Sunday, March 19, 2017

Travel Journal#13.5: North Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 5
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2017, part one)
North Florida
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on March 19, 2017)

Where I Went and What I Did

March got off to a great start with two harinamas the first day, one at Krishna Lunch in Gainesville during the day and the other at the Jacksonville Art Walk in the evening. The next day I chanted at Krishna Lunch, and the following day I went to Tallahassee to chant at First Friday. I stayed there, chanting at Lake Ella on the weekends and Florida State University during the week until Gaura Purnima, when I went to our festival in Alachua. That evening I went to Jacksonville to chant at University of North Florida through the middle of the March.

I share notes on classes by Mother Nanda, Sesa Prabhu, Madhava Prabhu, and Hanan Prabhu. I share notes on a group reading of Radhanath Swami’s The Journey Within, along with comments by the other listeners. I include wisdom from a conversation with Nama Kirtan Prabhu, from an introduction to a kirtana by Tulasirani Devi Dasi, and from a sign in front of a Tallahassee church.

I would like to thank Navina Shyam Prabhu for his kind donation. Thanks to Britt and all the other people who kindly gave donations on harinama in Tallahassee. Thanks to Race Smith of Florida State University for the photo of himself and me on Landis Green.

Itinerary

March 12–April 7: North and Central Florida campuses
April 8: St. Augustine Ratha-yatra
April 9–11: Washington, D.C., harinama
April 11: Philadelphia Bhakti Garden Tuesday program
April 12: Albany
April 13: New York City
April 14–19: Ireland
April 20–24: Newcastle
April 26: Radhadesh
April 27: King’s Day, Amsterdam
April 28: Rotterdam
April 29–30: Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtana
May 1–5: Newcastle
May 6: York
May 7–August 7: Europe
August 8­–16: Ottawa Vaishnava Sanga Retreat and Janmastami and Vyasa-puja
August 17–September 5: Europe
September 5–November ?: New York City
November ?– December 1: Florida
December: New York City

Chanting Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch

We were fortunate that our Gainesville Krishna House temple president, Kalakantha Prabhu, led the Hare Krishna chant at Krishna Lunch one day. Hari Priya played the drum for him (https://youtu.be/i3qsvnuMWJw):


Then Hari Priya led the Hare Krishna chant at Krishna Lunch, and Kalakantha Prabhu played the drum for her (https://youtu.be/dC8z9BOUtPw):


When it rains, Krishna Lunch moves to a walkway in front of University of Florida’s Library West, which is protected from the precipitation. When our chanting party is too loud there, we get in trouble with the library staff, thus we used the tambourine instead of the karatalas, which can easily become too loud.

Krishna Nama Prabhu leads the Hare Krishna chant at Krishna Lunch at our rainy day venue, and Abhimanyu Prabhu plays the drum for him (https://youtu.be/YG4cVOLDpqA):


Kishor Prabhu leads the Hare Krishna chant at Krishna Lunch, and Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu plays the drum for him (https://youtu.be/OdRx6FtZr0Y):


Tulasirani Devi Dasi leads the chanting of Hare Krishna, Ekayani Devi Dasi plays drum for her, and Bhakta Jorge dances with alacrity (https://youtu.be/JG9HWlvPHUI):


Chanting Hare Krishna at the Jacksonville Art Walk

After getting kicked out of the Jacksonville Art Walk several times in previous months, we became proactive and asked for a place where we could perform our group chanting of Hare Krishna. The staff granted us a place in the park, not on the street, but still a place getting significant pedestrian traffic. We chanted for 2½ hours.

Here Hare Krishna devotees from Gainesville’s Krishna House chant at the monthly Jacksonville Art Walk and different passersby, including some dressed as animals, interacted with the party (https://youtu.be/wlASiVKPi5Y):


Savanah, who happened to see me and Dorian chanting at the Art Walk back in January, was happy to sing and dance with us again. Turns out she will be moving to Gainesville for massage school in a couple of months, so she can meet the Krishna House devotees again there.

Bay talked to some really sweet people and got their contact information.

Chanting Hare Krishna at First Friday in Tallahassee


It is always nicer when the Gainesville Krishna House devotees come and chant at First Friday, but we kept the program going with Melanie and Nama Kirtan Prabhu chanting with me for part of the three hours I was there. We met people who knew the devotees for years and who were happy to encounter us again, and we met new people who were also happy to hear our chanting. 

Chanting Hare Krishna at Lake Ella in Tallahassee

On the weekends I am in Tallahassee, I chant at Lake Ella. One black girl, perhaps age 9, asked if she could play an instrument. I showed her some karatalas and demonstrated the standard one-two-three beat, and she got it right the first time. Two of her sisters came, and I showed them the beat. For a while, all three would play the karatalas in perfect time, and then someone would go off, and I would stop singing, and we would start again, and then they would all be in time for a while once again. I wished I brought my video camera to film it, but as I had too few people to sing with me that day I did not bring it. Because of that incident, I decided to always bring my camera, even when I go chanting alone. The next time I went out to Lake Ella I met a little girl who was also willing to learn the standard karatala beat (https://youtu.be/e9_vio38UgI):


I also met a guy who liked playing on the drum (https://youtu.be/7GpanoBKON8):


On the Saturday which was the day before Gaura Purnima, I spent almost eight hours at Lake Ella. Half the time I chanted japa and read Srila Prabhupada’s books on my blanket with the books, invitations, and vegan cookies on display. The other four hours I did the congregational chanting of Hare Krishna with Brahma Haridas Prabhu joining me for a little over an hour and a half and Melanie joining me for a little over an hour. At least four people gave donations just because they liked the chanting or liked what we were doing.

One young lady, who was in Tallahassee briefly to visit relatives, chanted the entire Hare Krishna mantra perfectly as she passed by me. Turns out she lives in Oakland and attends our Berkeley temple. Her father, she herself, and also her brothers and sisters are devotees. I encouraged her to sing with us, and she did (https://youtu.be/zjljDUMBCxs):


We also encouraged her relatives to take part, and while we sang a little girl, hearing the music, danced in the background (https://youtu.be/EAA0xwM9dPU):


I reminded the young devotee lady that tomorrow was Gaura Purnima, and I recommended she attend the temple when she returns to the San Francisco area the next day.

One young man whose father was a Prabhupada disciple came by. He had lived in New Vrindaban for a couple years, and he had lived in Tallahassee when Rupa Vilasa Prabhu was around, and he befriended Rupa Vilasa Prabhu’s son. He got an Isopanisad and a Higher Taste, and he wanted to get some japa beads for the girl who was with himI invited them to the temple on Gaura Purnima.

One middle-aged lady named Britt, with a jolly mood, was very happy to encounter me chanting there. She asked, “Is it true that the master appears when the disciple is ready?” I said yes, because Srila Prabhupada indicated that to be the case. She said she actually wanted to get a Bhagavad-gita and was worried she’d have to go to India to find one. I taught her the Hare Krishna mantra, and she chanted it along with me several times as I played the harmonium. She was very grateful that she was healing from cancer with chemotherapy and said she had not expected to be alive. I told her about our temple in Tallahassee, and I explained briefly who Lord Caitanya was and that many of us were going to Alachua for a big festival in honor of His appearance day the next day, and she expressed some interest in going. Wanting the Bhagavad-gita, she placed a folded bill in my hand as a donation. I looked at it, and it was a $100 bill. I gave her one copy of each of the books I had on display, a hardbound Bhagavad-gita, Science of Self-Realization, and The Nectar of Instruction. I gave her my card, and told her to write if she had questions about the books. That is only the third time in thirty years someone donated $100 on harinama. I hope she reads the books and visits the temple and finds the joy of the soul she is seeking.

Chanting Hare Krishna at Florida State University

This Florida State University student wanted to play my harmonium as he is an accordion player. After he did that we talked, and then he chanted a few Hare Krishna mantras responsively as I played harmonium. He concluded he and his girlfriend have not been meditating enough lately, and he is going to read her Bhagavad-gita over spring break.

