Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel Journal#5.6: Gainesville and the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 6
By Krishna-kripa das 
(March 2009, part two)
Gainesville and the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra
(Sent from Berlin on 7/26/09)


Tallahassee Ratha-yatra

Insights from Hridayananda Dasa GoswamiMother Ananga Manjari
Brahmatirtha PrabhuChaturatma Prabhu
Kalakantha PrabhuLaksmi Nrsimha Prabhu
Sesa Prabhu, and Others

Where I Was and What I Was Doing

I was in Gainesville doing my service of chanting on the UF campus for the second half of March, and then we took a van up to Tallahassee for the Ratha-yatra the final Saturday of the month. During the end of March we had a visit from Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu who is doing college preaching in New York. They do three kinds of programs at a college there: a vegetarian cooking class, a sharing group, and a Bhagavad-gita class. When the people come to the cooking classes, they learn of the other programs. The sharing program involves students discussing different spiritually related topics with prasadam always available in a self-serve buffet style as soon as they arrive. We hope we gained some ideas from him we can use to improve our programs for the students in Gainesville. Vaishnava youth Gauranga Kisore, our old friend, now doing college programs at San Jose also came for a visit. He gave an evening class over an hour long and made philosophical points in an interesting way with PowerPoint. He told our congregation that there was no time for the post-lecture kirtana, but when the devotees and students both insisted, he agreed to ten-minute kirtana that went for twenty minutes or half-hour, surprising him by the jolly participation of everyone there. I felt happy to see that our congregation of devotees, students, and guests are developing love for harinama sankirtana, the only sacrifice recommended by theVedas for this age, and which has the power to award one with full development of love for God.

Tallahassee Ratha-yatra

The Tallahassee Ratha-yatra is the Hare Krishna contribution to the Springtime Tallahassee Parade, usually the last Saturday in March. We have been doing it so many years, and you can tell from the reactions of the crowd that they are very happy to see us there. Once when we didn’t fill out the forms in time to be in the parade, and we distributed books instead, three people who understood we were Hare Krishnas expressed dismay that we were not singing and dancing in the parade with our Jagannath cart. Another year, immediately after the parade, we did harinama to the beginning, and some people told us they liked our float the best. This year, we had about thirty devotees participating in the parade kirtana. For Bhakta Alex, who assisted Sivam in making the cart ready, it was his first Ratha-yatra. I encouraged the devotees to print a good number of invitations so we could distribute them to interested people. For me, there is always a tension between dancing and distributing invitations, so I did some of each, and sometimes both at once! stributing invitations, so I did some of each, and sometimes both at once! Our Ratha-yatra won the first place in competition for the Judge’s Choice, an award for the category of clubs and miscellaneous entries in the parade. 

As we did the past few years, we did harinama through a very crowded street festival after the parade. Many devotees participated in that as well, despite the constant threat of rain. I felt very happy because the friends who came with me in the van from Gainesville and Alachua really added a lot to that harinama. Sveta Svarupa Prabhu sang nicely for almost an hour, and Mother Ali Krishna and her friend, Mother Chandrabhaga, danced nicely in front of the party. I distributed invitations. Not only that, but they all stayed at the temple after the feast and sang bhajanas along with some of the local devoteesculminating in the beautiful “Jagannathastakam,” the words of which we downloaded from the internet, since it is not in the main song book. Daru Brahma Prabhu had a great feast for the devotees after the Ratha-yatra and harinama. He always has plenty of preparations that vegans can eat as well as vegetarians, and everything tastes delicious.

Insight from Lectures

[Note: Usually I just include lectures from the dates the journal covers. In this case, having a little more space, I also included undated lecture notes from my stay in Gainesville this winter and spring and some I foolishly forgot to enter earlier.]

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami:

There are an infinite variety of pure devotees.

The Krishna in your heart is your Krishna and is only there for you, just as when Krishna expands Himself into different expansions as a husband for a particular queen or a companion for a particular gopi.

Simultaneous oneness and difference pervades all aspects of our life. In a healthy relationship, there is a balance between oneness and difference.

Our final duty is to be enchanted about Krishna and to communicate to others that Krishna is our real leader.

Krishna’s devotees sometimes appear to act improperly (1) because they are not perfected and (2) as part of a pastime to show real life situations.

Some say we cannot see God, but why would God create beings and then hide himself from them?

Krishna is not God playing like a cowherd boy, but a cowherd boy playing like God.

In the spiritual world, there is no wish to cause trouble to another.

Q [by Brahmatirtha Prabhu]: How do we separate out the individuality that is a result of our conditioned nature and that which is part of our spiritual identity?

A: It is dependent on our motivation, and we have to introspect and consult senior Vaishnavas.

Q: What does “I am not the doer” mean?

A: You are not your body, so what is done by your body is not done by you.

Mother Ananga Manjari:

If you follow the recipe, the preparation will turn out nicely, similarly if you follow the practice of sadhana-bhakti, you will gradually attain Krishna consciousness.

We have to be grateful for the Lord’s gifts. The devotee appreciates these gits and offers them in the Lord’s service. We can become happy by being grateful.

Although Radharani is the greatest devotee, she is prideless.

Krishna’s kick and Krishna’s kiss are both mercy. If we see them in that way, we can progress.

We cannot control what happens to us, but we can choose our response to it.

When Srila Prabhupada came to Gainesville, the center was called “The Krishna House.”

The picture of Srila Prabhupada in Bhagavad-gita that has a picture of Krishna as Gopal there with him, with a garland on the picture, and with ferns, was taken in Gainesville.

Brahmatirtha Prabhu:

There is a tension between religiosity and spirituality. If we are not careful we can allow religiosity to be an impediment to our spirituality.

I never had a cigar or drink until I went to my bar mitzvah.

Our spirituality is beyond just externally following religious principles—it is our relationship with God.

Alcohol cannot be stopped [as was tried during the Prohibition] but it could be highly regulated. For example, stores that sell gas should not be allowed to sell alcohol.

Chaturatma Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada points out modern education teaches us an art or a trade, but that is not real education because no knowledge is given about our spiritual identity.

We have to balance our spiritual and material activities.

In Vrindavan, I heard a bird in a tree. I could not see the bird, because the bird was green and the tree was green. Only by hearing could I tell the bird was there. In the same way, there are things, especially spiritual things, that we can only understand through hearing.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

Although India is becoming degraded spiritually following the Western lifestyle, still in India they eat only three pounds of beef per person per year as compared to the USA, where they eat ninety-four pounds!

Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu:

The word ‘respect’ can be broken down into the prefix ‘re’ which means ‘again,’ and the root ‘spect’ which means ‘to see.’ So to respect means to see again, in a deeper way.

If you are proud, that means that you never look above you.

When Srila Prabhupada, for formality, needed a yajna done, as in Vrindavan, he engaged the Sri Vaishnava priests because of their expertise.

Sesa Prabhu:

It is an illusion to think that things can be completely resolved materially.

Just because the subject matter is inconceivable doesn’t mean you don’t have to try to understand it.

Maya, the Lord’s illusory energy, always provokes doubts about the supremecy of the Lord.

A transcendentalist does not blame because of higher knowledge.

“Circumstances do not make a person but reveal him or her.”—Richmond Hill community newsletter.

If you have doubts about why something happens to you, you can reveal your mind to Krishna. That is better than not doing so.

Self-interest on an individual level multiplied by millions creates the mass poverty we see in places like India.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave unknown people charity but did not repeatedly give to the same people because that encourages professional begging.

MacAuley strategized to that conquer India, the British would have to destroy their traditional educational system. Our greatest charity is to institute educational systems to benefit the people spiritually.

It is an advantage that we have big tall buildings and people jumping out of them because they are so dissatisfied with life?

Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu:

If is important to always act under the direction of senior devotees.

If you want to correct people, make sure you also appreciate the good things about them in general, so you will not seen as someone who always criticizes.

Madhava Prabhu:

Why is the cow important in Vedic culture? Vedic culture comes from Krishna and so reflects Krishna’s likes and dislikes, and Krishna happens to like cows. His eternal planet is Goloka [the planet of cows]. He is Govinda [who gives pleasure to the cows] and Gopala [who is Lord of the cows].


To get people thinking about the soul and the afterlife, Kelly asked the students what were their conceptions of an afterlife in their childhood. Kelly wanted to be a mermaid or to fly. Jude wanted superhuman powers but did not care which ones. Maddy thought that we would all become angels and serve only God.

In the reflection of a tree, you can see the fruits but you cannot pick them. In the same way, we cannot really enjoy the material world although it looks like we can.

My friends tell me on Facebook that they are longing to return to the resort where they spent spring break. This is evidence that we desire to live eternally in an ideal place. That is because we are meant to reside eternally with God in the spiritual world.

Maddy: People are afraid and so take shelter of the material world. They do not know that if they surrender to God they will experience the communion they want.

Vegan and Vegetarian Panel at University of Florida:

[I was amazed to see the support of vegetarians by the staff at University of Florida. One lady involved with health said that she regularly reassures the parents of vegetarian students that they have a perfectly healthy diet and the parents do not need to worry.]

Complementary proteins need not be eaten in the same meal; the same day is OK.

On vitamin B12: Vegetarians often have deficiency in vitamin B12. B12 deals with making DNA, new cells, and maintaining the nervous system. If you take 5000 units of B12 every once in a while, that will be sufficient. Large doses of B12 have greater likelihood of absorption. The body stores B12 for a long time, and if someone goes from eating meat to being a vegan, it may take years for a deficiency to arise.

On iron: When you donate blood, they will test your hemoglobin, and you can find out if you are somewhat anemic, but not too low in iron. Men usually get enough iron. If iron supplements are taken with whole grains or with other supplements, they will not be fully absorbed and you will not get the full effect. Take iron with vitamin C or on an empty stomach.


nivritta tarsair upagiyamanad

bhavausadhac chrotra mano ’bhiramat

ka uttamasloka gunanuvadat

puman virajyeta vina pasughnat

“Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the parampara system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.1.4).