Monday, March 31, 2008

travel journal#4.6: Chowpatty and London

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 6

By Krishna-kripa das

  (March 2008, part two) 

Chowpatty and London

 (Sent from London, England, on 3/31/08)



Where I Am and What I Am Doing


After a great Gaura Purnima in Chowpatty, I came to London to do harinama. I love our London temple, with its lunch program, harinama program, and evening program. This place is really alive. Being a central location, many sannyasis also come through here. Externally speaking, I am worse off because I got sick due to the cold. I have to just tolerate it, or vow to never live in a place where it gets cold, at least during the season I am there.


Devotional Tips


Lord Krishna taught devotional service theoretically, but as Lord Caitanya He wanted to demonstrate by His own example how to be fully absorbed in thoughts of Krishna. Our surrender is engaging our mind in Krishna, becoming His devotee, worshiping Him, and offering obeisances to Him (Bg. 18.65). Anyone who chants with firm faith in the process Lord Caitanya has given can attain success.—Niranjana Swami, Gaura Purnima lecture, Chowpatty


   Gaura Purnima is the greatest of holy days. It is the Deity in the form of day.—Radhanatha Swami


   What is the qualification to get the mercy of Lord Caitanya? The qualification is simply to realize one's fallen position.—Niranjana Swami


   The value of a moment's association with a devotee is more valuable than material prosperity. Better one moment of full consciousness than a life inexperienced by years in this world. How does one get this one moment of full consciousness? By one moment's association with a devotee. The Lord incarnates as the holy name, but the devotees make the holy name available to others. The holy name can give the fruit of love of God. We simply have to desire it. This Krishna consciousness movement is for the cultivation of the desire for love of God (Bg. 12.9). By hearing and chanting the seed of love of God is watered. One must hear from the mouths of Vaishnavas. Otherwise we cannot get that seed. The most elevated conjugal love of God, Lord Caitanya came to give, in the form of the holy name.—Niranjana Swami


   If some calls us Prabhu [master], we should think, "This person is so elevated that he can see even me as Prabhu." We should not think, "Everyone is calling me Prabhu. It must be true."—Radhanatha Swami


   We should not think that a beggar is begging, and I am giving. We should think I am begging for service, and this person [appearing as a beggar] is giving me an opportunity [to serve]. —Radhanatha Swami


   The consciousness with which we serve the agents of the holy name is the consciousness we serve the holy name. —Radhanatha Swami


   To the degree we are happy to see others getting Krishna's blessings, Krishna will be inclined to bestow His blessings upon us.—Radhanatha Swami


   If you say everything is God's but you use everything for yourself, then you are thinking that you are God. —Radhanatha Swami


Notes from Jayadvaita Swami's classes:


   Better not to take a vow than to not to keep one. Then at least we will be considered honest.


   Bhisma vowed to be a lifelong celibate not in front of the Lord but in front of a fisherman, but he kept his vow.


   Why does a cockroach move when you try to step on it? He wants to live forever. Not that he thinks, "I have lived long enough, you can kill me."


Q: Why are people attracted to spiritual life, and why people not attracted?

A: We are spiritual beings by nature so spiritual life is attractive to us, but we have been conditioned by many births in the material world and therefore we also have a tendency to remain absorbed in material life and neglect it.


Madhudvisa Prabhu Remembers Srila Prabhupada


Visiting the site of the Ratha-yatra cart construction, Srila Prabhupada offered obeisances to cart saying, "The Ratha cart is as good as the Deity."


I can see that you feel frustrated and confused and because you are in the material world, it is not a bad thing that you are feeling frustrated and confused. But do not think that by taking shelter of drugs that things will improve, rather you will become more frustrated and more confused. Better you take shelter of chanting Hare Krishna and taking Krishna prasadam. Then you will be happy.—Summary of  Srila Prabhupada's 1970 Ratha-yatra lecture in San Francisco


You never knew how Srila Prabhupada would answer a question because he spoke for the benefit of the particular individual.


Srila Prabhupada's mood was, "Whenever someone comes to the temple, I feel he has been sent by my Guru Maharaja, so I must take care of him."



