Travel Journal#12.9: Birmingham and the North UK
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 9
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2016, part one)
(May 2016, part one)
Birmingham, Newcastle, Chester-le-Street, Durham, York,
Chester, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Leeds, and Sunderland
(Sent from Manchester on May 23, 2016)
Chester, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Leeds, and Sunderland
(Sent from Manchester on May 23, 2016)
Where I Went and What I Did
The seventeenth annual Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan, and the harinama preceding it, spanned the last day of April and the first day of May. With new senior devotees gracing the event, it was better than ever! On May 2 I returned to my base in the spring and summer, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in The North of England, where I chanted harinama half the time and attended their weekly Wednesday kirtana program, Friday Bhagavad-gita class, Sunday feast program, and biweekly Saturday morning program. The rest of the time, I made one- or two-day trips to chant in other cities, namely Chester-le-Street, Durham, York, Chester, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Leeds, and Sunderland. Besides doing harinama in York, Edinburgh, Sheffield, and Leeds, I also spoke at our nama-hatta programs there. In Chester, I did harinama to promote Vaiyasaki Prabhu’s Sunday afternoon kirtana program. For the first nine days of May, I was finishing the proofreading of Sarasvati Sanlapa, a book of the conversations and discouses of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and over half this journal consists of excerpts from it. With all the harinama, traveling, lecturing, and proofreading, it was a very busy time. Therefore, I share fewer details about the individual harinamas as I was too busy to record them.
I share notes on a couple of lectures by Srila Prabhupada. I share insights by Haridasa Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura from Harinama Cintamani. I include a great many amazing insights from Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura’s conversations and discourses excerpted from Sarasvati Sanlapa, soon to be published by Touchstone Media. I include glorification of Lord Krishna by the brother of Arjuna, Sahadeva, from the Srimad-Bhagavatam. As usual, I include excerpts from the books and online journal of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. I include notes on the talks of the senior devotees who came to the Birmingham 24-Hour kirtana, Candramauli Swami, Lokanath Swami, Sacinandana Swami, and Agnidev and Vaiyasaki Prabhus. I also include notes on a class by Govinda Prabhu of the Manor I heard online, and an interesting comment by Adam, an attender at our Sheffield nama-hatta.
I would like to thank the many devotees who kindly contributed to my travel fund and helped out in other ways. These include Satya Medha Gouranga Prabhu, who sponsored a new microphone for my harinama amplifier; His wife, Andrea, who got me a new jacket that is warm and waterproof and also gave me a donation; Isvara Prabhu, of Touchstone Media, who contributed for computer accessories; Rima, who paid for my travel to Edinburgh, Priya Sundari Devi Dasi and the Leeds nama-hatta, who contributed to my travel to Leeds, and Aayush and Reena, who let me stay at their place in Sheffield. Other contributors include a Latvian couple near Sheffield, Malini and Kate of Edinburgh, Mariana of Sheffield, and Pandava Prabhu of Poland, who now lives in Oxford. Thanks to Karsna Prabhu and any other devotees who took pictures of me on the Chester harinama. Thanks to Aharada Devi for the pictures of Jagannatha and Srila Prabhupada from Birmingham. Thanks to Kirtida Devi for making sure I got enough to eat in Newcastle.
May 23–25: Manchester
May 26: Preston
May 27: Liverpool
May 28: Newcastle Eight-Hour Kirtana
May 29–30: North UK Retreat, Karuna Bhavan, Scotland
May 31: Edinburgh Harinama and Evening Program
June 1–8: Newcastle [June 4 York harinama and nama-hatta]
June 9: Sheffield
June 10: Leicester
June 11: Northampton Ratha-yatra
June 12: Chester
June 13–20: London [June 17 trip to Northampton nama-hatta]
June 20–21: Stonehenge Solstice Festival
June 21–June 30: France with Janananda Goswami [June 26 – Paris Ratha-yatra]
July 1–July 6: Newcastle [July 2 York harinama and nama-hatta]
July 7–9: Polish Padayatra
July 10: Prague Ratha-yatra
July 12–16: Polish Woodstock
July 17–26: Polish Summer Festival Tour
July 27–29: Berlin harinama?
July 30: Berlin Ratha-yatra
July 31–August 4: Czech Padayatra
August 5–11: Baltic Summer Festival
August 12–14: Ancient Trance Festival?
August 15–17: Bratislava?
August 17: Prague?
August 18–21: Trutnoff (Czech Woodstock)
August 22: Prague
August 23: London
August 24–29: Newcastle
August 30: Edinburgh
August 31–September 1: Newcastle
September 2: Sheffield
September 3: York
September 4: Newcastle
September 5–12: Ireland
September 13–: New York City Harinam
Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan
The Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan is wonderful each year, but because of several senior devotees joining us this year, it was more wonderful than usual. Lokanath Swami, Candramauli Swami, Agnidev Prabhu, and Vaiyasaki Prabhu joined our regulars, Sacinandana Swami and Madhava Prabhu, to make it especially ecstatic. More devotees danced than usual. In addition to groups of devotees coming from Ireland and France, a group of devotees came from Italy as well.
The usual weekly harinama in Birmingham is Saturday midday, and some devotees coming for the 24-hour kirtana joined it.
Some devotees distributed books in front of the party, and some passersby danced and took photos of themselves dancing with us.
Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra are always the focus of attention at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan venue.
This year was special with large mosaic-like photos of Srila Prabhupada looming above the altar.
The kirtana by the Hare Krishna Festival team is always a highlight. Giridhari Prabhu, playing drum, led kirtana accompanied by Sandipani Prabhu on the accordion, Parasurama Prabhu on the ukulele, Ratnavali Devi on the djembe, and Gopinath Prabhu on the bass. It was an old-fashioned Hare Krishna kirtana that gets everyone dancing (https://youtu.be/JNOJMxe8DO0):
After the festival devotees’ kirtana, in the prasadam line I overheard a mother telling her child that she likes those kirtanas of the festival devotees best because they remind her of Tribhuvanatha Prabhu, the original leader of the festival team. He is a legend in the UK Hare Krishna scene, and his lively kirtanas and spirit of sharing Krishna consciousness are well known.
Here are some video clips of several of the talented and devoted singers who inspired the devotees to dance at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan (https://youtu.be/UNxVBLQYyTE):
They have already chosen the date for next year, April 29–30, 2017, so you can put it on your calendar.
Every year I come to Newcastle, I try to do at least one harinama in Chester-le-Street, if not two or three. Janananda Goswami, my authority in the UK, likes to us chant in the smaller places around Newcastle, in addition to the city itself. Also Atul Krishna Caitanya Prabhu has various health issues which make it difficult for him to visit the Newcastle temple, and I like to please him by coming to his home town.
On the bus to Chester-le-Street one friendly older man asked what kind of monk I was, so I briefly explained. He was such a friendly guy I wondered if he had a spirtual practice himself and so I asked. He replied no. Then I said, “Have those who supposedly represent God presented Him in such a way that you lost interest in Him?” He smiled and explained that his mother forced him to go to Sunday school. His father said he could make up his own mind about it at age thirteen. I said that religion cannot be forced, and I explained that in our main book, Bhagavad-gita, Krishna, after speaking the whole philosophy to his disciple, Arjuna, told him to do what he wanted. The man liked that.
Every time we come to Chester-le-Street, the people become more favorable. More people gave donations than Newcastle, a much larger place. In the one and a half hours we were there people donated over £10 and took three or four books. Four different devotees took turns leading the chanting.
Once a costumed advertiser delighted in dancing with Prema Sankirtana Prabhu.
One lady wanted to learn the karatalas, and she played a few minutes with us.
I took a little video of us chanting at Chester-le-Street to give you a feel for it (https://youtu.be/qMoAUUhrRlE):
Harinama and Nama-hatta Program in York
Harinama in Chester
It is amazing we had a harinama in York before the May nama-hatta, as Govardhan Devi Dasi of Scarborough and Priya Sundari Devi Dasi of Leeds, practically the two most enthusiastic regulars, were not there. None of my harinama friends from Newcastle, who have sometimes contributed greatly to the York harinama, could go. Bhakti Rasa Prabhu tipped me off to the fact that a Newcastle area devotee named Bass is a longtime friend of Gauridas Pandit Prabhu, our nama-hatta leader in York, and he may be willing to give me a ride, and so he did. When John, the husband of Govardhan, heard we were having harinama, although still recovering from surgery for a brain tumor, he decided to come all the way from Scarborough. Ashish came from York, and John came from Leeds, and thus by the mercy of Krishna, we had five devotees doing harinama, for just over two hours.
