Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 15, No. 24
By Krishna Kripa Das
(December 2019, part two)
New York City, Albany
(Sent from Tallahassee on January 11, 2020)
Where I Went and What I Did
I spent seven days near Albany, New York, taking care of my 95-year-old mother who was recovering from a leg injury. During that time I spent one Sunday afternoon visiting my guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, Bhakti Rasa and Kirtida Prabhu from Newcastle, England, who had come to serve him, his other caretakers, and Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, who lives across the street. I also took a two-day break to rejoin the Yuga Dharma Ashram party, leaving my sister to take care of my mother. Then from Christmas through the end of the year, I was back full time on the Yuga Dharma Ashram chanting party. Both Christmas Day and the last Saturday of the year I had the fortune to be able to speak at 26 Second Avenue, the sacred place where the Hare Krishna movement in America began fifty-four years ago. On New Year’s Eve I got to speak on Krishna conscious New Year’s resolutions at Sunanda Prabhu’s Krishna Balarama temple in Queens. After that I joined devotees from Brooklyn ISKCON, the 26 Second Avenue program, and the Bhakti Center in chanting Hare Krishna from Radha Govinda Mandir to Prospect Park, where thousands of people gather for festivities culminating in a fireworks show at midnight. After describing my time in New York City and Albany, I share my special memories of 2019 and end with my expenses and income report for 2019.
I share many quotes from several classes by Srila Prabhupada and excerpts from the writing of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I share notes on a class by Locanananda Prabhu in Brooklyn and a conversation with Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu at his home in Stuyvesant Falls. I share an interesting quote by a John Woolman, a Quaker missionary, which seems consistent with ideas in Bhagavad-gita.
Many, many thanks to the 26 Second Avenue devotees, Victor Anderson, my mother, a man at the Albany Quaker meeting, Vijaya of midtown Manhattan, and Lila Manjari Devi Dasi for their kind donations.
Thanks to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for the video of Kishor Gopal Prabhu chanting in Times Square and the photo of Krishna Prasad Prabhu selling a saptarsi set of books there.
January–April 2020: North and Central Florida colleges, mostly Florida State University
January 20: Gainesville Martin Luther King Day March harinama
January 21–22: Chanting at UF in Gainesville
January 23–24: Chanting at USF in Tampa
January 25: Tampa Gasparilla pirate parade Ratha-yatra
February 8: Ocala Rainbow Gathering
March 14: Daytona Beach Ratha-yatra
March 21: St. Augustine Ratha-yatra
March 29: Tallahassee Ratha-yatra
April 10: FSU Kirtan Event
Chanting Hare Krishna in New York City
Here Kishor Gopal Prabhu of The Bhakti Center chants Hare Krishna in Times Square subway station, and his mother, Ekadasi Vrata Devi Dasi, visiting from Alachua, distributes “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlets (https://youtu.be/s5MzLZQ8y8M):
While Kishor Gopal Prabhu was chanting, I danced (https://youtu.be/BbXQQ3dTY2c):
Here Hari of Columbus, who has visited the Yuga Dharma Ashram three times in the last year, chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station, and a man dances and leaves a donation (https://youtu.be/-mCv3iyHqIc):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station in Queens, and several devotees and passersby dance and one local plays shakers (https://youtu.be/0AkgUeESdTs):
Hari of Columbus chants Hare Krishna in Times Square subway station, and three children in a family play shakers (https://youtu.be/O2oduri8-yY):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna on Christmas in Times Square, and a passerby dances in addition to several devotees (https://youtu.be/mqd7M6WYsYE):
Later while Rama Raya Prabhu was chanting Hare Krishna, a group of guys danced with the devotees (https://youtu.be/Myk4ExHpwhE):
As I was manning the book table, a couple of young ladies from Kuwait who were curious came by, and one took an English book and the other an Arabic book:
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants the second Hare Krishna kirtan at the Yuga Dharma Ashram Sunday feast program attended by those especially interested people who bought our books or those who happen to live near our neighborhood of Hamilton Heights (https://youtu.be/lB9h5ejMRrk):
I was late for our walking harinama outside at Times Square on Sunday, so Krishna Prasad Prabhu invited me to chant in the subway station where they were distributing books. It always gives me great pleasure when the book distributors sell a saptarsi [seven-book set] while I am leading the Hare Krishna chant as he did during the forty-five minutes I joined them:
Krishna Prasad Prabhu recalls, “This is a really nice young lady from Israel. . . . I approached her to see if she would take some books. She’s a spiritual person into yoga and told me that she’s been looking for answers about life in general and about the universe. She said that she’s been having some problems with her family lately and was looking for a way to clear up those difficulties! I told her that problems in the material world will always come and go but this ancient spiritual knowledge will teach her how to tolerate such problems and be more transcendental to them. She was very curious and looking forward to read the books as she’s already a spiritually inquisitive person so she happily gave a nice donation for the set.”
