The Books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada, as a pure devotee free from all defects, can transmit the Absolute Truth as it has been carefully set down in the Vedic literature, like a mailman who delivers a letter without opening it to add or subtract something. Because Srila Prabhupada is qualified to receive the king of all education, he is empowered to pass it on purely. His books are considered Vedic literature because they are in pursuance of Vyasadeva’s original intentions. Thus Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports are nondifferent from the original instructions delivered 5,000 years ago by Lord Krsna.

The Books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Originally published in Back to Godhead No. 52
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust 1973
By Brahmananda Swami ISKCON East Africa

Part 7 (conclusion)

One day when several of Srila Prabhupada’s leading disciples were assembled before him, he announced that he had been requested to write a summary study of the Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. If Srila Prabhupada proceeded translating canto by canto, some students feared, he might not be able to complete the confidential Tenth Canto in his life time. Because this portion had been so misrepresented by materialistic religionists, he wanted to leave behind an edition which presented this important portion in its proper transcendental perspective. He took our approval and then began dictating Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This work is the most entertaining of all of Srila Prabhupada’s books. He conceeded that he was writing it in such a way that the reader would not detect the philosophy. In the Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami, its principal reciter, has declared that there are three classes of men who will be attracted to Krsna’s pastimes. Those very advanced in transcendental realization, the liberated souls, will relish the pastimes. Those who are on the path to achievement of liberation will automatically be purified, and even the gross materialist will enjoy them because of the resemblance between Krsna’s affairs with the gopis and the love affairs between ordinary men and women.

The book was printed in Japan in 1970 in two volumes of 750 pages, with the addition of 82 full-color plates. Several talented disciples had labored for almost six months to produce magnificent paintings depicting the pastimes. Virtually every detail was referred for Srila Prabhupada’s approval because the paintings also had to be “as it is.” A welcome introduction by musician George Harrison, who contributed the entire cost of printing the first volume, completes the set of books. Although more expensive than all other of Srila Prabhupada’s books, the Krsna Books are the most popular, having gone into three printings to date, as well as publication in a three-volume paperback edition.

Srila Prabhupada had never been entirely satisfied with Macmillan’s edition of his Gita because they had drastically shortened it for business reasons. However, when the book was well into its fifth printing, Macmillan informed him that they would be honored to bring out the complete edition, including the Sanskrit slokas. All other published editions of the Gita were decreasing in sales, they reported, whereas Srila Prabhupada’s was steadily increasing. Therefore, in the fall of 1972, the Macmillan Company released the complete edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, containing the entire text of Srila Prabhupada’s original manuscript, fully indexed and cross-referenced, along with more than fifty color plates. Finally, this was indeed the complete and authoritative edition of Bhagavad-gita that we had hoped for. The paintings dramatically portray the ideas of the Gita’s verses and Srila Prabhupada’s purports. Simply from the pictures the reader will be able to understand the great transcendental message of Bhagavad-gita.

Soon to be released from Japan are eight fully illustrated volumes comprising the first three cantos of the Srimad-Bhagavatam in verse to verse format. The Fourth Canto is still in the manuscript stage. Also still in manuscript is a large two-volume work in which Srila Prabhupada discusses the ideas of major ancient and contemporary philosophers—from Aristotle and Plato to Jean-Paul Sartre and modern theoretical physicists—in the light of Krsna consciousness.

We do not know what Srila Prabhupada’s literary program will be for the future. Since his last books, he has been extensively traveling and preaching, especially throughout lndia and Africa. He is now in Japan on his way back to the United States on his fifth tour around the world since 1965. It is the hope of his disciples that while in the USA he will be able to retire from active management of ISKCON to completely devote himself to his writing, which he has wanted to do for a long time. There are eight cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam remaining, as well as the manuscripts started in Vrndavana and one incomplete manuscript of the Vedanta-sutra.

Srila Prabhupada, as a pure devotee free from all defects, can transmit the Absolute Truth as it has been carefully set down in the Vedic literature, like a mailman who delivers a letter without opening it to add or subtract something. Because Srila Prabhupada is qualified to receive the king of all education, he is empowered to pass it on purely. His books are considered Vedic literature because they are in pursuance of Vyasadeva’s original intentions. Thus Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports are nondifferent from the original instructions delivered 5,000 years ago by Lord Krsna.

