Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, is my grand spiritual master, but I feel that I never really knew him that well until I read his biography Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava by my godbrother Bhakti Vikasa Swami. Many of the quotes and references below come from that work, which has helped bring me closer to my spiritual grandfather.
We are all here by the mercy of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. There’s a line through which the mercy descends upon us, beginning with Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and passing, one teacher after the other, through parampara, or disciplic succession. Five thousand years ago Krsna came in His original form and in the Bhagavad-gita (9.34, 18.65) He instructed, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto: “Always think of Me and become My devotee.” Five hundred years ago the same Lord Krsna came again, in the devotional form of Sri Krsna Caitanya, to explain and personally show how to be a devotee and always think of Krsna. Lord Caitanya quoted a verse from the Brhan-naradiya Purana (38.126):
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krsna. There is no other way, no other way, no other way for success in the present age of Kali.” He also desired and predicted:
prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
“In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My holy name will be propagated.” (Cb 3.4.126) He expressed this desire and prediction at a time when it was almost impossible to imagine or believe that it could happen.
In the 1800s Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura began the effort to spread the holy name of Krsna to countries outside India. He wrote a small book in English called Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts and dispatched copies to libraries around the world. In recent years Srila Prabhupada’s disciples have discovered copies in libraries from Canada (McGill University) to Australia. Bhaktivinoda Thakura yearned for the day when devotees from all over the world would unite in harinama-sankirtana and wrote, “Very soon the unparalleled path of harinama-sankirtana will be propagated all over the planet. . . . Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mrdangas, and karatalas and perform kirtana through their streets and towns. When will that day come? Oh, for the day when the fair-skinned men from their side will raise up the chanting of ‘Jaya Sacinandana, jaya Sacinandana ki jaya!’ and join with the Bengali devotees. When will that day be?” (Sajjana-tosani)