Srila Prabhupada’s acceptance of sannyasa

September 1, 2020 in Articles by Laksman dasa

Subject: Srila Prabhupada’s acceptance of sannyasa

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His Divine Grace Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja’s Disappearance Day Lecture, (Srila Prabhupada’s Sannyasa Guru) — Seattle, October 21, 1968:

My spiritual master wanted me to preach, but I did not like it, but he forced me. Yes. That is my practical experience. I had no desire to accept the sannyāsa order and preach, but my spiritual master wanted it. I am not very much inclined, but he forced me. That is also done. That is special favor. When he forced me, at that time, I thought that “What is this? What…? I am committing some mistake or what is that?” I was puzzled. But a little after, I could understand that it is the greatest favor shown to me. You see?

One has to accept the renounced order from another person who is in renounced order. So I never thought that I shall accept this renounced order of life. In my family life, when I was in the midst of my wife and children, sometimes I was dreaming my spiritual master, that he’s calling me, and I was following him.

When my dream was over, I was thinking—I was little horrified—”Oh, Guru Mahārāja wants me to become Sannyāsī. How can I accept Sannyāsa?” At that time, I was feeling not very satisfaction that I have to give up my family and have to become a mendicant. At that time, it was a horrible feeling. Sometime I was thinking, “No, I cannot take Sannyāsa.” But again I saw the same dream.

(choked voice) So in this way I was fortunate. My Guru Mahārāja pulled me out from this material life. I have not lost anything. He was so kind upon me. I have gained. I left three children, I have got now three hundred children. So I am not loser. This is material conception. We think that we shall be loser by accepting Kṛṣṇa. Nobody is loser. I say from my practical experience. I was thinking that, “How can I accept this renounced order of life? I cannot accept so much trouble.” So . . .

But I retired from my family life. I was sitting alone in Vṛndāvana, writing books. So this, my Godbrother, he insisted me, “Bhaktivedanta prabhu . . .” This title was given in my family life. It was offered to me by the Vaiṣṇava society. So he insisted me. Not he insisted me, practically my spiritual master insisted me through him that, “You accept.”

Because without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher. So, he wanted me to become a preacher. So, he forced me through this Godbrother, “You accept.” So unwillingly I accepted. And then I remembered that he wanted me to go to the Western country. So I am feeling now very much obliged to my this Godbrother, that he carried out the wish of my spiritual master and enforced me to accept this sannyāsa order. His Divine Grace Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja’s Disappearance Day Lecture, (Srila Prabhupada’s Sannyasa Guru) — Seattle, October 21, 1968:

 Lecture-Day after Sri Gaura-Purnima — Hawaii, March 5, 1969:

My spiritual master wanted me to preach, but I did not like it, but he forced me. Yes. That is my practical experience. I had no desire to accept the sannyāsa order and preach, but my spiritual master wanted it. I am not very much inclined, but he forced me. That is also done. That is special favor. When he forced me, at that time, I thought that “What is this? What…? I am committing some mistake or what is that?” I was puzzled. But a little after, I could understand that it is the greatest favor shown to me. You see?

Devotee: Can we request Kṛṣṇa to force us to surrender to Him, due to our conditioning?

