Travel Journal#10.18: New York City and Philadelphia
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 18
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2014, part two)
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2014, part two)
New York City and Philadelphia
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on October 17, 2014)
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on October 17, 2014)
Where I Went and What I Did
I rejoined Rama Raya Prabhu’s New York City Harinama party, living at their ashram in Brooklyn and chanting six hours a day in Union Square. There many, many people, from a variety of countries, have positive interactions with the devotees and advance in spiritual consciousness, and it is truly beautiful to see. In the midst of that I spent three days traveling with the World Harinama Party devotees to Philadelphia to do harinama and attend the Ratha-yatra there. In Philly I also spoke for three hours with Prishni dd, who is doing an oral history project on Sadaputa Prabhu. Contact her if you had personal association with him. One day in New York City I participated in the Climate Change March with my family, who visited from Albany. I also played my harmonium and chanted Hare Krishna both in that parade and alongside as it passed. I ended September by celebrating my 55th birthday by making coconut sweets and sharing them with my friends nearby.
I share inspirational quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books and from the lectures of Bhatki Marga and Danavira Swamis and from those of Abhirama, Laksmi Nrsimha and Rama Raya Prabhus.
Thanks to Dharmatma Prabhu for his pictures at Union Square and Times Square and to Murli Krishna Prabhu for his pictures at Union Square. Thanks to Vishnujana Prabhu (alias Harinama Ruci) for his picture of Ratha-yatra in Philadelphia. Thanks to Jim Peppler for his pictures of the Climate Change March. Thanks to Marc Gordon for the pictures of me at the book table at Union Square.
Harinama in Union Square
Rama Raya Prabhu’s New York City Harinama party chants in Union Square from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week, a great example for the world of dedication to the dharma of the age, the congregational chanting of the holy name.
Most often I would contribute by dancing.
Sometimes I would man the book table.
Sometime I would talk to people who liked listening to us.
There were many very positive kirtana experiences at Union Square. Some I photographed, some I videoed, and some I described.
Ananta Prabhu from Alachua led some kirtanas that were appreciated by the people in general (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGerEnGdI0xL_peUACOf1UwMm_Xo_2CwV):
Nikunja Bihari Prabhu also led some pretty fired up chanting (http://youtu.be/mtTzeK4h4Ws):
Vrajananda dd from Lithuania sang and inspired a whole family to take part in playing instruments and moving with the music (http://youtu.be/abCGBEBXEAc):
One time I was talking to a man in front of our party.
He said he played the harmonica and opened a case containing thirteen of them, one for every key.
He wondered what key Ananta Prabhu was playing in, and I suggested it was probably E or B because there were many black keys in it. He concluded it was E and took the appropriate harmonica and began playing along (http://youtu.be/AZxRJRR6kb0):
Arjuna Prabhu, son of Prahlada Priya Prabhu, sang in such a lively way lots of the devotees danced (http://youtu.be/Zcypg7Ev9Pw):
Sometimes the kirtanas were so lively that many people watched and some people danced (http://youtu.be/jo5ZfRXlLpE):
Sometimes people would bring their own instruments to play, like the guitar player in the video below, while others would play our different percussion instruments (http://youtu.be/38GiRaQ6Pd0):
Danavira Maharaja, who has great faith in the holy name and musical talent, kindly chanted with us during his visit.
One lady held up the Bhagavad-gita for all to see.
One girl asked if she had seen me in Jacksonville. I explained that I sometimes went to our programs at the University of North Florida, and she had too. She knew Amrita Keli dd, our organizer there.
One young lady who works in marketing stopped by our party at Union Square after work. She found the chanting to be very soothing. She took our free literature and also bought a book, took a mantra card and had prasadam. She had a mild smile on her face the whole time and applauded at the end. She must have stayed two hours and said she will come again. It is awesome to see new people connect with the chanting in such a positive way. Several days later she stopped to listen for some time. She said after she visited us before the Hare Krishna mantra had stayed in her mind the whole next day, and she told her friends about it. She had visited India once, and plans to return in November. I advised her to visit Mathura and Vrindavan and to ask the devotees about good places to visit.
World Religions professor, Zachary Smith, of Cooper Union, brought his entire class to Union Square to see the harinama one Monday evening. Students listened for half an hour, got Krishna, Reservoir of Pleasure, ate prasadam cookies, and talked with devotees. The professor told me he thought, “What better way to teach them devotional Hinduism!”