The mission of Lord Caitanya to defeat impersonalism and establish the Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, as the supreme has fully fructified for the benefit of the modern world in the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The Nectar of Devotion figuratively states that impersonalists dwell in the rivers of liberation which gradually lead down to the ocean of nectar to merge with it. They do not know that devotees are in a better position. Devotees don’t care at all for the rivers of liberation, for they are like sharks who dwell eternally in the deep ocean of transcendental loving service.

Not having fully realized God, the impersonalist concludes that He is formless, nameless, without personality or abode, and does not engage in activities. Then, who is God? To say He is not this, not this, and not that means that He is nothing—which is to say that there is no God. Thus, impersonalism has given great impetus to the atheism which characterizes modern civilization. God cannot be formless, because if He were less than anything in His creation, how could He be the complete whole? God, the complete whole, must have everything within and beyond our experience.

From the statements of virtually every Vedic source, Krsna is accepted as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Bhagavan, “possessor of opulences,” Krsna exhibits all beauty, all fame, all wealth, all knowledge, all strength and all renunciation. Since the very word “Krsna” means “all-attractive,” Srila Prabhupada explicitly explains all of God’s all-attractive features. Whereas the scriptures of other religions terminate with the conclusion that God is great, Srila Prabhupada begins from that realization to explain how He is great. The science of the Absolute Truth transcends sectarian religious principles. One who reads Srila Prabhupada’s books will know God perfectly, regardless of sectarian conceptions of God to which he may adhere. No other literature in philosophy, religion or yoga is as complete as the body of work that Srila Prabhupada has dutifully presented to the English-speaking world. This is due to the perfection of the main theme in Srila Prabhupada’s books—devotional service—which far exceeds the four perfections of material life: sense gratification, economic development, pious activities and liberation. The superb quality of Srila Prabhupada’s books is due simply to his glorifying the Supreme and presenting Him as He is.

Although the sales figures for Srila Prabhupada’s books approach those of consistent best sellers due to the vigorous efforts of ISKCON, critics have mainly ignored them. There does not seem to be any solution to this problem due to the lack of critics who are qualified to understand and explicate transcendental knowledge. The Macmillan Gita received only a handful of reviews, with the nation’s largest reviewing syndicate criticizing Srila Prabhupada for treating Bhagavad-gita as the literal word of God.

Be that as it may, the lives of several thousand young men and women from all over the world have been dramatically changed either by their coming into personal contact with Srila Prabhupada or simply by their reading his books. There is an instance of one boy who was stationed in the US Air Force in Spain. He was so impressed by Bhagavad-gita As It Is that he immediately took leave to visit the ISKCON center in London. Soon afterward, upon his military discharge, he surrendered himself as a disciple and servant. In accordance with the teachings of Krsna in Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada teaches the technique for practicing real spiritual life. He does not give only theoretical knowledge. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna first imparts to Arjuna knowledge of what is material and what is spiritual and who he is, but ultimately He instructs Arjuna to fight on the battlefield. Although this has been variously interpreted by commentators, the true significance of this is that in order to realize the spiritual instructions given to him by Krsna, his guru, Arjuna had to render devotional service without material attachment and thus satisfy Krsna. Thus the message of the Gita is to surrender oneself to God.

It should be noted that all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, many of whom are college graduates and former teachers, social workers, etc., find that they have ceased reading other books after reading those by Srila Prabhupada. This is perhaps best explained by the preface to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, where Srila Prabhupada says that people love to read various kinds of fiction, but now, with this book, this tendency can be directed toward Krsna, or God. “The result will be the imperishable satisfaction of the soul, both individually and collectively. … One will find that by reading one page after another, an immense treasure of knowledge in art, science, literature, philosophy and religion will be revealed, and ultimately by reading this one book, Krsna, love of Godhead will fructify.”

Srila Prabhupada teaches the most difficult and sublime science—the science of how to serve God—in such a way that anyone can understand it. The concepts are presented over and over again, for repetition is a time-tested learning technique in transcendental study. Thus in whichever of Srila Prabhupada’s books one reads first, one will find the entire science of Krsna consciousness presented, yet each succeeding book reveals something more, and with each rereading one will find new light. Srila Prabhupada’s books are the most wonderful vehicle because they swiftly transport the reader to a timeless and ever- green world where everyone is joyfully awakened to the Absolute Truth of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

“Excerpted from ‘Back To Godhead’ magazine, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.,”


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