Thanks to Ananda Prabhu for the photo and to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for sharing it!
I went to the Sunday Feast in Brooklyn, and I encountered Bob (on right in photo) who remembered me from University of South Florida in Tampa, which was a surprise.
Here Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn, and two ladies play shakers (https://youtu.be/QO3Ng-g2X1s):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn, and a lady happily plays shakers and buys books (https://youtu.be/K_Se8MN8-6k):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” at Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn, and a lady plays shakers (https://youtu.be/751K4Iq8bVE):
Govind chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn, and boy and his mom play shakers (https://youtu.be/0uKR9fbKSyc):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” at Penn Station subway station on New Year’s Eve (https://youtu.be/sZFuowH2OIw):
The New York New Year’s Eve Harinam began at Radha Govinda Mandir, and about fifty devotees led by Premananda Kirtan Prabhu proceeded down Flatbush Avenue, through Grand Army Plaza, to Prospect Park, where thousands of people gather to watch the fireworks at midnight. Video by ISKCON Brooklyn (https://youtu.be/FirxVBcL-74):
My Time in the Albany Area
I cooked breakfast and lunch, bought food, medicine, gasoline, and Christmas presents, and drove my mother to appointments for seven days in December.
One Sunday afternoon I borrowed my mother’s car and drove to Stuyvesant Falls to have an Ekadasi lunch with my guru and his caretakers, including my friends Bhakti Rasa and Kirtida Prabhus, who I see in Newcastle, England, when I visit for several weeks every year. They always help me out by coming on harinama, driving me to and from the airport and train station, and offering me an occasional meal. They have lots of devotional qualities and a deep appreciation of our guru. I bought some asparagus at the shop for the meal on the way as Baladeva Prabhu, my guru’s longtime servant had advised. Although I fasted the morning as usual on Ekadasi, after just a cup of a smoothie I felt energized enough to volunteer to be the first reader during my Guru Maharaja’s lunch, which was a real treat for me. Guru Maharaja’s voice sounded strong, and he spoke with clarity. He appeared in better health than I had seen him in recently, after having rested up from the Vyasa-puja event in early December. After lunch I took all the maha-prasadam from all the deities to give to my mother.
Almost every Sunday, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, at his house across the street, gives a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is streamed live on the internet. He is happy to have people sit in the room and hear it live. His tech person and secretary, Sraddha Devi Dasi, was visiting her folks for Christmas, so when we arrived for class, we found him finishing lunch. He was happy to invite us in to chat with him informally, and we talked for over an hour, and I put some notes from our conversation below in “Insights”.
While staying at the home where I grew up sixty years ago, which is on two acres of land seven miles southeast of Albany, I would chant japa while looking at the snow, trees, clouds, and sky.
I find looking at God’s creations pacifies the mind while looking at man’s creations agitates it.