Harinama at Times Square
When the World Harinama Party was visiting New York City they would sometimes do harinama in Times Square. In the second half of September, they did one on the Saturday night after the Climate Change March. We started by chanting on the subway (http://youtu.be/39dXe3P5UpE):
And then through the Times Square subway station.
We chanted on a crowded street, and many people got into dancing with us (http://youtu.be/M0V4SHJNFXA):
The World Harinama Party devotees were brave enough to chant Hare Krishna in the Times Square Radio Shack store, and the workers were all very happy about it (http://youtu.be/Merjtj3qO2c):
On the very day we returned from Philadelphia, they did harinama again in Times Square. Even through it was Sunday night, there were still plenty of people there. Again we started by chanting on the subway (http://youtu.be/Kj14nvKIdj8):
That day we chanted through a shoe store (http://youtu.be/U4VAbVCSt-E):
Haryasva Prabhu, owner of Govinda’s restaurant in Philadelphia, greeted the World Harinama Party with enthusiasm and had us sing kirtana for his large Panca-tattva deities as soon as we arrived. After prasadam, we rested and hit the streets.
Across from Rittenhouse Square on Walnut Street, we met a trombonist and trumpeter from Berlin, who loved playing and dancing with us (http://youtu.be/wYQBRe-HyHk):
Some students we met on the sidewalk danced with us (http://youtu.be/JRXcHnIKFl4):
One worker danced ecstatically in her shop when our party came to the door (http://youtu.be/dfEBFLSZraY):
The first day it rained, and there were not many people on the streets. Still as you can see in the videos above, we found some people who were happy to move to the beat of the kirtana and to hear about our Ratha-yatra festival.
We passed some musicians playing guitar and djembe.
The djembe player really enjoyed playing with us (http://youtu.be/0YsAAOsU_AY):
The next day when we were on Walnut Street, he was playing with his friends on the opposite side of the street, and then he saw us, he crossed the street to play with us.
On Friday during the day, famed kirtana leader Agnidev Prabhu from Trinidad lead us one harinama on Walnut Street.
A guitar player later played with us in Rittenhouse Square.
On Friday night, Agnidev Prabhu and a kirtana leader from Toronto both led harinama on crowded South Street. We passed out almost all of the invitations to the Ratha-yatra.
Harinamananda Prabhu read a description of the 1975 Philadelphia Ratha-yatra, and it sounded like the devotees had a better route, including big shopping streets. Still there were many people along the parade route who were very favorable when invited to the festival after the parade near the museum.
Two years ago they did not have separate carts for the three Jagannatha’s deities, but they did this time, and they also had a separate cart for the Panca-tattva deities as before.
During the procession we passed a Shakesphere memorial with his famous quote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Of course, that is a very Krishna consciousness statement when we consider the players to be the souls who are wearing different bodily costumes in each life.
In the stage show afterward, the comedian Yadunatha Prabhu told a story of a devotee who had difficulty with the loud kirtanas. He also had doubts about the restriction on elastic socks, finding it a bit unreasonable. When the devotee asked Yadunatha Prabhu about that restriction, at first Yadunatha said he was confused as he could not think of any restriction on elastic socks. But then it occurred to him that devotee meant “illicit sex” but because of the hearing damage from the loud chanting he had not heard properly.
At least three people we had invited during the harinamas we did the previous two days actually came to the festival. To one, who I remember from his gigantic beads, I gave a On Chanting Hare Krishna pamphlet at the festival and along with my business card.
He expressed interest in attending the programs at Govinda’s. Later he bought a Bhagavad-gita from Harinamananda Prabhu.
One girl I talked to remembered getting an invitation from us. She loved dancing in the kirtana at the festival.
I also gave her a On Chanting Hare Krishna pamphlet at the festival and along with my business card, and she also said she would come to our programs. She gave me an extra samosa she bought, and I gave her and her boyfriend some cookies. She was from Jamaica and had no problem with the hotness of the spicy samosa.
Rasika Mangala Prabhu talked to a young man named Brandon at the festival who he had met on harinama at Rittenhouse Square. Brandon danced for hours in the kirtana and became a Facebook friend of Rasika.
He changed his profile picture to one of himself wearing tilaka and with the chariots behind him.
