His Divine Grace Mahāmaṇḍaleshwar Mahant Kṛṣṇa Balarām Swāmī Prabhupāda appeared in a dynasty of Śrotrīya Brāhmaṇa Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. His family dynasty descends directly from and dates back to Kaśyapa Muni, one of the seven sons born from the mind of the first created being in the universe, Lord Brahmā.
Swāmījī was exposed to Bhaktiyoga (the path of devotion) since birth. His father, a highly respected Brāhmaṇa and Guru of many in the Vrindāban area, began tutoring his son at the tender age of four, at their home in Vrindāban. At the age of eight, Swāmījī was enrolled in Vrindāban’s renowned Nimbārka Sanskrit Mahāvidyālaya College, where he lived in the dorm and studied continually for eight years. A brilliant student, he then was transferred to an English college, where he learned to translate the ancient Vedic scriptures into English.
Swāmījī left his parents’ humble concrete home in Vrindāban to take shelter of his Spiritual Master, Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī Prabhupāda. When he joined Prabhupāda, there were only three thatched huts in ISKCON Vrindāban at his Guru’s place. When Prabhupāda came to Vrindāban, Swāmījī requested to be his disciple. When Śrīla Prabhupāda found out that Swāmījī is a Vrajavāsī, Śrīla Prabhupāda said that Swāmījī is already a Guru, therefore he does not need any initiation. According to Vedic scriptures Vrajavāsīs are Guru to everyone. Swāmījī again requested initiation one year later, but Prabhupāda told him the same thing. On many occasions Śrīla Prabhupāda said that he was already a Guru and did not need any spiritual initiation. Finally, Swāmījī said that without initiation, nobody can receive liberation, so he was called by Prabhupāda into his room at about five in the evening and accepted our Swāmījī as his disciple. Swāmījī is Prabhupāda’s only disciple for whom Śrīla Prabhupāda chanted three full rounds of the Mahāmantra on the disciple’s own used beads; which he handed back to Swāmījī. Śrīla Prabhupāda chanted on only three seeds on a new set of beads for every other disciple in ISKCON and gave them those new beads.
Śrīla Prabhupāda told Swāmījī that he was serving Kṛṣṇa Balarām so nicely, and therefore his name is Kṛṣṇa Balarām Dās, and told Swāmījī how much he loves Kṛṣṇa Balarām.
In regard to his Guru’s movement, our Swāmījī himself said, “I did not join ISKCON thinking that it had big buildings with many Western disciples so I could enjoy their company, but I joined because I understood that Śrīla Prabhupāda was a real devotee and I wanted to help in his mission. I joined to remain truly Kṛṣṇa conscious. I did not join to obtain worship, respect, honor, position, or donations for myself. But I joined my Guru, Śrīla Prabhupāda, knowing that he had wanted everything from the Vedic scriptures to be presented As It Is, and that included its etiquette.” Due to the ISKCON leaders’ deviation from the authentic Vedic standard (consult Swāmījī’s My Mission series for details), Swāmījī officially resigned from ISKCON in 1989. To this day, he is the only disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda who wrote an official resignation letter to resign from ISKCON as a member and the letter was accepted and published in the publication ISKCON minutes. Swāmījī carried on serving his Guru, and realized through the intense feelings in his heart that his Guru had passed on the torch of disciplic succession to him. Thus, he founded the organization Bhagavat Dharma Samaj in 1990.
Swāmījī wrote Haricharyā Dīpikā, An Illustration of Devotional Service (printed in 1990) book, in Sanskrit Devanāgarī, which revealed Swāmījī’s strong command of the Sanskrit language and realizations of the path of devotion. This caught the attention of all the Mahants and Śrī Mahants of the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas authorized by the Vedic scriptures. In October of 1991, Swāmījī was unanimously appointed to the position of Mahant by all the Mahants of the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas. Śrīla Prabhupāda had desired this position of Mahant in 1975, which was unfulfilled at that time, but now his will has been fulfilled by our Swāmījī. In April of 2004, the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas elevated Swāmījī to the position of Mahāmaṇḍaleshwar, choosing to bypass the position of Śrī Mahant altogether. Historically Mahāmaṇḍaleshwar is the highest position (equal to cardinal) that has been held among the Mahants of the four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas of all of India. At the Kumbha Melā in 2012, all the Śrī Mahants wanted to select Swāmījī for the topmost position of Jagad Guru. Swāmījī has yet to accept that honor.