The high point of the nama-hatta for me was that a young man came who had attended a Hare Krishna Festival in York in April, and he had a great time and had friendly conversations with many devotees afterwards. Also Priya Sundari Devi Dasi spontaneously sang a tune I knew how to play on the harmonium, and Janardana Prabhu did a good job playing the drum, and we had a very lively final kirtana. I was amazed to see John joyfully dancing, after commuting from Scarborough and doing an afternoon of harinama, although still recovering from surgery.
Harinama in Chester
Although the harinama in Chester was only an hour, it was lively with ten devotees. Dave from Manchester played his guitar, which added another dimension. Some kids had the greatest fun dancing with us, and their parents seemed to quite happy about it.
Behnam proved to be a great dancer.
The devotee kids got into playing the drum.
To save money, I caught a ride there with Manchester devotees, but the result was I did one hour of harinama instead of three, so next time I go to Chester, I will take the train.
A few new people came to the kirtana program with Vaiyasaki Prabhu, and they seemed to have a good time, and everyone was happy about that. In addition to singing nicely, Vaiyasaki Prabhu explained the chanting nicely for new people. One attendee later wrote on Facebook, “It was a lovely meeting – beautiful music, and delicious food! Thank you so much.” There was plenty of prasadam.
Harinama and Tuesday Program in Edinburgh
I chanted for an hour and twenty minutes by myself in Edinburgh, and then for almost two hours more with Rima and one young man who is a regular attender at their semi-weekly programs.
In the course of the harinama we distributed several books. It was a rare warm, dry day for May in Scotland. Later while Rima was setting up for the program, a couple guys bought five books.
In the course of the harinama we distributed several books. It was a rare warm, dry day for May in Scotland. Later while Rima was setting up for the program, a couple guys bought five books.
I went shopping briefly to get supplies for the center, and the friendly older lady behind the counter asked if I was a Hare Krishna. She was happy to remember attending our former center on St. Patricks Street a couple times as a seventeen-year old and liking the chanting very much. I asked her how long ago that was, and she said she was sixty-two now, so it must have been forty-five years ago. It was striking to me that her brief Hare Krishna experience made such an impression on her mind that she recalled it after forty-five years!
Three new people came to the program. One new lady, a friend of a regular attender, liked the program very much. She had a leaning toward Buddhism and impersonalism, and Rima sold her a Isopanisad and Nectar of Devotion to expand her vision.
Rima was very happy that more books than usual were distributed that day, and so was I. I look forward to returning to Edinburgh in three weeks.
Harinama in Leeds
I chanted harinama for three hours by myself in Leeds before their weekly Friday program, and despite the frigid temperature of 10° C (50° F) [including the wind chill], people donated £22.91 ($32.90) and took seven books, two Chant and Be Happy and five Krishna Consciousness: The Topmost Yoga System!!! My experience in Leeds was especially striking because the day before, a rare sunny day in Sheffield, in three hours people donated only £2.41 and no one took a single book. My realization from this is that the results are completely beyond our control. In both places I chanted the same amount of time, but the result was so very different!
Recently I have been meditating during the harinamas that I am out here chanting in the streets of this city simply because Lord Caitanya wants everyone to hear the holy name, and that is the only reason. It seems to be a powerful meditation.
Many elderly people were favorable to my chanting and gave donations. A older lady accepted a book, saying she had a religion already but was willing to look at others. I said that God is unlimited, and thus we can always learn more about Him, and she agreed.
Just fifteen minutes before I was going to stop for the day, Frances, an infrequent attendee at our Newcastle temple came by, and said she would chant with me for five minutes. Later she shared her experience on the Newcastle email list, “I chanced upon this [Sunderland harinama] today and it changed the way my whole day went for the 10 minutes that I was able to stop for and take part. Thank you for being there today.”
I replied to her, “Hare Krishna. Thank you, Frances, for sharing your realization. The congregational chanting of the holy name is so pleasing to Lord Caitanya that even ten minutes of it will have a great effect. Even if the people of this world got together with their friends and family and chanted only ten minutes of Hare Krishna a day, such great benefit would be realized. The whole destructive course of the world would be changed. That ten minutes would be the brightest spot of the whole day.”
She responded, “That did actually happen. I was right in the middle of a horrible dispute where I had to disagree with a friend about something, and I had been dealing with a situation where someone had done a lot of very harmful things to people. It was like being in a battlefield, but I was stuck there and forced to deal with it, even though I wished I didn’t have to be involved. Those 10 minutes changed the vibrations away from all those really bad ones that I had just left before I saw you sitting there by yourself.”
Harinamas in Newcastle
I was happy that Bhakti Rasa Prabhu, Kirtida Devi, and Prema Sankirtana Prabhu joined me on harinama my first day back after traveling to Belgium, Holland, and Birmingham. Bhakti Rasa Prabhu, a native of Newcastle, has been doing harinama for years, and many people in Newcastle know of Krishna and the Hare Krishna mantra. Here he chants with enthusiasm (https://youtu.be/HeT0J_pPuKM):
I like doing harinama before Sunday feast programs because there is always a chance you may invite someone to the feast and they may actually come. I remember that happened in Belfast once. A guy came back to the temple with the harinama party, stayed for the whole feast program, and bought £60 of books. We were not so fortunate that Sunday in Newcastle, but the devotees had a great time sharing the holy name with the passersby.
In the beginning there was just Priyanka, Madhuri, and Radhe Shyam.
Later Prema Sankirtana Prabhu and his whole family joined us, and it became really dynamic (https://youtu.be/mL1od9ZaDws):
To see photos I took but did not include in this journal, click on the link below:
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.24 in Mayapur on October 4, 1974:
Danger we must meet so we learn that this material world is a miserable place.
Do not take this material existence as comfortable at any moment. As soon as you think you are comfortable in the material world, you are spiritually fallen.
We are always in danger, and therefore, we should always think of the lotus feet of Krishna. That is the lesson to be learned from the Pandavas.
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.14 in Mayapur on February 21, 1976:
Prahlada did not address his father as father because a father must be able to deliver his dependents from the path of birth and death and his father was unqualified. Instead, he addressed him as “best of the demons.”
Srila Haridasa Thakura said to Lord Caitanya:
“Chanting the holy name is the prime religious activity of a Vaishnava. From the holy name gradually blossom the Lord’s form, qualities and pastimes. The entire panorama of Lord Krishna’s pastimes is present in the holy name. You have personally declared that Your Name is the highest Absolute Truth.” (Harinama Cintamani, p. 15).
“Sambandha-jnana: knowledge that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and I am His eternal servant. If one doesn’t understand this, his chanting remains in namabhasa (the shadow of the pure name).
“By pure chanting and by following the rules of sadhana as instructed by guru, sadhu and sastra, one slowly but surely acquires krishna-prema, love of Godhead. But namabhasa chanting can never give krishna-prema.” (Harinama Cintamani, p. 23)
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
From a conversation with Mr. N. Bardaloi on October 8, 1928:
“Mahaprabhu revealed the welfare system of the Srimad-Bhagavatam: vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam tapa-trayonm lanam, ‘The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all. Such truth uproots the threefold miseries.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.2) The Srimad-Bhagavatam’s welfare process was discovered and refined by Sri Caitanyadeva, and it is alone auspicious, because it alone removes all three forms of material misery. The benevolence systems invented by the thoughtful people of the world can award only temporary relief or enjoyment; they cannot award true auspiciousness, the goal of life. Moreover, they do not uproot the threefold material miseries. Miseries are the effects of a cause, and effects cannot be destroyed until the thing that caused them is destroyed. You can cut off a banyan tree’s branches and twigs a thousand times, but if you don’t uproot the tree, they will grow up again. The thousands of man-made ways to help people are just like trying to bail the water from the ocean by hand. Even if thousands of people bail for ages, they will never empty the vast ocean.”
“Vishnu is all pervading. He is the Supreme Brahman, the almighty God. Serving Him means serving everything situated in Him. The servant of a particular horse is not the servant of all horses or all other animals. The servant of a particular country is not a servant of all countries. The servant of a particular time is not the servant of all times. If someone kills a goat or fish and serves his tongue by eating it, then that is one-sided service – he is serving only his own happiness – but the goat or fish is not happy at all. Similarly, if one particular person or country is served, then other persons or countries will be harmed. But when serving Vishnu everything is served and everyone becomes pleased. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy is all auspicious; and it does not yield any harm. It is beneficial for all persons at all time and in all countries.”
“Worship of Krishna without Radha is not worship but pride. It is another unauthorized philosophy nourished by the concept of an impotent God. Krishna is alone the enjoyer; all others are to be enjoyed. The origin of all the enjoyed, or the asrayas (abodes of love) is Sri Radhika. To serve God under the subordination of His servant is the core of Vaishnava philosophy. Other philosophies devoid of subordination to the original shelter, or asraya, are simply covered atheism or some kind of pseudo philosophy.”
