Radhanath Swami on Srila Prabhupada’s Book Marathon

Published on February 7, 2015 by

So up until he passed from this world, he was traveling, traveling, traveling. But still he would say, “I want my leaders to do this. I want to just sit down in one place and translate these books.” That’s just how much these books meant to Srila Prahupada. – Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami elaborates on ‘ananda’, true happiness

I was just coming here, and Sankirtan Prabhu told me there was a group of people from America who wanted to see me. So I was late. But it was quite a cultural experience for them. As I was speaking to them, every couple minutes there was a tsunami of laughter that completely drowned the whole room that I was in. And they never heard laughter like this before – tumultuous. I’m used to it, all of you are used to it, but they never heard it before like this – laughter, so long laughter. They said, “What’s that?” And I said, “That is our monks.” They were totally speechless. Monks?! “Yes, they have given up all sex life and given up all the material property and pleasures and they don’t have any money,” I said, “but because they have Krishna they are very happy.” They said, “We have never heard such happiness.” And then as I was saying, you laughed again. anandam-buddhi-vardhanam pratipadam purnamrtas-vadanam; this anandam is actual happiness. The happiness in this material world sukha dukha, mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ, these happiness and distress in this world are inseparable from each other. Happiness is a relief of the boredom and emptiness of our hearts, but that relief appears to be a surge of joy. But like intoxications, it doesn’t last long. It’s not really happiness.


Happiness of the mind and the senses is superficial and illusory. When we speak about ananda, it is a completely different tattva. It’s a principle of true happiness, the happiness that actually comes from the soul connecting with Krishna. – Radhanath Swami


And through bhakti we find this real happiness of the soul’s enjoyment in loving service to Krishna. Bhakti means to seek our happiness in life in serving. Material happiness is seeking our happiness through temporary, sensual, mental or emotional gratifications, but in bhakti we seek happiness through service, through making Krishna happy. Even if physically, emotionally we are in suffering state, if we are making Krishna happy, then we will be the most happy.


Sometimes I tell that story about Bhakti Tirtha swami. When he was in his most painful state anyone had ever seen him, his body was trembling because the cancer was deep in his bones and every cell pained. And we were chanting together; he started smiling, he started crying in ecstasy. He said, “It doesn’t get any better than this! I am tasting Krishna’s name like I’ve never tasted before.” His body was still in the same condition of trembling; so the physical situation didn’t change, but he changed. That’s real happiness.


Real happiness, it’s not based on circumstances. Material happiness is based on circumstances, and in this world circumstances always change. – Radhanath Swami


Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold, sometimes you’re young, sometimes you are old. That rhymes! Sometimes we are healthy, sometimes sick, sometimes people glorify, sometimes people criticize us, sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, things are always changing. But the happiness of bhakti is, these changes will always be there but we find our happiness in that deeper place of seva. Seva means unconditional service, samsiddhir hari toshanam. Seva means, “Krishna, whatever pleases you, that is what is my object and purpose of life.” Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t make sense; doesn’t really matter. What pleases Krishna… and what pleases Krishna? yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado, mad bhakta pujabhyadika,  by pleasing the devotees, by pleasing the servant of the servant of the servant, by pleasing our Guru, that’s what pleases Krishna.


Radhanath Swami on Srila Prabhupada’s desire to give us his books

Srila Prabhupada our Founder Acharya, he gave us his books when he came to America. When he came, he had Rs.40 which was unchangeable. He had a bag of some cereal to eat, he had his japa mala, an umbrella, just a little suitcase full of clothes and boxes of books. That was the main thing he carried from India – the Srimad Bhagavatam – boxes of books. Even though he came off in New York, he didn’t know anyone, anywhere. He told some of his devotees later, “But I had no fear. I knew I would succeed, because I had the holy name and I had the Srimad Bhagavatam and I had the order of my spiritual master.” So Srila Prabhupada, he put so much of his own life into creating these books for us. We have all heard the stories so many times. He traveled around the world to establish this movement, but even from the early years he was saying that, “I am hoping that my senior man will be able to do this, so I can sit down and translate these books.”


