Tuesday, April 15, 2008

travel journal#4.7: London

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 4, No. 7

By Krishna-kripa das

  (April 2008, part one) 


 (Sent from London, England, on 4/15/08)



Where I Am and What I Am Doing


I am still in London doing three hours of harinama almost every day. I also give a few lectures a week, between the Bhagavatam class, Gita class, and lunch program lecture. Amazingly I got to give a two-hour lecture on Lord Rama on his appearance day at midday and lead half of the two-hour harinama in his honor. My health was getting better but suffered a setback, as I ate too much at Rama's feast.



Devotional Notes


   Once Dr. Patel of Bombay asked Srila Prabhupada if "Rama" in the Hare Krishna mantra referred to Lord Ramacandra. Srila Prabhupada explained that if Dr. Patel was devoted to Lord Ramacandra, he could take it that way. When Dr. Patel left, Srila Prabhupada told his disciples that actually it refers to Lord Balarama, but there is no difference between Lord Balarama and Lord Ramacandra. Lord Balarama is the source of all incarnations, and therefore the source of the other Ramas, Lord Ramacandra and Lord Parasurama.—Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Maharaja


Gaura Prabhu, disciple of Srila Prabhupada, once gave a Bhagavad-gita to the librarian at the largest Indian reservation in Canada. The next year, when he visited the library again, the librarian explained how a Christian minister outside the reservation was looking for a book on Hinduism to teach classes about other religions at his church, and he borrowed Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is for that purpose. We can never guess what will happen when we distribute Srila Prabhupada's books.



Harinama in London


Krishna-vidhi Prabhu is expert in encouraging the people we meet to participate. We met to groups of students on field trips in London. In each group, Krishna-vidhi got several students to dance along with us. Several also took photos. By Krishna's grace, I had two flyers left, one for each group.


One day a group of eight or ten teenaged friends decided to hang out by our harinama party. Two of the girls imitated our dancing. Then the two devotee ladies from Finland encouraged the two to come join with them and they danced in a circle for some time. Then each lady linked arms with one of the girls and swung her around. Finally, the two devotee ladies swung each other around and as did the two girls. Then the girls saw our Hare Krishna maha-mantra sign and without any inducement by us began to sing along, finally getting it down after a few attempts. We smiled and nodded at them to encourage them. I was amazing how they must have chanted for five minutes or so during the twenty minutes they spent with us. Sometimes also they would move in and out, following the devotee dancers. I was impressed. Such enthusiasm to chant for more than just a few mantras is very rare. And most people do not spend as long as twenty minutes with us. I was praying they would get some special mercy from Krishna.


Once day, Krishna-vidhi asked me to lead, and my favorite tune came to mind, which is rare for me. It has at least three parts and is difficult to sing, going from the lower end of the musical scale to the higher end. Although I like it, I cannot sing it very well, but I had hardly heard it at all the whole time I was here in London and really missed it. In Mayapur, I would hear it at least once a week, and they like it at the Hungary farm. Instead of playing karatalas, I just danced and passed out flyers, as I sang with considerable delight just to hear the tune again. Krishna Vidhi said one lady came across the street to watch and listen to the kirtana, and Madhukari Dasi sold her a book. I was happy to participate it that.


One day an older lady, passing our chanting party, said with disdain, "Get a job!" Tired of hearing such insensitive, ignorant talk for so many years, I turned in her direction, and shouted, "We have a job, and it is better than yours!" Whether she heard or understood, I do not know, but I felt at least the truth should be asserted. Distributing spiritual knowledge is the best service to God and humanity.


Sunday Feast Conversation


   At the Sunday feast, I lamented as the new person who I planned to talk with during the feast decided to serve out instead of eat. I thought I could pray to Krishna that I might sit next to a new another person I can talk to about Krishna consciousness. But then I thought, "Why should I bother? He knows I want to talk to a new person." There was also a subtle feeling that if I pray, and he doesn't send somebody I might become angry with Him, which is certainly inauspicious. So didn't worry about it. As it turned out I sat next to a primary school teacher, who teaches religion among other things. He came for the first time by the advice of a friend. He liked the prasadam. He noticed we Krishna's like to preach more than the other Hindus. I explained we like to give spiritual knowledge to benefit people. Not necessarily that we are into converting people. Krishna says in the Gita one who shares His message with others is most dear to Him. He asked if there was a word for that. I said, "Pracar", the Bengali word for preach which had coincidentally appeared in the last two morning classes on Caitanya-caritamrita.


   He had a doubt about how the holy book of such nonviolent people could take place on the occasion of a war, and with Krishna advocating that Arjuna fight. I explained one must understand the entire context from Mahabharata. Arjuna and his brothers were rightful heirs to the throne, but their cousins tried to poison them, tried burning them by setting fire to their house, and finally rigged a dice match in which Arjuna and his brothers lost the whole kingdom. They even tried to strip Arjuna's wife naked in the government assembly. They were clearly not qualified for government office, and Krishna as the Lord, wanted the rulers to be competent people who would look after everyone's spiritual and material benefit. Krishna Himself went on a peace mission, showed his universal form of great opulence, and requested some land for Arjuna and his brothers. His cousins thought Krishna was merely bluffing them with some magic and declared they would not give them as much land as fits on the head of a pin. It was in that situation, that Krishna induced Arjuna to fight to reinstate righteous government. Furthermore, warriors on both sides, who died in the presence of Krishna attained spiritual perfection, which for the demoniac ones would never have happened otherwise.


   Brian, the new guest, asked what it was like after the war, and I told him that Arjuna and his brothers ruled the world and everyone prospered by their competent guidance.


   He told me he plans to visit India in August and spend some time in an ashrama. I mentioned about Chowpatty, and the self-sufficient farm near Belgaum. He clearly had a nice time said he expected to come back, and I told him about the restaurant and lunch program, if ever he is in downtown London during the week or Saturday. I urged he take advice from us on his trip because we often go to India, and at the very least we can keep him from getting misled. I get him my card. As he left, I reminded him about the free book the devotees here in London kindly give to first time people. The nice exchange with the guest made my day.


   Three or four new guests came to the lunch program when I gave class. It was nice for me since I got to review the whole philosophy. One young lady inquired if there was a secular version of perfection, where one cares for the needs of other people without so much spiritual focus. I explained that as an occupation, she could do welfare work if she wished, but that is not a substitute for spiritual service. Unless we serve God our soul will not be satisfied, and unless we engage other people in God's service their souls will not be satisfied. If the son of a rich man leaves home and spends all his money, we can help him by giving some shelter or food, but the best help is to reconnect him with his father. Then all his needs will be met in one stroke. Similarly, if we connect people with God, He will take care of all their needs far better than we can. Furthermore, Krishna says those who teach His message to others are most dear to Him.





mrtyus canicchatam nasid

  rame rajany adhoksaje


"When Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the King of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it." (SB 9.10.53)


All these facilities existed because of Lord Ramacandra's presence as the King of the entire world. A similar situation could be introduced immediately, even in this age called Kali, the worst of all ages. It is said, kali-kale nama-rupe krishna-avatara: Krishna descends in this Kali-yuga in the form of His holy name—Hare Krishna, Hare Rama. If we chant offenselessly, Rama and Krishna are still present in this age. The kingdom of Rama was immensely popular and beneficial, and the spreading of this Hare Krishna movement can immediately introduce a similar situation, even in this Kali-yuga.