“I am here today due to the grace of my spiritual master, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, who ventured to America 51 years ago. Its by His mercy that today we are receiving the essence of the Vedic culture, which reminds us of the ultimate goal of our life. His Divine Grace also showed us the way to achieve that goal, which is available all over the world”. This was how HH Bhakti Charu Swami started His speech during the launching of “ The Ocean of Mercy” recently in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The book launch took place on the 6th of March 2017. A total of 300 individuals participated in this event. The programme started with a short video clip from the famous Abhay Charan serial on the Jaladutta scene. This series produced by HH Bhakti Charu Swami is essentially a re-enactment on the life of the founder Acharaya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada.
HH Bhakti Charu Swami continued, “You have seen how Srila Prabhupada went to America through the Video clip. The purpose of his journey was to carry out the instruction of his spiritual master, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, who was a brilliant personality. At that time, Srila Prabhupada was 26 years old. It was 1922 in Calcutta. In their very first meeting, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarawsati Thakur instructed Srila Prabhupada, the 26 year old young man, to take this Vedic wisdom and spread it to the English speaking world. Srila Prabhupada took this instruction so sincerely although at that time he was engaged as a manager at a pharmaceutical company. He was married. He had sons. But he quit his job. His employer enquired why he decided to quit his job all of a sudden. And Srila Prabhupada’s answer was that he met a brilliant spiritual personality and he committed himself to take this Vedic wisdom and to spread it to the west. He wanted to dedicate himself to that mission. His employer actually was his father’s friend, Dr Kartik Bose. He reasoned with Srila Prabhupada that Srila Prabhupada does not have to resign in order to fulfil the instruction of His Spiritual Master. He stated that, the mission can be undertaken alongside maintaining the job. Srila Prabhupada’s answer to that was, “when I am employed by you my time is sold out to you. I won’t have time to carry out this mission. I have to commit myself wholly to fulfil the instruction”. Dr Bose try to argue that Srila Prabhupada is not an employee here. He claimed Srila Prabhupada to be like his son. Hence, this is actually a family business. However, Srila Prabhupada did not accept that judgement. He said when Srila Prabhupada was employed by Dr Bose, He was sold out to him. When someone is taking money from another person in exchange, that borrower is committed to the lender. Dr Bose then settled with a proposal saying that Srila Prabhupada should act as the sole distributor of his product in north India. Srila Prabhupada accepted that proposal.
Eventually in 1951, Srila Prabhupada left home and accepted the retired order of life oterwise known as Varnaprasad. Throughout His life, Srila Prabhupada has been struggling to fulfil to order of his spiritual master and to somehow go to the west and try to spread the message of Krishna consciousness which is the essence of the Vedic wisdom. At age of 70 he managed to convince Sumathi Murarji , the chair person of steel ship company. Initially, she did not want Srila Prabhupada to go to America. With near to nothing resources, how could he go at age of 70 and what could he achieve? Later on I met Sumathi Murarji a few times and she told me that it is nearly impossible to achieve what Srila Prabhupada has achieved in America. The following were her concerns. She had a concern that Americans might not pay heed to Srila Prabhupada, who after all was a 70 year old man at that time. Furthermore, He is a pure vegetarian. He is a Vaishnava. He follows such a strict order of life. How he will maintain that kind of life style in America. There is a scarcity of vegetarian food. What will he do going to America? But Srila Prabhupada was insistent. He wanted to fulfil the order of His spiritual master. He felt very disappointed for not being able to carry out the instruction for a very long time. Srila Prabhupada requested that at least during the very end of His life, he needed a chance to carry out this mission. Finally she made an arrangement in a cargo ship. It will stop on the way for loading and unloading of the cargo. It took a long time to reach America and during the course of His journey, Srila Prabhupada had 2 heart attacks. He did not have any facilities whatsoever to receive treatment. Despite the difficulties, he reached America. Upon landing, Srila Prabhupada did not even have a single dollar on him. The most He had was 40 rupees. Srila Prabhupada landed there literally penniless.
As in the Bhagavad Gita, whereby, Krishna told Arjun to just fight while Krishna made all the arrangements for Arjuna’s and the Pandavas’ victory. Similarly, Krishna made all the arrangements for Srila Prabhupada to go to the west and in 10 years, Srila Prabhupada successfully spread this movement to the entire civilised world in all the major cities and established 108 temples. That is the glorious achievement of this spiritual personality who very fortunately accepted me as his disciple. Srila Prabhupada so mercifully allowed me to serve him personally, when he had 10000 other followers dying to have his association. Eventually, when Srila Prabhupada was preparing to leave this planet, only three of us, Tamal Krishna Maharaj, Upendra Prabhu and myself were taking care of him was practically serving him 24 hours a day”.
Bhakti Charu Swami concluded in His speech that He did not really intend to write this book in the first place, because at that time He thought his memories to not be of such importance although He spoke on it frequently. Though He noticed that many people were inspired by those narrations, it never occurred to Bhakti Charu Maharaja to publish a book. In due course of time, with the constant persuasion from some of His senior godbrothers,
Maharaja decided to write about His time with Srila Prabhupada for the sake of the future generation, who upon reading these pastimes, will be attracted to Srila Prabhupada and may want to know more about him. This is how Bhakti Charu Swami took the initiative of writing this book.
The book launch was a success. Many participants were intrigued by Bhakti Charu Maharaja’s speech. More than 100 people queued up to receive Maharaja’s signature on the “Ocean of Mercy” book. A few others even requested for the Abhay Charan video series. The event ended with many jubilant faces relishing the Prasadam prepared by a few local devotees.
(Written by Surangi Devi Dasi)