One girl from Tampa named Christina, who got books from Adikarta Prabhu the last week in February, came by and talked to me for an hour. Adikarta told her about the Hare Krishna mantra and gave her some beads. She said she was chanting the mantra every day. I invited her to a mantra meditation class I was doing the next day, and she and a friend of hers came and chanted ten minutes of kirtana and ten minutes of japa with meNama Kirtan Prabhu talked to Christina at Krishna Lunch and invited her to the Gaura Purnima festival in Alachua. I told her I had friends from our club at University of South Florida coming from Tampa for Gaura Purnima in Alachua, and I could find her a ride to Tampa with them after the festival for the upcoming spring break. She decided to go to Gaura Purnima with us and had a great time. 

Gaura Purnima at New Raman Reti

In addition to Christina, Alex, who rents the room behind the Tallahassee temple, also came to with us to Gaura Purnima in Alachua, as did Melanie’s son, John, and his girlfriend. It was great seeing all these people getting Lord Caitanya’s mercy on His appearance day. Another fortunate soul was the roommate of a regular attender of our University of South Florida program, who had come to our Sacred Sounds event in February and liked it so much she decided to come to Gaura Purnima in Alachua. Thus by Lord Caitanya’s mercy, we see His mission is continuing to expand in America and in the West in general.

When we arrived at the Gaura Purnima festival in Alachua, there was fire sacrifice involving the small Gaura Nitai deities outside the temple and a kirtana by Godruma Prabhu of Jacksonville going on in the temple.

Then Bhadra Prabhu led the Hare Krishna chanting for almost two hours, after singing the Gaura Arati song, and devotees chanted, danced, and played musical instruments in a festive spirit (https://youtu.be/wEYQlD8BJM4):


Having the spinach paneer at the feast on Gaura Purnima is a favorite part of the festival for me. So is going to the Gaura Arati, the evening service, with an amazing kirtana of chanting the holy names after which the feast is usually served. I decided to cut out of Bhadra Prabhu’s ecstatic kirtana after an hour to get the feast, and I was amazed to find that except for the chutney, a little sauce from the Gauranga potatoes that was stuck to the container, and a couple of trays of scraps from the laddus, the entire feast was finished. I had lived in Alachua since 1994 and attended all the Gaura Purnimas except a handful of years when I was in India, and I would always get the feast after the final kirtana, but I do not ever recall ever missing out like this. I subsisted on a couple of cups of tomato chutney and a plate each of Gauranga sauce and laddu scraps. My friend, Nama Kirtan Prabhu, had intellligently brought some khichri from Tallahassee in case there was not enough prasadam. Next time I will have a friend save me a plate, so I can participate in the kirtana without disappointment.

In addition to the local Alachua Hare Krishnas, devotees from Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Tampa stayed for the Hare Krishna bhajans after the feast on Gaura Purnima led by Kirtan Premi Prabhu (https://youtu.be/8vZ4s4efXuk):


Regarding the bhajans, Feren of our Bhakti Yoga Club at the University of South Florida remarked, “Such bliss, it was unreal.”

Chanting at the Jacksonville Bhakti House

The day after Gaura Purnima, we had a record number of devotees at the Jacksonville Bhakti House morning program. In addition to Amrita Keli, Lovelesh, Youssef, Richie, Kira, and myself, there were two Lauras, both regulars at the University of North Florida Krishna Club. Laura, our first Krishna Club president, on spring break from teaching high school science, plays guitar and leads the chanting, while Laura, in the blue sari, who was celebrating her birthday, dances (https://youtu.be/MFfFr0y21rY):


At the end of Monday’s evening program at the Jacksonville Bhakti House, after everyone in the room got a chance to sing each of the three parts of a lively Village of Peace Hare Krishna tune, they all got up and danced ecstatically (https://youtu.be/ZME69idb5Z8):


Here Richie leads another morning kirtana at Krishna House and the devotees dance (https://youtu.be/PONJZ7eEoMc):


Chanting at University of North Florida

Dorian has a catchy Hare Krishna tune he likes to sing, and he took a break from his studies to chant with Hare Krishna chaplain, Amrita Keli Devi Dasi, myself and four other students from the University of North Florida Krishna Club in front of the UNF Bookstore on a rainy Monday (https://youtu.be/v_T0kHw_xw4):


I was very happy that three new students came to the University of North Florida Krishna Club weekly meeting from seeing us chanting on the campus during the week. One, a nice chap with an Irish background named Patrick who had seen me chanting on campus twice, also invited a friend. Another, a girl named McKayla, began dancing as soon as the kirtana started. It was a very joyful evening.

Here you can see Tulasirani Devi Dasi leading the Hare Krishna chanting at the Krishna Club meeting (https://youtu.be/W9P1i9JpQNg):


Chanting Hare Krishna at the Jacksonville Beach Art Walk

On a very chilly evening Laura, who is singing, and Richie, who is playing the harmonium, joined me in chanting Hare Krishna at the Jacksonville Beach Art Walk (https://youtu.be/l2yyAWPxjvg):


During the hour we chanted Hare Krishna, two people took “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlets, one man gave a dollar, and his daughter took a cookie. A few people took photos and videos, and a girl danced, as her friends took pictures of her.

Insights

Radhanath Swami:

From a group recitation of his book, The Journey Within:

Just prior to a temple opening festival in the Gaudiya Math, temple leaders banished one monk, who had become attached to a woman. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was so upset by their action, he refused to conduct the festival until that monk had been found and reinstated. After great difficulty, the devotees found the monk working in a watch maker’s shop. When he heard of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s compassion upon him, he returned, and he later became an important preacher in the Gaudiya Math.

When each member of the family is seen as a beloved child of God, taking care of them becomes a joy.

One should have good spiritually minded friends and invite them to one’s home and accept their invitations.

Focus on our higher purpose.

Even the most degraded person can become a world spiritual teacher by the power of the chanting of the holy name.

Chanting the holy names transcends all sectarian boundaries.

Everything in the material world is made of sound.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would have monks that fought sit down facing each other and enumerate the good qualities of each other so they would realize that their good qualities outnumber their supposed faults.

Comments by Amrita Keli Devi Dasi:

I saw a sign that said, “We tend to judge ourselves by our ideals and others by their acts.”

Just being a soul in a material body is very disorienting. We are all in a hospital or in a clinic.

In a spiritual community, we are focusing on the good aspirations of the other people.

Resentment is disempowering. Radhanath Swami says it is like holding a burning coal and waiting to throw it at the person you hate, while in the meantime it is burning you.

I had ideals to benefit others, but I knew that I did not have the potency myself to become the ideal person I wanted to be. I see by the power of the holy name it is possible.

Comment by Misti:

I was interacting with someone, and it was unusually tense. I decided to be grateful and thank the person for all the things I liked about her. The interaction changed dramatically for the positive, and the tension never reappeared.

We have to really practice honesty as this society conditions us in so many ways to present a false image of ourselves.

Comment by Youssef:

I like to share even little things I have issues with. Just to be able to laugh at insignificant things I have difficulties with helps to get past them.

Comment by Laura:

I can trace dissatisfication to my lack of attention to my spiritual practice. But is miraculous just coming to the morning program once so many dissatisfactions are eliminated.

If the relationship is more important, it may be worth it to give up having your way in particular instance. 

Comment by Lovelesh:

The mind needs to be heard. If you can keep a journal where you note down the mind’s voice so it is heard, it will stop annoying you.

There are four kinds of people:
1.    Those who only see the good in others.
2.    Those who only see the bad in others.
3.    Those who see both good and bad in others but who magnify the good. 
4.    Those who see both good and bad in others but who magnify the bad. 

