E arly in the year of 1959, while residing in Sri Vrindavan Dham, Srila Prabhupada (then known as Abhay Charan De), had a dream in which Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur appeared to him.  Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master motioned repeatedly for him to follow, urging for him to come and become a sannyasi.

When Srila Prabhupada awoke, he contemplated this dream very seriously.

Practically, he was already living the life of a Vaishnava sannyasi, having renounced material life and dedicated his mind, body, and words completely to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  However, he considered that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s instruction that he should take sannyasa was another part of his original instruction to go and preach in the West.  Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur had accepted sannyasa to further the mission of Lord Caitanya, and Lord Caitanya Himself had accepted sannyasa in order to be respected by the masses and thus to spread the sankirtan movement more effectively.

After deliberating, and although humble by nature, Srila Prabhupada approached Bhaktivilasa Tirtha Maharaja, the head of the Gaudiya Math in Kolkata, to request his permission to take sannyasa.  However, they did not come to an agreement.  Bhaktivilasa Tirtha Maharaja requested Srila Prabhupada to join the Caitanya Math and act under its direction, and after some time, then, perhaps, he could take sannyasa.  Srila Prabhupada was not opposed to this, but his primary mission was to carry out his spiritual master’s instructions to print books and travel to the West to preach, and he did not want to wait any longer.  It became clear that Bhaktivilasa Tirtha Maharaja would not be able to immediately support or encourage Srila Prabhupada in this mission, and so Srila Prabhupada declined to join the Caitanya Math in Calcutta.

This communication made Srila Prabhupada uncertain about taking sannyasa, but when Srila Prabhupada next spoke to his Godbrother Keshava Maharaja about it, Keshava Maharaja strongly encouraged him to do it.

Srila Prabhupada recalled that: *“I was sitting alone in Vrndavana, writing. My Godbrother insisted to me, ‘Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, you must do it. Without accepting the renounced order of life, nobody can become a preacher.’ So he insisted. Not he insisted; practically my spiritual master insisted. He wanted me to become a preacher, so he forced me through this

Godbrother: ‘You accept.’ So, unwillingly I accepted.”*

The arrangements were made, and on the morning of Visvarupa Mahotsava in September of 1959, on the second floor of the Keshavaji Gaudiya Math in Mathura, Abhay Charan De accepted sannyasa and became Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja.

The ceremony was attended by only the few residents of the matha.  Keshava Maharaja presided over the ceremony, which was conducted by his disciple Narayana Maharaja, while sweet kirtan was performed by Akincana Krsnadasa Babaji.

To everyone’s surprise, including Srila Prabhupada’s, Keshava Maharaja asked Srila Prabhupada to speak after the ceremony concluded.  Although most of those assembled spoke Hindi, and only a few understood English, Srila Prabhupada chose to speak in English.

This decision was significant, because his acceptance of sannyasa was meaningful to him only as a step towards fulfilling his spiritual master’s instruction to travel to the West and preach in English.  He was already following the regulations of sannyasa life.  After accepting sannyasa, Srila Prabhupada knew that it would only be a matter of time until he followed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s instruction and traveled to the West to spread the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

*Adapted from Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, Vol. 1, Chapter 9, by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami*



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