Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 14
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2017, part two)
England and Berlin
(Sent from Boston on September 18, 2017)
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2017, part two)
England and Berlin
(Sent from Boston on September 18, 2017)
Where I Went and What I Did
The second half of July I returned to England as I was approaching my 90-day limit in Europe, and I wanted to save some days for the Berlin Ratha-yatra and the Polish Woodstock at the end of the month and the beginning of the next. I attended the Leicester Ratha-yatra and did harinama in Leicester the day before and for two days after. I also attended a brahmacari meeting they had one day. Then I did harinama and attended a program in Sheffield with Dayananda Swami. Next I went to Newcastle for harinama and their Wednesday night kirtana, and to Chester for harinama and their program the third Thursday of the month. Friday I chanted in Liverpool with five devotees for three hours before going to Leeds to do two more hours of harinama, assisted by Ashish for the last hour, and then the Leeds Friday program. Saturday I took the Megabus to Oxford for the first ever Oxford Ratha-yatra. I stayed with Pandava Prabhu, who kindly drove me to Birmingham for their Ratha-yatra the following day. The next day I took the Megabus back north to do harinama with Govardhan and Nitaichand Prabhus in York that day and in Scarborough the next. Then the three of us drove to Preston and did harinama in Preston and Blackpool the next day and the following day in Preston, in Blackburn, and in Barley, on the path to the Quaker pilgrimage site called Pendle Hill. That night we attended the program the last Thursday of the month in Accrington. The next day I took two trains and a bus from Blackpool to London, where I did harinama with Gopinatha Prabhu of Mayapur and Gopal of Vrindavan, as well as my old harinama partner, Ananta Nitai Prabhu. The next day I flew to Berlin for the Berlin Ratha-yatra, and I did harinama with Harinama Ruci the following day at a park in Berlin and the day after that at Alexanderplatz. That evening I ended a very busy month by going to Kostrzyn, the site of the Polish Woodstock.
I share quotes from one of Srila Prabhupada’s books and notes on two of his lectures, one with comments by senior devotees. I share two verses from Raghunatha Dasa Goswami’s Manah-siksa. I share excerpts from Japa Transformations and the soon-to-be-published Looking Back, Volume 2, by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, as well as several of his poems. I share notes on the lecture by Sacinandana Swami at the Berlin Ratha-yatra stage show and notes on the class by Haladhara Swami before the Leicester Ratha-yatra. I share wisdom about brahmacari life from Bhakti Rasamrita Swami, Dayananda Swami, Bhakti Prabhava Swami, Sutapa Prabhu, Baladeva Charan Prabhu, and myself. I share an excerpt from an article by Nagaraja Prabhu in Back to Godhead. I also include a comment by Sundara Jagannatha Prabhu.
I would like to thank Karsna Prabhu of Chester, Pandava Prabhu of Oxford, Ashish of York, the Newcastle temple, Diane of Nottingham, Locan Das Thakura Prabhu of Brighton, Vishnu Jana Prabhu of Harinama Ruci, the Indian lady we met on harinama in Blackpool, Dennis of York, and Dayananda Swami for their kind donations. Thanks to Govardhan Dasi for giving me our harinama collections in York, Scarborough, Preston, Blackpool, and Blackburn. Thanks to Aharada Devi Dasi for the photos of our Liverpool harinama. Thanks to Harinama Ruci for the photos of the harinama in the park in Berlin.
September 5–January: New York City (except Sept. 20?–23: Philadelphia)
including September 30: Lecture at 26 Second Ave
January–April, 2018: North Florida
April 13–18, 2018: Ireland
Devotees say outside India, Leicester in England has the most elaborate ceremony when the deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra board Their Ratha-yatra cart. Here are some clips from the ceremony and the beginning of the Leicester Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/VijFSCDLTbI):
As with some Ratha-yatras, in Leicester they had a cart for the kids.
It was nice to see the policemen on good terms with the devotees.
A variety of devotees led the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Leicester Ratha-yatra, the most popular in England in terms of devotee attendance, other than the one in London (https://youtu.be/3qzGSI9KEYg):
Chanting Hare Krishna in Leicester
Leicester harinama leader, Bali Mardan Prabhu, playing the drum, with his partner, playing the karatalas, are often joined by a violin playing street musician, when they pass him during their Saturday late night harinama in Leicester (https://youtu.be/DXSpdJHp118):
Attendees at a one-day brahmacari gathering in Leicester, along with local devotees, chanted Hare Krishna through the streets and through one market in Leicester (https://youtu.be/V5MuuYYfQfY):
Dayananda Swami chanted Hare Krishna in such a lively manner he got almost everyone dancing during a brahmacari gathering in the Leceister temple room (https://youtu.be/O2pfWzqL6no):
Chanting Hare Krishna in Sheffield
Dayananda Swami chanted with local devotees, Joe Kenny and Madhavi Rani Devi Dasi, in Sheffield. A busker friend of Joe’s played karatalas at one point. Many people appreciated, including one guy with a beer can, who listened for quite awhile and found it difficult to leave. Many took invitations for the upcoming Hare Krishna festival on August 3 there (https://youtu.be/jlboV7TSXCk):
Afterwards we had a program at the downtown flat of an Indian girl who studies at the university and two of her friends also joined us. Dayananda Swami spoke and chanted Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/KZJoE9tMi4E):
Chanting Hare Krishna in Newcastle
Prema Sankirtana and Radhe Shyam Prabhus along with Julian, a university student from Bulgaria, joined me in chanting Hare Krishna on Northumberland Street in Newcastle. People took photos, moved to the music, gave donations and accepted Srila Prabhupada’s books (https://youtu.be/OGVc_IRfEEE):
After chanting on Northumberland Street, we returned to the Newcastle temple for the Wednesday night kirtan. Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu, visiting the Newcastle temple in the course of his book distribution service, ended up leading the first Hare Krishna chant at our Wednesday Kirtan Night, singing a lively tune that his guru, Indradyumna Swami, often sings (https://youtu.be/Zv1Ofs7os7I):
Prema Sankirtana Prabhu took this video of me leading my Newcastle friends in the chanting of my favorite Hare Krishna tune at the Wednesday Kirtan Night in Newcastle (https://youtu.be/bXat8sG8kRU):
Here Prema Sankirana Prabhu leads the chanting himself (https://youtu.be/OdHzD9mAD3I):
Students at Newcastle University attending the Sankirtana Society develop a taste for chanting Hare Krishna, and they attend the Newcastle temple Wednesday night kirtan, and ultimately participate by leading the kirtans (https://www.youtube.com/embed/rUOiKUZhwe4):
Here is another example (https://youtu.be/_zT4M7Zb-y0):
Madhuri Dasi of Malaysia, perhaps so-named because of her sweet voice, chants Hare Krishna at the Newcastle Wednesday Kirtan Night, getting the devotees dancing (https://youtu.be/vcXqkug08Is):
Although I did harinama in Chester, Liverpool, and Leeds, I only had enough devotees to take photos in Liverpool.
There someone had painted portraits of the Beatles on the wall of a building, and we decided to chant there.
The devotee in the center brought his bass guitar, so it was extra special.
It was great to have a good-sized group of devotees to chant with that day! Thanks to Karsna and Aharada Prabhus for arranging that!
Govinda Prabhu of Scotland, who I know from the Polish festival tour, led the chanting of Hare Krishna before the First Annual Oxford Ratha-yatra, and a few passersby danced (https://youtu.be/a1KeVGYM4Ck):
Hare Krishna devotees chanted at the Oxford Ratha-yatra on a rainy July day, and onlookers delighted in dancing with them (https://youtu.be/dTRg8RZZVWQ):
Hanuman participated and snacked on a banana midway.
Govinda Prabhu led the chanting of Hare Krishna after the Oxford Ratha-yatra, and Erzebet danced with a couple young ladies (https://youtu.be/xKbw5my8U-w):
Gopinatha Prabhu led the chanting of Hare Krishna after the Oxford Ratha-yatra, and Erzebet danced with a group of young ladies (https://youtu.be/al23Pj49FOQ):
Gopinatha Prabhu led the chanting of Hare Krishna after the Oxford Ratha-yatra, and Erzebet danced with a group of kids (https://youtu.be/zVGYBMTLaJ8):
It was my first time at the Birmingham Ratha-yatra as I was usually in Eastern Europe when it was held. It is near a central location, New Street Station, but it is very short.
I remember three striking thing about the Birmingham Ratha-yatra.
I saw one young lady with a beautiful smile, transfixed in meditation on the Lord on His chariot and the devotees chanting. She had never encountered Ratha-yatra or Hare Krishna before. I invited her to the festival, but she had a train very soon to her home in Plymouth. I told her we had the festival also in Plymouth, and she could learn of it at www.rathayatra.co.uk.