Mother Nanda:

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Dhenukasura is the example of material intelligence rooted in the bodily concept of life. Balarama, as the original guru, can shake us up out of the bodily concept of life.

Mother Narayani explains that Bhaktivinoda Thakura indicates that by repeatedly hearing a particular pastime one overcomes the anartha exemplified by the demon in that pastime.

Radhanath Swami explains the fruits from the tal trees symbolize the fruits that we are unable to offer to Krishna because of our bodily concept of life.

Dhenukasura’s plan to was send the tal fruits to Kamsa because he was an associate of Kamsa. 

People in the bodily concept of life carry the burden of their karmic reactions life after life.

Comment by Kalakantha Prabhu:

The Dhenukasura pastime has three special features:
1.    Dhenukasura is killed by Lord Balarama not Lord Krishna.
2.    Dhenukasura is killed outside Vrindavan.
3.    Dhenukasura did not first approach Krishna and Balarama to attack Them.

Comment by me:

Your point that materialists are never satisfied no matter what they attain reminds me of one Bhagavad-gita purport where Srila Prabhupada writes, “In the mode of passion, people become greedy, and their hankering for sense enjoyment has no limit. One can see that even if one has enough money and adequate arrangements for sense gratiļ¬cation, there is neither happiness nor peace of mind. That is not possible, because one is situated in the mode of passion. If one wants happiness at all, his money will not help him; he has to elevate himself to the mode of goodness by practicing Krishna consciousness.” (Bhagavad-gita 14.17, purport)

Sesa Prabhu:

That the Supreme Personality of Godhead is all-lovable is the real glory of Krishna not His majesty.

Krishna is not God because He can kill you but because He loves you.

Krishna uses His supreme power to deliver Kaliya and not to kill him.

The different sportive activities which Krishna’s friends performed with Him are called anubhava in The Nectar of Devotion. Dancing is an important one of these.

Kaliya, rather than being a disturbance, actually increased the ecstasy of Krishna’s friends, who observed His sportive activities in play with the serpent.

Krishna was held by Kaliya in his coils for two hours. The fear for Krishna’s safety experienced by the residents of Vrindavana increased their attachment for Him.

Anugraha or compassion is the mood of the devotees in the parental rasa or relationship. The natural reaction of Mother Yashoda was to enter the water to protect Krishna.

By doing the same activities, the one person Krishna was nourishing a variety a different relationships with His different devotees.

If you only want shanti, shanti, shanti [peace, peace, peace], do not come to Krishna consciousness. Krishna likes to churn our emotions.

Krishna’s dancing on the hoods of the serpent was also meant to please the young damsels of Vrindavan, who were beginning to develop love for Him, purva-raga. 

Madhava Prabhu:

The Brahma-vimohana-lila pastime not only has some sweet descriptions of Krishna and His devotees, but there are many very important philosophical points, especially in Brahma’s prayers.

In a lecture Srila Prabhupada praises the poetic genius in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.58:

samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
 mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam
 padam padam yad vipadam na tesam

So much beautiful alliteration is there!

You can say that vipadam meaning ‘miseries’ literally means ‘misstep.’

Our real danger is forgetfulness of Krishna.

Nama Kirtan Prabhu:

From a conversation:

In Los Angeles, a book distributor friend would tell me, “Every day is a good day in Krishna consciousness, even it seems like a bad day.”

Tulasirani Devi Dasi:

From an introduction to a kirtana at the University of North Florida Krishna Club:

Mantra meditation is easy and has great potency. It makes your heart lighter and more full. Even if you do not know what the words mean, it will have a powerful effect. Very easily the mind can be be controlled by listening to a sound vibration.

Hanan:

From a class on Sri Caitanya-caritamrita at the Gainesville Krishna House:

Although Raghunath das Goswami was the most renounced of the Goswamis, eating practically nothing, he took on the enormous task of renovating Radha Kund.

I went to Radha Kund with a group of devotees who were cleaning Radha Kund. I felt very satisfied just doing the cleaning work. When we finished, the time had come when no one bathes in Radha Kund, so we could not take bath, but I was so happy from cleaning Radha Kund I did not mind not bathing there.

Jayadvaita Swami said that doing service is the visa for entering a holy place.

People, especially at holy places, will tell us so many things about Krishna, but we can ask them, “Where is that described in the revealed literature?”

Maya is working with Krishna, not against Krishna. She wants to make sure we are making spiritual progress.

The reason we are here in the material world is not Maya and is not Krishna, but fully our use of our free will.

Comments by Tulasirani Devi Dasi:

We can’t blame maya for us being in maya. We are choosing not to be so Krishna conscious at that time.

Much, much worse than being in maya and thinking you are in maya is being in maya and thinking you are really Krishna conscious.

On harinama at a football game, even though surrounded by drunken fans, when I am seeing all the Jagais and Madhais chanting and dancing in the kirtana of Lord Caitanya’s devotees, I feel as if I am in the holy dhama.

Comment by Ekayani Devi Dasi: When I was in school, I had one teacher who made us pray before class. That prayer changed the whole atmosphere.

Lakeview Baptist Church pastor:

The lesson you teach is the life you live.

-----

With the recent holidays of Nityananda Tryodasi and Gaura Purnima, seeing the special mercy newcomers to Krishna bhakti have received on these auspicious appearance days of Lord Nityananda and Lord Caitanya, when I see Their deity forms I think of this first stanza of Locan das Thakura’s song “Sri Sri Gaura Nityanander Daya” and I feel gratitude to Them for Their mercy and Their joyful process of self-realization:

parama koruna, pahu dui jana
nitai gauracandra
saba avatara-sara siromani
kevala ananda-kanda


“Lord Nitai and Lord Gauracandra are very merciful. They are the essence of all incarnations. The specific significance of these incarnations is that They introduced a process of chanting and dancing that is simply joyful.”

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Travel Journal#13.4: North and Central Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 4
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2017, part two)
North and Central Florida
(Sent from Tallahassee, Florida, on March 4, 2017)

Where I Went and What I Did

After returning to Gainesville from Jacksonville, I stayed at Krishna House for five days, chanting at the University of Florida during Krishna Lunch during the days and with the Alachua devotees Friday evening at the University of Florida entrance. During that visit I made two day trips, one to University of South Florida in Tampa with Ramiya Prabhu and Ananta Devi and another to Jacksonville with the Krishna House devotees to chant with the Jacksonville and Alachua devotees at the stadium before the Monster Truck Jam. Both Sundays I attended the Sunday feast program in Alachua. I went to Tallahassee with Adikarta Prabhu for three days to chant at the campus of Florida State University. Adikarta found many nice students interested in books there. I stayed in Gainesville for the last four days of the month, taking a day trip to Tampa for a sacred sounds event at the University of South Florida on Saturday, chanting for four hours at Active Streets in Gainesville on Sunday, and chanting two days at Krishna Lunch.

I share a quote from Srila Prabhupada’s commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam and notes on several of his lectures. I include a quote from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name.
I share notes on classes by Adikarta, Kalakantha, Nagaraja, Puskara, Trivikrama, Kaliya Damona, Caitanya Candra, Hari Parayana, Rupachandra and Tulasirani Prabhus. I also share notes on a lecture on time management by Rupachandra Prabhu. I also share comments from Brahmatirtha Prabhu during a breakfast conversation, from Lilananda Prabhu during a sacred sounds event, from Anantasesa Vaisnavi Dasi during a restaurant conversation, and from Murali Gopal Prabhu during a Bhaktivedanta Institute meeting. In particular Caitanya Carana Prabhu made lots of nice points in his lectures.

Thanks to Vishnu-priya Devi Dasi of Jacksonville for her very generous donation. Thanks to Adikarta Prabhu for the ride from Alachua to Tallahassee and back. Thanks to Manorama Prabhu for his photos of the Alachua devotees chanting at the University of Florida entrance.

