Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 17b
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2010, part one, section two)
Ukraine Festival (Bhakti Sangama)
(Sent from Tucson, Arizona, on November 4, 2010)
Where I Was and What I Did
I flew from London to Kiev on September 8, and the next evening took a train accompanied by many devotees to Yevpatoriya, arriving the morning of the 10th.
For the sixth consecutive year, I attended the Ukraine festival, known as Bhakti Sangama, September 11-15. Now it is located in Zaozerne, Crimea, Ukraine, on the coast of the Black Sea, and the weather was especially good this year, warm and sunny. Registered attendees numbered over 4,000, and festival leaders estimate including the unregistered attendees there were 5,000 devotees altogether. I am always amazed that it is so well organized, you don’t really feel overwhelmed by the number of people. There is no registration fee for the festival and prasadam, only for living accommodations, which totaled about $23 for my entire six-night stay! Devotees give donations which usually pay for the festival.
I love the Ukraine festival. A lot of great speakers share great realizations, and the devotees appreciate it, and reciprocate with them. To top it off, there is a three-hour kirtana every night. Niranjana Swami, who was instrumental in starting the festival, is always there, contributing his inspiration and his blessings.
Each year new visiting devotees come to the festival. This year these included Giriraja Swami, Mother Dina Sharana (GBC of Germany), Purusharta Prabhu from Alachua, and Madhava Prabhu from Zurich. It was the fifth time I encountered Madhava this summer, the other times being the Simhachalam Nrsimha festival, the Birmingham 24-hour kirtana, the Polish Woodstock, and the Bhaktivedanta Manor Janmastami festival. With the three hours of bhajanas each night, it was a nice venue for him.
Tucson, AZ Nov. 4-Nov 17
UNF, JAX, FL Nov. 18
Gainesville, FL Nov. 19-26
Tallahassee, FL Nov. 27-Dec. 9
Philly, SDG VP Dec. 10-13
Usually you just hear one lecture on Radhastami, or perhaps two, morning and evening. At the Ukraine festival, four senior devotees shared their realizations about Srimati Radharani.
Srila Prabhupada says the mother is kinder than the father, and Radharani is kinder than Krishna. We have to fast only half the day on Radhastami.
Suchandra and Kalavati wanted to have the internal potency of the Lord as their child and so approached Brahma. Brahma said this is not an ordinary request, you will have to perform great austerities, and so they did fasting and chanting mantras for their whole life. They pleased Brahma and become Vrsabhanu and Kirtida, the parents of Radharani.
Vrsabhanu saw an effulgent lotus appear, and Brahma appeared, took a very small and beautiful girl from it and gave her to Vrsabhanu. The child did not cry or open her eyes, a mystery for her parents. They had a ceremony and invited Nanda and Yasoda who came with Krishna, also a small baby. When Krishna peeked into the cradle of Radha, she opened Her eyes. She is Krishna-mayi, one who sees only Krishna within and without. She did not want to see anything of this world, only Krishna.
Narada came, and started dancing upon seeing Radha. He offered some prayers which became Narada-bhakti-sutra. Srila Prabhupada translated the first thirteen verses, and then went on to translate Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.
Lord Caitanya is not different from Caitanya-caritamrita, Krishna is not different from Srimad-Bhagavatam and Radha is said to be nondifferent from Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.
To get the mercy of Krishna, we need the mercy of Radha. To get the mercy of Radha we need the mercy of Lord Caitanya. To get the mercy of Lord Caitanya, we need the mercy of Lord Nityananda. The spiritual master is the mercy of Lord Nityananda, so we need to please the spiritual master.
This is the most difficult day to speak. Relationships between boys and girls are so common in this world, yet Krishna’s and Radha’s relationship is so unlike the boy-girl relationships in this world.
Srila Prabhupada wrote in a poem when he came to the USA., “Oh brothers, I say your good fortune will be there only when you get the mercy of Srimati Radharani.”
Rupa Goswami glorifies Radha as dear to Madhava, and the center of attraction for all the young girls of Gokula.