He would come to New Dwarka, “I want to stay here and translate my books.” He would come to Hawaii, “I want to just stay here and translate my books.” He came to New Vrindavan and, “I wanted to stay here and translate my books. He came to Bhaktivedanta Manor in London, “I want to just stay here and translate my books.” And each and every place he just wanted… this is the only place he wants to stay to translate his books. Then each place thought, “This is the only place he wants to translate his books.” Like Krishna, who made each Gopi think that “I’m only with you.” But even if we heard that he said this to every other place, it encouraged us in the same way, because in the reciprocation, bhakti is qualitative but not quantitative. Just the fact that he said it and he meant, even if he said it to every center in the world that, “I wanted to stop traveling everywhere else and only be here,” it had the same effect. But his leaders did not have the maturity or the capacity at that time to be able to sustain and expand his movement all over the world. He was the only one who could do it.


So up until he passed from this world, he was traveling, traveling, traveling. But still he would say, “I want my leaders to do this. I want to just sit down in one place and translate these books.” That’s just how much these books meant to Srila Prahupada. – Radhanath Swami


And he was writing them for the devotees and for people for all time to come, and for the world. And his enthusiasm, enthusiasm to enthuse devotees to distribute his books…


Radhanath Swami narrates a pastime of Srila Prabhupada

Recently at the Bhakti Center in New York City Shruti Kirti Prabhu, who was Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant for several years, he came to give class. He was giving class about his remembrances of Srila Prabhupada. Most of this class he was talking about Srila Prabhupada and his books. Now Shruta Kirti Prabhu himself was never really a big book distributor. He was more a cook at New Vrindavan and then Prabhupada took him to be his personal servant. And then he was a president of a temple in Hawaii, like that. But he was telling, one time he came into Srila Prabhupada’s room at night. There was nobody around. It was completely quiet and Srila Prabhupada was reading Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. He was just reading it for long time, and Shrutikirti Prabhu was thinking, “He’s just reading his own books!” But he didn’t say anything. And Prabhupada looked at him and said, “I didn’t write these books, Krishna wrote these books. So you may wonder why I am reading my own books, but I did not write these books, Krishna wrote these books.” And he held up the book and he said, “If you just read this one book in your life, your life will be perfect.”


Of course, we have to really read it with open heart. There’s ‘reading’, and there’s reading. Tad pranipatena pari prashnena sevaya, when we approach the guru, we submit ourselves with faith; then his instructions can completely transform our hearts. So when we actually submit our hearts with faith, then reading Bhagavad-Gita one time, our life will be perfect. – Radhanath Swami


So Shruta Kirti Prabhu said, “He’s inspired me to read Bhagavad Gita.” But being Prabhupada’s personal servant, there is not that much time for reading. You’re always doing something 24 hours a day practically. It wasn’t an easy service. Extremely fortunate position, but very demanding; and he can’t take a break. So a couple months later he comes into Prabhupada’s room, and Prabhupada is reading Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. And Prabhupada looks up at him and says, “If you only read one chapter of this book, your life will be perfect.” Couple months later he came in his room; Prabhupada was reading Bhagavad-Gita. It’s amazing how Prabhupada remembers the order! “If you only read one verse of this book, your life will be perfect.” He meant reading with understanding. And then couple months later he came in and Prabhuada was reading Bhagavad-Gita. “If only you understand one word of this book your life will be perfect.” That was Prabhupada’s faith in the Bhagavad-Gita, what to speak of Srimad Bhagavatam!


He had faith in Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam because he had realized, he had, he had realized that Krishna’s words are non- different than Krishna. And with this realization and this great compassion he asked devotees to distribute the books. And he was so very happy especially when devotees endured hardships or took risks to distribute his books. – Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami on “What really pleases Srila Prabhupada?”