Itinerary

March 3–11: Tallahassee
March 12–April 8: North and Central Florida campuses
April 9–11: Washington, D.C.
April 12: Albany
April 13: New York City
April 14–August 7: Europe
August 8­–16: Ottawa Sanga Retreat and Janmastami and Vyasa-puja
August 17–September 5: Europe
September 5–November ?: New York City
November ?– December 1: Florida
December: New York City

Sacred Sounds Event at University of South Florida

Uma Devi Dasi, who started our Bhakti Yoga Society at the University of South Florida, also began to have a Sacred Sounds event each semester. I was always unable to come, so I was happy that this year’s event, organized by Ramiya Prabhu, happened when I was in the area and could attend it.


The high point for me was the dancing. Regular attenders of our University of South Florida Bhakti Yoga Club, members of our Tampa congregation, and brand new people all danced together, and it was beautiful to see (https://youtu.be/XqPNXmrnGJM):



At the weekly programs, our kirtanas were more subdued, but at our sacred sounds event, because of all the devotees, there was a lot of energy which inspired the students to dance. Many of them had never danced in a kirtana before.

Lilananda Prabhu, Upendra Hari Prabhu, Devala, and Pranaya Keli were among the devotees from Alachua who came to chant at the program.

Here Lilananda Prabhu sings (https://youtu.be/Aihdlg3QUqQ):


Here Pranaya Keli sings (https://youtu.be/CT9Iw6jPT9g):


Before our chanting, some Indian students at the university did a very lively bhangra dance from Punjab (https://youtu.be/jIJ7tL6MFfo):


Thanks to all the students who helped organize the program and to everyone who came. Special thanks to Ramiya Prabhu, the inspiration and hard work behind it.

Chanting Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch


For at least two hours devotees chant Hare Krishna while about a thousand students eat Krishna Lunch each weekday.

Kishor Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/FdA5NTe9ap4):


Hari Priya, daughter of Yadubara and Visakha Prabhus, leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/-JTWB__2Rkc):


After cooking the Krishna Lunch, Radha Govinda Prabhu frequently chants while it is served on the campus, at least for an hour, and often leads the chanting on those days (https://youtu.be/YrAE7_uVUwk):


The next week Radha Govinda Prabhu also led a lively kirtana at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/EflmzEz9pmM):


When Adikarta Prabhu is leading the chanting of Hare Krishna, he likes to give everyone present the chance to lead for one mantra. Here he and his friends chant Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/TdtCwXHOWz8):


Purusartha Prabhu is a Srila Prabhupada disciple who played music before becoming a devotee.  Here he chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/BEqFfQu1wwo):


I noticed one older couple, Dave and Lynn, who sat on chairs facing our chanting party. I spoke to Dave and learned his daughter is vegetarian, and she invited him to the Thanksgiving Day dinner at Govinda’s restaurant. He liked both the food and the music, and thus he came to Krishna House looking for more. At the house they told him if he wanted the live music along with the food, he would have come out to the campus, and so they did. I told them about the kirtanas at Govinda’s every Tuesday with a free dinner afterward, and perhaps they will attend those too.

One Swiss couple looked from a distance at the Krishna Lunch with its chanting party for a while, and I decided to speak to them. The man was amazed that we could do that on a campus. I explained that we could do it because we started back in 1971. There are people on the faculty and administration that enjoyed Krishna Lunch when they were students. We tried recently starting a program at University of North Florida, and the administration would permit us to do one day a week, but the food service company would only let us do one day a month, so we were unable do it

Alachua Hare Krishnas Chant at University of Florida Entrance


I attended the Friday evening harinama of the Alachua Hare Krishna devotees at the University of Florida entrance the last two Fridays in February. Here are some videos clips from the last one (https://youtu.be/Lr8lsgy0zb8):


Although the devotees always have a good time chanting together in public often there are extra special moments.

Mike brought his saxophone, which added to the musical aspect of the party. At one point, he was so inspired he mounted a pillar and played atop it:


Here Mormon elders danced with our party (https://youtu.be/BKverOs-Kzg):



Here a Hungarian lady delights in dancing with the Alachua Hare Krishnas at the University of Florida entrance (https://youtu.be/l27l8wXOuOo):


Amazed by her openness and boldness to dance with our party, I asked her if she had previous experience with Hare Krishna. She said she knew the devotees from a large music festival in Hungary known as Sziget. She had also visited our rural community in Hungary known as New Vraja Dhama. 


She was having a bad day, and the joy of meeting the devotees and dancing with them pulled her out of her depression.

Chanting Hare Krishna Before the Monster Truck Jam in Jacksonville

Hare Krishna devotees from Alachua, Gainesville, and Jacksonville chanted Hare Krishna before the Monster Truck Jam at Jacksonville’s Everbank stadium. Krishna Keshava, Godruma, and Abhimanyu Prabhu led the chanting in this video in that order (https://youtu.be/plHJSaujZKA):


I encountered a few people happy to get our free literature, and book distributors sold a few books.

Chanting Hare Krishna at the Alachua Sunday Feast

Here Adikarta Prabhu leads chanting of Hare Krishna at the Alachua Sunday Feast (https://youtu.be/D1N1vvTbuO0):


Bhadra Prabhu chants Hare Krishna while the Alachua Sunday Feast is being served (https://youtu.be/7C7yljoIDi4):


Amala Harinam Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna after the Alachua Sunday Feast (https://youtu.be/fvyv68yFaPQ):


The next week, Godruma Prabhu, led the Sunday Feast kirtana (https://youtu.be/4pL7-B-CGmY):


After the feast, Upendra Hari Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/LDPL1dXzsO4):


And then Adikarta Prabhu led the chanting, switching off with a Vaishnava youth lady, Yamuna, who has a pretty voice (https://youtu.be/FsPjiJv8MQw):


Abhaya, the younger brother of Kishor and Ananta Gauranga, led the chanting at the final arati of Radha-Shyamasundara (https://youtu.be/Y_U9EmgO3zg):


In addition to the Sunday feast, I occasionally attended the morning program at the Alachua temple.

Here Nagaraja Prabhu, editor of Back to Godhead magazine, chants Hare Krishna in guru-puja kirtana in Alachua and many devotees dance (https://youtu.be/NMs37beeD7A):


Friday Evening Krishna House Kirtana

Here Kalakantha Prabhu, Krishna House president, leads the chanting of Hare Krishna beginning the Friday evening program  (https://youtu.be/6wnItJO8g1M):


Because the light was dim and I zoomed in instead of positioning the camera closer to the party, the technical quality of the video is not that great but the chanting is great, both the lead and the response, so I included it anyway.

Is Science Enough?


“Is Science Enough?” is certainly a question to grab my attention. Those aware of our spiritual existence know that material science alone cannot satisfy our deepest need, to connect with our divine source. However, there is another science for that. Mathematician and practitioner of bhakti-yoga, Richard L. Thompson (Sadaputa Dasa) wrote a book called Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science introducing bhakti-yoga as a spiritual science. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita, “adyatma-vidya vidyanam – of all sciences, I am the spiritual science of the self.” Srila Prabhupada subtitles his summary study of Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu called The Nectar of Devotion, “The Complete Science of Bhakti-Yoga.” He also produced a collection of essays and interviews entitled Science of Self-Realization.

The girls in the picture above, in addition to reminding us that material science is not enough, show their willingness to eat Krishna Lunch, and thus engage, knowingly or unknowingly, in taking Krishna prasadam, an important part of the nonmechanistic science of bhakti-yoga.


In “Is Science Enough?” MIT professor Troy Van Voorhis discusses the question, “Can science and faith be compatible?” Such talks are promoted by The Veritas Forum.

According to their web site, www.veritas.org, “The Veritas Forum helps students and faculty ask life’s hardest questions. Many of the world’s leading universities were founded to answer the big ‘why’ questions. Our mission is to help them confront these questions anew. The first Veritas Forum was planned by students, faculty and chaplains at Harvard University in 1992. Since then, over 200 universities in North America and Europe have hosted over 2,000 Forums.  The Veritas Forum is committed to courageous conversations. We place the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invite participants from all backgrounds to pursue Truth together.”

