Srila Prabhupada incorporated ISKCON on July 13, 1966, in New York City, which corresponds to today on the Vaishnava calendar. The following conversation indicates some of the significance of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON:
Bhavananda: In Svarup Ganj there’s one big astrologer. So, he saw your photograph, and he said, “This is the face of the most powerful spiritual personality on the planet.”
Prabhupada: [laughs] Hare Krishna.
Brahmananda: Then what else?
Bhavananda: Then he said that “I can tell from his face that he can make a house in which the whole world can live peacefully.”
Devotees: Jaya Prabhupada!
Prabhupada: At least I desire so.
(Morning Walk, July 1, 1975, Denver)
Here are some excerpts from the certificate of incorporation:
CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC.
(Pursuant to the Religious Corporation Law of the State of New York)
We, the undersigned, for the purpose of forming a corporation pursuant to the Religious Corporation Law of the State of New York, do hereby make, subscribe and acknowledge this certificate as follows:
FIRST: The name of the corporation shall be INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, INC.
SECOND: The purposes for which the corporation is organized are:
(a) To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
(b) To propagate a consciousness of Krishna as it is revealed in the Bhagawat Gita and Srimad Bhagawatam.
(c) To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, and thus to develop the idea, within the members, and humanity, at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
(d), To teach and encourage the Samkirtan movement congregational chanting of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
(e) To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
(f) To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
(g) With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings. . . .
IN WITNESS WHEREOF we have made, subscribed, and acknowledged this certificate of incorporation this 13th day of July, 1966.
[signed:] A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Carol Bekar, Raymond Marais
tabe rupa gosani saba nija-gana lana
eka-masa darasana kaila mathuraya rahiya
Srila Rupa Gosvami and his associates stayed in Mathura for one month and saw the Gopala Deity.
sange gopala-bhatta, dasa-raghunatha
raghunatha-bhatta-gosani, ara lokanatha
When Rupa Gosvami stayed at Mathura, he was accompanied by Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami and Lokanatha dasa Gosvami.
Sri Lokanatha Gosvami was a personal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and a great devotee of the Lord. He was a resident of a village named Talakhadi in the district of Yasohara (Jessore), in Bengal. Previously he lived in Kancadapada. His father’s name was Padmanabha, and his only sibling was a younger brother named Pragalbha. Following the orders of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Lokanatha went to Vrndavana to live. He established a temple named Gokulananda. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura selected Lokanatha dasa Gosvami to be his spiritual master, and Narottama dasa Thakura was his only disciple. Because Lokanatha dasa Gosvami did not want his name mentioned in the Caitanya-caritamrta, we do not often see it in this celebrated book. On the E.B.R. Railroad, the Yasohara station is located in Bangladesh. From the railway station one has to go by bus to the village of Sonakhali and from there to Khejura. From there one has to walk or, during the rainy season, go by boat to the village of Talakhadi. In this village there are still descendants of Lokanatha Gosvami’s younger brother.
The purport to text 52 states, “In the Bhakti-ratnakara (Sixth Wave), there is a list of many of the chief devotees who accompanied Srila Rupa Gosvami. . . . ‘The following Vaisnavas were present with Srila Rupa Gosvami: the merciful Gopala Bhatta Gosvami; Bhugarbha Gosvami; Sri Lokanatha dasa Gosvami, a reservoir of good qualities . . .’ ”
Srila Prabhupada, discussing the song Sri-guru-vandana by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, commented, “Lokanatha lokera jivana. Narottama dasa Thakura’s guru’s name was Lokanatha Gosvami. You have seen, those who have gone to Vrndavana, there is Lokanatha Gosvami’s tomb.” And he took his disciples to Lokanatha Gosvami’s samadhi on parikrama.
On this auspicious occasion, we pray to Lokanatha Gosvami with the words of his disciple, Narottama dasa Thakura:
sri-guru karuna-sindhu, adhama janara bandhu,
lokanath lokera jivana
ha ha prabhu koro doya, deho more pada-chaya,
ebe jasa ghusuk tribhuvana
“O spiritual master, ocean of mercy and friend of the fallen souls, you are the teacher of everyone and the life of all people. O master! Be merciful unto me and give me the shade of your lotus feet. May your glories now be proclaimed throughout the three worlds.”
ha ha prabhu lokanatha, rakha pada-dvandve
kripa-drishthye chaha yadi haiya anande
mano-vancha siddhi habe hana purna trishna
hethaya chaitanya mile setha radha-krishna
tumi na karile daya ke karibe ara
manera vasana purna kara ei bara
ei tini samsare mora ara keho nai
kripa kari nija pada-tale deha thani
sri radha-krishna-lila-guna gana ratri dine
narottama vancha purna nahe tuwa vine
“O Lokanatha, O Gurudeva! If you are pleased with me, please keep me in the shelter of your lotus feet and cast your merciful glance upon me. By your mercy I can find the perfection of inner fulfillment. And by your mercy I can someday meet Sri Chaitanya and Radha-Krishna. If you are not merciful to me, then what shall I do? Please, just once, fulfill my heart’s desire. In the three worlds of birth and death no one is more in need of your mercy. Please give me your mercy and give me a place at your lotus feet. Day and night I sing the qualities and pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Still, the inner aspirations of Narottama for the service of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can be realized only through your grace, O Lokanatha Gosvami Prabhu.”
lokanatha prabhum bhaje
“I worship Sri Lokanatha Prabhu, the son of Sri Padmanabha, who possessed a great wealth of devotion to Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda and always engaged in Their service.”
