Today is Makara-sankranti, the date of the opening of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari’s temple and cultural complex at Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai. The following is adapted from a talk by Radhanath
I am grateful and honored and happy to be with all of you this evening. This event is traditionally held on Republic Day, and one of the reasons Republic Day is remembered and celebrated is the challenges, the sacrifices, even the sufferings that people had to endure for India’s independence.
As much as anywhere in the world, the place where Srila Prabhupada was challenged and had to make tremendous sacrifices was in Juhu, to build a home for Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. In those days the site was kind of a swamp that was so far from the city that devotees couldn’t understand why Srila Prabhupada had chosen it for a temple. In New York the temple was in the Lower East Side, in the middle of the city, and the second temple, in San Francisco, was right in the middle of Haight Ashbury. In London the temple was just a few blocks from the British Museum. A temple was usually in the middle of a city, and then, if there was going to be something a distance from there, a satellite project would be established in the countryside. But in Bombay Srila Prabhupada wanted to build the temple in a place that seemed far away, and most of his followers couldn’t understand.
But the types of faith that Srila Prabhupada demonstrated and the struggles he endured over many years were extraordinary. He was in his mid-seventies. He didn’t have money, he had only a few followers from the West, who really didn’t know that much about dealing with situations in India, and the odds against him were insurmountable—powerful parties trying to cheat him, exploit him, and stop the progress. But Srila Prabhupada promised Radha-Rasabihari that he would build them a temple in Juhu. They were in a crude hut on this swampy land, with mosquitoes and rats and snakes and many antagonistic neighbors, but even when everything seemed hopeless, Srila Prabhupada had total faith: “I made this promise to Krishna, and it will be fulfilled.”
It was impossible by all material calculation, but when someone tried to tell Prabhupada that something was impossible, he would say, “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary.” He wasn’t seeing it from the perspective of material ability, and by the grace of Krishna everything was possible.
The opening of the temple and the installation of the deities also happened in January, Makara-sankranti time. So this is like Republic Day for Radha-Rasabihari. And it’s a special day for us to remember Srila Prabhupada’s sacrifice, faith, and compassion, and all those who were at his side, helping.
The person who was at Srila Prabhupada’s side more than anyone else throughout those years—from the beginning till the glorious conclusion—was His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja. He is now in the process of writing a book about that era of Srila Prabhupada’s devotional service and the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. He not only witnessed what took place; he was a crucial part of it. So of all the people living in the world today, there is no one more suitable and more empowered to share the story of the Juhu temple, which is truly an important story.
Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Krishna. But up until the tenth canto, most of its stories focus on the devotees and culminate in their relationship with Krishna. Ambarisa Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja, Prahlada Maharaja, Pariksit Maharaja, Rantideva, the Pracetas, the Vrajavasis. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cited this verse from sastra, that the goal and essence of all the scriptures of the world cannot be understood through study alone. Neither can it be understood and realized by our sacrifices, our tapasya, or our charities. The true path is mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, to follow in the footsteps of great souls, through their prayers, through their teachings, and through how they applied them to their lives, in both sunny and stormy weather.
This book that His Holiness Giriraj Swami Maharaja is writing is going to tell about our beloved paramahamsa acarya Srila Prabhupada—about his personal, intimate, loving relationship with Radha-Rasabihari and how in service to Them through all the challenges he was courageous, he was fearless, even when he was going against governments. His success wasn’t due to his physical strength or mental intellectual abilities; it was because he surrendered completely to the grace of Krishna—everything comes from that. It is an important story for the world, for all time. My humble request is that we all do everything we can to help Giriraj Maharaja complete this book. Hare Krishna.
[Adapted from a talk by Radhanath Swami, January 31, 2015, Juhu, Mumbai]