“Because she worships or satisfies Krishna’s desires, she is called ‘Radhika.’ Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.30.28) states:
anayaradhito nunam bhagavan harir isvarah
yan no vihaya govindah prito yam anayad rahah
‘Certainly this particular gopi has perfectly worshiped the all-powerful Personality of Godhead, Govinda, since He was so pleased with Her that He abandoned the rest of us and brought Her to a secluded place.’”
“Without serving the one who is capable of fulfilling Krishna’s desires, it is not possible to satisfy Krishna’s senses or to serve Him. Unless a person becomes advanced in spiritual life by giving up the desire for material enjoyment, he cannot understand this.”
“Speaking hari-katha is real rest – it removes all fatigue. Any endeavor other than kirtana, performed even for a moment, is averse to God. Exalted personalities and their followers always engage in glorifying topics about Hari in all respects. They have no other duty. Sri Caitanyadeva also instructed us, kirtaniyah sada harih: always chant the glories of Hari. The symptom of liberated persons is that they only chant the glories of Hari at all times with body, mind, and speech.”
From a conversation with Kumara Sriyukta Saradindu Narayan on October 17, 1928:
“Even though He was the Supreme Absolute Truth, Vishnu Himself, Sriman Mahaprabhu enacted the pastime of acting as an acarya and preached the ideal example of following the descending path of aural reception that we call the “disciplic succession.” By enacting the pastime of accepting Sri Isvarapuripada as His spiritual master and thus making Himself subordinate to Sri Madhavendra Puripada, and also having Sri Nityananda and Sri Advaita Prabhu take shelter of Madhavendra Puri, Sri Mahaprabhu established the eternal principle of accepting the path of disciplic succession. The four authorized sampradayas are mentioned in the transcendental literature. By setting the example of accepting one of these four, the Brahma-Madhva sampradaya, Lord Gaurasundara established in this world the honor of the sastras. The teachings and behavior described by sadhu, sastra, and acarya should not contradict one another.”
“Moral instructions and the establishment of theism are not the last word of Mahaprabhu’s preaching; rather, He has revealed the highest ecstatic love of God. In other words, all the best advice of all the acaryas is already included in what Mahaprabhu teaches.”
“Actually, only those who are not brahmanas are eager to call themselves brahmanas!”
“om tad vishnoh paramam padam sada
pasyanti surayah diviva cakshuratatam
“Just as those with ordinary vision see the sun’s rays in the sky, so the wise and learned devotees always see the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.”
“There is a distinction between the demigods’ names and the demigods themselves. There are distinctions between their names, forms, qualities, and pastimes and themselves. But there is no difference between Krishna’s name and Krishna Himself, Krishna’s name and Krishna’s form, Krishna’s name and Krishna’s qualities, and Krishna’s name and Krishna’s pastimes.”
“Kumara: Purva-mimamsaka considers sound temporary.
Srila Prabhupada: And Uttara-mimamsaka refutes that claim: tasya ha va etasya brahmano nama satyam iti – “He is immortal and fearless. He is named Satya, the truth.”
“Since the object and its name are different from each other in the world of duality, some people think the same is true of the nondual. When we consider the respective characteristics of maya and Vaikuntha, we understand that the one is full of faults and paucity and the other is free from them. In the faulty kingdom, there is a difference between an object and its “sound” or name. Therefore, in the material sky sound is temporary. But this is not true of the nondual world, Vaikuntha, where the holy name and the owner of that name are one; there is no distinction in Vaikuntha between a name and its object. Trying to confine Vaikuntha within the four walls of this world is like lopping off the branch of the tree on which we are sitting. The nature of sounds and their objects in Vaikuntha is diametrically opposite to the nature of sounds and their objects in the material world.”
“The Mundaka Upanishad (3.2.3) states, ‘Yamevaisha vrinute tena labhyah: God loves a man because the man loves Him.’ It is mutual and reciprocal.”
“Kumara: But why are there differences of opinion among various spiritual texts?
Srila Prabhupada: One sees conflict when one views these apparently opposing opinions with one’s material vision, but in the spiritual or enlightened understanding, perfect harmony and resolution is found to all such conflicts. In order to bewilder the demons and to protect the confidential treasury from unauthorized people, a contradictory picture is painted from the outside. This only reflects the author’s intention to maintain the confidential nature of scripture.”
“By hearing from the book bhagavata and the devotee bhagavata, a great revolution takes place in life. All previous histories, experiences, and conclusions are dismantled, and in their place is established a strong foundation on which one can cultivate God consciousness. This is called diksha, or the transmission of transcendental knowledge.”
“Caitanyadeva’s teachings are so great that all other topics of all the great persons of the world are and will always be dim before them. There is no doubt about this. All scriptures, all great personalities, all acaryas, and all the world’s preachers have more or less tried to describe the Lord, but they could not do it properly. If weak-hearted persons cannot understand this supreme truth and, while denying the brilliance of the midday sun think Caitanyadeva’s teachings narrow or insignificant, they will be cheated. Let them become degraded as the price of their foolishness.”
“Our job is not reformation but reestablishment. It is not for us to reform the pure, eternal religion preached by Sri Mahaprabhu, but as the shoe-carriers of His servants our duty is to reestablish that lost religion.”
“Now imagine if the great instructor Mahasaya or his followers do not allow us to cross the ocean, or think that by crossing the ocean we will lose our caste. Will the preachers of devotional service to the Supreme Lord not propagate Mahaprabhu’s teachings? Will they abstain from Mahaprabhu’s mission and not follow His orders? Vaishnavas do not have the same concerns as attached, fruitive smartas.”
“Mahaprabhu converted everyone to Vaishnavism. He made Buddhists, Pathans, Moghuls, smartas, and others give up their contrary religious systems; He brought about a spiritual change within them by initiating them into eternal bhagavata-dharma. Sri Caitanya is Godhead par excellence. Few people around the world know this fact. I will do whatever it takes so that gradually, the people of the whole world can know Sri Caitanya’s teachings.”
“Very soon, fifty lakhs of [five million] people are coming who will preach Mahaprabhu’s teachings all over the world. Sri Caitanyadeva established bhagavata-dharma by answering the questions of innumerable philosophers. Moreover, we are trying to solve the questions put forth by the newly concocted unauthorized philosophies opposed to Sri Caitanya by following in the footsteps of Sri Caitanyadeva.”
“‘The brahmanas born in the Age of Kali are merely sudras. Their so-called Vedic path of karma is polluted and cannot purify them. They can only be purified by following the path of the Agamas or Pañcaratrika-viddhi.’ (Vishnu Yamala, quoted in Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa 5.5)”
“Kumara: You are the only one who is propagating Mahaprabhu’s transcendental religion of love of God among learned persons by refuting philosophies like the attached fruitive smarta ideas, mayavada, and so on, all of which are opposed to bhagavata-dharma. Today, our lives have become glorious. The foot dust from a great personality like you has decorated this small house of someone as fallen and materialistic as us. Today my house has become sanctified and transformed into a holy place. We are greatly honored. ‘I came to scoff, but remained to pray.’”
From a conversation with Kumara Prajña, Mr. Singh, Mr. Sen, and others on October 24, 1928:
“Mahamaya Durga is the predominating goddess of this place. Mahamaya has tempted everyone in the prison house of this material world by providing them various sucking toys. Therefore, the inhabitants of this place worship her.”
“The external world misguides us into thinking we are its enjoyers. It does this by presenting itself as the object of our enjoyment. Since the external world provided my gross body and mind, I call the world “mother.” Moreover, as I demand different things from this mother, I turn her into my lover and thus lose my so-called worshipable mood. But even as I am trying to become the enjoyer, I end up being enjoyed by material nature. Material nature then becomes the enjoyer and my senses the enjoyed. This kind of enjoyer-enjoyed mentality is born from the living beings’ attempt to find pleasure.”
“Whatever we see in this world – we should know that those objects are mastering us, controlling us. In other words, the objects become the master and our senses their servants. But those who receive the light of absolute knowledge from the prime cause, do not find that their senses are slaves to sense objects; such persons are not deceived by the objects of the senses. That is, Maya’s covering and throwing potencies do not rule them. This is why they are able to see everything as Krishna or related to Krishna – chairs, couches, tables, elephants, horses, houses … they see all of these and everything else as related to Krishna. What this means is that they see everything as something to be used for Krishna’s service. In this way, every atom has a part in Krishna’s pastimes.”
