Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Travel Journal#14.20: New York City and Albany Area

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 14, No. 20 
By Krishna-kripa das 
(October 2018, part two) 
New York City and Albany Area 
(Sent from Yuga Dharma Ashram in New York City on November 7, 2018)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the second half of October I stayed in the Yuga Dharma Ashram in uptown Manhattan and chanted Hare Krishna with the devotees for six hours in good weather at Union Square Park or in bad weather either at Times Square, Penn Station, Grand Central or Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Ave. subway stations. New York City devotees did an extra harinama for Halloween on the last day of the month and at least eighteen participated. I spent the third weekend in October visiting my family in Albany and doing a lot of cooking, some shopping, attending an alternative energy seminar and a Quaker meeting and luncheon, and watching the Hare Krishna! film with my family.

I share Srila Prabhupada’s realization of the importance of the songs of Narottama Dasa Thakura and insights from a purport of his to Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. I share excerpts from my favorites among the many devotional poems extracted from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s series Every Day, Just Write, by Rev. John Endler, a friend and follower of his, for a new book. I share many deep realizations from the morning classes of Rama Raya Prabhu, leader of the Yuga Dharma Ashram in New York City, who has practiced Krishna consciousness for forty years. I also share notes on the classes by Vishnu-citta Prabhu, who greatly assists Rama Raya in the management of the Ashram. I share a realization and an appreciation of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s writing by Rev. John Endler and a quote from Christian mystic and writer, Evelyn Underhill.

Many, many thanks to Victor Anderson, my sister’s partner, who kindly contributed to my travel expenses to Albany. Extra special thanks to my niece, Fern Bm, who let me have her old iPhone 5, so I can now take videos with good audio quality.

Thanks to Mangal Arati Das Ramnarine and Mert Özer for their videos. Thanks to all the devotees taking videos of the New York City Halloween Harinama, which include Bhaktas Sasha and Jeremy, Divyangi Devi Dasi, and Bhaktins Masha and Yana. Thanks to Divyangi Devi Dasi for the many photos of the Yuga Dharma Ashram harinamas.

Itinerary

October 1–: New York City Yuga Dharma Harinama Party
December 8: Bhagavad-gita class at 26 Second Avenue
December 24: Albany, New York, for Christmas Eve
January 8–17: FSU Tallahassee
January 18–20: BI Gainesville Consciousness Conference
January 21: Gainesville Martin Luther King Day parade
January 27: Tampa Gasparilla Pirate Parade harinama

Chanting Hare Krishna with the Yuga Dharma Ashram in New York City

We had a couple of devotees visiting the end of October, namely Srila Prabhupada disciple, Sunanda Prabhu, and former member of our Yuga Dharma party, Ananta Gauranga Prabhu.

Sunanda Prabhu, who formerly cooked Krishna Lunch in Gainesville and presently works with the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, chants Hare Krishna at Union Square, enlivening the Yuga Dharma NYC harinama devotees by his enthusiasm and devotion (https://youtu.be/9W4qTKXKGmI):


Ananta Gauranga Prabhu, who was formerly was part of the Yuga Dharma Ashram and who briefly visited New York City after traveling for many months with Harinama Ruci, chants Hare Krishna at Union Square Park (https://youtu.be/baQsXbTT5v4):


Besides our special guests, the end of October was special because the most spiritual of all months, the holy month of Karttika (Damodara) began on October 25. Devotees on the Yuga Dharma Ashram harinama party encouraged passersby to offer lamps to Krishna in His form of Damodara during Karttika. The revealed literatures declare: “When one offers a lamp during the month of Karttika, his sins in many thousands and millions of births perish in half an eye blink. . . . A person who offers a lamp to Lord Krishna during Karttika attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering. . . . One who offers a steady lamp to Lord Hari during the month of Karttika enjoys pastimes in Lord Hari's splendid spiritual world.” These video clips are from the Union Square and Grand Central subway stations (https://youtu.be/UYbDqpYAc6M):


Besides Union Square and its subway station, we would chant at different subway stations such as Times Square

Penn Station,

Grand Central,

and Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue.

I would play the shakers and distribute the pamphlets

sometimes sitting

and sometimes standing.

Rama Raya Prabhu, our leader, led many lively kirtans as usual during the second half of October.

Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/VnRVmHi5XZo)


Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Grand Central Station, and a passerby dances, encouraged by Mahotsaha Prabhu (https://youtu.be/8szVKV5O2qg):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants an increasing lively Hare Krishna tune in Penn Station, Kalki and Mahotsaha Prabhus dance in jubilation, and a passerby either pounds a coffee cup into the floor or claps in time with the music (https://youtu.be/e3Ez2f6OGV4):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Union Square and devotees dance (https://youtu.be/FJ7_TCU62Xk):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights, and a man plays shakers and listens for the rest of the evening (https://youtu.be/C-HQ9Jh-6qA):


Besides chanting on harinama in New York City, Rama Raya Prabhu occasionally chants at other venues:

Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna during the second kirtan after giving the Saturday night Bhagavad-gita class at 26 2nd Avenue and devotees dance (https://youtu.be/LEQNl_zpySY):


Sometimes Rama Raya Prabhu would dance while the others sang. Here Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Penn Station, and Rama Raya Prabhu dances (https://youtu.be/E4EZT57MHvA):


Here Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Grand Central, and a passing musician plays and chants. Every week when she sees us, she stops by and plays and chants for five minutes or so. She has many of the books, and she always leaves a donation (https://youtu.be/s-ajMcSFdY8):


Here Mahotsaha Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights, and a lady enthusiastically plays shakers and dances (https://youtu.be/2477ZuJd01Q):


