Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Travel Journal#5.5: North Florida Harinamas and Gaura Purnima Festivals

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 5
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2009, part one)
North Florida Harinamas and Gaura Purnima Festivals
(Sent from Pula, Croatia, on July 7, 2009)


Spring Break Harinamas
Notes on Mahatma Prabhu’s Japa Seminar
Insights from Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, Brahmatirtha Prabhu,
Kalakantha Prabhu, Mother Nanda, and Others

Where I Was and What I Was Doing

The first half of March had different nice features. Bhaktin Jena chanted with me on the campus at FSU in Tallahassee, and it was nice to have an assistant there for at least one of the several times I chanted there. A ranting Christian was in a nearby spot, and some people appreciated our more positive presentation. There was another nice First Friday harinama and then a Gaura Purnima Sunday feast program in Tallahassee. The next week was spring break, and I was worried that my program of harinama sankirtana for five days a week would vanish as the Krishna Lunch program I chanted at took a week off, but a lot of great friends helped me keep it going, and I want to tell you about that. Gaura Purnima in Alachua was great with wonderful bhajanas during the abhiseka, especially by Bada Hari Prabhu, and the devotee association and feast were made me very happy. Sveta Svarupa Prabhu was enthusiastic to bathe the Gainesville Gaura Nitai Deities as well, on that occasion, and led some friends on a japa walk to the market to get the required materials. Several devotees also cooked a feast in Gainesville for the Deities lunch. It was wonderful for me to see the spontaneous enthusiasm the Gainesville devotees had to have a nice festival for Lord Gaura on His appearance day.

Spring Break Harinamas

I found that University of North Florida (UNF) at Jacksonville has their spring break the week after UF, so I decided to try to chant there for some time during our break. Bhakta Tim, a great harmonium player and singer, kindly drove me and Sveta Svarupa Prabhu, a natural Bengali bhajana man, to UNF and Bhakta Derek, who is learning the mrdanga and lives in St. Augustine, met us there. We chanted for over two hours. One boy sat down and played the djembe we had brought for a while, enjoying the experience. We always meet nice people there. Prema Sindhu Prabhu’s wife and her friend cooked a very nice lunch for the devotees afterwards at their place in Jacksonville.

On Wednesday, I decided to try Stavapriya Prabhu’s suggestion to try harinama at the Farmer’s Market. Bhaktin Kelly kindly gave us a ride, and we played in a place where we would not interfere with the existing entertainment. The person in charge said he liked our singing, but that it was a little too loud for the vendors, so we toned it down. Some people were appreciative and because it was a positive experience as a whole, we decided to make it a part of our weekly program.

On Thursday, Bhaktin Kelly, who was interviewing people for her paper on Hare Krishna dress, decided she would take me and Sveta to Jacksonville so we could chant again and she could interview people from another location. We chanted again for almost three hours, with Derek as before. Kalakantha Prabhu’s daughter is attending UNF next semester and worries about finding a vegetarian roommate, but in that one day, I spoke to four vegetarian students on the campus! At UNF, we are more a curiosity than UF where they already know who we are and have decided how much we fit into their life, thus more people come up to us when we sing. Prema Sindhu Prabhu’s wife made a great lunch of kitri, with its friends, yogurt and papadam, for our chanting party afterwards.

On Friday, there were the usual Alachua Friday night harinama and our late night Gainesville harinama, and on Saturday was the several hours of chanting at the Tallahassee Rainbow Gathering I mentioned in a previous issue. In addition to the harinamas I attended, Tim and Kelly and their friends went to St. Augustine Beach on Saturday, and they chanted bhajanas for quite sometime as well. On the whole, I felt very victorious that we were able have so much harinama on spring break week, when our usual program was suspended. I felt then, and continue to feel even now, very indebted to all my friends mentioned above for assisting me in my endeavor to follow, at least to an insignificant degree, Lord Caitanya’s instruction to promote the chanting of Hare Krishna in every town and village of this world. I hope they all become very dear to Lord Caitanya as a result of their auspicious activities of assisting His harinama sankirtana mission.

Notes on Mahatma Prabhu’s Japa Seminar

Ideas for good japa:
Chant in a sacred place:
In the temple with devotees who chant softly and intently.
With the Deities

Although we can all list ways we can improve our japa, we do not always practice doing these things. Why not? On some level, we do not care enough. We do not take our relationship with Krishna seriously enough.