“Mantra does not mean something blown from the mouth or a whispering in the ear. Mantra diksha means the receipt of transcendental knowledge. Transcendental knowledge smashes down to their foundation all our seemingly beautiful philosophical mansions, built on empiricism, and erects in their place an actual foundation of eternal transcendental knowledge, cleansing the ground of all contaminations.”
“Many agents and messengers come to this world, but that most powerful messenger, sent by God to suit the adaptability of each recipient – the name of that sole agency is “guru.” Revelation is made possible through that expert. He can free us of mental speculation and bring about within us a revolution of natural spiritual propensity.”
“Yogen Babu: We can use our own knowledge to find the Absolute Truth. Why do we need to gain knowledge from others?
Srila Prabhupada: This means you have not heard with full attention whatever we have discussed so far. For those who want to depend on their sensory knowledge I can cite an example. Once upon a time, a person decided to perform penance in a mountain cave, so he collected a big chunk of stone and closed the entrance of the cave to keep out tigers and other wild animals. But it did not occur to him that after fasting and practicing penance for some days that he would become too weak to move the heavy stone and get out of the cave. Our confidence in our own sensory knowledge is as one-sided as that man’s considerations. In order to save ourselves from the teeth of wild animals, we follow the dictates of our sensory knowledge and ultimately invite our death. Those who adhere only to the knowledge they have gathered with their material senses become killers of the self. The knowledge one receives from the spiritual master is not material knowledge but transcendental, spiritual knowledge. That knowledge does not belong to mankind or any particular thoughtful or intellectual person of this world. It is, rather, absolute knowledge, nondifferent from Krishna.”
“For those who are either busy measuring everything with the senses or who are not interested in discussions of the transcendental object, Mahamaya uses her covering and throwing potencies. She keeps the spiritual sky away from the sight of empiricists.”
“When we see God as only the creator, we fail to realize God’s actual position. Our search for the cause, the cause of causes, and the cause of all causes, becomes obstructed midway. Devotion to the father, devotion to the mother – these are born of the same motivation. Devotion to God as the father or mother is not unmotivated; rather, it is based on material desire. It keeps the worshiper far away from knowing the Supreme Lord’s actual form. Persons who miss Him remain habituated to worldly ethics and tend to follow the path of sense gratification. They do not worship God out of love. Since they want to approach God in a mood of awe and reverence, they are far from knowing the Lord’s actual characteristics. Sri Caitanyadeva preached God’s sonhood. He rejected the idea that God is our parent. Christianity can be fully developed and [spiritually] ethical if Christians hear Sri Caitanyadeva’s teachings.”
“Kumara: The quarrel between the Shaktas and the Vaishnavas has been going on for a long time.
Srila Prabhupada: Real Vaishnavas do not quarrel with anybody. They do not wish to cause anxiety to any living entity in any way. They are nonenvious. And because they are nonenvious, they try to benefit all living entities. They preach the truth by which the living entities can obtain their actual fortune. Nothing but service to Vishnu can benefit the soul. Living entities can find temporary physical and mental happiness and welfare by serving Vishnu’s illusory energy, but in the end, such service will only cover the soul even more. The spirit soul will be deviated from his eternal duty if he serves maya. People who are bewildered by Lord Vishnu’s illusory energy, misconstrue the welfare activities of the Vaishnavas, calling the Vaishnavas attempts to help people “envy” and “quarreling.” These people then get busy quarreling with their own physicians or eliminating their physicians all together. The Shaktas can only see up to the mother, because from her they receive what they need for their material enjoyment. They do not care for the mother’s husband. As long as they are averse to Vaishnavism, they will only be able to understand the mother. It will appear to them, according to their material conception, that the energy is the source of everything. We may think that the mother is the fountainhead, but she is really only the custodian of our physical frame, not of our soul. The soul is unborn; it has no mother. The soul’s propensity is not to enjoy matter or even to renounce it. There is no ‘give me, give me’ in the spirit soul’s nature. The soul is the associated counterpart of the Absolute Truth, Vishnu. The soul’s only self-interest is to desire happiness for the Absolute Truth. Pure Vaishnavas always search with heart and soul after what will make the Absolute Truth happy.”
“Yogen Babu: Why can’t action performed out of duty be called devotional service?
Srila Prabhupada: Duty is only a regulation. Something that is not done out of pure love cannot be called devotional service. Actions performed only out of a sense of duty have their effect only on the mind, intelligence, and false ego, whereas actions done in love and devotion – attachment to the Supreme – have their effect on the soul. Pure attachment, devotional service, emanates from the soul. Devotional service is the natural propensity of the soul, but the propensity of the mind is to act out of duty, gratitude, and so on. There is no path that can benefit us other than the cultivation of spiritual consciousness. The whole world is filled only with mental speculation and physical enjoyment. Only Sri Caitanyadeva propagated the elevated teachings of spiritual realization and the soul’s natural propensity. Animals, birds, grass, creepers, human beings, and all the other living entities, became spiritually enlightened by Sri Caitanyadeva’s preaching about spiritual consciousness. All of you should also consider His unique compassion.”
From a conversation with Pandita Gaurinath Sastri on October 30, 1928:
“The covering and throwing potencies of maya have covered and distracted us from the Supreme Lord.
Sastri: This means first covering and then throwing?
Srila Prabhupada: There is no such thing as covering first and throwing later. Covering and throwing take place simultaneously.”
“Sastri: From where did the dependent living entities get such independence?
Srila Prabhupada: Because we are minute spiritual particles of the supremely independent God, we contain within us a minute portion of His complete qualities. Krishna has full independence, and so the living entities have limited independence.
Sastri: When do covering and throwing potencies act on the living entities?
Srila Prabhupada: As soon as the living entities become indifferent to serving God, the time for covering and throwing begins.”
“If one worships the Supreme Lord constantly with love and devotion, he will never be covered or thrown by maya. But the worship has to be continuous. If there is a little gap in the continuity, then maya’s covering potency takes advantage of it and covers us.”
“The moment I forget the Supreme Lord I become an acquirer. I dive into acquiring land, knowledge, money, and so on. This is the improper use of my spiritual nature, so inevitably I will commit indiscretions and develop misconceptions. I will inevitably become an empiricist, and then I will spend my life busily accumulating material objects.”
“The ascending path is Ravana’s policy of building a staircase to heaven.”
“One method is to take up a lamp and forcibly try to find the sun at night, while the other method is to pray for sunrise and then to see the sun with the help of the sun’s light.”
“As long as human beings depend on their own strength, pride, and experience, they cannot surrender to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. Until we surrender and take shelter of the Supreme Lord, we will continue to glorify the ascending path. When we understand just how insignificant our borrowed strength is, how puny our pride, and how useless our own endeavor, only then will we surrender to God and walk the descending path.”
“Trying to discuss scripture driven by a desire for material enjoyment or liberation is like trying to bring scripture under our control. But the scripture is directly Krishna – an incarnation of Krishna.”
“As long as we remain humbler than a blade of grass, we will be able to perform hari-kirtana. The moment we try to become “bigger” or “greater,” we will have to say goodbye to kirtana.”
“Pseudo devotional service, service covered by karma, jñana, yoga, or tapasya, is not pure devotional service. Therefore, it cannot touch the lotus feet of the transcendental Godhead. For this reason, until one renders devotional service directly to the transcendental Personality, one cannot remove one’s anarthas, and as long as one’s anarthas remain, one will speak like a madman, calling Lord Narayana ‘poor.’”
“It is not necessary to hear from a person expert in Sanskrit or in giving instructions to others. It is the exalted devotee who practices what he preaches from whom we have to hear.”
“We have to glorify Hari. Mahaprabhu taught us, kirtaniyah sada harih. The word sada indicates that there is no gap of time between performances of kirtana. The human beings have no other duty, no other work, except to glorify Hari at each moment. We have to glorify Hari even to the animals and birds. If fools call us crazy or ignorant, it does not matter.”
“Mahaprabhu ordered, kirtaniyah sada harih: Let people hear hari-katha every day. When people of the world meet one another, they talk about the worldly things they have read in worldly newspapers. They are completely surrounded by the mundane climate. We say, “Let people hear caitanya-katha every day. When they meet, let them talk about Caitanya. Let them always live and breathe in the climate of caitanya-katha. Let there be nothing else in the whole world except caitanya-katha. In order to keep the cultivation of devotion to Caitanya constantly awake in our hearts, we have to remain engrossed in caitanya-katha at all times. Today, an arrangement is being made, with so much difficulty, facing so many obstacles, with so much hard labor and expense, just so discussions of Hari can go on constantly. The unconscious world is suffering from the disease of their own anarthas. People have become so unconscious that they refuse to take the medicine that would benefit them. They will do everything else, but they will not listen to caitanya-katha. They will risk their lives, spend their money, and use all their intelligence to hear topics unrelated to Sri Caitanyadeva and thus invite their own ruination. They will eat abominable foods and aggravate the symptoms of their disease and finally rush to hell. Still, they will not listen to discussions about Sri Caitanya, even when hearing such things is the only way for them to find auspiciousness. They promise not to adopt the path of auspiciousness. Despite this, the devotees of Caitanya publish the Nadiya Prakasa, which reports Caitanya’s message by pushing aside all the impediments presented by this world.”