One young guy looked at me and said, “I remember you from Union Square.” Amazingly enough, he then proceeded to show me on his phone a photo of me and another devotee at Union Square.
One Muslim lady was so enchanted by the devotees and their chanting and dancing she must have taken ten minutes of video of the Ratha-yatra procession. You can see her in the video below:
Hare Krishna devotees chant Hare Krishna at the Birmingham Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/sXMZ67FfpAY):
After Ratha-yatra there was a stage show.
Tribhangananda Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna after the Birmingham Ratha-yatra procession and before and during the stage show (https://youtu.be/x5fAEhUi_rw):
Parasurama Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna after Birmingham Ratha-yatra procession and during the stage show (https://youtu.be/yVK1AQT-I10):
Chanting Hare Krishna in Lancashire
Once again I chanted with Govardhan Dasi and her husband, Nitaicand Prabhu, in several places in Lancashire County in the northwest of England for a couple of days. We chanted in Preston twice, and in Blackpool, Blackburn, and Barley, which is at the foot of Pendle Hill. We had too few people for me to take video in Preston, but I have some video of the other places.
Here Govardhan Dasi chants Hare Krishna in Blackpool, joined by her husband, Nitaichand Prabhu, along with Gaura Shakti Prabhu of Lancaster, Gadai Prabhu and his wife and son, and Damodara Nimai Prabhu and Barbara of Blackpool, (https://youtu.be/1LOfhTAX_UU):
Govardhan Dasi chants Hare Krishna in Blackburn (https://youtu.be/--TYonphys8):
Last year during our monthly program in Accrington, after I mentioned my Quaker background in the course of my lecture, Tony told me he and another devotee had visited Pendle Hill, a Quaker pilgrimage place, in the last couple of weeks, and that it was very nearby. Thus I developed a desire to go.
When I told Govardhan, she was into doing harinama at Pendle Hill, and so we did.
Here Jude of Liverpool leads the chanting of Hare Krishna, and Govardhan Dasi plays the drum at Pendle Hill in rural Lancashire, where Quaker founder George Fox once had a spiritual vision (https://youtu.be/nhBe9sxY-nQ):
Chanting Hare Krishna in London
Gopinatha Prabhu leads the chanting Hare Krishna in London, playing accordion, and accompanied on mrdanga by Gopal Prabhu, who previously played for Aindra Prabhu. Adi-Guru Prabhu plays the karatalas (https://youtu.be/lDRlJlPYTEs):
Berlin Ratha-yatra and Harinamas
At the bus stop on the way to London’s Stansted Airport, I met a girl who was flying to Dublin. I told her I was flying to Berlin, and that one thing that Dublin and Berlin have in common is they both have a Hare Krishna festival today. She studies in Dublin and was returning for a weekend during her summer break. She had heard of Govinda’s restaurant there, and I told her its address, and also where and when the Ratha-yatra festival was to begin. She was open to going to both, and I gave her my card and asked her to tell me how she liked them.
The tourist office lady at Berlin’s Schönefeld airport recognized I was a Hare Krishna from my dress and told me a friend from her native Italy is a Hare Krishna devotee and had a Hare Krishna marriage ceremony. I told her of our Ratha-yatra festival in Brandenberger Tor that day, and she said she would come after work.
Dharmaraja Prabhu of Mexico, traveling with Harinama Ruci, was the first chanter of Hare Krishna at the Berlin Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/_9vyYLBVntA):
Then Indradyumna Swami chanted Hare Krishna at the Berlin Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/de-Ya36Td-Q):
For the second consecutive year, Vaiyasaki Prabhu attended and led the chanting of Hare Krishna at the Berlin Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/wWeXYriMZ7o):
Sacinandana Swami was the final chanter of Hare Krishna at the Berlin Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/OLzAthFM_gU):
We had a stage show after the Ratha-yatra.
Here Vaiyasaki Prabhu chants Hare Krishna during the Berlin Ratha-yatra stage show (https://youtu.be/xQqX5Tk79ew):
After the Berlin Ratha-yatra procession and during the stage show, Harinama Ruci chanted Hare Krishna through the streets of Berlin, and many people appreciated (https://youtu.be/03YW8iDLNdg):
Sacinandana Swami chanted several lively Hare Krishna tunes at the end of the Berlin Ratha-yatra stage show and both devotees and newcomers danced with joy (https://youtu.be/pBtTBixyYHg):
I chanted Hare Krishna with Harinama Ruci in Mauerpark in Berlin the day after the Ratha-yatra.