He was very happy, and what pleases our guru is what pleases Krishna. Samasiddhir hari toshanam.


So the real liberated state is when we are not concerned with our own conditional, circumstantial, material, sensual, emotional happiness – and of course these things are there and it cannot be denied – but they are adjusted in such a way that they are in harmony with our real purpose, which is to please Krishna, to please – in our society especially, Srila Prabhupada. – Radhanath Swami


It’s not just the number of books that are distributed that pleases Srila Prabhupada and Radha Gopinath, but it’s the enthusiasm in which were trying to please them by distributing these books. It is an act of great compassion, when we are distributing these books, if were in the proper spirit.  We are not… we are not the doers, we are the instruments. We are just giving Prabhupada’s words to someone else, we are giving Krishna’s words. Srila Prabhupada’s purports were not from Prabhupada’s point of view, it was not Prabhupada’s words; Prabhupada took the words of all the other Acharyas of our whole parampara and distilled them with his own compassion, realizations into his purports. So by repeating those words through our own words, or by giving these books, we are the instruments of the highest dimension of compassion. That’s what book distribution is.


That’s what preaching is on every level – enthusiasm to serve, enthusiasm to please, enthusiasm to uplift others which is the greatest service that pleases Krishna, what gives Krishna great happiness. Enthusiasm especially to put aside our false egos and work together for this purpose. That creates community, and that community is the most powerful thing that pleases the creation of these devotional communities; enthusiastic to serve gives the most pleasure to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.


When we do something ourselves that gives some happiness, but it can also inflate our egos extensively in the name of bhakti. But when we do things together, we are not proud of ‘me’, we are proud of ‘us’, and that’s actually a type of humility. So the enthusiasm to serve together, this is great, great offering of love. – Radhanath Swami


And all of you, many of you are on bus parties. Bus parties… sometimes austere conditions, being with people who have separate identities, different natures, different conditioning, individual egos, millions of reasons you could disagree and fight and walk away from each other, insult each other, but one reason to unite and to rise above it all, no matter how difficult it is – and that is because that’s what bhakti is about, being a monk means, being a brahmachari, being a sanyasi, being a proper… a proper grihastha even means a life of renunciation. And renunciation, if you renounce money and property but you’re still always fighting with other people, what kind of renunciation is that?

Radhanath Swami explains brahmachari life

Renunciation ultimately means renunciation of our separate egos for the purpose of the higher cause of pleasing Krishna. And if it was easy, it wouldn’t be renunciation. Because it’s difficult, it’s actual renunciation. – Radhanath Swami


That’s what monks, that’s what  brahmacharis are for. Srila Prabhupada said that… he gives the example of prophet that came to the village and he said to the brahmachari, “I give you the benediction, better you die.” And to the Prince, “Better you live.” And to the butcher, “Better you neither live nor die.” And to the sadhu, “Better you either live or die.” And he explained. Butcher is living in the hoards of death and when he dies he is going to have to suffer all the karma, for all the death he was implicated in. And the prince is engaging in so many sinful activities, but is happy now. “Better you live, because when you die, you are going to get all your karma back for you.” And for sadhu, to live or die it doesn’t matter. “Because you’re just serving Krishna, you have no other desire but to serve Krishna, so you’re happy in this world serving Krishna. When you die, you just go back to Godhead to serve Krishna, makes no difference.” To brahmachari, “Better you die, because now there are so many hardships. You’re not yet completely pure, so many hardships. But you’re not giving up; you are living by that higher principle, to please Krishna.” But that doesn’t mean better you physically die; you just pick up where you left off. Better that your ego dies, your false ego, and you real ego is revived.


