Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 10
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2010, part two)
Leipzig, Munich, Simhachalam
(Sent from Manchester, England, on June 8, 2010)
Where I Am and What I’m Doing
I went to Leipzig on the way to Munich Ratha-yatra because I heard the devotees were going to do a big harinama there at the largest European Gothic festival. After the Munich Ratha-yatra, I went to Simhacalam, our Bavarian farm with a awesome Prahlad-Nrsimha deity two days for Nrsimhadeva’s appearance. Then I returned to Munich for almost a week of harinama.
Each year Leipzig devotees chant at largest Gothic festival in the world, with 200,000 attendees coming from all over Europe.
The Gothic people dress in black, like the girl in the picture who is dancing with the devotees. Leipzig devotees told me at least three Hare Krishna devotees they knew of were previously involved with the Gothic people. Last year there were 30 devotees including Kadamba Kanana Swami in the harinama. This year it was smaller, but it is always nice to chant in public with enthusiastic devotees.
Claudia Krampitz shares her pictures from the event:
This year the Munich devotees wisely scheduled their Ratha-yatra just before the Nrsimha Caturdasi festival at Simhachalam farm in Bavaria, just two and a half hours away, thus attracting the participation of many ISKCON dignitaries like Sacinandana Swami, Bhakti Bhusana Swami, Kavicandra Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, Prithu Prabhu, and GBC Dina Sharana Prabhu and as well as many other devotees coming for the festival. Nikhilananda Prabhu, Prabhupada disciple and astrologer, calculated May 22 to be the best day and it was, with the nicest weather this year. The Ratha-yatra opening ceremony began at 12:30 p.m. The Ratha-yatra procession itself ended 5:15 p.m., making it the longest Ratha-yatra I had ever been to outside of India, except one Indradyumna Swami did in Poland one year. Josef, who has been keeping my camera since I foolishly left it in Budapest last year, returned it so I could take some video of the Ratha-yatra procession: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4uRGGYlskc
I also found three other videos on YouTube:
The stage show was compressed, with little time, but kirtana, lecture, and an Indian dance were present as usual. Kadamda Kanana Swami’s kirtana got the most people dancing. Always there were between fifty and a hundred people watching, and many temple invitations were passed out to the onlookers.
I took a few pictures of both the Ratha-yatra and the stage show:
Many devotees, having a lot of devotion, mostly coming from Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Slovakia, attend the Nrsimha Caturdasi festival at Simhachalam each year, and there is a lot of sweet kirtana there. Madhava Prabhu came and sang bhajanas, including one of my favorites, which he chanted for two hours. All the senior devotees present at the Munich Ratha-yatra also came for the Nrsimha festival. Not only that, Lord Jagannatha Himself, along with His elder brother, Baladeva, and His sister, Subhadra, also came for the festival, instead of returning immediately after the Ratha-yatra to their altar in Berlin. A special surprise was Lord Jagannatha’s donning of Nrsimha dress on Nrsimha Caturdasi.
This was my third time coming, and it was wonderful as usual, with all the Nrsimha bhakti manifest in the form of kirtanas, talks of Nrsimha pastimes, maha-abhiseka, dramas, and great prasadam. Still I did make the mistake of spending three hours on the internet making travel arrangements on Nrsimha Caturdasi afternoon, and I felt had truly wasted my time. Somehow fasting was easier for me this year, even though I had not drunk three cups of water before sunrise to shorten both its duration and its impact to the minimum. Still when the final kirtana extended past the time of sunset (8:56 p.m.), I did become a little impatient. I recall not overindulging in prasadam when breaking the fast this year, which is more possible for me as I get older. The Italian accordion player and kirtana leader, Hare Krishna Dasa, led a spontaneous harinama around the temple on the holy day, which was an extra special treat for all who took part.
Sometimes it was raining, and the harinama party took shelter of the prasadam tent. There were seminars the days following Nrsimha Caturdasi, but I only went to a half a day of them, wishing to return to Munich and do harinama.
Cakravarti Prabhu recalls:
There was a temple in Hamburg and a 23-year-old son of a Berlin policeman, joined the temple. The policemen asked that we tell the boy he could not stay. We refused, because he has free will and could do as he liked. The policeman said he had connections with all kinds of people who could create a miserable situation for us, and concluded, “If you do not follow my advice I will do something very terrible to you.” We did not send the boy back. Later in Berlin, where we had a temple, one morning after we had chanted the Nrsimhadeva prayers, a van pulled up outside the temple and shot 20 rounds of ammunition from an automatic rifle. Bullets came through the wall from every direction, but as the devotees where bowing down to Lord Nrsimha after the prayers, none was even slightly injured.