From a lecture entitled “Spiritual Truth is Realized Only through Aural Reception” given in Cuttack on July 9, 1927:
“The word pranipata indicates that we should not be inattentive while hearing the guru’s words; in other words, we should hear with full attention. That transcendental object that my senses could not comprehend is accessible only through the ears. Whatever I have heard while sitting at the lotus feet of my spiritual master is the only access I have to reality. There is no other way to know reality except through pranipata, attentive hearing.”
“Pariprasna refers to the honest inquiry a disciple makes of his spiritual master. When we ask a question, we should not have asked it with some hidden motive, already planning not to follow the answer we are given. To ask questions like a skeptic is not ‘honest inquiry.’ To ask questions while controlled by false pride, thinking we already know the answer, is also not ‘honest inquiry.’ If we simply make a show of honest inquiry and then do not hear submissively, then the answer we receive will simply create a revolution in the heart and cause many more questions. Asking questions like this is also not part of ‘honest inquiry.’”
“The spiritual world is different from this world. In the spiritual world, the sound vibration is itself the object. There is no difference between a name and the object being named. If sound vibration is transcendental or spiritual, there is no difference between the name and the named. In the material world, however, there is a difference between objects and the words our senses use to define them.”
“That which is beyond logic and argument, which is inconceivable, is not subject to debate. Rather, it is better to serve the Absolute Truth, to worship the worshipable object, rather than to speculate about whether to accept it or reject it.”
“After we hear spiritual topics from him [the spiritual master] in disciplic succession, our tendency to measure everything with our senses stops. After serving the Vedic statements, the transcendental sound vibration, all other forms of evidence, such as hypothesis and direct perception, which are opposed to gaining understanding of the Vedas, also stops.”
“If we process the transcendental sound vibration we hear from the spiritual master through an unenlightened viewpoint, then we will attribute fault to the transcendental sound vibration or to the Absolute Truth; we are bound to make a distinction between the sound and its object. But there is no such distinction whatsoever in the Supreme Lord, who is one without a second, because He is the supreme Absolute Truth. If we attribute imperfection to the Absolute Truth, we will be forced to eat our own words. There is no difference between transcendental sound and the intended object of that sound.”
“The holy name is Himself the Supreme Lord. To consider the forms, qualities, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord as different from the Lord is a misconception and opposed to advaya-jñana. My spiritual master instructed me not to consider the Lord’s Deity form a product of matter, or an object of sense gratification. Because we don’t understand the actual meaning of the mantra we have been given, because we don’t understand the concept of oneness as it applies to the spiritual realm, we think there is a distinction between the worshipable Godhead and His Deity form. As soon as we see oneness between the Deity form and the Lord Himself, there is no such misconception or illusion.”
“Liberated souls worship the Lord by chanting kirtana, mantras, and through other such processes. The transcendental sound vibration is nondifferent from the object it is naming. By following the gradual path, beginning from sraddha, we can develop love and devotion for the Supreme Lord in our heart.”
From a discourse on “Initiation and Spiritual Enlightenment” in Kasi on October 2, 1927:
“As a result of the deeds we have been performing since time immemorial, we have concluded that simply to accumulate the sensations of material enjoyment without any relation to Krishna is our ultimate goal of life. We are fallen souls. We cannot bring about our own auspiciousness. Unless and until we take shelter at the lotus feet of the deliverer of the fallen soul, we cannot achieve any benefit. The Six Gosvamis, headed by Rupa and Sanatana, are eternal associates of the Supreme Lord. They are the spiritual masters of all living entities. Their lotus feet are the highest shelter for all beings.”
“Used cloth is the proper dress for a nishkiñcana, a Vaishnava paramahamsa on the path of raga-bhakti. It is not the dress for those on the path of vaidhi-bhakti. Saffron cloth is meant for the vaidhi-bhaktas.”
From a discourse on “Sri Caitanyadeva”:
“Whatever the senses perceive in the visible world is incomplete and imperfect; full knowledge of the object is absent. The reason for this is that our senses are imperfect. We understand that the undivided Absolute Truth, which is beyond limited human perfection, is incomprehensible to the imperfect discernment of human knowledge. This is why thoughtful persons from Western countries have manufactured ‘isms’ like agnosticism, pantheism, skepticism, and panentheism, and thoughtful persons from India have also created many such conceptions.”
“Sriman Mahaprabhu accepted the philosophy that the material world is a transformation of the Lord’s external energy. Not finding harmony for this in statements made in different Vedas, many people have come to their own interpretations and thus adopted a variety of spiritual paths. But Lord Sri Caitanyadeva has made the differing statements congruous.”
“After talking with Mahaprabhu and seeing His genius in learning, Sarvabhauma accepted Sri Caitanyadeva as an extraordinary personality. Previously, he would tease his brother-in-law, Gopinatha, saying, ‘How can a human being speak about the spiritual world?’ Gopinatha would reply, ‘In the state of perfect human knowledge, only a person descended from the spiritual world can speak about the topics of the spiritual world.’ To this Sarvabhauma would reply, ‘It is foolish to accept an ordinary human being as belonging to the transcendental world.’ And Gopinatha would reply, ‘You should leave aside your own ideas and views and hear the words of Sri Caitanyadeva. Then you can consider whether or not He has descended from the spiritual world.’
“We are human beings. Being entangled in material bodies, we work, and after death we receive another body according to that work. In this way, we change bodies one after another and live perpetually in the material world. After hearing Sri Caitanyadeva’s words, Sarvabhauma’s consciousness was purified and elevated to spiritual consciousness. One cannot understand Vedanta through knowledge acquired with the material senses. There is no need to merge the transcendental with the phenomenal – a man will be exposed as a fool if he tries to see the sun with the help of some other light. The sun itself has sufficient illumination, and one can see the sun and all other objects in sunlight. One should study that object that will automatically allow him to become enlightened in all other subjects.”
“The society in which we are raised from childhood is so full of materialism that we cannot take even a moment to discuss eternal life. We spend twenty-four hours a day in worldly activities. We have no time to understand what we are. What is the value of our one hundred years in this body compared to our own eternity? Therefore twenty-four hours a day of human life should be used for spiritual cultivation. It is not the duty of an intelligent person to spend his entire life gratifying his senses.”
“Everyone should be selfish enough to search after his own real self-interest. But most people are busy with other activities. Boys engage in sports, youths in family life, and old people in protecting body and property. In these full-time endeavors, we see that people are indifferent to their own self-interest. They are callous to their eternal self-interest because they have spent their time accumulating matter in one form or another.”
“Many people say that there is no need to worry about our self-interest – our soul’s deliverance – at present. We will take care of it in the future, when the time comes. But this is not realistic. If one is not educated in childhood, he will face inconveniences in youth.”
“One should try to benefit others as well as uplift himself. One should try to help in such a way that people’s spiritual propensities are not impeded by materialism.”
“People may argue that it is better to engage in pious activities by giving up sinful activities, and that encouraging this is what it means to be compassionate. But if people are actually intelligent, they must at all times and in every step of life, even while sleeping and eating, contemplate their eternal existence in relation to their present, temporary activities. If we become averse to this kind of thinking, we will simply quarrel with one another and become sectarian. It is not that everyone wants his own degradation. If one acts on time, one will reap his rewards in the future.”
“If one doesn’t properly use one’s time, he will suffer later. A person who thinks he will focus on spiritual topics when he is old will not find it possible, because he will always be disturbed by worldly thoughts.”
“As long as a person considers the outer covering, the envelope around the soul, to be the self, it is especially essential that he follow varnasrama-dharma. If varnasrama-dharma is followed properly, people will benefit in this life and the next. Varnasrama-dharma is only good as long as one is alive. It is beneficial for creating mundane prosperity. It is necessary in the designated existence of all living entities within the fourteen worlds. But in the spiritual world, there is no need for it at all.”
