Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 8
By Krishna-kripa das
(April 2010, part two)
New York, London, Radhadesh, and Amsterdam
(Sent from Leipzig, Germany, on May 19, 2010)
Where I Am and What I’m Doing
The second half of April was an unexpected adventure for me. Krishna says in the Gita that He is adventure, and so I can see it was a good thing. I planned to fly from JFK to London on April 17, and thus I took the Chinese bus from Philadelphia to New York. I spent the better part of that day at Yajna Purusa’s Bhakti Center in Manhattan at their monthly 12-hour kirtana program. Before leaving for the airport, at the advice of devotees, I checked with the airlines, and found the flight I had already done online check-in for was cancelled due to volcanic ash. As it turned out, the ten days I planned to spend in London, I spent in New York, doing harinama almost every day with devotees from the Bhakti Center. I had been thinking of visiting our Manhattan ashram as my friends Bhaktas Blake, Tim, and Ross, all had nice experiences there and I was attracted by Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu’s description of the college outreach they do when he came to Gainesville last year. I didn’t have time in my schedule for a visit this year, so Krishna made an adjustment to fit it in!
In New York, I also heard Brahmananda Prabhu tell about Srila Prabhupada’s early days in New York, I heard Radhanatha Swami speak to students at NYU, and I had a nice experience chanting at Tompkins Square Park. I spent part of April 28 in London, speaking at their lunch program and going on harinama. Then I took an overnight bus to Brussels where I caught the train to Barvaux, the town near Radhadesh, where I attended Kadamba Kanana Swami’s Vyasa Puja on April 29. In three lectures on the day, Kadamba Kanana Swami shares practical insight about the guru-disciple relationship. Finally on April 30, over 150 devotees boarded two buses and several other vehicles and drove Amsterdam for eight hours of kirtana at Queen’s Day, the world’s biggest street festival.
While in the Bhakti Center I joined harinama regulars Om Hrisikesa Prabhu, the party leader, and Bhakta Dan, and Bhakta Alex (who has the nickname Vaishnava Das because he likes to serve the devotees), going out almost every day to do congregational chanting. On Sunday the devotees went out for almost three hours and on a couple of weekdays they would go out during the day as well, instead of distributing books. Almost every evening there was harinama from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Om Hrisikesa Prabhu can sing for quite a while and has a great love for harinama which makes him a good leader. Dan is steady on the drum. Alex impressed me by his enthusiasm. In the day he works as a lawyer in the city, but comes out on weekends and evenings on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and distributes often as many as 30 small books during the harinamas. This makes him the biggest book distributor in the temple.
The daytime harinamas were surprisingly well received by vendors who have tables of their wares set up along some New York sidewalks. Often they would smile, clap, move with the music, and even say a few words of the mantra as our joyful party passed. You could see that they had developed a fondness for the devotees that was beautiful to see. There were also employees who worked in front of the restaurants who took great pleasure in dancing along with the devotees whenever they passed.
Once we chanted at 34th St. subway station for an hour because it was raining outside. I could see the interest in the faces of the some of the people, and we distributed invitations and prasadam to them. Then we had to stop because of the police. Next we chanted at Union Square for half an hour next since the rain had stopped. Then the rain began again, so we took the “L” train to another subway station and chanted another hour there. One young lady sat on the bench to wait for the train, and began chanting the mantra along with us. She told me she was a regular at the Bhakti Center 12-hour kirtanas. She said she just finished reading a text message she got from Ananta telling of a kirtana program at 7:00 p.m. at the Center, when she heard our karatalas ringing and thought, “Why 7:00 p.m? There is kirtana now!”
My last day in America I went to Tompkins Square Park, inspired by one Bhagavan Dasa, a disciple of Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, who I met in San Diego, and became reacquainted with during my visit to New York. At the Bhakti Center, he was telling me he felt this block with 26 Second Ave. on one side, and the present Bhakti Center, 25 First Ave. on the other, was a very spiritual place on the level of Mayapur. This spiritual dhama, he explained also extends to Tompkins Square Park, where Srila Prabhupada and his early disciples chanted back in 1966, when the New York Hare Krishna temple was the only one in the movement. At first I did not appreciate my friend’s spiritual vision, but as I was playing my harmonium under the Hare Krishna tree in Tompkins Square Park, I felt the same emotions I did in Mayapur, as I chanted, meditating that this was the place the Hare Krishna movement began. On this earth, the Hare Krishna movement began in Mayapur, and in the West, the Hare Krishna movement began in New York’s Lower East Side, and chanting under that tree, thinking about Srila Prabhupada’s noble ambition of a worldwide spiritual movement was one of the most powerful spiritual emotional experiences I have had in recent years. As I continued to sing, some people sitting on the benches around the tree left, and a few others came.