Prithu Prabhu recalls:
There was a 23-year-old boy who joined the Belfast temple. A priest called me and told me the boy’s uncle is here, and he wants to talk to you. The boy’s uncle told me to tell the boy to leave the temple and go to his mother. I said, “I can’t tell a grown man to go back to his mother. It is unethical.” The boy’s uncle insisted twice more, but I refused. The man said angrily, “You will regret this.” The priest turned pale. He explained that the man was in charge of one of the warring armies in Ireland and had 70,000 men working for him. He advised me to leave the country at once. I said, “I have been in Ireland for 14 years, and I am not moving one inch.” Later we read in the newspapers that when the boy’s uncle got in his car to leave, the car exploded as a bomb was planted in it. It had been dangerous for him to come to that part of Ireland, but he had accepted the risk to take the boy away from the devotees. When he was frustrated in his attempt and he was determined harm the devotees in retaliation, Krishna arranged that the man’s political adversaries destroy him.
For the two days after the Ratha-yatra, I went on harinama with Pancatattva Prabhu from Poland, Tomas from Slovakia, and Francesco from Czech Republic. Pancatattva and Francesco usually distributed books. Mostly I played the harmonium, and Tomas played the drum. Plainclothed policeman informed us that we could not sing in the pedestrian area, only on the sidewalks of the streets. An Indian man at a fast food place offered us carbonated apple juice served in beer glasses. It was humorous seeing the devotees drinking the bubbly beverage which was not much different in appearance from the beer that other customers were drinking. Some people were glad to see us, and a few took pictures. Some drunk men at an outside café heckled us. It reminded me of the saying, “The dogs will bark, but the caravan will pass.” But on the whole it was a favorable experience.
After the Nrisimha festival at Simhacalam, I returned to Munich to do harinama. The first day, Hanno, a brahmacari from Leipzig, assisted me. We chanted at a fairly crowded U-bahn (subway) stop called Sendlinger Tor near a impressive city gate dating back to 1313. It started raining, so we left early, to my disappointment. I decided we should sing on the way back on the U-bahn, so our time would not be wasted. One young man, who was drunk, liked our music, and gave us a donation. The train did not go the whole way to the temple, but to our surprise, reversed direction after two stops at Kolumbusplatz. The young man was so pleased to hear us play, we continued going several stops the opposite direction from the temple. He said, “I do not care what the other people think, but I like your music, so keep playing!” At different times, he gave us two more donations. He was philosophical but could not think so clearly because of the alcohol. At one point he fell down, and after picking himself up, he mentioned that he must had done something to deserve it. As a result of his donations, we were able to cover our train fare to Sendlinger Tor.
The last four harinamas I did in Munich were just by myself. Other devotees we busy, sick, or recovering from the Ratha-yatra and the management meetings before the Nrsimha festival. I played harmonium and chanted three hours a day. The first day I got just a euro in donations, not enough to cover the 4.80 euro train ride. The next day, I asked Bhakti Bhusana Swami for his blessings, and a kind older gray-haired grandmother stopped by my spot at English Garden, with her two granddaughters and inquired about what I was doing. I explained I was chanting spiritual mantras for everyone’s benefit and how it was a science described in Bhagavad-gita. She gave a 10 euro donation, so I gave her a hardbound Sri Isopanisad. The final day it began to rain, and I took shelter in an enclosed section on the side of the ancient city gate. One shopper had a paper bag that got so wet it fell apart. Not wanting to throw out the contents, she decided to give them to me, saying “Kaput!” and throwing up her arms in frustration. It reminded me of the story Prabhupada tells about the man whose grains are blown away by the wind, so he exclaims “Govinda bhoga!” (“O Lord, this is for your enjoyment!”) I put the goods in a plastic bag I had brought to sit on and took them to the temple. The pujari lady used the salad greens for the deities’ breakfast and gave the bread to her Muslim husband, and thus what I obtained got utilized. The last two days the people gave me just enough to pay my train ticket. I am sorry for the mercenary tone of this entry. I guess I am not accustomed to spend my own money taking trains to harinama, so I was worried about getting it back. Of course, there is no real worry, as Krishna is expert at maintaining and funding His devotees’ outreach programs.
