Srila Prabhupada’s Childhood
Pages 17 to 31
To my father, Gour Mohan De, 1849-1930, a pure devotee of Krsna, who raised me as a Krsna conscious child from the beginning of my life.
Prabhupada: My father used to carry salagrama-sila if he was going out
[S.P. Room Conversation About Blitz News Clipping, August 21, 1976, Hyderabad]
had the opportunity of seeing this Radha-Govinda from very childhood.
When I was three or four years
old I used to visit this Radha-Govinda daily.
Prabhupada: (Bengali) This Radha-Govinda Deity is very old Deity of
the Mullik family. I think not less than two hundred years ago this
Deity was established by the mother of Kashinath Mullik. I think you
might have heard, another Kashi..., original Kashinath Mullik. I think
his father's name was Gaura Mohan Mullik. Am I right?
[S.P. Talk at Radha-Govinda Mandir, March 24, 1976, Calcutta]
As a child when I was going to the neighboring Mallik temple, I was thinking then when will I
have such a nice Deity to worship and now
Krsna is so kind that I am establishing so
many nice temples all over the world.
As a child when I was going to the neighboring Mallik temple, I was thinking then when will I have such a nice Deity to worship and now Krsna is so kind that I am establishing so many nice temples all over the world. Now I want that there should be established 108 temples before my death, so you think how to do it. Make some program, train up devotees.
[S.P. Letter to: Madhudvisa, Bombay, 10 November, 1975]
In my childhood I imitated my father.
He was worshiping Deity of Krsna.
So I asked him, "My dear father, I shall
worship. Give me the Deity of Krsna."
So children, they generally imitate, imitate the parents' habits or activities. So fortunately we had the opportunity of getting such a father. So we are imitating our father. In my childhood I imitated my father. He was worshiping Deity of Krsna. So I asked him, "My dear father, I shall worship. Give me the Deity of Krsna." So he gave me a little Deity of Krsna and Radha and I was imitating. So beginning of life... So these are actually facts. Maharaja Pariksit also, he was playing with Krsna, Krsna dolls. Just like Mirabhai. She was playing with Krsna doll and later on she became a very high-grade devotee. So these chances are there.
[Bhagavad-gita Lecture 6.40-42, New York, September 16, 1966]
My father was a pure devotee of the Lord, and when I was only four or five years old, my father gave me a couple of forms of Radha and Krsna. In a playful manner, I used to worship these Deities along with my sister, and I used to imitate the performances
of a neighboring temple of Radha-Govinda.
Srila Jiva Gosvami remarks in this connection that every child, if given an impression of the Lord from his very childhood, certainly becomes a great devotee of the Lord like Maharaja Pariksit. One may not be as fortunate as Maharaja Pariksit to have the opportunity to see the Lord in the womb of his mother, but even if he is not so fortunate, he can be made so if the parents of the child desire him to be so. There is a practical example in my personal life in this connection. My father was a pure devotee of the Lord, and when I was only four or five years old, my father gave me a couple of forms of Radha and Krsna. In a playful manner, I used to worship these Deities along with my sister, and I used to imitate the performances of a neighboring temple of Radha-Govinda. By constantly visiting this neighboring temple and copying the ceremonies in connection with my own Deities of play, I developed a natural affinity for the Lord. My father used to observe all the ceremonies befitting my position. Later on, these activities were suspended due to my association in the schools and colleges, and I became completely out of practice. But in my youthful days, when I met my spiritual master, Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, again I revived my old habit, and the same playful Deities became my worshipful Deities in proper regulation. This was followed up until I left the family connection, and I am pleased that my generous father gave the first impression which was developed later into regulative devotional service by His Divine Grace. Maharaja Prahlada also advised that such impressions of a godly relation must be impregnated from the beginning of childhood, otherwise one may miss the opportunity of the human form of life, which is very valuable although it is temporary like others.
So the first feasting is for the children. Sometimes I was little obstinate, I would not sit down, no, I would take it with me wherever.
