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I took sannyasa

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Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Antya-lila

CC Antya Concluding Words:

Fortunately, even at our first meeting His Divine Grace advised me to preach the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in English in the Western countries. Because at that time I was a complete nationalist, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi's, I submitted to His Divine Grace that unless our country were freed from foreign subjugation, no one would hear the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu seriously. Of course, we had some argument on this subject, but at last I was defeated and convinced that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's message is the only panacea for suffering humanity. I was also convinced that the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was then in the hands of a very expert devotee and that surely the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would spread all over the world. I could not, however, immediately take up his instructions to preach, but I took his words very seriously and was always thinking of how to execute his order, although I was quite unfit to do so.

In this way I passed my life as a householder until 1950, when I retired from family life as a vānaprastha. With no companion, I loitered here and there until 1958, when I took sannyāsa. Then I was completely ready to discharge the order of my spiritual master. Previously, in 1936, just before His Divine Grace passed away at Jagannātha Purī, I wrote him a letter asking what I could do to serve him. In reply, he wrote me a letter, dated 13 December 1936, ordering me, in the same way, to preach in English the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as I had heard it from him.

After he passed away, I started the fortnightly magazine Back to Godhead sometime in 1944 and tried to spread the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu through this magazine. After I took sannyāsa, a well-wishing friend suggested that I write books instead of magazines. Magazines, he said, might be thrown away, but books remain perpetually. Then I attempted to write Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.


Festival Lectures

His Divine Grace Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja's Disappearance Day Lecture, (Srila Prabhupada's Sannyasa Guru) -- Seattle, October 21, 1968:

Prabhupāda: One has to accept the renounced order from another person who is in renounced order. So I never thought that I shall accept this renounced order of life. In my family life, when I was in the midst of my wife and children, sometimes I was dreaming my spiritual master, that he's calling me, and I was following him. When my dream was over, I was thinking. I was little horrified. "Oh, Guru Mahārāja wants me to become sannyāsī. How can I accept sannyāsa?" At that time, I was feeling not very satisfaction that I have to give up my family and have to become a mendicant. At that time, it was a horrible feeling. Sometimes I was thinking, "No, I cannot take sannyāsa." But again I saw the same dream. So in this way I was fortunate. My Guru Mahārāja (Prabhupāda begins to cry, choked voice) pulled me out from this material life. I have not lost anything. He was so kind upon me. I have gained. I left three children, I have got now three hundred children. So I am not loser. This is material conception. We think that we shall be loser by accepting Kṛṣṇa. Nobody is loser. I say from my practical experience. I was thinking that "How can I accept this renounced order of life? I cannot accept so much trouble." So... But I retired from my family life. I was sitting alone in Vṛndāvana, writing books. So this, my Godbrother, he insisted me, "Bhaktivedanta prabhu..." This title was given in my family life. It was offered to me by the Vaiṣṇava society. So he insisted me. Not he insisted me. Practically my spiritual master insisted me through him, that "You accept." Because without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher. So he wanted me to become a preacher. So he forced me through this Godbrother, "You accept." So unwillingly I accepted. And then I remembered that he wanted me to go to the Western country. So I am feeling now very much obliged to my, this Godbrother, that he carried out the wish of my spiritual master and enforced me to accept this sannyāsa order.

So this Godbrother, His Holiness Keśava Mahārāja, is no more. He has entered Kṛṣṇa's abode. So I wish to pass a resolution of bereavement and send them. So... And I have composed one verse also in this connection in Sanskrit. So you all present, you sign this. I shall send it tomorrow. The verse I have composed, it is in Sanskrit. Vairāgya-vidyā-nija-bhakti-yogam (CC Madhya 6.254). This Kṛṣṇa consciousness is vairāgya-vidyā. Vairāgya-vidyā means to become detestful to this material world. That is called vairāgya-vidya. And that is possible simply by this bhakti-yoga. Vairāgya-vidyā-nija-bhakti-yogam apāyayan mām. So this... Just like medicine. The child is afraid of taking medicine. That also I have experienced. In my childhood, when I became ill, I was very stubborn. I won't accept any medicine. So my mother used to force medicine within my mouth with a spoon. I was so obstinate. So anyway, similarly, I did not want to accept this sannyāsa order, but this Godbrother forced me. "You must." Apāyayan mām, he forcefully made me to drink this medicine. Anabhīpsu andham. Why I was unwilling? Anabhīpsu means unwilling. Andham, andham means one who is blind, who cannot see his future. The spiritual life is the brightest future, but the materialists cannot see to it. You see? But the Vaiṣṇavas, the spiritual master, they forcefully, "You drink this medicine." You see. Apāyayan mām anabhīpsu andhām śrī-keśava-bhakti-prajñāna-nāma. So this my Godbrother, his name is Keśava, Bhaktiprajñāna Keśava. Kṛpāmbudhi. So he did this favor upon me because he was ocean of mercy. So we offer our obeisances to Vaiṣṇava, kṛpāmbudhi. Vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca. The Vaiṣṇavas, the representatives of the Lord, they are so kind. They bring the ocean of mercy for distributing to the suffering humanity. Kṛpāmbudhir yas tam ahaṁ prapadye (CC Madhya 6.254). So I am offering my respectful obeisances unto this His Holiness, because he forcefully made me adopt this sannyāsa order. So he is no more in this world. He has entered Kṛṣṇa's abode. So I am offering my respectful obeisances along with my disciples. On the first day of my sannyāsa, I never thought, but I remembered that I'll have to speak in English. So I remember on that sannyāsa day, when there was a reception, so I, first of all, I spoke in English. So it is all arrangement of Kṛṣṇa, higher authority. We are writing like this, "Resolved that we the undersigned members and devotees of International Society for Krishna Consciousness Incorporated, in a condolence meeting under the presidency of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, today the 21st of October, 1968, at our Seattle branch, express our profound bereavement on hearing the passing of His Divine Grace Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktiprajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, the sannyāsa guru, preceptor of our spiritual master, and on October 6th, 1968, at his headquarter residence in Nabadwip, West Bengal. We offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Śrī Śrīmad B. P. Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja with the following verse composed on this occasion by our spiritual master." This verse I have already explained to you. So I wish that you all sign this and I'll send it tomorrow by air mail. Have you got pencil?