While rummaging through my mother’s cupboards, I found three ecstatic fruit-nut bars that the devotees make in Czech Republic and which I gave her three years ago. It was like meeting an old friend! Two of the three were still good but not the coconut one:
My family attends the Christmas program on Christmas Eve at the Albany Friends Meeting. Volunteers from the crowd enact a drama of the story of the appearance of Lord Jesus Christ in this world, playing the different roles. There was incredible diversity in the cast, including people of different ages, genders, races, and nationalities:
Many devotional Christmas songs are sung describing the appearance of Jesus in this world, and people experienced joy in the congregational singing. Previously at a Quaker meeting a few weeks before I mentioned how we used to go Christmas caroling as I was growing up, and that it was a joyful experience. I suggested they might take advantage of the Christmas season when such goings on are expected, and in this way increase their joy through the group singing of spiritual songs, but I do not know that they ever did. The congregational chanting of the glories of the Lord is the dharma for this age, so I tried to encourage them as much as I could, given the circumstances.
To end an absolutely wonderful year, I did harinama with fifty devotees from ISKCON Brooklyn, 26 Second Avenue, and the Bhakti Center, at Prospect Park in Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve, through a crowd of thousands. I thank the Lord and His devotees for giving me so many joyous opportunities.
Special Experiences in 2019
At the end of the year, I like to reflect on some of the new and some of the extra special experiences I had during the year.
I chanted Hare Krishna on the ferry between Belfast and Scotland for the first time ever, and I chanted in two new towns on the northeast coast of England, Whitby and Filey. During long layovers at Gatwick while traveling between Paris and Orlando, I chanted in Brighton twice, where Mohini Devi Dasi organized harinamas attended by six and eight people, respectively. I organized a Monday night harinama in Manchester, which was attended by eight or nine devotees, and which inspired Karsna and Aharada Prabhu’s to make that a regular biweekly event.
I chanted Hare Krishna with Harinama Ruci in Dublin to advertise the Dublin Ratha-yatra, and it was so ecstatic I just have to mention it. My most watched video for this year came from that time (https://youtu.be/efjutRyUA1c):
I was amazed by the number of people that Harinamananda and Sundar Nitai Prabhus of Harinama Ruci engaged in joyfully chanting the entire Hare Krishna mantra, thus relieving them of their karmic burden and giving them a taste of devotional service to Krishna. These included workers from a French restaurant and from Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, tourists and locals, and street performers as well (https://youtu.be/K3CNqthKBH8):
I chanted with a party of devotees outside Berlin’s Schönefeld airport for the first time, and I chanted in a park and in the downtown of Kaunas, Lithuania. Our final harinama at the Vaishnava Sanga Festival in Canada had 74 devotees in it!
My most liked video from 2019 was from our Janmastami harinama in Newcastle, England, when nine-year-old, Jiya, led the chanting of Hare Krishna and her younger sister played the karatalas (https://youtu.be/A08cdyqqMb4):
We invited a street musician to play “My Sweet Lord” at the Liverpool Ratha-yatra, and he had a great time singing at the event, associating with the devotees, and taking prasadam. I attended the harinama at the Great North Run in the Newcastle area, where 57,000 runners heard the devotees chant Hare Krishna over the course of 2½ hours. I joined Rama Raya Prabhu’s Yuga Dharma Ashram in chanting Hare Krishna and distributing books for eight or nine hours at the Boston Hemp Festival. We also did harinama for two days in Rittenhouse Square to advertise the Philadelphia Ratha-yatra as well as performing kirtana for hours at the Ratha-yatra site. Seventeen devotees chanted on a Tuesday night harinama in Boston, which Chatamayi Devi Dasi organized for me. Twenty-five devotees from Krishna House did a spontaneous harinama on a Friday night in Gainesville at my request. I encouraged a team of devotees from Brooklyn ISKCON to chant in the New York City Halloween parade, and I encouraged Yuga Dharma Ashram devotees to chant at the New York City Marathon the following Sunday. We had about fifteen devotees chanting Hare Krishna at the Hudson Winter Walk, the largest number in recent years and possibly the largest ever. During the Prabhupada marathon in addition to chanting six hours per day with the Yuga Dharma Ashram, I chanted Hare Krishna for almost nineteen additional hours at different subway stations in New York City, including some new ones for me such as Yankee Stadium, Seventh Avenue, South Ferry, Fulton Street, 145th Street (ACBD), and the best of all, 168th Street, where in 3¼ hours people donated $55.57 and accepted 11 books. You can see the details in the chart below:
To end an absolutely wonderful year, I did harinama with fifty devotees from ISKCON Brooklyn, 26 Second Avenue, and the Bhakti Center, at Prospect Park in Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve, through a crowd of thousands. I thank the Lord and His devotees for giving me so many joyous opportunities.