Different musicians played along with us.
We had a nice group of devotee ladies dancing with us.
You can see how lively it was in this video (https://youtu.be/XoCSeogZny8):
Then we continued on the streets of Berlin (https://youtu.be/yD4mJdeHFvg):
Once we chanted in front of the German Language School, where some students joined in the singing and dancing (https://youtu.be/Ed9XEAGTLfk):
Finally we chanted outside Denns Biomarkt (https://youtu.be/FRDviAzVF5k):
After harinama we chanted Hare Krishna with Madhava Prabhu, who was leading, and Sacinandana Swami, who was among the responders, in the ISKCON Berlin Jagannatha temple, thus ending a very ecstatic day (https://youtu.be/Kn1xg283cMA):
The next day we chanted Hare Krishna with Harinama Ruci at Alexanderplatz in Berlin (https://youtu.be/Z7iE10LopWw):
From Sri Isopanisad 14, purport:
“Material scientists and politicians are trying to make this place deathless because they have no information of the deathless spiritual nature. This is due to their ignorance of the Vedic literature, which contains full knowledge confirmed by mature transcendental experience. Unfortunately, modern man is averse to receiving knowledge from the Vedas, Puranas and other scriptures.”
“Many men are advertised as great scholars of the Bhagavad-gita, but they overlook the Gita’s message, by which material nature can be pacified. Powerful nature can be pacified only by the awakening of God consciousness, as clearly pointed out in the Bhagavad-gita (7.14).”
From a lecture in New Vrindaban on June 25, 1976:
“But if we take krishna-prasadam, although apparently we are greedy for eating, by taking krishna-prasadam our greediness is neutralized.”
From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam we played for the morning class in Leicester:
Even the great consort of Rama, Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune, was kidnapped by Ravana when left unprotected briefly by Rama and Laksman. Thus she demonstrates the Vedic principle that women should be always protected by a competent man or they may be exploited at any time by some aggressor.
Another lesson to be learned from Lord Ramacandra’s pastimes is that if a man becomes attracted to a women it makes his life very complicated.
Still another lesson to be learned is that Sita Devi, although a princess and not accustomed to a simple life in the forest, went with Lord Rama when he was banished to the forest in order to stay with her husband as a chaste wife.
Because women are not taken care of properly, I have practically seen that there is no home and no peace in the western countries.
Peacefulness is necessary to make spiritual progress.
Comments by Bhakti Prabhava Swami:
I did a study for my masters on the role of women in ISKCON.
In India, the lady is the boss within the family, and the man is the boss in relation to the outside world.
I found that in Leicester some of the devotee ladies were coming to realize that if they were more protected their lives would be better while women in Mayapur were more inclined to aspire for freedom and equality.
Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja told one follower who was happy to attain a Vaishnavi wife to remember that his wife is Krishna dasi, Krishna’s servant, and not his servant.
Varnasrama brings one to goodness.
Even in Vedic times, not everyone would fit into the varnasrama system. There would always be those lower than sudras.
Comment by Dayananda Swami:
Often women are very expert in expanding facility for material enjoyment, but they are not always aware of the ramifications of doing that.
Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami:
From Sri Stavavali, Volume One, “Shri Manah-shiksha – Instructions to the Mind”
“O mind, I grasp your feet and beg you with sweet words: Please throw away all your pride and develop intense, extraordinary love for my spiritual master, Vrajabhumi, the people of Vraja, the Vaishnavas, the brahmanas, the Gayatri mantra, the holy name, and the transcendental shelter that is the youthful couple of Vraja.”
“Mind, in order to attain the direct service of the lovers Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari, who
are surrounded by Their friends, every day you must drink, with Sri Rupa Gosvami, the five nectars of worshiping Them, chanting Their names, meditating on Them, hearing about Them, and bowing down before Them, and every day you must worship Govardhana Hill.”
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
From Japa Transformations:
“I like chanting the maha-mantra. I’m familiar enough with the words ‘Hare,’ ‘Krishna,’ and ‘Rama.’ They please me as they pass through my mind and lips. I’ve been doing it so long it’s become a love and a deep attachment. I could never switch to another kind of prayer of another religion, or even another mantra in the Vedic religion. This is it for me. I began in 1966, and I’ll continue it until the end. Prabhupada was so expert as to cement it to my being, and the mantra itself has the potency that once you chant it, you never want to stop. I’m like Gopa-kumara, who, no matter where he went, chanted his Gopal mantra because it brought him more satisfaction than anything else, even when he was in the heavenly planets or Vaikuntha. He was always restless unless he was chanting his diksa mantra. The Hare Krishna mantra stays with you so that you chant it even in the dentist’s office or in the car after you’ve chanted your minimum prescribed rounds.”
