Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Seeing Friends Coming to Mayapur

Today I met some Vaishnava youths I knew from Alachua. I talked with Arjuna about getting him in touch with the disciples of Bhakti Tirtha Swami here as he was attached to Bhakti Tirtha Swami, and I reminisced with Dattatreya about how nice it is on the Polish festival tour. I also met a devotee from Russia I knew from the tour. And I met Janananda Prabhu, a Prabhupada disciple from Vrndavana who gives thoughtful classes and who will be teaching a couple of seminars. The devotees always say I look so happy, and I explain it as a result of seeing all my friends from America , Europe, and other parts of India come here to Mayapur Dham. I also explain how Mayapur is my favorite temple because of the beauty of the Deities and the enthusiasm for chanting, especially during and after the evening arati.

Notes on Romapada Swami's class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.1.14

Because of Dhrtarastra's bodily attachment he could not hear Vidura's repeatedly given good instructions. Dhrtarastra was an elevated person, but because of the influence of his son, Duryodhana, and by the influence of Sakuni, he acted wrongly. Vidura was so much respected that Bhismadeva, who was very much his senior, consulted him. Vidura recommended the Gandhari marry Dhrtarastra, Bhisma agreed, and Sakuni drove Gandhari and Dhrtarastra to Dhrtarastra's home after the marriage. Later, after Pandu died untimely and his wife, Madri, entered his funeral pyre, Duryodhana and his brothers harassed the Pandavas. Krishna , the eternal well-wisher of his devotees, the Pandavas, was concerned and sent Akrura to investigate the situation in Hastinapura. Kunti, her eyes full of tears, inquired from Akrura if Krishna had plans to protect the Pandavas, and he and Vidura reassured her. After observing the situation for three months, Akrura advised Dhrtarastra:

(1) Do not act on the platform of the ignorant bodily conception of life by differentiating between the sons of Pandu and your own sons. Each life one has a different set of sons, so one should not be so attached to “one's own.”

(2) You should act out of virtue.

Dhrtarastra praised the wise and ambrosial words of Akrura but said that due to attachment to his sons those words could not remain in his heart and he could not carry them out. He was content to let whatever would happen as a result of that happen as ordained by fate. This failure to take responsibility for his actions resulted in his downfall, and we must be careful not to helplessly act according to our material attachments, neglecting higher principles, or that will also be our downfall.

That Dhrtarastra wanted a kingdom for his sons was not the problem. Dhruva also wanted a kingdom, but Dhruva went about it in the proper way, by asking the sage Narada how he could rightfully obtain it. Dhrtarastra, however, cast righteousness aside to further his ambitions and thus his sons were destroyed. Because Dhruva was respectful to Krishna and his devotee Narada, his ambition was achieved, but because Dhrtarastra disrespected Krishna and his devotees, the Pandavas, his party was destroyed.

Dhrtarastra later reflected on Akrura's advice and inquired from Bhisma and Vidura about their opinion. He decided that since Yudhisthira deserved the kingdom and the citizens wanted him to be king, he would perform a ceremony making Yudhisthira the incumbent king.

Meanwhile Duryodhana met with Karna and Sakuni. Karna thought that they should fight the Pandavas and take the kingdom rightfully by conquering them, but Sakuni, seeing how the Pandavas easily conquered King Drupada, who had previously conquered Duryodhana's party, was afraid they would lose and thus wanted to use unfair means to deprive them of the kingdom. Outraged, Karna left the meeting, and Sakuni revealed to Duryodhana a nefarious plan to get the Pandavas out of Hastinapura and then kill them, explaining how they could do this without objections by Bhisma and Dronacarya.

Dhrtarastra, because of his sons ambitions, worried what they would think of him making Yudhisthira the incumbent king, and thus he consulted Sakuni, who engaged a materialistic so-called brahmana to advise Dhrtarastra to kill the Pandavas. King Pandu had taken good care of his blind elder brother Dhrtarastra, and the thought of killing Pandu's sons was not at all palatable to him. However, Duryodhana knew how attached Dhrtarastra was to himself, and thus he threatened to commit suicide if Yudhisthira became king. He further argued that Dhrtarastra and all his sons would have no position if Yudhisthira became king and the whole situation would be miserable for them. In this way, Dhrtarastra's mind was changed, and he heard the plans Sakuni made for getting rid of the Pandavas, and let them be carried out.

The moral of the story is that because the Pandavas took shelter of Krishna, they were not affected by bad association, but because Dhrtarastra had no such shelter he became a victim of bad association and was destroyed. Actually we can always trace destruction to some bad association in the past. Thus we should always follow the example of the Pandavas and escape bad association by taking shelter of Krishna.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Nama-hatta Program in Baduria

We went to a nama-hatta program in a town called Baduria, only three and a half hours away! I brought my computer so I could accomplish some of my regular work as well. After a solid breakfast of rice, dal, and sabji, we went on harinama for just over two hours. We went through the town to the outskirts and then back through the town to the outskirts on the other side. Gaura Nama Prabhu engaged some of the devotees in distributing a Bengali book about Lord Caitanya's life and teachings and many were sold. The event must have been well advertised because we were greeted nicely wherever we went. Some people washed the road ahead of us with buckets of water, some even splashed water on the devotees' feet, others threw sweets made with sugar which the kids madly tried to grab, others, including a six-year-old girl, blew conch shells, and some brought rice, vegetables, and coins as donations. The harinama ended at the site of our pandal program in the middle of the town. After a sizable lunch of three sabjis, dal, chapattis, rice, papadam, chutney, and rasgullas, we took a break for an hour and an half or so, and then chanted Hare Krishna on the stage at the pandal for over an hour. We encouraged the attendees to chant along. The devotees from foreign countries introduced themselves telling where we came from. The places included America, England, Finland, Italy, and Israel. All the devotees were really enlivened by doing the program. As we left, many people smiled, embraced us, touched our feet, shook our hands, and in this way made it clear they appreciated our presentation. We were given puris and sabji for dinner on the way back, which I gave away in charity. One has to guard against overeating on programs like this!