Different devotees lead the chanting of Hare Krishna during the afternoon and early evening at Union Square, while kids in queue for a Halloween show play the shakers, sometimes dance, and occasionally chant Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/ef6P8fXGHFw):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square, and a small girl plays shakers. Facebook video by Mangal Arati Das Ramnarine (https://youtu.be/Q4q12U-RtZI):


As you may have noticed in the above video, I was also filming the same scene, with higher video resolution but lower audio quality. I also show how the girl later accepts a piece of prasadam candy and a Jagannatha sticker (https://youtu.be/EXJ-ewBPOWE):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna briefly in Union Square another day. Video by Mert Özer (https://youtu.be/psk0IctGpbI):


Priya Krishna Prabhu sometimes joins us after work as here when he chanted Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights, and Russian devotee ladies danced (https://youtu.be/t5ih1S_nLRM):


Here Priya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Times Square subway station, and Richard dances (https://youtu.be/q6OVNRIwx6c):


Padmalaya Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/4l6ITefk3iI):


Jayesa Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/rnJUSrwNXmQ):


When I wasn’t taking videos of the chanting, I was chanting the response, playing the shakers, distributing pamphlets and watching the book table as seen in this video of the same kirtan by Mert Özer (https://youtu.be/jaXpE25KHlY):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Penn Station, and a passerby dances (https://youtu.be/fZXPwZOrLlQ):


Krishna Prasad Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Penn Station, and a passerby dances (https://youtu.be/Gn9Ak0Q_DtU):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Union Square, and devotees dance and a kid plays the shakers (https://youtu.be/kdSdgfYOetc):


For years in the Times Square and Grand Central subway stations this Korean Christian preacher lady and her friends have stationed themselves in front of our chanting parties and hurled Christian dogma at us instead of peacefully preaching in another part of the station. Sometimes the police have had to intervene. Our dancing around her here is a humorous response to the situation (https://youtu.be/PxcVOw4DAzI):


Chanting Hare Krishna on Halloween in New York City

Even though it is so late in the autumn, it was warm enough to chant outside in Union Square Park on Halloween. Some costumed entities participated by playing the shakers and dancing as you can see in the two videos below:

Kishor Gopal Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Union Square on Halloween, and a costumed kid dances with delight (https://youtu.be/M1vBMRuKt24):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna on Halloween in Union Square Park, and devotees and passersby dance (https://youtu.be/6P12DB6NujA):


Our book distributors would encounter costumed entities and try to sell them books.

This angel is being given the chance this Halloween to purchase literature to develop her dormant divine qualities to the highest level.

One regular local costumed performer posed for a photo with our chanting party.

After our daily harinama which is from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. I organized an extra harinama for Halloween evening from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. because the streets would be filled with so many people in a party mood. 

Last year we had only six devotees, but this year we had at least eighteen. Eight were regulars or supporters of our Yuga Dharma Ashram harinamas. Four were regulars at Atmanivedana Prabhu's Saturday Gita class at 26 Second Avenue, Murali Gopal Prabhu came from the Bhakti Center, and five ladies came from the New York City congregation of Russian-speaking devotees.

On our extra Halloween harinama I played my harmonium and led for the first hour or so. Mangal Arati Prabhu played drum for the first hour, and then Murali Gopal Prabhu took over. Vrinda Devi Dasi played karatalas. Other people played karatalas and a couple shakers I had picked up in Mayapur. Ken brought and distributed prasadam cookies. One Russian lady distributed the YumEarth organic candies we distribute on our daily harinamas. Two Russian ladies danced wonderfully the entire harinama. Many devotees took videos which I was very happy about because I was playing the instruments or leading the whole time.

Video by Sasha (https://youtu.be/0hUjCvC6NBk):


Video by Mangal Arati Das Ramnarine (https://youtu.be/j5uVLshBjt8):


Video clips by Bhaktin Masha (https://youtu.be/8rG5tbxoqiI):


Video clips by Bhaktin Yana (https://youtu.be/K9lzBaKCc7c):


Video by Divyangi Devi Dasi (https://youtu.be/0R_mf4NnQsM):


After I led, Jeremy Pennewell led playing karatalas. I played the mrdanga, and Murali Gopal Prabhu played harmonium.

Video by Sasha (https://youtu.be/CC2Q1vhUg30):


Video by Jeremy Pennewell (https://youtu.be/x1x4C5D0oaI):


We chanted back and forth on 14th Street between Fourth Avenue and Fifth Avenue a few times and the scheduled time to end the harinama had come, but we kept going almost a full half hour at Union Square Park, with Vrinda Devi Dasi of Russia leading the final Hare Krishna kirtan while two costumed men danced with devotees.

Video by Sasha (https://youtu.be/D-IdeBuWP2Q):


Although I was playing the drum, I could not restrain myself from also taking of video of the costumed men dancing with us (https://youtu.be/O2oX4ZrQL0I):


Many devotees thanked me for organizing that harinama, and I thank all of them for participating in so many different and important ways. Special thanks to Sasha for advertising the event.

We hope to do a special harinama on New Year's Eve with greater participation.

My Albany Visit

Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair

When my sister Karen picked me up at the Rensselaer train station, the first of the two Megabus stops in the Albany area, we went to visit my 94-year-old mother, Pat, who was helping out at the third annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair, also in Rensselaer, put on by a group called Community Advocates for Sustainable Energy. My mother has been a social activist ever since I was a teenager, and helping out with such an event is natural for her. The event was described in the Troy Record to be “the largest event of its kind in the Capital District [the metropolitan area around Albany, New York].”

As Hare Krishna devotees we understand it is a problem that people are abusing the earth to attain an artificially high standard of material enjoyment. A couple of verses from Sri Isopanishad (1–2) which I often cite in my attempts to sell the book, explain how human beings should live: “Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong. One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.” Of course, we are taking way more than our quota and thus causing trouble to other residents of the earth and accruing all kinds of bad karma.

Some devotees use methane produced from cow manure (biogas) and diesel engines powered with vegetable oil as alternatives to the petroleum industry, which is known for damaging the environment.

Walking from the car through the parking lot to the Doane Stuart School, the venue of the event, we encountered three Tesla cars, which my sister recognized. 

Apparently a company called Tesla, named after Nikola Tesla, a famed Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist, makes several electric cars. Some are said to be self-driving. Apparently only some of the self-driving features are used as the state has banned fully self-driving cars, probably a good idea!

Different groups were tabling, informing people of different environmental facts, such as industries which contribute to environmental destruction, like:

the meat industry

and the defense industry.

As I left I noticed a pro-environment poster that was not part of the fair
but from the school in which the fair was held.

Cooking at Home

Saturday was Ekadasi. I never plan to go home on Ekadasi because there are fewer cooking options, but that turned out to be the best day for other reasons. I decided to make the famous ISKCON classic known Gauranga Potatoes. I searched Google for Gauranga Potatoes, and at the top of the search was this web page, http://www.food.krishna.com/recipe/gauranga-potatoes, a recipe by Kurma Prabhu on Krishna.com. Some say it is not good to use turmeric powder on Ekadasi as it is cut with rice flour, so I bought fresh turmeric root at the coop, which reminded me of Mayapur, the only other place I have bought fresh turmeric. It was another great Kurma recipe, coming out perfectly, and everyone loved it. When I left, I asked Victor if I should leave the leftover with him or take it on my journey, and he wanted me to leave it. At the same time I made coconut burfi, flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg, for the Quaker meeting luncheon the third Sunday in the month, the next day.

On Sunday as a main dish for the Quaker luncheon I made the carrot-coconut rice from Yamuna's cookbook because it is easy and it comes out perfect every time. My mother thoughtfully saved out some salad for me, before adding the mushrooms and dressing with garlic to it. Usually between twenty and forty people come for the Quaker lunch, and it is one of my prasadam distribution venues when I go home.

During the lunch I talked to one Quaker I remember for many years named David Barnard, and I added to his understanding of Hinduism. He, like many people, thought of Hinduism as polytheistic and did not realize that the main book that practically all Hindus accept, Bhagavad-gita, promotes worship of the one Supreme Lord and actually rejects the worship of many gods.

On the way out of the Quaker meeting house I saw this bumper sticker. I was going to make a photo of it, but they said I could keep it.

For dinner we made spaghetti and koftas using the recipe from Yamuna's cookbook. I let the koftas soak longer in the sauce this time, so they were juicer, perhaps too much so. Still it was very good. Ginger beer I acquired a taste for, being turned on to it when I was in college by my temple president, Kesihanta Prabhu, who would have one with a friend after the Sunday Feast.

Appreciations of the Hare Krishna! Film by My Family

I showed the Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami who started it all film to my mother, Pat, my sister, Karen, and my sister’s partner, Victor.

My mother recognized Radhanath Swami from seeing him in person, and Victor recognized him from seeing a recorded video of his dialog with Dr. Cornel West during one of my previous visits.

I pointed out Yamuna Devi to my family as they know her from her big cookbook, and I told my mother that Visakha Dasi, whose book she had read, along with her husband, had produced the film.

My family members found it striking in different ways.

My mother was so impressed by Srila Prabhupada’s determination in the beginning, struggling alone in New York City with no one to assist him. Although things did not look hopeful, he never gave up. My mother also recalled that brainwashing case in the Supreme Court in New York where the judge recognized Hare Krishna to be a true religion with roots in India for thousands of years, considering it to be an important case for civil rights.

Karen thought that it was great that they kept the name Matchless Gifts on the storefront after Srila Prabhupada relocated there. She said that in the United States at that time  “Greenwich Village is about the only place he could have taken the chanting to the streets, and San Francisco is the only other place he could have pulled that thing off. She found it striking that he came to America simply because his guru asked him to.

Victor was very touched by the humanness of Srila Prabhupada although he was a great spiritual leader, and he appreciated his innocence and deep devotion. Prabhupada was like a loving father to his disciples. He often looked like his eyes were filled with tears of a compassion that were not occasional but a steady feature of his being. You could feel the pain of his disciples who were worried whether he would become well enough to return from India. What if he had not come back from India?

Victor was inspired to add a couple of Hare Krishna mantras to his daily spiritual practice the next morning, and he found it very calming on his mind. I mentioned that if he chanted five minutes of Hare Krishna before his silent meditation every day that he would find his silent meditation would be improved because the Hare Krishna mantra would put his mind in a very calm state.

Striking Photos


Hare Krishna: Easy to switch. Easy to save.

Previously I chanted a TM mantra, but I found it easy to switch to Hare Krishna. TM focuses on the impersonal feature of the Supreme rather than the personal form of Lord Krishna. Although accepting that path as bona fide, Lord Krishna says, “For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied. (Bg. 12.5) Thus I consider that I saved myself a lot of trouble!

Hare Krishna: Invest with Confidence. 

In the authoritative Vedic literature known as the Kali-santarana Upanishad, Narada asks his father and guru, Lord Brahma, how the impurities of this age can be overcome. Lord Brahma replies, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare: These sixteen words can destroy all the evils of Kali-yuga. There is no superior process to be found in all the Vedas.” Thus we can invest our time with confidence in the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra as recommended in the sacred texts and experience freedom from the degradation surrounding us.

“God Belongs in My City,” a phrase that Hare Krishnas and other theists can agree with, is campaign slogan of a Christian youth group protesting atheistic propaganda in New York City. Learn more about their story at http://godbelongsinmycity.com/.

