Srila Prabhupada was instructed by his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, to preach Krsna consciousness to the English-speaking peoples. Toward this end, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami published the first Back to Godhead magazine in 1944. He also began to write translations and commentaries on Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, and other Vedic literatures. In 1965, after publishing three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam, he approached the owner of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Sumati Morarji, for a complimentary passage to the United States. After considering his request for some time, she finally agreed and issued him the ticket.
In the port of Calcutta on August 13, 1965, carrying only a small suitcase, an umbrella, and a bag of dry cereal, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, as he was known at the time, climbed up the steep gangway onto a cargo ship named the Jaladuta. The ensuing journey presented considerable hardship. Srila Prabhupada wrote of some sea-sickness, and on the thirteenth day of the voyage, during the passage through the Arabian Sea, he suffered a massive heart attack. He was concerned that he might pass away, but in his uneasy sleep that night he had a dream, a vision. Lord Krsna appeared. The Lord was in an open boat, along with His other incarnations. Krsna was rowing the boat, and the boat was pulling Srila Prabhupada's ship with a rope. Krsna was smiling at Srila Prabhupada and was pulling the ship all the way to America! Srila Prabhupada did not write about this occurrence in his diary but simply drew a line through those troubled days, declaring that he had passed over a great crisis in the struggle between life and death. Years later he related these events to his followers.
After the crisis, Srila Prabhupada regained his strength and recommenced his entries in the diary after the ship docked in Port Said, Egypt. Then, after crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the Jaladuta passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic Ocean. Uncharacteristically, the ocean appeared like a placid lake. The Atlantic crossing was so effortless that the ship's captain remarked that he had never seen anything like it. After a total of thirty-five days the ship at last berthed in Boston, at Commonwealth Pier, on September 17 at 5:30 a.m. The next day the Jaladuta continued to New York, where Srila Prabhupada disembarked onto a lonely Brooklyn pier to begin his mission in the West.
In our presentation of The Jaladuta Diary, we have also included photographs of noteworthy memorabilia—Srila Prabhupada's passport and visa, the ticket issued by Scindia Steam Navigation Company, the sponsorship form of Gopal Agarwal, and handwritten copies of the two poems that Srila Prabhupada wrote upon arriving in America, "Prayers to the Lotus Feet of Lord Krsna" and "Markine Bhagavata-dharma." Some of Srila Prabhupada's descriptions of the Jaladuta journey form his conversations and letters are also reproduced here. These have appeared in previous archival publications and may be found in entirety in the computer database of Srila Prabhupada's complete works.
We offer many thanks to Bali-mardana dasa, Sundarakara dasa, Mayapriya devi dasi, Jahnava devi dasi, who did the color illustrations, and to the many other devotees whose efforts have made this publication a reality.
There is a sequel to this diary. In New York, in January of 1966, Srila Prabhupada began recording another diary, which spans the period from January to October of that year. This diary is not as well known to devotees as the Jaladuta diary, but it covers the time when Srila Prabhupada was a guest of Dr. R. Mishra up until the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was incorporated and the first Back to Godhead magazine was published by Srila Prabhupada's early Western followers. We also intend to publish this second diary as an offering for the Srila Prabhupada Centennial.
Srila Prabhupada is the pre-eminent acarya of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya of our time. His voyage on the Jaladuta thirty years ago marked the beginning of a spiritual revival, and the twelve years after his arrival in America saw the Hare Krishna movement spread to major cities worldwide. For millennia, the Vedic tradition had been hidden behind the boundaries of India and within Sanskrit and the vernacular languages. To a world immersed in a materialistic ethos, Srila Prabhupada revealed the wisdom of this timeless philosophy.
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