.Nevertheless, let us consider the possible truth of the statement, for surely it has its validity in transcendental arrangements. What were Srila Prabhupada's books in the first place? Were his books his own creation, or were they something else? Srila Prabhupada's books were for the most part translations of, and commentaries on the already existing books written by such empowered personalities as Srila Vyasadeva, Srila krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, and Srila Rupa Gosvami.
Srila Prabhupada did not take credit for his own writing, but rather took pains repeatedly to proclaim that he was following in the footsteps of the previous acaryas. In fact, the Bhaktivedanta Purports are so much in line with the purports of previous acaryas that, in many cases, one could say they are translations of those of previous acaryas. Indeed they are, but one would never know it unless one took the trouble to examine the texts of the previous acaryas. In a recorded room conversation, Feb 26, 1973 Srila Prabhupada says: "They are not my books. I am simply translating."The intimate relation between the Bhaktivedanta Purports and those of the previous acaryas is the true glory of Srila Prabhupada. He did not add anything or take anything away; he simply repeated the words of previous acaryas. Therefore, how could the previous acaryas be any less important? We should remember that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that anyone who does not recognize his 'svarm is a prostitute. Mahaprabhu made this statement as an admonishment to Vallabhacarya, who failed to recognize die importance of Sridhara SvamI, the original commentator on Srimad Bhdgavatam.Srila Vyasadeva was directly empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the mature product of the samddhi (meditation) of Vyasadeva was Srimad Bhdgavatam. We find also that Srila Rupa Gosvami was directly empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to distribute bhakti-rasa throughout the world, and he was specifically instructed to write books on the science of krishna consciousness. Actually, it is Srila Rupa Gosvami who heads our sampraddya. He is the acarya of our sampraddya.
sri-caitanya'Tnano-bhistam sthapitam yena bhu-tule
svayam rupah kada mahyam dadati sva'padantikam
"When will Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Sri Caitanyadeva, give me shelter under his lotus feet.Srila Rupa Gosvami established the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this world, and thus it is he (Sri Rupa) who is the actual dcarya for the period of the Golden Age. Hence, all members of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sankirtana movement are called 'rupdnugds,' the followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami.
mahaprabhu Sri-caitanya, radha'krishna nahe anya
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Who is the undivided form of Sri Sri Radha-krishna, is very dear to the followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami." (Srila Sarasvati Thakura)The test of a genuine disciple lies in how well he has understood the purpose of the spiritual master. It is surprising, even alarming, that some devotees ignore the fact that the goal of being a disciple of Srila Prabhupada is to become a rupdnugd. This is confirmed in the Bhaktivedanta Purport to Caitanya-caritdmrta (Madhya 19.132) as follows:"That was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatl's opinion, and he specifically told his disciples to write books. He actually preferred to publish books rather than establish temples. Temple construction is meant for the general populace and neophyte devotees, but the business of advanced and empowered devotees is to write books, publish them and distribute them widely. According to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, distributing literature . is like playing on a great mrdanga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami, one can become a 'rupdnugd' devotee."Ironically some pretenders who claim to be great dcdryas decry the sankirtana movement by saying that the distribution of transcendental literature is only karma'yoga. Such persons are kanistha-adhikdris (the lowest type of devotees) who have no real knowledge of what it means to be a rupdnugd.The Six Gosvamis (headed by Sri Rupa) scrutinizingly studied all the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. Srinivasa Acarya establishes this conclusion, as follows:
lokanam hita-karinau tri-bhuvane manyau saranyakarau
vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau SrUjiva-gopalakau
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Six Gosvamis, who are very expert in scrutinizing all the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. Thus they are honored all over the three worlds, and they are worth taking shelter of because they are absorbed in the mood of the gopis and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and krishna." (Sad Gosvdmyastakam, text 2)Therefore it must be concluded that trie books of the Six Gosvamis are indeed intended to guide the world. Srila Prabhupada's translations and commentary on them must also be of the same quality —'my books will guide the world.A similar position is held by Srila krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, in that he was empowered to write the Caitanya'Caritdmrta.
more ajna karila sabe karuna kariya
tan Sabara bole likhi nirlajja ha-iya
"By their mercy, all these devotees ordered me to write of the last pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Because of their order only, although I am shameless, I have attempted to write this Caitanya'caritdmrta." (Cc. Adi, 8.71)In the Caitanya-caritdmrta we also find mention that Vrndavana Dasa Thakura was the Vyasadeva of Caitanya'llld, and therefore no intelligent devotee could possibly dismiss the writings of Vrndavana Dasa Thakura as nonessential. Actually, without being empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can write transcendental literature. And the fact is that the Gaudlya sampraddya has a great number of such literatures, written by empowered personalities. It is the super excellent characteristic of the Gaudlya sampraddya that it has the greatest collection of transcendental literatures the world has ever known. All such literatures are meant to guide the world.