People were happy to receive the maha-prasadam from Lord Jagannatha.
They also enjoyed the chance to fan Srila Prabhupada and the deity with the camara.
I talked to two or three people who lived in the area and saw or heard our festival and were attracted to come. Some came from visiting a college fair or the nearby art museum.
Our kirtana group was so lively many people were attracted to watch for some time and almost all took the “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlets I offered them.
Our kirtana group was so lively many people were attracted to watch for some time and almost all took the “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlets I offered them.
Both the vegan and vegetarian prasadam were very good, and I had a plate of each. I had a sense that there was a larger quantity of prasadam when I came two years ago, but I do not know if my perception is valid.
New York City Climate Change March
September 21, the day of the New York City Climate Change March was crazy for me with four different events I wanted to attend happening all at the same time. My mother, a social activist who had her 90th birthday the previous week, wanted her friends and family to celebrate by participating with her in the Climate Change March. At the same time a group of Hare Krishna devotees was chanting Hare Krishna in the march. Also that afternoon, devotees had arranged a memorial service for Jada Bharata Prabhu, a disciple of my diksa guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, who was a book distributor in Manhattan when I joined the temple on 55th Street in 1979. And as usual we had our six-hour kirtana at Union Square from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m.
As I do so few things for my mother, I decided to spend some time with her and my other family members in the Climate Change March. Then I planned to join with the devotees who were chanting in that parade. I brought my harmonium, so in case I could not find the other devotees to chant with, at least I could chant by myself.
My sister made special T-shirts for my mother’s 90th birthday which had a picture of her at a protest on the front along with the text “Happy 90th Birthday Pat Beetle” and a favorite saying of hers on the back, “We are all in this together.”
My sister, Karen, her boyfriend, Victor, and I with my harmonium, joined my mother, who was in a wheel chair only because of the long distance of the march. When no one was talking or shouting slogans and no bands were playing, I would sometimes play harmonium and chant Hare Krishna, and Victor pleased me by chanting nicely along with me.
A professional photographer friend of my mother’s, who works for Albany Times Union newspaper, took several pictures, three of which made the website of the newspaper. They were captioned, “Pat Beetle, age 90, considered to be the grand dame of Activism in the Capitol region, of Albany Fiends Meeting, marching (via wheel chair) in the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21, 2014. Photo by Jim Peppler. Copyright Jim Peppler 2014. All rights reserved.”
After spending time with my family, which included Gwen, my niece, and her husband, Matt, and their friends, who did not make the above pictures, I decided to look for my Hare Krishna friends in the parade. I thought they were behind us, and walked alongside the parade toward the end, chanting Hare Krishna and playing harmonium. I did not find my World Harinama Party friends till almost the end of the parade, and I could not join them because I had to run to get my kurta (shirt) from my sister’s bag, where I put it when I put on my birthday T-shirt, before she left to Albany by bus at 4:30 p.m. Still the result of me looking for the Hare Krishna party was that many, many people got to hear the chanting of Hare Krishna as I wondered around looking for them and that was Krishna’s mercy. I was engaged in devotional service, but not in the way I had hoped. Sometime after 5:00 p.m., I joined the Union Square harinama till 7:30 p.m., and then went to Times Square to sing with the World Harinama Party in the evening, so it was a very full day with lots of kirtana.
For additional photos of many of the activities described above, click on the link below:https://picasaweb.google.com/103872792410945983719/TravelJournal1018?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCJbo-cqqyK7U4wE&feat=directlink
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.19.5, purport:
“Lord Krishna had the competence to win the Battle of Kuruksetra, but nonetheless He induced His devotee Arjuna to fight and become the cause of victory. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was quite competent enough to spread His name and mission all over the world, but still He depended upon His devotee to do this work. Considering all these points, the most important aspect of the Supreme Lord’s self-sufficiency is that He depends on His devotees. This is called His causeless mercy. The devotee who has perceived this causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by realization can understand the master and the servant.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.46, purport:
“There are many who like to chant the Hare Krishna mantra in a silent, solitary place, but if one is not interested in preaching, talking constantly to the nondevotees, the influence of the modes of nature is very difficult to surpass.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.3–4, purport:
“Simply by joining the kirtana – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare – and by hearing about Krishna from Bhagavad-gita, one must be purified, especially if he also takes prasada. This is all going on in the Krishna consciousness movement.”