Avid readers speak of getting lost in the stacks at the library, but unfortunately the vast majority of books in the library cannot award one spiritual perfection. This fortunate lady is now happy to have the chance to read books, namely Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, that are “a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.11)

This passerby (on the right), upon hearing the chanting of Hare Krishna, felt inspired to sit in the middle of the floor of the Penn Station subway station corridor in half lotus position.

One lady, while holding an ice cream bar she was eating in one hand, received an armload of books from Mahotsaha Prabhu, one of our most enthusiastic book distributors, in the other.


Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

Quoted in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta:

“The prayers of Narottama dasa Thakura, this sound is above the material platform. It is directly from the spiritual platform. And there is no need of understanding the language. It is just like a thunderburst. Everyone can hear the sound of thunder – there is no misunderstanding. Similarly, these songs are above the material platform, and they crack like thunder within your heart.”

From Sri Caitanya-caritamrita 13.67, purport:

“A bona fide devotee of Lord Krishna is always pained to see the fallen condition of the whole world. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to say, ‘There is no scarcity of anything within this world. The only scarcity is of Krishna consciousness.’ That is the vision of all pure devotees. Because of this lack of Krishna consciousness in human society, people are suffering terribly, being merged in an ocean of nescience and sense gratification. A devotee onlooker is very much aggrieved to see such a situation in the world.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

From Jagannatha is Kind” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“I was married and now I am free,
free as a bird
in a cage of my making.”

From Poem 7” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“By 4:30 A.M., long before sunrise, they
are out on the beach. A tea walla sets up a
bench, and they sit there facing the
ocean, twenty feet from the waves’ edge,
sipping tea in glasses, huddled
in the cold, blankets, jackets
and later walking in larger groups
across the sands, not doing anything,
just walking, and when one sees a
crab they all gather around.
I like their innocent do-
nothingness, the no-ghetto-blaster mood,
the no fighting, no bikinis, no strutting,
and even though their visit is a karmi’s
vacation, they go for a darsana of
Lord Jagannatha.”

From Poem 9” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“It seems that when we open the floor, people immediately start complaining or talk politics or try to hurt someone with their outpouring of grief. I don’t mind grief, but speak it in a way that it sounds like blues music. Speak everyone’s sadness or make the Krishna conscious element so true and full of yearning and appreciation that we don’t mind the pain. Don’t be a twig that snaps off the Caitanya tree in the wind. Bend, be flexible, and keep going.”

From Music Box” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“Christ and Krishna, don’t make a
fight between them.”

From Many Lives” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“Love to be there one day
but so far I struggle
for strength each day –
I want to be a devotee,
make a bee-line to His lotus feet,
but ecstasies must be paid for,
samadhi is no joke.”

From Poem 18” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“They’ve got bright lights on
towers to keep the beach crime-free.
But it’s a crime they
don’t come here to remember Sri
Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu,
a crime the sellers and dogs litter
and they don’t let us into the temple,
it’s a crime
that I complain
and waste time.”

From Mercy” in The Waves at Jagannatha Puri:

“Mercy of God will come to me
as He desires, as Gadadhara knows.
Each one has a chance.
When it comes
choose to act
receive the mercy by standing
in the right place.”

From Short Lines” in Every Day, Just Write, Volume 5:

“May Krishna give me a little
hint which way to go.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 6:

“Yeah, He lifted Govardhana
He killed the Baka and Agha demons
and gave His friends the greatest delight
of His personal company.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 7:

“Work hard
for the spiritual master, and
your whole life becomes prayer.”

“You make my own act of confession,
I don’t want to,
but I do love the Lord, His holy names
are one. My fault is I do not preach
with total dedication. I don’t
meditate the way I should.
Of course, I’m in there trying.”

“Don’t talk of God, Prabhupada says
‘Okay, then Krishna.
No! he says. Not Krishna. Krishna is far, far away
we are just talking common sense.
You are subordinate, you have to bow down to someone.
Why?
Because that’s your nature.
I don’t agree. I think we’re all spiritually equal.
That is your disease. You are thinking wrongly.
I’m thinking wrongly?
Yes.
Then how should I think?
You are subordinate always. You have to bow down to death, disease and old age. The thing is to find out, since you have to bow down anyway, whom you will bow down to, who will make you happy.”

“I stub my toe and curse all
demons and temple proprietors and
beggars and rocks and too-hot
suns,
I curse the world
and wind up cursed among
the atheists.”

“Our God is better than Walsch’s God.
He is Govinda, He is the Navadvipa Lord
they’ve never met.
We can bathe in the Ganga and Yamuna
know Narottama dasa Thakura
and all the saints. We can lead them toward that path,
but as Prabhupada says (Seattle 1968), see how few people
come to hear from us because
it takes a rare soul
intelligent enough to know
that Krishna is God.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 8:

“The mind gets in and pushes around, but
still I shall chant on my master’s
order.”

“Thoreau taught simplicity. He wanted a house where he could see the vista of land and sky. He admonished those who live meanly. He walked, enjoyed beauty, and saw heaven in nature. I am attracted to that, but not quite in the same way, of course. Not separate from Krishna, but with Krishna in the center. He is the beauty in nature, and He has a beautiful personal form that all nature reflects.
Where is he?
Where can I seek Him?
Who will tell me and be my guru in each and every instant, the guru who will say that’s Krishna when you feel no pain, and it’s also Krishna at the first sign of a headache. He’s there when I feel a rift with a friend and even when I don’t. He’s there in prayer
when I say I want to see Him
even in some small way. He’s
already there.
Be simple and practice constant remembrance,
nothing convoluted,
no methods, but awareness that He’s here or else
there’s nothing.
Hare Krishnas, even empty ones
fill the ‘void.’”

“Hari-nama, You are the angel
of mercy, and I am in need
of the regular installments of the nourishing
Retreat from maya. I grasp Your
lotus feet, holy names.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 9:

“Institutionalized confessors
are okay, but if your
ISKCON temple doesn’t
have such designated
brahmana counselors –
then find one on your own.
A friend whose guidance
you can trust.”