Prabhupada: So, have you not taken care of old men and boys who deserve to dine with you? This is Vedic culture. When there is foodstuffs to be distributed, the first preference is given to the children. We remember, even now we are 78, when we were children 4,5 years old, we remember. Some of you have seen that (indistinct) Anyone? Yes, you have seen. So the first feasting is for the children. Sometimes I was little obstinate, I would not sit down, no, I would take it with me wherever. But that was the system. First of all children should be sumptuously fed. Then the Brahmanas and children and old men. In the family, the children and old men. Just see Maharaja Yudhistira. How much he was anxious to take care of Dhrtarastra. although he played the part of an enemy throughout, still it is the duty of the family members to take care of the old men. When Dhrtarastra left home after being rebuked by his younger brother, Vidura. "My dear brother you are still attached to family life, you have no shame, you are taking food from whom you consider your enemies, you wanted to kill them from the very beginning, you set fire to their homes, you banished them in the forests, you intrigued against their life. And now everything is finished. All your sons, grandsons and son-in-laws, and brothers. Father, uncle, I mean to say Bhisma was his uncle. So, all of the family right in the battlefield of Kuruksetra, everyone was killed except these five brothers. Yudhistira, Bhisma, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, all male members were killed. so, only remaining descendants was Maharaja Pariksit. He was within the womb of his mother. His father died. Arjuna's son Abimanyu, he was 16 years old. Fortunately his wife was pregnant, otherwise the Kuru dynasty was finished. So he rebuked that," still you are sitting here just for a morsel of food like dog, you have no shame my dear brother." So he took it very seriously. "Yes. yes my dear brother you are saying all right. So what do you want me to do?" Leave immediately, come out and lets go to the forests." So he agreed. He went there. Maharaja Yudhistira, he used to come first of all in the morning after taking bath, after worshiping the first duty was to go and see the old man. "My dear uncle, you are all comfortable, everything is all right? Talk for some time just to please him. This is the duty of family members. Take care of children, take care of old men, take care of even a lizard in the house. A serpent in the house. This is the injunction you will find in the Srimad Bhagavatam. 'Grhastha'. How much responsibility it is, that it is said even there is a serpent. Nobody wants to take care of a serpent, everyone wants to kill, and nobody is sorry to kill a serpent. Prahlada Maharaja said that “modeta sahur api vrscika sarpa hatya. He said 'that my father was just like a serpent vrscika, scorpion.' So killing of a serpent or scorpion nobody is unhappy." So my lord don't you be angry. Now everything is finished. My father is finished. So that was. But still if the sastra says, that even in house there is serpent, see that he's not fasting without food. This is spiritual communism. They are now after communism, but they do not know what is communism. Everyone should be taken care of. That is communism. Real communism. Nobody should starve. Nobody should have any want in the state. That is communism. So when we went to communist country, Moscow, I think everyone was in want. They could not even get foodstuffs to their own choice.
[Srimad Bhagavatam Lecture 1.14.43]
By the grace of Lord Sri Krsna, we had the chance of being born in a Vaisnava family, and in our childhood we imitated the worship of Lord
Krsna by imitating our father.
By the grace of Lord Sri Krsna, we had the chance of being born in a Vaisnava family, and in our childhood we imitated the worship of Lord Krsna by imitating our father. Our father encouraged us in all respects to observe all functions such as the Ratha-yatra and Dola-yatra ceremonies, and he used to spend money liberally for distributing prasada to us children and our friends. Our spiritual master, who also took his birth in a Vaisnava family, got all inspirations from his great Vaisnava father, Thakura Bhaktivinoda. That is the way of all lucky Vaisnava families. The celebrated Mira Bai was a staunch devotee of Lord Krsna as the great lifter of Govardhana Hill.
The life history of many such devotees is almost the same because there is always symmetry between the early lives of all great devotees of the Lord. According to Jiva Gosvami, Maharaja Pariksit must have heard about the childhood pastimes of Lord Krsna at Vrndavana, for he used to imitate the pastimes with his young playmates. According to Sridhara Svami, Maharaja Pariksit used to imitate the worship of the family Deity by elderly members. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti also confirms the viewpoint of Jiva Gosvami. So accepting either of them, Maharaja Pariksit was naturally inclined to Lord Krsna from his very childhood. He might have imitated either of the above-mentioned activities, and all of them establish his great devotion from his very childhood, a symptom of a maha-bhagavata. Such maha-bhagavatas are called nitya-siddhas, or souls liberated from birth.
My father was worshiping Krsna Deity. So
I wanted to imitate him, and he gave me
small Deity. That Deity is still worshiped.
