Monday, June 12, 2017

Travel Journal#13.10: Paris

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 10
By Krishna-kripa das 
(May 2017, part two) 
Paris 
(Sent from Paris on June 12, 2017)


Where I Went and What I Did

I spent the entire second half of May chanting Hare Krishna for three hours each day in different venues in Paris. It was nice for me to stay in the Paris temple, with a morning program and beautiful deities of Radha and Krishna (Parisisvara), which was an increase for me over The North of England. Also by the grace of Krishna, every day devotees joined me on harinama:

  Date       Place         # of Devotees
05/17/17 Republique               9
05/18/17 Caumartin                8
05/19/17 Republique               6
05/20/17 Caumartin               15
05/21/17 Gare du Nord             5
05/22/17 Garges Sarcelles         4
05/23/17 Montmartre               3
05/24/17 Republique               3
05/25/17 Republique               9
05/26/17 Republique               7
05/27/17 Republique               15–20
05/28/17 Gare du Nord             11
05/29/17 Garges Sarcelles         3
05/30/17 Bastille                 3
05/31/17 Republique               8

In recent years, devotees only did harinamas in Paris on Thursday and Saturday, and to get so many people coming out on a daily basis was impressive. Thanks to Pranesvara Prabhu (Ram Das) for coming out almost every day and Kalavati Devi Dasi for coming out several days a week and talking to people and distributing books and prasadam and collecting emails of favorable people.

I share excerpts from the books and online journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I share notes on classes by Janananda Goswami, Pitavasa Prabhu, Bhavasindhu Prabhu, Nitai Gaurasundara Prabhu, Vicaru Prabhu, Aksayananda Prabhu, and Gauranga Prema Prabhu. I share some realizations of Yasoda Dulal Prabhu from a conversation and of Murali Gopal Prabhu from a seminar on Vedic cosmology.

Many thanks to Pranesvara Prabhu, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, who volunteered to pay travel expenses for devotees to go on harinama in Paris. Thanks to Mantrini Devi Dasi for her photo of a sign in front of a Baptist Church with a quote from God. Thanks to the Paris ISKCON Facebook people for their photos of harinama in Paris. Thanks to Bianka of Hungary for her photos of me on harinama and at kirtan programs. Thanks to Atmarama Rasa Prabhu for his photo of devotees at Bhakti Loka. Thanks to Jean-Baptiste, a Paris photographer, for his photo of me singing by the Indian shops near Gare du Nord.

Itinerary

June 4–July 14: Paris
July 15–18: Leicester Ratha-yatra and harinamas
July 19: Newcastle harinama and kirtan
July 20: Chester harinama and program
July 22: Oxford Ratha-yatra
July 23: Birmingham Ratha-yatra
July 2425: Scarborough area harinamas
July 2627: Preston area harinamas
July 27: Accrington program
July 28: London
July 29–July 31: Berlin Ratha-yatra and harinamas
August 1–6: Polish Woodstock
August 7: Dublin
August 8: Boston
August 9–16: Ottawa Vaishnava Sanga Retreat / Janmastami and Vyasa-puja
August 17–27: North UK Ratha-yatra Tour
August 28–September 5: UK and Ireland
September 5–November ?: New York City (ex. Sept. 19–23: Philadelphia)
November ?– November 30: Florida
December: New York City

Chanting Hare Krishna in Paris


On the days when we had lots of people on the party, I was free to take some videos.

Here Vicaru Prabhu chants Hare Krishna outside Printemps, a massive high-end shop in Paris, on a very rainy Thursday. Refugee kids dance and otherwise interact with devotees (https://youtu.be/qb1OU-rdgdo):



A lively group of Paris devotees chants Hare Krishna with enthusiasm every Saturday for two or three hours, this time outside Printemps. Passersby often take photos and/or dance, and a few brave souls accept spiritual food and literature (https://youtu.be/xaBcr1V8bCk):


Usually I danced and distributed literature.

