Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

by Krishna-kripa Das

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Travel Journal#10.14: Prague Ratha-yatra and the Baltic Summer Festival

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 14
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2014, part two
)
Prague Ratha-yatra and the Baltic Summer Festival
(Sent from Leeds, England, on August 31, 2014)

The day after the Manchester Ratha-yatra, I flew to Prague to attend the Prague Ratha-yatra, and I liked it so much, I want to go every year. Then I went by train, bus, and car, to Lithuania for the Baltic Summer Festival, attending it for the second time. Then I traveled by train with my friend from London, Radha-Londonisvara Das, to Kostrzyn for the Polish Woodstock festival. Although Woodstock started in July and ended in August, I will describe it all in the August issue, since I have lots of notes on the lectures from senior devotees speaking at the Lithuanian festival in this issue.

I share notes on Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures. I have several excerpts from the lectures of Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura, compiled in a book called Vaktritavali. I have one quote from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s writing. I have lots of very wonderful and inspiring points from the speakers at the Baltic Summer Festival, namely Bhakti Caitanya Swami, Bhaktivaibhava Swami, Lokanath Swami, Niranjana Swami, Bhakti Visramba Madhava Swami, Dhirasanta Prabhu and Sankarsana Prabhu, which you will not want to miss. I also have valuable quotes from Sakhya Prema and Isa Prakasa Prabhus.

Thanks to Sanantani Devi Dasi for her kind donation. Thanks to Aniruddha Prabhu for giving me rides between Poland and Lithuania, and Krishna Kirtana Prabhu of Warsaw for making that arrangement.

I have fewer pictures than usual for this and the next two issues, as I mysteriously lost my camera card and card reader as I packed up my computer to get off the bus in Brussels on August 26, and I had not copied the pictures to my computer since the middle of July.

Prague Ratha-yatra

I was so happy to be part of the Prague Ratha-yatra again. I had attended the second one back in 2009. It was beautiful to see people from all over the world attracted to the chanting and dancing and worship of Lord Jagannatha. The Czech devotees have a flyer with a description of Ratha-yatra in English on one side and in Czech on the other. It also lists an English web page and a Czech language web page for those who want more information. They had a good supply of flyers; not enough to give to everyone, but quite enough so the most interested people could take one. Seeing me give one to some people who were obviously attracted, other people would approach me desiring the flyers.

I talked to a few people: There were a couple girls from Kazhakstan who smiling to see the procession. Later I saw they had attended our face painting booth and were beautifully decorated with tilaka.

One family from Germany was captivated by the Ratha-yatra procession, and they were very happy when I mentioned we have the same festival in Leipzig on August 9. I looked through my collection of invitations and gave them an invitation card for last year’s Leipzig Ratha-yatra, so they would have the contact details to inquire about this year’s event.

To another interested German family, I gave a flyer with a brief description of bhakti-yoga and a listing of all our temples in German speaking countries.

I surprised to meet four girls from Manchester who was enjoying the Ratha-yatra. I explained that I had just attended the same festival in Manchester the previous day. One of them recalled seeing the Manchester Ratha-yatra another year. I invited them to our stage show, and especially the free vegetarian food. I also gave them a invitation to the Manchester Friday and Sunday programs which I had in my pocket. Later I saw them come for the lunch.

In London, our stage show must end by 5:00 p.m., in New York, by 7:00 p.m., but in Prague it was scheduled to end at 8:00 p.m. and went at least another half an hour. I was glad that my train to Poland, where I would catch a ride with devotees to Lithuania was not until 10:26 p.m., so I could attend the whole event.

One feature about the Prague Ratha-yatra, is that many of the devotees on the World Harinama Party are from that part of the world, and so they attend and always have a harinama during the stage show, this year for an hour and a half. As we chanted from Mustek, the site of our festival, through Old Town Square, to the bridge over the river and back, we would attract a crowd of onlookers. Then we would stay in one place and chant the mantra two words at a time, trying to induce the onlookers to repeat it. Then we would chant a few mantras with them, and continue on our way.

We were most successful with a very enthusiastic group of young people from Porto, Portugal as you can see in the video below (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CPUjWrqs9Y):


I praised their enthusiasm and told them we have a center in Lisbon, and if they emailed me, I would tell what we have in Porto.

The Mayapuris did a very lively performance of song and dance. One interesting innovation was that Vrinda did bharat-natyam gestures to the Sri Isopanisad invocation, om purnam, and Visvambhara asked the audience to follow along.I took some video of their Hare Krishna chanting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi8P64WfPZE):


During the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, one young lady asked me what we were doing. I explained that we were chanting this mantra, a spiritual sound vibration that makes you feel good within, and I gave her a mantra card, and she started to sing along. I noticed her an hour later, up in front, dancing with all the ladies.

After the Mayapuris, Kadamba Kanana Swami led the final kirtana. He said the Mayapuris were a hard act to follow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToNKcNILWv0):


With his intense absorption and enthusiasm, he led lively kirtana and many old and new devotees and many onlookers got into the chanting and dancing.

Before I left, I spoke with Kadamba Kanana Swami briefly. In addition to thanking him for the lively kirtana, I thanked him for encouraging me to do outreach in the UK outside of London. I said it had been going well, and I felt I was benefiting the people by encouraging them there, and that was beneficial for me. He was happy about that.

Chanting in Olsztyn

I took a night train from Prague to Bohumin, near the Polish border, where I changed trains to Warsaw. There I took a bus to Olsztyn where some devotees were going to drive me to the Baltic Summer festival. They were two hours late, so I decided to play the harmonium and chant at the bus station there. A few people talked with me and gave donations. When I mentioned our temple on Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach to one Polish lady living in San Diego, she told me she had visited that temple one time.