“The truth is that those who possess gross and subtle bodies actually own those bodies. Those owners are souls. This is the true for every living being. Both the Supreme Lord and the living beings are conscious. The living beings are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. At present, the living beings have fallen from their spiritual position because they misused their free will. Since the living beings have clothed themselves in foreign matter, they are unable to revive their original constitutional position and return to their spiritual nature. We become degraded like that because we give up the Lord’s service. And we make our lives perfect by engaging in devotional service.”
“Material objects cannot take the initiative to do anything. They have no power to know, will, or feel. They cannot respond to stimuli. Within us, as within animals, there is awareness, or the presence of spirit. Trees also have awareness, but to a lesser degree. Spirit and matter are two different energies of the Supreme Lord. One is His internal energy and the other His external energy. The mundane world is different from the jivas and the Supreme Lord. But the jivas are also different from the Supreme Lord in that the Supreme Lord is great and the living entities minute. The Supreme Lord is unalloyed spirit, whereas at the time of our death, the symptoms of consciousness cease. We no longer interact with external objects; our senses become inactive. In the external world we find two objects: matter and the reflection of spirit.”
“In order to remove one’s doubts, one should inquire from an experienced person and hear his reply. If one is inattentive while hearing or unable to grasp the meaning, he should ask questions repeatedly. The word pranipata means to “hear with full attention.” Being eager to hear the answer to one’s questions destroys one’s ignorance, foolishness, and biases.”
“Anyone can make a full inquiry about spiritual subjects from an experienced person. But one should not present questions just to make unnecessary arguments and deny what is said. Those who do so never discover truth. When one receives an answer to his questions, he should use that answer in his life.”
“The words vairagya and tyaga surprise the materialistic people. Mahaprabhu says, ‘If one can achieve his ultimate goal of life by staying where he is, then what is the use of practicing breathing exercises in the Himalayas?’ People need to consider this. There is no need to quarrel about it. Whether you stay at home or live in the forest, cultivate God consciousness. If you simply speak bhagavata-katha, your attachment to material objects will automatically vanish.”
“Sri Krishna Caitanya distributed both the process of performing devotional service and loving, confidential devotional service to Himself. He is an ocean of mercy; an ocean of compassion. No one can bestow so much mercy. No other incarnation of the Supreme Lord can award such unlimited mercy. This mercy is meant to make an unqualified person qualified. It is full mercy for eternity. The Lord gives Himself away. No other form of the Lord has ever done that before.”
“My mind is always busy with material activities. It is sometimes engaged in proper discernments and sometimes absorbed in injustice. I have artificially tried again and again to control my mentality and benefit myself, but I have been unsuccessful. Therefore, I have found no other way but to surrender to the mercy of Sri Caitanyadeva.”
“One should not forget the Supreme Lord simply because one is too attached to sense gratification. Do not become too attached to any particular object or place, no matter where you live. Whatever you are doing, you can continue that. Today someone may be a family man and tomorrow he may renounce his family, then he allows the hidden river of material enjoyment to flow in his heart. To come back under the control of sense gratification is not sensible. The meaning of vairagya, renunciation, is to keep oneself busy cultivating God consciousness by not remaining attached to things unrelated to God. But be cautious! Do not become a mundane sahajiya, an attached householder, or a hypocritical renunciant on the pretext of cultivating God consciousness. Do not cheat yourself. If you cheat the blacksmith of steel, you yourself will be cheated.”
“Although I am extremely unqualified compared to each of you, I have a request for you. You are all devotees; I am a nondevotee. You are all present here today to show your mercy to me. My request to you is that you please give up all other philosophies and ideas and spare some time for hearing about Sri Caitanyadeva. If some time is spared in hearing about that personality, who is distinctly superior to ordinary human beings, then among human beings we will discover the real peace that comes from worshiping the Supreme Lord. People will develop the propensity to care for the Supreme Lord as a son. If the Supreme Lord is placed in the center of human or family life, all the temporary relationships in this world will be removed. If we can engage our entire mind and heart at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, then we will have found the perfection of life. Santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya – these five relationships are present in the Supreme Lord in their complete form. Since we are currently living out these relationships while focused on temporary objects of affection rather than on the Supreme Lord, we are unable to know the Lord. Being unable to attain His shelter, and not knowing our self-interest, we become indifferent to serving Him. This is the fault of our destiny. We consider something essential only when we can measure it with our senses. But if you want respite from studying the temporary material world, cultivate knowledge of the eternal. Then the words of this hawker will appear pleasing. Since he is falling at our feet and giving us so much respect, why don’t we pay attention to his words? The Supreme Lord is full of knowledge and bliss. We are running so many places in order to know Him, but that Lord of Goloka appeared in a human form very near to us to impart instructions even to the materialists. If we disregard His words and act whimsically, the intelligent will not praise us, nor will we be able to praise our own intelligence.”
From a discourse called “Address on Sri Vyasa-puja Day”:
One day, Srimad Ananda Tirthapada, while engaged in the worship of Sri Vyasa, acted as an acarya by sitting on the vyasasana. Following in his footsteps, his subordinates have been sitting on vyasasanas ever since in order to explain Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is true that one feels hesitant to sit on the vyasasana, considering himself unqualified by material qualification, but may the sinful tendency to transgress the spiritual master’s order never turn us away from serving the lotus feet of the spiritual master. This is our humble request at the lotus feet of Sri Vyasadeva and Sripada Sriman Madhvacarya. Sri Madhvamuni enacted the pastime of acting as an acarya for eighty years in order to teach us how to worship Sri Vyasadeva. One time, he appeared as Bhima and served Krishna during the Mahabharata battle simply to show the godless people how to serve the Lord who carries a club in His hand. Another time, he appeared as Hanuman and helped Sri Ramacandra in His mission by destroying the unfavorable elements. Again it is he who eternally sustains the Vaikuntha planet in the form of Vayu and thus keeps his transcendental, eternal existence intact.”
“Rupa, the eternal associate of the Supreme Lord, his followers, and all his future followers are my worshipable spiritual masters. As such they are under the shelter of Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Madhva, and Sri Nityananda Prabhu. My life will be successful if I can take eternal shelter of these personalities. Then my material disease will be vanquished and I will consider the two witches (material enjoyment and liberation) to be Putanas rather than my mothers. May I become a worthy son of my mother Bhaktidevi, whose sons are knowledge and renunciation, and not be indifferent in her service. May I not think of Mother Bhakti as my maidservant. This is my appeal.”
“Failing to realize the actual nature of devotional service, we may think bhakti simply another means to attain liberation or a higher level of material enjoyment. It is by the strength of bhajana that pure beings understand that material enjoyment and liberation are not the goals of life. Rather, becoming the master of those two states, these pure beings engage them in the service of supremely opulent bhakti.”
“Since the worshipable object [Krishna] is not a commodity of the kingdom of measurement, the nectarean ocean of His service is unlimited – an ocean of spiritual bliss.”
“As a servant of the spiritual master I accept those statements as meant for my predecessor acaryas and offer them at their lotus feet. Being driven by the knowledge I have derived from my senses, I have no ability to usurp those statements, because by the order of the Lord I am a weak person who is lower than a blade of grass. Thus I am unable to carry such a heavy burden. I have no other alternative but to pass them on to my spiritual master.”
From a discourse entitled “Aversion and Duplicity”:
“The Transcendental Object can appear in this material world out of His own sweet will. He descends into the material world, but being in the material world does not inhibit His transcendental position. Whatever a lump of matter like me speaks is born of material qualities, but whatever we hear through the disciplic succession, that sound has such extraordinary power that when it enters the ears, it can revive our consciousness. The sound vibration that can cross the Viraja River, transcend Brahmaloka, and travel to Vaikuntha, descends into the fourteen worlds and takes us back to the spiritual world. However, the sound vibration produced from the material sky, which remains for some time in the material world and then merges back into the material sky, takes us to hell. These material sounds have been disseminated for our sense gratification and to make us foolish. We can tell a sound is material when its object is to encourage us to eat, sleep, mate, and defend. Such sound conditions us more and more in matter. Caitanyacandra appeared in a place near here in order to propagate the sound vibration coming from the spiritual sky.”
“At every moment the illusory energy leads us toward the kingdom of aversion to God. The moment we have no protector, everything around us will turn into an enemy and attack us. The moment we refuse to hear hari-katha from a genuine sadhu, we will have failed to serve that sadhu with our sincerity. Then Maya will take advantage and devour us.”
“A person may have once had good intentions, but after some time he again turns to sinful life. Why? It is because he did not spare time to hear the transcendental topics of Hari, or perhaps he became inattentive, only pretending to hear. He did not at all try to stay aloof from his endeavors for apparent happiness; rather, he became busy looking for sensory happiness on the advice of crooked people. If we take shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet, whether we are educated or uneducated, whether we have strength or no strength, there will be no problem. Actually, the living entity is transcendental. It is only when he thinks himself bound by the qualities of material nature that he becomes attached to the material world.”
