Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 6
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2017, part two)
(March 2017, part two)
North and Central Florida
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on April 22, 2017)
Where I Went and What I Did
As the second half of March began, I returned to Gainesville after three days in Jacksonville, and continued chanting at Krishna Lunch during the week, chanting at the Farmers Market with the Krishna House devotees on Wednesdays, and chanting at the corner of the University of Florida campus with the Alachua devotees on Fridays. Thursdays I would go to Tampa with Ramiya and Ananta Prabhus and chant before our University of South Florida Bhakti Yoga club programs. Tuesday evenings I attended a new campus Krishna program at the University of Florida. On Saturday, March 18, I went with Alachua and Gainesville devotees to chant in Daytona to thousands of motorcyclists at the yearly Daytona Bike Week. The next Saturday devotees from Krishna House visited Balabhadra Prabhu at his farm southeast of Gainesville and learned about cow protection. On Wednesday, March 29, I went to the University of North Florida in Jacksonville for the last time this spring, and I chanted on the campus green with students and attended the evening Krishna Club program. Thus it was a very busy two weeks!
I share a quote from a letter by Srila Prabhupada. I include excerpts from the books and poems of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I include notes on lectures by visiting swamis, Guru Prasad Swami and Niranjana Swami, and by Prabhupada disciples, Balabhadra Prabhu, Kalakantha Prabhu, Mother Nanda, Ramiya Prabhu, and Sesa Prabhu. I share nectar from Bhadra Prabhu about Ratha-yatra. I also include notes on lectures by many Krishna House devotees, including several who grew up in Hare Krishna families.
I would like to thank Jagadish and Savitri Prabhus very, very much for inviting me to their program with Niranjana Swami.
I would like to thank Jagadish and Savitri Prabhus very, very much for inviting me to their program with Niranjana Swami.
April 20–23: Newcastle
April 24: London
April 25–26: Radhadesh
April 25–26: Radhadesh
April 27: King’s Day, Amsterdam
April 28: Rotterdam
April 29–30: Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtana
May 1–4: Newcastle
May 5: Leeds
May 6: York
May 7: Scarborough and Newcastle
May 8–9: Newcastle
May 10: Sheffield
May 11–: France
August 1–6: Polish Woodstock
August 8–16: Ottawa Vaishnava Sanga Retreat / Janmastami and Vyasa-puja
August 17–September 5: Europe
September 5–November ?: New York City (ex. Sept. 19–23: Philadelphia)
November ?– December 1: Florida
December: New York City
Chanting Hare Krishna at Daytona Bike Week
Of course, bikers are not famous for having a prolivity to take to Krishna consciousness, but since each soul is part of Krishna the potential is there. It is said in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 7.23: “In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.” Thus for several years devotees from Alachua have chanted Hare Krishna at the famous Daytona Bike Week. Somehow, although often in the Alachua area in March, I had never gone to this event before, and I was eager to experience it. Four devotees from Krishna House joined several devotees from Alachua, along with Chandrashekhara Acarya Prabhu, who I have done harinama with in Paris and Berlin, and we all chanted over 2 hours on the busy Main Street in Daytona, which was crowded with bikers.
A few people danced to our music and some gave the “thumbs up” gesture of approval. Others were curious enough to take our free “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlets.
A middle-aged lady and an older lady across the street from our party, smiled and danced to our music. I went over and talked to them. The middle-aged lady’s daughter had just returned from India the day before, and she was surprised to be reminded of India again by seeing Hare Krishnas at Bike Week. I sent Tulasirani Devi Dasi over to talk to them as she is more social than I am and can relate to the people better. She said the two were dancing in a bar, when they saw us out the window, and they decided to dance with the Hare Krishnas instead. Apparently that was more fun, and they kept going for over half an hour. You can see Tulasirani talking to and dancing with them in this video of our different singers chanting Hare Krishna at Bike Week (https://youtu.be/W30ijQpCKdg):
Krishna House Devotees Chant Hare Krishna at Farmers Market
Several different devotees took turns leading the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market in downtown Gainesville on Wednesday afternoon.
Tulasirani Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market (https://youtu.be/7HPgTpptJg8):
Mukunda Datta Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market (https://youtu.be/KPbcUcVX7Ow):
Lavanga Devi Dasi leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market (https://youtu.be/lyHkUBwFSss):
Hari Priya leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market (https://youtu.be/xUcz8K8SwyM):
Animesh leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market (https://youtu.be/m_LuxIZkAQU):
Laura leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Farmers Market (https://youtu.be/1NwoHgVjAV8):
The rock group known as “The Beatles” is very famous, and often one sees people wearing Beatles T-shirts with photos of the fabulous four. While at the Gainesville Farmers Market, I spotted a University of Florida entomology major sporting another kind of Beetles T-shirt:
One Krishna House field trip organized by Tulasirani Devi Dasi was to visit Balabhadra Prabhu and his cows on their farm southeast of Gainesville. He is organizer of the International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP).
You can read realizations Balabhadra Prabhu shared with us under “Insights”
The students seemed very home at home with the cows.
They were very affectionate with them.