“In a dream we form a society of friendship and love, and when we awaken we see that it has ceased to exist. Similarly, one’s gross society, family and love are also a dream, and this dream will be over as soon as one dies. Therefore, whether one is dreaming in a subtle way or a gross way, these dreams are all false and temporary. One’s real business is to understand that one is soul (aham brahmasmi) and that his activities should therefore be different. Then one can be happy.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.5, purport:
“Certainly one requires some means of livelihood, and according to one’s varṇa and asrama this means of livelihood is prescribed in the sastras. One should be satisfied with this. Therefore, instead of hankering for more and more money, a sincere devotee of the Lord tries to invent some ways to earn his livelihood, and when he does so Krishna helps him. Earning one’s livelihood, therefore, is not a problem. The real problem is how to get free from the bondage of birth, death and old age. Attaining this freedom, and not inventing unnecessary necessities, is the basic principle of Vedic civilization. One should be satisfied with whatever means of life comes automatically.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.7, purport:
“An intelligent person should try to spread Krishna consciousness through the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, and all the necessities of life will automatically follow.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.8:
“One may claim proprietorship to as much wealth as required to maintain body and soul together, but one who desires proprietorship over more than that must be considered a thief, and he deserves to be punished by the laws of nature.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.10:
“Even if one is a householder rather than a brahmacari, a sannyasi or a vanaprastha, one should not endeavor very hard for religiosity, economic development or satisfaction of the senses. Even in householder life, one should be satisfied to maintain body and soul together with whatever is available with minimum endeavor, according to place and time, by the grace of the Lord. One should not engage oneself in ugra-karma.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.13, purport:
“ . . . if one intelligently considers the constitution of the body and the soul beyond it, what is the value of the body? Antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririṇaḥ: [Bg. 2.18] the body may perish at any moment, but the soul is eternal. If one gives up attachment for the body and increases his attachment for the spirit soul, his life is successful. It is merely a matter of deliberation.”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.14, purport:
“The education of so-called scientists, philosophers and poets is now engaged in the service of maya, and the wealth of the rich is also engaged in maya’s service. The service of maya, however, creates a chaotic condition in the world. Therefore the wealthy man and the educated man should sacrifice their knowledge and opulence by dedicating them for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord and joining this sankirtana movement (yajñaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah [SB 11.5.32]).”
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.29, purport:
“The forest may be in goodness, the cities and villages in passion, and the brothels, hotels and restaurants in ignorance, but when one lives in the temple community he lives in Vaikuntha.”
from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 44:
“Lord Krishna has no rival; no one is equal to Him, and no one is greater than Him. His beauty is also without any rival, and because He excels all others in the pastimes of conjugal love, He is the original object of all conjugal love.”
“A pure devotee [of Krishna] follows in the footsteps of the gopis and worships the gopis as follows: ‘Let me offer my respectful obeisances to all the young cowherd girls, whose bodily features are so attractive. Simply by their beautiful attractive features they are worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.’ Out of all the young gopis, Srimati Radharani is the most prominent.
Bhakti Marga Swami:
from a lecture before Ratha-yatra:
What is the mood? The idea is to share, for Lord Jagannath to meet His devotees. Who is that? Everybody.
We want to express the joy that Lord Jagannath Himself expresses.
You cannot force people, especially in North America. You just have make it attractive so they will want to want to participate.
We are introducing a whole new concept of how to enjoy. No meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex.
Look presentable. Sound presentable.
Q [by Harinamananda Prabhu]: Do you have examples of people taking Krishna consciousness more seriously as a result of Ratha-yatra?
I have seen people increase their commitment as a result of Ratha-yatra. Sometimes we do Ratha-yatra in a more secluded place and it is like a family festival but the people become more happy about their commitment as a result. [Later, at this year’s Ratha-yatra, I asked a new devotee how he came to practice Krishna consciousness. He had some books and read them, but he said that at a previous Ratha-yatra he became really commited. When he said that I remembered what Bhakti Marga Swami had said that very morning.]
my comment: I talked to one girl I met on harinama who was happy to get from me an invitation to Ratha-yatha and who gleefully told her friend, “This is the greatest festival!” One year I talked to three groups of people who came to the festival, and they had all come two or three times, although they were not devotees but just residents of the city. There are a lot of devotees of the festival in Philadelphia, more so than in many cities.
comment by Nirantara Prabhu: Every group has their day. There is Gay Pride Day, etc. Ratha-yatra is our day.
comment Agnideva Prabhu: Ratha-yatra is Divine Dispensation Day.
after the Sita’s trial by fire and Rama’s ultimate acceptance of her in his Ramayana play:
“Relationships are always complicated, even in the divine and absolute realm.”
on Srila Prabhupada singing “Parama Karuna” in Atlanta in 1975:
He enjoyed the mood of the kirtana. There were devotees from all over America present, and even Canada. Our Canadian traveling party was in the USA, and we decided to follow Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada played mridanga although in 1975, he rarely played it in public kirtanas.
from a Srimad-Bhagavatam class on verse 7.3.36:
If we are materialistic, and we all are to a certain extent, we try to protect what is ours.
At one temple while I was visiting I got attached to pacing back and forth on a certain set of tiles while chanting japa. Then someone sat on one of my tiles, and I was upset.
And I was just a visitor!
Hiranyakasipu had four sons, but the most beloved was Prahlada.
If anyone stands out in a Vedic text, it is saint. In this Kali yuga, it tends to be the swindlers and bad elements that are heroes.
My favorite quote by Benjamin Franklin is “Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”
Successful people, including Srila Prabhupada, encourage and engage people according to their talents.
Ego in this world is just like a balloon, and one little pin can make us shrivel up.
Take a humble position. Be a team player. Get on with life.
On Ratha-yatra I like the short route. After an hour and a half people run out of energy. The weather was great. Pretty good kirtana. Good location.
Q: You go to Cuba every year? Tell us about it.
A: I wear a dhoti. No one harasses me. 50% of the cars are from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, American cars with souped up Russian engines. I like the people because they are down home. People are not wearing mp3 players. They say “Ola (Hello).” The people are friendly and healthy. No pesticides. No pornography. Great fruits. Every day for a week I have speaking engagements to curious artistic type people. A few friends from Canada come with me. There are a few devotees there and a few more taking initiation. Cuba and Canada have a loving relationship.
Knowledge of God is understandable and yet not understandable.
Krishna consciousness is not just something a group of people believe, but it is a verifiable science. Anyone who acts according to the Vedic wisdom can experience the same result of liberation and attainment of the spiritual world.
As one advances, Krishna reveals more of Himself.
When the Lord appears, it is in one of the forms that are described in the revealed scriptures. For example, we do not have a picture of Krishna riding a surf board. Although someone may like to think of Krishna like that, it is not described in the revealed literature.
A father may not tell a irresponsible son where his wealth is located and how to get it, although he maintains him. So it is also with the Supreme Lord.
Q: How does a nondevotee become faithful?
A: He can develop faith if he is willing to hear from the Bhagavad gita or from the devotee.
Q: What mood do we have to have in our Deity worship to experience His reciprocation and how can we recognize that reciprocation.
A: We can reveal our minds to Him, offer prayers to Him, see His form, remember Him, glorify Him, give gifts to Him. He reveals His mind to the devotee, either by speaking or revealing knowledge in the heart. He also speaks through His devotees, especially the spiritual master. The spiritual master has the power of attorney to speak on behalf of the Lord. On practical matters we consult the spiritual master or the senior devotees. Even Lord Caitanya would go to a place only if His senior followers gave their blessings.
Meditation on the universe or nature is good for people who have no higher knowledge.
In Deity worship there are so many rules, but there are no rules regarding the chanting of the holy name.
People create forms like spider man, but they are not as amazing as the Lord’s forms, like Nrsimha, half man and half lion. Movies with imagined characters become tedious, but movies depicting the actual pastimes of the Lord will remain ever fresh. The pastimes become more interesting, and the philosophy becomes more deep.
In the Bhagavad-gita, the Absolute Truth is personally speaking, but scientists looking for the truth in other places are not listening, and for this reason they can be considered foolish.
Krishna’s promise of protection does not necessarily apply to the body, but it definitely applies to the soul.
The demigods were powerless to kill Hiranyakasipu because Brahma had given him the benediction of not being killed by any demigod, man, or animal.
The demigods could understand that Nrsimha was Vishnu because a half man, half lion is not among the 8,400,000 species of life.