“The servants of the Supreme Lord appear in this world for the welfare of human beings. They have no material duty to fulfill. The only duty these most merciful personalities have is to divert the adverse, material tastes of the living entities toward Krishna. To give food to the hungry and other such acts of mundane charity are useless wastes of labor if we forget the real goal of life.”
“The living entities are captivated at every moment within the kingdom of sense enjoyment. Maya constantly captures us by offering us different types of bait. Just as a wild male elephant is captured by tempting it with a she elephant, so the illusory energy, Mayadevi, traps us in the world of birth and death by tempting us with women and other forms of sense enjoyment. Thinking the illusory objects real, the living entities run after them. Just to deceive human beings, Maya keeps different types of happiness on her hook. Whatever appears good and beautiful when seen with the eyes of material enjoyment is just another of Maya’s hooks. Those who indulge in sense gratification will be hooked. Eat, sleep, and be merry – and then go to hell: this thinking has ruined human society. What can be more shameful than this!”
“Sri Gaurasundara made arrangements to protect human beings from such thinking, just as a doctor administers quinine with a sugar coating. The material sound from the material sky constantly allures human beings to grasp material objects. It is this sound that is causing all the problems. Being attracted by it, human beings are shot with Maya’s arrows, just as a deceptive hunter lures a deer and then shoots it. This is why Gaurasundara arranged for hari-katha accompanied by musical instruments and melody. This is like coating the bitter quinine with gelatin. Normally, dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments lead people to commit sin, and are therefore engaged in by only the most sinful people. If these people are not engaged in the service of Kamadeva Krishna, they will surely have to vomit poison in the end.”
“So many people rush to drink deadly poison – they accept pots of poison as nectar! Will the loud shout of the acarya not enter their ears even once? An experienced physician tries his best to cure the disease of the afflicted without charging a consultation fee, and yet the sick try their best to be rid of that physician! They are digging their own graves. They are cutting off the branch on which they are sitting.”
“Duplicity is one thing and weakness is another. One who is nonduplicitous achieves his fortune. “I will cheat my spiritual master,” “I will lie to my physician,” – I nourish the black cobra of my sinful propensity by feeding it with milk and bananas, which I hide in the hole of duplicity. I will not let people know about my sins. Instead, I will collect from people name and fame as a great devotee.” These mentalities are not just weakness of the heart but a dangerous type of duplicity. People who suffer from it will never find benefit. Those who have obstructed their path to auspiciousness will not achieve auspiciousness. One gradually achieves auspiciousness in life by sincerely associating with devotees and submissively hearing spiritual discussions from their mouths. If we make only a show of sadhu-sanga, then our hellish mentality will increase day by day.”
“If we are weak at heart from our millions of births in this world, there is no harm, but if we take shelter of duplicity even once – if we try to kidnap Sita while disguised as a devotee – then we wrap the snake of inconvenience around our neck forever. It is better to live as an animal, bird, insect, fly, or a member of any of the millions of species than to take shelter of duplicity.”
“Arjjavam brahmane saksat sudre’narjjva-lakshanam” – “A brahmana is honest or simple, and a sudra is just the opposite.”
From a discourse called “The Object of Sri Gaudiya Matha’s Preaching”:
“It is always a fact that there are not many customers for truth, because truth is not palatable, even though it is so beneficial.”
“The Katha Upanishad (1.2.2) says:
sreyasca preyasca manushyam etastau
samparitya vivinakti dhirah
sreyohi dhiro’dhipreyaso vrinite
preyo mando yoga kshemad vrinite
‘Sreyas and preyas are inseparably connected to human beings, but sober persons, realizing the meaning of both, determine that sreyas is the cost of liberation and focus only on preyas causes bondage. Those seeking liberation give up preyas and accept sreyas, whereas foolish people pray for preyas in the form of achieving things that they lack and preserving those things they already have.’”
“The Katha Upanishad (1.2.5) states:
avidyayam antare vartamanah
svayam dhirah panditam-manyamanah
jaṅghanyamanah pariyanti mudha
andhenaiva niyamana yathandhah
‘Caught in the grip of ignorance, self-proclaimed experts consider themselves learned authorities. They wander about this world befooled, like the blind leading the blind.’”
“Millions of speakers who do not speak impartial truth will go to hell; but the impartial truth that is being spoken boldly, even after hundreds of lifetimes and hundreds of yugas, will somehow or other come to be recognized as confidential truth and its great importance realized. Until one spends millions of gallons of hard-earned blood, it is not possible to make a person understand the actual truth. It is not easy for a teacher to teach what it means to be a devotee.”
“As a fish dies because of its attraction for the hook, and an animal dies because it is lured by the hunter’s music, so mankind is gliding down to hell with its ambition to fulfill the promise of sense pleasure. To check their progress in their illegal activities is one of the major duties of the Gaudiya Matha.”
“We are ready to spend two hundred gallons of blood to save one person – if even a single person is interested in hearing the truth. Let each and every selfless, merciful member of the Gaudiya Matha be prepared to spend two hundred gallons of blood for nourishing the spiritual body of each and every person in human society. Millions of wicked people are approaching innocent, rich people, who do not know what is good and what is bad, and taking them to hell. The Gaudiya Matha never indulges in or encourages such envious activities.”
“This wicked mind, this stupid mind, is very fond of serving lust, anger, and other such vices. The wicked mind sometimes puts on the dress of an instructor in order to employ the whole world in the service of lust, anger, and so on.”
“Being averse to Lord Vishnu from top to bottom, millions of living entities have arrived in Mahamaya’s prison house to envy the Supreme Lord in millions of ways. If you can save one person from this prison house, then it will be more benevolent than opening millions of hospitals. The real mercy, which does not produce any ill effect, does not last only a few days; it is not meant to mitigate hunger for a day or two. The real and ultimate mercy was bestowed by Sri Caitanyadeva, and it is eternal.”
“On the bank of a vast river sat a few smokers smoking cigars. When they felt the need to relight the cigar, one of them, sitting on this side of the river, stretched his hand toward a lamp burning in a boat on the other side of the river. Seeing that the cigar was not lighting, another smoker snatched it and stretched his hand a little further toward the lamp. Such is the endeavor of those who reach for experimental knowledge! The river is one-mile-wide, and yet sitting on this side these smokers dare to try to light their cigar from the lamp on the other side of the river! They dare to try to touch the light on the other side of the Viraja River with their mundane education and intelligence! Another empiricist comes and tells them to stretch their hand of experience a little further. But the hand of material experience cannot touch the illumination of Vaikuntha. The hand of worldly experience cannot be stretched so far. That is why these people often become so tired that they end up becoming impersonalists. They are tired of trying to expand, and finally heave a sigh of relief, saying ‘To infinity.’”
“To stop one’s focus on material enjoyment and liberation is called bhakti. Sri Caitanya’s servants do not beg for material enjoyment or liberation; they are not cheaters.”
“Some people have painted Caitanyadeva in such a way that we feel embarrassed to call ourselves His followers. We are so unfortunate that even after Sri Caitanyadeva’s appearance, various opinions averse to His teachings have been preached in our country. Since we have no interest in hearing the eternal topics describing Sri Caitanyadeva, we have created new philosophies in our country. In order to make everyone spiritually inclined, Sri Caitanya engaged Haridasa and Nityananda to preach door to door; We are Hari’s eternal servants; it is the eternal, spontaneous propensity of the spirit soul to serve Hari; only service to Hari awards eternal happiness and frees us of our thirst for temporary, incomplete, material pleasures; only service to Hari allows us to regain our full independence. But being indifferent to Caitanyadeva’s teachings, we continue to search for pieces of glass outside while ignoring the invaluable treasury we have at home.”
“The Gaudiya Matha is not a place to rendezvous for eating and sleeping. To increase the quantity of stool and urine by eating, sleeping, or taking intoxicants – these are not the purposes of the Gaudiya Matha. The Gaudiya Matha holds festivals in order to give nondevotees fond of pompous functions an opportunity to hear hari-katha.”
“To enhance our abominable debauchery and to negate the idea of intense love for Krishna, we like to say that God is formless, that He has no eternal form. If we can prove that God is devoid of hands and legs, then we can nicely plunder and exploit the world with our own own hands and legs! If God doesn’t have a form, doesn’t have eyes, we can secretly commit adultery. After all, God cannot see us. We think wealth, women, and fame – for that matter, the whole world – is meant for our enjoyment and not for God’s enjoyment. This is why our hidden agenda is to make God impersonal. Other than a pure devotee, everyone, including the karmis, jñanis, yogis, and ascetics, want to prove God impersonal. All the mental speculators of the world want to make God impersonal. They think, “We will enjoy and be glorified. Why should God get everything?”