Govinda dāsī: Yes. (sound of Prabhupāda signing) (end)

His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada's Appearance Day, Evening -- Gorakhpur, February 15, 1971:

So at that time, there was no sale of Back to Godhead. I was publishing about one thousand copies and distributing. So there was no income. I was spending three hundred, four hundred rupees from my pocket. At that time, I had income. Then, gradually... I wanted to remain as a gṛhastha and preach, but Guru Mahārāja did not like this idea. I could understand. Sometime I was dreaming that he was calling me, and I was horrified that "I'll have to go away from home." (laughter) So at last it happened so that I left my home in 1950 and became a vānaprastha. I was living sometimes here and there. In 1959 I took sannyāsa. But that Back to Godhead was going on. Then there was some inner dictation that "This paper, Back to Godhead, I am publishing, people are taking." Some friend advised me that "Why don't you write some books? That will be nice." So then I began to translate Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada's Appearance Day, Lecture -- Atlanta, March 2, 1975:

Then in 1954, no, not 1954, 1968, when I was fifty-four years old... Nineteen fifty-four, yes. Nineteen fifty-four, I was at that time fifty-eight years. So I left home, and I was living alone. Then, 1958, I took sannyāsa, and then I decided to take up the responsibility of my Guru Mahārāja. I thought that "My other Godbrothers are trying, so I am not capable to do it. They are better situated." But somehow or other, they could not do very much, appreciative activities, in this connection.

So when I was seventy years old I decided, "Now I must do and execute the order of my Guru Mahārāja. And thus this movement was started in 1965 from New York.

Initiation Lectures

Lecture at Sannyasa Initiation -- Los Angeles, May 27, 1972:

This Kṛṣṇa Conscious movement is meant for delivering the conditioned soul of this age, Kali-yuga, as it was inaugurated by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself, accompanied by Nityānanda. He also took sannyāsa at the age of twenty-four years only, very young man. So according to Vedic system, one takes sannyāsa at the fag end of life. Just like I have taken. While I was going to die, I took sannyāsa. So, that is also, something is better than nothing.

General Lectures

Lecture -- New York, April 17, 1969:

In the beginning, when my Guru Mahārāja ordered me, I thought it that "I shall first of all become very rich man; then I shall preach." (laughs) So I was doing very nice in business. In the business circle, I got very good name, and with whom I was dealing business, they were very satisfied. But Kṛṣṇa made so trick that He broke everything, and He obliged me to take sannyāsa. So that is Hari. So that I had to come to your country with only seven dollars. So they are criticizing, "The swami came here with no money. Now he's so opulent." (chuckles) So they are taking the back side, black side, you see? But the thing is... Of course, I have become profited, profitable, or I have acquired profit. I left my home, my children and everything. I came here as a pauper, with seven dollars. That is no money. But I have got now big properties, hundreds of children. (laughter) And I haven't got to think for their provision. They are thinking of me. So that is Kṛṣṇa's favor. In the beginning, it appears to be very bitter. When I took sannyāsa, when I was living alone, I was feeling very bitter. I, sometimes I was thinking, "Whether I have done wrong by accepting?" So when I was publishing this Back to Godhead from Delhi, one day one bull thrashed me, and I fell down on the footpath and I got severe injury. I was alone. So I was thinking, "What is this?" So I had very, days of very tribulations, but it was all meant for good. So don't be afraid of tribulations. You see? Go forward. Kṛṣṇa will give you protection. That is Kṛṣṇa's promise in the Bhagavad-gītā. Kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: (BG 9.31)

Conversations and Morning Walks

1967 Conversations and Morning Walks

Discourse on Lord Caitanya Play Between Srila Prabhupada and Hayagriva -- April 5-6, 1967, San Francisco:

Prabhupāda: I took initiation from my Guru Maharaja, but I took sannyāsa from a Godbrother who is a sannyāsī. So my original guru is that spiritual master who initiated me, but he's also a śikṣā guru. Like that. Teacher.