Lord Caitanya’s heart is filled with the emotions of Radha.
There is no separation between Radha and Krishna yet their pastimes are full of meeting and separation.
What Uddhava saw in Vrindavan is what Lord Caitanya wanted to experience. Radha did ten types of ecstatic talking according acaryas. Although Krishna is accused of cheating, by Radha and her friends, no one can give Him up.
The peak of emotional experience is there in the feelings of separation of Radha and Krishna. Lord Caitanya experiences this. The highest attainment in our samprayada is an unfulfilled mission to attain Krishna.
The mystery is that through the feeling of separation, the devotee has Krishna more than ever before.
It is not contradictory to see Lord Caitanya as experiencing the highest feelings of separation from Krishna and at the same time as giving mercy. Radharani also is full of compassion as well as the ecstasy of separation.
Radha sees Herself as unqualified and seeks to bring others to Krishna, so this missionary activity is also coming originally from Radharani.
One verse cites one flower as beautiful during the day and another as beautiful during the night, but Radharani’s face is beautiful day and night, so to what can it be compared?
Srila Prabhupada in a lecture makes the brilliant point, “The whole universe is trying to love Krishna, yet Krishna is trying to love Radha. How great this Radha must be! Therefore we must offer millions of respects to Her.”
There is a pastime that Cupid entered Vrndavana and seeing the young boy Krishna and young girls, the gopis, he thought it was the appropriate time to shoot his arrows, so he picked up his bow, but when he saw the glorious form of Krishna, he fell over backwards in ecstasy.
You can hear on a recording of a morning walk in Vrndavana, when a resident greets Srila Prabhupada with “Jaya Radhe,” he responds “Hare Krishna.”
The gopis needed to cross the river, and there was a young boatman on an old boat. They got on the boat and after some time the boatman stopped rowing saying he was hungry and asked for all their sweets. He ate them and lay down on the boat to take rest. He asked for two girls to massage his arms and two for his legs. Radha was so angry, She said I will give you two girls for your arms and two for your legs, and we will through you overboard. The pastime continued, and Krishna ultimately revealed to the gopis that he was the boatman, to their great happiness.
That we are taking birth during this time indicates we are meant to be followers of Lord Caitanya, and therefore, Radha and Krishna.
Practically all the great spiritual teachers in our line since Madhavendra Puri have been intimate associates of Radha and Krishna. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bhaktisiddhanta Siddhanta Saravati Thakura, and Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa guru were all manjaris, intimate servants of Radha and Her friends. We approach Radharani through Her intimate associates who are the great teachers in our line. Her mercy is available through the chanting of Hare Krishna without offenses.
Two symptoms of advancement are great humility and detachment from life’s inevitable miseries.
Niranjana Swami wanted to glorify Aindra Prabhu, who passed away this summer, and who reminded all of the importance of Krishna kirtana. But he did not want to dedicate the entire time reserved for the three-hour evening kirtana to glorifications of Aindra Prabhu as that would be displeasing to him, so he asked a few devotees to speak something and the remaining two hours, or so, was for kirtana in honor of Aindra Prabhu.
B. B. Govinda Swami:
Aindra Prabhu, you are liberal server of the feast of the holy name.
Although sitting at the feet of the Deities in Vrindavana, you have blessed people in all parts of the world.
We need your support to join you into spiritual world. Ask the youthful leaders of your new place to make the arrangements that we might all come and join you.
His dedication to the holy name has inspired thousands of people all over the world, devotees and nondevotees alike.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to take shelter of the holy name as much as possible, and he exemplified that.
He gave shelter to devotees all over the world.
Just by residing in Vrndavana and doing kirtana he was purifying the whole world.
He was such a fixture in Vrndavana, you could take it for granted that he would always be there. You would never consider what it would be like if he left. He was like the oxygen that we breathe.
Many young devotees have their lives transformed by Aindra Prabhu and his 24-hour kirtana.