Yours in service,
sri gopala bhatta eka sakha sarvottama
rupa-sanatana-sange yanra prema-alapana
Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Sri Rangam. Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession of the Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya. In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to serve the Lord to his heart’s content. Gopala Bhatta also got the opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Both the father and the mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana, and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven principal Deities of Vrndavana, the Radharamana Deity. The sevaits (priests) of the Radharamana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya.
Actually, one of the families entrusted with the Deity service at the Radha-ramana Mandir has a history of relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Visvambhara Gosvami’s father or grandfather had relations with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the family maintained relations with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then Visvambhara Gosvami had very friendly relations with Srila Prabhupada. And he spoke very nicely about Srila Prabhupada. Now Visvambhara Gosvami’s son Padmanabha Gosvami is also very favorable to ISKCON. In fact, ISKCON devotees often honor prasada at his home at the Radha-ramana Mandir. When I took prasada there with His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, Padmanabha Gosvami showed us a letter that Srila Prabhupada had written to his father, Visvambhara Gosvami, about how all Vaishnavas should cooperate. So, not only does the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya, but at least some of the sevaits have had close relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
When Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami took permission from all the Vaisnavas before writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also gave him his blessings, but he requested him not to mention his name in the book. Therefore Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has mentioned Gopala Bhatta Gosvami only very cautiously in one or two passages of the Caitanya-caritamrta. Srila Jiva Gosvami has written in the beginning of his Tattva-sandarbha, “A devotee from southern India who was born of a brahmana family and was a very intimate friend of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami has written a book that he has not compiled chronologically. Therefore I, a tiny living entity known as jiva, am trying to assort the events of the book chronologically, consulting the direction of great personalities like Madhvacarya, Sridhara Svami, Ramanujacarya, and other senior Vaisnavas in the disciplic succession.” In the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha there are similar statements by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami compiled a book called Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wrote a foreword to the Sat-sandarbha and a commentary on the Krsna-karnamrta, and installed the Radharamana Deity in Vrndavana. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Krsna was Ananga-manjari. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of Guna-manjari. Srinivasa Acarya and Gopinatha Pujari were two of his disciples.
Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!
One story about Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is that on the eve of Nrsimha-caturdasi all the other Gosvamis and Vaishnavas in Vrindavan were preparing to worship their Deities and hold festivals. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had only a salagrama-sila; he didn’t have a Deity with arms and legs and a body that he could dress and decorate. So he was feeling deprived of the opportunity to serve like the other devotees who had Deities they could serve in these ways. And out of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s strong desire, a salagrama-sila became manifest in the form of Radha-ramana. Radha-ramana is considered the most beautiful Deity of Krishna. He is the one original Deity of the Gosvamis that has remained in Vrindavan, while the others had to be taken elsewhere for fear of the Muslim invaders. And near the temple of Radha-ramana in Vrindavan is the samadhi of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.
Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s uncle and siksa-guru was Prabodhananda Sarasvati. His samadhi is also located in Vrindavan, just off the parikrama path near Kaliya-ghata, quite near our Krishna-Balaram Mandir. So, often when we go on parikrama down the path near the Yamuna, we visit Prabodhananda Sarasvati’s samadhi and bhajana-kutira. And then we proceed to Srila Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi. Srila Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the Gosvamis and was also a close associate and instructor of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. In fact, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami worked with Sanatana Gosvami to produce the great treatise Hari-bhakti-vilasa.
I feel that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has been especially merciful to me on two occasions. On one, I visited his bhajana-kutira at Sanketa, a place between Nandagrama and Varsana where Radha and Krishna used to meet and sometimes perform rasa-lila. Gopala Bhatta would sit and chant underground in a deep cavern accessible only through a long, narrow passage. At the end of the passage was a somewhat roomier place where Gopala Bhatta used to chant, now marked as his bhajana-sthala. I remember going there with Tamal Krishna Goswami and others on a very hot day and struggling to crawl through the passage to the bhajana-sthala. It was difficult, but when I finally reached there, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was very merciful: he allowed me to chant with a glimpse of taste. And after all the devotees emerged from the cavern, I stole back in. I crawled back to Gopala Bhatta’s lotus feet, and I sat there chanting. I will never forget his mercy to me there, and I pray that he will enable me to chant with relish and love.
On the other occasion, during Kartik of 1999, shortly before my surgery, I visited Gopala Bhatta’s samadhi near the Radha-ramana Mandir. We arrived just after raja-bhoga-arati, and the pujari was closing the doors to the samadhi-mandira. But he was kind enough to open them for us and allow us darshan of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He gave us some flowers and caranamrta and invited us to stay for prasada. Thus our small party, along with some local sadhus, honored Sri Gopala Bhatta’s maha-maha-prasadam with great relish, and we even stayed to take a little rest before we continued on our way, filled with bliss. So, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is very kind.
Years later, when some of my disciples from Bombay went to Vrindavan on pilgrimage, they visited the samadhi. They told the pujaris about me, how my health no longer allowed me to visit Vraja, and asked for some prasada for me. And one of the pujaris kindly gave them a piece of cloth from the samadhi. It is very special. Now, twice a year, once on Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s appearance day and once on his disappearance day, we bring it out and touch it. So now we shall pass it around and touch it to our heads and to our hearts—and pray to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami for his sublime mercy.
[A talk by Giriraj Swami on July 31, 2002, Carpinteria, California]