Sri Viraha Astakam

 Sri Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja

First published in 1959


Cutting through the web of illusion,
The overflowing ocean of mercy Sri Nityananda Rama
Ordained that the flood of love of God bestowed by Him
Be distributed throughout the world.
Unfortunately, those persons to whom the noble responsibility was given
To spread this divine God-consciousness
Were tragically stricken by the disease of caste-consciousness,
And in their hands
which were always busy performing formal ritualistic ceremonies
the exalted title ‘Goswami’
became merely another family surname,
And the channel of divine current became blocked.

Therefore you personally came, O beloved master Srila Prabhupada,
To demolish the dam of maya
And re-release the eager floodtide of prema-bhakti.
By your potency
The divine tidal wave of Mahaprabhu’s all-encompassing grace
Once again inundated the entire world,
Falling upon even such wretched and fallen souls as myself,
Taking the order of Sri Caitanyadeva as your very life’s breath,
You sent your dedicated servitors door to door
To deliver the whole of humankind.
Under your infallible direction the message of Godhead was preached
From the shorefronts of the ocean
To the peaks of the Himalayas.

But now you,
Who suffered so upon seeing the suffering of misguided humanity,
are gone,
And the world once again appears dark and empty.
O Srila Prabhupada, I am feeling lost and alone in your absence
On this day upon which you departed from our vision.



The intense eagerness to benefit all humankind
which was felt by Sri Advaita Acarya
and which thus bought Sri Gaurangadeva into this world
Was similarly felt by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura---
And therefore, O beloved master Srila Prabhupada
You who are the most intimate associate of that beautiful golden Lord
Graciously made your divine advent as well .
“A human birth in the land of India is intended to be utilized
for the purpose of becoming perfect in God-realization
And then compassionately sharing that realization with others.”
--Revealing India’s spiritual glories you preached this ‘maha-mantra’*
for the illumination of the Earth’s ten directions.

In your absence, however.
The world has once again become plunged into darkness,
And the flowing current from your ocean of mercy
Has again been stopped.
Devoid of your ambrosial dispensation of Sri Caitanya’s message,
Confusion reigns in human society,
And all the Vaisnavas are feeling the pangs of separation
from your lotus feet.
The jivas have reshackled themselves
With the heavy chains of ignorance and delusion,
And as they swim about in the vast ocean of material existence
in a frenzied attempt to reach the shore of peace,
…they perish.
This lance of misery pierces my heart
As it similarly afflicted you, Srila Prabhupada
Who suffered so upon seeing the suffering of the misguided humanity.
I am indeed feeling lost and alone
on this day upon which you departed from our vision.

[*Corresponds to Adi-lila verse 9.41 of Caitanya-caritamrta:
bharata-bhumite haila manusya janma yara
janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara.]



Your lotus lips continuously ushered forth the sweetest nectar
in the form of your instructions regarding the Holy Name of Lord Krsna.
You made the path of spiritual progress so easy and delightful to follow
With your teaching that ‘Utility is the Principle’---
That anything useful and practical
Could be constructively engaged in the service of the Lord
Without personal attachment,
And that the sincere practice of such devotional service
with a genuine spirit of detachment
Could transform every house into a mandira
And every common household into a holy sangha.
You lovingly cautioned that the transcendent activities of the Supreme Lord
should never be imitated---
even within one’s mind.
You ‘nectarized ‘the ears of all persons,
Filling their hearts with sublime attachment
to singing, dancing, and worshipping the Lord
in accordance with the standards established by the previous acaryas.
You magnanimously offered everyone the divine qualifications
To distribute the pure Holy Name for the deliverance of the whole world.

But alas, in your absence,
Nescience has now once again stealthily crept onto the scene,
Creating a most disturbing complication:
Those who are conspicuously unqualified
have taken to the practice of performing solitary bhajana
In strict accordance with the dictates of their own minds
And exclusive devotion to their own impassioned senses.
Garbed in fraudulent attire
And lavishly adorned with feigned emotions,
Such persons have, by their selfish strategy,
woefully left their blemishing effect upon the body of society.
O Srila Prabhupada,
You suffered much upon seeing the regrettable plight of misguided humanity.
I am feeling especially lost and alone in separation from
your lotus feet
On this day of your departure from our vision.