Although sometimes I sang.

Here Gaura Bhakta, Gauranga Prema, and Jagattarini Prabhus along with myself, led the chanting of Hare Krishna at Republique in Paris and passersby danced and learned the karatalas (https://youtu.be/At8hYPTTtSw):


Another day at Republique, a young girl played with the karatalas as Pranesvara Prabhu and I chanted Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/yFgXWGIMkcM):


Later that day, a devotee boy played harmonium and chanted Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/j-rsLnSLpXY):


Here Gauranga Prema Prabhu chants Hare Krishna, Anton plays clarinet, a devotee couple from Chile dances and Kalavati Devi Dasi distributes books at Republique (https://youtu.be/mUNWVpjIMhw):


Later that day, Raghava Pandit Prabhu of Chile chanted Hare Krishna and a friend played accordion and Kalavati Devi Dasi danced (https://youtu.be/j_xnmEgcGcc):


One Saturday when there was too much competition with other musicians at Republique, the devotees did harinama along a canal. Yasoda Dulal Prabhu led the chanting (https://youtu.be/FIziEvNnGGs):


I distributed prasadam burfi along the canal and many people tried it.

On Sunday’s I would chant on the street between Gare du Nord and Place de la Chapelle where there are lots of Indian shops. Many people would give donations, and I could fund my weekly transit pass in this way. Once a local photographer named Jean-Baptiste took a photo of me singing there before others joined me, and he sent it to me by email:


Here Yasoda Dulal Prabhu leads the chanting by the Indian shops near Gare du Nord (https://youtu.be/68Kmi3s4Z0c):


Wednesday Evening Kirtan


Every Wednesday evening Atmarama Rasa (center) and Jagattarini (playing clarinet) have kirtan at their apartment for an hour, followed by tea. Many new devotees come. All are encouraged to lead the kirtan sometimes and to learn to play the different instruments.

While going to attend that program, one day on a crowded bus in a Paris traffic jam, two guys had a heated argument which disturbed my mind and those of others. Some people tried unsuccessfully to stop them. After a while I picked up my harmonium and chanted Hare Krishna kirtan softly for two minutes, and they quieted down. A couple of people smiled broadly in appreciation. The guys rekindled their argument after a few minutes, and I chanted again. This time they quieted down after half a minute. Chanting Hare Krishna is the solution in this age of quarrel.

Sunday Morning Program at Bhakti Loka


Aksayananda Prabhu has a program at his apartment on Sunday morning with kirtan, Srimad-Bhagavatam class, prasadam, and more kirtan.

Here Yasoda Dulal Prabhu chants during the kirtan at the end of the Bhakti Loka program (https://youtu.be/keDLG10bgyI):


Here Jagattarini Devi Dasi chants during the kirtan at the end of the Bhakti Loka program (https://youtu.be/pMSltY-7bvQ):


Here Olivier, a musician who has only been coming around for a few weeks, chants a tune of his own during the kirtan at the end of the Bhakti Loka program (https://youtu.be/iAWdvtPrpwI):


Advice from God

Last issue I mentioned that a Baptist preacher told us in Newcastle that God was more concerned that we love each other than that we agree with each other. When I shared that quote on Facebook, Mantrini Devi Dasi shared a Baptist quote of her own with me:


Insights

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

From a “Japa Poem”:

When Prabhupada was in Tehran
he told a group of Muslims
that the sound vibration ‘Allah’ was non-different
from Allah Himself. They could not accept
it. But it
is an absolute fact.”

From another “Japa Poem”:

I wrote of preparing for a Bhagavatam class.
I picked verses from the First Canto
where Vyasadeva expresses
his despondency after compiling
the Vedas. He thinks,
This may be because
I did not specifically
point out the devotional service
of the Lord.’
In my diary I comment,
This is the story
of my japa retreat’ –
indicating I am
dissatisfied with my
japa because I
didn’t chant with love.”