“I remember in 1966 I once walked out of a kirtana engagement we devotees held at a public hall. I wasn’t yet committed to being a devotee, to restricting my association solely to devotees. I walked out of the building and wandered into the streets of the Lower East Side, observing the lights and the people. But then I felt a strong sense of estrangement from everything in the streets and a pull to go back and join my new devotee friends. I walked back to the hall and met them just as they were leaving. They joked with me about my walking out, but welcomed me back to their group. That was maybe the last time I did anything like that. From then on, I always stayed exclusively within the ISKCON group.
“You want to be on the side of good and free of maya. Some taints remain until you are perfectly pure. By hearing and chanting, which are pious acts, Krishna in the heart works to cleanse out the remaining dirt. Prabhupada once said, ‘When you are seventy-five percent pure, you can go back to Godhead.’ He said that immediately after saying you had to be a hundred percent pure. Krishna decides.”
“Today my mind has not been wandering but has been staying fixed on the utterance of the Names, so I’ve come to expect this. It’s a gain from my previous years’ chanting. My chanting of eight rounds was below seven minutes a round. Aside from hearing the sounds of the syllables, my mind did not sink into a Radha-Krishna meditation. But I am calling out just by basic faith in the japa operation. As when I speak to Krishna in my afternoon free write, I have confidence in Krishna’s being open to me when I chant japa. My fixation on accumulating mantras is not the highest stage, but it is important work. For now, it is the heart of my practice. I pay attention and quickly add one mantra to the next. I try to do something besides counting. This morning I thought of the vintage Lough Derg diary I’m reading, and I was eager to read some more. I also anticipated my journal writing and prayed to be able to do some today. Aside from this, I could not think of Krishna aside from the counting. After all, Prabhupada did advise, ‘Just hear.’ The Names are absolute. You benefit just by touching Them with your tongue. When you put your hand in fire, you’ll be burnt. When you say the Hare Krishna mantras, you become Krishna-ized.”
“I chanted my rounds with enunciation, calmly turning them over and over. A feeling of warmth grew within my heart, and I felt neither guilty nor rushed.
“It was a day to dedicate to the maha-mantra, a special treat, not a day of punishment or regret. I took my time as the hours went by, absorbed in the holy names just like a dedicated chanter from the times of Lord Caitanya. They had nothing to do but chant, and they felt they were totally engaged. “They gave their minds and hearts to the mantras and spent the day in trance. Why can’t you do that?”
“Chanting japa is my solemn duty. Even if you get up late, you have to chant your japa, gradually catching up with the quota. Don’t be sloppy because it’s late. Slow down and be patient and execute the yajña with a sane mind. Repeat the syllables patiently. Try to think of Radha and Krishna. Don’t worry, they will get done, they will get done. It’s a simple thing. Anyone can do it. We should not push it to a corner of the mind and dwell on other things because of its simplicity. Give the mind’s full attention to this simplicity. It’s a prayer to which you can give your whole heart. Call out to Krishna, the Supreme Lord, by saying His name. Call out to Radha, our eternal benefactor, by calling Her name. They can help you. Be sure of that. Use your time for this, and other things can get done at another time. Let it be a day of catching up. But I can chant with leisure and steadfastness. It is not a day to rush. Neither is it a day to be remorseful, but just take it in stride that you have to give your time to the chanting and not to other things. The mantras are a gift and should be handled gratefully. It is no different from another day, except you have more time to dedicate, more time to build the quota, more time to do it nicely. Less time for other things, but that’s all right, because you’re doing the primary thing, and so your day is not wasted, not in the least.”
“Writing to Krishna. Running to You with my eyes closed. Praying to You with the maha-mantra. Not knowing what to do for You. The best thing is to give people Krishna consciousness. That is better than food or medicine or weapons or ‘education.’ Give them direct Krishna consciousness. There are tactics for that. They used to do it largely by dressing as civilians and approaching people to sell them Prabhupada’s books. Dressing as devotees and going in the streets to sing the Hare Krishna mantra. Lectures in the colleges. Giving out prasadam to materially needy people. Festivals on Sunday at the temple, or Ratha-yatras in the streets and parks. Setting the example by running a self-sufficient farm, growing crops and protecting cows (never really done self-sufficiently). Bringing people to the holy dhamas of India. Holding lectures, kirtanas and feasts in your home and inviting neighbors and friends. Publishing books and Back to Godhead magazine. Selling CDs, videos on the Internet; running a webpage on the Internet. Building temples. And many more tactics performed by enthusiastic preachers.”