One man was interested in the books but had no money, so I gave him a Prabhupada pamphlet. The children are always the most interested in the chanting, partially because they are not worried about what people think of them, and the kids sometimes detain their parents by their desire to hear.
Insights from Lectures
Dharma is not found merely by studying the Vedas but is hidden in the heart of the pure devotee, such as Prahlada Maharaja.
Because Hiranyakasipu was the greatest demon and Prahlada Maharaja was the greatest devotee, it was just a matter of time before there was conflict.
Envy of Krishna, which expands to envy of others, is the root of our material existence.
The quality of forgiveness manifest by Prahlada Maharaja is characteristic of the greatest souls.
When the Lord came as Nrsimha, He was inconceivably angry, so much so none of the demigods could approach him to pacify him. They pushed Prahlada Maharaja forward saying, “He came to protect you. You pacify Him.” Nrsimhadeva’s whole mood changed, and he licked Prahlada with His tongue, like a lioness licking her cubs.
As a new devotee, I started preaching in Munich. I sat down along a main street with my karatalas. I had a picture of Srila Prabhupada and a sign, “I am a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and I am in here in Munich to start a temple.” Then I got some Isopanishads and put up a sign “books for sale” and the price. I connected with a few people, and a couple let me stay at their place. Later the wife told me there was a storefront for rent nearby. I went over there, dressed as a devotee, and the person rented me the place.
The Lord becomes attracted when we eat only food that is offered to Him. Because the Lord is self-sufficient, nothing but devotion attracts Him. This devotion can only be obtained from someone who has it. That we have get a seed of the devotion from a devotee is rare and is compared to the chance that a turtle swimming in the ocean will come up for air in the hole of a particular piece of wood floating in the ocean.
Spiritual master. Master means he should be served. If we think he is our equal we will not progress. One should glorify the spiritual maser according to one’s realization.
Because it is difficult to surrender to Krishna, the Lord appeared as Lord Caitanya to show how to surrender to Krishna through devotional service. No one can do this better than Krishna Himself.
Although there are many faults in this age, the holy name can overcome them.
Death is one of the few sure things in life.
This science of self-realization is not known to the university professors.
Devotional service is performed with joy according to Bhagavad-gita 9.2.
Srila Prabhupada always stressed that Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all other incarnations. This is stressed in Brahma-samhita 5.1 and Srimad-Bhagavatam1.3.28.
Krishna can only be understood by devotion (Bhagavad-gita 18.55) which is attained by devotional practices.
When one has controlled his senses, his speaking is powerful. There was a difference in Srila Prabhupada speaking compared to another person. When he said, “You are not the body,” it affected the audience.
At Simhachalam there is a glass case with different articles that were originally used by Srila Prabhupada, including one sweater, that Harikesa Prabhu gave to Bhakti Bhusana Swami. When Srila Prabhupada left this world, the devotees who had such articles were encouraged to surrender them to be preserved.
The pure devotees see everything belongs to Krishna and so it should be used in Krishna’s service.
When a bandit comes to a brahmana’s house and asks him where his money, he has to tell him, “Oh, it is in the sock under the mattress.” But when he comes to a Vaishnava brahmana, he will say “I have no money.” He is not lying, because he actually realizes that everything belongs to God.
Sometimes Krishna Himself does something that appears not exactly honest but if one analyzes the entire situation one can see that Krishna is actually just.
If by your scriptural studies, you do not come to the conclusion that you have to surrender to Krishna, then your knowledge is not realized.
Many people had translated the Vedic literature since the mid-1800s yet not many people became Vaishnavas until Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada said we should know the scripture to cite evidence to back up what we say, and if we do not know it that well, we should be able to tell where in the scripture it is to be found.
It was Krishna’s plan that Srila Prabhupada was not assisted by any of his contemporaries in his successful spreading of Lord Caitanya’s movement in the West, because the Lord wanted to glorify Srila Prabhupada for doing it alone.
When Srila Prabhupada came to a temple, everyone was so inspired they would work days without sleep to prepare Srila Prabhupada’s rooms. And when he would leave everyone was filled with lamentation. These feelings is alright because we are not impersonalists.