“Swami, Swami Bhaktivedanta
looked at me and saw my
hopeless, self-consciousness and
he looked sad, said Poet
Ginsberg.”

“Here we go Swami. You are
watching from your place.
May we all somehow make
it, to where we are going
with you in our separate
ways. But on sort of one train
to Goloka.”

“Swami teaches us, I keep
going back to first days because
he formed us then, and I was
on the beam.
Swami, the controlled teacher in
saffron khadi.
Don’t abandon the dress, the
shaved head, the way.
When you taught us it was
your mercy.
We ‘forgive’ you any little
apparent discrepancies we see with
our faulty eyes. Please
forgive us our kicking and
rude ways.”

“Oh, whimsical brother,
you think you’ll get an honorary
degree simply by sitting
under the light of the window and
reading? Yes, why not?
This is no ordinary book.
Whoever touches it, touches
Krishna, the Supreme Lord.”

“‘This ananda, that ananda,
do your own work in your
own hand,’ he said to his disciple,
meaning you needn’t depend
on a questionable Godbrother
but memorize 30 Gita verses as
all you need to equip yourself
to preach in South India.”

“Swami’s Easy Journey to
Other Planets affected me
when reading it in 1966.
Best change I ever made.”

From Free Write Journal#10:

“Srila Prabhupada said, ‘We should always keep death in our front.’ Senior citizens are living older. I am almost 79. I may have ten years left. Or I may have only ten minutes left. I will have to leave everything behind. My writings are my legacy. I will live on in my books. I have written many books about Srila Prabhupada; the most recent is a handsome reprinting in India of two volumes, Books 1–4 of Prabhupada Meditations. These are wonderful books, a continuation of the inspiration I had while writing Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 10:

“He’s everywhere
but dancing in His own
world where He’s the
center for those who
love Him and join Him
where He is more and
better even than God.”

“Radha-Krishna
everyone knows,
but only a few
actually know
Radha and Krishna.”

“It’s dangerous looking deeper.
Under the welcome mat I
found wet mold slime and
a juicy worm curling. Ugh.
I put it back the way it was.”

“Lord who kills demons –
we routinely ‘pray’ –
please kill mine, make me strong.”

“All these things together don’t
add up to a center. I keep
adding more trinkets, ‘Send
one dozen Ticonderoga pencils please
and pills for digestion.’ But even if
you fill up the rooms and suitcases
and keep adding inventory,
where is the center?”

“Krishna is fully
present in name and sastra
it’s just our blindness and deafness
prevents us.”

“Please let me serve You free
of that which holds me
back,
the fears and reservations and
the attempt to get the first-
class berth for the
easy ride for
yours truly.”

“Who can figure it out?
Better to pray to God for
permission to act as His
instrument,
a pen, a knife, a zither,
a guide,
a preacher,
don’t bore,
don’t sin or deviate and if you
“must” read your Christian
authors and others make
some use of it in His
service.”

“I suddenly collapsed,
passed out with fatigue
at my desk. But am
now up to tell it. One
day I won’t wake up.

“Except in the next world, I
mean to say next life –
Lord, he says,
but in vain? Chant Hare Krishnas
but there too he’s flawed,
offensive pramada.

“Turn to God.
He taught Devahuti.
In His original form He
holds the flute,
controls all worlds by His
expansions, is the only
true enjoyer of sacrifices
and the best friend of everyone.
Whoever knows Him (even partially)
is free from fear and
attains shanti.
Now you’re talking.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 11:

“Swami, I confess I’ve been a bad boy.
I used to make confession in church, and you blasted
that church saying, “They can’t answer two questions –
why God has only one son and why they are
killing so much although Christ says,
‘Thou shalt not kill.’
He got their number.”

“Sixteen the mere minimum I do
as my offering of breath and
scattered inattention, but
at least I count
and utter out loud the sweet
holy names which
will conquer.”

“Expose yourself,
take off your protective covering and
allow the Bhagavatam’s rays to
bathe you.
It’s not difficult, harmful,
or painful,
and the gain is great.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 12:

“My mind went over again and
again an inferior thought about
two children here who preferred
another guru rather than me.
No worth in the thought,
no investigation of it,
just chewing on it like an old bone.”

“Now I’m a cowpoke,
Western in Wellies
expatriate escaped in Ireland
get the hell away from
ISKCON downs and controversies and
the too much socialization.”

“You say secret life, but it can’t be a secret from God.
But it’s secret from you guys.”

“The guru mostly talks to those
who have at least proclaimed
surrender to him. Sometimes for preaching
he speaks to outsiders, but
the sastras say he speaks
only to disciples
the inner meanings.

“What if he doesn’t know
anything? Then he’s no guru.”

“When is the last time
I read Srimad-Bhagavatam?
Having been away even an hour,
can you speak something
solid and precise and inspiring?”

“the Lord grants all –
if you can yearn for purification
He comes to you in that way”

From After Japa” in Every Day, Just Write, Volume 12:

“You did your japa in two hours
for that you don’t get flowers bowers.
But yes, it’s most important.
Sailing from one to sixteen and thinking,
‘One day I won’t be able to
do this, it’ll be over.

“O Lord, such little
feeling from me to You.
Please be kind and grant me
ability to love.

“It starts with attention,
but even that I lack
so I have to offer my thoughts
to You, but maybe they’re not suitable –

“My plans to read and write
and paint,
whatever I do,
remember You…
and then back to hear the Mantra.

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 13:

“You ask me why you should
follow so closely behind the Srimad-Bhagavatam?
I’ll tell you: so you don’t veer off and crash off the road
and plunge down the ravine.
You have a habit to do that
and have crashed more than once or twice
in your ISKCON days. Follow
his path under the arch
which is Bhaktivedanta Swami Marga.
I accept the truth of that.”