There is a name for Nrsimha meaning he wears a garland of intestines.
Krishna protects His devotees because they have no other shelter than Him.
When Indra was angry and inundated their homeland with water, the residents of Vrindavan did not pray to Indra for protection but to Lord Krishna.
One must worship both the spiritual master and Krishna.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had a father and mother who were extraordinary Vaishnavas, he had great knowledge of Sanskrit, the scriptures, and astronomy. He said that his guru did not consider his many qualifications and that was his guru’s qualification.
The guru has to consider all praise, money, fame, and opulence given to him is actually for Krishna.
If we stay in ISKCON, we will be subject to correction, for everyone in ISKCON is at least subordinate to the GBC, and then we can progress. Otherwise, if we think that we are greater than the body of Vaishnavas, then our faults will never be rectified.
The more we decorate our body and make arrangements for its glorious accommodation and transportation, the more we become entangled in false ego.
Pain is the gap between our aspirations and achievements.
The parent needs nothing that the child has but the child’s love, and that love makes the relationship so very satisfying the parent is willing to do everything for the child. Similarly we have nothing that we can give the Lord that he does not have but our love, and that love makes the Lord very satisfied.
We are singing the glorification of the Lord. We are not a performance group, but we try to create a situation by our singing and playing of the instruments that inspires others to participate.
The pure devotee lives in a state of amazement seeing the glories of the Lord expanded everywhere.
Glorifying the Lord is to precisely describe the Lord according to our realization.
For Mother Yasoda, the worst catastrophe is that some danger would befall her child, Krishna. This is a manifestation of her love.
There are people who live in Vrindavan and who decorate themselves beautifully with tilaka but spend their time looking for faults in the devotees and broadcasting them on the Internet. Just see how the false ego of thinking “I am better” persists! This is opposite to Lord Caitanya’s recommendation to think oneself lower than a blade of grass.
Although Srila Prabhupada was happily living in Vrndavana, where he was appreciated by the residents and where he was able to witness the pastimes of Krishna, yet he came to the West where no one knew him just to benefit the people in general.
“How to cultivate humility?” Srila Prabhupada was asked, and he responded. “Preach vigorously.”
In a report of the activities of my temple that I submitted to Srila Prabhupada, I included the comment, “The devotees appear to be happy.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “If the devotees are happy, then Krishna is happy.”
There are so many amazing devotees in history to inspire us. Even one would be enough, but the Lord has given us so many.
The difficulties that we have are all manifestations of false ego, and the false ego is attacked by humility. Thus we can eliminate all our problems by cultivating humility.
Our whole life people are doing things to benefit us beginning with our father and mother, but at a certain point we start claiming “this is mine, that is mine.” But what is actually ours? Everything has been given to us!
Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu:
Prahlada Maharaja says that Krishna is the best of those we can offer prayers to.
My Uncle Rick challenged me saying, “Why did you become a devotee?
You could have been so successful in the world!” I asked him, “For you, what is success?” He said one word only, “Money.” I said, “Success for me is to connect with God. Money comes and goes.”
Bhakti energizes karma and jnana.
In jnana yoga, atma is the primary meditation, in karma it is dharma, in dhyana yoga it is the Lord in the heart, and in bhakti yoga it is Krishna.
Krishna reserves the right to reveal Himself to only those in pure devotional service because those not in the proper consciousness will try to exploit Him.
Because of their advanced devotional activities, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan were completely satisfied and fulfilled, although they were so impoverished they had no place of residence and stayed under a different tree each night.
The Christians say you cannot attain God by good works alone. We also agree that Krishna cannot be attained simply by pious acts.
When we see Krishna alone we are not satisfied because we know He wants to be with Srimati Radharani.
Rupa Goswami says that nama kirtana energizes the other four of the five primary practices of bhakti.
A proud man is seldom grateful because he never thinks he gets what he deserves.
Gratitude is the cause of our happiness.
There is a difference between taking and receiving. In both you get something but in receiving you cultivate gratitude.
The perfection of kirtana is to attract people to the holy name.
I did kirtana at a yoga program. About twelve people had never done kirtana before. They did not even know the word. One lady who looked to me to not be attracted by it later said, “I do not know what that was. I did not know the words, but that was the most incredible experience of my life.”