Expenses and Income for 2019
As people give me donations, I feel obliged to account for how the money I receive is spent. Srila Prabhupada would always keep track of his expenses and income, and he is our example. I can provide details if people want to know, but here I supply a summary:
From a class on Bhagavad-gita 18.45 in Durban on October 11, 1975:
“Who can give better service than Mahatma Gandhi? Who can become such honest man, ideal man. He was addressed as mahatma [great soul]. Still, his service was not recognized. He was killed. So that is the result of material service. Therefore Krishna says that, ‘This kind of service rendering will never satisfy you, neither the party will be satisfied. You give up all this wrong engagement; you give service to Me.’”
“Suppose I have passed medical examination, but I do not practice. Then nobody will call me a doctor . . . I must practice. I must cure patient. Then I will be known as medical practitioner.” In the same way one’s actual work shows what his varna is.
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.4 in Vrindavana on March 19, 1974:
“When one is alone, he’s not so much attached with the material world. But as soon as he unites with the other party, then he gets children, and the attraction increases. The real business is that we have to withdraw our attraction for this material . . . That they do not know. I am a spirit soul. Being attracted by this material nature, I am now encaged within this body, and I am changing this body. Just like I am changing this body from boyhood to childhood, childhood to, from childhood to boyhood, from youthhood. In this way, I have been entangled in this transmigration of the soul. This is my problem. Bhagavan, Krishna, says, ‘Real problem is janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi [birth, death, old age, and disease] [Bg. 13.9].’ . . . Nowadays they have discovered so many problems. But actual problem—janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi—they are not very much serious.”
“If you some way or other can reach Krishna, Vishnu, then you’ll be saved. . . . Then you’ll not have to come to this material world again simply to suffer. This is Krishna consciousness philosophy.”
From a class on Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 20.110–11 in Bombay on November 27, 1975:
“Here He [Krishna] is playing on His flute, but His energies are working. Just like a big man, a big business magnate – he is sitting in his room, but his energy is working – big, big factory is going on; large amount of profit is coming automatically. So if it is possible for ordinary human being that he is sitting in one place, and still, things are going on by management of his energy, so why not Krishna, the Supreme Lord? . . . He is situated in His planet, Goloka Vrindavana; still His energies are going on. The material energy is working, this material world. . . . Under His vigilance all the laws of material nature is going on.”
“Whatever we see, that is manifestation of the Supreme Lord’s different energy. The example is the fire and the heat and light. . . . The heat is the material energy, and light is the spiritual energy. Just like when you feel some heat, you can immediately understand there is some fire. And if there is light, you can immediately understand there is fire. The light you can see, and heat we can feel. By feeling or seeing, we can understand the existence of God everywhere. This is intelligence. . . . We should appreciate the presence of God everywhere by His different energies, exactly like heat and light.”
“To purify the existence we have to practice tapasya [austerity], not running like cats and dogs here and there. . . . If you want to get out of this entanglement of distressed condition of material body, then mahat-sevam: you associate with mahatmas and serve him [them].”
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.30 in Bombay on January 7, 1975:
“But if you have faith in Krishna’s words, niscaya, ‘When Krishna says that if I surrender unto Him, He will give me protection, there is no doubt about it,’ that is called faith, niscayatmika.”