After about twenty minutes, one man, perhaps in his sixties, who was sitting about thirty feet from me the whole time, came closer to sit, perhaps just ten feet away. Before relocating, he said something to me that I had never heard anyone say before, “Thank you for clearing the air by your singing.” I smiled and thanked him for his appreciation and continued singing, and he continued sitting, reading some book. His comment reminded me of Lord Caitanya’s glorification of the congregational chanting of the holy name for its cleansing effect. I marveled that here an ordinary New Yorker sitting on a bench reading a book was sharing his realization of this truth. After twenty minutes or so, when he got up to leave, I gave him the flyer I made for our public chanting programs, with the mantra, an a explanation of why we chant it, and web addresses for our centers, our music, and more information. I told him. “These are the words to the song. Our founder started singing in front of this tree in 1966. He envisioned a worldwide movement. People did not believe it would happen, but it did.” He smiled and said, “Thank you.”
A four-year-old girl rode her little tricycle around the tree a couple times, stopping to stare at me for half a minute each time as I played the harmonium, moving my head with the music and watching her. I wonder what spiritual benefit she gets for circumambulating the Hare Krishna tree. A group of kids with a couple teachers came by, and they were collecting odds and ends from around the park. They decided to include some bark from the tree and dirt at the base of the tree. It seems a lot of people unknowingly had a lot of association with that special tree.
I recalled as I made that visit to Tompkins Square Park, that I do usually go there when I visit New York, and I had not yet this time, until just one hour before leaving for the airport. It is like when I go to Mayapur, I visit places like Lord Caitanya’s birthplace and Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s home. Similar, when I go to New York, I visit Radha-Govinda, the first Radha-Krishna deities I ever saw, and I visit 26 Second Ave. and Tompkins Square Park, where Srila Prabhupada started his worldwide International Society for Krishna Consciousness against all odds, desiring to share the most voluminous spiritual knowledge with the maximum number of people.
Although Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu and the other brahmacari who does the program dress as Krishna monks, additional devotees who visit dress in western clothes so as not to intimidate the students.
If the oil is smoking, it looks too hot.
You can use a variety of colors of bell peppers to make the preparation look attractive.
Stroganoff was originally named after a Russian diplomat named Count Pavel Stroganov (1772-1812).
I was impressed to see a hundred people came, a usual size crowd for them. Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu mentions a local student article on their club: http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2010/04/13/food-meditation. He also advertises his weekly meditation program near the campus with a great breakfast. He also mentions a once per semester lecture with Radhanatha Swami, the last one being, “The Quarter-life Crisis,” and the next one, come up next week, being “How Superficial is Our Spirituality?” Then head of the new Bhakti Café on the first floor of the Bhakti Center told the students that when his café opens in mid May they can eat for half price for the first two weeks or so, a special deal just for them.
Gadadhara Pandit offers the food to the Lord with folded hands and chants the prayers silently, asking for the others to be silent. At the end, everyone rushes with enthusiasm to get into line for prasadam. Some regular students help serve out. He recommends people give at least a dollar to help maintain the program and purchase the food.
The students were sweet, and I spoke to at least five, personally inviting them to Radhanatha Swami’s lecture, telling how both my mother and I really loved his lectures and his autobiography. I also sent a halava recipe to one girl who really liked that traditionally popular prasadam item and became a Facebook friend of one who knows a devotee friend of mine. I told one committed student, originally from Paris, who serves out each week, about the youtube video of the very positive Paris TV news clip on our metroyoga program there.
Why strong sadhana?
1. It is essential for purity in thoughts, words, and actions.
2. Strict sadhana helps create the proper atmosphere in the ashram.
Radhanatha Swami’s definition—striving with all strength.
Sacinandana Swami asked Radhanatha Swami to describe devotional service in one word, and he replied, “Absorption.”
Effects of weak sadhana:
1. Material desires flood the heart, and the desire to fight them goes away.
2. We start paying more attention to things other than Krishna.
3. We become expert in justifying our illusory attachments.
4. We lose taste for devotional service.
5. We become too concerned with our health.
When two people with weak sadhana get together, they start fueling each other’s material desires.
When we isolate ourselves from devotees, especially those with strict sadhana, it is a bad sign. It means that we want to be alone with our material desires.
If you have weak sadhana and your health becomes weak, if you do not have a good program for taking care of your health, then you look for someone to take care of you and that person is usually a lady.
A brahmacari does not point fingers at the lady and saying she is at fault.
According to Radhanatha Swami, if you are entering the grhastha life because you are feeling it is the best situation for you to execute spiritual life, that is alright, but if you decide to enter grhastha life because of the influence of a women who desires to marry you, that is not a laudable nor hopeful situation. Such relationships based on infatuations are short-lived.
If you cling tightly onto one of the five most important items of devotional service, you can easily make it as a brahmacari. Strong sadhana is necessary to attain this.
1. Lack of taste, leading to lack of inspiration.
2. Lack of personal initiative. [If we do not have that, we will become attached to some lady who will motivate us to work for her.]
We must learn to take pleasure in going against the demands of the mind.
As soon as you think you are a man, you need a woman. We have to think that we are the servant of the servant of Krishna.
I have written in previous years of Queen’s Day, a street festival in Amsterdam attended by 1-2 million people at which 200 Hare Krishna devotees chant with enthusiasm, so I shall be brief. This year was extra special because Sacinandana Swami came (and promised to return in future years) and Parasurama Prabhu came from the UK, along with his band. As last year, Kadamba Kanana Swami arranged to bring two buses of devotees from Radhadesh, many who attended his Vyasa Puja the previous day. See Parasuram’s video and Queen’s Day videos from Bhakta Michel of Rotterdam to experience the transcendental excitement.
Compassion is the greatest need in this world. Most of the million slum kids in Mumbai do not go to school because they are too hungry. The government asked us to help and we provide 210,000 plates. They want us to do 500,000, and we will do more as we have funds. Other problems like ecology are results of lack of compassion. Companies care more for their profits than the environment. Para-duhkha-duhkhi means one who becomes upset with the pain of others. Most of us limit our compassion to some only, but there is more satisfaction the wider our expression of our compassion. The great commandment in the Christian tradition is to love God with one’s heart, mind, soul, and that manifests as love for one another. A great soul sees equally all living beings because there are conscious souls. If we understand our own spiritual essence, we can see appreciate it when we see it in other living beings. Some say caring for the soul makes people callous toward hurting the body, but caring for the soul also means respecting the way the soul is embodied.
In Delhi at a roadside café, I saw a mother cow and her calf, closer than I had ever seen before. I saw they were playing, much in the same way as a human mother and her child. My host brought some food, and offered to explain it. There was meat and for the first time I made the connection between the cows and the meat. I excused myself because I couldn’t eat. I was vegetarian from then on.
Happiness is not about what you have, prestige, money, but inner fulfillment, which is based on our values. Ultimately fulfillment is to love and be love. This chanting of mantras has the purpose of awakening that love. The mirror of our mind is covered with dust, and we cannot see the love, but only the dust of selfish desires. Spirituality means to cleanse the mind to awaken the original qualities of you and me.
I was talking to the wife of a billionaire who invited me to go with him to Zimbabwe. He was telling me all his things did not satisfy him, only loving, being loved and helping others. His wife reflected how she was happier in her previous simple village life. It is not a matter of being this or that religion. It is a process of cleaning the mind to experience love of God and compassion for others. If we do not see our religion as a process that is meant to evoke our divine qualities, it will be an impediment not a solution. Satyagrahi is one who grasps the essence of the opportunity in every situation to grow in love and compassion. The externals have meaning only when connected with the essence.
When I lived on the bank on the Ganges, one friend Narayana, who was 85, would take me to his friend, Mohammed, and for one or two hours they would share their views on spirituality, and I would share mine. I asked how they could be such friends in the midst of so much strife over different religions. My friend said, “A dog will identify the master no matter how he dresses. God is the master of all. If we cannot identify Him in his different appearances, we are less than a dog.”
The mantra we chant helps awaken the love. Our action radiates and affects others.
Three days I was with a sister who was dying of cancer. Her husband told me she had said something very special. She was in the last stages of cancer, paralyzed and emaciated. In the final days she told her husband with a smile, “I feel I have unlimited eternal value because God loves me.” We all have the value because we are all part of God. Why can we not see this?
As educated people, you will have power, and power in the hands of compassionate persons makes a tremendous positive effect for changing the world. We should be so grateful for all the gifts we have, ever morsel of food, every drop of rain. A grateful heart is fertile for compassion to develop.
[Brahmananda Prabhu is the first president of the ISKCON, 26 2nd Ave., and personal secretary of Srila Prabhupada for many years, and he spoke at the Sunday Feast at Radha-Govinda Mandir.]
In February 1966, Srila Prabhupada wrote his Introduction to Bhagavad-gita.
At Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa initiation, he was asked to speak in English, because his mission was to preach in the English language. Later he would tell different people of his plan to go to America. At that time, the India government required you have a sponsor who could take of you financially, and one Mr. Agarwal offered his son as a sponsor, for the young man had married an American girl and lived in America.
In New York, Srila Prabhupada rented an office to live in and would go to Dr. Misra’s to use his bathroom and kitchen. It was winter and sometimes the wind would be so icy, he had to turn back and that meant no bath and food that day.
Prabhupada sold a set of books to the captain of the Jaladuta for $20, so he had that when he arrived in New York. In those days, $20 was a lot of money as gas was $0.25 a gallon and the subway was $0.15. Prabhupada bought a tape recorder for a price that was the equivalent of a month’s rent. He would have regular evening kirtana (chanting) and lectures and sometimes no one would come. He would record them both, and then play them back. Srila Prabhupada remarked, “So in this way, I was hearing and chanting.” He also recorded himself reading his Introduction to Bhagavad-gita on February 19, 1966. Later the tape recorder and a typewriter were stolen, and Srila Prabhupada suspected the superintendent of the building he lived in.
Before meeting Srila Prabhupada, I had studied the Gita in college and written my thesis on Gita. I made it clear to Srila Prabhupada, that I unlike the other boys, knew Bhagavad-gita. Srila Prabhupada smiled approvingly that I knew Bhagavad-gita.
My professor said the Gita was written by unknown forest sages. My idea was that Krishna was a literary figure. Srila Prabhupada asked which Gita I was reading. I was reading Aurobindo’s version. Srila Prabhupada had me read a page of it, close the book, and recall it. I try but failed. Srila Prabhupada smiled and said, “That is alright. Aurobindo has written in such a way that nobody can understand.”
Brahmananda Prabhu has produced a multimedia disk of Srila Prabhupada reading his Introduction to Bhagavad-gita, as the text appears on the screen along with beautiful pictures of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada.
Insight from Lectures
The guru is as good as God because he gives real knowledge. That is his qualification. He cannot be a speculator; otherwise he is bogus.
The ultimate goal of life is to escape the transmigration process.
Nonviolence is the beginning of religious life because every living being is a son of God.
“Surfer,” I see as “sufferer.” He is preparing himself to get the body of fish. It will take him a long time to become human being again. He will have to go through 900,000 species of fish, then 2 million plants, etc.
If you like, you can go back to Godhead. Krishna has come to give such nice instruction. He has come as Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya came because people thought that Krishna’s instruction to surrender was too much.
Spiritual life begins with surrender. You can make your life perfect in a moment, simply by surrendering to Krishna.
Even after punishment and atonement, people still commit sins.
Mrgari , the hunter, lived in Prayag. [a fact I do not recall hearing before]
Srila Prabhupada says in the purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.18.10, “Demons and atheists do not try to understand the Lord and so are subject to birth and death.”
I stress reading since sometimes we neglect it because we promise to chant at initiation, but we do not promise to read.
The only line I recall from Rupa Sanatana’s father’s speech at his son’s marriage is, “I hope they soon have a house so they can argue in peace.”
Taking shelter of scripture is the only way to make life auspicious.
It should be possible that the disciples can cooperate together and serve the guru because that is what the guru wants. No just that we have to do because of scripture but naturally.
Krishna can do so much, but what can his representative to do? Very little. Only desire. He can desire that his disciples take advantage of their human form of life. Even Srila Prabhupada, although a very powerful spiritual master, could only humbly ask people to follow.
We are so tiny, we are always agitated by the material energy either positively or negatively, and therefore, we cannot seriously serve Krishna’s representative, our spiritual master.
Our feet are slipping, in other words, our minds are always distracted by the material energy. Thus we need the stick of support of the saints’ mercy.
Srila Prabhupada said in the presence of Tribhuvatha Prabhu, who told Kadamba Kanana Swami, “Krishna consciousness is so simple, you might just miss it.”
We may argue about whether we are right or wrong, but if we are differing from what our guru said, we are wrong right off the bat.
I got a lot of mercy from the Vaishnavas in this life, for example, Brahmananda Prabhu stood on my hand. So many instructions, I got from different devotees. Tamala Krishna Goswami invited me for lunch, and personally served me piping hot pakoras, when my water glass was empty, and offered me some words of chastisement.
Once I left the association of devotees. I went to the movies and there were Hare Krishnas, though not real, in the movie I saw. One devotee Maha Vira vowed to fast until I returned. I returned in three days.
My guru [Jayadvaita Swami] is very liberal and broadminded and had more faith in me than I had in myself. Many people are afraid of his karate blow use of language, but he has always been very encouraging with me.
If I have any strength it is the blessing of all these Vaishnava. I humbly request that you take seriously the practice of Krishna consciousness. I do not care if you want to live in the mountains or the city. I do not care if you dress very conservatively or in a way that is a little bit freaky. All I ask is please simply take shelter of the holy name, read Srimad-Bhagavatam, live near the temple or often visit, and do not disagree with the spiritual masters, but admit it is you who are wrong or in maya.
Mercury controls material intelligent. Jupiter controls a deeper, spiritual intelligence.
When we turn away from Srimad-Bhagavatam, we become Puranjana who is trying for enjoyment in the body.
Prabodhananda Saravati Thakura said that either we immerse ourselves in the ocean of devotional service, or we will immerse ourselves in the ocean of unwanted deeds.
Sometimes Vaishnavas disagree but immediately come together again because they are completely dedicated to the Lord’s service.
[After Vyasa Puja offerings:] I want to thank you for all you have done and all you have said. After all, it is voluntary, and it is rare that people ignore the glare of maya and surrender to Krishna.
After a few days in the movement, they made me a manager. My relatives were executives in Shell and Phillips, and the last thing I wanted to do was manage. I wanted to preach.
Krishna consciousness is so inconceivably exalted and we are so fallen, we just look at Krishna consciousness and marvel at it. I am afraid I may miss this opportunity. I had a chance to live in Vrindavana where there were many senior devotees. I could see that sannyasis were different, and I puzzled as to why.
What I desire to achieve individually is to be a strong individual, strong in integrity and character—someone who lives by principles whether it is easy or difficult. I wish to understand the illusory energy affects the mind and senses, but I want to merely observe that and not be affected by it. To do this, I must be strong in knowledge. We must think through, “I am not by body but spiritual soul.” What does it practically mean? “I am always the servant of Krishna” in all circumstances. I spend a lot of time thinking about the implications of these things. I want to support my disciples. I want to them to develop to be independently thoughtful people. I learned by the activities of Tamal Krishna Goswami that a guru must give the disciple a greater vision of his life than he has on his own. If there are things that are unfavorable in our lives, we have to remove them. That we are doing together. Essential are hearing, chanting, and remembering Krishna, and performing service. Another thing is kindness. We all want to receive kindness. It is part of being a strong individual. If my disciples were known for their exemplary kindness, that would be wonderful for me. We need challenge to grow. It is not enough to be part of ISKCON or be initiated. I compare the initiation vows to pearls that must be planted as Krishna once did to produce trees of pearls. There must be a balance between being natural and sacrificing. All together you are a talented bunch—singers, actors, movie makers, fire jugglers (even indoors). If we can bundle our talents in the service of Krishna, that would be nice. There is no difference between the gurus in that they are giving the same message. We are representing Srila Prabhupada and are resting on Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada said in Portland that anyone who chants and follows the four rules can go back to Godhead at the end of this life. Thrice he said, “I guarantee it.” I believe in naturalness. We have our natural talents and must engage them. Yet we must be willing to sacrifice it in a moment for our own spiritual advancement or the furthering of this movement.