One young devotee named Varun wanted to be initiated by him, but Aindra Prabhu did not initiate him or anybody else. Once Varun asked Aindra to chant on his beads, and Aindra agreed spending the whole day chanting at least sixty-four rounds on them. Then Varun asked if Aindra could give him a spiritual name. Aindra Prabhu said, “Don’t try to trick me.”
Aindra Prabhu stressed that the Hare Krishna mantra is Radha and Krishna Themselves.
I was in Toronto, and we were doing a 24-hour kirtana, so we called Vrindavana, and asked Aindra Prabhu for his advice and his blessings. He told us to do as many 24-hour kirtanas as possible. After our 24-hour kirtana, we got a call from Vrndavana and learned that Aindra Prabhu had left his body. We were shocked.
I thought I was the best mrdanga player, but I would not sing. Once Aindra Prabhu for three hours kept pounding on one point, “Your mrdanga playing is useless if you do not chant Hare Krishna.”
He taught that the instruments are just to assist the chanting. Nothing is more important than the chanting of Hare Krishna.
Once some rich supporters from Delhi wanted to bring Aindra to Delhi to record Vrndavana Mellows, but Aindra wanted to do it in Vrndavana. “I want to give Vrndavana to the world!”
He could chant the holy name so much because he was humble. He demonstrated that when he appeared in a gamsha and invited me to assist him in cleaning the bathroom in thebrahmacari ashram. I had never cleaned a bathroom in my life, not even at home, so I was reluctant. But within, a voice urged me not to miss this chance to serve with a great soul, so I did it. It took three hours, but it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.
I send the people an email after three days to ask how their reading is going, etc., but when I am traveling, I then hand them over to the devotees in their area.
Q: When I call people on the phone to follow up, people are a little scared. What to do?
A: The phone and voice can be a little intimidating. Send them an SMS or an email first. It is a little more relaxed.
Devotees asked Srila Prabhupada why he spent five months in Butler, Pennsylvania, instead of going immediately to New York to start the movement. He said he was studying the American people, so he could understand how to present Krishna consciousness to them.
Outreach, sharing Krishna consciousness, is individual, spontaneous, and voluntary. There are a million ways to do that, but basically we distribute books, chant the holy name, and distribute prasadam. How you do that is up to you.
In every temple, you should have what is called a telephone service. Usually if you call a temple, and nobody answers, you know you got the right number. Or a person answers who does not know your language. Divert the phone calls to a responsible devotee who will answer it.
I know you never call your own temple. Try it. See what it is like.
Stand in front of a mirror, and ask yourself, “Would I by a book from this person? Would I talk to this person?”
When asked why he was so successful, Srila Prabhupada answered, “I was always introspective.”
The first contact should be the person who sold the person the book. Everything is personal. People will come to the temple because they met you.
You have to contact people regularly. Within three to five days, you contact them. Not too long, not too short. And after that, then a minimum of twice a year. If they tell you, I do not want to get weekly emails, do not put them on your weekly email list. If the people are favorable, visit them. If you are brahmacari or single lady, do not go alone, go in pairs.
And be patient. Even a farmer has to be patient. But we are city people, we want everything now.
If you do a program at a home, do not just give the Sunday feast lecture and tell them everything. Answer their questions. Be attentive to their needs.
Do not just give the book alone. Give an invitation to the temple with all the contact information for the temple. Get a business card.
Have someone nice at the door to receive people. Have a shoe rack. Keep the bathrooms clean.
At Moscow University, Srila Prabhupada looked out and said there will be thousands devotees in this city alone. What is your vision?
Do you want know how to sell Bhagavad-gita?
Tell them this is a book about someone who did not want to do his job and wanted to run away from everything, but how after he received this knowledge, he did not change his job or his dress, but he changed his heart, and he became empowered do to amazing things. You would like to do amazing things, wouldn’t you? I know you are doing OK, but you could be doing better.
