A global spiritual revolution
What do you feel when you hear the word revolution? Do you fearfully envisage a takeover by militia? Or do you exuberantly anticipate exciting discoveries in art, literature, science, medicine, or technology?
In the late 15th and early 16th centuries when Europe was going through a scientific renaissance and a trend towards humanism, a major social and religious transformation was also pervading the Indian subcontinent. This re-awakening was primarily due to the efforts of Lord Chaitanya (1486-1534), spiritual reformer, religious ascetic and divine incarnate. He predicted the appearance in the late 19th century of Srila Prabhupada, whose teachings would have major spiritual ramifications far beyond the Indian subcontinent.
That Srila Prabhupada brought about a worldwide revolution in thinking was obvious in his thousands of international followers, and in the accolades by many academic scholars on his bona-fide, scholarly elucidation and the depth of his work.
Harvey Cox, one of America’s leading Christian theologians at that time, based at Harvard’s School of Divinity, said:
“…at a very advanced age, when most people would be resting on their laurels, Srila Prabhupada harkened to the mandate of his own spiritual teacher and set out on the difficult and demanding voyage to America. He is, of course, only one of thousands of teachers. But in another sense, he is one in a thousand, maybe one in a million.”
For a 69 year old saint to leave the familiarity of India, beg passage on a steamship across the Atlantic to New York with only 7 dollars’ worth of rupees, and start a worldwide society based only on unwavering faith and conviction, is more than revolutionary.
Srila Prabhupada did not compromise his spiritual instructions and practice, as many other masters did to gain followers in the West. He strongly criticised the rampant materialism of the West, and the reductionistic ideas of science which he showed were linked to impersonalism. Impersonalists believe one’s final spiritual destination is to merge into a void or impersonal energy. This is essentially also the foundations of reductionistic science which tries to reduce the explanation of phenomena to nothing more than a series of mathematical and scientific laws, and ultimately just reactions amongst atoms, without acknowledging a superior intelligence behind all of it.
Srila Prabhupada shattered such ideas. He declared that the “absolute is sentient”, that God is a person, a supreme, spiritual person − otherwise how could there be meaning to a relationship of love? He castigated the scientists for presenting a propaganda that deceived people into accepting atheistic beliefs. So much so that he established the Bhaktivedanta Institute, staffed by his scientist and academic disciples to use science to establish the presence of God rather than deny Him.
He revolutionised the ideas of cuisine, showing how a vegetarian diet reflects the spiritual qualities of compassion and mercy essential for progress in spiritual life, and the eco-sustainability of the planet. He advocated developing simpler, agrarian lifestyles.
The translation, writing, publishing and distribution of more than 450 million philosophical books all over this planet in a space of only twelve years, is an incredible feat.
Indeed, history shows that no change has ever come about without a radical change in consciousness. Srila Prabhupada single-handedly brought about this revolution to end all revolutions.
Interested to learn more about Srila Prabhupada and Krishna Consciousness? You can explore our online resources, ask a question or visit a temple.
What is my real identity? Who is Krishna? What is bhakti yoga?
Read the books of Srila Prabhupada, one of the most prolific authors of commentaries on and translations of Vedic texts.