Srila Prabhupada in Radha Damodar
“Our beloved guru Maharaj Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada declared Radha Damodar temple to be the centre of the spiritual world, situated in the heart of the seva-kunj, where Sri Sri Radha Govinda’s sweetest most beautiful pastimes take place eternally.
Srila Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Gopal Bhatt Goswami, Raghunath das Goswami, Raghunath Bhatt Goswami, and other intimate associates like Bhugarbha Goswami and Lokanath Goswami would meet here on a regular basis. This was their headquarters. They would study the books, discuss their writings, honor prasad together, and perform beautiful kirtans and so on. They are eternally performing their bhajan, their puja, and their pastimes here in the courtyard of Radha Damodar temple. Sri Sri Radha Krishna are eternally performing Their sweet rasa-lila in the courtyard of Radha Damodar temple.
Jiva Goswami personally arranged for the samadhi of Sri Rupa Goswami here. Jiva Goswami, in his life wrote over twenty-five books, over hundred thousand Sanskrit shlokas, which were all based on the teachings of Rupa and Sanatan. Rupa Goswami through Upadeshamrita, and bhakti-Rasamrita Sindhu established not only the essence of the siddhanta of Lord Chaitanya’s teachings, but also the practical way in which we can follow and achieve the ultimate perfection. Jiva Goswami established an incredible library of all the goswamis’ literature. Later on in this courtyard, Narottam das Thakur, Srinivas Acharya, and Shyamanand prabhu studied under Jiva Goswami. This is such a holy place!
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada renounced his family life to become vanaprastha, and came to Vrindavan. First, he was living at Banshi Gopal temple near Yamuna, close to Kesi ghat. In 1959, his long cherished desire was fulfilled – to have his residence at the Radha Damodar.
Srila Prabhupada thought, “Which more holy place is there in all of creation, to be inspired and prepare myself for this great preaching mission, than the temple of Radha Damodar.” He was thinking, “Rupa Goswami’s samadhi is here and we are all Rupanugas, followers of Rupa Goswami. If I pray at his samadhi and receive his blessings, I will be empowered to fulfill the great mission of my Gurudev. Jiva Goswami is the most prominent of all writers amongst the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. By residing at his samadhi and bhajan kutir, by giving his blessings, he will empower me to translate and give purports of Srimad Bhagvatam in the English language.” Srila Prabhupada lived in Jiva Goswami’s temple for six full years. It was his bhajan kutir. He lived his simple life chanting the holy names, associating with Vrajavasis, while absorbed always in prayerful mood.
From the courtyard of the temple, one can see two windows of the kitchen of Srila Prabhupada, and just adjacent to this kitchen is Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan kutir. Srila Prabhupada lived in these rooms for six years. His guru Maharaj, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, instructed him in his first meeting in Ultadanga junction road in Calcutta, “You are a young intelligent man. Take the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and spread it throughout the world in the English language.” Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur saw the heart and the eternal relationship he had with Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada came to Vrindavan unlike most people do. Although he was in his old age, he did not come here to retire; he came here to prepare himself for his life’s mission. In Vrindavan, he lived a very simple life. The goswamis here witnessed Prabhupada’s simplicity and devotion. He was writing Back to Godhead, and although Vrindavan is his eternal home he would have to take train all the way up to Delhi, on a regular basis, to get the Back to Godhead printed. Then he would go into the streets of Delhi and with his own hands distribute them. And, then come back. Some devotees told him, “If you really want to establish very strongly, you should publish books.” That reminded him of what Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur ordered him at Radhakunda – print and distribute books. It was in these rooms of Sri Radha Damodar that Srila Prabhupada wrote the translations and Bhaktivedanta purports to the three volumes of first canto of Srimad Bhagvatam. Prabhupada told us that his purports were his spiritual ecstasies that he is sharing with the world.
Srila Prabhupada daily would offer his obeisances, his prayers, and his very life at the samadhi of Rupa Goswami. He is our Sampradaya acharya. He prayed, prayed, and prayed for his mercy. In 1965, Prabhupada had completed the first canto of Bhagvatam and it was published. He told some devotees that Srila Rupa Goswami appeared to him and gave him his blessings to go to the west to spread his message. Srila Prabhupada lived a simple life here, immersed in prayers at the lotus feet of Rupa Goswami, Jiva Goswami, and his Gurudev. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s puspa-samadhi is also behind in the courtyard. Srila Prabhupada’s love for this place was so deep, so intimate that even when he was in the west, he was sending whatever he had to maintain these rooms. And, he told the devotees, “No matter what happens, please keep these rooms.” And, Prabhupada said, “I am eternally living in my rooms at Radha Damodar temple.”