Baltic Summer Festival

I was happy to attend the Baltic Summer Festival near Kaunas, Lithuania, for the second year in the row. Some new guest speakers this year were Lokanath Swami and Bhaktivaibhava Swami, great additions to the program of transcendental chanting and discussion.

I like that at the Baltic festival they have midday chanting for an hour before lunch in addition to the three-hour evening kirtana. They had two venues this year, one for spiritual discussions and one for chanting kirtana, so you could chant all day if you wanted to.

I saw friends from Dublin, London, and Oslo I did not expect to see at this festival. That goes to show that you never know what friends you might meet at a Hare Krishna festival!

With the morning program, four seminars, a midday kirtana, and an evening kirtana, you really had the feeling of being engaged in devotional service twenty-four hours a day. That was very powerful. I had to miss one or two seminars just to try to get six hours of sleep and make sure I had clean clothes for the next day. 


I would dance during the three-hour kirtana in the evening.


I also danced at the kids’ Ratha-yatra.

After Niranjana Swami’s classes and his darsana, they would give him prasadam to hand out to the devotees. It reminded me of an era in ISKCON when that was a regular part of life, the guru handing out cookies, a sweet exchange. It was moving for me to see Niranjana Swami’s natural compassion to help the devotees displaced by the war in Ukraine and his practical endeavor to help them. I am fortunate to have some relationship with him, the person who invited me to live in the ashram in New York in 1979 and who presently gives me advice.

Thanks to Liepa Raisyte and Vladimiras Maksimkinas for the photos of the Baltic Summer Festival.

Chanting on the Train to Kostrzyn

After the Baltic Summer Festival, I traveled with a friend from London, Radha Londonisvara Das Prabhu, to Kostrzyn for the Polish Woodstock festival. 


One slightly drunk Polish guy smiled as he played his guitar while Radha Londonisvara Prabhu played harmonium and chanted Hare Krishna on the train and others looked on.

Itinerary

September 1: Newcastle
September 2: Newcastle (Radhastami with Bhakti Caitanya Swami)
September 3: Sheffield
September 4: Manchester and Chester
September 5: Dublin (World Holy Name Festival Begins)
September 6: Dublin Ratha-yatra
September 7–10: Irish Harinamas 
September 11–November 21: New York Union Square Harinama
November 21–December 15?: Gainesville Krishna House
December 15? to January 5, 2015: Mexico or New York
January 6–April ?: Gainesville Krishna House
April ?–April 15: New York Union Square Harinama
April 16–24: Dublin
April 25: London
April 26: Radhadesh
April 27: Kings Day, Amsterdam 

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.14.20, purport:

In order to rectify this world situation, all people should be trained in Krishna consciousness and act in accordance with the varnasrama system. The state should also
see that the people are engaged in satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the primary duty of the state. The Krishna consciousness movement was started to
convince the general populace to adopt the best process by which to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus solve all problems.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.22.19:

When there is a congregation of devotees, their discussions, questions and answers become conclusive to both the speaker and the audience. Thus such a meeting is beneficial for everyone’s real happiness.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.22.19, purport:

By hearing discussions between devotees, both the materialist and transcendentalist are benefited. The materialist is benefited by association with devotees because his life then becomes regulated so that his chance of becoming a devotee or making the present life successful for understanding the real position of the living entity is increased. When one takes advantage of this opportunity, he is assured of a human form of life in the next birth, or he may be liberated completely and go back home, back to Godhead.”

from lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.8–9 on May 24, 1969, in New Vrndavana:

Just like this boy. If I send him for preaching work, he is not very educated now. He’s not a philosopher. Hes not a scholar. But he can also preach. He can also preach. Because our preaching is not very difficult thing. If we go from door to door and simply request people, ‘My dear sir, you chant Hare Krishna.’ And if he’s little advanced, ‘Please try to read Teachings of Lord Caitanya. It is very nice. You’ll be benefited.’”

So for a devotee, there is no need of controlling the senses. They automatically become controlled. Just like we have taken the vow we are not going to eat anything except krishna-prasada. Oh, the senses are already controlled. There is no question of asking a devotee, ‘You don’t drink, don’t this, don’t this, don’t this.’ So many don’ts. Simply by accepting krishna-prasadam, all don’ts there, already there. And it becomes very easy.”

And the whole world is problem for ordinary persons, but to us it is not problem. Because we see everything Krishna’s. If there is problem, it is Krishna’s problem. Why my problem? Krishna can know how to solve problem. So we have no problem practically. Krishna’s problem. Krishna will see to it. Just like Arjuna was encouraged that nimitta-matram bhava savyasacin. ‘You don’t worry about your victory. I have already arranged.’ So we should have such faith and conviction and let us try. Let us do very sincerely and seriously. Then everything Krishna will do. I haven’t got to do anything.”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.11 in London on September 12, 1973:

Everything was there in India, but unfortunately it was not distributed. This Krishna consciousness movement is distributing this knowledge.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.13.28, purport:

There is no question of miseries for the spiritual being. As Krishna is always happy, the living entities, who are His parts and parcels, are also happy by nature, but because of being put within this material world and forgetting their eternal relationship with Krishna, they have forgotten their real nature. Because every one of us is a part of Krishna, we have a very affectionate relationship with Him, but because we have forgotten our identities and are considering the body to be the self, we are afflicted by all the troubles of birth, death, old age and disease. This misconception in materialistic life continues unless and until one comes to understand his relationship with Krishna.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.13.31, purport:

Material plans for material happiness have no value, but under the spell of the illusory energy we consider them extremely valuable. There were many politicians, social reformers and philosophers who died very miserably, without deriving any practical value from their material plans. Therefore, a sane and sensible man never desires to work hard under the conditions of threefold miseries, only to die in disappointment.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.13.32, purport:

There is danger for a preacher when he receives great quantities of money, for as soon as he spends even a single cent of the collection for his personal sense gratification, he becomes a fallen victim. The preachers of the Krishna consciousness movement should be extremely careful not to misuse the immense quantities of money needed to spread this movement. Let us not make this money the cause of our distress; it should be used for Krishna, and that will cause our eternal happiness. Money is Lakshmi, or the goddess of fortune, the companion of Narayana. Lakshmiji must always remain with Narayana, and then there need be no fear of degradation.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 41:

There are three divisions among Krishna’s friends: some are eternally in friendship with Krishna, some are elevated demigods, and some are perfected devotees. In all of these groups there are some who by nature are fixed in Krishna’s service and are always engaged in giving counsel; some of them are very fond of joking and naturally cause Krishna to smile by their words; some of them are by nature very simple, and by their simplicity they please Lord Krishna; some of them create wonderful situations by their
activities, apparently against Krishna; some of them are very talkative, always arguing with Krishna and creating a debating atmosphere; and some of them are very gentle and give pleasure to Krishna by their sweet words. All of these friends are very intimate
with Krishna, and they show expertise in their different activities, their aim always being to please Krishna.”

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:

from Vaktritavali (a compilation of notes on his lectures): [Note: In the month of June, I proofread Vaktritavali, soon to be published by Touchstone Publishing, and I took notes on my favorite parts. I am including my notes in four issues of this journal, and this is the final installment.]

The day one attains perfection in the chanting of mantras, the holy name of Hari constantly dances in his mouth. The following verse, quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.237), confirms this: yena janma-sataih purvam vasudevah samarcitah tan-mukhe hari-namani sada tisthanti bharata ‘O descendant of Bharata, the holy names of Lord Vishnu are always vibrating in the mouth of one who has previously worshiped Vasudeva perfectly for hundreds of lifetimes.’” (p. 396)

If we become averse to serving the residents of a pure devotional
matha [temple or ashram], which is an abode for chanters of the holy name, and instead engage only in Deity worship, then our fortune is far away. It is the duty of the matha residents to recite Srimad-Bhagavatam. The devotional matha is not a building in the material world; there is only the appearance of it being here. The material world is full of topics about sense gratification, but in the devotional matha, everyone engages in gratifying Krishna’s senses. Being driven by material sensibilities, if someone thinks he is seeing the matha residents engaged in sense gratification and other such activities like himself, he is surely in illusion or intoxicated by the knowledge he has derived from his sense experiences. All that is found in a true matha is the ingredients to serve Hari. Simply by serving the devotees who live at such a matha, one becomes eligible to chant the holy name.” (pp. 396–397)

“If the householders create a Goloka atmosphere in their own homes by liberating themselves from mundane attachments with the help of
hari-bhajana, and if they can accept the members of their household as meant for Krishna’s service rather than their own, they too attain all fortune.” (p. 397)

“At present we are busy seeing forms, qualities, and all the varieties of the material world. We are busy seeking external name and fame. If we can see Krishna in our external vision, then it is good; otherwise, all we see is
maya.” (p. 397)

“There is no need to eat or drink if we don’t worship Krishna. Whatever qualification we attained by receiving a human body will go in vain if we fail to worship Krishna. If we spend our lives eating, sleeping, and enjoying like animals, then not only do we lose the qualification and opportunity afforded to us by being in a human body, we also face the danger of rebirth and its consequences. We came here to worship Krishna. The animals become human beings to worship Lord Hari.” (p. 398)

“The best form of
sadhana for pleasing Krishna is sankirtana. If other sadhanas are favorable to and supportive of krishna-kirtana, then they can be called sadhana. Otherwise, such things are known as kuyogi vaibhava, or impediments to sadhana.” (p. 398)

“Those who do not worship Hari cannot understand these things at all. The living beings have no duty other than to worship Hari. Whether one is a boy, an old man, a young man, a woman, learned, a fool, rich, poor, beautiful, pious, sinful, or in any other condition, there is no other
sadhana but sri-krishna-sankirtana.” (p. 398)

“If we perform
kirtana with those who have taken shelter of the disciplic succession, then it will be actual hari-sankirtana. Kirtana performed to stop the spread of cholera or enhance one’s business, or any show of kirtana that is accompanied by desires for profit, adoration, and distinction is not hari-sankirtana but maya’s kirtana.” (p. 399)

“There are other impediments to the performance of
sankirtana. Some say, ‘Practice dry renunciation and always take pleasure in the words of Vedanta.Others try to control their mind by inhaling and exhaling according to what they have learned from sage Patañjali. Even with this mentality they become entangled in the external world. We think of becoming free, but we cannot adopt the lifestyle of devotees. We try to remain aloof from the world, thinking yoga and study of Vedanta will help us, but this imaginative idea by the dry renunciants along with their concealed thirst for material enjoyment does not bring them or us any ultimate benefit. Hence it cannot be called abhidheya.” (p. 399)

“By performing
krishna-sankirtana we will lose all interest in material advancement and become free of our endeavors for profit, adoration, and distinction. Our lotuslike fortune blossoms in the moon rays of krishna-sankirtana. Only one who chants the holy name is be considered topmost among the learned. The chanter of the holy name is fully qualified to possess all kinds of learning. When one’s heart is drowned in the transcendental bliss of Sri Caitanya’s mellows, he becomes easily liberated from the flow of external thoughts and the intoxication of perishable happiness. All kinds of restlessness is subdued and Mayavada conceptions are banished from his mind.” (p. 402)

“‘I am very educated.’ When this mood becomes prominent, a person cannot serve Lord Hari. Instead, he becomes an idol worshiper. Human beings do not need a material education if such education becomes an impediment to their worship of Hari. Education often makes people idol worshipers. Instead of worshiping Hari they worship their own egos.” (p. 404)