“Krishna’s activities cannot be measured by the standards of worldly morality. If Krishna alone is the proprietor of all material and spiritual wealth, then He is free to enjoy His own property. There is nothing unethical or objectionable or debauched about it.”
“The self-deceptive, greedy materialists and renunciants think, “We will go to hell, but we will enjoy, ride horses or be carried on palanquins, live in nice buildings, watch attractive forms, smell sweet aromas, relish the four types of delicious foods, hear sweet voices, and touch soft things! The renunciants, because they have not been able to enjoy these things for a long time, put on the dress of a pseudo renunciant and become angry at their sense objects. They are just like a henpecked husband who quarrels with his wife. Such renunciants are dissatisfied, attached, angry cheaters.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.74.19–24:
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:
From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:
“In the beginning, you will have to chant extra rounds with no additional satisfaction except for the poor fact of numerical increase itself, and some faith that this will help.”
“If you are going to your prayer retreat in the mood of spiritual sense gratification, then you will never be able to taste the rasa of the holy name. The pure holy name produces krishna-prema—the desire to please Sri Krishna. If you do not chant seeking to please Lord Krishna and His internal energy, Srimati Radharani, then whatever you taste in japa will be an insignificant shadow of the actual taste of harer nama. (I have gathered these conclusions just after reading Sri Prema-samputa, ‘The Love Locket,’ by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, wherein the topmost form of pure love is revealed in the words spoken by Srimati Radharani.)”
“When I wrote this quote decades ago
I confessed that ‘we have no desire to chant.’
I am happy to announce that
this has changed
and now I like to do
japa and have a taste for it.
It has taken me many years of
struggle and work to attain
the position of taste.
I actually like my sixteen rounds.
I still have a long way to go
before I reach spontaneous love,
but at least I have attained a taste.”
In the kirtana of the holy name, so much mercy is easily available, but we can miss it if we do not do two things: be eager for it and appreciate it.
Our consciousness is what makes this sangha (spiritual gathering).
We want to glorify Krishna in the form of the holy name.
I pray that I can never forget the value of the association of devotees, especially when we get together for kirtana.
We have our favorite kirtana leaders and our favorite melodies, but these our secondary to attentive chanting of the holy name.
We chant from the heart because our residence or base is in the heart.
Gopal Guru Goswami has given a commentary on the maha-mantra.
With the first Krishna, we call on Krishna to attract us.
Then we call on Radha to attract us by Her sweetness.
With the “Hare Hare” we beg to be engaged in service.
The last “Rama Rama” means “please let me be fixed in your name, form, qualities, and pastimes.”
The last “Hare Hare” means “please consider me as your own and deal with me as part of your pastimes.”
What makes bhakti nectar or makes kirtana nectar is that we do it for Krishna.
Psychology Today says, “Twelve minutes of kirtana is as powerful as three hours of meditation.
One Indian magazine says, “As ginger purifies the body, kirtana purifies the mind.”
But the Vaishnavas do not think much of the selfish kinds of kirtana mentioned in these magazines.
The spiritual world is very attractive because of the kirtana.
Kirtana is an import from the spiritual world not an imitation.
When many cowherd boys offered their lap for Krishna to put His head on, Krishna expanded into as many cowherd boys as made such an offering to reciprocate with them.
Let us offer our kirtana for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and if Krishna wants, He may splash us with a few drops of the kirtana-rasa.
Several times Srila Prabhupada was asked how to best chant. Once, when questioned by Jayadvaita Swami, I believe, he replied, “Listen to yourself chant sincerely.”
Formerly yajnas (sacrifices) were performed to create auspiciousness for human society. Now such sacrifices give only partial results because chanting of the holy name is the only recommended sacrifice for this age.
The name of the Lord is very high, but He extends Himself to the lowest section. Thus we should feel gratitude.
In this age, we cannot do anything. We cannot do what was proscribed in previous ages.
In ISKCON we do deity worship, but ISKCON was started by Srila Prabhupada doing kirtana.
The chanting and the giving of the holy name to others is our only business.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, and He and His associates demonstrated the chanting.
Trinidad and Tobago is a small country, but we still have two temples, and harinama sankirtana is going on five or six days a week.
Kirtana is not a spectator sport. Participate in kirtana, and experience Krishna consciousness as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired.
Although these are names of God in the Sanskrit language, the language is not important.
In Texas they interviewed people about making Spanish an official language in addition to English.
One lady said, ‘Certainly not.’
‘Why not?’ the interviewer asked.
The lady replied, ‘Jesus spoke English.’
‘How do you know?’ asked the interviewer.
‘I read my Bible in English every day,’ replied the lady.
That is a true story.
Mantra uses the mind while tantra uses the body.
The songs you hear on the radio are not the songs they sing in the spiritual world.
The mantras are gifts to us so we can go back to the spiritual world.
The material world is like a well that we have fallen into and cannot get out of. We can only get out if someone throws us a rope. The mantra is the rope. Through the connection with the mantra we are transferred back to the spiritual world.
In Bhagavad-gita 5.29, Krishna says, “I have a sweet heart for every living entity.”
In pure vision we see every living being as a child of God.
When we are pure we can do the Lord’s will. His will is that everyone can be joyful and happy in life and to return to the spiritual world.
You do not have to believe what I say because you do not know me. I am sharing what I have experienced. If you experiment with the mantra, you can see for yourself.
If we are not joyful, we are not connected to the original source of all joy.
By chanting the mantra the darkness in the heart is extinguished, and we become enlightened. It is not immediate.
The arrangement of words in the mantra is like a poem. When we sing, we sing in poetry.
“Hare” refers to the personality of divine love who is feminine.
In Psalms it says lift up thy voice in song and glorify the Lord with drums and symbols.
As a white light appears blue or red when filtered, the divine love in our heart appears colored by lust, anger, greed, etc., so we cannot see it.
With divine love, we can mend our relationships with other people.
For the first year or so of life, you drink milk from your mother. And the rest of your life, you drink cow’s milk, so in India the cow is seen as a second mother. Just as you would not kill your mother, in India, they do not consider killing the cow.
People may be nasty with us, but we do not have to descend to that level with them. We can be cordial and respectful with them.
I had a personal audience with my spiritual master in Vrindavan. He explained that the definition of a thief is someone who takes the property of someone else and uses it for his own benefit. He said, “If you receive knowledge from me, and only use it for your own benefit, you are like a thief. So wherever you go and with whomever you meet, share whatever you have received from me with others.” And so I have been trying to do that.
We invite everyone to dance. Those who are shy, you do not have to be shy, because everyone else will be dancing.
From a class in the Bhaktivedanta Manor I heard on the internet:
Nrsimha, Rama, and Krishna are special among the manifestations of Krishna, in ascending order of greatness. This is mentioned in Laghu-bhagavatamrta.
Austerity itself is not recommend as the path, but in performing devotional service, if we encounter austerity, that is alright.
It is described that bhava can arise from sadhana, the mercy of a devotee, or the mercy of Krishna. Prema, however, is said to be caused by sadhana and the mercy of Krishna. Thus Lord Krishna, appeared Himself as Lord Caitanya to give prema.
In Caitanya-siksamrita it says a devotee gives you bhava, and by practicing sadhana in bhava, you attain prema.
If we did not love Krishna [at least to some degree], we would not be bothered that Krishna is not apparently revealing Himself to us very quickly.
Lord Caitanya is not fair. He suspends His sense of justice and gives love of Godhead to everyone without consideration. Thus He had to change from His mood as Krishna when he appeared as Lord Caitanya.
Srila Prabhupada explained that just as it is offensive to think one can become Krishna, it is offensive to think one can become Nanda Maharaja. It is a mayavada idea. Actually it is not advised even to think of becoming a gopi. Lord Brahma and Uddhava prayed to become vegetation that was trampled by the feet of the gopis.
A comment after a class at the Sheffield nama-hatta:
When I read Bhagavad-gita, I became vegetarian. Formerly I was always worried that people were out to get me, but when I became vegetarian that paranoia completely vanished.
When I am asked to give class and allowed to choose any Bhagavad-gita verse, sometimes I choose this one. Srila Prabhupada glorifies the power of hearing the Hare Krishna mantra and hearing about Krishna in general in the purport. He also mentions Lord Caitanya as advocating this hearing process:
anye tv evam ajanantah
te ’pi catitaranty eva
“Again there are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge, begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others. Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the path of birth and death.” (Bhagavad-gita 13.26)