Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 24
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2009, part two)
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, USA, on February 8, 2010)
Where I Was and What I Was Doing
For the second half of December I continued in Mayapur as part of Shastra Prabhu’s nagar-sankirtana program. Christmastime is lively in Mayapur because many, many pilgrims visit. One day Gada kitchen alone served lunch to 4,000 pilgrims, what to speak of the other, larger kitchen. Lots of people got to participate in the harinama-sankirtana and honoring Krishna prasadam.
Beginning from Christmas Day (December 25), we had a stage set up outside in the field between the temple and Srila Prabhupada’s Puspa Samadhi, closer to the Samadhi where we had kirtana from 3-7 p.m. Shastra Prabhu’s international harinama party and a Russian harinama party lead the singing for two hours each, but most members of both parties stayed the whole time.
One day Ekalavya Prabhu, who plays trumpet with great zeal, joined our party.
Several hundred pilgrims were listening the whole time, and between forty and seventy danced at any one time. It was so lively. The pilgrims enjoyed taking pictures with the devotees. I feel so indebted to Srila Prabhupada for his plan to develop Mayapur into such a beautiful facility that thousands of people would be attracted to come on the weekends, and more during holidays, like this Christmas to New Year’s period. You can see more Christmas 2009 harinama pictures on the Mayapur.com website at http://mayapur.com/node/1238.
On the way to Mayapur, I chanted on twice on the train ride to Howrah from Mumbai. I didn’t want to push my luck, so I decided not to chant again unless someone asked me to. Later a Moslem man from Bangladesh who was in my compartment asked if I would be willing to sing again. So I chanted Hare Krishna for the people there for another ten minutes. Had it been another Vaishnava, it would not be a surprise, but that Moslem man wanted to hear the Hare Krishna mantra again, from me, who am not even a very good singer, was a very pleasant surprise.
This last year (2009) contained several new events, some just new for me, and some new altogether.
The devotees had not done Ratha-yatras in Wroclaw, Poland, nor Trutnov, Czech Republic before this year. Both were successful in that more people came in touch with Krishna and His message. Also this year, the Polish Woodstock festival served a new record of 137,000 plates of spiritual food in five days.
I went to four new countries, none of which I had really planned to go to when the year had begun. By Krishna’s mercy, it just worked out that way. Advised by Kadamba Kanana Swami, I went to Switzerland, and did harinama in Zurich, Bern, and Langenthal. Encouraged by Lokanath Swami, I joined the Slovenian padayatra for five and a half days through many villages in that country. I went to Croatia twice, first joining the devotees from Karlovac and doing harinama, morning and evening for two hours each, for eleven days in at least a dozen towns. The evening harinamas in the tourist resorts on the Adraitic Sea were often watched by over one hundred people at one time. On the second trip, I went on harinama on Radhastami with Sacinandana Swami and over sixty devotees in Zagreb. I also went to South Africa by the grace of Kadamba Kanana Swami, doing harinama in Pretoria and Durban.
Some cities, ISKCON projects, and events in countries I went to for the first time, although I had been to those countries before. I went on the Czech padayatra for five days, also visiting our Czech farm, where padayatra begins. I went on harinama in Kosice, Slovakia, and visited the nearby Hare Krishna farm, New Ekacakra. I did harinama in Budapest this year for the first time, along it was my fourth visit there. Although traveling through Lvov, Ukraine, many times, I had not done harinama there nor been to a nama-hatta program, but I did both in 2009. I also went to the Sunday feast in Dnepropotrovsk, Ukraine, where a lot of the devotees who help out on the Polish festival tour are based. The week-long festival celebrating forty years since the installation of Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara in London must have been one of the best festivals in 2009, with lots of appreciation for Srila Prabhupada, his mission, and his followers.
I also went to many events that I found to be enlivening in previous years. It was my ninth Polish Woodstock, eighth Polish tour, fifth Berlin Ratha-yatra, fifth Ukraine festival, second Queen’s Day harinama, and second month-long stay at our London temple on Soho Street.
From all the traveling my realization is that by the grace of Srila Prabhupada there are many sincere souls who have take up the practices of Krishna consciousness in different parts of the world and who are enthusiastic to share them with others, and that is a cause of inspiration. Although not as large and influential as His followers may desire, still Lord Caitanya’s mission is firmly rooted in many cities, towns, and villages of this world.
Personally I learned a few practical things by bitter experience. You can save a lot of trouble if (1) you have your visa and passport in perfect order and (2) when entering a country, you have enough of the local currency for your transportation needs from its border to your destination. I was warned by Niranjana Swami to get my Indian visa copied into my new passport, but because I didn’t want to spend the $25 to do it, I got into trouble later.
From the spiritual point of view, I learned I have to focus more on my personal spiritual practices, so I will be better able to benefit people. I also have to avoid promising to do more things than I have time to do. I also have to take the time to encourage more people in their spiritual lives.
Because of reading Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s daily journal, I am always conscious of the need to improve my chanting of japa, and I am enthusiastic to make more progress on that in the coming year. Good japa can revolutionize my spiritual life.
Insight from Lectures
It is an essential point in devotional service of the Lord that whatever one has attained is by the Lord’s grace. There is one monk in Europe who was senior by realization, although just a pot washer. People came to him for blessings. Sometimes they would have some physical problem and ask to overcome it. He would say that he could not do anything as the Lord had put the person in that situation for a reason.
Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s cancer had invaded every part of his body except his brain, and he suffered greatly. But hearing Radhanatha Swami read Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Bhakti Tirtha Swami shed tears of ecstasy and said that he would not trade his position for that of anyone else.
What makes Krishna consciousness easy or difficult? Srila Prabhupada said it is a question of determination.
Q (to Srila Prabhupada): What if we have no determination?
A (by Srila Prabhupada): You are an animal.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that sense objects are stumbling blocks. Srila Prabhupada said that our senses are servants or serpents.
We must pray for the Lord’s mercy, both in difficult and easy situations.
Sridhara Swami, who was dying from Hepititis C, said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Material enjoyment is illusory, and in that sense, there is no enjoyment at all.
Stages of dealing with bad scenes: denial, thinking “why me?”, anger, and acceptance.
Q: Is there a time limit on the “tat te ’nukampam…” verse?
A: No, but the sooner you see suffering like that, the sooner you will be relieved.
One story illustrates the entanglement of conditioned life: Out of his mercy, Narada encouraged a man named Kailasa to take spiritual life seriously. Kailasa was respectful, but told Narada that he had to build up his business. Later Narada came, trying again to inspire Kailasa, who replied that he had to bring up his children. After many years went by, Narada again returned. Kailasa told Narada that he had to show his children how to raise their own children. Next time Narada returned, Kailasa was nowhere to be seen. The residents of the house told Narada that he had left his body some time before. One dog guarding the house came up to Narada, and barked, “It’s me, Kailasa.” Narada again spoke to Kailasa, now a dog, about spiritual life, but he replied he had to guard his house. After some time Narada returned. The dog was nowhere to be seen. One snake in the yard slithered up to Narada, and hissed, “It’s me, Kailasa.” Narada tried to interest him in spiritual life, but the snake replied he had to keep an eye on his property and his relatives. Then Narada told the residents of the house, “Watch out! There is a dangerous snake nearby your house.” Kailasa’s relatives grabbed sticks and tried to kill the snake, not recognizing him to be their ancestor Kailasa. In anxiety, the snake took shelter of Narada, telling him, “Narada! I am ready to hear about spiritual life!”
Q: Can’t material opulence inspire us in Krishna’s service as it is His energy?
A: It is fine if Krishna gives it, but not if we ask for it, because we actually do not need much material opulence to perform the chanting of Hare Krishna and to associate with devotees.
In Vrindavan, you get love of Krishna from the dust, in Puri from Jagannatha prasadam, and Mayapur from harinama.
In his last life, he got the Nobel prize for physics, and now as a baby, he is devoid of knowledge, not much better off than a worm. If we have done devotional service, that knowledge will come back, but look what you have to go through first. The parents have good intentions, but cannot understand the baby’s mind, and so he suffers. He is described as “anisvaram,” without control. He may have been the heavyweight champion of the world, but now he cannot even control his bowels. And it is not just a few months of misery as a baby, but then there are the childhood miseries, and the miseries of youth. As soon as we forget the devotional service of Krishna, there is at once birth and death. And when we remember devotional service to Krishna, birth and death is ended. As miserable as conditioned life is, it is just superimposed on the conditioned soul. We are trying to enjoy like a bear eating honeycomb and getting stung. Enjoyment is bewilderment, and suffering is also bewilderment. Anartha means useless, no profit. Suppose you are offered a business deal where you work day and night for no profit, who would be foolish enough to sign such a contract? That is maya’s deal, but we eagerly sign on.
Lord Caitanya does not ask for liberation. He says to Krishna, “Please think of me as your servant.” Liberation is included. He does not say, “Take me to Goloka I think I would like it better there.”
Q: We hear the descriptions miseries of life as a baby, but we forget. What is the value of this if we do not remember?
A: Yes, we blame God for not letting us remember, but if we could remember all of our previous sufferings, we would blame God for being so cruel to make us so that we remember all that suffering. Even though we do not remember, we can see babies around and understand how they suffer. Lust steals away our knowledge, and so we forget. By the authorized process of devotional service gradually become free from lust. We do not see that people who remember their past lives or life in the womb take to Krishna consciousness or any other spiritual path more than others, so it is really no advantage.
Q: What do we say to someone who says, “I know I heard it, but I going to do it anyway, because that is what Krishna arranged for me.”?
A: I would say, “You idiot. Krishna has made two arrangements for us, one under his internal energy and another under his external energy. It is up to you to choose.”
The whole material existence expands from the idea that “I am something other than an eternal servant of Krishna.”
There is a stage when yoga becomes enjoyable, but it is not stage one, however, sankirtana is pleasurable from begin to end.
Q: In the course of our service there are miseries like cold weather and miseries of household life. Is it better we think about these or not, as they will be minimized by our devotional service?
A: They are two answers. (1) We should just chant “Hare Krishna” and think of Krishna. (2) We should think of the miseries as Krishna recommends in Bhagavad-gita 12.9. One item of knowledge is “perception of the evil of birth, death, disease, and old age.” This is so that we think, “I should finish my business in this world, and just serve Krishna.”
We become like our association. Lord Caitanya says we should associate with sadhus, devotees of Krishna. We should avoid bad association. For the sake of women, people become like madmen, sacrificing anything for them. When a man becomes attracted to the illusory prospect of enjoying a woman, he loses his finer qualities. Men have created a whole culture of enjoying women, but as a result they become completely controlled by them like a toy animal. It does not matter our background. We have heard, we know, and still we are drinking the poison of worldly mindedness because “everyone else is doing it.” Therefore, the boys would sent to gurukula to associate with sadhus, not sent to public school to associate with girls, and boys who attached to girls. Our association should be those seriously interested in Krishna. We should be dancing dogs in the hands of Krishna, not in the hands of the opposite sex.
The problem is not to learn to career or not learn a career. But we should not be educated in a place where we also learn unrestricted association with the opposite sex, as well as whatever else we may be trying to learn.
Q: You say that the woman is the greatest attraction for man, but what is the greatest attraction for women. I don’t think it is man.
A: You don’t think it is man. But it is. But theirs is focused differently. Kapila mentions this. “A woman, therefore, should consider her husband, her house and her children to be the arrangement of the external energy of the Lord for her death, just as the sweet singing of the hunter is death for the deer.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.31.42).
Women should not associate with women who talk of men, but those who talk of Krishna.
Nobody should grow up in the society of sense gratifiers. They should grow up in a atmosphere of Krishna consciousness, with chanting and dancing and Bhagavata katha.
The modern education is turning ladies into unpaid prostitutes. At least previously then got money for their services. Now they have a degree in economics, but they do not know they should charge for their services.
Q: If wanting a husband who provides security is maya, why should a girl get married?
A: Because the maya of one man is better than the maya of many man. And the same with is true with a man. Better one woman than a variety of women. So once the regulated sex relationship is established, then both the man and the woman can get on with the real business of human life—developing our relationship with Krishna.
Q: Do we say the girls should get married at a young age?
A: Yes. Srila Prabhupada said it, and I say it. You cannot stop the young girls from being attracted to the boys. If they do not have a relationship with a fixed husband, they will go from one boy to another and the result will be worse. So although it is trouble to for the father to find a suitable husband for his daughter, it is his responsibility. The boy should be older as girls mature faster. Usually girls left to their own become attached to boys the same age who they know from school and not an older, more responsible one, and that becomes a problem for them.
Never at any time is the living entity neglected by the Lord. We are not left to battle with maya on our own. That we remember Krishna is His gift, and we should be grateful.
In my family, I am very popular on the occasion of funerals. “Please speak,” they say, “you speak so nicely.” But the rest of the time, I am not so popular.
It is nice enough in the material world that we think it may be possible to be happy here.
We all believe that somewhere wandering in this world is a member of the opposite sex who is our ideal mate in every respect and who will satisfy all our desires, but that is a complete illusion. It is not in happiness that I destroy this illusion, but out of duty, so we can move on.
Srila Prabhupada said that we are between Hiranyakasipu [the greatest demon] and Prahlada [the greatest saint].
But we are sheltered by Krishna, as the caitya-guru, who gives inspiration in the heart, the spiritual masters, and the devotees of the Lord, and so we have to turn to the shelters the Lord has provided.
“Spiritual life may be difficult, but material life is impossible.”
Durga’s trident is the three-fold miseries.
As the dhama, Krishna has given us the entire spiritual world within the material world.
Gradually we realize we cannot make it on our own. We are dependent on the mercy of the devotees. Krishna and his devotee can save us from our desires. Devotees inspire and correct. We must always stay near a temple. Srila Prabhupada said that 99% of our advancement is based on devotee association. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that maya operates within us like spies in an army.
Q: Is it maya to want a good devotee partner?
A: Yes. But if you cannot give yourself completely to Krishna, then it is OK to have a good devotee partner.
It is wise to acquire the Vaishnava qualities, otherwise Krishna may make a situation where we are forced to acquire the Vaishnava qualities.
Q: How do I remember Krishna in difficult situations?
A: Have a regular program of hearing. The chanting we do because we have promised, but we have not promised to hear, so we don’t do it. Gajendra remembered due to his past practice—how important it is!
The living entity is getting what he desires. If we desire Krishna, we will get Krishna. If we desire a good excuse for not practicing Krishna consciousness, that is what we will get.
In 1972, in Pittsburg, Srila Prabhupada said, “Kali-yuga is so bad, even in the womb, they are coming after you with knife.” In 1973, abortion was legalized in America.
There is always a song playing in everyone’s head, but in most cases, it is the wrong song. The most popular song in a film in the entire history film is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” because it is a search for freedom. The star of that movie, Judy Garland, became an alcoholic and went through five marriages. The materialists do not know where to find the real freedom. The holy name can give us that freedom.
In Yadubara Prabhu’s video, Following Srila Prabhupada, volume 9, an Indian devotee tells how Srila Prabhupada challenged the devotees, “How to know Krishna is real?” Some devotees quoted verses and asserted the authority of Srila Prabhupada, but this devotee said, “I am a new person, but by chanting Hare Krishna I can feel Krishna.”
cakre satvata samhitam
“The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.6)