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

“We actually see that there are many Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and religionists of other cults who adhere to their religious principles very nicely but are not equal to all living entities. Indeed, although they profess to be very religious, they kill poor animals. Such religion has no meaning.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.8.21, purport)

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.29 given in Los Angeles on October 4, 1972:

Do not think that the incarnations of Krishna are less powerful than Krishna.

God is everywhere. You simply have to purify your eyes to see God. He is within your heart.

To purify the eyes is meditation.

People ask how to see God. God is everywhere. You do not like to see Him. That is the difficulty.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.30 in Los Angeles at October 5, 1972:

“So you have got the creative power, God has got the creative power. But God’s creative power cannot be compared with your creative power. You have got the creative power, but not exactly like God. This is the conclusion. You cannot become God. You can imitate or you can do something very little. Just like little children, they play with little toys. Similarly, you can play with little toys and advertise yourself great scientist. That’s all. But you are nothing. You are nothing. This is to be realized. This is called bhakti-yoga. The rascals are puffed up, ‘I am God.’ Foolishly. How you can be God? You may have some qualities, very minute quality of God, but you cannot claim that you are God.”

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.8 in New Vrindaban on May 4, 1969:

If God is pleased, the whole world is pleased. This knowledge is lacking.

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

“Srila Prabhupada describes the state of feeling unqualified and yet desiring Krishna’s association. In Teachings of Lord Caitanya, he quotes Sanatana Gosvami: na prema sravanadi-bhaktir, ‘. . . I have no asset for hearing . . . ’ Yet he maintains hopes of achieving Krishna, the darling of the damsels of Vraja, ‘and these hopes are always disturbing me.’ Srila Prabhupada comments, ‘Such a devotee, being touched deeply by such strong desires, always chants Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.’ (Teachings of Lord Caitanya, p. 139)” (Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name)

Adikarta Prabhu:

Different famous people knew of Bhagavad-gita and read it. J. Robert Oppenheimer quoted from it when the atom bomb exploded, “Time I am, the destroyer of worlds.” (Bg. 11.32) The amazing thing is after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the death of half a million people, they gave Oppenheimer the Noble Peace Prize. That shows how sick their understanding of peace is.

As a rich person has a butler, a baker, a chauffeur, etc., Krishna, the Supreme Person, can engage people in different ways.

As when a king visits a prison, he does not come in as a prisoner, similarly when Krishna comes to this world, He is not like one of us.

This world is like a dungeon, but we like it because we do not know what the spiritual world, the real world, is like.

Although in the West there is a lot of permissiveness and people engage in sinful activities, there is freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and therefore people have the opportunity to hear about Krishna, and so we are very fortunate.

The saints wrote these books because they wanted to see everyone happy.

Spiritual life is easy, but you have be very determined.

By our chanting Hare Krishna, Krishna is happy because we are finally turning to Him. In Brhad-bhagavatamritam, Krishna tells how happy He is that Gopa Kumar finally turned to Him.

Along with getting happiness in Krishna consciousness, you also get knowledge. 

The night blooming lotus is especially meant for Krishna’s dance at night with His friends.

Srila Prabhupada said, “They should give Krishna the Nobel Prize because He is the best designer.”

Srila Prabhupada created ISKCON to give shelter to people who want to make spiritual progress.

Krishna likes to have different moods and different relationships with His devotees.

Krishna is easy to obtain. He is always ready to make Himself available to the devotees.

We have to surround ourselves with Krishna’s paraphernalia to remember Him.

If we chant even inattentively we connect with Krishna and progress.

The devotees want to keep Krishna present in their lives.

There are so many books by the Goswamis, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Narottama Dasa Thakura, Kavi Karnapura, etc., just to help us attain Krishna.

There are so many stories in the Bhagavatam of different people who have different difficulties on their path of self-realization that we can learn from and increase our determination.

Sometimes Krishna hides to increase the sincerity of the devotee or to increase the love of the devotee.

Most people are not fortunate enough to have complete faith in Krishna.

People have to learn by suffering because they are not willing to hear philosophy or listen to some preacher.

One football manager publicly said that bad things are a result of karma, and people found that so objectionable he lost his job.

Q (by me): You have convinced a few students to become devotees. What do you say to them?
A: I go to the same places because people need association. Go out there, and make yourself available.

Hearing about Krishna, we become attracted Him because He is absolute. No one can be is nice as Krishna, and the more we hear about Him, the more we understand how that is true.

The Japanese worshiped the sun, the Egyptians worshiped the sun, and Krishna says He originally spoke the message of Bhagavad-gita to the sun god.

In most religions, persons who actually want to know details about God’s personality are actually very rare.

I went to India a couple of times before I was a devotee. At that time lots of hippies were visiting India.  

I talked to a guy whose girlfriend died of a drug overdose, whose best friend died in a car accident, and who tried to kill himself driving 100 m.p.h. while both stoned and drunk on I-75 and got in an accident, but who walked away from it unharmed. I gave him a book and hoped he would come to this program tonight. You just have to be detached because people in the material world are crazy.

The dharma of the soul is to be the eternal servant of God. It is not to be Christian, Muslim, or Hindu.

Krishna may not fulfill your material desires because he has a better plan for you, so you have to be open to that.

Brahmatirtha Prabhu:

From a breakfast conversation:

A research study concludes that the evangelical fundamentalists have a higher rate of teenage pregnancy than the other Christian groups. Because there is such negative energy about sexuality among evangelical fundamentalists, the kids tend to vacillate from chastity to indulgence.

Too much separation between men and women increases tension, and too much mingling increases tension. Srila Prabhupada saw this, and therefore, he intelligently allowed men and women to be together but not intimately.

I personally noticed when the swamis came back from India to our New York temple on Henry Street and forced separation of the sexes, it destroyed the relaxed atmosphere between men and women that existed previously.

Srila Prabhupada’s disciple, Nitai, associated with some people who criticized Srila Prabhupada’s guru, although Srila Prabhupada told him not to, and thus he developed a similar mentality. Srila Prabhupada banned Nitai from ISKCON and referred to him as “a black snake.” That is well known, but what many people do not know is after some time passed, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Nitai, “All is forgiven. Come back and be my Sanskrit secretary again.” Unfortunately for Nitai, he did not do it.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

From a Krishna House ista-goshti:

The Queen of England attended the opening of the first Krishna Avanti school in England. They read the third verse of the “Siksastakam” to her, describing how one who is more tolerant than a tree and more humble than a blade of grass, who asks for no respect but respects all, can always chant the holy name of God, and she replied, “Wouldn’t that be lovely?”

At the Krishna Avanti schools students are required to chant one round of japa and attend one arati.

An ecotourist award was won by Radhanath Swami’s eco village in Maharashtra.

One in a thousand, or 0.1%, of religion institutions last four generations. The chart below shows that with each successive generation some aspect of the mission is lost, beginning with intent.

Generation
Issues
Instructions
Context
Intent
First
Issues
Instructions
Context
Intent
Second
Issues
Instructions
Context

Third
Issues
Instructions


Fourth
Issues




Two major challenges in ISKCON:
1. Lack of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books.
2. Lack of qualified leadership

Solving lack of reading challenge:
1. Personal vows.
2. Study groups.
3. Bhakti Sastri courses.

Lack of qualified leaders:
1. GBC College, which has been going on for three years

The initial GBC was 100% American. Now it is 60% American. Of those in the GBC college now, none are Americans, yet they come from all other parts of the world. 

The Krishna House is successful in bringing educated Americans to ISKCON.

The mission of Krishna House:
Introductory practice of Krishna consciousness
8 rounds, low cultural expectations
encouragement, support, acceptance
no commitment beyond currect semester
We hope to bring people from sraddha to anartha-nivrtti.

