Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

by Krishna-kripa Das

Friday, July 29, 2016

Travel Journal#12.13: English, Polish & Prague Harinamas, Polish Padayatra & Woodstock

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 13
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2016, part one)
York, Scarborough, Preston, Blackpool, Blackburn
Polish Padayatra, Prague Ratha-yatra, Polish Woodstock
(Sent from Berlin, Germany, on July 29, 2016) 

Where I Went and What I Did

From Paris, I flew to the Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport in England, where I was detained by the UK Border officials for 4½ hours, thus missing harinama and the Friday Gita class in Newcastle. I decided to go straight to York for the next day’s harinama and nama-hatta program. It was great to be singing in the streets with Govardhan Devi Dasi, a Prabhupada disciple who loves harinama, and who arranged four days of harinama in the North of England, from Scarborough on the East Coat to Blackpool on the West Coat, and including Preston and Blackburn in Lancashire in the west. Tony and Doug joined Govardhan, John (her husband), and myself in Blackpool and Preston, making the experience more enlivening. I returned to Newcastle for just half a day to do harinama and attend the weekly Wednesday two-hour kirtana, before flying to Poland for the last day and a half of their padayatra. After the final padayatra morning program, I took the train to Wroclaw with Madhai-jivana Prabhu, and I chanted by myself for 3 hours in Rynek Square, where we have the Wroclaw Ratha-yatra. The next day I went to Prague for the Ratha-yatra. We got there late, but a wonderful two-hour harinama made the trip worthwhile. Then after another three hours of chanting in Rynek Square, I traveled to Kostrzyn nad Odra for the Polish Woodstock festival, where we shared kirtana with thousands of people for five days. The day after that we did two harinamas at the Kostrzyn train station while the Woodstock attendees waited for their trains home.

I include many notes on Srila Prabhupada’s lectures, verses about the holy name from Rupa Goswami’s Padyavali, and excerpts from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name. I was not staying in temples with morning classes this period, so I have no other class notes.

Many, many thanks to Govardhan Devi Dasi and her husband, John, for their generous donation to my program of traveling and sharing the Hare Krishna mantra, as well as giving me our harinama collections each day for the four days we traveled together. Thanks to the Newcastle temple for their donation. Thanks to Dennis and the York nama-hatta for contributing to my travel to York. Thanks to Govardhan Devi Dasi and John for their photos of our harinama tour in England and to Harinama Ruci for their photos of the Prague Ratha-yatra harinama party. Thanks to Dharani for a picture of me at the Polish Woodstock.

Itinerary

July 29: Berlin harinama
July 30: Berlin Ratha-yatra
July 31–August 5: Polish Festival Tour
August 5–11: Baltic Summer Festival
August 12–15: German Kirtana Mela at Simhachalam
August 15–17: Rainbow Gathering in Austria
August 18–21: Trutnoff (Czech Woodstock)
August 22: Prague
August 23: London
August 24–27: Newcastle [including Janmastami and Vyasa Puja]
August 28: Leeds
August 29: Newcastle
August 30: Edinburgh
August 31: Newcastle
September 1: Hull?
September 2: Sheffield
September 3: York
September 4: Scarborough / Newcastle
September 5–12: Ireland
September 13–: New York City Harinam

York Harinama

I got to the York harinama site a few minutes before Govardhan Devi Dasi, and her husband, John, and during that brief time, one older lady gave £1 and accepted a Sri Isopanisad, which I was happy about. Often the people, especially the older ones, are not so interested in accepting books.

 

We bought an easily portable camping chair to use as a book display.

As usual ladies from some of the many hen parties in York enjoyed dancing to our music.

Govardhan Devi Dasi is expert at engaging passersby in taking photos of our entire party, so we do not have the problem of having photos of everyone in the party except the photographer.

Scarborough Harinama

Govardhan Devi Dasi has been a resident of Scarborough for years but has only done harinama in her home town a few times. She gave me a whole floor of her home to stay in overnight, and I can see that if I ever need to take a break from traveling, that would be a good option.


Govardhan, John, and I chanted from their house to the beach, along the beach, and up the hill to the town center. One man followed us from the beach to the town center and gave us £5, and Govardhan gave him one of the Science of Self-Realizations which I had bought for the Newcastle temple to distribute, with money my friend, Tara Prabhu, gave me.


Scarborough has a great pedestrian mall in the town center, with a statue in the middle which you can sit around. You are not too close to any particular shop, so no one complains about your music. We were happy to encounter a few people attracted by the chanting, and I look forward to chanting in Scarborough again sometime, perhaps in September.

Preston Harinamas

The first day in Preston, Tony joined us on harinama.

After going through the streets of the town the first day, we decided Fishergate has the most people, and that we should just stay there and chant. Many people appeared happy to encounter our party, especially the first day, which was better, perhaps because we chanted during lunchtime and the sidewalks were especially crowded with people. 

The next day, Doug, now living in Blackpool, joined us.

The second day we were out chanting at the end of the day, and the street was crowded with more cars, and annoyingly, more toxic fumes.

Blackpool Harinama


It was raining when we arrived in Blackpool, but we found a covered sidewalk leading up to a mall with a lot of pedestrian traffic. One nearby shop worker listened for quite a while.

     Blackburn Harinama


Blackburn was great. None of us had ever chanted there before. We found immediate interest with two ladies taking three small books for £5, and one guy listening for twenty minutes. It is inspiring to get such a good reception in a new place, and hopefully, it will encourage ourselves and others to chant in new places in the future.

Polish Padayatra

It took four and a half hours by a bus and two trains to travel from Poznan airport to Boszkowo (pronounced as if written in English “Boshkovo” and with long o’s), and I arrived just after the evening program. It occurred to me if had been a swami, people might have picked me up in a car, and I would have got to attend it. As it was, at least I could proofread my guru’s blog on the free WiFi at the train station before my complimentary 30 minutes expired.

The Polish Padayatra had many challenges including lack of a bull and a cart, but it is glorious it happened at all and many people who otherwise might never have encountered the spiritual energy had divine experiences that will permanently benefit them.

Because we were understaffed, we had to delay the harinama until after the devotees had cooked lunch, and thus we had only an hour and a half to chant through the town and beaches before the evening program.


During the kirtana at the evening program at a venue by the beach, one teenaged girl really enjoyed chanting Hare Krishna and moving with the music until her group of friends moved her onward. Another younger girl enjoyed chanting the mantra until her family had to leave. Reflecting on this later, I could really see how attachment to family and friends whose spiritual interest is less than our own can limit our ability to participate in the devotional service of the Lord, even if we have the good fortune of having attraction to it.

They did a puppet show version of Ramayama.

A few people became absorbed in looking at. 

Afterward we had a short lecture.

The devotees had an artistic project for children to participate it, in which they mount and decorate devotional pictures.

They would become completely absorbed.

Many people loved the prasadam, including myself. Madhai-jivana Prabhu, a very brahminical devotee, did a great job cooking it, especially spicing the vegetable dish and making sure the halavah had plenty of butter in it. The man who offered us the venue at the most popular beach at the last minute, after those who offered a more exclusive beach backed down, was happy with our program and wants us to come back again sometime.

The padayatra team had a little morning program with an improvised altar. We chanted the “Gurvastakam” in front of a picture of Panca-tattva.

We chanted the tulasi kirtana song to a picture of Tulasi-devi, displayed on a cell phone, an innovation I had not encountered before.

Madhai-jivana Prabhu, reflecting on the padayatra, mentioned that every night he had conversations with people who were seriously interested, whereas that sometimes in cities like Wroclaw, sixty people will come to a program, but none will show such great interest. That alone made the program worth it for him.

Harinama in Wroclaw’s Rynek Square

I chanted two days in Wroclaw, the day before the Prague Ratha-yatra and the day after. I felt successful that on both travel days, one from the Polish Padayatra to Wroclaw and the other from Wroclaw to Kostrzyn, the site of the Polish Woodstock, I was able to chant in public three hours. The most striking event was a negative one, a kid stealing a euro from my donation box, while reaching over it to put less than a quarter euro’s worth of Polish money in, a curious strategy. On the bright side, I invited two tourists living in Berlin to our Berlin Ratha-yatra on July 30.

Unfortunately, those who gave enough to merit receiving a book only spoke German and English, and I had only Polish books, thus I ended up not distributing any books at all.


Prague Ratha-yatra

I traveled to the Prague Ratha-yatra from Poland with devotees who did not know exactly what time it started nor exactly where it was to take place. Because the Prague Ratha-yatra is one of the shortest, at most an hour and a half, we missed the entire procession.


Fortunately Harinama Ruci had a two-hour harinama during the stage show so that was so nice it made up for it. In the beginning a young boy led the chanting remarkably well. Later a young mom danced with the devotees as her daughter made a video of it. Many groups of tourists chanted and danced with us, and so did employees in a restaurant. A large crowd watched us in Old Town Square, with some dancing, and people happily watched the devotees sing and dance in an arcade.

I talked to many people who showed some spontaneous attraction to the chanting, and sometimes I would encourage them to chant the response along with me. I gave a girl from Liverpool, who liked to dance to the music, the details on our monthly program there, and I gave her friend from Middlesbrough, who was vegetarian, a card for our Newcastle temple, just an hour away, and told her we have a two-hour chanting program each Wednesday followed by a vegetarian dinner and an eight-hour chanting program with two free meals on the last Saturday of the month. I told a boy who loved swinging around with Harinamananda Prabhu about the programs Friday night at the Phoenix Center in Brighton, a building he was aware of. I explained to some girls, who had inquired, about the meaning of the three words comprising the mantra, and they were happy to hear it. I gave a young lady, who lives in London, the invitation card to the Soho temple and restaurant, which has a brief description of the mantra on it. In addition, I met many people from Australia, some from Amsterdam, and a girl from Rumania. One girl from New Jersey, who had bought an Easy Journey to Other Planets, was a yoga practitioner eager to learn the spiritual meaning behind yoga. She had seen the devotees chanting many times in New York City, and I told her about our program of chanting six hours a day in Union Square, where I am in the autumn. I asked one girl who was happy to encounter the Hare Krishnas and who danced to the music, how she knew about Hare Krishna, and she replied, “From TV.” That was a surprise to me. Many people I told about our main vegetarian restaurant in Prague, the address and hours of which were on the mantra card I gave them. I felt encouraged by the number of people attracted by the chanting, and I was happy to tell them ways they could develop that attraction.

Here are some highlights from the harinama during the Prague Ratha-yatra stage show (https://youtu.be/-z_cqwQUkmk):


The Ratha-yatra stage show site has been at four different Prague venues in my memory, and this year’s new site, Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square) is among the most central and well known. It is near both the main train station and Govinda’s vegetarian restaurant and close to the famous and very populated Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square). It was near a drinking fountain, another asset, and it seemed to have more space than last year’s site. Many devotees and many onlookers were present this year, and it was inspiring to see. Unfortunately, I missed the final band and the final kirtana, because my ride was returning to Poland, and I wanted to take it to be closer to the Polish Woodstock, which I planned to travel to the following day.

On the Way to the Polish Woodstock

The over 5 hours of trains from Wroclaw to Kostrzyn cost just over $8 (£6), a better deal than I get in the UK. As I approached the platform of my second train in Zielona Góra (literally Green Mountain), a young lady with purple hair, standing with her boyfriend, greeted me with a big smile. She remembered the Hare Krishnas from previous Woodstocks and asked if I could play her a tune on my harmonium. I sat with her and about ten other beer drinking, Polish young people in the bicycle section of the train, and played harmonium and chanted Hare Krishna. She would sometimes chant along with me, but the others were not so much into it, although two or three accepted the Polish mantra cards I had saved from last year. Fortunately the middle-aged female train conductor did not have problems with me playing the harmonium and chanting on the train. If I knew Polish, was more outgoing by nature, was accompanied by other devotees, or was a better musician, I may have been able to get the people to become more enthusiastic to chant, but it did not look promising. As I felt out of place, and I wanted to hear my daily Prabhupada lecture, I asked the young lady with the purple hair to watch my bag, and I retreated to a quieter and more peaceful carriage on the train.


As it was still three days to the official start of the Woodstock, which is our third day of activities there, the train was not completely crowded with people going to the festival as it would be the next two days.

The next day I encountered the couple during our harinama, and I took a picture of them with our chanting party in the background.

Polish Woodstock 2016


The day our Woodstock outreach began, the devotees had no standard morning program, but Indradyumna Swami and Chaturatma and Sri Prahlada Prabhus, chanted japa with the devotees in the parking lot of the red school, in which most of the devotees stay.


The first day it seemed we had more devotees than usual on the harinama around the festival site, and as usual, some people joined in the dancing and even the chanting. I gave mantra cards to some open to the chanting. Some were with us for over an hour, and some danced with us in our Krishna’s Village of Peace at the end.

Many people danced with us in the Kirtan Mantra Yoga tent. The devotees, especially the ladies, were more enthusiastic than usual in encouraging onlookers to actively participate in dancing in the tent.


I would give mantra cards to people on their way out, so they could take the cause of their joyful experience with them.


Some would smile greatly on getting them, recognizing the words to the song they were hearing all evening.

One guy, although his hands were full with beer and a cigarette, still gratefully accepted a mantra card.

Some people enjoyed swinging with the devotees.

Others swung with other attendees.

There were some so happy with the experience of chanting and dancing they would give a “thumbs up” gesture, say “I love you guys,” or would even embrace the devotees. People have always appreciated and expressed their appreciation, but this year it seemed like two or three times more usual.

Sometimes whole families would dance together in our tent.


Two devotee ladies on garbage detail, would take a break, and sing and dance, in front of our kirtana tent.

One girl remembered a conversation with me from two years ago. She had relatives who were Hare Krishnas and who were leaders in the festival.

Some people would ask about the philosophy. I would describe key points, and direct them to the book tent.

For Dominika it was her first Hare Krishna experience, and she stayed in the kirtana tent for two hours and came back again later. She never felt so happy in her life.

One man carried a giant peace sign into our Kirtan Mantra Yoga tent.

One young lady planning to study in Warsaw in the fall, was so happy from her kirtana experience she is looking forward to attend our Sunday feast program there.

One Bydgoszcz guy asked about joining Hare Krishna.

I gave a girl from near Katowice the number of Adam, who has monthly programs there.

Zara and Elena, from Germany, loved Acyuta Gopi so much that they remembered her from last year, and when she was late for her scheduled slot I had informed them of, they angrily accused me of cheating them. They were among at least five groups from Germany I informed about the Berlin Ratha-yatra, and I hope to see them there. One girl I met in Leipzig two weeks later, said she planned to spend an hour in our kirtana tent at Woodstock but ended up staying there for five!

One man and his friend remember me from when the Polish Woodstock was in Zary in 2002, and they have their picture taken with me every year.

One family remembered me from six years ago and had their picture taken with me again. 

Another man remembered me from five years ago. I always stand in the Mantra Yoga tent and give mantra cards to people who enjoy participating with us, and so they remember seeing me there in a joyful mood. 



One guy sincerely chanted Hare Krishna on beads in meditation.

Chandrasekhara Acarya Prabhu wrote to his Facebook friends and followers: “During the heat of the Woodstock Ratha-yatra kirtan, Marek, a tall, slightly drunk young man dressed in black shorts and holding a green aluminum beer can in his right hand was dancing right behind me, his black t-shirt wet with sweat. As the drums and the amplified voice of the maha-mantra resounded, he leaned over to me and screamed in disbelief, ‘Only three words!? Only three words, and all this big party?!’ I said, ‘This shows you the power of God!’ He said, ‘But I don’t believe in God!’ I didn’t know what to say. We continued dancing up and down and singing. Ten minutes later, in the same position behind me, he leaned over again and said, ‘Only three words! This is amazing!’ I said, ‘You see? There must be a God!’ The kirtan continued for another then minutes, at the end of which the young man and I spoke. I said to him, ‘Look: I have been chanting these three words for twenty-three years, every day. Either I and all these people here are completely crazy, or there is something mystical about these three words!’ He looked into the distance, as if thinking deeply. He then said, ‘Yes! There is something special about these three words!’ He raised his green beer can into the sky and proclaimed, ‘Hare Krishna is the real religion!’”

First Harinama


Although the Polish Woodstock starts on Thursday, Hare Krishnas devotees start serving prasadam (spiritualized vegetarian food) on Tuesday afternoon and singing Hare Krishna in their Kirtan Yoga tent that evening. To advertise these events, devotees chanted Hare Krishna around the site for two hours, finishing at Krishna’s Village of Peace. It was great hearing the singing of Sri Prahlada Prabhu, who was back from Australia for the event. Arjuna Krishna Prabhu, another veteran of the Polish Woodstock, also sang beautifully. Many onlookers enjoyed singing and dancing with the devotees (https://youtu.be/6bRRYv95uMQ):


Scenes from the Polish Woodstock Ratha-yatras

We were scheduled to do Ratha-yatra for four days, but it rained for hours on the second day, so we had to skip it that day. Instead we began our chanting in the Kirtan Yoga tent earlier.

I am always busy distributing invitations and mantra cards, so I am sure I miss lots of special moments from the Ratha-yatra. Here are some moments I did catch to get an idea of it (https://youtu.be/rXTh9OvCNzQ):



More than ever before, I would give mantra cards to the people who were pulling the Ratha-yatra cart. Instead of giving them the card completely, at first I would continue to hold it as they grabbed it, and I would point to the words, one or two at a time, as the devotees were singing them, and I would encourage the people to repeat them. Then I would let go of the card, and usually they would sing at least a few mantras. If you just give them the cards, they sometimes do not recognize what they are, and just put them in their pockets and do not sing along.


This year Dina Dayal Prabhu did a little martial arts in front of the Ratha-yatra procession.


My friend, Ananta Gauranga Prabhu, who sings on the New York City Harinam, liked Ratha-yatra best of all the Woodstock events.


Sometimes people would just get more and more involved like this girl, who began by dancing with the devotees and ended up joining the Ratha-yatra procession.





One girl joyfully dancing at Ratha-yatra was appareled in an outfit based on the American flag.

Day 1 Kirtan Tent

We chanted five hours in the evening the first night at the Polish Woodstock, and Badahari Prabhu, Indradyumna Swami, and Sri Prahlad Prabhu led wonderful kirtanas. Many people happily danced, and some also chanted. You could see people were very positive about Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/Lg_PDAZqJBE):


Day 2 Kirtan Tent

By the second day of the Polish Woodstock, we were blessed to have Sacinandana Swami and Madhava Prabhu in addition to the other amazing kirtana leaders in our Kirtan Yoga Tent. There are lots of sweet scenes of chanting and dancing, and the section in the middle where Bada Haridas Prabhu leads, is extra special (https://youtu.be/94Z47Yae650):


Day 3 Kirtan Tent 

The third day of the Polish Woodstock 2016 it rained, Ratha-yatra was cancelled, and we did 14 hours of kirtana in our Kirtan Yoga Tent. Here are some video clips showing what it was like (https://youtu.be/z_LGtDKsQTw):


Day 4 Kirtan Tent

I show some kirtanas from Mahatma Prabhu, Badahari Prabhu, and others, which really got the people dancing. At the end, two girls I gave mantra cards to, sing the response to Sri Prahlada Prabhu’s kirtana (https://youtu.be/BRU-u8StA4s):


Day 5 Kirtan Tent

Vraja Krishna Prabhu of South Africa sang a beautiful tune that everyone loved to dance to. They could not get enough of it. Also I share a bit of Indradyumna Swami singing a tune, inspiring devotees and onlookers to dance (https://youtu.be/V5IptI1oy_k):


My camera takes better movies than my phone, except at night or in dim light, because the phone has a light on it. Below are some more videos of the Kirtan Yoga Tent, especially including Acyuta Gopi and Madhava Prabhu, who chanted at night.

This was Acyuta Gopi's fifth year chanting at the Polish Woodstock. She got both the devotees and the guests chanting and moving with her lively singing (https://youtu.be/YdNZAsF6-lQ):


Madhava Prabhu, with his sweet and meditative chanting of Hare Krishna, enchanted the minds of many at the Polish Woodstock (https://youtu.be/TLbq2pfVsdM):


You can really see how the chanting brings everyone together on the plane of spiritual happiness!

Sacinandana Swami is “Chant and Be Happy” personified. He has come to the Polish Woodstock perhaps three times in the last fifteen years. We were grateful he came this year for a couple of days to share his ecstasy with the devotees and the guests (https://youtu.be/OBFHLxe4sxY):


Bada Haridas Prabhu sings beautiful Hare Krishna tunes, inducing the Polish Woodstock crowd to sing and dance (https://youtu.be/lXWMi2S-Jk0):


On Day 4 of the Polish Woodstock, Sri Prahlada Prabhu chanted a particularly sweet tune that captured people’s minds and got them to chant and move with the music (https://youtu.be/gjOc-9XCGgQ):


In America we have a devotee festival called the “Sadhu Sanga Retreat,” where Hare Krishnas go to get the association of many advanced devotees in kirtana. For the people of Poland, Pokojowo Wioska Kryszny (Krishna’s Village of Peace) at the Przystanek Woodstock festival in Poland is their Sadhu Sanga Retreat, and as you can see from the videos, many of them take it very seriously and put their hearts into it, despite their degraded Kali-yuga backgrounds and their nominal Catholicism.

All thanks to all the devotees, headed by Indradyumna Swami, who inspired by Srila Prabhupada and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, cooperated together and put on this amazing outreach event, Krishna’s Village of Peace, giving thousands of people a taste of the spiritual energy of the Lord and its transcendental bliss.

Sometimes people wonder the actual benefit given to the people as so few actually take up the practice of devotional service immediately as a result. Chandrashekhara Acarya Prabhu, Dina Dayal Prabhu, and I discussed this over a meal at Woodstock. Dina Dayal Prabhu pointed out that Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Harinama-cintamani says that these activities of bhakti-sukriti, such as hearing and chanting Hare Krishna and taking Krishna prasadam (spiritual food), accumulate, and bring one to the stage of sraddha, where one has initial faith in the value of bhakti. Each year, according to Chaturatma Prabhu and others in the question and answers booth, there are fewer challenges and more sincere inquiries, which is consistent with this idea.

Chanting at the Kostrzyn Train Station

Every year, the day after Woodstock, I try to get a few devotees to chant at the train station in Kostrzyn to the hundreds of Woodstock attendees waiting for their trains. It is always difficult as all the devotees are completely wiped out. I had three people lined up to chant with me, but two of them cancelled at the last minute, and I doubted the other one would want to chant with me alone, so I went out by myself. I had only two hours and a half of sleep, as people preparing for their journey home kept waking me up, and I was also in a bad mood because no one would join me. Still the chanting of Hare Krishna is so glorious, I had some positive experiences, and I was in a much more positive mood afterward. I met a couple of Germans I told about the Berlin Ratha-yatra. One had perfect rhythm and clapped in time to my singing. I showed him the standard karatala beat. He could not grasp it perfectly, but because he played in time with the music, he was an asset. One guy asked about my instrument, and I briefly told him about the harmonium. He said he played an Armenian flute and offered to show it to me. I figured I should show some interest in his accomplishment, so I went to where he had stashed his luggage with his girlfriend. The Armenian flute seemed like a cross between a clarinet and a recorder. I was surprised to see his girlfriend had a full-sized hardbound Bhagavad-gita on her lap. She had come to our camp for four years and has an interest in yoga, meditation, Eastern philosophy, and related topics. She was very excited to have gotten the book. I told her of the nama-hatta web site, so she could find out about devotional programs near her and my card so she could write to me about her reading of Bhagavad-gita. I found when I returned to our base that the lunch feast was not till three, so I had time for a needed nap.

After the feast, Chandrasekhara Acharya Prabhu induced additional people to come on harinama, and I engaged Madhava Puri Prabhu, who loves harinama, in playing the djembe.

As we left the school grounds, we passed devotees having a kirtana and class, and some of them also joined us.

Although it was substantially less crowded at 6:30 p.m. than at 12:30 p.m., there were still at least a couple hundred people waiting for trains. One djembe player delighted in playing with us so much, he continued playing after his friends pointed out that the arrival of their train was announced. People smiled at, shook hands with, embraced, and danced with the devotees. At one point it started raining, but we took shelter of a building and some trees and kept singing and dancing. A couple of our fans left the shelter of the train station for the pleasure of dancing in the rain with the devotees, and it was beautiful to see. The sun again came out as we returned to our base after an hour of harinama, and we continued singing there briefly. I thanked the devotees for participating and encouraged them to take part again next year.

Here is a brief video of our Kostrzyn train station harinama (https://youtu.be/lcXRUpAhKQQ):


Unusual Photos

In the course of my travels I see unusual sights that one does not see every day.

On the bus from Blackpool to Preston, I passed this sign. I have heard about conspiracy theories regarding 9-11, and know devotees like Jayadvaita Swami, who have looked into them, but I never saw them mentioned on the street before.

Sometimes people joke about how much men are controlled by women. Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.31.34 advises, “One should not associate with a coarse fool who is bereft of the knowledge of self-realization and who is no more than a dancing dog in the hands of a woman.” Thus I could not help but take this picture of a lady pulling a guy around on a metal chain at the Polish Woodstock!

To see photos I took but did not use, click on the link below:

To see all my Polish Woodstock videos in one place, click on the link below:

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.33 in Los Angeles on April 25, 1973:

We have natural devotion to God, just as a son has natural devotion to the father. Artificially it is being covered. In danger, even the scientists pray to God, but when the danger goes they defy God. Therefore, danger is required.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.33 in Mayapur on October 13, 1974:

Krishna proved He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and these rascals are searching after God.

They cannot understand God because they are mudhas (foolish), and why are they foolish? Because they engage in sinful activities.

This is a very nice cultural movement, trying to awaken one’s interest in God.

This process is very bona fide because Krishna is teaching this process as Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

The Jewish and Christian priests are amazed to see that these young people who had no interest in coming to the church or inquiring about God are actually giving up everything and pursuing God. How is that? They are following the method taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who came to make it easy to approach Krishna.

By the process of Caitanya Mahaprabhu I am trying to awaken your love of God. That is the guru’s business.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.34 in Los Angeles on April 26, 1973:

Brahma has contact with the original source of knowledge, Paramatma, through the heart.

Krishna is sitting in everyone’s heart, but one has to be qualified to receive the knowledge.

Some people say Krishna appeared for this reason or that reason, but in reality, Krishna appears for His own pleasure, not being bound by any cause. He is fully independent.

Spirit is the basis for the development of matter, not that matter is the cause of the development of spirit.  Why does a child that is born dead not grow? Because the spirit soul is not there.  As the presence of the spirit is the cause of the growth of the child, the presence of the supreme spirit is the cause of the development of the universe.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.34 in Mayapur on October 14, 1974:

Without faith you cannot understand Krishna.

We must have faith that, “If I am Krishna conscious, all other duties are complete.”

Demonic activities cause a burden to the earth, as a bad son is a burden on the father.

Formerly meat eating was not allowed in the houses in India, especially among the higher classes.

We have to finish our business of enjoying material things if we want to progress spiritually. Even if we are not on that level, if we chant, we will come to the stage of being materially desireless, and then we can progress.

Now the earth is overburdened by the demonic, but Krishna has descended already as the Hare Krishna mantra, and if people take to the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, the world will become favorable for our living and the atmosphere will change.

The Krishna consciousness movement is meant to give people relief from all these burdens of materialistic life, so they can peacefully live and understand the value of life, become spiritualized, and go back home, back to Godhead.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.35 in Mayapur on October 15, 1974:

Because the mind, intelligence, false ego, and soul are subtle, the scientists cannot perceive them, and thus they conclude the gross body is everything.

Their knowledge is so imperfect they cannot deal with these subtle things.

They conclude the matter is the cause of life, but they cannot demonstrate how matter can produce life.

Beginning from Brahma down to the insect, they are all rascals. As Brahma aspires to create a universe, you are aspiring to create a skyscraper building, and an ant is aspiring to create a little hole in the wall. But all these temporary creations cannot satisfy us.

Because we are in ignorance we can forget Krishna at any time, therefore we must always be engaged in devotional service by hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, etc.

Just as a dancer must practice many years to dance on the stage, similarly to become so expert we remember Krishna at the end of life we have to practice remembering Krishna throughout life. Practice must be there.

Both licit and illicit sex cause so many problems in life that in the Vedic civilization the boys are first trained as brahmacaris, celibate students. If they cannot remain as such they can marry and have sex in a regulated way. Then they will not remain entangled as householders for the rest of life, but will retire in due course.

In the sastras (revealed literature) there is no such thing as Kali kirtana. Kirtana means Krishna kirtana.

Yad-iksanam, even if you just see the deity, you can progress. Even if your mind is so disturbed you cannot hear, chant, or meditate, you can simply see the deity.

Rupa Goswami:

From Padyavali: 

“Verse 11: 

Not by wearing saffron cloth, not by restricting food and other sense-activities, not by living in the forest, not by discussing philosophy, and not by observing a vow of silence, but only by even the slightest beginning of devotional service to the lotus feet of Lord Govinda, who enjoys pastimes on the Yamuna’s wide banks, is Kamadeva stopped.”

“Verse 19:

“May Krishna’s holy name, which is a reservoir of all transcendental happiness, the destruction of Kali-yuga’s sins, the most purifying of all purifying things, the saintly person’s food as he traverses the path to the spiritual world, the pleasure-garden where the voices of the greatest saints, philosophers, and poets play, the life of the righteous, and the seed of the tree of religion, bring transcendental auspiciousness to you all.”

“Verse 24:

“‘Lord Vishnu’s holy name removes sin,
establishes piety, makes one disinterested
in the attempt to gain an exalted post
like that of Lord Brahma, grants devotion
for the lotus feet of the spiritual master,
brings transcendental knowledge of Lord Vishnu,
burns the seed of repeated birth and death,
and places the saintly devotee in complete
awareness of perfect transcendental bliss.’

—Sri Vyasa”

“Verse 28:

“‘O Lord, is Your impersonal
spiritual effulgence not always present
everywhere? Even so, it has not been
able to break even a single small leaf
from the tree of repeated birth and death.
On the other hand, the moment
Your holy name is taken by the tongue,
it thoroughly shatters the tree of birth
and death down to its roots.
Of these two (the spiritual effulgence
or the holy name), which should be served?’

—Sri Sridhara Svami”

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:

“Dear Srila Prabhupada, I see you in this photo and yet I don’t see you. When you were here, I saw you but could not fully understand that you are an eternal associate of Radha and Krishna. Even today, how little I understand as I look into the sunny archway of the old Vrindavana temple, and you look back with your little group of fragilely held together devotees, most of whom have now dispersed.

“May we carry out your will, although we are not lion-hearted. May we chant Hare Krishna and follow you to Vrindavana and stay at your Krishna-Balarama Mandira and serve the Hare Krishna movement. Someday, may you and Krishna and Radha reveal to us further entry into Vrindavana dhama.

“One always requires faith in the spiritual master to chant the holy names. I feel this japa retreat is a time where I am trying to link up with Prabhupada by trying to improve my service to his most basic and important instruction – to chant with love. I think Prabhupada would be pleased to know that I am trying to improve. Even the fact that I am sorry I am not doing better is a connection with Prabhupada. It is very personal.

“Prabhupada, you gave us the Hare Krishna mantra to love and to chant, and I am definitely not satisfied with the way I am chanting. I want to appreciate the personal gift you gave me. I want to chant the mantra, which you gave, our guru-mantra, the mantra given by guru. This is the mantra, which will bring me all the way to actual realization of Krishna’s pastimes. This mantra will bring me to my spiritual form and to being with my spiritual master in his eternal spiritual form. Srila Prabhupada, I am going back to the basics of the Hare Krishna mantra and trying to improve.”

----

During the Polish Woodstock festival, the devotees live in two schools in the city of Kostrzyn, with fifteen or twenty devotees sleeping in each classroom. 


They ride crowded buses to the site. 

Their lives are completely disrupted for the five days of the festival, and it takes some time to recover afterward. Yet because of the joy of sharing the chanting of Hare Krishna, the philosophy contained in Srila Prabhupada’s books, and food offered to Krishna, the devotees consider the austerity insignificant and are willing to do it year after year. Thinking of their activities calls to mind this famous Srimad-Bhagavatam verse, which appears in the pastime of Lord Shiva drinking the ocean of poison to save the living entities of the universe:

tapyante loka-tapena
sadhavah prayasho janah
paramaradhanam tad dhi
purushasyakhilatmanah

“It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present in everyone’s heart.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.7.44)