Mangala Maharaja told me when he visited Radha-Govinda Mandir that Srila Prabhupada’s specific greatness was that he created guru bhakti, and that was his success. Without guru bhakti there is no chance of Krishna bhakti.
It is offensive to consider what a devotee was before attaining perfection. It is irrelevant.
Sadhana is conscious application of the principles of bhakti. We need to be aware of the other creepers that may grow in addition to the creeper of bhakti.
Things can make you happy for a moment, but they do not ultimate fulfill you.
Reserved means not yapping.
Millions of thoughts come. What you do with them is what matters. Do you hold on to them?
How do we become detached? We become attached to Krishna and service to Krishna and His devotees.
Detachment, devotion, and direct perception of the self are the results of pure devotional service.
The devotee is confident that Krishna will bestow His mercy, but how that mercy will manifest may not be exactly what he might imagine.
One sannyasi was falling asleep in class. Srila Prabhupada reprimanded him, “If you cannot stay awake in class, you are a sudra. Better you go out and plow the fields.” The next day in the distance, Srila Prabhupada saw a saffron figure out in the field in Mayapur behind a plow, and he asked who it was. He was told it was Pancadravida Swami, the devotee he had corrected in class. Prabhupada replied that it was very good, but he should come to class.
By properly associating with devotees more advanced than ourselves, those on our own level, and those who are less advanced, we become so satisfied that we will not seek the association of materialistic persons.
According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, even the hypocritically devout devotee is a materialist.
If we are despondent in devotional service, we have not sought out sufficient association of advanced devotees.
Reading Srila Prabhupada’s books is one of the best ways of strengthening your intelligence.
Advaita Prabhu (the professor at Rutgers) told me that one day after practicing devotional service for thirty years, he realized that devotional service is yoga, and he then began to practice it with the seriousness of a yogi.
A peer is someone you feel an attraction to because of their qualities. They may not be the same age as you. But they are someone who enthuses you in devotional service.
We have the right to choose who to associate with, but we do not have the right to be disrespectful to anybody.
When you choose a guru, an important part if it is his mood.
Rama Raya Prabhu:
We should not think that harinama sankirtana is antiquated and was suitable for Lord Caitanya’s time but not for the present.
Without prioritizing sankirtana, putting it in its rightful place as the most important activity, whatever else we do will not be complete.
One of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s disciples who preached in London was explaining how it was not possible to preach to those people of London and told his guru that he did not understand the actual situation. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was so disturbed by the disciple’s mentality, he told him to never again come into his presence.
Lord Nrsimha was so angry that even Laksmidevi, the Lord’s eternal consort, was not able to pacify Him.
By asking Prahlada to request some benediction Nrsimhadeva is revealing the glory of the devotional mentality.
Vallabha Bhatta says that only one who is empowered by Krishna can preach.
Because the advanced devotee is absorbed varieties of devotional service, he has no material needs.
Just as a New Yorker knows all the subways, buses, and streets, the advanced devotee knows the details of the relationships and mellows of love of Godhead.
Some people say that you have to personally hear from a rasika Vaishnava who is physically present to attain the highest level of Krishna prema, but that is not our philosophy. The spiritual master does not have to be personally present to reveal the highest knowledge. By serving the instructions of one’s guru in separation one can gain all perfection.
To think we need to go outside of Srila Prabhupada’s movement is a reprehensible and abhorrent idea.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura tells a story about a landlord who could not motivate his workers to increase their service. A friend advised him to feed them bhasmati rice and cow ghee and to not ask them to do anything for six months. Then he could begin asking them to do something. Some of them rebelled at being engaged in service and went away, but they came back because of the bhasmati rice and cow ghee and consented to do the service. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained we have to give people profit, adoration, and distinction to motivate them to do something in the Lord’s service. Those who are advanced, however, do not need such motivations.
If we are engaged in harinama sankirtana, book distribution, and prasadam distribution, we can know we cannot be very far off the mark.
Devotee who cooks at Govinda’s:
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said thinking the spiritual master an ordinary man is the root of the other nine offenses.
yuñjann evam sadatmanam
atyantam sukham asnute
“Thus the self-controlled yogi, constantly engaged in yoga practice, becomes free from all material contamination and achieves the highest stage of perfect happiness in transcendental loving service to the Lord.” (Bhagavad-gita 6.28)