Graduate options:
Degree, job, marriage, family
Brahmacari / brahmacarini book distribution
Sustenance farming / preaching – Krishna House International in Guyana
Business [Govinda’s], marriage, family

If anyone was Srila Prabhupada’s right hand man it was Tamal Krishna Goswami.

There was a paper in which Tamal Krishna Goswami said he was responsible for importing the Indian cultural values and enforcing them upon Western people.

To reduce politics we can:
Emphasize coming together for classes, field trips and harinama.
Teach straightforwardness.

To accept the 1972 Gita with its errors is OK and to accept the 1983 Gita with its changes is OK, but to say the editing was unauthorized and is an offense to Srila Prabhupada, and that therefore, ISKCON, the BBT, and the GBC, are all offenders to Srila Prabhupada is aparadha, or offense, to many sincere followers of Srila Prabhupada who have dedicated their lives to his service.

Any topic is open for discussion, no matter how controversial. This helps politics decrease.

I became a guru five years ago. When you become a guru, you set yourself up to be disappointed if your disciples leave.

Comments by Brahmatirtha Prabhu: I was in a temple where the most crazy things went on. The temple president was a sannyasi, and then he got married, and Srila Prabhupada performed the ceremony. The temple president’s wife would offer chicken to Radha Govinda. It sort of innoculated me from craziness in ISKCON. Nothing I encountered in the future was quite that crazy. I learned a lot from how Srila Prabhupada dealt with that situation. He praised those who put a stop to the craziness and those who continued with their services despite it, and he chastised those leaders who allowed it to happen.

Comment by Kaliya Damona Prabhu: At a Rainbow Gathering I once asked Radhanath Swami why he stayed at New Vrindavan, although Kirtanananda Swami was doing so many unusual, nonstandard things.
Radhanath Swami replied, “When a devotee has difficulties, other devotees should not push him down. Instead they should support him.”

From a class on Bhagavad-gita:

A brahmacari lives in the ashram of the spiritual master, and the grhastha creates his own ashram.

Ideally it is progress to enter grhastha life, because one takes responsibility for others.

The spiritual master reveals the best way for us to serve Krishna.

Part of life is learning what you are good at, what can you do for a long time without any real endeavor.

Arjuna goes through so many moods in the Bhagavad-gita. He is so human. He confidently orders Krishna to drive his chariot in the midst of the armies. He is overcome with compassion seeing his friends and relatives on the other side. Then he becomes exasperated and gives up trying to figure it out, and he surrenders to Krishna.

When we choose to go to Krishna, despite our different personal considerations, Krishna will reciprocate and come to us.

The jnani wants to know everything, and once he knows everything, he agrees to surrender. The bhakta wants to surrender, and by surrendering, he comes to know everything.

Lilananda Prabhu:

One Indian student did not do well academically and decided to commit suicide. He tried to hang himself, but the rope broke. He tried to poison himself, but the rat poison was imitation. He decided to have a train run over him, but the train was delayed 6 hours. He gave up, deciding that God wanted him to live.

Nagaraja Prabhu:

Srimad-Bhagavatam is considered to be truth.

Srila Prabhupada in his poem on the boat expressed faith that the words of Srimad-Bhagavatam had the power to change people’s hearts.

Vyasa split up the Vedic knowledge so different sages could specialize in it.

Even God’s literary incarnation had a spiritual master.

Narada told the dissatisfied Vyasa in effect, “Spread the name and fame of the Lord. Be explicit and expansive in your description.”

Srila Prabhupada said that people have always looked to India for spiritual knowledge.

Mundane literature has value for our lives in this world but these do not last forever.

People have an appreciation of features of goodness such as morality but as far as transcendence or connecting with God, the aim of the yoga system, not so much interest is there.

Srila Prabhupada often called for his comrades in India to help him spread India’s spiritual message to benefit the world. 

Although Srila Prabhupada had so many challenges, he always pressed on. He never gave up. It was the mission his spiritual master had given. There was no question of giving up.

He had absolute faith in the holy name of Krishna.

Indologists cannot make sense out of the vast Vedic literature.

The Srimad-Bhagavatam, step by step, almost imperceptibly, leads us to higher levels of realization. It is in a class by itself. It is called the amala purana.

We think the creator is God, but Krishna is the creator of the creator.

Lord Brahma is like a candle compared to the sun of Lord Krishna.

The Bhagavatam is very encouraging literature.

Talks of Krishna are Krishna as the Hare Krishna mantra is Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada often advised in his lectures, regarding the Bhagavatam, “Please take this seriously.”

Puskara Prabhu:

We may foolish think that Krishna needs our offering, but in reality, Krishna is self-sufficient.

Srila Prabhupada said his disciples dressed the deities in Hawaii so beautifully that anyone visiting from India would be impressed. The devotees have no qualification. How have they done this? Prabhupada explained that Krishna had inspired them in the heart.

If we were to get the glances of those sixteen thousand queens, we would not last very long, but Krishna was completely undisturbed.

All the oceans we can think of as tears because there is so much crying go on in the material world, but it is dried up by the glance of the Lord. It is said, “A yogi should similarly meditate on the most benevolent smile of Lord Sri Hari, a smile which, for all those who bow to Him, dries away the ocean of tears caused by intense grief.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.28.32)

We are constantly trying to enjoy that which Krishna considers insignificant.

Comment by Pran Govinda Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada said if you want to know the Radha Krishna pastimes, study this song by Srinivasa Acarya “Sad Goswamyastaka.”

Srila Prabhupada wanted us to all come to the level of Goswami, especially the devotees in Vrindavan, and especially our leaders there.

Srila Prabhupada gave you more than you can do in millions of lifetimes. People say Srila Prabhupada did not give us this or that. First do whatever Srila Prabhupada gave and then ask for more.

If we do not get reciprocation, we should think, I am not doing much service.

Srila Prabhupada said we should not be envious of others. We should simply think that Krishna wants them to that service.

Jiva Goswami quotes the same verses in the different sandarbhas and reveals them in different ways.

The more we consider the verses and the pastimes, the more we get Krishna prema [love of God].

After Srila Prabhupada printed The Nectar of Devotion, he said, “Don’t come to me asking questions. Read it over again.”

When I first joined, I heard devotees speak of detachment, but I saw everyone there just seemed to be becoming attached to Krishna.

In Los Angeles, in one second Srila Prabhupada looked around the room, and all present experienced that Srila Prabhupada glanced at them.

Jayadvaita Swami tells one story: In one Delhi spiritual program, an industrial fan was blowing so loud no one could hear the speakers. Srila Prabhupada motioned for Jayadvaita Swami to turn it off, but when he heard the speaker was presenting a bogus philosophy, he motioned for Jayadvaita Swami to turn it back on!

Trivikrama Prabhu:

I had a doubt. If Krishna came to reestablish religion, why did Krishna appear at the end of Dvapara-yuga? After many years an answer occurred to me which is supported by today’s verse: “My dear Lord, those pious and saintly persons who in the age of Kali hear about Your transcendental activities and also glorify them will easily cross over the darkness of the age.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.6.24) Lord Krishna came to establish religious principles for those in the age of Kali.

In a conversation with Sita, Lord Rama spoke about Kali-yuga. He explained that in Kali-yuga there is no place for a sadhu. Everyone will be engaged in sinful activities. There will be some karma and dharma, but there will be no sharma [peace of mind, happiness, delight, good fortune].

In this age we have an opinion about everything, and we think we do not need to follow the scriptures.