“I want to see the
form of Radha-Krishna
and be enamored by Them.”

“Uneventful
means no catastrophes, no rain
crash or robber, no one
died today. Events,
changes, wars, who
needs it?

“We’ll get enough of that.
Record as much of the sameness
and peace as possible before
the revolution which is also
another sameness.

“Birth and death
Ever fresh is Krishna.
You don’t understand.”

“Forget
you ever had a date
with an angel,
forget the Miles tunes,
forget trying to enjoy
the vague concept of spirituality,
New Age dream explorers.

“But don’t forget Vishnu,
Krishna. If you are forgetting
in that way, hold on and
pray Krishna Krishna Krishna,
I’m fading and need Your
protection. Please accept
my song
my intended
good acts of bhakti.

“The clerk and the boss and
the ksatriya
and rash drivers of taxis
the henchman, punch man,
clever manipulator, all…
eligible for going back to
Godhead and entering the pastimes of Krishna, even in this life.”

“But the soul can fly
to God, and
He is Krishna, Society for
Krishna Consciousness we are starting,
join us,
I did.

“Soon part of it asking
others
‘Join us, at least on
Sundays when have
a love feast and before that
chanting in the grassy park.’”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 14:

“Please redeem me,
please guide me
Lord of the heart
Gopinatha
Govinda
Madhava, Lord of all names and rasas, as taught to me by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.”

“Some Prabhus fast totally
on this day [Ekadasi]. I say my
headaches are my tapasya,
and I don’t want more.”

I thank You for this day
and simply hope it counts
as offering to You.
Please give me what You
think is best and the
strength to endure all
in remembrance of
Govinda as he taught me
and us all.”

“Unless you are serious
nowhere you’ll go
in spiritual life.”

“Peace in my head
from the day, Lord
Krishna gave it.”

“Make it even in a diary
so interesting that they keep reading
and hear Krishna, Krishna. I want to
serve Krishna, they hear a doubt,
‘Is Krishna God?’ And then it’s
countered.
Yeah, but those who are devotees already know this.
Maybe. Let them hear.”

“Diary lines
in devotion means
always remember you’re meant
for death and next life,
remember Krishna, what you
learned:
You’re a disciple submissive.”

“Janmastami is happy
always with devotees
never apart in spirit
may I worship my Lord
always.”

“Don’t force too much emotional truth on me about my inadequacy, etc. – I have enough Cross to bear. But Providence may force me to do both – head pains and heart pains. Job of the Old Testament suffered from head to foot but remained faithful to God.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 15:

“He’s the Supreme Person from
whom all comes, the sastra
tells. He’s not subject to
error as we are. And He
lights the way with dances
and friends, intimate friends
who have passed all tests.

“Oh, if you could concentrate on
that.”

“Let Krishna enter
the natural way
demanding my love
and attention.”

“God in
all things, even I
faintly perceive.”

“He [Krishna] doesn’t neglect us,
though it may seem so.
He cares and waits until
we pay attention to the soul,
obey the guru and give up
chasing the prizes of
the world and listening
to misleaders.”

“I don’t know how to use
a computer – that doesn’t
make me better, wiser, purer,
but still it’s nice.

“To be illiterate and out of harm’s
way as the news broadcasts
the slaughter, and I pray
for a little thing – that I
can hear my own chanting of
God’s names? Maybe.
I pray…I cannot say.”

“In the days that remain
let no one be blind to
the truth of Krishna’s Gita
tell them and yourself
surrender to the King, sweet
Lord in three-fold bending form
and Radha’s blessing on us.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 16:

“In M.’s absence Jaya Govinda is
guarding the door. I’ll go
in, and tell him he can do as
he likes in Krishna consciousness.
He’s old enough as a man and has
done very good sankirtana
service. Why should he have to do
only what his ‘authorities’
tell him since they themselves
do what they want?”

“Lord, let us behold Your
face and lotus feet or form,
even by hearing it’s enough –
let us not forget You and
next life please let us
serve You.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 17:

“If you allow ignorance
then you’re in it yourself.
‘That’s why I holler at
my servants,’ said the guru,
‘So I and they don’t stay in tamas.’”

“O Lord, Your nature is
beautiful I am digging it that way
Christ came
Krishna came
They taught us to love God that’s
the purpose of life
People don’t want to hear His message.
We do it nicely.
Let’s jive not for sense grat
but dance in the halls of light and mangala-arati dark
candle at night
Karttika
Blackberries
I host
hold the host up
my prayer is to learn to the Love’s names
and convey this to others
varieties of delight
the bitterness
understood in that way
God is good
Prahlada teaches and
I am his, go in goodness.
Give me strength.”

“Singing for the faithful, the whole world may
become so
if I could bewitch them
please them
with incarnation of sound
music hath charms
and powers – like song for You
who knows the
emotions we feel are
due to Supreme One
may it please Him
may His will be appreciated
by us so we can say
it’s good
it’s Krishna in my life.

“The times when we thought we’d
died and finally did,
bluffed that we were pious to enjoy with
ourselves as center,
making a melody around oneself.
The world is a sorry place
but for the incarnations of the Lord
and his faithful servants,
mighty devotees and simple ones too.

“In a special place we
sing of God’s grace even
in simple ways as He entered
our lives major and minor
Hare Krishna chanting this morning
you can say thanks and write, the power
is yours for awhile,
every life thrown around
inter outer space went
the airplanes
thrown from Lord Nrsimha’s
power glory
amen.”

Rama Raya Prabhu:

Comments on a Srimad-Bhagavatam class by me at his harinama ashram:

Devotees asked Srila Prabhupada which of the nine processes of devotional service is book production, and he replied, “Arcanam.” He explained preparing the books is like decorating the deity.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained every possible trick of maya, the illusory energy of the Lord. Only such an advanced soul can understand the Lord’s intimate pastimes in the spiritual world.