At the end, we helped Balabhadra Prabhu by planting many trees for him. We all had a great time.
Chanting Hare Krishna at Krishna House
Although we do not usually have a Thursday night kirtan at Krishna House after the evening program and prasadam, seeing interest in evening kirtans increasing, Abhimanyu Prabhu proposed one, and lots of devotees participated. Here he is leading the chanting of Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/vdbadXgxTIA):
Tsurit chants Hare Krishna at beginning of Krishna House Saranagati Saturday (https://youtu.be/bYOsMmGQF-Y):
Chanting Hare Krishna at New Raman Reti (Alachua)
Chandrashekhara Acharya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Alachua Sunday Feast (https://youtu.be/6SwSOlCqmEM):
Nadiya Mani Devi Dasi led beautiful kirtana during the bathing ceremony of Lord Jagannath (snana-yatra), and several of the Krishna House girls danced, as well as others (https://youtu.be/3XAhUqJ3waM):
Upendra Hari Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Alachua Sunday Feast (https://youtu.be/_wO9-DlPRMU):
Gitanagari Prabhu led the chanting of Hare Krishna after Guru Puja one day in Alachua, and he encouraged the other devotees to lead for one mantra. Then he finished the kirtan himself (https://youtu.be/N0BKHYx_dEI):
Sometimes we would have many chanters at Krishna Lunch.
That day Purusartha Prabhu brought his friends from Hartford, temple president, Pyari Mohan Prabhu, and his wife.
Here Purusartha Prabhu chants Hare Krishna, and Hari Priya plays harmonium at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/aox8XTs9yrc):
Here is another video of Purusartha Prabhu chanting at Krishna Lunch another day (https://youtu.be/_J-4LOCWLBI):
Adikarta Prabhu, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada from the UK, spends several days a week talking to students at the University of Florida and trying to interest them in Srila Prabhupada’s books. Occasionally, as in this video, he chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/KU0cAsMit4w):
Chandrashekhara Acarya Prabhu, a great singer who I knew from the Polish Festival Tour and from Metroyoga in Paris, chanted with us a couple times at Krishna Lunch during his visit to Alachua (https://youtu.be/ohU3szqh0Rc):
The second time several devotees took great pleasure in dancing to his singing (https://youtu.be/XWcLsJmlDHM):
Tulasirani Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/FwyagU4pXIA):
Radha Govinda Prabhu, after cooking for 1,000 students, often chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/Hoof3b12sM0)
Here is another video of Radha Govinda Prabhu leading the chanting of Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/y15yu5DW6Uc):
Ananda-Murari Prabhu, of Denver, who is presently traveling around America doing kirtan with Madhuri Pura Prabhu at different venues, chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/jtZrO6bh2dY):
Here Ananda-Murari Prabhu chants another day at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/ZTFNgOyoXgU):
Now that Amala Harinama Prabhu lives in Alachua, he occasionally chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch to the delight of the devotees there (https://youtu.be/vyst-F9bsjM):
Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu Das Prabhu, son of Prabhupada disciple, Gauridas Pandit Prabhu, has been involved with Krishna House activities for many years and has devotion and musical talent. Here he chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/ywrd6kizBbE):
Here his chanting of Hare Krishna inspires devotees to dance (https://youtu.be/Okh8EE0a0cs):
Krishna Prasad Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/xl9aSj6y4nw):
Kishor Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/4D_0QeOlAeQ):
Abhimanyu Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/s8NA7dFf1v4):
Hari Priya, daughter of Yadubara and Visakha Prabhus, has a great love for kirtan and sings almost every day at Krishna Lunch at the University of Florida in Gainesville. A few days the last week of March she even kept chanting for an hour after the Krishna Lunch was over. It is inspiring to see young devotees who love to chant the holy names (https://youtu.be/UQx12lvi0aE):
Shri-Ram, the president of our club on campus, chanted Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/NQHLBnpqkOE):
Laura, sixteen-year-old granddaughter of Urmila Devi Dasi, chanted Hare Krishna with youthful enthusiasm at Krishna Lunch (https://youtu.be/ghrXndMHL5E):
University of Florida Campus Krishna Club
Ramai Prabhu led the Hare Krishna chanting at the second meeting of the our campus Krishna club at University of Florida (https://youtu.be/Fd796b7p1js):
That night just one student who was not from a Hare Krishna family came to the program, a young lady who had attended Krishna Club at the University of North Florida in Jacksonsville and had transferred to UF.
The next week she came again, along with three new students, and Ramai chanted again (https://youtu.be/xxyclAZ6pRw):
The next week she came again, along with three new students, and Ramai chanted again (https://youtu.be/xxyclAZ6pRw):
At the end, some of the ladies were inspired to dance (https://youtu.be/UmN5QzXsI34):
Chanting Hare Krishna at the University of North Florida
For the last time this spring, I chanted on the University of North Florida green and attended the Krishna Club meeting.