Insight from Lectures
On his documentary Lost Village:
Three hundred people move from the village to Mumbai every day. Sixty percent of the people in Mumbai live in slums. By 2020, it is predicted that more than 90% of people living in big Indian cities will live in slums. Why? Because they have lost their culture? With spiritual culture, people can be happy living in a simple way. Without it, people take shelter in consumerism, which only benefits the business class. The whole economy is set up to convince people to buy new gadgets. Updating and upgrading are key principles. There is one English saying, “Shop until you drop.” This documentary addresses this problem.
Comments on Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Jaiva Dharma:
One verse in Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 11 says that association with a pure devotee for even half a moment is the greatest treasure available in human society. It can protect from the greatest fear. We are fearful because of taking shelter of things we can lose. By the mercy of the devotees, we can take shelter of the holy name, our infallible shelter.
In Germany, 13,000-15,000 people die in car accidents alone. But we are always thinking, this cannot happen to me. This is called maya. Death can happen at any moment.
A sannyasi should not wait for anyone. He gets up, and the servant has to follow.
We should take advantage of the association of the pure devotees whenever we are so fortunate to get it.
How do we make definite advancement? When pure devotee association is frequent and powerful and nondevotee association is minimal, the neophyte devotee can progress quickly.
As attraction for devotional activities increases, attraction for nondevotional activities decreases.
Sometimes the devotees wonder why they make so little advancement. Sometimes the cause is they perform devotional activities, but their minds are elsewhere. We have to think of Krishna and think of how to please the spiritual master.
Unless we come to the madhyama or middle stage of devotional service, we cannot truly serve the Vaishnavas because our material desires will impede our service.
When you go out to preach, and then you return to the temple, you appreciate the devotees. But if you just stay with the devotees all the time, familiarity can breed contempt, and you can find fault with them. On the highest level, we can associate with devotees all the time, and our appreciation will only increase.
Q: Is chanting or reading Prabhupada’s books enough? Or should we render service in the temple?
A: Nothing is ever enough. We should do everything as much as possible. Both chanting and reading and rendering service in the temple. If we cannot serve in temple, we can perform service for the temple from outside. If we do not have enough desire to serve, we will be always confused. Should I do this, should I do that? I am really not sure. When someone gives a suggestion, we say, “No, I really do not want to do that.”
An advanced devotee is pained to see the suffering of the people in general.
Srila Prabhupada said in a lecture at a college, “You don’t know, but you have been through all 8.4 million species of life.”
Srila Prabhupada said there is no happiness in the material world. A devotee asked him, “What about the mode of goodness?” Srila Prabhupada explained that goodness means knowledge and knowledge is to understand the miseries of the material sphere.
The materialists cannot win, and they cannot stop playing.
The Lord gives mercy because His devotees ask Him to. He cannot deny their request.
Q [by Prahladananda Swami]: One may doubt the merciful nature of the Lord if He only gives mercy only when a pure devotee happens to ask Him to.
A: The Lord gives His mercy to the devotees to distribute so they get the credit.
Lord Caitanya’s sannyasa:
Lord Nityananda was devastated when Lord Caitanya was planning to take sannyasa because he was worried about how much His mother, Saci, would suffer. Her eight daughters died soon after birth, and her first son decided to leave home and take sannyasa without telling anyone. Her first daughter-in-law died, and her own husband died. Thus she reposed all her affection in Nimai. When she heard He was thinking of taking sannyasa, she cried. When Nimai came to console her, she said she would take poison and die if he took sannyasa. He explained that life is meant for searching after Krishna. We have so many mothers and fathers, but which is our real mother? At one point, he narrated the pastime of Dhruva Maharaja, hoping to get her to give her blessings for Him to search after Krishna, but instead she decided she wanted to come with Him.
His wife, Vishnu-priya, also cried. Nimai tried to solace her, saying you are Vishnu-priya, and therefore, Vishnu, Krishna, is your most dear, not Me.
Seeing how devastated everyone would be, He decided to have kirtana for a few more days.
Srivasa Thakura said, “What will I do when you take sannyasa?” Nimai explained, “I am there whenever you worship your Deity. I am right there in your home. Please be satisfied with that.”
