In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life BookAbout the Author
In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life BookPraṇāmas by the Author

In search of the ultimate goal of life was written by our Divine Guide and Master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Paramahaṁsa Parivrājakācārya Aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda just after his entering the renounced order of life in the autumn of 1959. At that time, Śrīla Prabhupāda was living in Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma and would sometimes practice mādhukarī. Mādhukarī means to collect a little food door to door for one’s maintenance just as the bee collects a little pollen flower to flower. Śrīla Prabhupāda, however, often requested the householders whom he called upon to give pen and paper for his writing rather than the rice, dahl, and chapatis traditionally sought by holy men practicing mādhukarī.

On those papers that he received as alms, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote page after page, preparing his messages of Godhead for the world. Some of the manuscripts he published in his Back to Godhead magazine, and others, like Easy Journey to Other Planets, he printed as small booklets. Although unable to publish everything he wrote, Śrīla Prabhupāda nevertheless continued to write and stockpile his manuscripts. Unfortunately, some of the early writings of His Divine Grace were lost after Śrīla Prabhupāda left Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma to conduct his worldwide campaign of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

In 1977, just on the eve of our Divine Master’s departure for the eternal abode of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, I found a handwritten manuscript at the bottom of an old metal trunk in the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. The handwriting was easily recognizable as Śrīla Prabhupāda’s. After the disappearance of His Divine Grace, I carried the manuscript with me wherever I went, showing it to interested devotees. On several occasions, my godbrothers suggested that I publish the manuscript for wide-scale distribution.

The original manuscript of more than two hundred pages was entitled Lord Caitanya: His Sannyāsa and Saṅkīrtana Movement. Unfortunately, 40 pages were missing from the middle section. For several years, we searched for those missing pages but were unable to find them. The manuscript was therefore divided into two parts. The first part describes Lord Caitanya’s traveling from Navadvīpa-dhāma to Jagannātha Purī immediately after His accepting the sannyāsa order, the Lord’s visiting the temple of Kṣiracorā Gopīnātha, the pastime of the Gopīnātha Deity stealing the offering of condensed milk to satisfy His pure devotee Śrīpāda Mādhavendra Purī, and the pastime of the Śakṣi Gopāla Deity appearing as a witness to defeat the atheists. The second part of the manuscript describes the talks between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya when the two met on the banks of the river Godāvarī in South India.

In the second part of the manuscript, Śrīla Prabhupāda preaches very enthusiastically—discussing the varṇāśrama system, chastising the materialists, condemning the impersonalist conception, exposing the imitationists, praising the virtues and characteristics of pure devotion, and entering into confidential descriptions of the nature of rāsa-tattva, the transcendental mellowness of spontaneous love of Godhead.

Because the talks between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya had already been published by His Divine Grace in The Teachings of Lord Caitanya and his Caitanya-caritāmṛta purports, we hesitated to publish the manuscript, thinking that Śrīla Prabhupāda had already published what he wanted to say on the subject. However, by the grace of Śrīla Prabhupāda, I was inspired to read the manuscript again and again until finally I realized that my beloved Gurudeva had expanded on some very confidential points in his original manuscript, which he did not fully reveal in either The Teachings of Lord Caitanya or the Caitanya-caritāmṛta purports.

The style of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s writing in the manuscript is revealing. His Divine Grace makes his reader feel the urgency of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, a remarkable ability, which so much characterized his eminent position as a world ācārya. Taking his readers to the realm of divine love, Śrīla Prabhupāda extensively and freely reveals mādhurya-prema—the amorous love affairs of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and Her cowherd girlfriends with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the absolute King of Love, in the groves of Vṛndāvana—as the topmost platform of spontaneous love of Godhead. Thus the manuscript not only illuminates Śrīla Prabhupāda’s position as a world ācārya, but reveals his position as an intimate associate of both Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, although I am a most fallen soul, I still felt strongly that it would greatly please Śrīla Prabhupāda if I were to publish the second part of the manuscript under a separate title, which he himself uses in the manuscript: In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life.

The talks between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya constitute the acme of all theistic conceptions, and thus are held in the highest regard by all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava ācāryas. The conversation between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya reveals the most esoteric truth about Vaiṣṇava philosophy, allowing the reader to enter into the inner identity of the Lord and the purpose of His appearance. These talks are an important topic of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava siddhānta for all aspiring devotees. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s writing on this topic just after his accepting sannyāsa is evidence of the special importance of these discussions for people in the renounced order of life. That he did not venture to publish it immediately is further evidence of the highly confidential and esoteric nature of this essay.

Because the topic is a highly confidential subject matter, one may ask, “What is the need to publish it, thus making it available to even neophyte devotees?” The answer is that although Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu requested that Rāmānanda Rāya not disclose this topic but keep it a secret, Śrīla Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī in his Caitanya-caritāmṛta openly reveals the details of the Lord’s talks with Rāmānanda and encourages all the devotees to enter deeply into their inner meaning.

Śrīla Prabhupāda calls the discussions between Lord Caitanya and Rāmānanda Rāya In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life and requests his readers to enter into the essence of transcendental romance and pure love of Godhead by sincerely hearing his humble narration. Therefore, we felt that if we did not publish this manuscript, the worldwide community of devotees would be deprived of a most valuable gift.

As far as possible, we have tried to present the words of His Divine Grace in such a way as to preserve the original, charming mood of the author, but the readers must take into account that at the time of writing his manuscript Śrīla Prabhupāda had very little formal training in English or extensive contact with English-speaking people. Actually, His Divine Grace has simply allowed the editors of this book to render some menial service to his lotus feet out of his unlimited mercy, so we earnestly request that the readers try to grasp the spirit of this book and kindly forgive any defects there may be in our attempt to present it.

The devotees who have surrendered at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and desire only to become the servants of the maidservants of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa will surely become enlivened by this publication. Others, who are not in the line of pure devotion, rūpānuga-bhajana, will not be able to understand the contents or the importance of this book. We humbly pray for the mercy of our Divine Master and for the blessings of all the Vaiṣṇavas that we may always be engaged in the heartfelt service of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His confidential associates as our life and soul.

Svāmī B.G. Narasiṅgha

By Published On: December 3, 2023
In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life BookAbout the Author
In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life BookPraṇāmas by the Author
Avatar of Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda appeared in Kolkata in 1896, and after a successful education and engagment in business, he met his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in 1922. He formally took initiation from Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in 1933 and later accepted sannyāsa in 1959. Upon the order of his guru, he began writing philosophical essays and books in English and eventually travelled to the United States where he began the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness (ISKCON) in 1966. After establishing over 100 temples, initiating over 5000 disciples and writing sixty books on Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava teachings, he passed away in Vṛndāvana in 1977.