While I chanted on the green for four hours, Youssef came by and led the chanting for a while, and McKenna and two other regulars from the Krishna Club joined us (https://youtu.be/mfOAr2lcvCA):
Dorian came by and chanted with me for two hours. Part of the time he sang one of his favorite tunes (https://youtu.be/Yir8R5894ng):
While he was chanting with me, Michael, a religious studies major, came by and joined us for at least half an hour. That was his first experience chanting Hare Krishna, and he came to the Krishna Club meeting later that evening and he really liked it. He is sitting between Madhuri Pura Prabhu and Kira in the following videos. Ananda-Murari and Madhuri Pura Prabhu, continuing their travel around the United States and doing kirtan at different venues, chanted at that Krishna Club meeting.
Ananda-Murari Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the UNF Krishna Club (https://youtu.be/a7pNdrj5thY):
Madhuri Pura Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at the UNF Krishna Club (https://youtu.be/k73en2Kmnjw):
Over halfway into the semester we added dancing to the Hare Krishna kirtan at the University of South Florida Bhakti Yoga Club meetings. Here Ramiya Prabhu chants, I play the drum, and Bhargavi encourages the students to dance (https://youtu.be/bsVIgvv4GRI):
Dancing is one of the sixty-four items of devotional service, and it is an expression of love of God in one who is advanced. Thus I always see it as a move in a positive direction when the new people begin to dance for Krishna, even if it is not done with complete knowledge or realization.
Chanting at the University of Florida Entrance with Alachua Devotees
Each Friday for decades Alachua devotees have been chanting Hare Krishna in the early evening. I come every week, but I brought my camera only on March 17 and March 31 and took some videos. Here are some clips from March 17:
Len Cohen plays guitar and leads Alachua and Gainesville devotees in the chanting of Hare Krishna at the University of Florida entrance (https://youtu.be/-PfP55KY9mM):
Nagaraja Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the University of Florida entrance (https://youtu.be/o4UrVLkQaoc):
Hari Priya chants Hare Krishna at the University of Florida entrance (https://youtu.be/pekVEqlc7wQ):
Now that Amala Harinama Prabhu lives in Alachua, he sometimes comes on the Alachua harinama at the University of Florida entrance gate as on this day (https://youtu.be/yiLqLhQpFdw):
Here are some clips from March 31:
Animesh leads chanting of Hare Krishna with Alachua and Gainesville devotees at the entrance to the University of Florida (https://youtu.be/xYlMIcgmXF8):
Keshava Prabhu leads chanting of Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/P-XvdH06oT8):
Hari Priya leads chanting of Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/v2apTxnS7C0):
Niranjana Swami Chants Hare Krishna at an Alachua Home Program
Niranjana Swami chanted Hare Krishna with a group of friends and followers at a home program in Alachua (https://youtu.be/y3tW7-ADNuQ):
At the end of the program artist Gandharvika Devi Dasi, accompanied by her husband,
Indradyumna Prabhu, residents of Alachua for many years now though native Russian speakers, offered Niranjana Swami a painting of hers as a gift.
To see the photos I did not include in this issue, click on the link below:
From a letter to Sukadeva written in Calcutta on March 4, 1973:
“Krishna has given everyone something extraordinary and to serve Krishna with one’s extraordinary talent means successful life.”
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:
From Japa Reform Notebook:
“Dear Mind, please hear …
“The chanting is deceivingly simple—
just repeat some names. But
the mind is rebelling because
if you say these names, then
all sense gratification will
go away and you will become
a devotee of Krishna.
The mind wants us to be
a devotee of our nonsense mind.
So although it is deceptively simple,
it is hard to actually chant. Therefore,
we stress it always. It is
a simple process, and if
you try it in a simple way
it will not be difficult.
But if you go on listening
to your mind,
it will be very difficult.”
“If you just try
to let go of your different plans
and material desires and
let the chanting work,
so many realizations will come,
and you will feel
very attached to
the holy name and
to this process.
During japa time, don’t
talk and converse and socialize.
other times for that.”
From Churning the Milk Ocean:
“Lord Krishna, You are the greatest giant,
but You are also smaller than the smallest.
You are in the heart of each ant
and even in the stone
in a very limited form of consciousness.
You are all-pervading.
You are untouched by matter and
apart even from the work of Your
immediate Vishnu expansions.
You are not menacing to me unless
I’m foolish enough to try to menace
You or Your creation or Your devotees.
The seasonal sounds have some reason to be
or You would not have put them here.
A wise devotee sees You everywhere
and sees everything in You.”
From a japa poem:
“I admit my state of chanting
is fallen. When you chant,
be aware that
you are serving Radha and Krishna
and that you want to do it.
Make your mind a friend.
Beat the mind with a stick
if that is what it takes.
Be attentive. Know:
I can change.
I can reform.
I am not completely helpless.
῾All these sweet practices
and attainments can be ours.’”
Guru Prasad Swami:
In the pastime of Krishna marrying Rukmini, we see the unswerving devotion of the goddess of fortune for her Lord. We also see that although a devotee may have to experience a very severe situation ultimately Krishna reciprocates with that devotee.
Krishna does not always appear to reciprocate the love of the devotee because Krishna acts into order to increase that love. Krishna wants to bring us to the point where He is conquered by our love.