From “Japa Poem”:
“I say the best thing is to give people Krishna consciousness.
some of the
tactics and methods for doing it.
meet, tell them
Krishna conscious festivals
‘and many more tactics performed
by enthusiastic preachers.’
All are pleasing to guru and Krishna.
From “Backatcha Allen Ginsberg” in Gentle Power:
“They say Krishna consciousness is
a tacked-on canon I use to
resolve a poem that really should stay in the
sensual, compassionate poet’s realm.
No, it’s the center of all people and poets
and government control. It’s the difference between
untruth and reality, love and oppression. It’s
understanding, both sides of the dual
wrongs and partial rights of this world –
seeing everything in Krishna. Do you think
He’s a Hindu god, you
fine poets? As if you,
Yevtuschenko, are yourself the forger
of the human soul.”
From “When you chant . . .” in Cc. Asraya:
“When you chant, pay attention
and hear the holy name. Be
stricter, but also easier
on yourself. By that I mean,
don be rigid in your conceptions
of how to surrender.
‘The bird doesn’t sing
because he has the answer
but because he has the song.’
Sing the song of God.
Sing your realization.
Sing your ecstatic tune in kirtana.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare.
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare –
it’s singing, isn’t it?
Sing when you write.
Sing the song you are meant to sing.”
From “Poem to Radha-Govinda”:
“Radha-Govinda, I love Your presence
in my bhajana-kutir. You and
Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya and
an ordinary room into a mandir.
The plants and flowers enhance
Sometimes I complain that
I cannot clearly see You
for long enough, but
a pure paramahamsa
is satisfied with a slight glance
at Your lotus feet in darsana.
‘Don’t strive to see Radha-Krishna,
but act in a way
that They can see you.’
I am grateful Radha-Govinda
reside with me in Viraha Bhavan.”
From Looking Back, Volume Two:
“Extroverts charge their batteries by mixing with other people, and introverts get charged up by solitary time.”
“Junior Haridas was punished by the Lord to never see Him again. He took this news so heavily that he drowned himself, but he continued in an invisible form, and he used to sing to Lord Caitanya when the Lord went to the ocean to bathe. Eventually he was liberated and joined the Lord in the eternal spiritual world. It is never wrong to read, even if you are crippled and wounded and half asleep. This was Lord Caitanya’s mercy upon Junior Haridas, to free him of his last attachments in the material world. It was their lila.”
“He said, ‘I get no taste from chanting.’ Joe said back, ‘Maybe Krishna is getting a taste from your chanting. You are supposed to be chanting for Him.’”
“There are many similarities to the Twelve Step Program for Alcoholics Anonymous and Krishna consciousness. In the Twelve Step Program the person has to first admit that he is helpless to change himself, and he surrenders to his Higher Power. When one realizes that Power is Krishna, then he begins to practice Krishna consciousness. We have to follow Him and His representatives, and we can become free from the shackles of our bad habits. The Twelve Step Program has been applied to alcoholics, those who are too addicted to sex, those who are overweight, and many other undesirable addictions and habits.”
The Berlin Jagannatha is special because He is made from the same wood as the Puri Jagannatha.
Spiritual knowledge makes the soul rise.
Devotional qualities, like forgiveness, are the guardians of the soul.
Dharma is the guide of the soul.
At the beginning of the Ratha-yatra day, Lord Jagannatha is practically drunken with love for the residents of Vrindavana, and so the dayitas, despite their great strength, find it very difficult to move Him in a steady way, and He moves from side to side in an irregular way.
Although Ratha-yatra has the public dimension of sharing the holy name, we should always remember it also has a personal, internal dimension of pulling Lord Jagannatha with our love.
Srila Prabhupada used say that Jagannatha is very merciful to the fallen souls. There is outside the temple near the simha-dvara, the Lion Gate, a deity of Jagannatha called Patita-pavana, who gives audience to everyone. Also if one sees the flag on top of the Jagannatha temple, it is the same as personally seeing Lord Jagannatha.
Before the Ratha-yatra, Lord Caitanya would prepare. He would invite many associates.
Lord Caitanya would look at Jagannatha as the gopis would see Krishna, desiring many unblinking eyes to fully appreciate His beauty.