“Topics to increase our propensity to serve Hari are called
hari-katha. Those topics that increase our propensity to enjoy matter are maya-katha.” (p. 406)

“Perform Krishna’s
sankirtana so people recognize the difference between maya’s kirtana and Krishna’s sankirtana.” (p. 406)

“In
karma-kanda practices there is no feeling of being lower than a blade of grass. To artificially show restlessness is not the same feeling. That is why Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada said that feeling lower than a blade of grass is not possible for anyone except those with an honest attachment for Sri Caitanya’s lotus feet. In Caitanya-candramrita (Verse 24):

trinad api sunicata sahaja-saumya-mugdhakritih
sudha-madhura-bhasita visaya-gandha-thuthutkritih
hari-pranaya-vihvala kim api dhiranarambhita
bhavanti kila sad-guna jagati gaura-bhajam ami

Humbly thinking oneself lower than a blade of grass, natural gentleness and charm, speaking words as sweet as nectar, spitting at the insignificant sense gratification of this world, disinterest in the affairs of this world, and overwhelming love for Lord Hari are the transcendental virtues obtained by worshiping Lord Gaura’s transcendental abode in this world.’” (p. 407)

“In the last year we have been able to propagate Sri Gaurasundara’s teachings in many different places. This propagation of Gaura’s mission is most beneficial and necessary for human beings. The Lord Himself spent His time distributing His own teachings. Those who contribute to this most beneficial act in any way – either with their life, wealth, intelligence, or speech – will certainly be blessed by Visvambhara Sriman Mahaprabhu. Those who have made any contribution, however little, for this topmost welfare activity – which is incomparable with anything of this world – are fortunate and worthy of praise. Many people think what we do is like any other mundane activity, but it is not. According to those who know the truth, this is the only duty. Everything else is a waste of time and labor.” (p. 411)

“But self-realized, spiritually experienced persons always try to benefit people. If people could give up the philosophies they have developed through their various attempts at mental speculation and accept the advice of these experienced Vaishnavas, who are their supreme well-wishers, and if they could follow these experienced devotees’ instructions, then they would attain all fortune. When discussing hari-katha as the Lord’s devotees discuss it, everyone benefits. There is nothing else worth discussing in human society.” (p. 413)

“Worship of the Supreme Lord is the soul’s only duty or propensity. We cannot alleviate our spiritual poverty if we don’t cultivate our God consciousness.” (p. 414)

The Rig Veda (1.156.3) states: om asya jananto nama cid vivaktan mahas te vishno su-matim bhajamahe om tat sat. [O Vishnu, Your name is completely transcendental. Thus it is self-manifest. Indeed, even without properly understanding the glories of chanting Your holy name, if we vibrate Your name with at least a small understanding of its glories—that is, if we simply repeat the syllables of Your holy name—gradually we shall understand it.] In this mantra, Sri Gaurasundara instructed all people to perform kirtana at all times. The process of worshiping with the help of sound is spreading everywhere. Nama-kirtana, which is the devotees’ only object of cultivation, is found in the Rig Veda Samhita.” (p. 414)

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from My Relationship with Lord Krishna:

Krishna is the ability in man. He is the intelligence by which I can write. He gives the brain and hand, the ink and paper, and He gives the only worthy subject matter, the practice of devotional service to Him.”

Bhakti Caitanya Swami:

Madhu-mandala, Lord Krishna’s brahmana friend, has no less than twenty-five laddus at each meal, as he did on Bratr-dvitiya, the day after Govardhan Puja, the day the sisters are supposed to serve their brothers, and the gopis cook a feast for the cowherd boys.

If you get upset that people do not worship you, you may be in maya [illusion], and if you want to kill people who do not worship you, you are definitely in maya.

Indra described Krishna as talkative, and the great teachers explain that all His talks are Absolute Truth. Indra described Krishna as stabdha, meaning that He is obstinate, but the teachers explain that means that He does not bow down to anyone, because for Him, there is no one to bow down to. Indra described Krishna as thinking Himself a pandita (scholar), but the great teachers explain that He is the jewel of all scholars.

In the final verse of Bhagavad-gita, Sanjaya answers the question which Dhritarastra posed in the first verse. He does not directly say, “Your sons will lose. Sorry.” but rather, as a gentleman, he comments that wherever Krishna and Arjuna are, victory will also be.

The same idea can be conveyed with different words, some more palatable than others. For example, I am strong-willed, you are stubborn, and he is pig-headed.

There are many nice disciples of Srila Prabhupada, but none is on the level of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada is not just one of the previous acaryas [great saintly teachers] but the founder-acarya of ISKCON. Thus he is relevant to our lives, and he is accessible and we can connect with him in very important ways.

One disciple of Srila Prabhupada asked if in glorifying Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in the preva-dhvani (or jaya om prayers) we should insert “nitya-lila-pravista” to indicate he has entered the Lord’s eternal pastimes as he had heard from some other group. Srila Prabhupada replied, “You can include that if you want, if you think he is dead.”

Srila Prabhupada really felt for his disciples. It was not an official relationship by any means. It is important that those who had Srila Prabhupada’s personal association communicate that to devotees of the present day.