[I took more notes on Guru Prasad Swami’s class, but the hard drive of my 2007 Macbook died, and I lost them. If anyone knows how to extract data from damaged Mac hard drives and wants to help recover it, let me know. I lost all notes on classes from March 26–31, 2017.]
Badahari Das Prabhu is my bhajana guru. Perhaps 20 years ago, before Badahari Das Prabhu began traveling, for several nights at Pancatattva’s house, he played almost all the bhajanas I know, and I recorded them. After that I told him, “You are too valuable just to sit here in Alachua,” and I brought him to the Ukraine festival. The devotees there liked him so much, he could not keep from going every year. There Indradyumna Swami found out about him.
Discussion following reading Srila Prabhupada’s purport to “Gaura Pahun”:
Spiritual death is to forget “I am spirit.”
Srila Prabhupada uses the word “useless” that devotees sometimes have a difficult time with.
Hearing how Krishna reciprocates pure devotional service one acquires attraction for it.
Glorifying pure devotional is valuable because it shows our faith in its existence, although we may not have it.
Anything in comparison to pure devotional service is “useless.”
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says in Amrita Vani, after listing many bad reasons to chant the holy name, concludes by saying, “Chanting the holy name for any other reason than to attain the Lord’s devotional service is useless.”
Spiritual death is to neglect Lord Caitanya’s mercy.
The defect of the Mayavadis is they have no interest in mercy, in particular Lord Caitanya’s mercy.
After accepting the disciple’s help to get across a ditch in Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada pushed him away. To the shocked observers he said, “This is what the impersonalists do. They accept the guru to achieve their ends, and then they push him away.”
If we have a material body, it is due to our misdeeds. Thus even so-called pious activities are impious.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says the devotees, especially householders, cannot avoid physical proximity to materialistic people, but they engage in the six kinds of exchanges with them only out of duty, whereas they do these exchanges with other devotees with love, because the devotees remind them of Krishna, who they desire to remember.
By saying “not engaging in the six exchanges with materialistic people with affection,” Bhaktivinoda Thakura means not having affection for fulfilling their material desires.
We work to maintain body and soul together so we can associate with devotees and develop our love for Krishna.
If the devotees are sincere, then by associating with them, people will become transformed.
To lament we have not attained the association of devotees or taken seriously the sankirtana mission of Lord Caitanya, or attained Krishna is purifying.
The song “Nadiya Godrume” ends “The showing of compassion to all fallen souls by loudly chanting the holy name of Krishna is the essence of all forms of religion.”
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says in his commentary on “Nadiya Godrume,” “The order of Lord Caitanya is that one incessantly chant the holy name. To do this one should remain in one’s natural position, either as a householder or a renunciate, so he will able to chant the holy name incessantly.”
When I first saw Srila Prabhupada’s diary, I copied down this entry:
“Thursday, February 3, 1966:
Today there was a very nice demonstration of tape-record Samkirtan by me.
It is all Grace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Haridas Thakur said that the transcendental sound of Hari Nama would even purify the heart of birds and beasts. Today this statement of Thakur Haridas is corroborated. These American can not understand even a word’s meaning of the Sankirtan and yet they were so much attracted? It is all Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s power; there is no credit for me.”
Everything is coming from Mother Earth.
Krsi means agriculture with the bulls. (Bg. 18.43)
When the bulls plow the field it is like a massage for Mother Earth. The urine and dung of the bull are nutrients for Mother Earth. Krishna is the original fragrance of the newly plowed earth. Krishna, not Monsanto, is the seed giving father. Once the seeds are sown, Krishna is the taste of the water needed for their growth. In these ways and many more a farmer can see Krishna everywhere.
If you have 500 vegetable plants in your garden, you have the opportunity to serve 500 devotees. We assist them in their service to Krishna. We plant, we water, we weed, we cook the vegetables, and we offer them to Krishna.
How many times do you bow down when you serve in the garden? Innumerable times. All this bowing down awakens a sense of humility. Also the rice bows down when it is ready for harvest.
I am not the farmer. Krishna is doing everything. I am the servant.
When we see the flowers we grew in the garland on Krishna’s chest, we consider the fortune of the living entities who end up with their flowers touching Krishna’s body instead of those produced in some commercial flower business for other purposes.
Srila Prabhupada said, “The problem is four things. Where is food, water, shelter, and medicine?” These all come from the land.
My object in writing my poems of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is to recreate for the English reader the experience of hearing the original recitation that Maharaja Pariksit heard from Sukadeva, in roughly the same amount of time. I also tried to make the meter of the poetry the same as in the original Sanskrit.
Even if there appear to be inebrieties in a pure devotee’s life, he does not experience them as an ordinary person does because he has no faith in material arrangements.
It is difficult to understand the situation of the gopis, but we can understand that they want to be with Krishna so much they give up all other considerations.
We hate the slaughtering of cows, but we do not hate the people who eat the slaughtered cows. We try to help them.
Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: The gopis consider distress encountered in the service of Krishna the greatest pleasure. That is the glory of their love.
Comment by Tulasirani Devi Dasi: Nowadays we do not consider morality so seriously and thus it is hard to appreciate what the gopis gave up in their pursuance of Krishna.
Padasevanam means to carry out a specific instruction while dasya means general service.
Holika is the sister of Hiranyakasipu. When Hiranyakasipu failed in killing his son, Prahlada, for his devotion to Vishnu, his eternal enemy, he decided to enlist his sister, Holika. Their plan was that Holika would wear a fire-proof gown and hold Prahlada, and then a fire would be set and Holika would be protected and Prahlada will be burned. However, a wind blew the fireproof gown off of Holika and around Prahlada, so he was protected from the fire and not her.
The Hare Krishna Holi festival, attended by 60,000 people, became the biggest festival in the State of Utah.
One attendee was asked why he attended the Holi festival, and he replied, “This is the most fun I have ever had in the State of Utah.”
1. If we are not interested in Krishna, He is not interested in us.
2. If we want to love Krishna, he will give us loving reciprocation, more than we can conceive of.
3. If we want to have some relationship with Krishna, but we are more attached to the things of this world, then He will make some arrangement to detach us which may seem bitter but is medicinal.
Krishna was Arjuna’s chariot driver, which like an Uber driver, is not an elevated position in society.
By the end of the Gita, Arjuna’s only motivation in fighting was to please Krishna.
We do not have to change our occupation but just have to change our motivation.
When Alexander the Great was ill, he told his ministers how he wanted his funeral conducted: “I want the six physicians to carry my body to show that doctors cannot save one. I want my hands open to the sky to show I could not take anything with me. I want gold coins scattered so people can step on them and see their insignificance.”
If we make loving God our first priority, then we can enjoy life because we have taken care of the most important thing. Just like if we first study for our exam, we can enjoy the rest of our weekend without worry.
Putting our faith in something that has no end is the key to happiness.
Our disease is that we are convinced that material things can make us happy. Chanting the names of God is the cure for this disease.
We may not be convinced that surrender to Krishna will make us happy, but we can be convinced to try chanting Hare Krishna. Chanting will bring us to a higher awareness.
The chanting of the holy name has been transformational in our lives and thus we just share it with others.
Krishna had His disk, Kalki has His sword, Rama had His arrows, and Parasurama had His ax, but Lord Caitanya’s weapon is the holy name. It is also medicine to cure our absorption in the ephemeral.
Chanting is like the medicine triphala, which is good whether you have diarrhea or constipation. Whether you are materially attached or spiritually complacent, chanting will help you advance.
From an istha-goshti:
Srila Prabhupada said, “Sweat is a sign of strength and sleep is a sign of weakness in spiritual life.”
Srila Prabhupada explained that as birds gain strength from flying together, we devotees get strength doing the morning program together.
Our goal in Krishna House is that when you leave, you will have learned spiritual practices that will sustain your spiritual life.
Different key things make Krishna House successful. One is transparency. There is no subject that cannot be discussed at Krishna House.
There are 5 apasampradayas presently affecting ISKCON:
1. The Gaudiya Math is a bona fide sampradaya, but in ISKCON it is not our choice.
Srila Prabhupada, following his guru, wanted a GBC, a governing body commission. With a committee, things slow down. If you have one acarya, if he says something different, everything immediately changes. With a committee, things can change only slowly. That has saved ISKCON from making abrupt changes.
When Prabhupada left, some of the GBC decided to consult one of Srila Prabhupada’s friendly godbrothers, although Srila Prabhupada never recommended that. That godbrother suggested the zonal acarya system and eleven disciples were regional gurus for several years. One of the eleven disciples who were gurus added LSD to his kirtanas, and the GBC expelled him. He took shelter of the Gauidya Math.
There is no example anywhere in the scripture of a guru who is not physically present giving initiation.
3. No edit.
We discussed before that both versions of the books are OK, but to blaspheme Srila Prabhupada’s editors, who he trusted with editorial responsibilities, and to blaspheme the GBC for supporting the edits, saying that the are offender to Srila Prabhupada and one should therefore reject them as authorities is not right.
Comment by me:
Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.11 says, “On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” Some devotees say the first edition is imperfectly composed and others say the latest edition is imperfectly composed, but all can agree that the point is to hear and chant the glorious literature and to distribute it to others.
4. The jiva never fell from the spiritual world.
Srila Prabhupada’s conclusion was the origin of the jiva is inconceivable and not important.
Comment by me: Those who are spending a lot of time worrying about the fall issue, on either side of it, are not following Srila Prabhupada, who said it was not important.
5. Only a nitya siddha can become guru.
Srila Prabhupada clearly says it does not matter once you become siddha, whether you are sadhana-siddha (perfect by practice), kripa-siddha (perfect through mercy) or nitya-siddha (eternally perfect).
Once Srila Prabhupada was walking with Gurudas, and he pushed in Gurudas’s stomach forcefully, saying “Kripa siddhi is when the guru pounds it into you.”
A common feature of all these groups is they say the GBC is wrong. Another commonality is that they go to ISKCON temples to canvass followers because they cannot make many followers on their own. Why can they not make many followers on their own? Because they are not following the parampara, by ignoring Srila Prabhupada’s instruction to follow the GBC, and so they are not empowered by the disciplic succession.
I am not saying that the GBC is infallible and has never made a mistake, but it is a fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to follow the GBC.
Once Jayapataka Swami was overhearing some Bengalis speaking who did not realize he could understand Bengali. They were saying, “This ISKCON is great because they make so many devotees, and then we just take them.”
No new ISKCON sannyasis made in the last twenty years have fallen down. Thus the GBC is endeavoring to solve previous problems and having some success.
If you take shelter of these apasampradayas, you will limit your association to a small group of people who are very critical.
Generally in society people follow this philosophy: “You stay with the one who invited you to the dance.” [Thus we should stay with Srila Prabhupada and his followers who invited us to practice Krishna consciousness.]
Comment by Mother Caitanya: Although both versions of the books are acceptable, I have encountered so much abuse for preferring the original edition, with all the pictures that I find useful in attracting new devotees to Krishna consciousness.
If you hear criticism:
Say something nice about the person who is being criticized.
If you cannot balance it, leave.
Comment by Kaliya Damona Prabhu: So the conclusion is to chant Hare Krishna, serve, and shut up. [In other words, do not criticize the Vaishnavas, whatever side of an issue they are on.]
Srila Prabhupada advocated unity in diversity. Problems arise when diversity surpasses unity.
Krishna has a unique relationship with every living being.
Some of the gopis were sadhana-siddha gopis, some were nitya-siddha gopis, some were sages during Lord Ramacandra’s time who had become attracted to the beauty of Lord Ramacandra, some, according to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, were deities of Sita which Lord Ramacandra had made to assist Him in the many fire sacrifices after Sita had entered the earth, who wanted to continue to interact with Him.
In the rasa dance Krishna expands Himself to associate with each of the gopis, and He situated Himself between each gopi in a circle. Each gopi could see only the one Krishna next to her.
Comment by me: The love of the gopis was so great that the Lord expressed the inability to reciprocate with it, and yet He disappeared to increase that love. That is amazing.
Krishna has servants who are flute carriers.
Maharaja Pariksit could see that some of the other listeners of Srimad-Bhagavatam could not understand why Krishna, who came to reestablish religious principles, was dancing with other men’s wives in the dead of night, and thus he inquired about it from Sukadeva Goswami.
Comment by me: Rather than the rasa dance demonstrating irreligion, it demonstrates the supreme religious principle, which Krishna mentions in Bhagavad-gita, “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto me,” which implies that service to Krishna is superior to mundane morality.
Who is sleeping in the morning? Those who are active at night. Who is sleeping at night? Those who are active in the morning. Thus Krishna says, “What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.” (Bg. 2.69)
Now even athletes are advised to avoid intoxication because it will make them perform less well. Why? Intoxication derives from the word toxic which means poison. Intoxication is knowingly ingesting poison.
Animals have no karma because they have no discrimination. Can you reason with a tiger not to eat another animal?
Sadaputa Prabhu (Richard L. Thompson, Ph.D.):
From Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy:
“If the existing Vedic literature consists of materials dating to an era in which people had direct experience of higher-dimensional reality, then it is not surprising that many statements in it are bewildering from our gross sensory perspective. It is therefore reasonable to follow the example of the acaryas and simply receive these statements with faith. If this is done, then further insight may come in due course of time. (In contrast, the approach of skeptical rejection is not likely to lead to further study and insight.)”
“Modern cosmology may seem superior to its Vedic counterpart if we stick to the assumption that reality is limited to what ordinary human beings can perceive, using either their unaided senses or mechanical instruments. However, if the Vedic idea of higher realms of existence is even approximately correct, then it becomes clear that the modern scientific approach has caused us to focus our attention uselessly on relatively unimportant aspects of the universe. From this point of view, the technical sophistication of modern astrophysics appears more as an impediment to the attainment of knowledge than as an example of great scientific progress.”
“Our final point is that, given the highly fragmentary nature of the surviving historical evidence, the process of speculative reconstruction is likely to create nothing more than illusions reflecting the opinions of the reconstructors. We therefore do not insist that our reconstruction of Aryabhata’s parameters is correct. We merely offer it as an alternative that is in better agreement with the available facts than Pingree’s reconstruction.”
The pastime of Krishna lifting Govardhan Hill is celebrated all over India. It shows the power of God, and it shows the protection given by God to His devotees.
Comment by Gopal Prabhu: Krishna also shows mercy to Indra in that He does not destroy him as he does the demons.
Comment by Brahmatirtha Prabhu: It is amazing that Krishna, although appearing as just another resident of Vrindavan, casually lifts Govardhan Hill.
The casualness of Krishna’s behavior with residents of Vrindavan is unique.
Although Krishna already knew everything, to have an exchange with His father, He inquired from him about the purpose of the sacrifice.
I knew some devotees preaching in the West who were short of money and did not know what to do. Then miraculously they won $10,000, which was just the amount they needed.
Another devotee got a promotion that he did not have the seniority to get.
In both cases the devotees saw Krishna personally acting in their case.
One has to be qualified to be argue with God as Nanda Maharaja did.
If we have faith, we will not turn away from God in difficulty but consider He has some plan or lesson.
Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada said the Los Angeles Deities Rukmini-Dvarakadhisa told him to go to Vrindavan and that They would arrange a nice temple be built. Srila Prabhupada told Them, “I cannot go. I promised my guru I would preach in the West, and I have not yet completed that.”
Apparently Srila Prabhupada was qualified to argue with Krishna.
The gopis’ affection for Krishna they had kept hidden, but when Akrura came to take Him away, they cried out, “O Govinda! O Damodara! O Madhava!” And thus they came out of the closet, so to speak.
This is actually the attraction of the soul for Lord. It is an example of the highest attraction of the jiva.
Bhakti-yoga is a way in which express our feelings in relationship with God.
The idea that Krishna is God becomes subservient to the idea that one loves Him.
Through meeting and separation the love between the Lord and the jiva increases.
Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: It is said that the atmarama enjoys in two ways, in happiness and in distress.
Material love has this characteristic: Short absence quickens love, love absence kill it.
We find meeting and separation in all the five relationships. The cowherd boys also feel separation from Krishna when their play ends.
Gaura Govinda Maharaja describes meeting and separation to like the banks of a river.
How can we increase our feelings for Krishna:
By me: By hearing the gopis realization of the beauty of Krishna and the joy of being with Krishna, we can move in that direction.
Comment by Bhakti Jorge: Living in Krishna House I realized that the quality of my relationship with the devotees depended on how seriously I was taking the temple programs, the chanting of rounds, the book distribution, the whole practice.
Kaliya Damona Prabhu:
If you are chanting nicely, you will not want to stop.
You have to want to increase.
Harinama is the key, and service is the lock. Both of them together insure spiritual advancement.
I did prasadam, kirtana, and books at Grateful Dead shows. Once three teenaged girls asked me for water, and I gave them some bath water from Rukmini-Dvarakadhisa. Later the leader among them came up to me, with great concern, and asked, “What was in that water? We are straight edge and we do not do drugs or anything like that, but we have been laughing for the last three hours. What was in that water?”
Comment by Animesh: In Jagannath Puri when you walk around temple if you look at the chakra, wherever you are, it looks like the chakra is facing you.
Mother Gayatri, who passed away recently, invented the Gauranga potatoes we have every Ekadasi. She along with her husband, Amarendra Prabhu, started the Krishna Lunch at University of Florida in 1971. Pishima, Srila Prabhupada’s sister, corresponded with her after Srila Prabhupada passed away, and told her not to worry because Srila Prabhupada is still here with all his followers.
Srila Prabhupada gave us two Lords, the dancing Lord and the prasadam Lord, Lord Caitanya and Lord Jagannath.
By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada we are on the path back home back to Godhead. Now our only business is to distribute this good fortune.
According to Brahmananda Prabhu’s book, in 1966, Srila Prabhupada drew a picture of Lord Jagannath and gave it to Brahmananda Prabhu and told him to take it to the granite shop and have them carve the form. Of course, they did not do it, but can learn that this is the first deity that Srila Prabhupada wanted.
At the devotee school at New Raman Reti they decided to celebrate the end of school year with Ratha-yatra.
Something you can do, I cannot. Something I can do, you cannot. Thus Srila Prabhupada wanted cooperation.
Jagannath is the Lord of the universe not just the Lord of the Indians.
At the festivals in India, smaller deities, known as utsava-murti [festival deities], are taken only on procession. Only Lord Jagannath comes out in his full-sized form.
One devotee had a bad habit of visiting prostitutes. The brahmanas forbade him to embrace the deity of Jagannath, but the Lord appeared in a dream and chastised them for restricting His devotee.
Our eyes have a reddish part and tears of compassion come from this reddish part. Lord Jagannath’s eyes have red all the way around.
Indradyumna Maharaja wanted three boons from Lord Jagannath: (1) He wanted the boon of having no son because he was worried his son would consider Lord Jagannath and His temple to be his own. (2) He wanted that the Lord never stop eating. (3) He wanted that the Lord would not sleep more than three hours. Thus you can go for darsana at midnight. Actually that is the best time to go because it very peaceful.
All the authorities who give permission for the Ratha-yatra festivals are so happy when we go there. In St. Augustine we have been coming for 10 to 12 years, I asked for some help to promote it. They said it costs $300. The lady in charge said not to worry about the $300, and she told the people working for her, “Bhadra will send you the information, and you have to publicize this festival all over St. Johns County.”
Srila Prabhupada said different things about Ratha-yatra:
He wrote to Ravindra Svarupa Dasa, “You are worshiping Lord Jagannath so gorgeously it gives me great pleasure.”
“I want to see all my disciples open Radha-Krishna temples and perform Ratha-yatras.”
“Increase Ratha-yatra festival in Chicago. Make it twice as big.”
“If they come to the festival and participate, they make eternal benefit.”
Whoever sees the Jagannath cart is liberated from all material suffering.