Prabhupāda: Yes, you can request Him. And He sometimes forces. He puts you in such circumstances that you have no other way than to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Yes. That is special favor. That is special favor. Yes. My spiritual master wanted me to preach, but I did not like it, but he forced me. Yes. That is my practical experience. I had no desire to accept the sannyāsa order and preach, but my spiritual master wanted it. I am not very much inclined, but he forced me. That is also done. That is special favor. When he forced me, at that time, I thought that “What is this? What…? I am committing some mistake or what is that?” I was puzzled. But a little after, I could understand that it is the greatest favor shown to me. You see? So, when Kṛṣṇa forces somebody to surrender, that is a great favor. But generally, He does not do so. But He does so to a person who is very sincere to Kṛṣṇa’s service but at the same time he has got slight desire for material enjoyment. In that case He does, that “This foolish person does not know that material facility will never make him happy, and he is sincerely seeking My favor. So, he is foolish. Therefore, whatever resource, little resource he has got for material enjoyment, break it. Then he will have no other alternative than to surrender unto Me.” That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, er, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Yasyāham anughṛnāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ sanaiḥ (SB 10.88.8). Kṛṣṇa says that “If I do somebody special favor, then I make him poverty-stricken. I take away all his means of sense enjoyment.” You see? That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Because here in this material world everyone is trying to be happy by earning more money, by business, by service, by this way or that way. But in special cases Kṛṣṇa makes his business or service unsuccessful. Do you like that? (laughs) At that time he has no other alternative than to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. You see? But sometimes, when we are unsuccessful in our business attempt or earning attempt, we become sorry that “Oh, Kṛṣṇa is so cruel upon me that I could not trust in this.” But that is His favor, special favor. You should understand like that. Lecture-Day after Sri Gaura-Purnima — Hawaii, March 5, 1969:

1968 Correspondence

I have accepted this renounced order of life in 1958, and since then I am completely devoted to the service of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

Regarding our Gaudiya Math in Bombay: I am very sorry that you are disappointed in respect of their activities. I know this fact because in 1934 I was one of the active members in starting this Math. The Gowalia Tank center was opened by me, and although I lived separately from the Math, practically I was in charge of the Math and under the instructions from His Divine Grace. Then after His Departure, you know so many unhappy things happened, but, as I was a householder, I remained always aloof from those unhappy incidences. I have accepted this renounced order of life in 1958, and since then I am completely devoted to the service of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. You’ll be very glad to know that by the Grace of Srila Prabhupada, the duty which was entrusted upon me is being discharged as faithfully as possible, and by the Mercy of His Divine Grace, I have got here many American boys and girls, who are sincerely assisting me. Letter to Jagannatham Prabhu — Montreal 22 June, 1968:

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

You may ask then, “Why you have given up your wife and children?” I have given up my wife and children for this purpose. If I am engaged in family life, then I cannot do this missionary work. I have taken absolute shelter to this work without any disturbance. So for a preacher, for a missionary, that is a different thing.

Lecture on BG 9.22-23 — New York, December 8, 1966:

We don’t say that you give up your engagement and become a mendicant or sannyāsī like me and give up your wife and children. No. Kṛṣṇa does not say that. You may ask, then, “Why you have given (up) your wife and children?” I have given up my wife and children for this purpose. If I am engaged in family life, then I cannot do this missionary work. I have taken absolute shelter to this work without any disturbance.

So for a preacher, for a missionary, that is a different thing. But for ordinary man, he does not require to give up his family, his home. He will remain. You remain your occupation . . . in your occupation, you remain at home, but chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare / Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Is it any . . . there is . . . is there any difficulty? Why don’t you try it?

This is our mission. We don’t say that you change your life. We simply say that in whatever position you are, you please chant. That’s all. You please chant. You will be happy. You will be prosperous. Kṛṣṇa will be pleased upon you, and you will be never in scarcity. Is it not a very nice thing? You will never be unhappy, you will never be in scarcity. That . . . it is guaranteed here. Teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham: “Those who are thus engaged always in thinking of Me . . .”

Well, you can do your business and think of Kṛṣṇa, and what is your harm? And that thinking may be, I mean to, divert your attention. But if you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, you will practice. And Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare / Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. But you will not be deviated what you are doing, but at the same time, you will be able to hear this sound, transcendental sound vibration.

So this is the formula given by the Lord Himself. Please try to follow it. Ananyāś cintayanto mām. Always. Always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. There is no rule, no regulation. Never mind what you are, what you are doing; simply chant and hear. We are anxious that everyone may take up this simple thing. And Lord Caitanya says from Padma Purāṇa:

harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam

kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā

(CC Ādi 17.21)

If you want to live just like animal, simply within the sphere of eating, sleeping and mating and defending, that will not solve your problem of life. Lecture on BG 9.22-23 — New York, December 8, 1966: