It was the year 1922. The clamour for independence was rising in India. One young man from Calcutta swept into the movement for independence was Abhay Charan De. Responding to Gandhiji’s call for boycott of all things British, Abhay had rejected his bachelor’s degree for which he had studied at Calcutta’s prestigious Scottish Churches’ College. He began to wear khadi and participated in meetings of swaraj – self-rule.
At that time, a friend of Abhay’s, told him about an eminent sadhu who was conducting lectures in Calcutta. He suggested they go and hear him. Abhay, who was unimpressed with the Sadhus of the day, was very reluctant to go, but somehow relented at his friend’s cajoling.
They sat at the back of the room where His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura spoke to a small group of people. Srila Saraswati Thakura noticed them as they entered and asked, “Why don’t you preach the message of Lord Chaitanya in the English speaking world?” Abhay was taken aback. At the conclusion of the discourse, a debate ensued. Abhay, the freedom fighter challenged, “Who is going to listen to the message of Lord Chaitanya? India is an oppressed country. Ridding the nation of British tyranny should be the most important work. Independence should be the first goal.”
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati responded with clarity and profound insight. Never had Abhay been defeated in argument. But, now completely vanquished, he had never felt better.
His Divine Grace explained that freedom was not a result of political empowerment. The real bondage was of the soul trapped in a material body within an excruciating material circumstance. Undergoing repeated birth and death by the irrepressible force of time; the soul was engaged in a futile struggle for survival. No change of government could rid the soul of this fundamental problem. He explained that the teachings of Lord Chaitanya transcended all artificial barriers of country, class, colour, race, creed or religion. They gave the clue of ultimate liberation to the souls in the whole universe. If people all over the world were to unite on the basis of chanting the holy names of God as the common religion, then everyone could experience the joy of liberated spiritual life in love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. Then, even in the midst of the agonizing material conditions, the soul would experience freedom from suffering. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur concluded that Krishna Consciousness was so important for all humanity that it could not wait for some political freedom. It had to be urgently preached to all the people of the world lest their actions in spiritual ignorance bind everyone to more misery.
Some four decades later, at the ripe age of 69 years Abhay walked on the land of the United States of America, the most advanced nation on earth. His only mission-to fulfill the order of his guru by spreading the message of real freedom he had learnt from him, to the English-speaking world.
Thus it was that His Divine Grace Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and created a global revolution of emancipation through the practice of pure devotion to Lord Krishna.
In the year 1974 his intense efforts came to fruition when on the occasion of Gaura Purnima, the anniversary of Lord Chaitanya’s appearance, devotees from fifteen nations came together at Mayapur, West Bengal- the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya – and in unison performed blissful sankirtana. His Divine Graec A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had fulfilled the long cherished desireof His Divine Grace Bhaktivinod Thakura, a predecessor Acharya in the parampara (disciplic succession) and father of His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura.
All borders melted that day. Singing Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, far from their homelands, wearing the simple dress of devotees, it can be said without doubt, those people felt truly free.
It is this same spirit of devotion that permeates the Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir project. It is the same divine intention to unite the people of the world in spiritual harmony that drives it. It is a promise of hope. It is an aspiration to real freedom.