Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

by Krishna-kripa Das

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Travel Journal#5.9b: Simhachalam

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 9b
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2009, part one, section b)
Nrsimha Caturdasi Festival, Simhachalam, Germany
(Sent from Paris, France, on 5/24/09)

The Nrsimha Caturdasi Festival at Simachalam



Prahlada-Nrsimha, Simhacalam, Germany.


The Nrsimha festival at Simhachalam, our farm in southeastern Germany, was attended by several senior devotees, the most prominent being Sacinandana and Kadamba Kanana Swamis, and many of them shared valuable realizations with us, which I will pass on to you in the course of this issue.

Another high point was a truly beautiful abhiseka of the awesome Prahlada-Nrsimhadeva Deity there.



Prahlada-Nrsimha abhiseka.


Outside they had an abhiseka of a small Nrisimha Deity for kids.


There was so much
kirtana (chanting) and katha (telling of pastimes and philosophy), all well attended, that it was truly inspiring.

Another interesting event was the swinging of a small Deity of Nrsimhadeva, something I had never seen before.



Young devotee swings small Nrsimha Deity while pujari fans with a rare black camara.


One evening, the pujari (priest) brought the small Nrsimhadeva Deity out to circumambulate the temple. He ran at such a quick pace, I could hardly keep up. Each night of the four-day festival, some devotees stayed up till
mangala-arati doing bhajana in the temple. Many friends I knew from Germany, Czech, the Poland festivals, and the Mayapur Bhakti-sastri were there, and it was nice to have their association again. Even Vijaya Prabhu came from America. While there I planned a series of harinamas for Vienna, got invited back to a nama-hatta program in Slovakia for later in the summer, and got both an invitation and a ride to Zurich. All and all it was a wonderful event, and I recommend the all devotees spend at least one Nrsimha Caturdasi at Simhachalam in their life. Who knows, they may become addicted to it, like many of the devotees there.

There are hundreds of wonderful pictures of the festival shared by Gauranga Das at http://picasaweb.google.de/gaurangaji/NarasimhaCaturdasi2009 and http://picasaweb.google.de/gaurangaji/NarasimhaCaturdasi2009II .


Inspiration from Lectures



Bhakti Bhusana Swami dances in ecstasy.


Bhakti Bhusana Swami:


Whatever Krishna does, He carries to the extreme. He is the sweetest son, the dearest lover, the most ecstatic devotee with unparalleled loving ecstasies, and so as Lord Nrsimhadeva, He is the most ferocious lionlike personality.


Prahlada Maharaja accepted the throne only as a facility for benefiting the conditioned souls. At the end of Srila Prabhupada’s life, his Godbrothers encouraged Srila Prabhupada to give up management and think of Radha-Krishna, but he did not agree, as he was in the mood of Prahlada Maharaja, wanting only to benefit the conditioned souls until the end of his life.



Sacinananda Swami smiles blissfully as he plays the karatalas.


Sacinandana Swami:


Caitanya Mahaprabhu especially relished hearing the Dhruva pastime and the Nrsimha pastime from Gadadhara Pandit at Tota-gopinatha. Whenever Gadadhara Pandit would finish reading either of them, the Lord would eagerly appeal to him to recite it again.


If we want to attain Krishna, we can never give up in the face of obstacles. This attitude is there in both the beginning devotees and the most exalted pure devotees, the
gopis.

Lord Nrsimha’s laugh is so fierce that Hiranyakasipu had to close his eyes.


Once in a city in Germany, a man emerged from a bar, opened up his shirt, assumed a fighting stance, and rushed toward the
harinama party, intending to finish them off. We changed the song to “namas te narasimhaya.” Then one strongly built Turkish gentlemen attacked that man before he reached the party, punishing him so severely, we had to appeal to the Turkish gentleman, “Please stop, after all, he did not actually hurt us, he just made us change our melody.”

There are external obstacles and internal obstacles. How often does someone try to attack us? Is it not more often that we are attacked by lust, greed, and anger? Thus our internal enemies are more of a problem. Thus we appeal to Lord Nrsimha to appear in our heart and vanquish our internal enemies. Once such prayer is
Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.8:

I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Nrsimhadeva who is the source of all power. Oh my Lord, who possesses nails and teeth, which are just like thunderbolts. Kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activities in this material world.”


Many devotees who have recited this prayer for months report that in fact the Lord did free them from such impurities. Bhaktivinoda Thakura recommends begging Lord Nrsimha for the benediction of being able to worship Radha and Krishna in Navadvipa. Lord Nrsimha, who has
vatsalya bhava for those who take shelter of him, will affectionately grant His blessings in that way. ‘Vatsa’ means ‘calf.’ ‘Vatsalya’ means having affection for a dependent like a cow does for its calf.


Kadamba Kanana Swami swings Prithu Prabhu.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


The people of India have a great taste for performing austerities, with hopes of attaining the Lord’s mercy, purification, and blessings. In that spirit, I come here to this remote temple [Simacalam] every year.


We have to accept the arrangements that the Lord makes for our benefit, although they are very hard to surrender to. After I had recovered from being shot in 1995, when I first came before Lord Nrsimha, I was a little fearful. We pray to be free from our material desires, but the means the Lord uses to accomplish this may not simply waving a wand; it may be a very heavy experience. I am still even now learning many lessons from that experience in 1995.


In one sense, there is no difference between Lord Caitanya and Lord Nrsimha. One name of Nrsimha is Nrsimha Caitanya. This entire age is touched by Lord Caitanya. By Lord Caitanya’s smile, people are developing an interest in spiritual life. This interest is not coming from themselves. All avatars are also touched by Lord Caitanya. There is one last thing that only Caitanya can remove from our heart. It is for the benediction of the removal of that final obstacle, I am praying to Lord Nrsimha-Caitanya both for myself and for all of you.


Mother Dina-sarana, GBC of Germany:


The Lord shows His mercy by giving us a really hard time. In this way, we develop our devotional character more so than if He just waved his hand and freed us of impurities. The Lord is interested in removing those little things that we think are insignificant compared to our Krishna consciousness and our preaching, those things that we are always trying to hide. If we are determined to go back to Godhead, Krishna is determined to make sure that no defect remains within us.


Prahlada’s affection for the Lord was so great that even in the face of His most fiercesome incarnation ripping apart Prahlada’s demonic father’s body, he was still situated in his eternal affection for the Lord.


Kripa-moya Prabhu:


I like to talk about surrender to Krishna. I like to associate with people who have surrendered to Krishna. I like to distribute books about surrender to Krishna. I like to dress as someone surrendered to Krishna. But I don’t like to surrender to Krishna. That is my problem.


Two years ago my doctor told me I had cancer, and it made me look at my lack of surrender much more seriously.


Srila Prabhupada says the Sixth Canto, Part One, is one of the three most important
Bhagavatam volumes as it teaches, “By calling out to the Lord in complete desperation to be saved, you can get a second chance and perfect your life.

Why does Krishna come so many times? Because we need to be reminded so many times.


Sridhara Swami, the original
Bhagavatam commentator, had a personal Deity of Lord Nrsimha. Prabhupada’s sister also had a Deity of Nrsimha.

When Mr. Nair expired, Srila Prabhupada said, “In Kali-yuga, Lord Nrsimha is still dispensing with demons in the form of the heart attack.”


We must become complete absorbed in the Lord’s pastimes, and then we can forget our previous life in this world.


Once Srila Prabhupada was so absorbed in the pastime of Nrsimha that his disciples were performing, that when Lord Nrsimha leapt out of pillar he showed genuine surprise, although intimately familiar with the story.


Sanda and Amarka asked Prahlada how he was unaffected by their attempts to kill him. He replied innocently. How is it that poison who my mother’s [Laksmi’s] sister [as they were both born from the milk ocean] would hurt me? How is it that falling on my mother’s [Bhumi’s, the wife of my Lord Vahara’s] lap could harm me? How is it possible my father’s tongue [the sacrifical fire is considered to be the tongue of Lord Vishnu] could harm me?


Sacinandana Swami:


There is a temple in your heart. It is dusty due to neglect. Cry out to attain the Lord of the heart. That is what we can learn from Prahlada-Nrsimha
lila. First we see the Lord in the heart, and then we see Him outside.

Mother Rasajna Prabhu:


One of the things Srila Prabhupada liked most was to see performances. After seeing the “Krishna Kidnaps Rukmini” play, Srila Prabhupada made these comments which his servant related to the players: “Finally my disciples are taking this seriously. This is better than reading in my books because it sticks in the mind.”



Mother Lakmimani Prabhu (right) helps
remove garland during abhiseka.


Mother Laksmimani Prabhu:


Prabhupada had a Nrsimhadeva side to him, anger for the protection of his devotees.


Srila Prabhupada had complete faith that our hearts would change and the world would change by the power of the holy name.


Sometimes we forget the Prabhupada and Nrsimhadeva are protecting us.


Kripa Moya Prabhu:


Guru Dasa once returned from India as Srila Prabhupada’s servant. He said Srila Prabhupada suggested to go on
harinama wearing Nrsimhadeva masks. He said that it would catch on, and everyone would want to get the Nrsimha masks and the devotees could sell them.

Kadambda Kanana Swami:


Yasoda would tell Krishna the Nrsimha-
lila as a bedtime story. Krishna would smile when Yasoda got to the part where Nrsimhadeva ripped out the intestines of the Hiranyakasipu.

I have seen many Nrsimha temples but none where Lord Nrsimhadeva manifests His presence so fully as here at Simhachalam.


Why not just worship Krishna? After all, so many demons attack Vrndavana, and Krishna protects the residents very nicely.


Laghu-bhagavatamrita states, “Of all the incarnations, Rama and Nrsimha are different, in that they have all six opulences fully.”


The Lord is so softhearted that as Lord Nrsimha he becomes terribly angry when His devotee is cruelly tortured. Thus His ferocious anger is actually a manifestation of his supreme softheartedness toward His innocent devotee.

The evening kirtana was so lively and the devotees so enthusiastic, Kadamba Kanana Swami kept it going to 9:30 p.m., when the feast was finally served. High points of the feast were an excellent well-spiced curd sabji and sweet rice.


Kripa Moya Prabhu:


One day is not enough to pay attention to Lord Nrsimha. At least a week is required. Then we will be inclined to take His protection and our relationship with Him seriously.


Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura once expressed that he had come to give the love the
gopis have for Krishna, but he had to spend all his time cutting down the jungle of Mayavada and sense gratification, so he could not give what he originally intended.

Srimad-Bhagavatam
is a different book every time we pick it up, because we see it from a new level of realization.

I deal with congregational preaching in England, and there was one man who was successful chanting, reading
Bhagavad-gita, and not eating meat or eggs. Unfortunately fishing was his only contemplative activity, and he was only succeeded in giving it up for six months. One time he went fishing as before, except now he felt very bad about it. Once he sensed he had a catch, and began to reel it in, feeling very guilty. But after reeling it in, he found it was not a fish at all, but a plastic bag with something in it. On closer inspection he found that something was a very waterlogged copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The man decided that this was a sign from Krishna that he should take his spiritual life more seriously.

We tend to practice Krishna consciousness while avoiding relationships at the same time, often because of bad experiences in material life.


Srila Prabhupada once said that the hardest thing is to give up sense gratification, but even harder is to give up sense gratification and to preach, and even harder than that is to give up sense gratification and to preach in the association of others who are giving up sense gratification and preaching. Thus the hardest thing is to be part of a spiritual movement.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati once said, “Ninety-nine percent of our spiritual advancement comes from bowing down.”


Sacinandana Swami:


A new devotee once asked Srila Prabhupada, “What do you feel when you chant Hare Krishna?” Srila Prabhupada answered, “I feel no fear.”


There is a point in your spiritual life when you consciously perform your activities desiring only a relationship with Krishna.


One comes to think, “Alas! Why have I served the illusory material energy for so long? Krishna! I am Your servant! Ever since I left the shelter of Your lotus feet, my life has been completely devastated!”


If you offer this prayer, Krishna fortifies your heart and weakens
maya’s influence, so you can progress fearlessly.

One carload of devotees came 15 hours by car for the Nrsimha festival here. You really turned toward Lord Nrsimha! Congratulations!


When I am spiritually weak, I criticize everything, but now, after yesterday’s Nrsimha festival, I am appreciating the good qualities of all the devotees.

In Cologne, Kadamba Kanana Swami was asked, “How do I come to another level of my spiritual life?” He answered simply and profoundly, “You have to make a sacrifice for Krishna.” This can be a simple sacrifice. Even just focusing on hearing each word of a single Hare Krishna mantra, one can immediately experience a higher taste.


If we are offended, first we are shocked. Then we meditate on what was said. Then we feel bad that we are thinking about the offense and not thinking about Krishna. Then we act with rage against the culprit. Then we forget about it. But something remains, a kind of resentment, that sometimes lasts one’s whole life, and which keeps us from serving Krishna. Therefore, we should avoid offending others, and seek forgiveness if we have done so, by admitting to them that we were wrong and we are sorry.


Sacinandana Swami on Gaura-lila:


Upon seeing Isvara Puri in Gaya, Lord Caitanya exclaimed, “My visit to Gaya is perfect because of seeing you. Compared to the potency of seeing a holy place, the potency of seeing a Vaisnava is hundreds of times greater. All My ancestors are now delivered.”


When Isvara Puri came unexpectedly to Lord Caitanya’s for lunch, Lord Caitanya fed him all that he had cooked for Himself, saying He would cook again if necessary. Unseen by anyone, Laksmi entered the kitchen and cooked another lunch for Lord Caitanya.


The power of blessings is much greater than our own endeavor. The desire to serve the Lord is given by one who is strong in that desire. If we simply accept the words of the guru and act accordingly, we can come to experience the power of blessings. Our difficulty is that we have so much faith in our own activities, that it is difficult to appreciate the power of blessings. To get the blessings one must simply understand that water flows from a higher position to a lower position. Thus we have to get down as low as possible. Narada Muni is a great of example of the power of the blessings of the
bhaktivedantas. Let us consider how we can attain blessings in our own life. We attain blessings by pleasing the one who gives the blessings.

This devotee named Kancipurnam would serve his Deity by fanning him everyday. He was so intimate with the Deity, he would talk to Him as a friend. Once a friend of Kancipurnam wished to know whether he would go back to Godhead at the end of this life, and he asked Kancipurnam to inquire from the Deity. The Deity replied, “Yes.” After that Kancipurnam decided he would ask the Deity the same question about himself the next day. The Deity told him he would not go back to Godhead. He was curious why his friend would go and not him, so he asked the Deity. The Deity said that your friend served My devotee, but you only served Me. The very next day, Kancipurnam left his Deity and his village and went to Sri Rangam, and disguised, he faithfully served a great devotee for many months as a menial servant. Finally the Lord arranged a rainstorm drenching his disguise so he had to wear his former attire while it dried, and thus he was detected. He took it as the Lord’s mercy, and returned to his former service. For this story we can learn that service to the devotee is superior to service to the Lord.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


Prahlada is famous for having attained perfection by remembering or constantly meditating on the pastimes the Lord. Prahlada, whose name means ‘form of complete happiness,’ regularly forgot himself in the overwhelming happiness of his devotional meditation. We call out to Nrsimhadeva for protection, but Prahlada never did that. Instead, he accepted whatever happened as the Lord’s mercy.


So soon as we speak of Krishna as all-attractive, the idea of relationship must be there. In the beginning, it is not clear what is our service in relationship with Krishna, but in the course of time, it becomes clear.


I have a very few disciples in Africa, and so one particular one I was telling that I wanted to be a preacher, and I sent him to Mayapur to study Bhakti-sastri. There he developed a desire to study Sanskrit. What was he going to do? Teach Sanskrit in Africa? After I while, I relented. While studying, he got involved in translating English into his local African language. Then I understood, knowledge of Sanskrit would help in translation work. He was destined to be a translator, and thus, a great asset to the preaching.


We meditate on the Lord, and Lord reciprocates. By committing to a particular service, we increase our meditation, and Krishna increases his reciprocation. Every moment we are experiencing Krishna in some way or other. Second initiation is the beginning of our serious meditation, thinking, “How can I be what the Lord and His devotees desire?”


In
Jaiva Dharma, Bhaktivinoda Thakura mentions that Raghunatha Das followed the path of spontaneous revelation, and Gopal Guru followed the path of conscious contemplation, as far as attaining their eternal spiritual identities was concerned, and thus there is support for both paths. Srila Prabhupada taught us our spiritual identity would be revealed by Krishna in an advanced stage.

Real compassion can be there if one has a superior experience, and therefore to be compassionate, we actually have such an experience.


Q: How to determine our particular service for Krishna?
A: It is not all propensity or trying out different things. It comes automatically, but before that, one should cultivate a service attitude, otherwise we will end up cultivating material desires.


Q: How did you accept the position of guru?
A: Jayadvaita Swami thought of the idea that I could initiate disciples on his behalf, and yet take full responsibility for taking care of them. He argued that for pushing on this movement on, I should do it. It was tried in that “rtvik-like” way for six months, and the GBC decided that if one’s guru orders one to accept disciples then, although it is not permitted by etiquette that one initiate in one’s guru’s presence, that it would be acceptable.


Sacinandana Swami on Gaura-lila:


Raghunatha Dasa Goswami was incredibly grateful to Lord Caitanya for giving him both freedom material life and gift of Krishna.


Raghunatha Dasa Goswami would speak four hours daily on the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. It is my goal that when I am old and can do less other service that I may speak the pastimes of Lord Caitanya for four hours a day and leave my body chanting “Gaura! Gaura!”


We already have a TV in our heart. We do not need to purchase one. It is now broken, but Krishna consciousness is the repair process. When repaired we can see the divine pastimes of the Lord on the TV in our heart.


Lord Caitanya advised Raghunatha Dasa Goswami to always speak of the names and qualities of Krishna.


When our mind is thinking of other things than Krishna, we begin to enter the material world. When we speak of other things, we more deeply enter the material world, and when we do things unrelated to Krishna, we most fully enter the material world. Spiritual life means reverse this process, first engaging the body, then the speech, and finally the mind in devotional service.


Lord Caitanya wanted us to chant at fixed number of rounds. Why? If we want to establish a relationship with someone, we must deal with the person consistently. If you deal with Krishna in such a way that one day you have time for Him and another day you don’t, what will He think? Therefore we must chant a fixed number of rounds to show Krishna that we care about the relationship.

Nibandha” means to bind together. We bind our thought and lips together. When both are together chanting becomes more powerful. Having affection for your practice helps with this.

Perfection in devotion to Krishna is already within. Bhaktivinoda Thakura used the analogy of a flower first budding, and then blooming.


Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura recommended
japa be chanted only loud enough for you to hear. Srila Prabhupada echoes this in Nectar of Devotion when he says, “uttering the maha-mantra (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) very softly, only for one's own hearing, is called japa.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says the gift of the garlands to devotees by Lord Caitanya when they were returning to Bengal signifies a gift of the holy names, which are strung on a chain of love.

Q: How can we constantly talk about Krishna?
A: This state is not artificially produced but comes by our spiritual advancement. Still we can find devotees who like to hear about Krishna, and then talk with them about Krishna. Then after that, begin enlightening the people in general about Krishna. At the very least, you will be benefiting yourself. Try to bring the conversation to Krishna in a natural way. If you think of Krishna, it will not be artificial to talk about Him, but if you do not think of Krishna, then such talks will seem artificial.

After hearing this I shared a nice Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura quote on the value of the chanting the holy name with devotees who I thought would appreciate, and it was a very rewarding experience.


Sacinandana Swami:


Sankirtana
means both that the chanting is done in congregation and that it is complete. Complete means that we engage each one of our assets in the Lord’s service.

When you hear about Krishna, Krishna becomes bound to you, but only with a thin thread, when you meditate about Krishna, Krishna becomes bound to you by a rope, but if you engage in Krishna
sankirtana, Krishna becomes bound to you with an iron chain which He does not break.” --Brhad-Bhagavatamrita.

Brhad-Bhagavatamrita
also talks about lila-kirtana, but superior to that is nama-kirtana.

Through the glorification of Krishna we will naturally become personally interested in Krishna.

Longing for Krishna is very important. One analogy given is “The cataka bird always prays for the cloud, regardless of whether it showers rains or throws a thunderbolt.”


I can see that many of you have appreciated the love and affection of Lord Nrsimha at the festival this year. Please come again next year.

When Sacinandana Swami said that, it echoed my own feelings. I have been able to appreciate Nrsimhadeva and His rather ghastly destruction of Hiranyakasipu in a philosophical way for some time, but at this festival, I was more able to see Lord Nrsimha as the affectionate protector of Prahlada, and indeed, all devotees who chant His glories and bow down before Him. Thus for the first time really, I felt some glimmer of love for Lord Nrsimha, the affectionate protector of His devotees, and one of the Lord’s more extraordinary incarnations.

---

om namo bhagavate narasimhaya namas tejas-tejase avir-avirbhava vajra-nakha vajra-damstra karmasayan randhaya randhaya tamo grasa grasa om svaha; abhayam abhayam atmani bhuyistha om ksraum

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nrsimhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possesses nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.8)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Travel Journal#5.2: Gainesville and Tallahassee

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 2
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2009, part two)
Gainesville, Tallahassee
(Uploaded from Langenthal, Switzerland, on 5/15/09)


Highlights:


Insight from Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Sesa Prabhu, and More
Chanting at the Martin Luther King Day Parade
Aaron, the Christian Sannyasi
Chanting at Tallahassee's Lake Ella


Where I Am and What I Am Doing


For January through April, I promised Kalakantha Prabhu, the Gainesville
temple president, I would maintain the chanting program at University of Florida during the serving out of Krishna Lunch. I also promised Tamohara Prabhu, the GBC of Tallahassee, I would spend two weekends and one weekday there assisting with the outreach.


Chanting at the Martin Luther King Parade


Devotees Chant at the Martin Luther King Day Parade


Devotees from Alachua chanted at the Martin Luther King Day Parade.

Others Clap Along
People nearby our party clapped along with our music and mantra, . . .
Baptist Ladies Smile and Clap
. . . including some smiling young Afro-American ladies from the Baptist
church.


Trey was inspired to bring many gallons of lemonade, which he distributed to participants and onlookers. We chanted at the end of the parade for at least half an hour.


Chanting at Tallahassee's Lake Ella


Tallahassee is blessed with many parks, including the one surrounding Lake Ella, which is very close to the center of the city. Even on a cloudy January day with temperatures in the 50s F [low teens C] there were many people strolling, exercising, walking their dogs, and pushing their children in strollers.


Devotees Chant at Tallahassee's Lake Ella


Daru Brahma Prabhu, Sivam, Sivam's daughter, Subhadra, and I chanted and passed out invitations, pamphets, and flyers. We choose to sit on the gravel near the sidewalk instead of the grass to interact with more people. Subhadra, who was only about seven years old, was very enthusiastic to make sure everyone who passed by got an invitation and a pamphlet on chanting Hare Krishna. Because she was a kid, very few of the people refused her, and I think she was more successful than I would have been.



Insight from Lectures


Hridayananda Dasa Goswami: [Click here to hear entire lecture.]


If you do everything properly according to dharma, what happens is to be
considered God's will. Not that you go down the street shooting people and
claiming, “If it wasn't their karma, I could not kill them.”


Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that Draupadi was dragged by the hair into the men's gambling hall. Not that she was gambled away by Yudhisthira. Mahabharata, according to Madhvacarya, is largely corrupted, and this may be one of the corruptions.


Both male chauvinism and feminism are nasty states of being.


From Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu (SB 11.5.1-) [Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu has a class via conference call almost every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Contact Sraddha Devi Dasi at the Philadelphia temple if you want to know how to access it.]:


The demigods place many obstacles on the path of those who worship You to transcend the temporary abodes of the demigods and reach Your supreme abode. Those who offer the demigods their assigned shares in sacrificial performances encounter no such obstacles. But because You are the direct protector of Your devotee, he is able to step over the head of whatever obstacle the demigods place before him. (SB 11.4.10)


Vasista cursed Nimi to die because he started a sacrifice without him because he was delayed, and so Nimi countercursed Vasista to die. They both died. People wanted to resurrect Nimi from his preserved dead body, but the King didn't want a disgusting material body. Thus he got a benediction of a spiritual body to worship the Lord which could be manifest or nonmanifest to others, according to his will.


Varnasrama is especially meant for those not spontaneously attracted to the devotional service of the Lord.


According to Sridhara Svami, the brahmanas are born of the mode of goodness, the ksatriyas of a combination of goodness and passion, the vaisyas of a combination of passion and ignorance and the sudras of the mode of ignorance (SB 11.5.2, purport). Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu likes this as it is more symmetrical than the other description where the ksatriyas are simply in passion.


There are graduations within the varna divisions. For example, among ksatriyas, Yudhisthira is so detached, he is practically a brahmana, while Bhima is completely different.


Imaginary as far as the virat-rupa is concerned does not mean “made up” because the virat is described in the sastra, but rather it means to think the virat-rupa is more substantial than the Lord's spiritual form


The kala-rupa (form of time) aspect of the virat-rupa (universal form) is the side of God nobody likes-Krishna as time, the destroyer of all.


If you are following varnasrama, at least you do not do any sin.


A demon is one who disregards the scripture. This is clear from
Bhagavad-gita Chapter 16, especially verses 18 and 23.


Failure to worship a respectable person is considered disrespectful. It is not that you respect your diksa (initiating) guru, and ignore everyone else. Often offenders start on a lower level and work their way up to disrespecting their guru.


