Prabhupada’s spiritual succession

logo-gaudiya-mathOne of the last recommendations of Srila Prabhupada was for his devotees to follow the teachings of Rupa and Ragunatha Goswami. He believed that the real followers of the truth will be known by their contributions to the welfare of others, and that truth cannot be confined to institutions or ecclesiastical structures. Even though, in the pain of separation after the departure of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada, some disagreement appeared among his devotees, the natural flow of dedication of his surrendered disciples created a host of different inspired branches or missions that enlarge and enhance his gift to the world continuously.

In the book Our family, the Gaudiya Math many of these branches and their contributions are described. Even now, it is very difficult to know all these new missions inspired by Srila Prabhupada, due to their spontaneous growth in places without internet connection. However, this system has kept Vedic culture alive until today.

An extraordinary preaching organization

In addition to his own greatness, Srila Prabhupada’s unique and unprecedented contribution to the world of Gaudiya Vaishnavism included the extraordinary preaching organization that he envisioned, built, and nurtured. He alone brought a spiritual revolution to Bengal, India, and indeed, to the whole world. He wanted to leave behind a magnificent spiritual legacy in the form of a group of dedicated souls who would carry srila-bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvati-thakura-prabhupada3on his mission in his absence, and in the face of seeminglyinsurmountable difficulties. He attracted these pure hearts, taught and trained them, and left them behind to spread his movement even in the inevitable advancement of Kali-yuga. Even under the shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet, they had to face many tests and trials, but with Srila Prabhupada’s divine guidance, ultimately fate favored them.

In the Gaudiya Math, devotees lived very simple. Sumptuous feasts were offered to the
deities on festival days to distribute mahaprasad to the guests, the beggars and the poor. What the devotees ate every day was nourishing and satisfying, but plain. Their austerity was unsurpassed. They didn’t have more than two sets of ordinary clothes each. In eating, sleeping, living, and traveling, they tried to do with the bare minimum. Every penny that came to the Math was recorded, and so was every penny that was spent. Some of these financial statements, which were given in complete detail, can be seen in the old issues of Sri Gaudiya Patrika. In Prabhupada’s Gaudiya Math, his disciples lived in an atmosphere of deep mutual affection and respect. Everyone was always extremely busy with their respective service, transcendentally happy and peaceful.

srila-bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvati-thakura-prabhupada4Anyone coming to the Gaudiya Math would be awed by the divine personality of Srila Prabhupada, and then impressed by his team of dedicated disciples. The disciples of a guru are known as his vaibhava (wealth), and Srila Prabhupada was certainly a very wealthy spiritual master. This wealth of his was “in the form of idealcharacters.” Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were known for their tireless enthusiasm for preaching, their undefeatable scholarship, their sincere humility, their strong moralcharacter, and their total dedication to the mission of Gurudeva. All of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples who stayed at the different Maths were intelligent, talented, hardworking, and knowledgeable about the scriptures.

The core of Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission consisted of eighteen sannyasis. We are presenting information about a few of them in this portrait to give more space to his personal achievements. On his website you can read a lot about his different disciples and their incredible life stories.