Tomorrow is the first anniversary of my sannyas. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve. I find that I have become more influential. Lord Krishna is arranging for me to meet influential people. The people are inspired to serve Lord Sri Krishna by becoming attached to ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada, and His devotees. I a grateful for this opportunity to become an instrument of His will and compassion.
My initial inspiration to become a sannyasi (renounced monk with lifelong vows of celibacy) was when I read the book Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), had become my hero. I had joined ISKCON only two months earlier and had moved into Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Hare Krishna Ashram just outside of London. My day was spent washing pots, kitchen floors, peeling potatoes, cutting cauliflower, cleaning staircases, toilets, and even the temple room. In the afternoons, there were often outings to dance and chant in the shopping streets of nearby towns. I crammed Bhagavad Gita As It Is every chance I got. I wrote the verses on little recipe cards and kept them next to me while washing the pots and cutting vegetables. As I cut, washed, and showered, I repeatedly chanted the verses until they were embedded into my thick skull, glad to have something of value there.
Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta contains the incredible story of how a man, towards the twilight days of his life, in 1965, embarks on a remarkable journey, against all odds, to cross the Atlantic Ocean and transplant the eternal culture of Sanatana dharma into the foreign soil of the United States of America. In the late 960s, America was ablaze with “Flower Power “! Hippies roamed the streets and congregated in the parks of the major cities. They had long hair, smoked pot and hashish, took LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, and freely had sex with seemingly anyone and everyone. This was the atmosphere vividly described in Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita that Srila Prabhupada found himself.
When Srila Prabhupada’s steamship, The Jaladuta, landed on Commonwealth Pier, Boston Harbor, on September 17, 1965, Srila Prabhupada went out of the boat. He took a long walk along with the ship’s captain, Mr. Arun Pandia. Srila Prabhupada was shocked at the degradation that he saw. He returned to the boat and penned a beautiful heartfelt poem called Mārkine Bhāgavata-dharma.
The poem contained the following stanza:
rajas tamo guṇe erā sabāi ācchanna
bāsudeb-kathā ruci nahe se prasanna
Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vāsudeva. I do not know how they will be able to understand it.
As Srila Prabhupada settled into a compassionate, focused outreach effort in the heart of New York City, he began to collect followers. Srila Prabhupada said that he hoped to make brahmachari Brahmanas (celibate priests), but he got them all married because they lived with their girlfriends.
When I read this section, I meditated on Srila Prabhupada’s desire. I remember one mo ing, chanting, and meditating on my prayer beads in the early morning hours. I thought, “I Srila Prabhupada wanted “Brahmachari Brahmanas” why don’t I try to do that? If I can do that, p haps Srila Prabhupada will be pleased with me.” As this thought passed across my consciousness, a strong feeling of being attuned with Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna arose in my heart. I knew that this would be the future that I would strive for. There were many tests throughout the years, and I know there will be more tests. But I will continue to thrive with the mercy of my guru, Srila Prabhupada, and the Supreme Lord Krishna. I appeal to all of my readers to kindly pray for me that I can be successful in my endeavor and remain a sannyasi till my last breath on this planet.
Thank you very much.
The most fallen and unfortunate beggar,
Sri Krishna Chaitanya Swami
March 17, 2022
Sri Pandharpur Dham, India