Darshan with Radhanatha Swami


Karuna Sindhu Prabhu invited me to a darshan with Radhanatha Swami. He and a friend were reporting to Maharaja on their program of cultivating foreign tourists. They had different strategies including taking the foreigners on tours of a few notable sites in Mumbai, ending with the Radha-Gopinath temple—Gandhi, Gardens, and God's House. Many people enjoyed the tours and some developed some interest in Krishna consciousness. Radhanatha Swami mentioned that both Giriraja and Sridhara Swamis had said that one of Srila Prabhupada main desires for Mumbai was to have a program for cultivating the foreign tourists. Because of other extensive projects in India, practically no one had done anything in this area, and Radhanatha Swami was excited about his disciples' preliminary results and plans for the future, which include tours of the devotees Mumbai food distribution program and farm in the country.

   I thanked Maharaja for the festival, saying, "You are the only person who can put on such a nice Gaura Purnima festival that people will feel happy leaving Mayapur to come to it." Mother Shyama Sakhi, one of the Bhakti-sastri teachers in Mayapur, in queue with her husband for the next darshan, voiced a loud agreement. (About nine of us Mayapur residents had come to Chowpatty for the festival this year.) Maharaja kindly gave me an incredible beautiful picture of Radha-Gopinath and Lalita and Visakha which I certainly do not deserve. It is a rare shot, as beautiful as the Deities Themselves. He also gave us all cookies. We are always indebted to Radhanatha Swami who is the personification of affectionate exchanges with devotees. I said I hoped to come back when Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami visits Chowpatty next winter. Radhanatha Maharaja fondly recalled how Satsvarupa Maharaja had enjoyed his visit to Chowpatty this year.


Harinama in London


Each harinama is unique, most having some memorable features. The first day, a young Indian attendee of the temple, coming from work, dressed in coat and tie, joined us for the last hour of harinama. He played the drum and suggested some melodies. After the two-hour event was over, he was so invigorated he insisted we continue another fifteen minutes. He later said Janananda Swami once told him he should go on harinama whenever he had the chance. The next day, Madhukari Dasi, a young and enthusiastic disciple of Tripurari Swami, joined our party and convinced one girl to chant, engaged three people in dance, and distributed eight of Srila Prabhupada's books. Also taking part was Srinivasin, a Chowpatty attendee, probably in his thirties, wearing a suit but with prominent tilaka, here in London for two days on business. There were five of us, and we all took turns leading. Everyone participated so nicely together, it was very blissful. The day after, Victor from Portugal come out to resolve his doubt, "How could anyone stay out on harinama for two hours?" His realization was that as time goes on, it becomes more and more enjoyable, and to see the positive reactions of the public gives one inspiration to continue. One young Canadian man, attracted by our party, held his cell phone up to the mouths of both the lead singer and then a responder as they chanted "Hare Krishna." As he was leaving, he said, "I love you guys! You make the city of London happy!"

   Saturday night is especially lively. A group of six teenaged black girls delighted in moving to the rhythm of the kirtana for a while. Then Superman and a band of five male and two females wearing leotards in the chilly London evening, danced for five minutes. Spectators found that scene particularly humorous. I wished I had a camera. Other people also took great pleasure in dancing with us. That evening I passed out a couple Higher Tastes and many restaurant invitations.


Conversation with Traveling


   I talked to a Moslem man for an hour or so while waiting for my flight to London from Mumbai. I asked him if he offered his five prayers a day to Allah. He said did. He had familiar misconceptions of Hinduism that I tried to correct, that (1) Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are all on the same level, that (2) Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, and the (3) the goal is to merge our spiritual self with the Supreme Spirit. I explained that we have an eternal relationship with God in the spiritual world, as we have relationships with other people in this world. For example, Arjuna is Krishna's friend and Radha is Krishna's beloved. I asked about the situation of those who attain perfection in Islam. He talked about gardens and beautiful girls, and it reminded me of the situation of heaven but not the kingdom of God. Srila Prabhupada has given us such a wonderful goal, to take part in pastimes of love with the Supreme Lord Krishna in one of five completely satisfying relationships. What a wonderful opportunity!