So the austerity of brahmachari life is, despite all difficulties, we unite on this – we unite our body, mind, words – with the higher purpose of our souls, which is to please Krishna, and from that level unite with each other. – Radhanath Swami


Radhanath Swami on “Laughter is the best medicine”

And the laughter and happiness that you all are sharing together in this little room was so tumultuous and so genuine. You know I sometimes go to – I haven’t been there in some years, but I used to sometimes walk – in Hanging Gardens, and there are these laughing societies. Have you seen? They laugh because it’s actually clinically, medically proven that laughter is one of the best medicines for every disease. There is a certain thing that happens to all your cells in your body when you really laugh, and it really invigorates your system and cures diseases – emotional, physical, everything. There is television station, whole big broadcasts about the advantages of laughing; we have books about it. So you go there, and people they know this, living in Mumbai. And cities, I’ve seen this in Singapore, I’ve seen it in Central Park in New York, I see  it in Los Angeles, all these people, you just go by and they are just laughing and laughing and laughing. Usually in parks, sometimes they are in meeting places too. But it’s… they are laughing not spontaneously, they are actually forcing to laugh. And if you force yourself to laugh enough, becomes like momentum, so you’re really laughing.


But when laughter comes from a spontaneous uprising of joy of the heart, that’s a whole another level of laughter. That’s not just artificial laughter, that’s an expression of the true happiness, and one that… true happiness is rising from the heart. – Radhanath Swami


Because we are hearing about the wonderful devotional service and realizations of others, that’s bhakti. This is what these people were hearing; was unbelievable to them. Monks are laughing like this! They thought monks are supposed to be like… you know, putting hooks on themselves and stuff, just so they suffer more. What is this? Laughing monks! But they were purified; this laughing is like Kirtan, it really is. Not the laughing in the parks, but the laughing here, because it’s born of genuine happiness, born of appreciation, with another person’s service. Yes, that’s what you’re laughing about. Somebody was speaking some funny story, but it was about their devotional service. And due to our intimacy of our affection for that person we laugh. If we don’t like the person and he tells a story like that, we don’t laugh. We just like… why is everybody laughing? ‘Should be laughing at me instead.’ But when the spontaneous joy, it’s a celebration. Anandam budhi vardhanam, it’s happiness of bhakti.


And your month of the Christmas Marathon or the Book Distribution Marathon, December, going out, the organizing, the management, shipping of the books, the storing the books, the accountability of all the books and all the funds that come in for the books, the traveling from one place to another, the meeting all of kinds of different people, all of those things together is the harmonious offering that Radha Gopinath Temple has offered to Srila Prabhupada this last month. And your enthusiasm, it is your enthusiasm that has successfully pleased Srila Prabhupada and Radha Gopinath, so much by your… by both the quality and the quantity of the sincere efforts that you made. I am very grateful. As my personal life is as a caretaker on behalf of Srila Prabhupada for trying to help all of you, encourage all of you, and when I see that you are united, enthusiastic, determined with very high ideals, integrity, working together in this way, serving together in this way, it brings great joy to me because I see that the success of our mission and our life is when Srila Prabhupada is pleased. I thank you very much. Hare Krishna.



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  • Satya Kama Das 9 years ago

    Thank you very much for such a nice narration.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni 9 years ago

    Yes true! For Srila Prabhupad, books were one of the most important part of his life. He sacrificed so much to write and transalate the scriptures for our benefit. And as he says, if we read even one book with love and devotion, our lives will be perfect. So let us please take his books and perfect our lives.

  • Apurva 9 years ago

    Such multi-dimensional , inspiring class on path of bhakti…..it really encourage my enthusiasm to serve devotees, to please Krishna. Srila Prabhupad books are the matchless gift for all of us. While reading these books, we get wisdom and applying those words in our life, it gives realisation.
    Thank you very much for sharing this colorful lecture on art of bhakti.

  • CS Sandeep S. Shinde 9 years ago

    Very nice narration. Thank you very much.

  • Sumit Sharma 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing it!

  • Satya Kama Das 8 years ago

    Very nice. Thank you very much.

  • dewanand 8 years ago

    real happiness does not depend on circumstances only material happiness depend on circumstances.
    yes we really need to be desperately in search of real happiness which is beyond all circustances

  • amit 8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing.