Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 14, No. 11
By Krishna-kripa das
(June 2018, part one)
(Sent from Paris, France, on June 16, 2018)
Where I Went and What I Did
By Krishna-kripa das
(June 2018, part one)
(Sent from Paris, France, on June 16, 2018)
Where I Went and What I Did
I continued to chant Hare Krishna three hours a day in different parts of Paris, including Sarcelles Market, Garges – Sarcelles train station, Les Halles, Saint-Michel, the Indian shops at Gare du Nord, the park at Porte Dorée, Rue de Turbigo, Hôtel de Ville, and in front of Printemps. Usually I was joined by at least one other devotee, but thrice I chanted alone. Different visiting devotees joined our harinama party including Bhagavati Dasi, who I chanted with many times in Belfast, Sundaralala Prabhu, a sannyasa candidate from Mauritius who chanted with us in Paris last year, and Radha Sundari Dasi, a youthful disciple of Janananda Goswami from New Zealand. I attended a Wednesday kirtana at Atmarama Rasa and Jagattarini Prabhus’ place and a Sunday morning program at a place they call Krishna Loka, the home of Ukrainian devotee couple who sells bridal gowns in downtown Paris.
I share excerpts from Srila Prabhupada's lectures and books. I also share excerpts from Jaiva Dharma by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I include a quote from ISKCON in the 1970s, by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I have many notes on lectures by Janananda Goswami speaking at Paris ISKCON, where he kindly visited for several days. I also include notes on classes by visiting sannyasa candidate from Maurtius, Sundaralala Prabhu, and many devotees residing in Paris.
Thanks to Bhagavati Dasi for her donation to buy books for distribution on harinama. Thanks to Atmarama Rasa and Jagattarini Prabhus for their photos during Paris kirtana programs. Thanks to Mehdi and his martial arts guru for the photos of our chanting in the park at Porte Dorée.
May 15–June 21: Paris
June 22–24: London harinamas and Ratha-yatra
June 25–July 18: Paris
July 19: London harinamas and program at Parasurama Prabhu’s place
July 20: Northampton harinama and program
July 21: Sheffield Tramlines harinama and possible night harinama in Leeds
July 22: Birmingham Ratha-yatra
July 23: Fly to Lithuania via Nuremberg with possible harinama and program
July 24–30: Vaishnava Summer Festival in Lithuania
July 31–August 4: Polish Woodstock
August 5: Berlin
August 6: Dublin
August 7–12: Vaishnava Sanga Festival in Canada
August 13: Dublin
August 14: York Ratha-yatra
August 15: Leeds Ratha-yatra
August 16: Newcastle
August 17–19: Newcastle retreat [except August 18: Manchester Ratha-yatra]
August 20: Newcastle
August 21: Edinburgh program?
August 22–25: Newcastle
August 26: Leeds program?
August 28: Sheffield program?
August 30: Accrington program?
August 31: Leeds program?
September 1: York
September 2: Newcastle
September 3–28: Mayapur
September 29: Newcastle
September 30: Dublin
October 1–January 5, 2019: New York City Yuga Dharma Harinama Party
Chanting Hare Krishna in Paris
Acarya Prabhu and other devotees distributed many books at a Nepali festival on Sunday in a popular park at Porte Dorée. Seeing many people there, he encouraged me to do harinama there on Monday, the day when everyone else stays back.
As I was boarding the train at Garges – Sarcelles, a man from Bangladesh said “Hare Krishna” to me. He wondered why I was not singing. I told him I planned to chant at a park downtown. He noticed I was without my companions, and I said I could not find anyone to go out with me. We talked about religion a bit. He was not practicing anything, but he studied yoga twenty years ago, so I showed him the French Perfection of Yoga, and he gave a euro for it.
At Porte Dorée the park was beautiful with grass, trees, and lake, but there were just a few runners, walkers, dog walkers, and people practicing martial arts. I decided to stay for an hour to see what would happen, and if I had no interactions with people, I would stop at the Bastille on the way back to the temple, and chant for more two hours.
Mehdi, who was training for martial arts in the park, was attracted by the harmonium because he plays the keyboards in a band professionally. I taught him the mantra, explaining we chanted it responsively, and he chanted Hare Krishna with me for over half an hour, which is very rare for a new person. He picked up one tune I sang, and played and sang it himself (https://youtu.be/X88rGBlHdpk):
Mehdi’s martial arts guru came by. He goes to China to study from a master there and even has a Chinese name meaning “white dragon.” When Mehdi introduced him to me, he chanted the whole Hare Krishna mantra perfectly. I asked him how he knew it, and he told me he spent a year living in the Paris temple in the 1970s.
Mehdi looks forward to chanting with me again in the park in the future and spoke of bringing his kids to join in. He expressed interest in the books but had no money with him, so I gave him the French Perfection of Yoga as a gift.
I next met Solomon, who was interested in talking about the flat Earth and Krishnamurti. He is burned out from the materialistic nature of modern society but felt alone, finding few like-minded souls. I encouraged him to associate with the devotees who hold programs in downtown Paris, for some of them would certainly appreciate his realizations and his search for truth. He listened to me chant for fifteen minutes, which is also rare. He does not read, but listens to lectures online. In fact, he had heard some of Srila Prabhupada’s video lectures online. Because of his interest in the flat earth I thought he might be interested in the cosmology of the Bhagavatam, and told him about vedabase.com and the relevant chapters.
On the harinamas when we have plenty of people to play the instruments, I sometimes talk to people who stop to look at our chanting party, and I sometimes try to interest them in books.
On our first Saturday harinama in June I met one young lady who really seemed to like the chanting, and she said knew the devotees from Ukraine. She wanted to get initiated by Sacinandana Swami who apparently did not accept disciples from there, so she moved to Paris. She was with a friend who was not so interested in the harinama, so I encouraged her to come and join us in the future when we chant with a large party in Paris on Thursdays and Saturdays. Later a friend told me she was in charge of the brahmacarini ashram in Kiev.
Here Navadvip Chandra Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Saint-Michel on the Paris Saturday night harinama (https://youtu.be/_YS2UGjuxmU):
Then Prananatha Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna, and a lady danced with a devotee (https://youtu.be/GC0T5-bHGxE):
When Gauranga Prema Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at Saint-Michel, quite a variety of passersby danced (https://youtu.be/qNX1TnPxxlE):
Next Rohininandana Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna with intensity, and several passersby also danced (https://youtu.be/2mNzgXgf488):
Navadvip Chandra Prabhu chanted again at the end of the Saint-Michel harinama, and some old men danced (https://youtu.be/QpsB2J-Q3Cw):
On Wednesday a visiting disciple of Janananda Goswami, Radha Sundari Dasi, chanted Hare Krishna at Galeries Lafayette on Haussmann Boulevard, which claims to be the best shopping mall in Paris. She chanted just for a short time before security stopped us (https://youtu.be/MTjlZGZego4):
After we were asked not to chant in front of Lafayette and before we took shelter of Printemps to avoid the rain, Bhagavati Dasi chanted Hare Krishna on Rue de Caumartin, near a church (https://youtu.be/SJThkDudqCw):
At that location, one Asian man gave 20 euros and accepted four books including Bhagavad-gita.
Here Vidura Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Printemps, one of our rainy day venues for Paris harinamas (https://youtu.be/aZA_ynZLUO4):
Bhagavati Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Printemps (https://youtu.be/JnPTpJxwlHM):
Radha Sundari Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Printemps (https://youtu.be/istlMfyEXqU):
I like to support kirtan programs by attending them thus teaching by my example that they are worth going to. After all, the yuga-dharma (the religion of the age) is harinama-sankirtana (the congregational chanting of the holy names). Bhagavati Dasi, who likes kirtan, also came to the Paris Wednesday night kirtan at the home of Atmarama Rasa and Jagattarini Prabhus in central Paris.
Seeing we had six people, I decided to chant for ten minutes (one-sixth of the time).
Then Bhagavati Dasi led a nice tune.
I was tired of interacting with people from having just done three hours of chanting in public, so I just closed my eyes, listened to the chanting, and forgot everything else.
When I did open my eyes, it was inspiring for me to see how much the devotees were focused on hearing the holy names!
Jagattarini Devi Dasi led the final Hare Krishna kirtan that evening (https://youtu.be/RUwu4Dmg10I):
Sannyasa candidate Sundaralala Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at the Paris temple morning program, getting all the devotees dancing (https://youtu.be/eylLoGmdfwo):
Here Gauranga Prema Prabhu chants Hare Krishna outside a Paris restaurant, where the owner invited us to sing and happily offered our party water to drink, cherries to eat, and a €5 donation (https://youtu.be/vHn3V3X-lpA):
We offered the restaurant owner the French Perfection of Yoga which he happily accepted and gave to his mother who has an interest in yoga.
Next Gauranga Prema Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at Hôtel de Ville, and devotees danced (https://youtu.be/HO6pzcmpfT8):
Next Gauranga Prema Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at Hôtel de Ville, and devotees danced (https://youtu.be/HO6pzcmpfT8):
Later two girls danced with the devotee ladies (https://youtu.be/y8g3hWCYC28):
Here Olivier chants Hare Krishna at Hôtel de Ville, and Muslim ladies dance (https://youtu.be/IQcKbfxLcUc):
On the way home to the temple from chanting Hare Krishna at Hôtel de Ville, some people were making a commotion on the train, so the devotees started a kirtan, and they ended up continuing to chant for the whole twenty-minute train ride!
Here Radha Sundari Dasi leads the chanting of Hare Krishna on the RER D between Gare du Nord and Garges – Sarcelles (https://youtu.be/qiKAVAuaL3I):
Sarcelles, the community in which our Paris ISKCON temple is situated, has a market day on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. We decided to chant there on Fridays.
Here Radha Sundari Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Sarcelles Market, and a lady happily dances (https://youtu.be/65rDLeiRTBo):
Then Gauranga Prema Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at the Sarcelles Market (https://youtu.be/nx-br-5CkcU):
Then Vidura Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at Garges – Sarcelles, the busiest of the two train stations near Paris ISKCON in Sarcelles, where we chanted for the next hour after spending an hour in the market (https://youtu.be/BXcWaLWZ1Cg):
Before our final pass through the Sarcelles Market, Vidura talked to a man who said, “I haven’t seen you in 20 years! Where have you been? You bring happiness to the people! Why did you disappear?” He added, “People are too sad now. I hope to see more of you.”
On Saturday Rohininandana Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at Hôtel de Ville, accompanied by sannyasa candidate, Sundaralala Prabhu, from Mauritius, on harmonium (https://youtu.be/Hq8YbRRjYEo):
Then Sundaralala Prabhu himself chanted Hare Krishna at Hôtel de Ville, and a variety of passersby danced. We were short of singers, and he chanted about half of the three-hour harinama.
Here Gauranga Prema Prabhu chants Hare Krishna by the Indian shops near Gare du Nord, where we distributed Ratha-yatra flyers in Tamil to the local Indians and in French to others (https://youtu.be/grLia15EPWM):
After spending an hour and a half there, we joined Rohininandana Prabhu and his party in chanting across from Hôtel de Ville in front of a shop with a sidewalk protected from the threatening rain. One man joined us, listened and danced a bit, gave a small donation, and took a Ratha-yatra invitation (https://youtu.be/w-Xmi8q07Ic):
Once when we chanted Hare Krishna in Les Halles, an Indian man stopped by who attended different ISKCON temples in India but who now resides in Paris. He was happy to learn that we have a Radha-Krishna temple in Paris.
Photos of Radha-Parisisvara
I do not take many photos of the deities in our temples. I feel devotees who are better photographers than I am have already done that, and people can find them by searching online. I also have a feeling that Krishna reciprocates when you take the trouble to see Him in person, and thus the photos are never as nice as seeing the deity in real life. Still sometimes the deities look especially nice, so I took some photos of Them anyway, during the Nrsimha prayers, when They are dressed very simply and the beauty of the deities Themselves in their less ornamented state is revealed. Lord Krishna's feet are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam to be more beautiful than a lotus (10.31.11). The beauty of His smile (10.31.6) and His hair are also glorified (10.31.12). When His dress did not obscure His feet, His flute did not obscure His smile, and His turban did not obscure His hair, on those rare days, I would take His photo.
Ten years ago when Sitala Dasi, disciple of Srila Prabhupada, visited the Polish tour, she told us about Srila Prabhupada seeing the Paris deities. Here are my notes on it:
“When Sitala was head pujari in Paris, she peeked through the curtains to watch Srila Prabhupada take darsana of the Deities. She was amazed to see two tears come straight out of Srila Prabhupada’s eyes as he viewed the Deities. She felt a little embarrassed to be in the middle of their intimate exchange.”
To see other photos that I did not include, click on the link below:
From a class on Bhagavad-gita 2.3 in London on August 4, 1973:
“So we have no connection with Krishna. But if we chant Hare Krishna maha-mantra, immediately our first chance to contact Krishna begins. So it has to be practiced. Not that immediately I realize Krishna. That is not... Of course, if one is advanced, it is possible immediately.”
“So in order to see Krishna, in order to understand Krishna, the first business is to control your tongue. Therefore we say don’t take meat, don’t take liquor. Because it is controlling the tongue. The tongue is the most strong enemy as sense, as perverted sense. And these rascals, they say, ‘No, you can eat whatever you like. It has nothing to do with religion.’ But Vedic sastra says, ‘You rascal, first of all control your tongue. Then you can understand what is God.’”
“All the gopis, they passed their days simply crying for Krishna, but never condemned Krishna. . . . Krishna also was thinking of them, because gopis are the greatest devotees, topmost devotees. There is no comparison with the devotion of the gopis. Therefore Krishna was always obliged to them. Krishna said to the gopis that ‘You have to be satisfied with your own business. I cannot return you anything for your love.’ Krishna, the Supreme, the all-powerful, He was unable to repay the debts for the gopis. . . . Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena ya kalpita [Caitanya-manjusa]: there is no more better worship than what was conceived by the gopis. So gopis are the topmost devotees. And amongst the gopis, Srimati Radharani is the topmost. Therefore Srimati Radharani is greater than Krishna. So this is Gaudiya-Vaishnava philosophy. It requires time.”
“It is very, very difficult to control the senses. Therefore the yoga process, mystic yoga process—just to practice how to control the senses. But for a devotee, . . . Just like the tongue, if it is engaged only in the business of chanting Hare Krishna mantra and eating only Krishna prasadam, the whole thing is done, perfect yogi. Perfect yogi.”
Comment by Nitai Caran Prabhu: I notice when I control the tongue and take prasadam regularly, on book distribution people listen to me more seriously. My mind is more peaceful, and I can think more clearly.
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.8–9 in New Vrindaban on May 24, 1969:
“And the whole world is problem for ordinary persons, but to us it is not problem. Because we see everything Krishna’s. If there is problem, it is Krishna’s problem. Why my problem? Krishna can know how to solve problem. So we have no problem practically. Krishna’s problem. Krishna will see to it. Just like Arjuna was, I mean to say, encouraged that nimitta-matram bhava savyasacin [Bg. 11.33] ‘You don’t worry about your victory. I have already arranged.’ So we should have such faith and conviction and let us try. Let us do very sincerely and seriously. Then everything Krishna will do. I haven’t got to do anything.”From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.13.60:
“Vrindavana is the transcendental abode of the Lord, where there is no hunger, anger or thirst. Though naturally inimical, both human beings and fierce animals live there together in transcendental friendship.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.13.60, purport:
“This is Vrindavana life. Why should I live and you die? No. That is material life. The inhabitants of Vrindavana think, ‘Whatever is given by Krishna, let us divide it as prasada and eat.’ This mentality cannot appear all of a sudden, but it will gradually develop with Krishna consciousness; by sadhana [our spiritual practice], one can come to this platform.”
“In the material world one may collect funds all over the world in order to distribute food freely, yet those to whom the food is given may not even feel appreciative. The value of Krishna consciousness, however, will gradually be very much appreciated. For instance, in an article about the temple of the Hare Krishna movement in Durban, South Africa, the Durban Post reported, ‘All the devotees here are very active in the service of Lord Krishna, and the results are obvious to see: happiness, good health, peace of mind, and the development of all good qualities.’ This is the nature of Vrindavana. Harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-gunah: without Krishna consciousness, happiness is impossible; one may struggle, but one cannot have happiness. We are therefore trying to give human society the opportunity for a life of happiness, good health, peace of mind and all good qualities through God consciousness.”
From Nectar of Instruction, text 5:
“The chanting of the holy names of Krishna is so sublime that if one chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra offenselessly, carefully avoiding the ten offenses, he can certainly be gradually elevated to the point of understanding that there is no difference between the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself.
From Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 4:
“Implicit faith in the scriptures inspires the udita-viveka to relish the chanting of harinama, which then creates an eagerness to associate with and serve the Vaishnavas.”
“Darkness is always far away from the light; similarly, maya remains at a good distance from Sri Krishna and His devotees.”
“The material nature acts as a dungeon wherein he [the jiva or individual soul] is held captive; however, whilst imprisoned he can also take advantage of saintly association to help him begin the process of chanting harinama. Then, gradually, by the mercy of Sri Krishna, he becomes situated his svarupa, eternally perfected spiritual identity, and relishes the sweet nectar of devotional service to the Lord in His transcendental abode. This is the confidential truth about the eternal relationship between these three principles.”
“Begin by seriously chanting harinama. Amongst the different limbs of bhajana, chanting is the most efficacious. Harinama and the proprietor of harinama are the one and same person. Chanting without committing offences will quickly lead one to complete perfection. Take up chanting with full faith. The other branches of devotional practices, all included within chanting, are hearing, remembering the Lord’s pastimes, serving His lotus feet in meditation, worshiping His Deity form, offering prayers, becoming His servant, becoming His friend, and totally surrendering to Him.”
“Nothing is superior to prema, and Sri Krishna, the embodiment of transcendental Absolute Truth, is subdued by prema alone.”
From Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 5:
“The siddhi-kami are absorbed in the attempt to enjoy the fruits of karma-kanda, ritualistic performances. They want to obtain mystic powers and thus display miracles by pressing into service different yaga, rites; yajña, sacrifices; and the system of ashtanga-yoga, eightfold yogic discipline. They take the view that if an Isvara, Supreme Controller, exists then He is subservient to the laws of karma. Modern scientists belong to this group.”
“At first, the form of Bhagavan appears in the spiritual consciousness of the devotee and is reflected within his mind. The sri-murti is then constructed according to this vision of the devotee, and through the potency of bhakti, Bhagavan is attracted to manifest His sac-cid-ananda form from within the sri-murti. When the pure devotee sees the sri-murti of Bhagavan, that sri-murti unites with the transcendental form of Bhagavan that the devotee sees within his heart.”
From Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 6:
“This is confirmed in the Skanda Purana, Kasi-khanda 21.63, which is quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa 10.106:
brahmanah ksatriyo vaisyah
sudro va yadi vetarah
jñeyah sarvottamas ca sah
“Whether one is a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, or an outcaste, if he has taken shelter of vishnu-bhakti, he is considered to be superior to all.’
“‘The Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.16.44 declares: yan-nama sakric chravanat – ‘Merely by hearing harinama only once, even candalas, men of the lowest class, are freed from all material contamination.’”
“Dharma meekly follows bhakti everywhere. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the source of dharma, and He allows Himself to be easily conquered by bhakti. Maya, who enslaves the jiva, is immediately dispelled when the Supreme Lord is invited to occupy the throne in the heart of the jiva. No other method of sadhana is needed or is as effective. As soon as the spiritual aspirant becomes a bhakta, dharmic fervour suffuses his heart and steadily manifests all virtues. When kama, lust for sense enjoyment, is uprooted, then peace and tranquillity enter the heart.”
“The pure devotees of the Lord perform the activities of bhakti such as the congregational chanting of harinama in towns and villages. A person who participates in these spiritual activities or any other similar activities, such as cleansing the Lord’s temple, offering a lamp to the tulasi plant, observing the Hari-vasara, different spiritual festivals such as Ekadasi and Janmastami, connected to the Supreme Lord, and so on, is performing bhakti-kriya-sanga.”
“If somehow or other these activities are not executed with pure sraddha, but accidentally or even inattentively and hastily, still they result in sukriti that fosters bhakti to the Supreme Lord. When this sukriti accumulates into a driving force over many lifetimes, it brings one to the stage of acquiring sraddha for sadhu-sanga and ananya-bhakti, pure unalloyed bhakti. All the levels of purity within bhakti add to the development of sraddha; furthermore, only these bhakti-kriya, devotional activities, have the inherent potency to generate the required sukriti. If they are executed with sraddha, the results are marvellous, but even when done disinterestedly or indifferently, they still increase piety in the form of nitya-sukriti, as pointed out in the Mahabharata, Prabhasa-kandha, which is quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, 11.451:
madhura-madhuram-etan mangalam mangalanam
sakrid api parigitam sraddhaya helaya va
bhrigu-vara nara-matram tarayet krishna-nama
“‘The chanting of harinama is the most beneficial of all spiritual and pious activities. It is more relishable than the sweetest honey. It is the transcendental fruit of all the sruti scriptures, the Vedas. O best of the Bhargavas! If any person chants harinama offenselessly even once, be it with sraddha, or with derisive indifference, harinama immediately offers him liberation.’
“Thus, all sukriti which enhances one’s bhakti to the Lord is nitya-sukriti. This form of sukriti leads to sadhu-sanga and ananya-bhakti when patiently seasoned. In the Puranas, we find the story of the sinful hunter who unknowingly, by force of circumstance, fasted and stayed up the night of siva-ratri, thus performing a siva-vrata. He attained bhakti to Sri Hari as a result of this nitya-sukriti, because Lord Siva is a very elevated Vaishnava. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, 12.13.16, it is stated: vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh ‘Amongst all Vaishnavas, Lord Siva is the best.’
“Thus, even accidentally observing a vow in his honour enables one to attain hari-bhakti. This is substantiated by all the scriptures.”
“The Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.51.53, states: bhavapavargo bhramato yada bhavej janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samagamah sat-sangamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau paravarese tvayi jayate ratih “‘O Acyuta! The jiva is eternally enthralled in the continuous cycle of birth and death. By the mercy of the Lord, when the time for release from this vicious circle arrives, he first attains the association of saintly persons. Right from that moment, he develops attachment to Your lotus feet. You are the Lord of both the material and the spiritual worlds and the shelter of the saintly souls.’
“Furthermore, the Kathopanishad, 1.3.9, states: vijñana-sarathir yas tu manah pragrahavan narah so’dhvanah param apnoti tad vishnoh paramam padam “‘One who possesses vijñana, realization of the Lord, as his charioteer, and who thus maintains a steady control of the mind, which is like the reins that control the horses of the bodily senses, crosses this material reality and attains the supreme abode of Sri Vishnu, who is the omnipresent Supersoul known as Vasudeva.’”
From Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 7:
“sadhu-sange krishna-nama’—ei-matra cai
samsara jinite ara kona vastu nai
‘The only desirable goal is to chant harinama in the association of pure and saintly devotees. This is the best and only way to conquer nescience.’” [Sri Prema-vivarta by Jagadananda Pandita, verse 6.13]
The Humble Servants of Srila Prabhupada:
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.28, purport:
“Realization of the Supersoul and the individual soul is so pleasing and satisfying that a self-realized person automatically gives up everything irrelevant to his spiritual advancement.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.36, purport:
“In conclusion, by studying the extraordinary status of the residents of Vrindavana, we can see that the essential quality of their lives is pure Krishna consciousness—the rendering of loving service to the Lord without a trace of material desire or mental speculation. Such loving service to the original Personality of Godhead immediately creates the atmosphere of Sri Vrindavana-dhama, the kingdom of God.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.15.27, purport:
“As stated by Lord Kapila in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.28.32), hasam harer avanatakhila-loka-tivra-sokasru-sagara-visoshanam aty-udaram: ‘The smile and laughter of the Supreme Lord Hari is most magnanimous. Indeed, for those who bow down to the Lord, His smile and laughter dry up the ocean of tears caused by the intense suffering of this world.’”
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
From ISKCON in the 1970s:
“September 27, 1975
“Speaking Krishna’s upadesa [instructions] is so nice because at that time, one is mostly lost of false ego and one’s absorption in plans and images of the body. Mostly he is actively attacking and destroying the false concepts and acting in words to glorify the Personality of Godhead. It is a constant attempt of the words and intelligence to persuade listeners to consider Krishna consciousness as the topmost goal. Because the lecturing is always parampara, one is simply transmitting Vedic sound and becoming purified. The more of such speaking the better.”
Is Krishna asking us to abandon all varieties of religion and become irreligious? No, He is asking us to surrender to the Supreme Lord.
Real religion is to realize our actual self. Usually people become attached to some sect or practice but do not come to the platform of love of God.
Religion is meant to develop our eternal and natural love for the Supreme Lord which is unalloyed. Not that I love God and so many others things, and if God supplies the other things, I love Him.
If our understanding of mathematics is 2 + 2 = 4, that is alright, but it is expected we will progress beyond that. If we say that we understand mathematics completely when we just know simple arithmetic and that algebra and calculus are rubbish, we will not progress.
Our system of perception must be cleansed.
The Absolute Truth is not to be ascertained by our experiment but by purifying our senses according to a genuine process. Religion is meant to effect this purification.
We are looking for eternal relationships with temporary objects. Religions are meant to provide our actual eternal relationship with God, but they are often not practiced in a way that end is attained.
Religions are meant to give us a higher taste, not to provide the objects of our lower taste.
In real love the only intention is to please the beloved. We are meant to be cultivating this relationship with God.
Srila Prabhupada would speak the truth, unconcerned with how it would affect his audience.
In this account from Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita, the aspiring disciple wanted to accept Srila Prabhupada as his guru, not to gain something, but because he found shelter, a home, a realized person, a real person.
In real yoga nothing blocks our attraction to Krishna.
We should be always grateful for the opportunity given by the parampara [the lineage of spiritual masters] to engage in devotional service and try to develop the desire to please the previous teachers by following their teachings.
The Lord comes as the deity so we can develop our personal relationship with Him by doing things for Him. Otherwise the idea of service to God is just theoretical.
The devotees were attracted to join Srila Prabhupada because of his purity.
One argument Srila Prabhupada used for astronauts not being able to enter the moon planet was they did not have a suitable body.
We have to have a spiritual body to touch spirit.
The pure devotees of the Lord come into this world to show how we can transform from matter into spirit. They teach us how to get a visa to go back to Godhead.
The consciousness of seeing our material body as separate from Krishna is material consciousness.
In our very body we can attain the transcendental state.
Most people just try to adjust the effect while neglecting the cause.
Devotional service is the remedial measure to change our material consciousness.
Now there are golf courses and tennis courts in Vrindavan, but Vrindavan is not meant to be a place for our sense enjoyment.
Fear comes from identification with the material body.
Meditation on the form of the Lord purifies us from our meditation on our material body.
Everyone wants to do it their way. There was one famous pop song “I want to do it my way.” [In fact, Sinatra’s version of “My Way” spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands. (Wikipedia)] But to go back to Godhead we have to do it Krishna’s way.
Kirtanananda asked Srila Prabhupada why Vrindavan appeared so dirty, and Srila Prabhupada replied, “Because your heart is dirty.”
If we want the reality we have to give up our addiction to its perverted reflection.
We think “I have done so much service for Krishna. What has He done for me?” Thus we have misconceptions.
Krishna does not need a djembe player or guitar player in Goloka Vrindavan, or even a mrdanga player. He is looking for our devotion.
Until we change our materialistic mentality, we have to stay in the material world.
We depend upon Krishna by depending on Krishna’s directions.
Comment by Rajadharma Prabhu: There is a story of man who saw crabs that were dying on the sand of the beach, having been left there by the tide. The man decided to throw them in the water to give them some relief. A man coming from the opposite direction, who observed him said, “What is the use?” There are thousands of crabs along the miles of beach, and you can benefit so few!” The man replied, “Yes, but for those few, it makes a big difference.”
Ajamila is being given a second chance to attain spiritual perfection.
The holy name is described to be a bud which flowers into revelation of the form, qualities, and the pastimes of the Lord.
No one knows better the glories of the holy name than Haridasa Thakura. No one else has been given the title Namacarya.
The gayatri mantra has a few holy names in the middle of it, but the maha-mantra is composed entirely of holy names. Gayatri is considered more powerful when chanted silently, but the holy name is considered more powerful when chanted as loudly as possible.
There are some things we keep secret: our donations, our service, our personal deity, our guru, and our mantra (gayatri), but the holy name we broadcast widely.
The guru does not just give the holy name, but he gives it with conviction, faith, purity and determination.
Atonement is like cutting the grass of sinful activities, but chanting the holy name is like uprooting its roots. It will not grow back.
All the eight elements are offered to the Lord in the arati ceremony. The mind is offered by chanting the mantras. The ego is offered when offering obeisances.
The mind is the culprit in so many acts these days.
How does the mind overtake the intelligence in Kali-yuga? Because the intelligence is sleeping.
Ajamila fell down because of his mind, when he meditated on the prostitute, but he was ultimately liberated by his mind, when by practicing at Haridwar, he fixed his mind in meditation on the Vishnu deity.
Lust is sitting in the senses, mind, and intelligence, and thus even though we may go to the forest, it will accompany us.
We should chant our japa so we can hear it but not so loud it disturbs others.
Visvanatha Cakravati says we may say we became a devotee because of good fortune, but that is not true as fortune is material. He also says we cannot say we became a devotee because of the mercy of the Lord since the Lord is equal to everyone. The mercy of the devotee is the actual cause.
Gaura Nitai Prabhu from Hungary:
This canto (six) deals with how to protect ourselves and others.
One beautiful sunny day I was excited to go surfing. While I was surfing, the wind was coming from such a direction that it blew me further and further from the shore. Although it was sunny, the water was so cold my muscles were not working properly. Seeing the distance from the shore, I began to doubt I would survive. Fortunately a friend of mine on the shore noticed I was in trouble and sent someone with a boat to rescue me. I learned from this that my enjoyment in this world could come to an end at any moment, and that began my spiritual search that ultimately ended in my coming to Krishna consciousness.
When we learn that we are not the body but a spirit soul then we can be satisfied with just the bare necessities of the body. If we have been practicing spiritual life for ten years, and we are not satisfied to have just what we need, we have to review that initial lesson that we are not the body but a spiritual soul.
If we are serving the Lord and we are serving the devotees, and yet we are not satisfied then that is a problem that needs to be examined.
It is painful to Srila Prabhupada if we do not make back to the spiritual world in this life, so we should try.
The Hindus were used to religious celebrations on certain festival days, but Lord Caitanya’s followers were celebrating every day by chanting and dancing in the streets. That was one doubt that caused the Hindus to complain to the Kazi.
By going out every day on harinama sankirtana we are giving protection to the people.
We try to become humble, but actual humbleness comes from the Lord.
In the material world to be accepted we are trained to say whatever we have to to get ahead, and sometimes we bring that mentality into the temple situation.
In every situation, whether one of success or failure, we have to maintain a feeling of gratitude to Krishna.
Bon Maharaja was lamenting his failure in preaching in the West, and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said it may take Westerners hundreds of years to catch even a glimpse of bhakti.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam a devotee prays to the weapons of the Supreme Lord, which shows that the weapons are also personalities and also shows the humility of the devotee.
In 1931 Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura began to become disgusted with his disciples for becoming attached to material possessions and rooms in the temple.
In the beginning, yukta-vairagya is easy because we have practically no possessions, but the more we acquire the more difficult it becomes.
Material attachments are so deep-rooted that beggars have shopping carts of their possessions which they carefully carry with them all day.
Srila Prabhupada stressed the personality of Krishna, and seeing how Krishna is manifest everywhere.
At Tirupati in the kirtana I saw all the bhaktas [new devotees] were happily dancing while the senior devotees wearing saffron were looking at their watches, waiting to go on to their more important engagements, and I was thinking, “better I always remain like the bhaktas and not become a senior devotee.”
King Prithu, although king of the universes, was loved by all the citizens because of his love for the holy name, his affection for the sages, and his attachment for devotional service to the Lord.
Srila Prabhupada told one devotee that advancement is not about our external position but how humble and tolerant we have become.
There was one person who was formerly a postal worker, but later advertised himself as the incarnation of Godhead, Kalki. At the height of his fame people would pay 100,000 rupees for an audience with him of a few seconds. Later on various scandals surrounded him. There are many such cheaters in India.
Many books are there about chanting, giving different ideas about it, but Srila Prabhupada stressed that from hearing attentively the holy name we will automatically come to the point of seeing the pastimes within ourselves.
If we see Krishna is helping us by giving us challenging situations so we come to a higher level of consciousness, we will always be happy in our spiritual life.
By taking guidance, we can come to the point of transcending the modes of material nature.
In this purport Srila Prabhupada talks about swamis who fall down from the spiritual platform to engage in material activities. In India the Hare Krishna movement is becoming known more and more for feeding the poor. We have to be careful that we do not follow in the footsteps of these swamis.
Mayavadis from Dvaraka put out propaganda that Sai Baba was falsely claiming to be a avatar of Krishna. Sai Baba’s followers were very upset. There were arguments in the Indian newspapers on both sides. It is very interesting that ISKCON remained silent and did not take a public stand because of not wanting to be unpopular.
Ramanujacarya once very boldly spoke the truth about Krishna in the presence of a yavana king although the king did not care for it. As the result the king’s consciousness changed for the better.
Our harinama seems very small, but in Krishna’s eyes it is very big.
One senior devotee couple in The Netherlands saw that their children were not particularly happy going to school there, so they sent them to Mayapur where they became radiantly happy and came to have many friends. The children told their parents they were so happy they sent them to Mayapur.
Srila Prabhupada explained that until children are seven they are comparatively pure but after that they take to identify with the body more and more and become covered with passion.
Once I found myself in a place where I could not do my service of book distribution for several months. After a couple of days, I decided to read Srimad-Bhagavatam for several hours a day, and my lamentation over not being able to do my book distribution went away, and I read eleven cantos in several months.
On book distribution we can keep things simple and not introduce things that people will have difficulty accepting immediately, then when we see they want more, we can give them more. Then this problem of committing the offense of preaching to the faithless will not be so much there.
If we are not pleased with our speaking to the people in the streets, it may be a sign that Krishna is also not pleased with it.
Gopaswami Prabhu said in the early days of the Paris yatra on Saturday the devotees would have four harinama parties that would start out in different places in the city and then join together and become one, and their joining together was very impressive to see.
Gauranga Prema Prabhu:
Sivarama Swami explains in his book on bhakti that the eternal associates of Krishna have two eternal, liberated forms, a perfected form in Krishna-lila and a sadhaka form in Caitanya-lila.
Reading Sri Caitanya-caritamrita is the bridge to take us from where we are to Krishna’s Vrindavan lila.
It is possible that we can get so absorbed in taking care of the deities we have no time for the other devotees and we have no time to go out and bring people to see the deity, and we have to watch out for that.
We can cultivate a relationship with people in their own place, and in the course of time, we can describe the deity in such a way that the people will want to come and see Him.
If we do not want to associate with devotees, we should examine why. We can pray for the desire to desire to associate with devotees.
Jhadu Thakura accepted Kalidasa’s verses praising the elevated position of the Vaishnava, but being truly humble he said he was not such a Vaishnava, and so the verses did not apply to him.
Radhanath Swami tells a story of two devotees struggling to touch each other’s feet in which one devotee ended up breaking the ankle of the other.
That devotees desire to accept the remnants of the Vaishnavas and to touch their lotus feet means we consider we are their servants. The pleasure is to serve the devotees, not to be served by them.
Comment by Rajadharma Prabhu: As multiple lenses bring an image closer, being the servant of the servant brings us closer to the Lord.
Comment by Acarya Prabhu: Once there was a liter of water from washing Lokanath Swami’s feet sitting in the Tirupati ashram for over a day, so I drank it all, and I am convinced that is one of the reasons I am still practicing Krishna consciousness.
Acyutananda Prabhu tells in Blazing Sadhus how he asked Srila Prabhupada how to understand these verses from Bhagavad-gita 9.4–5: “By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation.” Srila Prabhupada explained that the energy of the sunlight is present in the trees, but the sun itself is not present in the tree. Similarly Krishna is present everywhere through His energy. After Srila Prabhupada explained this so nicely, he thanked Acyutananda for his question, which really impressed him.
Krishna’s form does not limit Him.
I learned more reading Srila Prabhupada’s books than in four years of studying philosophy and English in the university, although there I had the association of some really amazing scholars.
We will be completely satisfied if we have love of God. That is faith.
Canakya Pandit said time is the most precious thing because we cannot buy it back with any amount of money.
By reading Srila Prabhupada’s books you will acquire so much knowledge that you can easily see that you can smash anyone’s arguments but if you do that they will not like you, and you will not be able to give them Krishna consciousness which is your mission.
Krishna is impartial in His application of the law of karma, yet He is partial in that if you turn to Him even in a small way, He changes your karma.
If Krishna did not care about us, why would He make so many arrangements to enable us to come back to Him? He inserts the Vedas in human society. He comes Himself from the spiritual world. He manifests as the deity. He comes as the holy name. He comes as the pure devotee.
We need to take our sadhana [spiritual practice] seriously to get the same result as Ajamila did by going back to Godhead.
All we do is to purify our heart.
Srila Prabhupada was basically given two instructions by his guru (1) to preach in English in the West, and (2) if you get money print books, yet with these instructions, he did so much.
To be a pure devotee, you do not have to be Srila Prabhupada, or someone with all the skills that Srila Prabhupada had. You just have to love Krishna.
We have to let the process of sadhana work. We have to want to become pure.
Krishna is impartially distributing mercy, but He becomes partial to those who accept the mercy.
Comment by Sundaralala Prabhu: One devotee reminds us that Krishna’s name is also bhakta-vatsala, He who is inclined to His devotees.
Some shops offer free sandwiches, but Krishna is offering free diamonds in that the love of God He is distributing as Lord Caitanya is valuable like a diamond.
Different material qualifications are necessary to be able to perform karma-, jnana-, and hatha-yoga properly, but there are no material qualifications required to practice bhakti-yoga nicely.
Also the other yogis are focusing on some selfish desire, while bhakti-yogis just want to serve Krishna.
Prahlada Maharaja did not desire a particular situation in his future life but just wanted to remember Krishna in whatever condition the Lord put him.
King Ambarisa performed sacrifices just to please the Lord and not to get some particular material benefit.
Demanding to see God is like making God your servant, like we ring a bell and God comes in.
A normal person if I try to attack him will try to protect himself but not Ambarisa. Without his asking the Lord’s ultimate weapon immediately appeared to protect him.
Lord Narayana explained to Durvasa Muni that as His devotees always think of Him, He always thinks of them, and as He is everything to His devotees, His devotees are everything to Him.
The devotees are always ready to hear anything about the Lord. King Pariksit had one week to live, and he decided to use it to hear about the Lord not to empty his bank account and spend it on sense gratification.
Vrindavan does not mean just the town Vrindavan itself but means a place where Krishna is staying.
When Gopa Kumara returned to the spiritual world, Krishna said, “I think about you every day. I was waiting for you. After each life, I was hoping you would return to Me. I could not wait anymore, so this life I became your spiritual master.” Thus we can see how eager Krishna is eager for us to return.
If we cannot spontaneously remember Krishna, we can practice hearing about Him regularly.
Krishna is ready to give His mercy to anyone, but only the devotees are eager for that mercy.
When Duhsasana attempted to rip the sari off of Draupadi in the assembly, she appealed to all the Kuru elders for help, but only Vidura protested the action and no one listened to him.
Comments by me [spoken during prasadam afterwards]:
Bhagavad-gita 8.14 appeared in the notebook of Jayananda Prabhu as it was a favorite verse of his.
You mentioned that Vrindavan is where Krishna resides. Once Krishna explained to Narada where He resides:
naham tisthami vaikunthe
yoginam hrdayesu va
tatra tisthami narada
yatra gayanti mad-bhakta
“I am not situated in the Vaikuntha planets nor in the hearts of the yogis, but I am situated, O Narada, where My devotees are chanting My glories.” (Padma Purana)
The holy dhama is a special place, but we have to give up the bodily conception of life anywhere.
I recall seeing the devotees distributing books when I was a student. One showed me The Nectar of Devotion, and I said, “No way.” But here I am, so any contact with devotees has a positive effect.
It is said that the Lord performs different pastimes in different dhamas. In Dvaraka, He rules. In Puri, He eats.
We can attain perfection by different ways in different dhamas, by chanting the holy name in the Mayapur, rolling in the dust of Vrindavan, and honoring prasadam in Jagannatha Puri. It is also recommended to cry to Radharani for Her mercy in Vrindavan.
You can live in the dhama in your mind by remembering the different places you visited there, and from time to time these places will spontaneously appear in your mind.
Lord Jagannatha specifically appears in Puri to accept offerings and to distribute prasadam to save the fallen souls.
There is universal rule and by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and the revealed literature we are being made aware of that, and unlike with state laws, breaking the universal rules never goes unnoticed.
Now sinful activities have become so normal, people do not even consider they are sinful.
From attachment to Krishna, detachment, freedom from sins, and so many things follow.
It is a incredible system, that all the activities of all living beings are noticed.
It is said that Yamaraja engaged in harinama-sankirtana and went unconscious in ecstasy at the deliverance of Jagai and Madhai by Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda.
One UK devotee told of a man who saw the photos of the Yamadutas, the servants of the controller of death, on the cover of that devotee’s Srimad-Bhagavatam, and said, “I saw those guys! I was in the hospital, and I saw those guys.” As a result the man purchased some books from the devotee.
While looking for the proper diacritics for “mataji” using Google Translate, I found that the sentences used to illustrate the meaning of “mother” reflect the social anomalies of this age:
Definitions of mother
a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.
In eight of these cities, more than 60% of births were to unwed mothers.
give birth to.
Emma O’Leary mothered four sons before her husband ran off with another woman, leaving her to raise the boys on her own.
We are forever looking for short cuts to success in all aspects of our life, including our pursuit of spiritual perfection. In the following Bhagavad-gita verse, Krishna is explaining how we can easily attain Him, good news for lazy people like myself. Apparently the famed ISKCON saint, Jayananda Prabhu, liked this verse, and it was found in a notebook of his. Thus in liking it, I am in good company! In Paris recently a young devotee chose to speak on this verse, and thus I was reminded of it and also the especially nice purport that Srila Prabhupada wrote explaining it.
yo mam smarati nityasah
tasyaham surlabhah partha
“For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Prtha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.” (Bhagavad-gita 8.14)