Once Madhudvisa Prabhu and Yamuna Devi were arguing about Lord Balarama. Madhudvisa Prabhu was saying that Krishna and Balarama are virtually identical and Their only difference is in color. Yamuna Devi, on the other hand, said there are significant differences such Krishna is the only enjoyer of Srimati Radharani. Tamal Krishna Goswami and those two devotees came into Srila Prabhupada’s presence. Tamal Krishna Goswami said, “Madhudvisa Prabhu says the only difference between Krishna and Balarama is their color.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “That is true.” Then Tamal Krishna Goswami said, “On the other hand, Yamuna Devi says that there are significant differences between them such as Krishna being the sole enjoyer of Srimati Radharani.” Srila Prabhupada, “That is true.” Tamal Krishna Goswami said, “These cannot be both be true. That is contradictory!” Srila Prabhupada, “That is true.” At the very least, this should teach us that the truth should be discussed, and it is not so always so simple.

from a Ratha-yatra address:

After the residents of Vrindavan saw Krishna at Kuruksetra, they were so happy to see Him, each day they resolved to go back to Vrindavan, but after saying good bye to Krishna, they could not actually leave. This happened every day for three months. Finally they realized they would have to return to Vrindavan, so they decided to bring Krishna with them, so they put him on a cart and pulled him to Vrindavan.

Ratha-yatra is a feelings festival for both the Lord and His devotees. They are happy to be with each other again.

Bhaktivaibhava Swami:

It is described that the holy name will be chanted in every town and village. We can practically see that people in all parts of the world very quickly become attracted to the chanting of the holy name.

We could be sitting in so many other places, but we are sitting here because we have some attraction for the chanting.

The holy name is effective even when chanted joking or in a critical mood. It is just like if you take medicine and joke about the color of the pills or criticize its taste, still you get the benefit of the medicine.

Sometimes we feel uninspired but by reading the authoritative descriptions of the glories of the holy name, we can become extremely excited to chant and feel so grateful for being given opportunity to chant.

Kali waits for the moment when we think everything is very nice, and then delivers his misery.

I have experience of people who after hearing me talk about inevitable miseries of life twenty or thirty years ago, told me that they did not have any problems in their life, who are now coming back, and saying, “Now I understand what you mean.”

Because of the great suffering in this age, it is so much easier to surrender fully to the holy name.

In this age, more than any other, people become disgusted with the kingdom of illusion, and fully surrender to the Personality of Godhead.

Q: You are saying that it does not matter how we chant but it is also said we can chant many births without attaining perfection. That seems like a contradiction.
A: There is no contradiction. It is just that different verses emphasize different things. In the Bhagavad-gita, the soul is sometimes described as karta (the doer) and at other times akarta (the nondoer). That seems like a contradiction, but there is truth in both statements.

The story about the yavana who attains liberation by crying “Ha Ram” has additional details. The man, while passing stool, is interrupted by a wild hog eager to taste the fresh stool. He cries “Ha Ram” which in his language means “Oh abominable!” In his agitated condition of mind, he falls off a cliff, still crying “Ha Ram” and lands in front of a yogi. Out of his dead body emerges a four-handed Vishnu-like form which ascends to the spiritual world. The yogi cannot believe what he is seeing. He is performing austerities for years while this foolish fellow is attaining liberation. The Lord smiles in Vaikuntha and His consort, Laksmi, asks why. The Lord explains the story and sends Narada to inform the yogi about the glories of the holy name.

When your taste for chanting Hare Krishna increases, you are making progress.

Lokanath Swami:

The more love you have for the Lord, the more wealthy you are. You are wealthy because of depositing every day by chanting Hare Krishna.

Not only did Caitanya Mahaprabhu compose the Siksastaka, but He would also relish and contemplate it.

Did you go to Jagannath Puri? Why not? What are you waiting for?

Gambhira, the place Lord Caitanya stayed in Jagannath Puri, also means “very serious.”

Every night Lord Caitanya would take one verse and contemplate all it night long.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote commentaries on these eight verses.

Verse 1:

The verse has four lines of two padas each. The first seven padas tell the seven glories of sri-krishna-sankirtana:
param-vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtana:

The sri-krishna-sankirtana is all victorious. Similarly Sanjaya said in the last verse of Bhagavad-gita, “Wherever there is Krishna and Arjuna, there is victory.”

ceto-darpana-manjana: it cleanses the mirror of the mind. It creates a revolution in consciousness. This is the mission of Srila Prabhupada. The means is the chanting of Hare Krishna.

bhava-mahadvangi-nirvapanam: it extinguishes the fire of this material existence.
This is release for the soul trapped without Krishna.

vidya-vadhu-jivanam: the life of the wife of knowledge

anandam-budhi-vardanam: we do not experience oceans as ever expanding

All these gifts are the promises of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

During the final pastimes of Lord Caitanya, He is in the mood of Radharani.

Lord Caitanya saw Lord Jagannath like a devotee of the Lord, honored prasadam like a devotee, and relished Ratha-yatra like a devotee. By His own acts, He taught the whole world. He was not just thinking of the Hindus or the Indians, but all the living entities who are part and parcel of Himself, the one Supreme Lord.

Q: How to chant the holy name?
A: Follow Lord Caitanya’s third instruction. Respecting others means not offending other souls who are all Krishna’s souls and dear to Krishna. Honoring others, serving others. These are not easy to do because we have been doing just the opposite for life after life.

Nama ruci (relishing the holy name), vaishnava-seva (serving the devotees of the Lord), and jiva daya (showing mercy to all souls) are three important qualities.

Sankirtana means complete kirtana. It can include all the activities of a devotee of Lord Caitanya. When many devotees get together it is sankirtana.

Lord Caitanya did not just tell people to chant, He demonstrated the chanting in His own life.

Both the speaker of spiritual topics and the audience relish the association of each other. It is a festival for the ears.

Sangam means association, and prasangam means close association.

I have never seen so many Deities in one place at one time. [This is referring to table of deities of festival attendees in the temple room.] Whenever there is sadhu-sanga, the Lord comes there.

These festivals expand our happiness. Our sraddha [faith] is increased. Fixed faith is called nistha [steadiness]. Then comes ruci [taste] and asakti [attachment].