Swāmījī has written Ekādaśī, the Day of Lord Harī (printed in 1986) book, he wrote the Vaiṣṇava Kaṇṭha-Hāra, The Guidebook for the Spiritually Inclined or A Necklace of the Surrendered Souls (printed in 1989-2018), and has given the Vrajavāsī Commentaries on many Vedic scriptures, including the Bhagavad Gītā (printed in 1991 and in 2017), and the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (printed in fifteen volumes, one-by-one starting from 1991 till 2013 and then printed as a set in 2016). Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the sweet cream of the Vedic scriptures and the literary incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself. Swāmījī is also the first Guru to write translations and commentary on the Vedānta Sūtra in over two hundred years, which nobody else has completed due to the level of understanding of Sanskrit required to translate the aphorisms and give commentary upon. He is also the first Guru ever to have written commentary in three different languages (Sanskrit Devanāgarī, Hindi, and English) on the Vedānta Sūtra (printed in 2016). Swāmījī has written the Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā, or the Scriptural Decision on Who Can Become Guru and Who Cannot (printed in 1993), which reveals the Vedic injunctions on the qualifications of Guru without diluting anything. His Guru Nirṇaya Dīpikā is substantiated with evidence from over ninety Vedic scriptures and authorities, including direct disciples of Lord Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, such as Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Goswāmī. Swāmījī has written many other smaller books periodically, including the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (printed in 2005). Swāmījī has spoken complete twelve Cantos of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in seven days and these seven lectures of Swāmījī has been assimilated as a book named as How to Spend Your Best Seven Days on Earth (printed in 2010). A Vedic Vegetarian named Healthy and Wise Choice along with many Vedic recipes (printed in 1993). Bhakti Bhajan Mālā, A Necklace of Devotional Songs (printed in 2005). There several Hindi books published as well and many books have been translated into several Indian and western languages.
Out of all the disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, our Swāmījī is the only disciple born, raised, and educated in Śrī Vrindāban Dhāma, the Vraja Land. This land of Vraja is the only place on earth that has descended directly from the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭha. The Śrī Vrindāban Dhāma on earth is equal to the topmost planet of the spiritual world, Goloka, and has descended upon earth for Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Chakravarti Ṭhākura, a recognized authority on Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, says that if you want to learn spiritual life properly and perfectly, you should go to Vrindāban and learn it from the Vrajavāsīs. Because Vrindāban is Lord Kṛṣṇa’s home, those born and raised there are not ordinary people. Swāmījī, being born and raised in Vrindāban, is a Vrajavāsī and therefore is a permanent resident of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s own personal abode. The Vrajāvasīs do not need to take to the Sanyāsa order of life because they are already self-realized. However, Swāmījī is the first Vrajavāsi to ever wear saffron and take to the Sanyāsa order. One of Lord Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu’s favorite disciples, Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, describes the value of the Vrajavāsīs in the following way in his Śrī Vrindāban Mahimāmṛtam:
varṇāṇām brāhmaṇo gurūḥ brāhmaṇānāṁ gurū sanyāsī
sanyāsīnāṁ gurūḥ avināsī avināsīnāṁ gurūḥ vrajavāsī
“The Brāhmaṇa is the Guru of the four social orders (Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya, and Śūdra), the Sanyāsī is the Guru of the Brāhmaṇas, the imperishable God is the Guru of the Sanyāsīs, and the Vrajavāsī is the Guru of that imperishable God.”
Swāmījī is a Śrotrīya Brāhmaṇa Vaiṣṇava devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa and is authorized to function as Guru by all the ancient Vedic scriptures of India written in Sanskrit, and his position is exalted even among the Vrajavāsīs and the Vaiṣṇava Mahants, who are all real devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Thus, it is impossible for anyone to be held in higher regard among the true self-realized devotees of the Lord than Swāmījī is today. We are truly blessed by God to have such a Swāmījī as our Guru. We must all take full advantage of his knowledge of the Vedic scriptures. Swāmījī can bring true peace to our troubled world.