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The Science of Self Realization

The Science of Self Realization

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Published by Colonel Zaysen

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Published by: Colonel Zaysen on Mar 08, 2011
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“Science of Self-Realization” by His Divine Grace A.C. BhaktivedantaSwami Prabhupada.COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This is an evaluation copy of the printed version ofthis book, and is NOT FOR RESALE. This evaluation copy is intended forpersonal non-commercial use only, under the “fair use” guidelinesestablished by international copyright laws. You may use this electronicfile to evaluate the printed version of this book, for your own privateuse, or for short excerpts used in academic works, research, studentpapers, presentations, and the like. You can distribute this evaluationcopy to others over the Internet, so long as you keep this copyrightinformation intact. You may not reproduce more than ten percent (10%) ofthis book in any media without the express written permission from thecopyright holders. Reference any excerpts in the following way:“Excerpted from “Science of Self-Realization” by A.C. BhaktivedantaSwami, courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International,www.Krishna.com .”This book and electronic file is Copyright 1977-2003 Bhaktivedanta BookTrust International, 3764 Watseka Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034, USA.All rights reserved. For any questions, comments, correspondence, or toevaluate dozens of other books in this collection, visit the website ofthe publishers,www.Krishna.com . ForewordFrom the very start, I knew that His Divine Grace A. C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was the most extraordinary person I hadever met. The first meeting occurred in the summer of 1966, in New YorkCity. A friend had invited me to hear a lecture by "an old Indian svami"on lower Manhattan's Bowery. Overwhelmed with curiosity about a svamilecturing on skid row, I went there and felt my way up a pitch-blackstaircase. A bell-like, rhythmic sound got louder and clearer as Iclimbed higher. Finally I reached the fourth floor and opened the door,and there he was.About fifty feet away from where I stood, at the other end of along, dark room, he sat on a small dais, his face and saffron robesradiant under a small light. He was elderly, perhaps sixty or so, Ithought, and he sat cross-legged in an erect, stately posture. His headwas shaven, and his powerful face and reddish horn-rimmed glasses gavehim the look of a monk who had spent most of his life absorbed in study.His eyes were closed, and he softly chanted a simple Sanskrit prayerwhile playing a hand drum. The small audience joined in at intervals, incall-and-response fashion. A few played hand cymbals, which accountedfor the bell-like sounds I'd heard. Fascinated, I sat down quietly atthe back, tried to participate in the chanting, and waited.After a few moments the svami began lecturing in English,apparently from a huge Sanskrit volume that lay open before him.Occasionally he would quote from the book, but more often from memory.
 
The sound of the language was beautiful, and he followed each passagewith meticulously detailed explanations.He sounded like a scholar, his vocabulary intricately laced withphilosophical terms and phrases. Elegant hand gestures and animatedfacial expressions added considerable impact to his delivery. Thesubject matter was the most weighty I had ever encountered: "I am notthis body. I am not an Indian.... You are not Americans.... We are allspirit souls...."After the lecture someone gave me a pamphlet printed in India. Aphoto showed the svami handing three of his books to Indian primeminister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The caption quoted Mr. Shastri as sayingthat all Indian government libraries should order the books. "His DivineGrace A. C. Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada is doing great work," theprime minister said in another small tract, "and his books aresignificant contributions to the salvation of mankind." I purchasedcopies of the books, which I learned the svami had brought over fromIndia. After reading the jacket flaps, the small pamphlet, and variousother literature, I began to realize that I had just met one of India'smost respected spiritual leaders.But I could not understand why a gentleman of such distinction wasresiding and lecturing in the Bowery, of all places. He was certainlywell educated and, by all appearances, born of an aristocratic Indianfamily. Why was he living in such poverty? What in the world had broughthim here? one afternoon several days later, I stopped in to visit himand find out.To my surprise, Srila Prabhupada (as I later came to call him) wasnot too busy to talk with me. In fact, it seemed that he was prepared totalk all day. He was warm and friendly and explained that he hadaccepted the renounced order of life in India in 1959, and that he wasnot allowed to carry or earn money for his personal needs. He hadcompleted his studies at the University of Calcutta many years ago andhad raised a family, and then he had left his eldest sons in charge offamily and business affairs, as the age-old vedic culture prescribes.After accepting the renounced order, he had arranged a free passage onan Indian freighter (Scindia Steamship Company's Jaiaduta) throughmutual friends. In September 1965, he had sailed from Bombay to Boston,armed with only seven dollars' worth of rupees, a trunk of books, and afew clothes. His spiritual master, His Divine Grace BhaktisiddhantaSarasvati Thakura, had entrusted him with delivering India's vedicteachings to the English-speaking world. And this was why, at age sixty-nine, he had come to America. He told me he wanted to teach Americansabout Indian music, cooking, languages, and various other arts. I wasmildly amazed.I saw that Srila Prabhupada slept on a small mattress and that hisclothes hung on lines at the back of the room, where they were drying inthe summer afternoon heat. He washed them himself and cooked his ownfood on an ingenious utensil he had fashioned with his own hands inIndia. In this four-layer apparatus he cooked four preparations at once.Stacked all around him and his ancient-looking portable typewriter inanother section of the room were seemingly endless manuscripts. He spentalmost all of his waking hours--about twenty in twenty-four, I learned--typing the sequels to the three volumes I had purchased. It was aprojected sixty-volume set called the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and virtuallyit was the encyclopedia of spiritual life. I wished him luck with the
 