People did not understand why Lord Jagannatha stopped His cart, but He wanted to see the dancing Lord Caitanya in the mood of the gopis.
Mahaprabhu appeared dancing in seven groups, but each devotee thought the Lord is dancing in our group.
The gopis dislike Krishna’s appearance as a king with soldiers, horses, and elephants. They question Krishna, “How is it that you forgot Vrindavana, Govardhan Hill, the Yamuna River?” Krishna replies, “The residents of Vrindavana are my life, and you gopis are the life of my life.”
Even in India we were mlecchas because the although born surrounded by the Vedic culture, we were not following it. Srila Prabhupada inspired us. Still we are not following, but we are trying to follow.
Lord Jagannatha is the savior of the fallen. But our problem is that we do not think we are fallen.
Gaura Govinda Swami said, “Mercy is hanging over your head. You are not ready to carry it.”
One Hindu widow, a devotee of Lord Jagannatha, because of being touched by a Muslim man, ended up marrying him because she was rejected by her Hindu community. They had a son, Salavada, who she taught to always pray to Lord Jagannatha. She died not long after. His father tried force his son to follow Muslim principles but he became sick. When he prayed to Lord Jagannatha, he became healthy. Then again his father would force him to follow the Muslim principles, but he again became sick. The doctors could not find anything wrong with him. His father gave him independence to do as he liked, and he worshiped Lord Jagannatha and became cured as before. The Puri pandas wanted to beat him, considering him a Muslim, but he asked Jagannatha if he could take shelter of Vrindavan, and so he did. The day before the Puri Ratha-yatra, the Lord requested him to come there for the festival, but he said there was no time. The Lord continued appealing, saying the festival would not be complete without him, and he said, “OK, I will come. But you must wait there on your cart for me.” For many days, the cart could not be moved, until Salavada appeared. He said to the Lord, “Now I am here. You can start your procession.” Immediately the cart moved, and the pandas came to realize how dear the pure devotee, Salavada, was to the Lord. Salavada wrote much poetry, ending each poem declaring himself fallen and asking Jagannatha for mercy. One poem is still recited every morning in Puri.
If we think ourselves fallen, we will get Jagannatha’s mercy. We are suffering so much, but we do not pray for mercy.
Bhakti Rasamrita Swami:
Literally brahmacari means one who lives in relationship with spiritual truth. Brahma means spiritual truth. Acara means behavior, and acari means one who behaves.
Krishna, when discussing knowledge in chapter 13, does not mention university degrees but spiritual qualities.
Tolerance is very important to brahmacari life, especially for living in an ashram. It is a necessity for survival as a brahmacari.
A brahmacari should not get angry, “What did he say that to me?” That is not living in relationship with spiritual truth.
A brahmacari should regularly study Srila Prabhupada’s books.
Some of the divine qualities are cultivated in specific ashrams, but simplicity is important for all ashrams.
Avoid accumulating possessions.
We do not talk unnecessarily.
A brahmacari has no private life.
Wearing saffron helps us to do act properly. One will think twice about doing something not appropriate for a spiritual aspirant.
Lord Caitanya said that renunciation is sustaining principle in the life of His devotees.
In brahmacari life we learn this renunciation.
The brahmacari is the servant of the other ashrams, and the brahmacari is dependent on the other ashrams.
We are only renunciates because of the support of the other ashrams, and remembering this can keep us from becoming proud.
If we do not tolerate, we are in material consciousness. If we consider that Krishna is giving us what we need for our advancement then we can be tolerant in any situation.
We can consider which is better, to tolerate in the association of the materialists or to tolerate in the association of the devotees.
If we can understand the great opportunity we have as brahmacaris, we can be grateful, and that will help us remain steady.
When we get involved with material fear, we do things that are destructive to ourselves and to others.
By devotional service our hearts soften, and we can think broadmindedly even in extreme situations. Such is the case of Draupadi, who thought of Asvattama’s benefit, although he had heinously killed her sons in their sleep.
A person is in an elevated position due to Krishna’s grace, and he can stay in such a position only by Krishna’s grace, therefore, it is best to show proper respect to such people, even if we do not agree with everything they say or do.
If everyone takes the law into his own hands, then even if he is right, it would make for a chaotic society.
Even in giving class we are dependent on the devotees. If there is no one there to listen, there is no scope for giving class.
Christianity did not spread in a big way until there was an institution. It was just isolated groups of practitioners here and there.
