Srila Prabhupada’s visionary propagation of India’s spiritual culture: The Power of One Spiritual Indian
When Srila Prabhupada visited Britain during one of his worldwide preaching tours, a reporter inquired about the purpose of his visit. Srila Prabhupada replied that the British plundered India of all her wealth, but they forgot to take India’s most precious jewel. Srila Prabhupada informed the nonplussed reporter that he had come to offer Britain that jewel – the timeless wisdom of the Vedic literature.
Srila Prabhupada was an outstanding spiritual visionary who envisioned and implemented a global East-West synthesis. With little less than forty rupees, he went alone to America and, within just eleven years, inspired thousands of young men and women toward a meaningful, joyful life of selfless service to God and his children.
1. Srila Prabhupada presented the essential Vedic conclusions with striking clarity and relevance. To a world striving for universal brotherhood, Srila Prabhupada poignantly pointed out that universal brotherhood was possible only when the people of the world accept the Universal Father, God.
2. To individuals searching for inner fulfillment, Srila Prabhupada explained that the highest happiness can be experienced only when one lives in harmony with the will of God.
3. To a world infatuated by technological advancement, Srila Prabhupada warned that when humanity individually, socially and globally neglects or rejects God, it courts total disaster.
4. Along with this revolutionary philosophy, Srila Prabhupada brought to the West a unique gift – a practical and joyful way of life, centered on selfless spiritual service to God and all His children.
5. He also presented easy and effective mantra meditation techniques, which constituted the distilled essence of all Vedic methods for self-realization.
6. Thousands of people, when they adopted the Vedic way of life as taught by Srila Prabhupada, experienced their lives transformed from confused despair to enlightened fulfillment.
7. Addicts, who had been wrecked by the perverted pleasures offered by tobacco, alcohol and drugs, found themselves freed from the shackles of self-destructive behavior.
8. Seekers, who had been disillusioned by the mindless pursuit of inane pleasures as espoused by modern society, found unlimited happiness streaming into their lives from the spiritual stratum.
9. Intellectuals, searching for meaning and purpose to the cosmos and the life within it, discovered a body of knowledge that answered fully the deepest questions that humanity has ever pondered.
10. Even scholars could not but appreciate Srila Prabhupada’s comprehensive, coherent, cogent and potent presentation of Vedic knowledge, especially his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita, entitled Bhagavad Gita As It Is. “If truth is what works, as Pierce and the other pragmatists insist, there must be a kind of truth in the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, since those who follow its teaching display a joyful serenity usually missing in the bleak and strident lives of contemporary people.” This remark of Dr Elwin H Powell, Professor of Sociology, State University of New York, represents the appreciation that Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is has won among open-minded scholars.
So dramatic was the spread of Indian spirituality under his stewardship that the renowned scholar on Indian history and culture, A L Basham of The Wonder that was India fame, noted, “The Hare Krishna movement arose out of next to nothing in less than twenty years and has become known all over the West. This is an important fact in the history of the Western world.” Since Basham made this observation in the early 1980s, ISKCON has spread further – not only in the West, but also in the East, especially in Eastern Europe and, of course, in India. How the spiritual tourism that ISKCON activated in Vrindavana has revitalized the economy, culture and spirituality there is vividly documented by Charles R Brooks in his Princeton-published The Hare Krishnas in India. Therein he uses the term “reverse missionary” to describe the unique phenomenon of foreigners inspiring Indians to start following their own culture. The same all-round development is seen in even more dramatically in Mayapur: what was just a barren wilderness has now become a vibrant headquarters of a global spiritual movement, offering practical employment and charitable support to thousands in the surrounding area. So, from Srila Prabhupada’s pioneering example, we can see that, even from a practical economic viewpoint, India can gain much if it starts globalizing its spiritual heritage. No wonder Srila Prabhupada often stated that when we strive intelligently for spiritual welfare, material welfare automatically follows.
Srila Prabhupada spearheaded a cultural and spiritual revolution that continues to bring meaning and joy to the lives of millions all over the world even today. Thus the evidence that Srila Prabhupada has provided to testify to the glory of Vedic India is living and global: it is the vibrant lives of thousands of people, who have dedicated themselves to the selfless service of humanity and God.
For our modern times, Srila Prabhupada envisioned an East-West synthesis; spreading Indian spiritual wisdom with Western material technology. He compared the coming together of Vedic spirituality and modern technology to the coming together of the proverbial blind man and the lame man. But for this synthesis to take place, the technologically advanced West has to recognize that it is lacking in spiritual vision. And the financially-crippledIndiahas to shed its deeply-ingrained inferiority complex arising from material poverty and recognize its wealth of spiritual knowledge. If we acknowledge our respective endowments and deficiencies, we can become pioneers in bringing about an international spiritual revival. In our sadly misled modern world, this may be the only hope to usher in a new era of harmony and happiness.