Prabhupada: Krsna-kridam. Bala-kridanakaih kridan krsna-kridam ya adade. This is the facility of taking birth in a Vaisnava family. Children, simply by playing with Krsna, they become Krsna conscious. Some way or other, if somebody comes in contact with Krsna, then his life becomes successful. So this krsna-yoga, bhakti-yoga, can be practiced even by a child without interfering with his natural propensities. A child naturally wants to play, so he can play with Krsna Deity. We had the opportunity of doing that. My father was worshiping Krsna Deity. So I wanted to imitate him, and he gave me small Deity. That Deity is still worshiped. My sister and myself, whatever we were eating, we were offering exactly the same arcana. And father used to encourage. This Ratha-yatra and Radha-Go.(?) Krsna temple which we are propagating, it was, from the very beginning of our life, was initiated by our parents. So anyone can initiate his child to this Krsna consciousness understanding from the very beginning.
Without any education, without any knowledge. There is no need of high-grade knowledge or education to understand Krsna consciousness. It is already there in everyone's heart.
[Srimad-Bhagavatam Lecture, 2.3.15 Los Angeles, June 1, 1972]
In my childhood, Radha-Govindaji were the source of myenjoyment. I asked my father to give me Radha-Govinda deities and he gave me and I worshiped.
Regarding Radha-Govinda's temple, it is in shabby condition, that I saw in 1967. I stayed there, and it was a great painful experience for me at least. In my childhood, Radha-Govindaji were the source of my enjoyment. I asked my father to give me Radha-Govinda deities and he gave me and I worshiped. And I also asked him to give me ratha, and the ratha was going from my home by the side of Syamasundara.'s house. Our house was later termed to be Govinda Bhawan, 151 Mahatma Gandhi Road. So Syamasundara. is just like my younger brother, we call him by nickname "Gabu." His elder brother was Siddhesvar Mali and his nickname was "Subida," an he was calling me "Moti," so we were very intimate friends from the perambulator. We were riding on the same perambulator when we were very small children. We were so intimate that he would not go in perambulator without me. We would not separate even a moment.
[S.P. Letter to: Bhavananda, Honolulu, 9 May, 1972]
My father was pure Vaisnava and he gave me
and my sister the Radha Krishna Deities to
worship and in this way we were trained.
I am in due receipt of your letter dated February 1st. with the nice pictures of the Sri Sri Radha-Kalacandji Deities in ISKCON Gurukula. I am very much pleased that the Deities are worshipped so nicely and as this continues, the children there will become more and more purified. These children in Gurukula are the most fortunate children in the world, because right from the beginning they are having the association of Radha and Krishna. This was the case in my childhood also. My father was pure Vaisnava and he gave me and my sister the Radha Krishna Deities to worship and in this way we were trained. And still to this very day my sister is worshiping these very same Deities in Calcutta. So like this the children must be trained.
[S.P. Letter to: Bhaktin Toni,
Sydney, 18 February, 1973]
When I was six years old my father gave
me a ratha and I was performing the
Ratha yatra in my neighborhood.
From my very childhood I was also worshipping Lord Jagannatha. When I was six years old my father gave me a ratha and I was performing the Ratha yatra in my neighborhood. And now in the western world you are worshiping Lord Jagannatha so gorgeously and it pleases me very, very much.
[S.P. Letter to: Ravindra Svarupa, Paris,10 June, 1974]
This ratha yatra festival is very dear
to me from my very childhood days
I very much liked your Chicago festival, and I encourage you to increase it next year. This ratha yatra festival is very dear to me from my very childhood days, so I very much appreciate your holding this festival in Chicago.
[S.P. Letter to: Sri Govinda: Mayapur, 29 September, 1974]
I organized this Ratha-yatra. I was
performing Radhastami and Janmastami, and
I was learning how to dress the Radha-Govinda.
about those people when we went back to where you used to live? When
we came back from Mayapura and we went out that night to, what they
called? Your old friend's house?
[S.P. Room Conversation, August 12, 1976, Tehran]
So there was good festival, sankirtana, and procession. We all little children enjoyed
Prabhupada: ...by my
sister. And you have seen in the Mullick Thakura-bhati(?)
[S.P. Morning Walk, April 6, 1974, Bombay]
So I was seeing the Krsna Deity. Oh, I was thinking...
I still remember. I was standing for hours together.
