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SSR Introduction

Introduction

"Who is Śrīla Prabhupāda?" people often ask, and it is always a hard question to answer. For Śrīla Prabhupāda always eclipsed conventional designations. At various times people have called him a scholar, a philosopher, a cultural ambassador, a prolific author, a religious leader, a spiritual teacher, a social critic, and a holy man. In truth, he was all these things and more. Certainly no one could ever have confused him with the modern entrepreneurial "gurus" who come to the West with slickly packaged, watered-down versions of Eastern spirituality (to satisfy our urge for instant well-being and exploit our well-documented spiritual naivete.) Śrīla Prabhupāda was, rather, a true holy man (sādhu) of deep intellectual and spiritual sensitivity—he had deep concern and compassion for a society which, to such a large degree, lacks real spiritual dimension.

For the enlightenment of human society, Śrīla Prabhupāda produced some eighty volumes of translations and summary studies of India's great spiritual classics, and his work has seen print both in English and in many foreign languages. Also, in 1944 Śrīla Prabhupāda single-handedly launched a magazine called Back to Godhead, which today has a monthly circulation of more than half a million copies in English alone. Nearly all the interviews, lectures, essays, and letters chosen for The Science of Self Realization first appeared in Back to Godhead.

In these pages Śrīla Prabhupāda presents the same message that the great sage Vyāsadeva recorded thousands of years ago, the message of ancient India's vedic literatures. As we shall see, he quotes freely and often from the Bhagavad-gītā, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and other classic vedic texts. He transmits in modern English the same timeless knowledge that other great self-realized teachers have spoken for millennia—knowledge that opens up the secrets of the self within us, nature and the universe, and the Supreme Self within and without. Śrīla Prabhupāda speaks with startling clarity and a kind of convincing, simple eloquence and proves just how relevant the science of self-realization is to our modern world and our own lives.

Among the thirty-six selections chosen for this special book, we hear Śrīla Prabhupāda's moving poem upon his arrival in America, his exchange with a noted cardiologist on "soul research," his revelations to London Broadcasting Company on reincarnation, his telling remarks to the London Times on real and false gurus, his dialogue with a German Benedictine monk on Kṛṣṇa and Christ, his insights on superconsciousness and the law of karma, his conversation with a leading Russian scholar on spiritual communism, and his intimate talk with his disciples on the sham of modern science.

Read the selections in order, if you like, or start with the ones that first catch your interest. (The glossary at the back will explain unfamiliar words and names.) The Science of Self-Realization will challenge you and bring you inspiration and enlightenment.


—The Publishers