The virat-rupa has metaphorical elements in it, like “vegetation is the hairs on His body,” but is not completely metaphorical. The universe is like an organism in that it is unified, with parts working together, and has a single consciousness pervading it. Brahma is technically the soul of the universe, and Garbodhakasayi Vishnu is its Supersoul.


Arjuna is given divine vision to see the vast expanse of time and space
brought into one time and one space.


As we can move our hand by our own will, because it is part of our body, the Lord can move things in the universe simply by willing, and in that sense, it can be said that the universe is His body. In reality, He is more expert at moving His body, than we are moving our body.


Q: Why do the demigods put obstacles in the path of devotees?
A: Sometimes they are upset they are no longer getting worshiped, like Indra in Vrindavan. It is like in an organization, if the boss favors you, your other superiors become envious of you and may make trouble for you. Not only do we have to overcome the temptations of impiety, but we have to overcome the temptations of piety given by the demigods.


Q: Nowadays people cannot at all relate to the idea of worship of one's
spiritual teacher. What to do?
A: If you look at the scriptural descriptions of the guru-disciple relationship, you can see it is the ideal situation to transmit knowledge. When we do have good teachers that we really benefit from, we feel like worshiping them.


I have to keep learning about the problem of envy in human affairs. I forget about it, and then I am reminded again.


Sesa Prabhu:


Through Krishna consciousness we can give people an experience of a love
that dissolves the divisions between people.


We seek rasas (relationships) in this world because we have an eternal rasa with Krishna.


Krishna, who is the controller, who agitates everything, and who descends into this world, agrees to be controlled by His devotees' love. We love God by surrendering to Him, and He loves us by allowing us to control Him.


In this world, however, if people are attracted to us, we have a tendency to exploit them.


“Master our passions instead of letting our passions master us.” -Kalakantha Prabhu


“In any group I was with, I would look to see if there were people
from a variety of backgrounds. If there were, I thought, 'There must be
something to it.' I found that there in the society of Krishna devotees. -Ali Krishna Devi Dasi


“By looking at people you can tell who is having illicit sex and who is isn't. The ones who are celibate have a certain glow. I got this test from Bhakti Vikas Swami.” -Stavapriya Das


Conversations with Others About
Spirituality


I met Aaron, an old man with graying hair but youthful energy, dressed in robes, coming to Krishna lunch. He travels in the north in the summer and the south in the winter, reminding people about God. “God's will has always been simple,” he says. “Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” He says he is a follower of Christ, but not “the Christ of the world.” He said he loved taking prasadam with Hare Krishna devotees in Eugene, Oregon, and helped out with the dishes afterwards.


Trey and Aaron, A Christian Mendicant, Wash Dishes


Here he assisted Trey with the dishes in the Gainesville Krishna House.


Aaron's lifestyle reminds me that end of life is meant for sannyasa, leaving
home, traveling the world, and reminding others of the teachings of God.


I asked Frank, a medical student with a serious interest in Krishna
consciousness, what he thought of a recent conversation about the pros and cons of wearing devotional clothes? He replied, “I am attracted by peoplewearing what they feel comfortable in.”


nāma vinu kali-kāle nāhi āra dharma
sarva-mantra-sāra nāma, ei śāstra-marma


“In this Age of Kali there is no religious principle other than the chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all Vedic hymns. This is the purport of all scriptures.” (Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 7.74)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Travel Journal#5.8: JAX, London, Radhadesh, Amsterdam


Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 8
By Krishna-kripa das
(April 2009, part two)
Jacksonville, London, Radhadesh, Amsterdam
(Sent from Simhacalam, Germany, on 5/8/09)

Highlights:
Links to Great Videos on Queen's Day Harinamas
Wise Words from Kadamba Kanana Swami

Where I Am and What I Am Doing


For three months I had practically no time to write this journal or answer questions for Krishna.com. What did I do? I lived in at the Gainesville Krishna House, where a number of students, both American and Indian, are beginning to take the practice of Krishna consciousness very seriously, several studying Prabhupada's books together both morning and evening. We had evening programs that always went late three nights a week, a two-hour harinama Wednesday at the Farmer's Market and a harinama in the downtown Friday night where the bars and restaurants are. I thought of eliminating the late night harinama, but three people had come to visit the temple as a result and had good experiences, some coming back, so I was reluctant to stop it. Two weekends and one weekday a month I went to Tallahassee to assist in the outreach there, mostly by doing harinama and giving lectures. I couldn't write with my laptop enroute as it was so flaky I was unwilling to invest in a new battery for it. When I didn't spend the weekend in Tallahassee, I spent hours in Alachua with a fellow assistant of Sadaputa Prabhu's, Sthita-dhi Muni, in looking through Sadaputa's materials to preserve and ultimately share them. We came across a script for a video called "The End of Physics" and a partial manuscript for a book called The Roots of Genius. It was spooky to see my handwriting on some of the documents in the files. There were whole articles I had typeset for him, and then forgotten about. It seemed so long ago, like another life. Reviewing the material, I was reminded of his genius, his talent, and his hard work. I have no regrets about that service, other than I really did not take advantage enough of his association. Both Drutakarma and Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhus became scholars as a result of his association, and I remained but a proofreader of publications. The good thing is that it doesn't matter what you do for Krishna, as long as you work for Him. That is my only solace.

Now by the grace of Brahmatirtha Prabhu and Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, I have a computer so I can write while traveling. I shall try to share the high points of the last three months, going into detail on other journal entries.

The happiest thing for me is to see young people taking the congregational chanting of the Lord's holy name more and more seriously, especially with a little or no encouragement. One time Bhakta Tim had explained how he had too much schoolwork to come on harinama. He walked with us to the car, to wish us well as we were leaving. As the door between us closed, I smiled, and said, "See you there!" Amazingly enough, despite his previous protestations of being too busy, he came out and had a great time.

Once I spent half an hour trying to encourage Bhaktin Jena to go chant with us at the Tallahassee Rainbow Gathering. At least a couple times during the conversation, she even said she would not go. As it turned out, she did finally go, bringing her guitar and ukulele to play along. She had a great time and was glad she came. I see in these examples the power of the holy name to attract people out of their humdrum material life and give them a higher taste. Now that many of the old-timers are leaving their bodies for new ones, it is heartening to see the young people are becoming more and more attracted, and so the movement will go on. Our Gainesville evening programs have such lively kirtanas that once when the lecture went an hour and twenty minutes, the lecturer tried to forgo the kirtana and go straight to prasadam, but the congregation refused to agree. The lecturer offered a ten minute kirtana, but the devotees kept going twenty minutes or more. Once in Tallahassee I had a party of five to chant at the local downtown park, Lake Ella. All were uninitiated devotees who had a taste to chant. During spring break, Tim and Kelly each drove me two hours to Jacksonville to chant at the campus there, and on the weekend they and some college-aged friends went to the beach in St. Augustine and chanted bhajans much of the time. This all reminds me that the interest in the Hare Krishna mantra among the youth is not just a 1960s phenomenon but the spiritual inclination of the soul shining through his/her coverings of ignorant darkness and thus we should give people all facility to gain such attraction.

Enroute to Europe

Enroute to Europe, while waiting in Jacksonville airport for Jet Blue's afternoon flight, having missed the morning one at an expense of $40, I had the good fortune of meeting Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Swami who was just arriving, and who in his usual jovial mood firmly embraced me with affection. He told me about his latest innovative outreach strategy—to enthuse householder devotees to grow vegetables and fruits for Krishna. It gives them something practical to do that gives a good result, and can inspire them further in Vedic culture and Krishna consciousness. Every little bit of land can be utilized for such gardening, even the roof of buildings. You can grow potatoes in the rings of old tires, stacked one above the other, and at the end of the growing season harvest the potatoes simply by removing the tires.

The Jet Blue flight to JFK was an hour late, and I arrived at the gate designated for my Delta London flight twenty minutes after it was scheduled to depart. I was the last person to board, and I apologized but the stewardesses said not to worry.

London

When I arrived in London, my customs officer turned out to be a Brahmin who got a masters degree in Sanskrit from Punjab University. I told him I was here to give a few lectures on Bhagavad-gita, and then go on to Amsterdam. He asked if I knew Sanskrit. I said I knew a few words and quoted Bhagavad-gita 4.9. He chants the Hanuman Chalisa and other prayers at 3:30 a.m. every morning. I suggested that he become a preacher as he was a Brahmin but he did not reply. He was aware of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and when I said I would speak on Gadadhara Pandit, he said that he was not a mortal. I replied affirmatively saying, "All the principle associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu were liberated souls." I invited him to come to our temple at 10 Soho Street. He said he rarely comes but that his wife comes there almost every day. Because of my inviting him, he said he might come. It is nice to connect with people who have a connection with Krishna.

Harinama in London was great as usual. The day I arrived we had a party of nine devotees and Krishna blessed us with a rare sunny afternoon. One girl joined us midday, dancing as enthusiastically as the other devotees for at least half the harinama. Turns out she had seen the devotees in her homeland of Poland and she does Indian dance professionally so for her to join us and participate was natural.

On Saturday, I joined the "weekend warrior" party who went to Kensington and set up with sit down kirtana, prasadam, and book distribution. They were mostly new devotees, so I got lots of opportunity to play my harmonium tunes. After that, we stopped half an hour from the temple on the way home, and chanted harinama the rest of the way. Later to top of the day, we had the famous Saturday night downtown harinama. Many people danced with us. I distributed invitations to those who smiled, danced, or took pictures of our party. Once I gave a flyer to three teenaged girls who were approaching our party with great curiosity. I told them, "Don't repress your natural urge to dance." Two of them gave their belongings to the third for safekeeping and joined the female kirtana dancers with great delight. Another time I encouraged a couple in their thirties who were dancing with each other, amidst the kirtana dancers. I praised their dancing, and they continued another ten minutes before remembering their planned evening engagement, and leaving with invitation in hand. My realization is that a few positive words can really increase a person's participation in devotional service.

In London I was reminded of the smallness of our Hare Krishna world when, one day, four different devotees came up to me and reminded me of my previous connection with them—one girl from Finland, one boy from Slovakia, and two boys who visited Alachua.

On the flight from London to Amsterdam, I happened to sit with an Indian student who is just becoming interested in Hare Krishna. He had read Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers and was beginning Science of Self-Realization. He was going to Amsterdam to visit some friend who had invited him for Queen's Day. I gave him a copy of my BTG with the article on last year's devotee participation in the event, and he was grateful. I hoped to see him there, but I think his association with friends that were not devotionally inclined kept him from meeting up with the devotees during his brief visit to Amsterdam.

Wise Words

Kadambda Kanana Swami's Vyasa Puja was a nice event. He gave a couple of lectures that day that I attended. Here are some of his realizations:

The secret of Krishna consciousness is to remain always inspired. We must fix our mind on Krishna, not just for some time, but at every moment. We must create a culture where this constant remembrance of Krishna goes on.

It is said a pure devotee of Lord Caitanya can deliver the universe. In Srila Prabhupada, we can see how it is possible. We are here by the devotees' mercy.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura said that the kirtanas of Lord Caitanya and His associates are still going on at Srivasa Angam and some can hear while others cannot. Those who cannot can hear them through the scripture, and then there is no different between the two groups.

This movement is compared to waves. Different groups appear from time to time and play key roles.

Always make sure our roots are strong. See what Srila Prabhupada valued and make sure we are doing that.

This movement is flooding the entire world, and yet it is simply moving from one person to another.

Q: How can I not be proud of what you [as my guru] have been able to do through me?
A: Just look at how much more devotees like Vishnujana Swami and Jayananda Prabhu were able to do. And look at Srila Prabhupada himself.

The spiritual master is always present, even if he doesn't always answer our emails.

It makes me feel like a failure as a guru that a disciple wound up in jail. As far as disciples disobeying the order of the guru is concerned, I simply ask that they are honest with me. In this way, things will not get completely out of hand.

Suhotra Swami would practically never argue on the basis of his being a GBC or temple president. He would argue philosophically. Suhotra Swami could not tolerate compromise. He was a sadhu, a man of truth.

To think we are mercy cases is actually good, especially if we aspire to repay the guru, but still, the chanting of the daily sixteen rounds and following the four principles is good enough.

I want you to utilize your nature and capacity in Krishna's service. I look for maturity, sadhana [spiritual practice], and doing something for the mission. If you need ideas, I have them.

As a youth, I vowed never to follow any authority, other than my own. I was depressed, and encountering Srila Prabhupada, I agreed to surrender to him, but to surrender to the different leaders of his movement, was another thing. But I was able to because I was not willing to let temporary, insignificant things, get in the way of attaining Srila Prabhupada's mercy.

Everything is parampara [the line of spiritual predecessors]. That is the essence. I am simply trying to follow the parampara.

Lord Caitanya promised his followers who chanted 64 rounds they would attain Krishna. Srila Prabhupada reduced it to 16 rounds and four rules. Can those who recommend four rounds really promise their followers that they will go back to Godhead?

Spiritual life is more than choosing a service or accepting one chosen by the spiritual master. Our natural inclinations will become obvious in the course of time. Anyone who is a natural book distributor should try to do it as long as possible without being disturbed by asrama or other external considerations.

I will tolerate all kicks from any cow that gives milk.

Do something special in acara [behavior] and pracara [enlightening others] and get some special mercy.

Notes on Vyasa Puja offerings:

Mayapur Chandrodaya Prabhu mentioned that although he played the role of his guru's personal servant and that others were also eager to serve him, his guru always made sure there were proper accommodations for his personal servant.

One lady, I didn't know, mentioned how hearing the realizations of the other disciples brings us closer to the guru.

The feast was so extensive that if you took all you felt like, your body could not handle it, so it was a test of my self-control. There were several desserts including the treasured gulabjamons.

Queen's Day

Queen's Day was bigger both in terms of participation by the general populace and by the devotees. Apparently there was an attack on the royal family which prompted the government to cancel all the festivities in cities other than Amsterdam, so everyone went to Amsterdam to celebrate. Kadamba Kanana Swami had his Vyasa Puja festival at Radhadesh, just under four hours away, so he would get more people to participate, and the strategy worked. There must have been at least a hundred and fifty devotees taking part, at least seventy more than last year. Maharaja thanked me for the BTG [March/April 2009] article on last year's event, saying that now half the devotees in South Africa want to come to Amsterdam for Queen's Day!

Our chanting party lasted seven and a half hours, two hours sitting at our booth, and the rest during two harinamas through the streets, before and after our lunch and rest break. In the beginning at least twenty people joined in dancing with us, becoming part of a 'snake' of dancers winding through the crowd, and they all appeared very happy to take part. [Click here for video.] While at our booth, I would dance at the side of the entrance, offering invitations to those who took pictures, smiled, or stopped to look. [Click here for video.] One pair of college girls watched for a while, and taking an invitation, one began chanting the mantra along with us. I informed her about the prasadam, the books, and the temple nearest her. She was interested in other cultures and had a special interest in India. For more videos on the Hare Krishna participation in Queen's Day 2009, click here.

naham tisthami vaikunthe
yoginam hridayesu va
yatra gayanti mad-bhaktah
tatra tisthami narada

"Lord Krishna told Narada, 'I am not situated in the spiritual world Vaikuntha, nor am I in the hearts of the yogis, but you will find me, O Narada, wherever My devotees are chanting my glories.'" --Padma Purana

Next on to Antwerp, Munich, the German Nrsimha farm (Simhacalam), and more.