“Lord Krsna’s associates in Vraja have real life,
And therefore they are preaching.”
---Persons interested in genuine ‘wealth’ and mystical perfection
will doubtlessly find all such things in your words.
“The chanting of the Lord’s Holy Name is the greatest of all religions.”
---By preaching this message
and thereby preserving this eternal truth,
You, O beloved Gurudeva, have attained the greatest eternal fame.
One who rejects this truth regarding Harinama-sankirtana
Will find truth nowhere throughout the three worlds;
And one who accepts the Holy Name from your divine lips
Becomes qualified to make disciples throughout the three worlds
And rescue all such conditioned souls from their suffering condition.

But in your absence, Srila Prabhupada,
The ‘resolute determination’ explained by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura*
Has become broken by the forces of darkness
And those who were not fixed in devotional service
Have divided your holy Gaudiya Mission into many separated branches.
It appears that the essence of your teachings
did not enter very deeply into their ears,
And that the tigress of desire for material prestige
Has regrettably claimed a great many victims.
Indeed, I am wondering where I, too, will receive the strength
To remain steady in my bhajana in separation from your lotus feet.
O Srila Prabhupada.
The depth of your compassion was such
that the suffering of the misguided humanity
was a cause of much suffering for you;
And I am acutely feeling lost and alone
On this day of your departure from our vision.



Persons afflicted by the jaundice of ignorance
Cannot taste the ambrosial sweetness
Of the heart-transforming names of Hare, Krsna, and Rama.
And therefore they do not chant the holy Maha-mantra.
Whose thirty-two syllables are like resplendent pearl-like droplets
Which constitute the elixir of immortality---
The very medicine for curing the disease of such persons.
One of your closest disciples
Whose cup you lovingly filled to the brim
With the deathless nectar of your instructions
Has ungratefully thrown away that chalice,
And his regrettable preference for infectious poison
Has resulted in an epidemic of sahajiyaism.
It seems that the prize valiantly acquired by the triumphant lion
Has at present been unscrupulously stolen by a jackal.
The oppressive forces of nescience have reduced everyone to tears,
And it appears that each of the young lions
Is ‘again becoming a mouse.’

O Srila Prabhupada
Where are your pure teachings to be found at this dark hour?
Standing as we are
on the shore of the ocean of spiritual devastation,
Only your lifesaving glance of causeless mercy
can save us from certain death
Only by your infallible grace
can we perceive a way to somehow retrace our steps:
To return to al life of divine remembrance of the Holy Name in great happiness
And implicit faith in your ‘Vaikuntha message”.
O blessed master, please awaken some good intelligence
In this insignificant servant of yours,
Increasing the fullness of his faith in your sublime message day by day.
You compassionately took the suffering of misguided humanity
Upon your own holy head,
And I am feeling severe pangs of separation from your lotus feet
On this day upon which you disappeared for our vision.



“Let there be congregational singing and dancing
in praise of the Supreme Lord
among the association of the Lord’s devotees.”
--Where can one find such sweetness and magnanimity
as could be compared with Mahaprabhu’s method of attaining spiritual perfection?
If we could but perform Harinama-sankirtana
With complete faith in the words of the spiritual master,
Genuine love of Godhead would make its divine appearance.
Without true love of God,
Our intellects are merely intricate networks of delusion.
Because no one has obtained that prema-bhakti,
A great catastrophe has resulted:
The Vaisnavas have given up preaching in favor of solitary worship,
And a vast and perilous jungle of impersonalism
has grown tall and spread over the surface of the world.
Because so many devotees have given up their devotional service,
The name Patita-pavana—‘Savior of the fallen’---
Has itself fallen into disrepute.