I shall say practically, from my whole life. I was fortunate to get my, I mean to say, birth, in a very pious family. Yes. My father was very pious man, and I wanted to imitate him in my childhood. Of course, our family was not very poor, but we were not very rich men. But my father was very pious man. So he was worshiping Krsna. So in my childhood, when I was five or six years old, I requested my father that "Father, give me this Deity. I shall worship." So father purchased for me little Krsna, Radha, and he gave me, and I was imitating. Whatever foodstuff I was getting, I was offering to Krsna and eating. In this way I got my life developed. And there was a temple in our neighborhood. So I was seeing the Krsna Deity. Oh, I was thinking... I still remember. I was standing for hours together.
So in this way, practically we can understand that these facilities are given by the Lord. The Lord is always prepared to give us facility. Simply He wants to see that we are sincere.
[Bhagavad-gita Lecture, 6.40-44, New York, September 18, 1966]
When I think of Radha-Krishna, I think
of first the Radha-Govinda Vigraha of Mullicks Thakurabati because from my very childhood
I am devoted to the same Deity
So far the Calcutta land is concerned, your ambition to have a place like Mullicks Thakurabati, the pilgrimage of my childhood, is also my ambition. When I think of Radha-Krishna, I think of first the Radha-Govinda Vigraha of Mullicks Thakurabati because from my very childhood I am devoted to the same Deity; but at the same time it is not an easy task to have such a big plot of land in Calcutta city at the present moment.
[S.P. Letter to: Acyutananda, Los Angeles, 27 January, 1970]
"Please bless my son that he can become a
servant of Radharani." That was his prayer.
He never prayed for anything. And he gave
me education how to play mrdanga.
So if these children are being taught from the very beginning of their life... We had the opportunity of being trained up by our parents like this. So some way or other, they have come to... (break) Many saintly persons used to visit my father's house. My father was Vaisnava. He was Vaisnava, and he wanted me to become a Vaisnava. Whenever some saintly person would come, he would ask him, "Please bless my son that he can become a servant of Radharani." That was his prayer. He never prayed for anything. And he gave me education how to play mrdanga. My mother was against. There was two teachers--one for teaching me A-B-C-D, and one for teaching me mrdanga. So the one teacher was waiting and the other teacher was teaching me how to play on mrdanga. So my mother would be angry that "What is this nonsense? You are teaching mrdanga? What he will do with this mrdanga?" (chuckles) But perhaps my father wanted that I should be a great mrdanga player in the future. (laughter) Therefore I am very much indebted to my father, and I have dedicated my book, Krsna book, to him. He wanted this. He wanted me to be preacher of Bhagavata, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and player of mrdanga and to become servant of Radharani. So every parent should think like that; otherwise one should not become father and mother. That is the injunction in the sastra. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Fifth Canto, pita na sa syaj janani na sa syad gurur na sa syat sva-jano na sa syat. In this way, the conclusion is, na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum. If one is unable to rescue his disciple from the imminent danger of death, he should not become a guru. One should not become father or mother if he cannot do so.
[S.P. Arrival Lecture, Dallas, March 3, 1975]
He gave me mrdanga. He engaged a
teacher for learning mrdanga playing.
Sometimes my mother was irritated.
This Krsna Consciousness Movement is to be learned from the very childhood. So far personally we are concerned, my father taught me this Krsna consciousness from the very childhood. My father was a great Vaisnava, and I had the opportunity of taking birth in that family. So he gave me lessons of this Krsna consciousness from the very beginning of my life. He gave me mrdanga. He engaged a teacher for learning mrdanga playing. Sometimes my mother was irritated. But somehow or other, I got the inspiration from my father worshiping a small Radha-Krsna Deity.
[Pandal Lecture, Delhi, November 12, 1971]
I am very much indebted to my father, for
he took care of me in such a way that I
became perfectly Krsna conscious.
Dr. Benford: Is it
true that the children of all such parents are somewhat
spiritually superior to the children of other parents?
[The Journey of Self-Discovery, The
Physics of the Self] *For editors comments see appendix 3
Only the new thing I am doing--writing of books by the order of Guru Maharaja. Otherwise, whatever
I have introduced, I was trained up in childhood.
Bhagavata there are many instances, very old man married. Anyway,
this gentleman was such a nice devotee. Oh.
[S.P. Conversation about, Old Days
in Calcutta, July 1, 1977, Vrndavana]