kali'kalera dharma kisna-nama-sankirtana
krishna'sakti vina nahe tara pravartana
"The fundamental religious system in the age of Kali is chanting of the Holy Name of krishna. Unless empowered by krishna, one cannot propagate the sankirtana movement. (Cc. Antya-Ula, 7.11)It is a most glaring defect in certain sections of contemporary Vaisnava society that some devotees want to replace Srila Rupa GosvamI, who was appointed as the deary a of our sampraddya by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, with Srlla Prabhupada. Discounting the contribution of all deary as and missions since the time of Sri Caitanya, some persons declare that Srila Prabhupada's coming to the West marks the beginning of the Golden Age. It is a foolish proposal and Srila Prabhupada would certainly not sanction such inappropriate conclusions.
It is a fact that during Srila Prabhupada's lifetime, his society did perform wonderful service to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sankirtana movement. This is to the eternal credit of all those souls who participated. Yet pride seems to have been the greatest enemy of many of those souls who once served the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, and who once received the blessings of Mahaprabhu on their humble heads. It is truly unfortunate that, in the two and a half decades since the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada, some proud and arrogant disciples have brought about more disgrace to Srila Prabhupada, to his movement, and to the Gaudlya sampraddya than fell upon the whole of Vaisnavism during the past 5,000 years. It is sad, it is unfortunate, but it is true. And all in the name of society consciousness!There is indeed a Golden Age within the age of Kali-yuga, but that age began with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the advent of His sankirtana movement, and not with the forming of any institution in modern times. There is no monopoly on the sankirtana movement by any institution; the parampard itself retains all rights. Whosoever takes up the sankirtana movement will prosper spiritually, and whosoever deviates from the principles of pure devotion will reap a harvest of mixed results.In the Brahma-vaivarta Purdna we find mention of a 10,000 year period in which Vaisnavism and the cult of Sri Caitanya will flourish in the world. Afterwards, darkness and ignorance will consume the world.In the Brahma'vaivarta Purdna the Supreme Personality of Godhead, while speaking to Gariga-devI, describes the dawn of the Golden Age, by first mentioning those who worship the Lord by mantra. This reference to those who chant mantras as the central focus of their worship indicates Sri Ramanuja and Madhvaite brahmanas.
man smantropasakas-parsad bhasmubhutani tatksanat
bhavisyanti darSanaccha snanadeva hi jahnavi
Thereafter O Jahnavi, by the sight and touch of those who worship Me by My mantra, all those sins will be burnt." (Text 51)Mantra refers to gayatri and other mantras, but not to the Holy Name of krishna (noma).Next, the Brahma'vaivarta Purdna directly indicates the advent of the Golden Age inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with the performance ofhari-ruima'sankirtana (the chanting of the Holy Name) and the recitation of Srimad Bhdgavatam.
harer'namani yatraiva puranani bhavanti hi
tatra gawa savadhanam abhih saradham ca sroiyasi
There will be chanting of the Name of Hari and reading of the (Bhdgavata) Purdna. Reaching such a place, attentively hear." (Text 52)It is strongly indicated that even the most sinful persons will become Vaisnavas by the chanting of the Holy Names, and due to the presence of such purified Vaisnavas, the whole planet will become a place of pilgrimage.
tathapi vaisnava loke papani papinamapi
prthivyam yani tirthani punyanyapi ca jahnavi
"O Jahnavi, the whole planet will become a pilgrimage site by the presence of Vaisnavas, even though they had previously been sinful." (Text 55)Such a blissful condition is then predicted to last ten thousand years.
kaler daSa'sahasrani mad bhaktah samti bhu'tale
eka-varna bhavisyanti mad bhaktesu gatesu ca
"For 10,000 years of Kali-yuga, such devotees of Mine will fill the whole planet. After the departure of My devotees there will only be one varna (outcaste)." (Text 59)mad bhakta-sunya prthivi kalUgrastd bhavisyati etasminnantare tatra krishna'dehddvinir gatah"Devoid of My devotees, the earth will be shackled by Kali. Saying this, krishna departed." (Text 60)Srila Prabhupada mentioned this same concept of the ten-thousand year period of the Golden Age in his Bhdgavatam commentary (Bhaktivedanta Purports) canto 8, chapter 5, text 23, as follows:"When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared He ushered in the era for this sankirtana movement. It is also said that for ten thousand years this era will continue. This means that simply by accepting the sankirtana movement and chanting the Hare krishna mahd-mantra, the fallen souls of Kali-yuga will be delivered. The ten thousand years of the sankirtana movement inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago provide the opportunity for the fallen souls of Kali-yuga to take to the krishna consciousness movement.The fact that there will be devotees of the sankirtana movement spread throughout the planet is also an indication that there must be someone, or several personalities, who will spread the Holy Name around the world.
prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora noma
"In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My Holy Names will be preached." (Caitanya-bhdgavata, 4-126)It is a fact that Srila Prabhupada was the one who conducted a preaching mission beyond the borders of India, which marveled the Vaisnava world. Many of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers remarked, 'We could not imagine how the prophecy of Mahaprabhu was to be fulfilled.' The godbrothers were simply wonder-struck that 'Svami Maharaja' (Srila Prabhupada) had done it! Srila Sridhara Maharaja commented, "It is wonderful that krishna always acts through someone. Svami Maharaja has done a miracle! We are happy, we are glad, and we are proud."Srila Locana Dasa Thakura mentions, in the beginning of his book Sri Caitanya-mangala, that in the future there will appear a sena-pati (a great general), who would cause an inundation of krishna consciousness throughout the world. In the opinion of many devotees, that personality was Srila Prabhupada, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami. Yet it is doubtful that Srila Prabhupada would agree with them, as he always considered himself a humble servant of his Guru Maharaja, Srila SarasvatI Thakura.Indeed Srila Prabhupada was a humble servant of his guru, and this is simply one amongst his many qualifications. This is the reason why he was chosen and empowered by guru and krishna to perform the service to the sankirtana movement that he accomplished.However, greatly learned scholars and pure devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who know the purport of the scriptures, have understood the sena-pati in Caitanya-mangala to refer to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura. Between 1918 and 1936, SarasvatI Thakura caused a wave of krishna consciousness to swell up in Bengal that would indeed inundate the whole world.
The sound of the kirtana raised by SarasvatI Thakura conquered all the ten directions, silencing the atheist non-believers, the impersonalist speculators, and the imitationist sahajiyd sections of pseudo-Vaisnavas.SarasvatI Thakura orchestrated a great preaching movement for eighteen years, awarding the triple staff of renunciation to his disciples and then sending these sannydsis to preach throughout India, and eventually to western countries. Before passing away from this world, SarasvatI Thakura commented that he desired to spend at least ten years preaching krishna consciousness in the western countries. SarasvatI Thakura was unable to do this before his disappearance in 1936. However, through his intimate disciple, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada, SarasvatI Thakura's last desire for preaching krishna consciousness in the west was fulfilled. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada continued the work of the sena-pati foretold by Locana Dasa Thakura and SarasvatI Thakura's numerous disciples and grand disciples carry on the same work up to the present day.Some persons might object that we do not concede that Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada is the sena-pati spoken of in Caitanya-mangala. Such an objection shows a lack of understanding of the guru-parampard and of the position of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura in contemporary society and in aprdkrta-lild, the eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord.SarasvatI Thakura appeared in this world by the prayer of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who implored the Supreme Lord Jagannatha to send His personal representative to fulfill the prophecy of Mahaprabhu that the Holy Name would be spread in every town and village. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura prayed for the Supreme Lord to send such a personality from among His eternal associates. In response, SarasvatI Thakura appeared as the fourth son of Bhaktivinoda.Devotees often overlook this ecstatic piece of transcendental knowledge (mentioned above) when trying to establish the greatness of Srila Prabhupada.
We should remember that the greatness of Srila Prabhupada does not reside in our concocted ideas. Certainly, it does not reside in putting Srila Prabhupada in the position of Srila Rupa GosvamI (the sampraddya-dcdrya), or in the position of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura (the sena-pati who appeared in this world as a direct response to the prayer of Bhaktivinoda Thakura). Such concocted attempts at glorifying Srila Prabhupada fail miserably, due to being tainted with the kanistha mentality of dmdra guru jagat-guru, my guru is jagat-guru.The actual greatness of Srila Prabhupada is beyond challenge. Yet he reserves the right of proper disclosure, the right to reveal his eternal identity to those who are free from envy. What Srila Prabhupada did in this world is written in eternal history. Yet to separate him from the very root of his greatness in an attempt to glorify him, denotes a lack of real transcendental vision of His Divine Grace. Such kanistha disciples are all too often found to be in the category of guru-bhogi (one who tries to enjoy the property and mission of the guru), rather than in the position of guru-sevdka (one who serves the vision of the guru).The greatness of Srila Prabhupada is not understood or expressed by the methods of concoction or sentimental exaggeration. The transcendental position of His Divine Grace can only be realized when one attempts to see how Srila Prabhupada was accepted (connected) in the parampard of great masters, and what qualifications earned him that illustrious position. The bona-fide disciple earns this right of divine vision of the guru through a lifetime of service and dedication at the lotus feet of the spiritual master, and not by any amount of mundane speculation. There is no other way to the truth than this.