From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:

“I want to really understand how important it is to beseech the mind to cooperate with our attempts to chant japa. In a sense, the mind is responsible for our japa. When the mind is under control, we can actually hear the holy names without being attentive to other ‘noises.’ It requires the cooperation of the mind. 

“Of course, we also know that it is not just the ‘badness’ of our minds, but the material world is filled with distraction. However, the mind has become so implicated in past activities and impressions that he has become part of the problem. 

“Krishna’s power and attraction is greater than maya’s, so although it is not easy for the mind, we have to coax him, sometimes sternly, and preach to him about the wonderful effects that will come from hearing the holy name in faith. So manah-siksa, to instruct and pray to the mind, is a central part of japa.

“One way to practice manah-siksa is to talk to the mind during japa (or at other times) and ask for his full cooperation. We also have to ensure that the mind does not become absorbed in other things, either during the japa hour or during the day. We have to protect our minds from mundane engagement. Then, if we become enough of a friend of our mind, we can become aware of our mental activity. We can become conscious. The mind will begin to signal to us: ‘Now I am thinking nonsense, now I am chewing the chewed. What are you going to do about it?’ When the mind gives that signal, then we can immediately preach to our minds: ‘Wake up! Hear the holy names!’ Therefore, dear friends, let’s follow the previous acaryas and instruct our minds in a friendly way, always conscious of the goal we want to attain—attentive, devotional chanting.”

From Prabhupada Nectar:

Once in the middle of the night, Srila Prabhupada awoke his servant, and announced his decision, “I want to go back to Godhead. I want go to Mayapur.”

[Regarding Srila Prabhupada:] “His purity created an aloofness from those who were impure.”

Srila Prabhupada said, “It is my responsibility to make sure all the aratis are going on and all the floors are swept in our temples all over the world. By your cleaning the floor in a particular temple, you are assisting me. Just like if I was offering a arati and you hand me the fan, in the same way, you are assisting me.”

Comment by Vicaru Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada likened Westerners to people who were asleep and Indians to people who were pretending to be asleep. It is easy to wake up a person who is asleep, but it is difficult to wake up someone pretending to be asleep. The Westerners did not know about Krishna, and so they could easily accept the knowledge that Srila Prabhupada gave, while the Indians, often thinking they already knew Krishna, could not hear what he was saying.

Janananda Goswami:

One may think the incarnations of God in different forms are fantastic and inconceivable, but there are lots of amazing things in the universe. Consider a tiny insect: within that small body there is a brain, a digestive system, etc. So many things are going on! No scientist has designed it or built it, but there it is.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura explained that you cannot understand how God can be all-pervading throughout the universe and also localized in the spiritual world until you come to the level of Brahman realization.

On the platform of material identification we cannot understand the situation of Personality of Godhead.

Surrender to or acceptance of the fact that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not affected by the material energy is an important step in understanding Him in truth.

People dress differently for different purposes although they remain the same internally. One wears a wetsuit when going scuba diving but not to the office. Similarly the Lord takes on different forms to accomplish His purposes although remaining the same person.

Remembering the presiding deity of each of the elements purifies us of attachment to these elements and is another facility given by the Lord for our purification.

The name of the English town Swindon [where Janananda Goswami comes from] derives from “Swine Down” and historically was a region of pig farmers.

If there is a cockroach incarnation of the Lord, He would not be affected by the different poisons one uses to get rid of them.

Some Puranas describe things in one way, but other Puranas describe them differently for persons who are not yet able to assimilate the actual understanding.

Pitavasa Prabhu:

People in general do not have a clear idea of the soul. Some speak of animals as having a different kind of soul. Others speak of a Jewish soul.

We may feel unqualified to distribute Krishna consciousness, but if we try to distribute Krishna consciousness, the Lord, being pleased with us, will give us the necessary qualifications.