King Yayati is famous as the father of Yadu, in whose dynasty Krishna appeared. Devayani, the wife of Yayati, is not so well known, so I will tell you about her. Devayani is the daughter of Sukracarya, the guru of demons. Kaca, the son of Brhaspati, the guru of the demigods, studied in the ashram of Sukracarya. Devayani fell in love with Kaca, while he was studying in the ashram. The demons were envious of Kaca, and they killed him, but Sukracarya brought him back to life. The demons killed him again and cut his body into pieces, but Sukracarya again brought him back to life. The demons again killed Kaca and mixed his body in a liquid which they fed to Sukracarya, in order that Sukracarya could not bring him back to life again. Devayani was cursed to not marry a brahmana, and that is why she ended up marrying Yayati, a king.

Kaliya Damona Prabhu:

Without humility, you cannot understand anything.

If you serve others with the same enthusiasm as you serve your guru, the “Siksastakam” will come alive for you.

In both Vedic and Hawaiian traditional life, there are prayers for planting and watering the crops.

In our different activities we can be conscious of acting in such a way as to be of service others. Clean the food out of the sink. Do not leave your shoes in the doorway.

It is good to say your marriage vows every month to keep it alive.

As devotees, we are supposed to be exemplary in the eyes of the public. That is a great responsibility.

Comment by Ekayani Devi Dasi: Your chanting improves your service, and your service improves your chanting.

If you are having a problem with a certain devotee, you can choose to consider that devotee to be your best teacher.

When we do not do the the things that Srila Prabhupada advised us to do each day, we lose our taste, and then we have to recommit ourselves.

We have to present things so the people we are advising do not have a false ego flare up.

Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: Both the service and the offenses are increased by 1,000 times in Vrindavan.

Caitanya Carana Prabhu:

From a Friday night Krishna House program:

Bhagavad-gita is the eye to see the “I.”

According to our conception of ourself we choose a course of action and aspire for a certain destiny.

We experience conflict when our conception of ourself is not compatible with our activities. If one goes to the university seeking a marriage partner, he may find his studies are getting in the way.

Before we can do time management, we have to do identity management.

Arjuna is challenged because of conflicting identities, as a ksatriya meant to protect dharma in society and as a Kuru meant to protect his family members.

Some people say religion is the cause of war, but most of the biggest wars in human history had nothing to do with religion.

Arjuna does not ask Krishna whether he should fight or not fight but rather, “What is dharma?”

Activities which restore us to the natural order of things are dharma, the duty that brings us back to our nature.

“What is dharma?” is the question that makes Bhagavad-gita universal.

Although Krishna speaks over six hundred verses, no more than six have to do with the fight.

Is Arjuna a ksatriya or a Kuru? You can say both, and you can also say neither.

In addition to knowing who we are, it is important to know whose we are. Krishna says all souls are part of Him.

Most religious scriptures are someone speaking about God, but Bhagavad-gita is God speaking about Himself.

Bhagavad-gita describes that God is a being who manifests at different levels.

Although people are not attracted to the external practice of renunciation, they are attracted to the result of renunciation, peace of mind.

There are universal characteristics of God, and in Bhagavad-gita we see the personal identity of God, Krishna, who has these characteristics.

In the story of the prodigal son, the word ‘prodigal’ means wasteful.

When Europeans went to India, they saw the worship of many gods and assumed it was similar to pre-Christian worship of many gods as in Rome or Greece. The different gods have different responsibilities. But reading the Bhagavad-gita, it is clear there is one Supreme God.

In the West, there is a conception that there is one true God, and all other Gods are false. Thus the Isis people destroy all shrines of any other religion, even other branches of Islam.

Krishna is not a jealous God. He says, “If you do not want to worship Me, you can worship another god, and I will make your faith in that god steady.” (Bhagavad-gita 7.21–22).

These devatas (demigods) can be seen as representatives of the Supreme Lord.

For people who are completely godless, worship of the devatas  is a step up, but for one engaged in the worship of the Supreme Lord, worship of the devatas is step backwards.

Other identities, besides being a servant of God, are dependent on changing circumstances, and they are ultimately a cause of frustration.

We may have a plan for our life, based on a temporary identity, that is completely frustrated, but if we are fixed in our eternal identity, then our bewilderment will only be temporary, and we will not be discouraged.

Srila Prabhupada was asked, “What is the best prayer?”
He replied, “Please give me the strength to serve You.”

God is the greatest person, so serving Him is a great thing. Just like if someone works for Apple Computer, he is proud because he is working for a great company.

Although in Bhagavad-gita 2.13, Krishna explains to Arjuna that he is not his body, in the very next verse, he calls Arjuna the by names Kaunteya and Bharata, hoping to inspire him in dharma by reminding him of his great heritage from both his mother’s and his father’s families. That heritage is based on the temporary body, but Krishna uses it to motivate Arjuna to act for the eternal dharma of the soul.

From a Monday Srimad-Bhagavatam class at Krishna House:

I will speak on going from grudges to gratitude.

The bad things that happen to us do not hurt us as much as our resentment caused by them.

This resentment is like a wall preventing ourselves from moving forward.

We repeatedly think about the incident, and our resentment only increases.

A theme in Srimad-Bhagavtam is “God’s power to heal is greater than the world’s power to hurt.” The Bhagavatam begins with injustice of the cursing of the innocent King Pariksit. The solution given to the problem is to raise one’s consciousness toward God.

It is part of our duty to try to make a stable situation for our service.

It is important to see the universal application of the issue and not get absorbed in the details.

Resentment blocks us from accessing God’s power to heal.

I summarize Bhagavatam verses in five or six words. For this verse, Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.8, I came up with, “Cultivate aggressive gratitude.”

Satisfaction is said by Krishna to be the first austerity of the mind (Bhagavad-gita 17.16). Usually we think of satisfaction as an emotion, but actually satisfaction is a decision. If I contemplate things that cause satisfaction, I will become satisfied.

Imagine a feast where everyone is served a plate of amazing prasadam, but where each plate is different. You can choose to be satisfied with the amazing prasadam you were given, or you can look at the plates of others and lament about what they got that you did not.

Krishna is not a vindictive God. Suffering comes as a reaction from the laws of nature, but Krishna can protect us from this suffering.

By absorbing our consciousness in Krishna, our suffering is reduced.

If we look at our life, we can see so many things right in our life, even on the material level. We can also see so many people are suffering more than we are. Even if we are suffering a lot, how many people know that by remembering Krishna their suffering will be reduced? We are very fortunate.

We must search for those things to be grateful to for. By doing so we become free from resentment.

Q (Kalakantha Prabhu): What is behind our tendency to promote our suffering as being greater than others?
A: Here are some reasons:
(1) As a child, we learn if we cry then we get attention.
(2) To the extent we delight in material pleasure, we obsess in material suffering.

Q (by Shyamala Kishori dd): How do we know if we should tolerate or leave?
A: Krishna tells Arjuna not to tolerate the misbehavior of the Kurus but to tolerate the miseries of fighting the war. Tolerance is the virtue of keeping small things small so we can focus on the big things. If what is troubling us is a big thing, then a change needs to be made.
There are three responses:
1. Change ourself and tolerate.
2. Change others or change the situation.
3. Walk away.

Tolerance means no knee jerk reactions.

Low esteem is false ego frustrated, but humility is false ego transcended. Low esteem is the negative of megalomania. In both cases, it is all about me.

Two comments by me:

1. I wanted to share this relevant verse:

mad-asrayah katha mrstah
 srnvanti kathayanti ca
tapanti vividhas tapa
 naitan mad-gata-cetasah

“Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sadhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.23)

2. In Alachua one speaker said that once a devotee interviewed 500 devotees who left ISKCON to find out why they left. He found they had respect and faith in Srila Prabhupada, but they could not apply the “tat te ’nukampam” verse we are discussing today. Could you comment on that?
A: That is true from the individual’s perspective, but from the institutional point of view we should think, “What did we do wrong so they wanted to leave?”

I saw one bumper sticker in America in a Bible Belt state:
“Oh, God. Please save us from Your preachers.”

From a breakfast conversation:

“Aversion to making commitments is not detachment.”

