I am very grateful to be with all of you on this very special and holy day. 50 years ago, Friday, 13 August 1965 His divine grace A.C Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada boarded the cargo ship Jaladuta at the King George dockyards here in Calcutta. There were only four people to see him off. No one thought it was possible for him to do what he could do. Today 50 years later to honor that event, Srila Prabhupada, 50 years before he had no money, he didn’t know anyone where he was going and today in Calcutta the largest indoor stadium is filled with people to celebrate. Calcutta is a very holy place for all of us. On September 1st 1896 Srila Prabhupada appeared in this place. In 1922 Srila Prabhupada first met his guru Maharaj Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur here in Calcutta. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada established his mission in Sri Mayapur and began his preaching here in Calcutta. At the very first Gaudya Math that he established outside of Mayapur.
Radhanath Swami describes how Srila Prabhupada took the order of his Guru as his life and soul
Srila Prabhupada who was just a young man recently married with a child, received the order from his spiritual master to take the message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world in the English language. Srila Prabhupada took that order as his life and soul. In 1933 Srila Prabhupada was initiated with Hari Naam and Gayatri diksha by his guru Maharaj at Prayag. The very place that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Srila Rupa Goswami, it was at Prayag the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. Lord Chaitanya gave the teachings to Rupa Goswami which were to be spread throughout the world. Wherein from the very most beginning stages of faith one can gradually be elevated to the pastimes of Vrindavana the highest revelation of spiritual life.
In 1944 Srila Prabhupada began the publication of back to Godhead in a very simple way in English Journal teaching the message of Lord Chaitanya. It is said that the Lord teaches the world through his most intimate loving devotees.
It is impossible to describe the dedication, the love and compassion in which Srila Prabhupada taught us how to overcome every possible obstacle that could come on the path to pure devotional service. -Radhanath Swami
But Srila Prabhupada did it all in the spirit of compassion for us. It was around 1954 that Srila Prabhupada retired from his family life to fully take up the mission of spreading pure bhakti all over the world. He established his mission in Jhansi, after so much work everything was taken away from him. But he was not discouraged. He went to Vrindavana and eventually he began writing the translations and commentaries of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The struggle he went through to publish those books is beautifully described by Sat Swarup Goswami Maharaj in Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita. When the first canto was complete, he decided now I must go to the West. He requested many different people from God brothers to business people to politicians to help him to go to the West to spread Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s pure message. But no one took him serious.
Radhanath Swami speaking on Prabhupada’s determination to fulfill the mission of his Guru
Srila Prabhupada himself describe how once he was from Vrindavana in Agra and the person he was staying with the Mr. Agarwal was telling him about how his son, he went to America to study and he got trapped by American culture and got married there and would not return home. Srila Prabhupada was always looking for an opportunity. Oh! He is in America? Can he sponsor a visa for me? Mr. Agarwal didn’t say anything. But about four months later Srila Prabhupada got a letter that he was being sponsored for a visa for America! Then he had to get his passport and he had to get the P form, permission to leave by the State Bank of India. When he went to the office he was refused. But Srila Prabhupada persisted and ultimately he said I want to see the highest officer of this government department. And ultimately by his determination he met the highest officer and convinced him to give him permission.
In Mumbai he was staying in a guesthouse of Sumati Murarji. He pleaded with her, “You are devotee of Bal Gopal Krishna. I want to spread the message of pure Krishna consciousness all over the world. Just give me passage on one of your cargo ships.” Sumati Murarji strongly refused. You are very old man, sixty nine years old. It is very rough journey and no one will listen to you in America certainly you will die, thirty eighth days its sea it is a very difficult journey. Sumati Murarji explained, “I don’t have any passenger ships, they are cargo ships.” She couldn’t take the responsibility that he may die on the journey. But Srila Prabhupada insisted, he persisted. Sumati Murarji said, “All my secretaries are against you’re going because you’re too old. What you want to do is impossible.” Srila Prabhupada convinced her. She gave him the only little room that there was on the ship; she gave him passage! He took a very slow train, it’s meant to carry mail and passengers from Mumbai to Kolkata.
In Calcutta he stayed with the person he only met once .Once when Srila Prabhupada was in Lucknow he was invited with some other Sadhus to the governor’s home and there was a professional kirtan performance. One of the singers Mr. Bhattacharya was young, he met Prabhupada there and Srila Prabhupada told him that he wanted to go to the West to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. The person later said Srila Prabhupada was such a simple and poor materially person that he didn’t think it was at all possible.
Srila Prabhupada had complete faith in the order of his guru Maharaj. He had complete faith in the power of the holy name of Krishna. And he had complete faith in the prediction of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda. -Radhanath Swami
He had 200 sets of his books in five crates, an umbrella, little suitcase and the bag of cereal. From this boy’s house he took a taxi to the King George dockyards. Only four people saw him off, this most historic monumental event. The only living person in the world, who witnessed Srila Prabhupada boarding Jaladuta, has so graciously agreed to be with us today. I would like to invite him to come on stage and share with us his memories. This is a very rare opportunity for all of us. Let us welcome with great enthusiasm Srila Prabhupada’s only loved youngest son Vrindavan Chandra De. Thank you very Much.