There was a blind man who would chant the glories of the Lord outside a certain temple in India always. The ritualistic smarta brahmanas would tease him. One day in dressing the deity, the brahmanas neglected to give Krishna His flute, but the blind man noticed that in his meditation, and he corrected them to their surprise.

There are songs that become famous for just some few weeks on the top ten, but I have been chanting Hare Krishna for several decades, and I never get tired of it.

There are billions of living entities that are waiting for this human form of life, so we must be careful to use our human life for spiritual realization. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it can benefit all kinds of living entities.

There are so many rites of purification in the Vedic literature but none compares to the chanting of the holy name.

Bhavasindhu Prabhu:

For a devotee, every place should be a temple.

As soon as a traveler gets to his hotel room, he should get out his Bhagavad-gita and install it, making the place a temple.

Krishna says, “He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Partha, is sure to reach Me.” The key is to be “undeviated from the path.” We may have difficulties, but we will be successful if we are “undeviated from the path.”

Comment by Raja Dharma Prabhu: My Guru Maharaja, Bhakti Caru Swami, would say, “Whether you are a pot washer or the temple president, if you want to control, everyone will hate you, but if you want to serve, everyone will love you.”

Nitai Gaurasundara Prabhu:

The Lord reveals Himself through His devotees. He gives intelligence to devotees who are preaching His glories.

The devotees do not chant mantras for liberation but to glorify the Lord because they take pleasure in doing so.

Laksmi’s prayer is full of knowledge of the Lord and is very condensed.

It is great mercy to see God everywhere as most people see God nowhere. They see God’s energy but have no idea where it came from.

The impersonalists consider God does not exist but is merely a conception.

In sadhana-bhakti we are trained to understand the energies of the Lord working.

One who is not determined on the spiritual path cannot control the mind.

When one writes a biography he puts his own opinion in it, depending on whether he likes or hates the person. The biography of God that Vrindavan Das Thakur wrote, however, is based on facts that were revealed to him by persons who knew.

Vrindavan das Thakur was a cowherd boy in Krishna’s pastimes and thus was very absorbed in the pastimes of Lord Nityananda. He knew others would also write about Lord Caitanya, and he left lots out for them to tell.

Vrindavan das Thakur greatly warns about the destructive influence of criticizing devotees.

In Lord Caitanya’s childhood pastimes He shows how much he likes food cooked by His devotees in love by crawling on the altar three times to eat the food a brahmana offered. He also demonstrates this by requesting the food that Jagadish and his brother offered to Lord Vishnu on the Ekadasi day.

Nimai demonstrates that He wants to hear from His mother about defeating Mayavadi philosophy.

Comment by Raja Dharma Prabhu: When Nimai would be chastised by His mother, He would run outside because His mother would not leave home because it was the custom that the chaste ladies stay at home.

Comment by Pitavasa Prabhu: Devotees relish when the Lord shows symptoms of a normal child yet in the course of such play He also demonstrates His supernatural power, as Krishna did by killing the demoniac.

Parents nowadays become frustrated trying to control their kids, but when Nimai would act in a naughty way, Sacimata became more loving toward Him.

Comment by Pitavasa Prabhu: The Vedic understanding was that children under five would be corrected but not punished, children between five and fourteen are punished if they misbehave, but after fifteen they are treated as friends, otherwise they will revolt and leave the parents.

Comment by Pitavasa Prabhu: When Krishna steals, it is not like ordinary stealing because Krishna is reminding us that everything in reality belongs to Him.

Laksmi knows the Lord in detail. We are here to increase our knowledge and appreciation of the Lord, and we can learn from her.

She glorifies the Lord as the only beneficiary. We tend to glorify so many people with gold medals, but actually all glory goes to the Lord, the source of their sensory abilities. The devotee, knowing this, gives all credit to Krishna.

Krishna understands all the needs of everyone and meets them as well.

Laksmi is nonenvious. She sees that although Krishna is her husband, Krishna is husband of everyone.