“The example is given: There is a rope, and due to my ignorance or insufficient knowledge, I take it as a snake. This is my insufficient knowledge. The snake is fact, and the rope is fact. But when we take the rope as snake, that is ignorance, or the snake as rope, that is ignorance. The Mayavadi philosopher says that ‘We are accepting . . . rope as a snake, but there is no snake.’ But we, Vaishnava philosopher, we say, ‘No, there is snake and there is rope. But when we accept the rope as snake, that is maya.’ Similarly, there is spiritual world, and there is material world. But when we accept the material world as everything, that is maya. That is illusion.”
“Krishna is desiring that everyone should surrender unto Him. That is His desire. So guru’s business is to train people how to surrender to Krishna, not to become Krishna. That is foolishness. You cannot become Krishna.”
“Now, how he [the guru] has become dear to Krishna? Because he is preaching the same principle as Krishna wanted.”
“Krishna is not so cheap thing that one can become Krishna. One can become Krishna’s most confidential servant – that is possible. But one cannot become Krishna. That is another illusion, maya.”
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
From Memory in the Service of Krishna:
“You cannot cease praying to Krishna. You need Him at every moment. On your own, you are nothing; there is no guarantee. You must always pray and be dependent. That was the humiliating lesson of the bout with amnesia.”
From Karttika Papers:
“A day here is worth
millions somewhere else says
Bumpkin returns to the
West with stars in eyes and
plan. He’ll be a
Prabhupada-Gauranga man.” (Notepad #5, pp. 228–29)
“my hand wants
to chant and write
Lord, as You will,
as You allow and as You desire
You favor someone.” (Notepad #6, pp. 235–37)
“I began with a small headache, but it
went away, partly because I
loved what I was doing and
they didn’t exert pressure on me.
I could have stopped when I wanted.” (Notepad #6, pp. 240–41)
From Free Write Journal #71:
“A distracted soul cannot look at the Deities and see Them. He sees only the messages from his own mind—what people are doing to him and saying about him. He sees trivia and fragments of recent ingestions—from newspapers, rumors, or the past.”
“You will chant.
Do the dance of
petty truths and concerns of the mind.
Ever so gently
“the thoughts of the mind
and resound in the sound
of hari-nama awhile, awhile, there’s no other cure for
what ails ya.”
From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 34:
“I can tell of my days
and the falling apart of the Krishna consciousness
movement. For example,
in ‘The Bear,’ the brave dog,
Lion leaps at the bear and
the bear (old Ben, who we
may compare to Mahamaya)
rips out its entrails.
Still, the dog won’t release its
Later, when Ben is killed,
the doctor puts Lion’s guts in
and sews them up.
“So, this may be likened to the
falling out of ISKCON’s guts
and the sewing of them back in
by the responsible members
of the movement.”
From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 35:
“Waiting for lunch.
Can’t imagine I’ll die.
I write about it as a fact,
but it’s too scary.
“So, you turn to the Eternal.
As escape? Yes, why not?
Escape from death and void
depend on sastras
which tell us the soul
never dies, he just jolts out
of one body, falls asleep
and awakens in a body new.
“We pray to Krishna – please
give us inspiration to desire
no more births
but join You in Goloka
where Your pure devotees please You forever.” (p. 29)
From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 41:
“Whoever reads this poem of mine
I thank and may he gain the eternal favor
of Lord Krishna who stands with splendor
in His pastimes in the forest. May
the reader remember
the Lord at
death and go to His abode.” (pp. 27–28)
“Plunge into japa alone, and you’ll
join the parampara of chanters. We’re
never alone and always alone.” (pp. 47–48)
“We live to
eat but also to read and
live and breathe and sleep and
rise for japa in cycles
a little longer.” (pp. 124–25)
“I’ve been away from Krishna too long,
you can contact Him right away
anytime you read. Even if it’s
dull and dry, you’re with Him, you are
at the cloud, the outer covering.