The other point is to make a contribution. Once one devotee told me thrice that you could be Krishna consciousness without being in ISKCON. I thought about it and decided that philosophically it was possible, but that I wanted to make a contribution to ISKCON. We have our propensity and inclination. In Srila Prabhupada’s presence, everyone had to adjust, and many times it was tough, outright difficult, to do what he wanted as he was demanding. I do not have so much love for God that I can demand to the extent Srila Prabhupada did. We can only demand to the extent that people have love for us.
Before I die, I would like there to be 1,000 sannyasis in ISKCON. I said in a lecture that one should start thinking about sannyasa the day he gets married.
I know many of you are very good writers. Please use this in Krishna consciousness.
Jayadvaita Swami decided to create a BBT in Africa. He had been thinking about it for years. This year he took it up with enthusiasm. He organized a meeting that made everyone realize that they had to make a change in their priorities to put Srila Prabhupada’s books more in the center. The more we put Srila Prabhupada’s books in the center, the more we will find inspiration that would not be possible to get on our own.
I pray that whatever I have done to get some of Krishna’s mercy, that I pass that mercy on to you. I hope you will give Krishna consciousness to many conditioned souls and return to Godhead at the end of life.
Kadamba Kanana Swami initiation lecture:
We do not need to look for too many hidden meanings in the holy name. Krishna is the all-attractive Lord. By chanting we become attracted to serve Him.
To a candidate for brahmana initiation: “You will have enough time to play with the thread later on.”
We should not think we can do anything we want and expect it will all be made up for if we chant Hare Krishna. We must strive for purity.
We must always think that home is Vrindavana or Mayapur. Every place else we are visiting. In Vrindavana everything is favorable for devotional service.
We must preach something, but to the faithless we do not tell the intimate pastimes of the Lord.
Life is not a japa retreat. Sometimes will have maximum days, other times minimum days, but our minimum days should never be less than 16 rounds.
That you are taking intiation in front of Gopinatha, means you have a special relationship with Radha-Gopinatha. If you have difficulty, you can always come here and pray to Them for help.
Lying to oneself is one of the greatest impediments of the advancing devotee. We have to be sincere enough to overcome this.
The sincere spiritual aspirant has the responsibility to know the qualities of a genuine spiritual mentor.
Prithu Prabhu: The first time I saw Srila Prabhupada he waved, and I bowed down. I laughed and cried, and had so many emotions at once. Previously I could never understand his accent, but when he spoke in person I could understand every word. It was practically a miracle. After that I had no trouble understanding his taped lectures.
Krishna Kumari Prabhu: When Srila Prabhupada was there at New Vrindavan we were like one big family. The senior devotees were very open and took prasadam with all of us and were liberal answering anyone’s questions.
Amarendra Prabhu: Someone asked how to show love for the guru. Prabhupada said by keeping the vows you made to him and the Deity at the time of initiation.
Satyanarayan Prabhu: At New Vrindavan, Baradraja led kirtana, Vishnujana took over with very melodious maha-mantras. Then Srila Prabhupada took over and led with such ecstasy and it seemed that sky opened up and love of God descended, everyone was crying in ecstasy. I cried for an hour afterward.
Visakha Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada spoke on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2 at Rupa Goswami’s Samadhi, where the Six Goswamis used to study scripture together, during Karttika and although we had heard it before, it was so powerful to hear in the setting, that it was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.
Ananda-maya Prabhu: In Hyderabad, 5,000 to 10,000 people came every night to hear Srila Prabhupada and 1,000 in the morning. There had been a drought for some time, but after four or five days, it began to rain and Srila Prabhupada explained it was due the sankirtana. The papers mentioned that.
Dinanatha Prabhu: I wanted to pursue a simple renounced life, but my mind and body protested so was trying to decide what to do. I told Srila Prabhupada about my plan to go to Hrishkesa and be an ideal brahmacari. Srila Prabhupada said, “Please do not do that. I wasted 12 years alone in Vrndavana. Just tell everyone you meet about Krishna.”
Yajna Purusa Prabhu:
Despite ideas of selfless love that I had from my family upbringing and from intuition, I came to realize at the end of the day, people are looking out for themselves. The great love stories in the material world are all tragedies. We hurt people, although we do not mean to hurt people. We destroy relationships, and yet we do not want to destroy relationships. And thus we become disillusioned. But when we come to spiritual life, we realize that the selfless love that we hoped for, yet could not find, is a reality and its attainment is possible.
‘Not dealing with things’ is another way of dealing with things.
The associates of Lord Caitanya were so happy in their spiritual ecstasy that they naturally felt sorry for those who were missing out. This is an idea that is beyond all religious sectarianism.
In Krishna consciousness, anything that is conscious is sacred, part of God, and deserving protection.
The more spiritually advanced we become, the more our own problems are solved, and we have time to help others. To see people stuck in a miserable situation with no alterative is the greatest pain. If we are freed, it is natural to free others.
Q: How do we benefit people who do not want to be benefited?
A: If you have a sincere desire to benefit people, Krishna will detect that and make an arrangement to benefit them. The book distributors have this realization all the time. The people do not wake up intending to buy Krishna conscious literature, but because of the devotee’s sincere desire, Krishna tells them in the heart to buy it, and sometimes they do not even know why.
Viewing how we act in a temple environment, we see we still have the seeds of desire that originally brought us to this material world
Determination is the expression of sincerity.
Rationalization is using honesty in the service of the false ego.
In the beginning we ask “why?” later we ask “how?” and as time goes on the “how?” becomes more specific. In time, your guru becomes like your conscience.
When I gave my guru daksina [a donation of gratitude] after initation, I said to Radhanatha Swami, “Thank you for accepting me as your disciple.” Radhanatha Swami said, “Thank you for accepting me as your servant.” That sealed the relationship for me.
One devotee who works in the corporate world commented, “My personal trainer always tells me, ‘Don’t tell me what you can’t do. That is your mind telling you that. I am here to tell you what you can do.’”
Tolerance is the armor of a saintly person.
When one takes to spiritual life, we must develop tolerance, and if we take up the work of spreading spiritual knowledge, we must develop even more tolerance.
Tolerance means tolerating internal and external impediments. Our own minds are like a roommate who is always babbling nonsense.
The first effect when someone does not appreciate our service is to lose enthusiasm. Therefore we have to practice tolerance. Without becoming tolerant, we cannot maintain steady determination in our devotional service.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura seemed to become more encouraged the more obstacles he encountered. He regarded opposition to be evidence that his propaganda work was becoming effective.
Not one saintly personality has been spared. Everyone has been given some test by the Lord.
Q: Sometimes demoniac people seem to flourish more than we are. How do we attain mental satisfaction in such a state?
A: We are just seeing a small part of the picture, like seeing five minutes of a movie.
A (by Rasikananda Prabhu) I just think about the people I am trying to please. If they are satisfied by my endeavors, I can be happy.
Srila Prabhupada writes, “‘Mayavadi’s cannot understand the Lord has feelings.” In the material world, feelings pertaining to the state of the body have no ultimate value, so material feelings are negated. Even Krishna negated Arjuna’s feelings of compassion based on the body. The Mayavadi’s understand Brahman is spiritually blissful, and material feelings are illusory. Devotees understand material feelings are illusory, but the Lord has real feelings, and the devotees, in relation to the Lord, have real feelings too.
Mayavadi philosophers are described as “almost demons.” Here Srila Prabhupada is being a little kind.
(1) Sometimes he argues that since the demons who are killed by the Lord attain the brahmajyoti that the Mayavadis aspire for, both have the same demoniac mentality.
(2) Other times he argues that the demons try to kill Krishna physically, and the Mayavadis try to kill Krishna philosophically, by their impersonal explanations, that he has no hands, no legs, no eyes, etc. In reality according to the Gita (13.14), the Lord has these things everywhere: “sarvatah pani padam tat…” “Everywhere are his hands, feet, eyes, head, faces, ears. In this way the Supersoul exists, pervading everything.
One reason Krishna is displeased with the blasphemy of the demons is because the statements are incorrect, and He is a lover of the truth.
“The conclusion is that God is as sentient as we are.” This reminds me of the statement Srila Prabhupada in a Vyasa Puja to his own spiritual master:
“Absolute is sentient thou has proved
Impersonal calamity thou has moved.”
What can we learn from this verse and purport?
We can please the Lord by offering nice prayers, such as prayers offered by the great teachers:
“My Lord, I know that young girls have natural affection for young boys, and that young boys have natural affection for young girls. I am praying at Your lotus feet that my mind may become attracted unto You in the same spontaneous way.”
Arjuna offers nice prayers in response to Krishna’s revealing his divinity, “You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest.” (Bg. 10.12)
Demons consider the Lord to be an ordinary person. Here the Lord is playing along with that conception, claiming that He has no place to go due to having created enmity with Hiranyaksa. Demons claim property to be their own. What to speak of demons, even great demigods become attached to property. Indra even fought with Lord Krishna to keep the heavenly parijata tree, just a few hours after, by his calculation, he had been humbled by Krishna in His Govardhan Hill pastime.
Krishna talks at length about divine and demonic (Bg. 16). What is the critical difference? The divine accept scripture and follow it, while the demons ignore it. To ignore the scripture is foolish. From our periodic mistakes, we can readily see our own knowledge is imperfect, and therefore, if an all-knowing being has given perfect advice, it is wise to consult it. Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita 16.23, that those who disregard scripture and act according to their whims cannot attain perfection, happiness, or the supreme destination.
Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu:
Hiranyaksa could understand from Varuna that the Lord could give him a good fight, but he did not accept Varuna’s version that the Lord would be victorious. The acceptance of only part of what one hears from an authority is a demonic quality.
Association with devotees is like fire. It can do great benefit or great harm. We cannot live without fire, yet fire can be incredibly destructive. Similarly by association with devotees, we can attain the spiritual world or if we are offensive, we can lose interest in spiritual life altogether.
By loose speech that offends the devotees we can delay our progress back to Godhead. It can be so subtle that we do not even notice this delay.
Lord Caitanya’s program is simple: chant and do not offend the devotees.
We see that great souls like Radhanatha Swami and Bhakti Caru Swami glorify each other when they meet in a deep way. We might try to follow this example.
Just by naming principles of nature such as gravitation, scientists erroneously think they have understood them.
One of the largest groups of people who have rejected the idea of evolution are doctors, who, because of their training and work, can appreciate the great complexity of the human body.
In the womb, we are in complete sedation for nine months and then we take birth and we are completely helpless and have no clue who we are or where we are. Then we become completely addicted to our mother’s milk. Nothing else has any meaning. If we do not get it, we cry like anything.
This world is a shocking experience, and we are keeping ourselves in illusion so we do not have to deal with it.
Due to the volcanic ash, 67,000 flights were canceled. The recent earthquakes can be seen as the earth reacting to all our abuse of her.
Because the earth is the wife of Lord Varaha, when we honor the earth, we are honoring the wife of the Lord.
By your practice you can see how the Lord takes care of you.
When I was in my twenties, I had a book table in Bulgaria, and one atheistic man came by and started shouting “These books are all illusion. Don’t buy them. You are deluding people.” He went on and on, saying all kinds of insulting words and attracted a crowd. I prayed to Krishna and felt inspired to tell him, “Please sir, I have legal permission to be here, kindly step over to the side and attract attention to yourself there.” Initially, I was upset by the man, but then I concluded that Krishna sent him for some reason. A few days later, he came up to my table. I was apprehensive, but he said he wanted to buy a book. I asked why he had changed his mentality. He said he had a dream in which I told him he should buy some books. And so he asked which one I recommended, and I suggested Life Comes from Life.
At my cooking classes, I always cook extra and encourage the people to take some to their family members, and they love to do this.
Mohammed quote, “Die before you die.”
Martin Luther King quote: “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
Notes on a Caitanya-caritamrita class on Sunday by speaker whose name I forgot:
Bhakti is very natural. There are so many songs on the radio. But who is singing about knowledge? Who is singing about austerity? No, everyone is singing about love.
Focusing on our intention to please Krishna, we can more easily become detached from the results of our work.
Advaita Acarya cried out to the Lord repeatedly to successfully induce Him to come.
Jayadvaita Swami tells a story that Srila Prabhupada and the devotees were at an airport, and one boy wandered away from the group. Srila Prabhupada noticed and commented that that boy was very bold. Then the boy suddenly realized that he could not see his parents, and he started crying like anything. Srila Prabhupada made the point that this is actually our situation when we boldly leave Krishna.
yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha guroh
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
“Only unto those great souls who simultaneously have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.23)