We have faith and doubt sessions for college students, where the students express what they have faith in and what they have doubts about. We do this in order to build their conviction.

In India we focus on the pious people and remove their intellectual doubts so they can act on their natural piety. This is because that is easy for us. There are so many intellectuals we have not reached.

Rupachandra Prabhu:

From a lecture on time management:

From the moment we are born, to our last breath we are forced by time to perform a series of actions. We are prisoners of time.
But how do we get out???
How do we manage our desires?
How do we manage our time?

I see my professors always complain about being busy and not having enough time to do this or that.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.11.3 gives a definition of time:

“One can estimate time by measuring the movement of the atomic combination of bodies. Time is the potency of the almighty Personality of Godhead, Hari, who controls all physical movement although He is not visible in the physical world.”

In Bhagavad-gita 11.32, Krishna says, “Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds.”

Time is a gift from God, thus we should give our time back to God. Actually we should give all our time to God, but we can start by giving some time to God each day.

If we spend 15 minutes on God a day, that is about 1% of our time. The other 99% of our time is spent on things that animals also do.

A healthy soul should realize that he is spiritual being, part and parcel of God, and use his intelligence to control his mind.

We have to pray to the Lord to transcend the three modes of material nature.

We tend to live from one deadline to another, always in an emergency situation.

We sometimes made a time table that is too difficult. We give up after three days, and we become demoralized. The solution is to make two tables, an easy one and an ideal one.

Use the easy one to become regulated and make it a routine.

Analyze where you are wasting time.
  
If people waste your time, keep it to yourself. Otherwise your wife and friends will become annoyed with you.

By regulating your body, you develop piece of mind.

Before sunrise is the mode of goodness and best time for spiritual activity.

After my spiritual program and after breakfast, I plan my day.

Daily planning is crucial to our time planning program.

If you stay up late and sleep in, in the long run you will be less productive because you are going against the natural modes of nature.

Write all appointments down within 5 minutes. Do not trust your memory. Write down the address with the appointment so you do not have to find it at the last minute.

Do not make appointments sooner than 3 days from the present unless they are very important.

Keep a list of things that you always wanted to do but you never did – a book to read, a verse to memorize, a musical instrument to learn. Keep a list of friends you really want to keep up with. Keep a list of dream projects. Keep a list of daily chores and rotating chores, which you have to do periodically.

Have a list of things to do today which you compile from the other lists during your planning time. Prioritize according to the importance of your tasks. Keep notes on things you failed to do. Have a “to buy” list.

If you do a spiritual sadhana or practice, you can eliminate a lot of unnecessary activities, and you can end up actually saving a lot of time.

If your life has a lot of chaos in it, it is even more important to have a regulated daily program.

People need different types of religions to cater to them, to connect with God or to a least control their minds and senses.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam class:

People are so selfish these days that people who care for their family members nicely in addition to themselves are glorified in society.

Mother Theresa is famous for leaving her native country and going to Calcutta and helping the impoverished.

Leaders realize that a society full of selfish people will always compete and create quarrel. Thus they promote unselfishness in different ways.

Hari Parayana Prabhu:

From a Sunday feast lecture on Shiva Ratri:

Shiva means auspicious, pure, blissful, and sacred, and Lord Shiva has all these good qualities.

Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, is not part of this earth nor is it easily accessible from earth.

There is Shiva, who resides in Kailasa, and Sadashiva, an expansion of Krishna, who resides in Vaikuntha.

Intoxicated by ecstatic love, Sadashiva, sings about the qualities and pastimes of Krishna (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 6.81).

Shiva is the conveyer of the glance of Maha-Vishnu.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.70 is an instruction of Shiva to worship Vishnu: “Therefore, O sons of the King, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is situated in everyone’s heart. He is also within your hearts. Therefore chant the glories of the Lord and always meditate upon Him continuously.”

Shiva informs us, “What to speak of any blessings on this earth or on Svarga [heaven] even the blessing of liberation cannot compare with even half a moment’s association of a devotee of the Lord.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.57)

Comment by Pran Govinda Prabhu: Lord Brahma takes care of those who do karma, and Lord Vishnu takes care of those who do bhakti, but Lord Shiva takes care of those who do all nonsense.

Comment by Jaya Sila Prabhu: Lord Shiva says he holds a trident only to protect Lord Krishna’s devotees.

Q: Why is the moon on Lord Shiva’s head?
A: Soma, the moon god, kidnapped the wife of his guru, Brhaspati, and Daksa, the father of the girl, was very angry with him, and thus Soma sought shelter of Lord Shiva.

Although some of Lord Shiva’s followers consider the supreme to be impersonal, Lord Shiva himself worships the supreme form of Lord Vishnu.

Tulasirani Devi Dasi:

Even as a kid I realized I was most happy serving others. But I wondered, “Am I doing something good for another just because it makes me feel good or do I actually want to benefit the other person? Is there really pure selflessness?” When I met the devotees, I found some who were genuinely selfless, and I was reassured to see that.

When I was visiting home I was not feeling well and I said to my mother, “My body is not feeling well.” I was not planning to preach to my mother but she was upset that I did not say “I am not feeling well,” and so I started explaining how the soul is always full of joy and problem was the body was not feeling well. She did not appreciate my explanation.

Pure selflessness is the same as pure selfishness, if one’s heart is pure. [Because the identity of the self is to be the servant of Krishna, our self-interest is to serve Krishna selflessly.]

The Vrajavasis’ love for Krishna was uncontrollable, and it surpassed the love they had for their own offspring.

When Krishna manifested himself as the missing cowherd boys the imitations extended to making copies of the individual sticks the boys used to herd the cows.

The Vrajavasis do not worry how Krishna will reciprocate their love.

There are three main paradoxes in the Damodara pastime of Lord Krishna:

1. Although he is feared by fear personified, how is He afraid of Yashoda?

2. How can an ordinary woman catch the unlimited Supreme Lord?

3. How can anyone bind the unlimited Supreme Lord?

The nice thing about this pastime is there is so much bhakti in it.

In the beginning it is important to have reverence for God, but for the pure residents of the spiritual world reverence hinders their pure bhakti.

Mother Yashoda got the best cows and fed them the best grass to get the best milk for her son, Krishna. Thus when the milk began to boil over, to stop it Yashoda immediately set Krishna down, although He had not finished drinking her breast milk.

Murali Gopal Prabhu:

From a Bhaktivedanta Institute of Gainesville meeting:

The Fifth Canto deals with cosmography, or how the universe is laid out. Cosmology, which deals with the origin of the universe, is discussed in the Second and Third Cantos.

Anantasesa Vaishnavi Devi Dasi:

From a restaurant conversation:

Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami says that Udupi is the most sattvic [infused with the quality of goodness] city in India. I noticed myself that the houses for sale in Udupi all have puja [worship] rooms whereas in Mumbai and Chennai they do not. In one temple in Udupi they chant six hours of Hare Krishna every day.

Abhimanyu Prabhu:

Both pious and impious work are bad for the soul because they bind the soul to this world.

Anyone involved in any way in the offering a devotee makes to Krishna makes eternal spiritual benefit.

Mohit (University of South Florida Bhakti Yoga Club president):

From his welcoming announcement at a sacred sounds event:

Everyone is welcome regardless of race, gender, or color. We enjoy dance and food together and forget that things such as racism exist.

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Simply by remembering God, we can become free from all our karma, the Lord is so kind! Prabhupada is so kind to give us so many books with detailed knowledge about the form, qualities, pastimes, and instructions of the Lord so it is very easy to remember Him. Let us share this good fortune.

yad-anudhyasina yuktah
karma-granthi-nibandhanam
chindanti kovidas tasya
ko na kuryat katha-ratim


“With sword in hand, intelligent men cut through the binding knots of reactionary work [karma] by remembering the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, who will not pay attention to His message?” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.15)