He’s inside.” (pp. 156–57)
“Prabhupada ahead of us, waiting for us.
We don’t know where we came from or
where we are going. We want to
find the spiritual world of bliss and
eternity and know our rasa, and it
makes new sense – we want to
serve, we’ve got the right
body and mind, all soul.” (pp. 156–57)
“You will write and someone will read it, but
before long each has to exit and be with
Krishna the way we each do – or do not.” (pp. 205–7)
“Now I still don’t despair. I am
not so orthodox, but ISKCON itself is
strange. Anywhere you can be genuine
and loyal, do it there, be Krishna conscious,
repeat the message of Prabhupada
the basic memory of what you’re supposed to do:
Avoid the nondevotee mood,
go on chanting,
some kind of witnessing to others
your own example, prayers for
faith and experience.
To be honest and simple
to not waste time, don’t cheat
others.” (pp. 205–7)
“Laugh and eat under the
umbrella of Krishna’s feet
never forget some way to connect
chosen words to
Him. He’s here.” (p. 210)
From a Sunday feast lecture at ISKCON Brooklyn:
Srila Prabhupada wanted every house in America to have a set of his books.
Srila Prabhupada wanted us to have vehicles that opened on the side, revealing changing bodies exhibits and other dioramas, and to park them on college campuses so people could learn that they are not their bodies.
Srila Prabhupada said that all someone has to do is visit the temple and see the form of the Lord and honor prasadam to go back to Godhead.
On February 9 last year we did harinama for two or three hours in the Chinatown parade which is attended by thousands of people. We had invitations and mantra cards in Chinese, inviting people to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. We plan to do it again in the coming year, and you are invited.
There are thousands of books in the NYU library, but there are no books that tell you that the Absolute Truth is one, but He became two, as Krishna and Radha, and then later became one again as Lord Caitanya.
Srila Prabhupada said that if you are considering becoming a devotee, Krishna will speak to you in the heart and encourage you.
When Jesus was crucified, he cried, “My Lord, why have you forsaken me?” I wondered about that, and I researched it. I found that in one of the Psalms it foretells the crucifixion.
Jesus Christ said, “In the kingdom of my father, there are many mansions.” Srila Prabhupada describes what they are made of.
In my own case, my family offered me a million dollars to leave Krishna consciousness. That was fifty years ago, when a million dollars was worth a lot more than it is now.
My apartment became the first temple in Paris. The devotees had gotten kicked out of their apartment because their burning spices disturbed everyone in the building, I offered to let them stay my place in exchange for free meals. Prabhupada, in a letter to them, thanked me for offering my place.
Once a devotee who was to be initiated was reluctant to shave because his coworkers would tease him. Srila Prabhupada told him to just shave once for the initiation ceremony and not to worry as his hair would grow back.
When I went to Israel to open a temple, one devotee who was in Israel fixed up a place for us to stay. He lit it with electricity he borrowed from another apartment. That night we arrived we were all arrested by the police for stealing electricity. We heard on the news the next day, “The Hare Krishna devotees have arrived in Israel, and they have already been arrested for stealing electricity.”
One fourteen-year-old girl joined us for while, but her family was against us. They thought we were involved with drugs, and the police came and searched our entire place. The police chief said in his testimony, “We could not find any drugs. These people chant the names of God in public and distribute an amazing food called halava. I think they should be given unrestricted access to the streets of Tel Aviv and wherever else they want to go.”
Our kirtan party was filmed for a movie that was released after we had been there for just a week. Its title was The Uranium Conspiracy.
Thus after a very brief time in Israel, everyone was aware of the Hare Krishnas being there.
From a conversation after class:
Siddhanta talked to me for five hours in the course of recording material for Prabhupada Memories.
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu:
From a conversation at his home in Stuyvesant Falls on December 22, 2019:
The devas are like the nervous system of the universe. Brahma is the soul. Vishnu is the Supersoul.