Before I chant, I should reflect on why I am chanting—to awaken my relationshp with Krishna.

After I chant, I should reflect on what went well, what went badly, and what can be improved.

Good japa habits are important because habit can work for us against us. Chanting habit improvement begins with awareness of our present habits. Psychologists say it takes thirty days to create a new habit.

“You should listen to every word of the mantra because the chanting is the essence of our philosophy.”

To be successful is easier than to fail, because a successful person is one who tries in the right way.

Chanting is not just a process; it is a relationship. It’s me and Krishna.

The quality of our chanting depends on our feeling, Srila Prabhupada remarks, in commenting on Queen Kunti’s prayers. Feeling is the essence, heart is the essense, relationship is the essence. “Krishna wants me to chant well, so I am going to do it for him.”

Our strategy should be to make excellent japa normal.

Create an internal sacred space, a world where we and the holy name are together, and make a commitment to the holy name.

Insight from Lectures

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami (March 5, 2009):

Srila Prabhupada said that the secret of keeping the devotees enthused is to give them a challenge.

We come to this world to take. By giving back, by performing sacrifice, we make up for this.

At the end of his life, Yudhisthira Maharaja mentally placed the elements of his body back into their original causes.

As conditioned souls we have a tendency to lord it over people, and because the varnasrama system is hierarchical one can easily fall into using one’s social position to exploit others. Because we have divine sanction for hierarchy, one can justify one’s exploitation. Every hierarchy is potentially degrading because of the tendency to lord it over material nature.

Q: I thought that the ksatriyas do not take sannyasa, only the brahmanas.
A: In reality, some ksatriyas retired without their wives and thus were factually sannyasis.

Q: How can you know if you can do more Krishna or if you are doing as much as you can.
A: Try to do more and see if you can maintain healthy body, mind, and soul.

Chalk out a plan on Gaura Purnima for the year.

If your groove becomes too deep, it becomes a rut.

Brahmatirtha Prabhu:

Bhakti Tirtha Swami explained that there are two actions regarding love. One can seek love or one can give love.

In varnasrama, the ksatriyas (members of the administrative class) set the boundaries for the vaisyas (capitalists). The ksatriyas check with the brahmanas (intellectuals and priests) before acting.

The systems of government that are popular there in varnasrama: socialism for the sudras, capitalism for the vaisyas, monarchy for the ksatriyas, and anarchy for the brahmanas.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

Modern governments assume economic development will satisfy people. Money is required, but it is not the key to happiness.

Our neck beads rest nicely on our necks without out scattering because of the thread stringing them together. When we neglect Krishna, who is the thread on which everything rests, chaos results. When Krishna is in the center, everything is in focus. When He is not in the center, for whatever the reason, disorder results.

On voting: Some say by voting that we will be implicated in the law of karma. But in a democracy, if you do not vote, you will also be implicated in the karma of the leaders. Thus it is better to vote and choose the better candidate.

Mother Nanda:

There is no impediment to spiritual progress for one who endeavors sufficiently. Krishna reciprocates with Arjuna because of his devotion and will similarly reciprocate with us. We have to take the trouble to apply what we hear in class to our daily life.

The vastness of the Vedic literature is to reach out to the living entities who are bewildered by such a variety of illusion.

Sometimes in the beginning with think that our relationship is with Krishna and our guru, and everyone else is just in the way.

Arjuna had to struggle with so many things, including his mind, although he was a pure devotee.

Q: How do you help someone in Krishna consciousness who makes the same mistake over and over.
A: Remember (1) Krishna is unlimitedly patient and (2) You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.


In illusion, people think that wealth will make them happy. The United States is the richest nation but the largest consumer of anti-depressant pills.


Kelly was interviewing people for a paper on Hare Krishna dress. She found to her surprise many people in the Gainesville area, especially the older people, respect the devotees for their sincere glorification of God.


hare krishna hare krishna
krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare

iti sodasakam namnam
kali kalmasa nasanam
natah parataropayah
sarva vedesu drsyate

“These sixteen names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, destroy all the bad effects of this age of Kali. In the Vedas you will not find a more sublime process of religion in this age, than the chanting of these names.” (Kali-santarana Upanisad)