(Reprinted from Back to Godhead magazine, January 1978)
During his last months, Srila Prabhupada was not very active physically, and he spoke relatively little. Yet when he did speak, his words were full of spiritual strength. These excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s last statements reveal the mind of the pure devotee and universal teacher. And they show that Srila Prabhupada is indeed a transcendental personality whose devotion to Lord Krsna and to the mission of spreading love of Krsna is undying.
"I cannot speak. I am feeling weak. I wanted to travel to Chandigarh and other places, but I changed my program because my health is deteriorating. I decided to come here to Vrndavana (the land of Lord Krsna). If death takes place, let it take place here."
"There is nothing new to be said. Whatever I had to say, I have already said in my books. Now you must all try to understand it and continue with your endeavors. Whether I am present or not present doesn't matter. Just as Krsna is living eternally, the living being also lives eternally. But especially… kirtir yasya sa jivati: 'One who has done service to the Lord lives forever.' You have been taught to serve Krsna, and with Krsna we'll live eternally. Our life is eternal. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire: the disappearance of this temporary body doesn't matter. The body is meant for disappearance. So, live forever by serving Krsna. Thank you very much."
"There are two things—life and death. So if I die, where is the wrong in that? If I die, that is natural."
"Our money is only spent for Krsna—Krsna's palace, Krsna's temple, Krsna's worship, Krsna's glorification. It is not for our personal enjoyment. This is human life."
"And I also want you to organize varnasrama society [the Vedic social structure]. Divide society: brahmana [intellectual class], ksatriya [administrators], and so on. There should be social division, just as there is a division of the different parts of our body. This will help people. Don’t waste the human form of life by sinful living. I have already given the ideas in my books, so you should all read them. You are intelligent, all of you. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said para-upakara—do good to others, do not exploit them. Any human being has the ability to chant Hare Krsna. Give them chanting. And also make the situation favorable. Is that clear?
"This is our mission: whatever we have, teach others. The whole world is filled with distress. Therefore our Gurukula school is meant for this purpose: to teach the students, and let them go all over the world to teach others. Durlabha manava janma sat-sange/ taraha e bhava-sindhu re ['Human life, especially in the association of devotees, is very rarely obtained. So please take advantage of this opportunity to cross over the ocean of material existence']."
"My Guru Maharaja [spiritual master] said, 'Whatever money there is, use it to print books.' He was so happy to print books. So, do it all very nicely. My Guru Maharaja used to say, 'Go on printing, go on printing.' I printed my books, now you do the same.
"Printing of spiritual books is our life-force. Print more books. This material body is only bones. But go on printing—this is life. We are not concerned with bones and stones. Our concern is the living force: apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param. The living force is sustaining these bones. In the material world, people are all simply protecting bones and flesh; they have no [spiritual] idea.
"Take matter—you mix earth, water, put it into fire, and then make a building. But matter cannot act automatically. Matter cannot have mind or consciousness or impetus. It is nonsense to say that matter gives rise to life. Matter has no sense. Life is the superior energy; matter is useless. Bhumir apo ‘nalo vayuh [the material elements] are useless. But there is another, superior nature. Yayedam dharyate jagat. And that nature is actually governing the whole universe."
"You [disciples] are all intelligent and experienced men; you can go on managing this movement. If I depart, there is no cause for lamentation. I will always be with you through my books and my orders. I will always remain with you in that way."
"I didn’t waste a single moment. I tried my best, and it has been successful to some extent."
"Have sankirtana [congregational chanting of God’s holy names]. All Europeans, Americans, Africans—United Nations under Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s flag. Do everything just as I have shown you. It is possible. This is the real United Nations. You try, under the protection of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and things will be successful. Others will simply waste their time and be disappointed. They will change from one body to another and suffer."
"As soon as one forgets Krsna and wants to enjoy life independently, he falls down."
"Material motives should be given up, and everything favorable should be engaged in Krsna’s service. Then there will be success."
When asked who would succeed him as the leader of the Krsna consciousness movement, Srila Prabhupada replied: "All of my disciples will take the legacy. If you want, you can also take it. Sacrifice everything. I—one—may soon pass away. But they are hundreds, and this movement will increase. It’s not that I’ll give an order: 'Here is the next leader.' Anyone who follows the previous leadership is a leader. I don't make any distinction between Indian and European. All my disciples are leaders… as much as they follow purely. If you want to follow, then you can also lead. But you dont want to follow. 'Leader' means one who is a first-class disciple. Evam parampara-praptam. One who is perfectly following. Our instruction is, guru mukha-padma-vakya. Do you know this? Ara na kariha mane asa. ['My only desire is to have my consciousness purified by the words emanating from the lotus mouth of my spiritual master']. To become a leader is not very difficult, provided one is prepared to follow the instructions of the bonafide guru."