Messenger from Vaikuntha

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, passed from this world on the fourth day of the month of Narayana in 1937 (January 1), which corresponds to December 12 on this year’s calendar. He was a towering spiritual figure of astounding intellect and lifelong dedication to spreading Lord Krishna’s teachings. When Srila Prabhupada was once asked to speak about him, he replied, “What can I say about him? He was a Vaikuntha man.”

Prabhupada’s reply is fitting because a pure devotee of the Lord, as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati undoubtedly was, moves in this world while existing on the plane of Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. Srila Rupa Goswami, a leading disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, wrote, “A person acting in Krishna consciousness with his body, mind, intelligence, and words is a liberated person even within the material world.”

When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati started his mission for spreading Krishna consciousness, he faced many obstacles even though he was preaching in West Bengal, where approximately one fifth of the population were supposedly Chaitanya Vaishnavas. The movement that Lord Chaitanya launched in the early sixteenth century had all but disintegrated, and what remained was largely populated by so-called followers who had in effect rejected His core teachings and were often living lives of debauchery. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati arrived on the scene to return Gaudiya Vaishnavism – pure Krishna consciousness as given by Lord Chaitanya – to its former glory.

This required bold preaching, and he was up to the task. He constantly spoke uncompromisingly about Krishna and the authentic teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Preachers sometimes flatter their listeners, hoping to win sympathy for their message. But while Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati did observe normal social etiquette when meeting people of power or position, such as the British governor of Bengal, he always delivered the truth of Krishna consciousness without watering it down to make it more palatable to his audience.

The result of his uncompromising spirit was a vibrant society of dedicated disciples. He and his disciples preached untiringly throughout the Indian subcontinent, opening more than sixty temples and ashrams by the time of his passing.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati wanted to spread Krishna consciousness beyond India, and he sent disciples to other countries, including England, Germany, and Burma. His desire for the worldwide reach of Lord Chaitanya’s movement was fulfilled by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who credited his success not to his own ability or efforts, but to the blessings of his spiritual master.

Likewise, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, though possessed of superb skills that he fully employed in spreading Krishna consciousness, always considered himself the humble servant of his immediate spiritual guides, namely his father, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and his guru, Srila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji.

Those of us who feel a debt of gratitude to Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of ISKCON, for rescuing us from the ocean of material existence must extend our gratitude to his spiritual predecessors as well. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that His holy name would be chanted in every corner of the world, and they prepared the way for Srila Prabhupada to fulfill that prediction.

If you’d like learn more about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, I suggest the three-volume work on his life and teachings by Srila Prabhupada’s disciple His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami. Titled Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava (available at, this comprehensive, thoroughly researched book is sure to inspire you in your progress in Krishna consciousness.

– Nagaraja Dasa