The devotees would bring Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasana [special seat] to his programs, but in Germany he stopped it because he could see the people became so envious of him being honored that they could not hear his message.
The devotees rented a castle in Germany that Srila Prabhupada liked very much. The owner was eager to rent it to them, as there was not much of a market for castle rentals.
One time the devotees hired a helicopter to bring Srila Prabhupada from the airport and spent a lot of money on his visit. Srila Prabhupada was aware of what was happening, and he told a story of a disciple who cooked an elaborate feast for the guru. The guru was very pleased but asked how he was able to provide such an elaborate meal. The disciple said, “It is all your mercy, Guru Maharaja.” The disciple made other elaborate arrangements and when his guru asked how he was able to do it, he always said to his guru, “It is only by your mercy.” At the end of the visit, the guru found out that the disciple was spending the guru’s personal money on all the elaborate arrangements.
In Vrndavana people would always greet Srila Prabhupada, “Jaya Radhe!” Srila Prabhupada would never respond “Jaya Radhe!” always “Hare Krishna!”
Hari Sauri’s diaries about Srila Prabhupada are almost like having Srila Prabhupada’s vapuh [personal physical] association.
Srila Prabhupada would tirelessly preach and encourage all kinds of preaching engagements.
Nobody can be Krishna conscious alone. We have to cooperate. And that is pleasing to Krishna.
Envy: If we meet someone superior to us or someone who is happy, we become morose. When we meet someone who is suffering, we become happy. When we meet an equal, we compete with them. When we meet a less capable person, we exploit him.
Our problem is that we think we are very, very special, but that we have not been discovered yet. But in reality, we are not that special. Our real specialness is manifest when we engage in the service of the Lord without reservation.
We must become more tolerant than the tree. The tree renders so much service. It is a pious activity to plant and to protect trees. Once a devotee cut down a tree, and Srila Prabhupada became angry with him, saying, “This tree has taken so many years to grow, and you have finished it in a moment.”
In the state of Rajasthan in India, they prohibited plastic bags because they blew into the desert, collecting there and polluting it.
In Cologne, Germany, there is one apple tree that produces so many apples, but the people do not pick the apples, and they remain there even through the winter. The people are so lazy they prefer to go to the shop and buy apples imported from New Zealand and Argentina.
Two tendencies we must watch out for are the tendencies toward impersonalism and sahajiyaism. Sometimes we seek our own peaceful situation and avoid service, like the impersonalists. Sometimes we imagine and pretend we are more advanced than we are, like the sahajiyas.
We become liberated by circumambulating tulasi and other items of devotional service. But is not enough to become liberated. One must remain liberated. Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita 14.26 that one must continuously engage in devotional service.
Q (by me): How do we deal with other Gaudiya Vaishnava groups?
A: Srila Prabhupada gave us a very simple formula, but the trouble is that we did not follow it. “Respect them, but do not associate with them intimately.” They cannot help us in our mission. Srila Prabhupada had a special preaching mission. Srila Prabhupada was inconceivably compassionate and merciful. Srila Prabhupada took people who were half crazy and detected that little glimmer of spirituality within him and fanned that spark, creating a fire of devotional service that would burn up their impurities. People did not take it seriously in the beginning thinking it was just a hippy movement, and that gave Srila Prabhupada time to develop it. By devotional service, the people matured and become responsible.
The deprogrammers in the U.S.A. said it more expensive to deprogram the Hare Krishnas because they were more convinced.
Srila Prabhupada would always make the point that attempts at brotherhood are artificial until we establish the common father and then it becomes very natural.
Anyone aspiring to be free from material desires should pray to Lord Nrsimha as Prahlada Maharaja does.
Prabhupada advised that even his householders should also live simply and avoid getting too entangled in this world.
Two quotes from Leonardo diVinci:
(1) He who wishes to be rich in one day will be hanged in one year.
(2) Marriage is like putting your hand in a bag full of snakes and hoping you will pull out an eel.
There is a story, showing the foolishness of envy, about a genie who gives a man a boon of getting whatever he wants with the side-effect that his neighbor will get twice as much. The man is so frustrated that his neighbor gets twice as much that finally he desires to lose one eye so that his neighbor will lose both.
If you desire material happiness, you will also get material distress, so the wise do not endeavor for such happiness.
Just like Srila Prabhupada used to say. Chant “Hare Krishna” and be happy. We should practice like that and teach others.
Lord Nrsimha is a special avatar. He is not an incarnation of Lord Vishnu but another manifestation of Krishna Himself in His completeness. Srila Prabhupada confirmed this in a lecture.
A maha-bhagavata does not even pray to Krishna for protection anymore than a helpless child asks his parents for protection.
If the devotees feel the protection of Lord Nrsimhadeva, they can preach fearlessly.
In a previous creation, “Ugram viryam . . .” mantra was taught by the presiding deity of the universe, Lord Nrisimha, to Lord Brahma, just as in this millennium Lord Krishna enlightened Lord Brahma in the mantra, “klim krishnaya govindaya gopijanavallabhaya namah.”
One popular Christian preacher has a prayer team to pray for the success of his lectures. He has some humility.
If you look up phobia on the internet, you see so many phobias. In material existence, people are always in a fearful condition.
Some people say, “I am too fallen to become Krishna conscious.” But Lord Caitanya demands no previous qualifications. One need only chant the holy name.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura said in one of his writings that he will now give up all thoughts of “I” and “mine.”
Some Mayavadis (impersonalist philosophers) say that they are God and the suffering they experience in their embodied state is their pastime, but the pastimes of the Lord of full of transcendental pleasure.
According to the statistics, more and more children are born with deformaties. Scientists offer explanations, such as it is because of the mother’s diet, but ultimately it is their karma.
“Chant with the heart not the tongue.”—slogan on a japa workshop T-shirt
Pronunciation of the mantra is not so important, as Krishna can understand we are speaking about Him.
Srila Prabhupada once said, “You may say you have no love for Krishna, but you are coming to class every day, and I have nothing to say new—Krishna is God and surrender unto Him. Therefore I think you must have some love for Krishna.”
I was in Africa, there was Christian and Moslem riot where hundreds of people were killed.
Atheism is a religion in England. One colleague of Richard Dawkins from Oxford told me that there is no greater religious fanatic on the planet than Richard Dawkins himself.
One disciple told Srila Prabhupada, “We were taught to be afraid of God.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “No, no, you shouldn’t be afraid of God, He is your friend.”
The demons are always afraid, no matter what position or how much power they have. Whereas as devotees know they are eternal spirit and that the Lord protects them, so they are fearless.
Srila Prabhupada explained that we do not have to make a separate endeavor to remember Krishna when we chant. Krishna is the holy name, so by hearing the holy name, we are thinking of Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada said that some people say that Haridas Thakura did not experience the different rasas with Krishna, but actually he was tasting all the rasas through hearing the holy name.
I personally do not see how artificial meat can be prepared for Krishna’s pleasure. Do you really think that Krishna likes the taste of meat?
At one japa retreat it was said that when we chant Hare Krishna we should imagine that Krishna is personally present listening to us. Several gurukulis [children of devotees] said that that instruction really transformed their japa.
We can speak very nicely according to the desire the audience, so I am hoping you are praying to hear something very valuable.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in his songs, explains “detachment from family” as meaning “maintaining family members as service to the Lord.”
Prahlada Maharaja, although completely renounced, accepted the position of king because he thought he could influence everyone in the kingdom to take spiritual life seriously.
One devotee was telling Srila Prabhupada, “By distributing your books I am becoming self-realized.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “You are already self-realized. Otherwise, why would you be distributing my books?”
If we take care of others, then Krishna will take care of us.
They did an experiment at Stanford by creating a fake prison. Ten students became guards, and ten became prisoners. They had to stop the experiment because the students who played guards became so abusive toward the students who played prisoners.
Before the Caitanya-caritamrita was printed, Srila Prabhupada told the story of the lady who was so eager to see Lord Jagannatha that she put her foot on the shoulder of Lord Caitanya, climbing up to see over the crowd. He told the story when the temple in Vrndavana was just opened and people were so eager to see the deity they didn’t strictly follow the principle of separation of the sexes, and one sannyasi had asked Srila Prabhupada what to do.
When Jayananda Prabhu was present, if there was a conflict between two devotees, he would smilingly listen to both sides, and within ten minutes it would all be settled. At the Sunday feast, I asked the guests how they came, and they all said, “Because Jayananda asked me.”
Srila Prabhupada told Jayananda Prabhu that the Ratha-yatra makes such an impression on the mind that when anyone who has seen it leaves their body and their life passes before them, they remember Lord Jagannatha, and they go back to Godhead. Thus Jayananda Prabhu became inspired to dedicate himself to making Ratha-yatra happen in different cities.
The way they woke up devotees during that time in ISKCON was that Vishnujana Maharaja would sing sweet kirtana, and Jayananda Prabhu would give the devotees laddus.
We know we should be surrendering to Krishna, but we are holding back. Kamsa had two wives who represent two different types of fear that keep a devotee from surrendering. We think:
1) Krishna is too far, and I am too fallen.
2) I really tried, but I cannot make it. I am not Lila Suka Prabhu.
We fear we will lose something.
If we can have contact with Krishna we will develop the courage to say to Krishna, “For so many long years, I have ignored you, but now I am surrendering to you.”
We have so many relationships we spend so much time on. At some point we relinquish all our relationships except our relationship with Krishna.
Sometime sit in a quiet place, thinking you are completely alone. Forget for the moment only, that all your relationships have slipped away. Best to choose to favorite holy place like Vrndavana. Meditate that you have the vision of Radha and Krishna, and you can pray to them or whatever you want. Say to them, “I surrender to You, Radha and Krishna, whatever is mine is in fact Your property. Everything is meant for Your enjoyment.” The wise men live their lives always in this consciousness. Then in your meditation bow down, and reenter your usual consciousness. By contacting Krishna in this way, you will find your spiritual energy level will increase significantly.
The policemen guarding the Ratha-yatra parade in Munich, seemed to be entering a different consciousness when they smelled the flowers offered to the Deity. They became almost friendly, as far as it is possible.
It is said there was Vasudeva, a brahmana who unknowingly observed Nrsimha Caturdasi, in his previous life, and who joined with an eternally liberated associate of the Lord, and then jointly appeared as the single personality, Prahlada Maharaja.
Q: There is a verse in the Seventh Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam that says a saint becomes happy when a scorpion is killed because it attacks without provocation. Why is not the same true of the mosquito?
A: Prabhupada did say that if a mosquito attacks, there is not karmic reaction for killing him.
From Yellow Submarine, No. 445 of Sumati Morarji and Srila Prabhupada:
“During the first year in New York, when Srila Prabhupada did not have his own place, and when he did not make any progress in preaching, he thought of using his return ticket and going back to India. He wrote to Mrs. Morarji, and she encouraged him to stay in America until he had completed his mission. This word of support helped his spirit to remain in New York and renew his visa to stay in America.”
From Yellow Submarine, No. 446:
writes that there is no need to
research into the science of
the holy names, the one instance
of Ajamila is enough to prove that
chanting harinama will save
you from the effects of
any sinful acts.”
A good king gets 1/6 the pious result of citizens. A bad king loses his own pious activities and gains 1/6 the sinful reactions of his subjects.
In relationships between people we see there is a sharing of karma. Not only one must take care of family members, one is karmically responsible for their misbehavior if he makes no endeavor to rectify them. In the Puranas there is list of how much of a reaction different persons in positions of responsibility must accept in this way. Krishna, however, adjusts the reactions for His devotees, so you never know exactly how much it will be. Thus it is advised that a guru not accept too many disciples. We [initiating gurus] can simply pray to Lord Caitanya that we may somehow or other deal with these reactions.
We experience how hard it is to fix the mind and to control the senses. Why? Because we are sinful. Thus we need all the mercy we can get. And we have to come to the realization that we are simply mercy cases. Thus we can surrender to Lord Caitanya’s process.
When you lead people, you get a little energy. In that way, it is easier follow when we lead people, but we cannot be a true leader unless we follow.
In the Bhisma Parva of Mahabharata, one king in the heavenly planets was asked whether he ate flesh. He denied the charge, and then he fell from the heavens to earth. Then on earth, he was again asked if he ate flesh. Again he denied it, and the earth opened up and swallowed him.
As a leader, one cannot ask for more surrender than he has himself.
According to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, initially our devotional service is localized and maya is all-pervading. At ruci, taste for devotional service spreads over the surface. At asakti, taste also spreads under the surface.
At bhava there is a just a shadow of material desire, but at prema there is not even a shadow.
According to Bhakti-sandarbha, there are three categories of spiritual masters, those who can deliver others:
(1) One has two feet in the material world, but has his vision on the spiritual world, like Narada before he attained perfection.
(2) One has one foot in the material world and one foot in the spiritual world, such Sukadeva Goswami.
(3) One has both feet in the spiritual world like Narada after he attained perfection.
We are not preaching. Srila Prabhupada is preaching, and we preach by representing him.
One Indian man came up to Srila Prabhupada and pleaded “Only you can deliver me.” Srila Prabhupada told him that he must deliver himself. “I can repeat Krishna’s instructions, but you have to deliver yourself by following them.”
Everyone must be a leader. Wherever you are, whatever position you are in, there are people to lead.
Rather than creating a few superstars, we need everyone…
As soon as we begin caring about others, we stop thinking about ourselves, and we have no time to think about our petty material desires.
Q: Do you experience getting good reactions from others?
A: Yes, I must be, otherwise I would not still be around.
Our movement did well in the beginning with strictness but was sometimes lacking human kindness. Now in the ISKCON of the new millennium we have more kindness but have lost our strictness. Because of lack of kindness there was fanaticism, but now we are missing the strictness that will keep us away from maya and and keep us making progress, so we have to come to situation of strictness and kindness.
Most of the devotees Srila Prabhupada sent to Europe were householder couples. Srila Prabhupada commented that his guru spread Krishna consciousness widely using sannyasis, and I did it using householders.
In my own case, the only reason I am sitting up here today is the transcendental prodding of my very dedicated wife over thirty-five years of marriage.
In the first five years of one’s life, one’s character is established. Similarly, our development as devotees is very much effected by the devotees who encouraged us in the beginning of our devotional service.
Krishna greeted the residents of Dvaraka by glancing at them. With closer friends, he shook hands. In that context, Srila Prabhupada explains the three principles of association:
(1) Compassion for juniors
(2) Friendship between equals
(3) Respect for superiors
In the beginning, both of our material and spiritual lives, we learn so much by observation. For example, I learned from Mandalibhadra Prabhu, from the solid presentation of his classes, but perhaps more so because of his personal conviction. I learned from the Lila-sakti Prabhu, the pujari, by her obvious devotion to her deity worship. My doubt was “Does God exist?” Devotees like these increased my faith in God.
Everyone needs a friend in Krishna consciousness. There are times we will experience doubts, weakness, difficulty, etc., and if do not have friendly relationships, we will be left alone with these things. But we share with a friend, we will come to understand that others have had the same problems that we have and they have overcome them. Many of the Vaishnava youth involved in the Kulimelas came to find some of their friends had similar negative experiences that they had but were also able to appreciate the great benefit of Krishna consciousness, and thus their friendships strengthened them spiritually.
We are judged by what people see of ourselves and not our complete character.
One devotee who is most inspiring to me, gives credit to people even if no one else does. The result is that one is inspired to live up to his evaluation of the person.
We have become attached to many details and forgot principles. We focus on our service, achieving things, and the philosophy, but we also have to pay attention to relationships.
The leaders have to get together and figure out how to emulate Srila Prabhupada’s spirit of care for the devotees.
Not having managed relationships properly is why some people leave, why some people are not attracted, and why some people stay but are frustrated. Learning to care about the relationships is the next step in the progress of ISKCON.
We have to convince Lord Nrsimhadeva that we really want to be free from our material desires.
Having a material desire is not an offense, it is our unfortunate condition, but maintaining material desires is an offense. This is associated with lack of faith as the tenth offense against the chanting. How is this a lack of faith? We are thinking that Krishna will not give us everything we need.
If Srila Prabhupada is giving us the Nrsimha prayers for the protection of ISKCON, I think he is giving it to protect us from our own desires.
At the National Cathedral, I got to represent Hinduism at a memorial for the World Trade Center disaster. I spoke on Prahlada Maharaja’s verse, “May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.9) I retranslated it to be in language appropriate for the attendees at the event.
Q: We hear the pure devotee does not ask for anything but here Prahlada is asking for fearlessness. Why is this?
A: Srila Prabhupada says in a purport that devotees do ask for benedictions when they pray. The pure devotee can ask for something that brings him closer to pure devotional service.
In the spiritual world, we have the freedom to turn away from Krishna. That is not caused by anything outside our self but is an expression of our own free will.
Just as our love for Krishna spreads out and includes all beings, similarly our envy of Krishna spreads out and includes all beings, so much so, we even envy our own self.
Srila Prabhupada showed an amazing example of being very tolerant, and even if disciples did really bad things, allowing them to come back, if they wanted to be back.
Earlier in the movement, one brahmacari had sex with a married devotee’s wife. The wronged husband was very upset. His friends showed him in the scripture where it said one who seduces one’s wife is an aggressor and can be punished with death. So the husband got a gun and shot the brahmacari dead. He was arrested and had to spend time in jail. Srila Prabhupada was very upset when he heard about it, and when the husband and his friends defended the act as that of “slaying an aggressor,” Srila Prabhupada replied, “He wasn’t an aggressor. He was just a fallen soul.”
Bhaktivinoda Thakura explained that as the devotees did nothing to get rid of the demons who daily came to Vrndavana, except call out to Krishna, we should call out to Krishna every day to protect us from the demonic desires in our hearts.
Srila Prabhupada said that we were not afraid enough of maya, and he added, “I pray to the Lord every day to protect me from maya.”
When one speaks from the heart it reaches the heart of the audience. When one speaks from the head, it reaches the head.
In Chicago, the devotees had twenty-five devotees distributing books in the airport. We stored books in twenty or thirty lockers in the airport.
Q: How do you avoid become proud when you are given honor?
A (by Kavicandra Swami): I only know theoretically. By praying. By hearing about the devotees who are truly much greater than ourselves. Once someone was asked the qualification of the CEO of a company, and the answer was given, “When one feels oneself the servant of everyone in the company, one is ready to be the CEO.”
Q (by Kadamba Kanana Swami): How can we develop more friendship?
A (by Cakravarti Prabhu): Once Srila Prabhupada considered the temples be run by household couples and that they be like families. It was like that for me. Himavati was like our mother. It is difficult to develop friendship when we have a large group of people, but if we have counseling groups of no more than ten people who give strong psychological support that will help.
Krishna is described as bhava-grahi janardana because he accepts the essential mood of the devotee.
As far as book distribution quotas, I think it is better that we make a quota of hours spent distributing each day, rather than a certain number of books. After all, how many books distributed is up to Krishna, not up to ourselves. Then we can focus completely on that one activity, without thinking about anything else. And then at the end of the day, we can count up the books.
“Organized religion is a necessary evil.”—Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura
The tendency is that one focuses on the perfecting the externals and neglect developing of love for Krishna.
Suffering is only beneficial if it leads to purification of the heart. Suffering must lead to knowledge and knowledge begins with humility.
Q: An Indian man asked Srila Prabhupada if parabdha karma could be changed?
A: Srila Prabhupada replied affirmatively that all kinds of karma can be changed by Krishna’s grace.
Sages are enthusiastic about describing the glories of the Lord. Why?
1. They love the Lord, so they like to talk about Him.
2. They are compassionate, and they know the power of the Lord’s topics to benefit people in the following ways:
a. To free from sins.
b. To plant a seed of bhakti.
c. To water the creeper of bhakti is nourished.
d. Tava kathamritam verse, spoken by the gopis to Krishna, summarizes this: “The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.31.9)
3. The sages perceive the presence of the Lord through that glorification: Narada Muni states, “The Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, whose glories and activities are pleasing to hear, at once appears on the seat of my heart, as if called for, as soon as I begin to chant His holy activities.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.6.33) And Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport, “The Absolute Personality of Godhead is not different from His transcendental name, form, pastimes and the sound vibrations thereof. As soon as a pure devotee engages himself in the pure devotional service of hearing, chanting and remembering the name, fame and activities of the Lord, at once He becomes visible to the transcendental eyes of the pure devotee by reflecting Himself on the mirror of the heart by spiritual television.”
4. Bhava symptom—nama sada ruci, always having a taste for the holy name
5. We all have some taste ourselves, otherwise we would not be here.
6. One new devotee who was usually morose, appeared very happy one day when the other devotees returned from their outreach work. Surprised, the devotees asked what had happened. Apparently a visitor came by temple, and because the new devotees was the only one there, he was forced to talk to the visitor about Krishna, and by speaking to the visitor about Krishna he had become happy.
An inquisitive hearer inspires the speaker.
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)