I am happy about distribution of literature at the Jagannath festival. There is no question of profit. Distribution is the first consideration.
This year we increase from one to two Ratha-yatras in Santa Domingo.
The rasa-lila pastimes of Krishna dancing with the gopis is most divine, and we respect it above our heads and worship it. Even such confidential devotees as Laksmi and Lord Shiva could not enter into the rasa dance.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.31.9 is one of Lord Caitanya’s favorite verses: “The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.”
Meditation on the lotus feet of the Lord is famous for pacifying one’s mind, but for the gopis such meditation merely increases their agitation by augmenting their feelings of separation.
Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura says that Cupid thought the rasa dance scene was an opportunity for him to incite lust, but he found himself bewildered by the beauty of Krishna.
In Manipur they worship the rasa-lila with a dance performance on the traditional day the rasa-lila occurred. They have five different rasa-lilas. The maha-rasa is based on the Bhagavatam description, and there is another one based on the description of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami in his Govinda-lilamrita. The performance goes from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. By the end of it, you have a sense that Krishna is the supreme enjoyer.
Comment I thought of but had no time to speak: Srila Prabhupada writes, “The exemplary character of devotional service manifested by the devotees of Vrindavana is the purest type of devotion. It is enjoined in authoritative sastras that devotional service must be ahaituki and apratihata. This means that devotional service to Krishna cannot be checked by political or religious convention. The stage of devotional service is always transcendental. The gopis particularly showed pure devotional service toward Krishna, so much so that Krishna Himself remained indebted to them. Lord Caitanya thus said that the devotional service manifested by the gopis in Vrindavana excelled all other methods of approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter 32)
Tulasirani Devi Dasi:
The gopis’ feelings of separation is said to be the highest expression of love. For them the longer the separation the more the love increases, unlike in the material world. They are most united within Krishna in separation because of their great absorption in thought of Him.
Srila Prabhupada once said that even if his followers merely accepted him as their honest well-wisher they could go back to Godhead.
It is incredible that God, who has everything under His control, could not reciprocate the gopis’ love.
If our Krishna consciousness does not go beyond enjoying the activities of the Krishna consciousness movement to the point of actually wanting to serve Krishna, we will not attain perfection.
These pastimes of Krishna and the gopis purify the heart, but if by hearing these pastimes your heart becomes more lusty, you might consider that perhaps you are not qualified to hear them.
Ekayani Devi Dasi:
The jnanis return to material desires because their desires are not uprooted by their renunciation but merely cut off.
People tend to interpret the scriptures according to the mode of material nature that they are conditioned by, and thus we need guidance to understand the scriptures.
Comment by Rupachandra Prabhu: If you do not follow the rules of the scripture for your social position that is considered sinful. Even pious activities can be considered sinful because if they are not performed for the pleasure of the Lord, they implicate us in the material world.
Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: The yogis and jnanis try to stop material desires while the devotee directs his desires in relationship to Krishna.
Mahatma Prabhu explained that in the early days of the movement even teenagers were opening temples in random places, and this was possible by the enthusiasm generated by their chanting of Hare Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada said that “utility is the principle.” If he found some outreach activity was successful, he would encourage it.
On book distribution, one man inquired if the book I was offering him would help his business. I told him yes, it would certainly help his business, and he took it. Krishna says there are four kinds of people who approach Him, and although those seeking for the absolute are best, the others are considered pious.
Pure devotional service is like nectar in the beginning and like nectar in the end because it transcends the modes of material nature.
The devotees are giving true happiness to all human society and thus it can be said that they are “fulfilling the desires of everyone.”
Srivas Thakura was so humble that when people put the paraphernalia for Durga worship in front of his house, he did not become angry. He told all the people, “Just see how I am fallen I am. Although I present myself as a Vaishnava, I am actually worshiping Goddess Durga.”
What is actually most important to us we will remember at the time of death.
Bharata was punished by having to accept the deer body because of his willful misuse of his free will to neglect his spiritual practice and become absorbed in the deer.
Hari Priya (daughter of Yadubara and Visakha Prabhus):
The essence of kirtana is humility, giving our heart to God.
Radha (daughter of Ishvari Jahnava Dasi):
Real happiness is found in relationships. Happiness from a new pair of shoes does not last that long.
Laura (Urmila Devi’s granddaughter):
Commenting after a class by Mukunda Datta Prabhu:
We tend to want everything to be easy or else we want it to be so impossible that it is not our fault for not being able to do it.
Krishna consciousness, once we want it, becomes easy.
Here is another place where Lord Caitanya describes His mission. He conceives of Himself as a gardener who has grown more fruits of love of Godhead than He alone can distribute, and thus He begs everyone to help Him.
ataeva ami ajña dilun sabakare
yahan tahan prema-phala deha’ yare tare
ataeva saba phala deha’ yāre tāre
khāiyā ha-uk loka ajara amare
“[Lord Caitanya declared:] Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krishna consciousness movement and distribute it [these fruits of love of God] everywhere. . . . Distribute this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. Let people eat these fruits and ultimately become free from old age and death.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 9.36, 9.39)