In the association of devotees, we are given homework. “Do this. Do not do that.”

We take sadhu-sanga, the association of devotees, and we give the association of devotees.

We create enemies and friends, but sadhus see all as devotees of the Lord and are friendly to them.

Srila Prabhupada has given us this Hare Krishna movement. This movement is full of festivals. Sunday festivals, Ratha-yatra festivals, Gaura Purnima festivals,
Vrindavan festivals, etc.

Niranjana Swami:

Srila Prabhupada advised us not to absorb ourselves in politics, sociology, and current events. He said they would go their own way. Our discussion of them will not affect them, but it will affect our consciousness. If we absorb our minds in them, when they go their own way, we will go with them.

The events in Ukraine are forcing me to be Krishna consciousness because people there are expecting that of me in their difficult situation.

During a meeting of our Ukraine leaders, there was an escalation of the conflict there. Devotees would report hearing the explosions of bombs at night and seeing buildings destroyed the next day. They did not knew who threw the bombs, and it did not matter.

Many devotees have had to leave everything behind as they migrated to safer regions of Ukraine. Sometimes their neighbors would later phone them and tell them that their houses were destroyed. Some left with snipers firing on their vehicles on their way out. In one case, the vehicle was destroyed by artillery, but the devotees survived.

Devotees in Eastern Ukraine investigated who in the congregation was affected, and devotees in Western Ukraine found places for 60 people to live there. But it turned out there were many ladies with children but no husbands, so we used the retreat center for them. They had difficulty getting out, sometimes because they did not have enough money to take the train, because officers were asking for additional money to let people out, or because it was too dangerous to get out.

People from all over the world responded to an article we produced describing the needs of the devotees in Ukraine. Two hundred and fifty people offered donations. The Hungarian council offered $2000 and promised more, and the Russian council offered $10,000 to help the devotees displaced in Ukraine.

One thing we saw in this is that when the displaced Ukrainian devotees were asked what they needed, they responded, “Just let us remember Krishna through all this. Our communities and congregations have been destroyed. Just let have the opportunities to have the association of devotees again.” Krishna, we know from the scripture, is always ready to help devotees who want nothing other than His association. Their attitude inspires me to help them even more.

We offered devotees 2000 grivnas (about $150) per month to get resituated, and often they said they did not need that much or need anything at this point.

It is good for you to hear that we really are an international society of Krishna consciousness, and people all over the world do care to help other devotees.

I am not advocating that we become a philanthropic organization that caters to the needs of the physical body. I am saying that we are obligated to help devotees in whatever way we can to assist them in their pursuit of Krishna consciousness. We are being asked at every moment of each day to help others in their Krishna consciousness.

Sometimes to move a person to action takes a lot of hearing.

Srila Prabhupada explained there is a difference between listening and hearing in that hearing compels action.

Sometimes we dismiss a topic thinking that we have already heard it before, although that hearing has not moved us to action.

Bhakti Caitanya Swami reminded us that it is the duty of those who were in Srila Prabhupada’s presence to communicate what it was like to be in Prabhupada’s presence to their followers.

It is said the great spiritual teachers cross the ocean of material existence on the boat of bhakti, and they leave the boat for others to cross in the future.

There are three principles that Bhaktivinoda Thakura considered essential to the path of bhakti. He considered that Haridasa Thakura exemplified these.
  1. to be greatly determined in the execution of devotional service.
  2. to constantly chant the holy name of the Lord.
  3. to be compassionate to others.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura considered that those who have not entered into, and thus do not understand the glories of, the ancient path, create a new path and proudly advocate that. Thus they mislead themselves and others. The real path is actually easy.

Making bhakti accessible does not mean watering it down so people will feel that they can follow it.

Srila Prabhupada made bhakti accessible by doing everything that he asked others to do and thus demonstrating that it was quite possible. He captured people’s hearts and engaged them in bhakti without them even knowing it.

When there are so many obstacles to executing a plan, the tendency is to think that perhaps Krishna does not want us to do it, but Srila Prabhupada was not easily deterred.

Srila Prabhupada’s most attractive quality was his compassion. By his grace, persons who had no qualification for bhakti were able to get bhakti.

Those who are humble and feel themselves unqualified are actually the most qualified to get this mercy.

Srila Prabhupada would be ready to give as much time to anyone as they wanted.

I lived in a commune, and if anyone tried to exert control over anyone, they were kicked out. The hippies did not accept any authority.

Although the hippies were not inclined to accept any authority, they accepted Srila Prabhupada because he was genuine. Whatever he was teaching, he was doing. He did not demand respect. He did not demand surrender. He just taught by his example. And he simply requested, “Kindly help me.”

Krishna accepted Srila Prabhupada’s method, and if we also follow it, He will accept us.

One has to make progress in spiritual life by not associating with persons who are simply interested in sense gratification and making money. Not only such persons, but one who associates with such persons should be avoided. One should mold his life in such a way that he cannot live in peace without drinking the nectar of the glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari. One can be thus elevated by being disgusted with the taste for sense enjoyment.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.22.23) This verse implies one must get a higher taste from hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord to become disgusted with sense enjoyment.

Until we attain the stage of always being engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, we must be conscious of what we need to avoid.

It is a very dangerous position when we think sense gratification is relief for suffering.

A new devotee realizes devotional service is a better relief from suffering than sense gratification.

The fact is that sense gratification always leads to suffering. There is no other outcome of sense gratification than suffering.

Krishna advises, “Do not be overly depressed that you sometimes engage in sense gratification. Since you have awakened faith in the value of hearing and chanting My glories, if you repent your acts of sense gratification, very soon you will be able to give it up.”

Faith must be nourished and must be protected so it can grow.