Q (by Guru Das): What are the evils of institutions?
A: Sometimes leaders do not act always according to the spirit of the institution. Sometimes people within the institution are not heard.
Comment by Bhakti Prabhava Swami:
I went to visit Hamsagati Krishna Das in the hospital the day of the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of ISKCON last year. We were thinking he would leave his body in a few hours. The next day I brought him the garland Srila Prabhupada wore on that special day. He was feeling better, and they put him on a seat, and I offered him the garland. He could barely speak, and he indicated I should come close to hear him. He said, “I had a dream last night of Srila Prabhupada offering me his garland.”
Bhakti Prabhava Swami:
Adopting saffron cloth means accepting the mentality of the brahmacari.
The brahmacari lives only to serve the spiritual master.
As a brahmacari, one does not have to become something, but to act as we actually are, eternal servants of Krishna.
You go to the morning program, you do your service, and where you are does not really matter.
Whatever it takes, the brahmacari acts for the pleasure of the spiritual master.
Faith in the scripture is very important, and through study that faith can be attained.
The relationship between the brahmacari and the spiritual master is one of love.
From “Relish the Bhagavatam” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 51, No. 6:
“And just as some fruits ripen better when a bird breaks the skin with its beak, causing oxidation, the Bhagavatam became even sweeter when spoken through the lips of the aptly named Sukadeva (suka meaning ‘parrot’).”
“And just as some fruits ripen better when a bird breaks the skin with its beak, causing oxidation, the Bhagavatam became even sweeter when spoken through the lips of the aptly named Sukadeva (suka meaning ‘parrot’).”
Srila Prabhupada wanted to establish varnasrama. One way we can help is to choose an ashram and act according its rules the best we can.
A brahmacari is very attached to his guru.
Working under direction of authority is important in brahmacari life. Although it looks like I am an independent guy, just going to all the festivals, in every place, I am working under the direction of a senior devotee.
Making friendship with brahmacaris is important. Some people feel an emptiness and search out male-female relationships unnecessarily because of a lack of brahmacari friendships.
Full engagement is important for a brahmacari. No time for maya.
“The brahmacaris, or students under the care of a bona ﬁde spiritual master, control the mind by abstaining from sense gratiﬁcation. A brahmacari hears only words concerning Krishna consciousness; hearing is the basic principle for understanding, and therefore the pure brahmacari engages fully in harer namanukirtanam – chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord. He restrains himself from the vibrations of material sounds, and his hearing is engaged in the transcendental sound vibration of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.” (Bhagavad-gita 4.26, purport).
Don’t associate with women. No one mentioned that. You may have to associate with them in the course of service, but do not be alone with a woman in a secluded place. If you find yourself in that situation, pray to Krishna for protection.
Bhakti Rasamrita Swami said how the brahmacari has no possessions. That reminds me of how Lord Caitanya had one servant, Govinda, who stashed food for Lord Caitanya’s meal the next day. When Lord Caitanya saw how quickly he prepared the meal, He inquired about it. When He learned His servant had stashed food for the next day, Lord Caitanya said that that behavior was not befitting a brahmacari, and He told him to get married.
Someone spoke of how the brahmacari has no problems. Just today, I heard a brahmacari lamenting that he could not find his kaupins [underwear]. Most people in Leicester have serious challenges, but this young brahmacari’s only problem is he could not find his kaupins.
Pray that the new brahmacari, Baladeva Charan, may fully engage in Srila Prabhupada’s service, become inspired, and share his inspiration with others.
Baladeva Charan Prabhu:
Kadamba Kanana Swami said that formerly brahmacaris wore white, but Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura started them wearing saffron for preaching.
Someone asked Guru Das Prabhu, “Why are you going to Leicester? There is nothing happening there.”
Guru Das replied, “That is why we are going to Leicester, because there is nothing happening there.”
ratharudho gacchan pathi milita-bhudeva-patalaih
stuti-pradurbhavam prati-padam upakarnya sadayah
daya-sindhur bandhuh sakala jagatam sindhu-sutaya
jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me
“When Lord Jagannatha moves along the road on His Ratha-yatra car, at every step large assemblies of brahmanas loudly chant prayers and sing songs for His pleasure. Hearing their hymns, Lord Jagannatha becomes very favorably disposed toward them. He is the ocean of mercy and the true friend of all the worlds. May that Jagannatha Svami, along with His consort Laksmi, who was born from the ocean of nectar, be the object of my vision.” (“Jagannathastakam,” verse 5)