Team Centennial is so delighted to announce that Madhuvrata Prabhu's Coffee Table Photo book's first First Mock-up is ready and the printed copies are going to be available soon this year on the holy occasion of Śrīla Gurudeva’s Centennial Vyāsa-pujā.
Madhuvrata Prabhu: “In 2008 whilst staying in Miami at the home of Sripad Raghunath prabhu, Srila Gurudeva was looking through a beautiful large book simply entitled ‘Srila Prabhupada’. The book was a high quality, heavy ‘coffee table’ style book filled with images of Srila Prabhupada and quotes from His teachings. Srila Gurudeva then turned to us (Raghunath Prabhu and myself) and asked ‘Can you make a book like this about me?’. The project began at that time.”
Team Centennial caught up with Madhuvrata Prabhu and Sarvesvari didi to know more about the progress of the project.
Ambarisa Dasa: What was the inspiration behind this book?
Madhuvrata Dasa: The inspiration for this book came directly from Srila Gurudeva himself. One time in Miami, Gurudeva returned from his morning walk and he was looking at this book of beautiful pictures of Srila Prabhupada. And after looking at this book, Gurudeva turned to the devotees and he asked, “Could you make a book like this about me?”
Ambarisa Dasa: What could be the motivation behind Śrīla Gurudeva asking for such a book?
Madhuvrata Dasa: Although it seems uncharacteristic of Srila Gurudeva to ask for such a book, because the Vaisnavas, they never glorify themselves. I think Gurudeva asked for this book because he wanted to establish his legacy, going into the future for future generations.
Ambarisa Dasa: What is the theme of this book?
Madhuvrata Dasa: A book like this, it can act as a visual gateway, if you like. So anyone happening to pick up this book is immediately transported into Srila Gurudeva’s life and his teachings. And through the beautiful images they can associate directly with a pure devotee like Srila Gurudeva.
Ambarisa Dasa: Do you have any chronology of events?
Madhuvrata Dasa: So the book is roughly chronological, going from the earliest photos that are available of Srila Gurudeva, all the way up to the present day. As you can see we have a lot of really nice early photos of Srila Gurudeva. And basically, they go from Srila Gurudeva’s temple life in India, to when the Westerners first started to come to see Srila Gurudeva in India, up until 1996 when Srila Gurudeva started to travel and then Gurudeva’s travels around the world.
Ambarisa Dasa: Are there any interesting facts, teachings or anecdotes connected to the photos?
Madhuvrata Dasa: The photographs are combined with quotes from Srila Gurudeva’s teachings, that are very broad ranging, going from the glorification of Sri Guru and Vaisnavas, through the practice of devotional service (sadhana bhakti) right up to the ultimate goal of life (the prayojana).
Ambarisa Dasa: What has been your selection criteria behind the photos?
Madhuvrata Dasa: The criteria behind selecting the photos was really aesthetic, in terms of I wanted very beautiful photographs that showed Gurudeva’s diverse, transcendental character and his moods. And also, I wanted to show Gurudeva with other Vaisnavas, and his relationships with other Vaisnavas and also his relationships with his disciples.
Ambarisa Dasa: How are you addressing the quality of the photos?
Madhuvrata Dasa: Also in selecting the photographs, quality was a big consideration. Because many, many photographs were sent into us, but they weren’t suitable for blowing up into such a large scale, high quality book. Especially some of the earlier, digital photographs, the kind of things you see on Facebook and Instagram, they just don’t have that type of resolution to be able to use in the book. So photographs that we liked, we worked hard to try to scale them up into the kind of a resolution that is needed for this kind of publication.
Ambarisa Dasa: How do you envisage the utility of such a book?
Madhuvrata Dasa: A coffee-table book has a very broad appeal. It doesn’t just sit on the shelf in a library. Usually coffee-table books are left on the tables. So anyone visiting your home, or visiting a temple they can pick up the book and just sort of leaf through and you know look at these beautiful pictures of Srila Gurudeva and maybe read his teachings. In this way there is some entrance into the life and teachings of Srila Gurudeva.
Ambarisa Dasa: Will there be a special book launch?
Madhuvrata Dasa: We are aiming to have the book printed and ready to offer to Srila Gurudeva, at his centennial in 2021.
Ambarisa Dasa: How will it be available to the devotees?
Madhuvrata Dasa: In 2021, at Gurudeva’s centennial festival, the book will be available at Gurudeva’s different festivals, and also I am looking at the idea of like a pre-order system, so almost like a crowdfund. Where anybody who wants to pre-order the book can do so and then the funds from that go towards the printing of the book.
Ambarisa Dasa: Thank you Madhuvrata Prabhu and Sarvesvari Didi for giving us wonderful insights about the project. Your book will certainly be like a beautiful and fragrant flower in a bouquet of varied flowers [initiatives] that will be offered to Srila Gurudeva for his Centennial.
And we sincerely hope that your book will adorn the homes and offices of all the loving disciples and followers of Srila Gurudeva besides all our preaching centres, since it will serve as a great conversation starter and preaching opportunity to glorify a vraja-rasika maha-bhagavata like Srila Gurudeva.
Looking forward to its final release.