If you are not this body, what body are you? That is the siddha-deha [the spiritual body of the perfect soul].

At the end of one of his collections of songs, Bhaktivinoda Thakura expresses his aspiration to relinquish his body at the soles of the feet of the devotees engaged in serving the divine couple, Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.

From his classes at his harinama ashram:

The devotees respect the soul of every one by giving them the opportunity for devotional service to the Lord.

There is no other yuga-dharma for anyone except to chant the holy name.

On a morning walk one devotee praised the beauty of the sunrise, but Srila Prabhupada said that we are not so much concerned with the beauty of the sunrise but rather the beauty of that person who created it.

Krishna is the soul of our soul and so pleasing Him is true self-satisfaction.

Distributing books is giving knowledge, the greatest gift.

This Krishna consciousness movement is not an isolated movement but is the personal movement of the Supreme Lord and is present in all places and all times.

Srila Prabhupada would often make the point that no matter how hard you try, you cannot make a permanent settlement in this world. This building was constructed 108 years ago in 1910, but where is the person who built it? Where are the people who lived in it in the 1920s and 1930s?

The appearance of Nrsimha to Chand Kazi, chastising him for trying to stop His sankirtana, indicates the non-difference of Lord Nrsimha and Lord Caitanya, the founder of the sankirtana movement.

An acarya can defeat all opposing philosophies.

We should think: How much did I control my mind? How much did I think of Krishna?

Our chanting of japa is a barometer of our spiritual life, thus we should complete our quota and chant without offenses.

Only after Lord Krishna saw everyone’s effort for a considerable time did Krishna agree to be bound by the ropes of Yashoda.

You can never figure out Krishna or the process of bhakti. There is no specific formula by which Krishna can be pleased.

When the friends of Krishna and Balarama begged for charity in the name of Krishna and Balarama, the brahmanas performing sacrifice completely ignored them, not even replying to their request, just like when we are distributing books, the people we speak to sometimes do not even look at us or respond to our words.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “If the devotees of the Lord do not preach Krishna consciousness, then who will do it?”

At the ardha–Kumbha mela when Hamsaduta asked Srila Prabhupada if it was true that one who bathed at that time would be liberated, Srila Prabhupada replied, “It is true, but we are not interested in liberation. We are interested in preaching Krishna consciousness. We are already liberated.”

The love of the disciple to serve his guru’s mission to his own guru is the highest love.

That which the guru gives is coming from the whole lineage of spiritual teachers. This is more authoritative than our whimsical mental concoctions.

Srila Prabhupada said that the Los Angeles deities Rukmini Dvarakadhisa communicated to him that if he went to India, the Lord would arrange he would get a temple hundreds of times better than that in Los Angeles. That was the Krishna Balarama temple which went up in just two years, much faster than Mayapur or Bombay.

When your desire is what Krishna wants, then the result is hundreds of times what you would attain on your own.

Because I am from New York, I can think that Srila Prabhupada came to New York to deliver me.

If one thinks that he can instruct the spiritual master, one at once becomes fallen.

Devotional service is so pleasing that it is its own reward. The pure devotee thus does not aspire for anything else.

Srila Prabhupada once explained that our process of Krishna consciousness is easy because we do not have to manufacture anything. We just have to follow our predecessors.

As the cars in the express lane all move fast, if you choose the express ashram, the brahmacari ashram, you have to move as fast as the others in the ashram.

When Krishna is convinced that we are serious and sincere, Krishna will lift the veil of maya. We will then see Krishna, and we will be very satisfied.

The New Age people are the modern Mayavadis.

Narottama Dasa Thakura was so powerful he was able to unite all the groups of followers of Lord Caitanya. Imagine someone powerful enough to unite all the different branches of the present-day Gaudiya Vaishnava community. Then you can get an idea of how powerful a person Narottama Dasa Thakura was.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura advised that his followers could become perfect by reading three books, Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-candrika by Narottama Dasa Thakura and Upadesamrita by Rupa Goswami.

Narottama Dasa Thakura’s spiritual ecstasy in his sankirtana at the famous Vaishnava festival at Kheturi was so powerful anyone who saw him would be immediately converted to love of Godhead.

Whoever hears the pastimes of Lord Caitanya will get the same benefit as those who were personally in His presence.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura placed a printing press on the altar of his temple in Mayapur along with Sri Sri Gandharvika Giridhari and the other deities to stress the importance of printing literature.

Ramesvara Prabhu asked Srila Prabhupada if book distribution is in the mood of the gopis who are always eager to tell people about Krishna. Srila Prabhupada replied that that was the correct understanding.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says the dressing as women by the sahajiyas is an insult to the truly advanced devotees and will destroy the sahajiyas who do it.

Not being complete atheists, people not being ready to give up sense gratification concoct their own ways of worship, and similarly minded people join with them.

For the Vraja devotees all the names of Vishnu refer to the original Krishna.

As we act as Krishna’s representatives by reminding people of their spiritual identity we stir up their dormant spiritual rasa and experience spiritual rasa ourselves thus protecting ourselves from falling down to the platform of material rasa.

When we pray “let me become a follower of the cowherd damsels of Vraja” we are praying to be a follower of the disciplic succession because that is processes of attaining that advanced state.

Bhakti is to serve the soul of our soul, and in fact, the soul of all souls, Sri Krishna.

Govinda dasi toured the world before meeting the devotees and concluded from seeing the great paintings and statues created in glorification of God that God must be a reality. How could such great personalities all be wrong?

Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is known as the emperor of Radha-kunda.

If one is serving Krishna day and night in one’s spiritual body one naturally becomes detached from the demands of the material body.

Krishna consciousness is to reveal our true identity which requires becoming free from all false identities.

A British official who saw Srila Prabhupada sign his name was impressed and said, “This is the signature of royalty.”

Our ashram at Govardhan is near the place where Krishna and his boyfriends set up a toll booth to tax the gopis.

We have come so far [in our spiritual life];we should not hold back.

In Jaiva Dharma the guru asks the disciple about his desire to serve Krishna, and the disciple replies, “I have read the Srimad-Bhagavatam a number of times and feel inspired to serve Krishna following Lalita Devi.” The guru said, “Say no more!” and he gave him his blessings. Another disciple wanted to serve Krishna in the mode of Subala, the leader of the cowherd boys. The guru was competent to instruct both disciples.

Radha Kunda is for the raganuga devotees [those in spontaneous love].

Just by pleasing the spiritual master one can attain one’s original spiritual body. Nothing else is required.

By serving the great acaryas, the spiritual masters in our lineage, we are serving the eternal residents of Vrindavan.

Vishnu-citta Prabhu:

Madhavacarya accepted ekadandi sannyasa while Ramanujacarya accepted tridandi sannyasa.

Madhavacarya took the very same eleven Upanishads the Mayavadis use to promote their theory of monism to establish Vaishnavism.

At the end of Madhavacarya’s life, he gave an amazing lecture on his favorite Upanishad, the Taittiriya Upanishad, and the demigods showered flowers, covering his body. When his disciples removed the flowers, Madhvacarya was nowhere to be found.

In the other sampradayas, preaching is not so much stressed as it is in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. In our movement, if you come to the Sunday feast for the first time, the devotees encourage you to come back next week and bring your friends.

The Arya Samaj have created a Hindu yajna to make people into Hindus. This is in response to the Christian preachers who have rites of conversion to Christianity.

Sannyasa is banned in Kali-yuga, but the Mayavadis ignore that and take sannyasa anyway. Vaishnavas take sannyasa for the purpose of serving the Lord with body, mind, and words.

Because Kala Krishna Das was not a sannyasi Lord Caitanya tolerated his offense of associating with women for sense gratification although with the sannyasi Chota Haridasa he was very strict, banishing him from His association for very slight association with a woman.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura got the sannyasa ceremony he used in his Gaudiya Math from the Ramanuja sampradaya. It was his desire to reestablish the Vaishnava order of sannyasa.

According the Gaudiya Vaishnava understanding if you do not know the name, form, qualities, pastimes, and abode of the Supreme Lord, you do not really understand the Supreme Lord.

We talk of linking ourselves with our source, understanding the source to be the Supreme Lord Krishna, and people like that because it sounds really impersonal. One guy I met on book distribution said, “I want to tap into ‘The Thing’”.

Why is there competition among those engaged in karma-kanda? There is only one Indra.

Why is there competition among those engaged in jnana-kanda? Everyone is trying to put forward the best speculation.

Comment by Natabara Gauranga Prabhu: In Vaishnavism the devotees compete to see who can give the most respect to others.

Due to our karma we may not be destined to gain spiritual association, but a pure devotee can change all that.

Because the scriptures themselves describe they were passed down orally before they were written, the academics cannot really give realistic dates for them. Also there is astronomical evidence that confirms the traditional dates.

Bhakti Vikasa Swami makes the point in a Vyasa-puja offering that although Srila Prabhupada showed the perfect example of a guru by simply repeating the message of his predecessors, his followers are realizing that it is actually hard to do that because one gains wealth and followers which prove to be a distraction to one’s simply repeating the spiritual message.

Respect for superiors, like one’s parents, is such an important part of Vedic culture that it is not given up even when one takes sannyasa, the renounced order of life. Lord Caitanya showed great respect for his mother even after he took sannyasa, agreeing to reside not so far away, so she could get news of Him. Adi Sankara visited his mother when she was about to die and chanted the holy name in her ear and sent her to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. It is interesting that Sankara, although preaching Mayavadi impersonalist philosophy, sent his mother to the abode of the Lord, thus revealing his heart.

Sariraka means the essence of everything.

Within each of the Puranas, whether they be of goodness, passion, and ignorance, there are portions in each of the three modes. Thus even Puranas for those in the mode of ignorance have some verses in the mode of goodness which thus promote the worship of Lord Vishnu, and therefore, we sometimes quote them.

We have to feel a lacking if a day goes by and we have not heard the spiritual philosophy of Srila Prabhupada’s books if we hope to advance spiritually.

When you understand the Mayavadi philosophy in the Vedic culture, then you can spot it in other traditions.

Comment by Jayesa Prabhu: Actually Sankara did the Vaishnavas a favor by presenting his Mayavadi philosophy very systematically point by point, so they can defeat it point by point.

Nothing Vyasadeva said is false. It is just bewildering so Narada, his guru, criticized him.

Rev. John F. Endler (follower of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami):

From Preface to Poems from Every Day, Just Write, Volume 1:

“Acceptance of limitations is an act of surrender before the Lord, hardly a sign of weakness, or lack of motivation or imagination as the world commonly teaches. Ultimately to accept one’s limitations is to acknowledge that I am not God and that I will never be God, an act of humility that defines the devotee of the Lord.”

“To acknowledge one’s limits is an act of courage, to accept one’s limits is an act of surrender. It is to this surrender that Satsvarupa dasa Goswami invites his readers.”

Evelyn Underhill (Catholic mystic and writer):

“After all it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.”

-----

On days like Halloween and New Year's Eve when everyone is in a party mood, many people appreciate and enjoy interacting with the harinama parties. In taking advantage of such events we are following Lord Caitanya and His associates as this verse indicates:

patrapatra-vicara nahi, nahi sthanasthana
yei yanha paya, tanha kare prema-dana


“In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.23)