If we do not regularly hear the glories of the Lord, our faith will not grow, and we will be affected by the association of materialistic people.

When devotees take pleasure in loving dealings with devotees, they will protected from the effect of being in the proximity of materialistic people.

According to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, a devotee thinks, “By my previous shameful life my heart is polluted with many illusory attachments. Personally I have no power to stop them. Only Lord Krishna within my heart can remove such inauspicious contamination. But whether the Lord removes such attachments immediately or lets me go on being afflicted by them, I will never give up my devotional service to Him. Even if the Lord places millions of obstacles in my path, and even if because of my offenses I go to hell, I will never for a moment stop serving Lord Krishna. I am not interested in mental speculation and fruitive activities; even if Lord Brahma personally comes before me offering such engagements, I will not be even slightly interested. Although I am attached to material things I can see very clearly that they lead to no good because they simply give me trouble and disturb my devotional service to the Lord. Therefore, I sincerely repent my foolish attachments to so many material things, and I am patiently awaiting Lord Krishna's mercy.”

from a meeting with his disciples:

The main problem is that the devotees do not know what Srila Prabhupada wants for this movement because they do not read his books enough.

Faith is increased by association with devotees with faith. Srila Prabhupada described the sum and substance of this Krishna consciousness movement is providing the association of people who have faith. By such association, we want to come to a higher platform.

In reading the different accounts of the early history of the Krishna consciousness movement in America it is clear to me that Srila Prabhupada’s personal example was the cause of the faith of the early followers. Because he chanted Hare Krishna and spoke the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, and because he acted according to that philosophy, it gave the people great faith.

It is not just a matter of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books a certain amount of time per day, but a matter of applying the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in our lives twenty-four hours a day.

Rather than reading and applying the instructions in Srila Prabhupada’s books, people jump ahead and read the books of the previous acaryas before they can identify what is pure devotional service and what is not.

Hearing or reading is valuable, but discussing our reading among the devotees is more valuable. Srila Prabhupada writes this in Bg. 9.1, purport, second paragraph: “The Lord understands the mentality and sincerity of a particular living entity who is engaged in Krishna consciousness and gives him the intelligence to understand the science of Krishna in the association of devotees. Discussion of Krishna is very potent, and if a fortunate person has such association and tries to assimilate the knowledge, then he will surely make advancement toward spiritual realization.”

If you have not read all of Srila Prabhupada’s books, you should be ashamed of yourself. You should fall down and beg Krishna for that desire to read every word that Srila Prabhupada has written.

Srila Prabhupada said that we should discuss his books from different angles of vision.

from a private meeting:

When offering obeisances to a sannyasi, we are offering obeisances to the position of renunciation not the individual.

To convince the congregation of the importance of outreach, to engage them in practical activities of outreach and to engage them in caring for the new devotees who come from the outreach are most important.

If you want to be a sannyasi, then you should be committed to developing relationships with the people in a certain yatra and bringing them to a higher level of devotional service. If you just want to do harinama here and there, you can be a brahmacari.

You can go to Mexico every third year, if you spend the other two with Rama Raya Prabhu. Then you are still showing commitment to his program.

Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Swami:

When Srila Prabhupada was confronted with complaints, he would respond basically, “You do it better, or you teach them to do it better.”

We put the deity to sleep, but is the deity really asleep? If the pujari oversleeps, the deity will wake the pujari and say, “Wake up stupid, it is time to do your service!”

Some people chant loudly, some people chant softly. It is up to the individual.

Some people advocate that because Haridasa Thakura chanted one-third of his rounds in his mind, it is alright to chant Hare Krishna in our mind. The trouble with that reasoning is that we are not Haridasa Thakura.

We like our privacy, but the Supreme Lord and His incarnations are present everywhere, so we have to let Them do as they like.

When you point your one finger at someone, three fingers are still pointing back at you. Bhurijana Prabhu argues that means we should be three times more critical of ourselves than we are of others.

We do not like to be against what people say, but we do require proof that the statements are consistent with the scripture.

Tradition” is described in one scripture to be tenth-class evidence because traditions can be incorrect.

The questions that were not answered today will be answered eventually. Do not give up. Not giving up is a quality of a devotee. Questions mean a thinking person. If you do not have questions, you are not a human being.

It is concluded by sages, one becomes purified by glorifying the Supreme Lord.

These festivals give us the chance to see devotees we have not seen the whole year.

Everyone is better than some and worse than others. Everyone is here by the mercy of a devotee. Someone preached to us.

The Brahma-vivarta Purana has no commentaries on it and may have been interpolated. Thus references to it are not solid evidence.

If there is no detachment, where is the devotion?

At festivals, you can see the renunciation in many people.

At Radha Gopinatha temple they say to associate with your gurus 20% of the time, your subordinates 20% of the time, and people on the same level 60% of the same time.

At the festival, ask your questions. Ask them a hundred times. Ask them of all the devotees.

How to properly glorify the Lord? Glorify the Lord by offering Him prayers that have been previous accepted by Him.

With harinama everyone can feel that they are participating in the preaching. The ladies can make cookies, the kids can distribute them. You have to have a heart of stone not to take a cookie from a kid.

Come to the festival next year and bring a friend.

Dhirasanta Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada said, “The disease of you Westerners is that you are not afraid of Maya.”

We were driving in northern Norway without snow tires, and we ascended higher and higher a mountain which was increasingly filled with snow. We inquired from a local about how we could make it down the mountain. He said we were crazy, but since we had to get down the mountain as we had ascended it, he advised, “Put it in second gear, drive slowly, and whatever you do, do not step on the brake.” And so we did that, and we chanted we great seriousness, realizing we could die at any moment, if the car started sliding off the road. After we made it down the mountain, we were so ecstatic we got out of the car, and started dancing and embracing each other. People thought we were crazy, but we did not care. So you should chant like that, as if you have only 3 hours to live, and you want to attain perfection by then.