Once a devotee asked Srila Prabhupada how they could get exercise as devotees, and he replied by saying they could dance.
Once a devotee said that we had do to do so much work as devotees, but Srila Prabhupada replied, “No. We do not have any work. It is all singing, dancing, and feasting.” The devotee insisted, but Srila Prabhupada replied, “No we have no work. It is just singing, dancing, and feasting.”
Lord Caitanya’s sannyasa guru Kesava Bharati was also a Vaishnava who accepted sannyasa in the Sankara order because that was the social custom of the day.
Even one who offered respect to Lord Caitanya thinking Him and ordinary sannyasi was eternally benefited. That is one reason Lord Caitanya took sannyasa. Another was to teach that one should give up everything to seek after Krishna.
It is said that the flowers and tulasi that Advaita Acarya offered to His salagrama-sila when calling Lord Caitanya to come, He would throw into the Ganges. When Saci bathed when she was pregnant with the different daughers, the maha-prasadam touched her abdomen and the blessed infants left this world soon after they were born.
Bhakti is the art of being attached in the best way. Everyone needs to taste the nectar of genuine attachment. But we do not want the negative effects of material attachment.
Even sannyasis and brahmacaris need to know about proper attachment.
The Lord Kapila section of the Bhagavatam is about coming together and separating on the spiritual platform, all spiritual and very intense.
Everybody likes to be attached, even brahmacaris and sannyasis.
We do not like to hear about spiritual separation because of our experience of material separation.
Vidura said he was eager to hear about the children of Svayambhuva Manu and his wife.
Lord Caitanya was eager to hear about the birth of the children of the household devotees. The idea is that the sannyasis encourage all the asramas in their dharma.
In the history of Kaplia we learn there is the right time for attachment and the right time for detachment.
Kardama performed 10,000 years of yogic austerity before producing a child. How serious he was! You may think you are serious about your attachment, but how do you compare to Kardama Muni. And yet, Kardama Muni, because he was a humble devotee, did not claim his family life was an act of devotion to Krishna. He considered himself as a foolish materialist who was approaching the Lord to have some material desire fulfilled, in his case, to marry a girl of suitable disposition. Suitable disposition does not mean physical beauty but someone who can aid one in one’s spiritual development.
Why did Kardama Muni not ask for liberation when he saw the Lord face-to-face? Because he and the Lord realized that not everyone is ready to ask for liberation, they want to provide an example showing how to gradually progress toward liberation.
Krishna is not personally interested in the creation of the material world. He just has energies that create it in response to the living entities desires. Have you ever pushed someone to do something they didn’t want?
Why are devotees confused? They sincerely want to serve Krishna, and at the same time, they sincerely want material enjoyment.
As the years go by, we see Krishna knows how to take care of us.
Attachment and detachment are all part of the same drink. But it is all attachment to Krishna’s service.
Srila Prabhupada considered his disciples pure devotees because they had faith in the process of pure devotional service. He had faith that if they continued, they would become pure devotees. He used the ripe/unripe mango analogy.
Krishna das Babaji said to a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who had gone earlier to the west and preached, “You gave the same message of Lord Caitanya and gave the same mantra but were hardly successful, yet Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuada was amazingly successful. Why? Because he had faith in the holy name and you didn’t.”
When Srila Prabhupada encouraged Krishna dasa Babaji in chanting at Prabhupada’s sannyasa ceremony, although those performing the ceremony restrained him, Krishna dasa Babaji said, “I knew he would be the leader of the Hare Krishna movement.”
Srila Prabhupada told Adi-kesava dasa (OBL Kapoor) he had the prescription for love of God, trnad api… [One must be more tolerant than a tree and more humble than a blade of grass…]
When the devotees in Boston were low on funds, some devotees offered to take jobs. Nanda Kishore reminded them Srila Prabhupada said if we go on sankirtana all our problems material and spiritual would be solved, so they tried it. They got $7, $12, and $19 in collections the first three days, and they were convinced. The sankirtana was so successful they moved out of the storefront into a big house.