publishing, and he invited me back for Sanskrit classes on Saturdays andfor his evening lectures on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I accepted,thanked him, and left, marveling at his incredible determination.A few weeks later--it was July 1966--I had the privilege of helpingSrila Prabhupada relocate in a somewhat more respectable neighborhood,on Second Avenue. Some friends and I pitched in and rented a ground-floor storefront and a second-floor apartment, to the rear of a littlecourtyard, in the same building. The lectures and chanting continued,and within two weeks a rapidly growing congregation was providing forthe storefront (by this time a temple) and the apartment. By now SrilaPrabhupada was instructing his followers to print and distributeleaflets, and the owner of a record company had invited him to record anLP of the Hare Krsna chant. He did, and it was a huge success. In hisnew location he was teaching chanting, vedic philosophy, music, japameditation, fine art, and cooking. At first he cooked--he always taughtby example. The results were the most wonderful vegetarian meals I hadever experienced. (Srila Prabhupada would even serve everything outhimself!) The meals usually consisted of a rice preparation, a vegetabledish, capatis (tortilla-like whole-wheat patties), and dal (a zestfullyspiced mung bean or split pea soup). The spicing, the cooking medium--ghee, or clarified butter--and the close attention paid to the cookingtemperature and other details all combined to produce taste treatstotally unknown to me. Others' opinions of the food, called prasadam("the Lord's mercy"), agreed emphatically with mine. A Peace Corpsworker who was also a Chinese-language scholar was learning from SrilaPrabhupada how to paint in the classical Indian style. I was startled atthe high quality of his first canvases.In philosophical debate and logic Srila Prabhupada was undefeatableand indefatigable. He would interrupt his translating work fordiscussions that would last up to eight hours. Sometimes seven or eightpeople jammed into the small, immaculately clean room where he worked,ate, and slept on a two-inch-thick foam cushion. Srila Prabhupadaconstantly emphasized and exemplified what he called "plain living andhigh thinking." He stressed that spiritual life was a science provablethrough reason and logic, not a matter of mere sentiment or blind faith.He began a monthly magazine, and in the autumn of 1966 The New YorkTimes published a favorable picture story about him and his followers.Shortly thereafter, television crews came out and did a feature newsstory.Srila Prabhupada was an exciting person to know. Whether it was outof my desire for the personal benefits of yoga and chanting or just outof raw fascination, I knew I wanted to follow his progress every step ofthe way. His plans for expansion were daring and unpredictable--exceptfor the fact that they always seemed to succeed gloriously. He wasseventyish and a stranger to America, and he had arrived withpractically nothing, yet now, within a few months, he had singlehandedlystarted a movement! It was mind-boggling.One August morning at the Second Avenue storefront temple, SrilaPrabhupada told us, "Today is Lord Krsna's appearance day." We wouldobserve a twenty-four-hour fast and stay inside the temple. That eveningsome visitors from India happened along. One of them--practically intears--described his unbounded rapture at finding this little piece ofauthentic India on the other side of the world. Never in his wildestdreams could he have imagined such a thing. He offered Srila Prabhupada

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