O Srila Prabhupada
What are we to do at this most inauspicious time?
The beautiful garden of Krsna-bhakti
Which you personally planted and tended with your own lotus like hands
Ha apparently been looted and destroyed,
Please awaken some good intelligence
In this insignificant servant of yours,
Increasing the fullness of his faith in your sublime teachings day by day,
You compassionately considered the suffering of misguided humanity
to be your own
And I am indeed feeling afflicted by pangs of separation from your lotus feet
On this day of your disappearance from our vision.



O beloved master,
Sri Krsna Caitanya is the very personification of compassion,
And you are the very personification of His message
That the chanting of the Holy Name is the singular infallible means
Of crossing the turbulent ocean of material existence
And entering a life of joyous self-dedication in the service of the Divine Couple.
Lord Gaurahari made the entire world the recipient of His Causeless grace,
And you are vigorously distributing that grace
To every town and village of the world.
You personally traveled all over India,
Even in the South---
And you sent your devotees
To save the inhabitants of the Western countries as well
From their moth like rush headlong into the flames of self-destruction

Mahaprabhu employed many clever tricks
To engage the conditioned souls in devotional service,
And you were expert at understanding all these things
And following closely in His holy footsteps,
You understood exactly what was required to be preached
In perfect accordance with time, place, circumstance, and audience:
And although the leaders of the sheep like masses
Devout in their worship of the idol of mongrelized logic
could not understand:
Though the blind lawyers, though having eyes,
could not see;
And through the many nonsensical groups of deviators and imitators
could not appreciate---
The intelligent section of society
Could understand the impeccable purity of your teachings,
Clearly see the utter selflessness of your motives,
And earnestly appreciate your inexhaustible efforts
To defeat all elements which were opposed to the absolute Truth .

O Srila Prabhupada,
You accepted much suffering on your own account
In order to relieve the suffering of humanity at large,
And I am feeling pangs of separation from your lotus feet.
On this day of your disappearance from our vision.



Adored master,
You patiently reminded all of your disciples time and time again
That devotional service to Lord Caitanya
is not performed exclusively in solitude.
You took great care to painstakingly explain to all of us
That just as the Lord out of His causeless mercy
reached everywhere and delivered Jagai and Madhai,
So does the exact same preaching work
Need to be continued in the present day.
The world has now become filled with countless Jagais and Madhais,
And it is clear to all that the only means for their salvation
Is the path shown by Caitanya-Nitai.

If you were to come again at this time, Srila Prabhupada,
and personally reestablish the proper understanding of all these things
in all the ten directions---
The joy of the people would know no bounds
Hearing the deeply resonant sound of your voice
Loudly proclaiming the victory of Mahaprabhu’s mission,
The demons and atheists would flee,
And the thirsty living entities
Would drink the divine nectar-message of Sri Gaurangadeva
To their complete fulfillment.
The whole world would once again be set aright.
Whereas in your absence ,nothing of value is to be found anywhere,

This Abhay makes his cry of appeal, O Gurudeva,
In the bitter throes of separation from
your lotus feet.
You compassionately felt the suffering of the jivas to be your own
And I am indeed feeling lost and alone
On this day of your disappearance from our vision

*Refers to Bhagavad-gita verses 2.41 and 2.44
vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana / bahu-sakha hy anantas ca buddhayo 'vyavasayinam- “-Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.” (Bg. As It Is) Those who are resolute in self-purpose have intelligence which is singularly focused in this endeavor. (for perfection in devotional service), O descendant of the Kurus; whereas the intellect of those whoa re irresolute branches off into unlimited different desires and ideas.” (Srimad Bhagavad-gita)

Bhogaisvarya-prasaktanam tayapahrta-cetasam vyavasayatmika buddhih samadhau na vidhiyate “ In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination of devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.” (Bg. As It Is) “Within persons whose minds have been stolen away by attachment to power and sense enjoyment theesolute determination to gain divine insight into the transcendental state of devotional meditation is not bestowed. (Srimad Bhagavad-gita)