1970 Conversations and Morning Walks

Room Conversation -- December 12, 1970, Indore:

Prabhupāda: We must have faith. Adau śraddhā (Hindi) You should be prepared even there is difficulty. Just like when I took sannyāsa I gave up my family life. In the beginning there was so much difficulty. I was living alone. But I never cared for it. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

Interviews with Macmillan and various English Reporters -- September 12, 1973, London:

Reporter (2): What, what were you doing, what did you do before this, before 1966?

Prabhupāda: I was retired from my family life. I was living in a holy place called Vṛndāvana. I retired from my family life in 1954. Then, in 1959, I took sannyāsa order. This is called renounced order of life. No family connection .

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Room Conversation -- October 3, 1976, Vrndavana:

Hari-śauri: No, it's not very clear. I was just wondering who the other two were.

Prabhupāda: I took sannyāsa from him.

Hari-śauri: Who is that?

Prabhupāda: Sannyāsa has to be taken from a sannyāsī, so I took sannyāsa from him.

Hari-śauri: Yes, I was wondering what his name was.

Prabhupāda: Oh, his name is Keśava Mahārāja. He's one of the Godbrothers. He's also one of my Godbrothers.

Hari-śauri: And he took it the same time.

Prabhupāda: They are now dead and gone.

Hari-śauri: Yes. This man, he looks very old already. The other one.

Prabhupāda: Oh yes. He was... He is of my age, middle. The other one, he was older.

Hari-śauri: Harikeśa said the day before you took sannyāsa you were gored by a cow or something? A cow hit you in the stomach?

Prabhupāda: Before?

Hari-śauri: The day before you took sannyāsa?

Prabhupāda: No. No. (laughing)

Hari-śauri: I was told that. I don't know whether it was... Or some time around then.

Prabhupāda: That was long before.

Hari-śauri: Oh, that was a long time.

Prabhupāda: I took sannyāsa sometime in '59, and... No, that is after I took sannyāsa. No, no. Before, yes. Before or after,...

Hari-śauri: He said it was the day before.

Prabhupāda: No. That was an incident in Delhi. Now I think it was... It was before. Before. That was sometime in 1956.

Hari-śauri: Oh, that's a long time before.

Prabhupāda: And I took sannyāsa in 1959.

Hari-śauri: That was in Vṛndāvana or Delhi?

Prabhupāda: No, Delhi. Vānaprastha. I was alone. But my paper was going on, Back to Godhead. In Delhi I was alone. I was doing everything. Editing, selling, collecting, cooking.


1969 Correspondence

Letter to Brahmananda -- Los Angeles 9 January, 1969:

One thing that I beg to bring to your notice about the printing of my books. In 1954, I left my home, and for 5 years I lived as Vanaprastha here and there, and then in 1959 I took sannyasa. Of course even when I was a householder I was publishing Back To Godhead since 1947. But then my Spiritual Master dictated that I should take to writing books which will be a permanent affair. So after my acceptance of sannyasa I began working on Srimad-Bhagavatam and when the first canto was finished, with great difficulty I published the first volume in 1962, after leaving my home and after taking sannyasa and spending whatever cash money I had with me during the five years of my staying alone.

1970 Correspondence

Letter to Satsvarupa, Uddhava -- Los Angeles 27 July, 1970:

You are all my children and I love my American boys and girls who are sent to me by my spiritual master and I have accepted them as my disciples. Before coming to your country I took sannyasa in 1959. I was publishing BTG since 1944. After taking sannyasa I was more engaged in writing my books without any attempt to construct temples or to make disciples like my other Godbrothers in India. I was not very much interested in these matters because my Guru Maharaja liked very much publication of books than constructing big, big temples and creating some neophyte disciples.

1974 Correspondence

Letter to Mahatma -- Bombay 1 May, 1974:

Regarding your wanting to give up household life for vanaprastha you may do it and spend your time positively by going on traveling sankirtana, provided it is recommended by the temple president and there is facility for taking such a party. Taking of sannyasa order is in one sense only a formality. I was preaching and writing for eight or nine years as Vanaprastha and then in 1959 I took sannyasa. So if after a few years as Vanaprastha your behavior is ideal sannyasa can be considered.

... more about "I took sannyasa"
Sahadeva +  and Matea +
December 16, 0009 JL +
September 17, 0011 JL +
BG: 0 +, SB: 0 +, CC: 1 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 5 +, Conv: 4 +  and Let: 3 +