The Lord is the only husband because His protection is not limited by time or by ability.

Although fulfilling people’s material desires, Krishna gradually reveals that the desired things are useless and pure devotion to the Lord is the real cause of satisfaction.

Material benedictions received by the people in general are received from Durga Devi not Laksmidevi.

Radharani’s benedictory hand can bless everyone with devotional service to the Lord.

Although present on the chest of the Lord, Laksmi wants to receive the blessing of the touch of His hand on her head.

Comment by Raja Dharma Prabhu: Laksmi could not enter the rasa dance because she was unwilling to bow down to the gopis who she considered village girls while she was the goddess of fortune.

Comment by Pitavasa Prabhu: I went to the temple of Vyenkata Bhatta. There is a altar with Jagannatha Deities that were personally made by Lord Caitanya. The devotees there are very respectful to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, and they gave me a whole plate of maha-prasadam tulasi leaves. Lord Caitanya came to make one sampradaya. He did not come to start a fifth sampradaya.

Srila Prabhupada told us about the Ratha-yatra from Puri to Gundica but not from Gundica to Puri.

Aksayananda Prabhu:

Mayavadis see personality is the cause of conflict. Thus personality which is a cause of misery cannot be in the Absolute Truth.

Actually conflict arises when a person wants to control someone who does not want to be controlled.

The biggest fault with impersonalism is that it cannot explain the cause of the material world.

Astanga yogic perfections easily distract one from attaining perfection.

While in the material world you cannot really enjoy the impersonal Brahman.

We cannot manifest our personal qualities when we are isolated from others.

Bhakti is completely different from any other activity because the theory, the practice, and the goal are the same.

There are “believers” who we do not consider transcendentalists. Even there are demons who believe in God. Those who attend church weekly and feel themselves purified so they can begin another week of sinful activities we cannot consider transcendentalists.

To be transcendental we have to fix the mind on Krishna.

When we are in front of a plate we should consider that Krishna has given us this prasadam.

Our effort to please Krishna and how much we want to please Krishna are more important than the results of our activities.

We cannot cheat Krishna.

Transcendental knowledge is not the goal but the satisfaction of Krishna is.

Union of the soul with God is yoga, but union of man and woman is not called yoga, yet both the man and woman can be yogis if they are individually linked with God.


When we are not linked with God, we suffer, and thus we seek God. The scripture says our spiritual life does not begin until then.

Krishna is the center of everything. In our conditional life we put things other than Krishna in the center of our lives. Krishna wants to enter, but there is no room.

Surrender means considering “I am yours.” The soul must come to take pleasure in being dependent.

Radha feels She has no love for Krishna because She did not die when separated from Him.

Our sense data is inaccurate, and so we are in illusion.

If you have people in the three different modes together they will not be able to work together because
of different interests.

Krishna disappears when the love of the devotee reaches its climax in order to increase
that love. Then he reappears when the feeling of separation becomes unbearable.

When we take birth in an animal form our consciousness is restricted by the form. That is not the case when Krishna incarnates as an animal.

We should know whatever we put on the plate to offer already belongs to Krishna.

A nondevotee could never accept the idea of serving the Lord no matter how the Lord chooses to reciprocate.

When Krishna sees one has an attachment that he cannot give up, He arranges that the devotee can engage it in His service.

Jesus would be less glorified had the Lord not allowed him to be crucified.

Christ said many things, and the Lord had to allow the crucifixion to happen for those words to come true.

Krishna is amazed by the activities of His devotees, and we are also.

Suffering is caused by attachment. If we see something as the property of Krishna and not ourselves, it will cause us to suffer less.

Judas is seen as evil, but he was a faithful follower of Christ, and it was his service to betray Christ.

Comment by Mandakini Devi Dasi: The Russian devotee Ananta Shanti told me he was imprisoned in such an extreme way he prayed to Krishna that he did not see how he could tolerate it. A Bhagavad-gita verse came clearly to him about how the soul is indestructible, and he became peaceful, realizing that they could not harm his soul.