While chanting, you can breathe in anyway you, as long as you keep breathing.

Karnamrita Das Prabhu:

from a Facebook post:

The importance of the name of Krishna as given by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Brahma-samhita commentary on the first verse of the only chapter available out of the original 100:
That Krishna is the most important name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is explained in the Padma Purana, Prabhasa-khanda, where, in a conversation between Narada and Kusadhvaja, the following words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are repeated:
“O Arjuna, of all My holy names, Krishna is the most important.”
The importance of the name Krishna is also confirmed in the Brahmanda Purana, Sri Krishnastottara-sata-nama-stotra, where Lord Krishna says:
“The pious results derived from chanting the thousand names of Lord Vishnu three times can be attained by only one repetition of the holy name of Krishna.”

Sankarsana Prabhu:

We are not the enjoyers of this place where there is no enjoyment, but eternal servants of Krishna.

In Krishna we find all happiness.

The most foolish thing we ever did was to leave the association of Krishna.

When we utter the name of Krishna in love, we are right there with Krishna. We can be right there in the spiritual world right now, but it depends on the quality of our utterance.

The offenses are so many fences that block us from Krishna.

We have to learn how to love every devotee.

The beauty of the ISKCON is that we have the opportunity love so many devotees.
Take advantage of this festival and engage in as many loving exchanges with devotees as possible.

I know a devotee who does first-class service for the devotees but chants zero rounds. But we cannot do like that. We must both chant the holy name and serve the Vaishnavas.

We cannot excuse ourselves. Krishna must excuse us.

How to find a guru? Hear from the Vaishnavas, serve them, and see in each case if this is where you can dedicate your soul.

Offering obeisances to the Vaishnavas as a group was introduced later. Before that we would individually offer obeisances to each devotee.

Q: One place Srila Prabhupada says when we offer a obeisances, we are offering obeisances to the paramatma, the Supersoul within. Do we offer obeisances to the devotee or the paramatma?
A: When we offer obeisances to a devotee, we should not think, “I am not offering obeisances to you, I am offering obeisances to the paramatma within you.” The Lord says that those who claim to be his devotees directly are not His devotees but those who are the devotees of His devotees are His devotees.

Acyutyananda Prabhu told me in that 26 Second Avenue, Srila Prabhupada and the devotees shared the same towel. They were so poor, they only had one towel, and they shared it.

Q: What do you need to get initiation?
A: You just need to be sincere about getting out of the material world.

Q: Why does Krishna allow us to be envious [hateful] of Him?
A: Krishna does not want to have robots for His associates so He gives us the chance to love Him or leave Him.

Q: What to do if our material desires are stronger than our spiritual desires?
A: Thank you for your honesty. As neophytes, we are all in that position. We have to guard our little spark of bhakti in our heart, realizing that it is our most valuable possession.

Krishna’s devotees are more dear to Him than He Himself, and therefore, you cannot hope to become dear to Krishna if you are averse to His devotees.

Q: Is it better to focus on the quantity or quality of our chanting of Hare Krishna japa?
A: That is not a good question. One must focus on both.

Srila Prabhupada explained that one who is fully sincere will never fall down.

Q: How to develop humility?
A: Remember you are a rascal. We have nothing to be proud of.

I am indebted to my godbrother, Jayananda Prabhu, for by his mercy, I had my first darsana of Srila Prabhupada. I volunteered to get the Ratha-yatra carts and bring them to Golden Gate Park, and then there was announcement that Prabhupada was arriving at the airport, and I asked Jayananda Prabhu, who was in charge of the Ratha-yatra crew, for permission to see Srila Prabhupada at the airport. He looked and saw he had enough helpers and gave me permission. I was so grateful, before returning to Texas, I offered obeisances to Jayananda Prabhu in the middle of the dusty street, and he offered obeisances to this rascal from Texas.

Sakhya Prema Prabhu:

In Prabhupada Nectar, Vol. 5, page 50, 51 or 52:

Srila Prabhupada gave a program for opening new centers. They should have these:
  1. Harinama twice a day.
  2. Bhagavad-gita class thrice weekly.
  3. Sunday Love Feast
Isa Prakasa Prabhu:

Everyone is fearful in this material world. If he is intelligence, he is fearful, and if he is more intelligent, in that fear, he will take shelter of Krishna.

Bhakti comes from bhakti-sukrti. That mercy of descends, and that is the important factor.

Mercy flows down, so you have to put yourself in a lower position to get mercy.

Arjuna although a friend of Krishna had to accept a lower person to get the Lord to mercifully instruct him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”

If you want to pray to the Lord, it is nice to first remind Him of His pastimes.

Krishna’s pastimes are so interesting, He is also interested in His own pastimes. By reminding Him of them, you make Him happy, and He becomes inclined to you.

If you serve someone, you have a right to ask them for something.

We take what the acaryas (the previous teachers in the lineage) have given. Our addition is adulteration.

When one is tired of being humble, he can no longer learn.

The cost of knowledge is to respect the knowledge and the knowledge giver.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said the guru is like a professor in the medical school. He is making other doctors. He believes in health and want to engage others in that mission. Similarly the guru is not making disciples, but making other gurus. He believes spiritual knowledge should be shared, and wants to engage others in that way.

We should try to engage in Mahaprabhu’s kirtana. To do it we have to have the same mood.

From the sadhu we get the intention to serve Krishna.

Krishna can force us to serve Him, but He does not want that. He wants service in love.

-----

apannah samsritim ghoram
yan-nama vivaso grnan
tatah sadyo vimucyeta
yad bibheti svayam bhayam


Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krishna, which is feared by fear personified.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.14)