The first Soviet devotees who I met in Mayapur said they worked on a fruit farm. They knew when the communist party meetings were because they would always get orders for a lot of fruit. The devotees picked the fruit, took it to a secluded part of the farm, and then they offered the fruit to Krishna before shipping it to the Communist party meeting. Perhaps that is the reason the Soviet rule came to an end.
Comment by me: Also I think Krishna was displeased with the Soviets torturing religious people in prison camps in Siberia, and that was another reason their rule came to an end.
Prabhupada several times talked about a war erupting between Pakistan and India that brought in America and Russia and thus the whole world. I asked my GBC, Rupanuga Prabhu, to ask Srila Prabhupada what happened about the war. Prabhupada said, “Krishna changed his mind.” I thought about the implications of that for ten years. Krishna’s plan is not set in stone.
Srila Prabhupada would say, “Lord Caitanya’s movement will go all over the world. You help make it happen and get the credit.” The implication being if we didn’t, someone else would.
God sends two kinds of people: the ministers and the Scourge of God.
I was involved with what was called the guru reform movement. I did not feel that I was in control of it. Rather I felt as if I was being moved at each step by a superior power.
Question (by me): What is your vision for the future of ISKCON?
I do not have any special vision other than that everything will progress nicely if we strictly follow the four rules and chant Hare Krishna. One thing I learned as an ISKCON leader is that many devotees do not actually follow the four rules and chant Hare Krishna as they promised. People do not understand that the four rules against meat eating, illicit sex, gambling, and intoxication are principles of cognition. If we can follow these rules, we will gain knowledge.
Comment (by me): That reminds me of this powerful quote from the preface of Nectar of Instruction by Srila Prabhupada:
“In all spiritual affairs, one’s first duty is to control his mind and senses. Unless one controls his mind and senses, one cannot make any advancement in spiritual life. Everyone within this material world is engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance. One must promote himself to the platform of goodness, sattva-guna, by following the instructions of Rupa Gosvami, and then everything concerning how to make further progress will be revealed [my italics].”
That is it exactly!
Krishna Kripa Das:
From a conversation:
Krishna Prasad Prabhu makes cookies for our harinama party here in New York, and the challenge is how to avoid spending the whole afternoon eating cookies. It is so tempting that almost every Ekadasi someone spaces out and eats one anyway, although it breaks the fast. Once on a non-Ekadasi day, I did not eat a single cookie. That day I decided that whenever I felt like eating a cookie, I would bring my mind back to the sound of the mantra. It was actually a very painless and effective technique. Unfortunately, I was only sincere enough to do it one day in three months!
John Woolman (Quaker missionary):
[In York, England, we have our Hare Krishna meetings in the John Woolman room of the York Friends Meeting. Apparently, although from America, Woolman left his body in York due to an illness in the course of his missionary work. Here is a quote by him that is largely consistent with Hare Krishna teachings which I found posted on the wall of the Albany Friends Meeting.]
“Look, my dear Friends, to divine Providence, and follow in simplicity that exercise of body, that plainness and frugality, which true wisdom leads to, so may you be preserved from those dangers which attend such who are aiming after outward ease and greatness.”
[You can compare the life of simplicity, plainness, and frugality, which wisdom leads to, to goodness, the aim of outward ease to ignorance, and the aim for greatness to passion. Krishna advises to avoid ignorance and passion and keep oneself in goodness, where one can attain spiritual knowledge.]
Srila Prabhupada would often quote this verse which stresses that love of God (krishna-prema) is always present in the hearts of all living entities, and that it just needs to be awakened by devotional service beginning with hearing. He would make the point that the fact that Westerners, who had never heard of Krishna, were now becoming attracted to Him, was evidence of this krishna-prema being already present in the heart. This verse is a favorite verse of inspiration for me.
nitya-siddha krishna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya
sravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya
“Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.107)