Yasoda Dulal Prabhu:

Sivarama Swami says our preaching is on three levels:
1. to make common people devotees
2. to make devotees pure devotees
3. to make pure devotees perfect devotees.
I like the daily harinama program because it has the power to do all three.

Gopinathesvari Devi Dasi:

The tendency of one in grhastha life to become absorbed in one’s family and business and forget about his relationship with the Supreme Lord.

The analogy of the crocodile being weakened on land but regaining strength by reentering the water implies when the grhastha again remembers his relationship with the Supreme Lord he is happily and naturally spiritually situated.

We must always remember that the material world is a place of transit. It is not our eternal place.

Because everyone has a spiritual body in the spiritual world, the love there is not the same as loving the flesh of a material body.

At the age of fifty, one should analyze his life and conclude that it is incomplete without perfection in spiritual realization.

If we offer to Krishna our profit, we do not lose, but our profit is multiplied.

Comment by J.P.: I have tried to enjoy in the material world but in the end I realized I always paid the bill. While living here [at the temple], I tasted something I never tasted before, happiness. I see so many people out there have attained nice cars and nice families, but they are not happy without Krishna.

We have to be careful because often we think we are Krishna conscious, but when we leave class we can easily take a direction which has nothing to do with our spiritual realization.

Comments by Pitavasa Prabhu:

Once Srila Prabhupada was talking with Muslims in Iran. They were saying the prophet taught them to offer prayers five times a day, but that was too much so they do prayers three times day but they double them up to make them count as five. Srila Prabhupada reprimanded them for speculating and not following their guru.

There are different teachers sent by Krishna that come from time to time, but we should follow whichever one we choose strictly if we want to make advancement.

Murali Gopal Prabhu:

There is no place where Srila Prabhupada says the earth is flat, and there are many places where Srila Prabhupada says the earth is round. Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur also uses gola or sphere to refer to the earth.

The opinion of the scientists is that the climate change is a reality, it is manmade, and it is irreversible.

Gauranga Prema Prabhu:

All the modern medical technology is simply to keep the body working longer so people can enjoy sense gratification.

If people come to the mode of goodness, they will automatically live longer, but they will not be so inclined to sense gratification. Because of performing austerities to attain the state of goodness, they realize the limitations of sense gratification and lose interest in it.

Radhanath Swami likened a person who tries to correct individual societal anomalies one at time to a person with boils who tries to treat each boil individually without treating the blood disorder which is the cause of them. The sadhu, the saintly person, treats the cause of all social anomalies by purifying the hearts of the people.

I learned working with Greenpeace that if we stopped our activities that cause environmental damage right now, we would not experience the beneficial effect for twenty years. In the same way, good effects of adopting a spiritual practice may take years to manifest in our lives.

It is guaranteed that our material situation will change, but it is also guaranteed that our bhakti will never be taken away.

We should not be attached to a material situation because that will cause us suffering.

We are connected with all devotees, even those in a distant place, because we are all serving Krishna.

Janananda Goswami tells that Srila Prabhupada once said that after the ten thousand year golden age of Lord Caitanya still Krishna will make sure there is always a pure devotee on the planet.

-----

My favorite reading program is to read fifteen minutes each day from Bhagavad-gita, from Srimad-Bhagavatam, from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, and from one other book, either The Nectar of Devotion, Nectar of Instruction, or Sri Isopanishad. Now, having read the two other alternatives, I am reading Sri Isopanishad and trying to memorize the Sanskrit for the mantras as well. As I have not read it for years, I had forgotten how wonderful and how essential the mantras are. This is a recent one that I particularly liked:

yasmin sarvani bhutany
atmaivabhud vijanatah
tatra ko mohah kah soka
ekatvam anupasyatah

“One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?” (Sri Isopanshad, Mantra 7)