Srila Prabhupada was very expert in understanding the mentality of his disciples and the people in general. Once he said that the difficulty with his disciples was that they did not understand simple psychology.
Tamal Krishna Goswami was GBC in India for quite sometime, but he decided he wanted to return to America and preach. Srila Prabhupada said, “You can renounce management, but I cannot renounce management.” So Srila Prabhupada needed a new GBC for India. Tamal Krishna Goswami told me to call Atreya Rsi in Iran and tell him to come to Bombay, because Srila Prabhupada wanted him to become the GBC. So I did that and Srila Prabhupada heard I did that, and asked about it. I said, “TKG told me he presented to you that idea that Atreya Rsi take over as GBC, and you said it was OK.” Srila Prabhupada said, “What else could I say to Tamal Krishna Goswami? Call Atreya Rsi and tell him, he does not have to come.”
I was the sankirtana leader in Boston, and the biggest book distribution at that time in ISKCON history. I would get the book in their hands, show them the pictures, read a little bit, glorify it, and tell them that that could have it. When they said, “I can have it?” I would say, “Yes. We ask that people give a donation to cover the cost of the printing, but otherwise you can have it.” I used to get pretty big donations. We would go on harinama, and I would show the literature to different people, and when one would take, I would give it to others nearby. Then I would go back and talk to them and get donations. I tried that at the Bombay pandal programs, but I soon found that the Indians took them away without paying. I consulted local businessmen and supporters and explained the situation. They said I should poke holes in the magazines, put strings in them, and tie them to the book table. Then they could pick them up and look at them but not take them.
One long-haired, Western Shiva bhakta came by, and I was amazed to see a Westerner interested in spirituality who was not a follower of Srila Prabhupada, so I explained to him about the worship of Krishna and Shiva, and gave him some literature. I needed someone to do the service of poking the holes in the magazines and tying them to the tables, and asked if he was willing to do it, and so he did. Later he told me that I was the first ISKCON devotee that was able to engage him in service. Many of you probably realize I am talking about Radhanath Swami.
Once I got a typewritten letter, rare in India at that time, which was addressed to the temple president of Hare Krishna Land, saying I was impressed with your pandal program with its amazing aratis, ecstatic kirtanas, and sumptuous prasadam, and I would like to dedicate my life to your organization. He copied the description of the program from our ads. I replied, suggesting we meet personally, and we did. He became Lokanath Swami.
I had a conversation with Tamal Krishna Goswami in which he concluded, “The key to success in devotional service is to serve and please the spiritual master.” For me, I had heard we should worship the deity, study the scriptures, go on harinama sankirtana, serve Srila Prabhupada, etc. I thought they were all of equal importance, but then I understood from Tamal Krishna Goswami that all those other activities should be executed with the aim to please the spiritual master.
We had Bhagavad Dharma Discouses in Calcutta. In our Mumbai pandal, we got 20,000 people, but in Calcutta, 30,000 people came to a program that was much less glamorous. Prabhupada wanted these Bhagavad Dharma Discouses to go on all over the world, including New Vrindavana in America.
Our Bengal landlord had his own ideas about spiritual life. He argued that Lord Caitanya came before Radha and Krishna. Lord Caitanya was superior as a rasgulla is greater than than the milk and sugar it is composed of. Acyutananda Swami asked Srila Prabhupada about this. Srila Prabhupada said, using the same example, first you have milk and sugar, and then you make the rasgulla, so Radha and Krishna are first, and then join together as Lord Caitanya. He asked who was greater. Srila Prabhupada paused, and said Radharani is the greatest, and pointed to a picture with Radharani on a higher platform than Krishna, with Krishna at Her feet. Then he showed another picture with Nanda Maharaja’s shoes on Krishna’s head, and said Nanda Maharaja is the greatest. The devotees are the greatest because Krishna is controlled by their love, and the devotees are headed by Srimati Radharani.
Lord Caitanya said:
“The holy name destroys one who blasphemes My servant.
“All living beings are My servants and those who cause trouble to others will suffer.
“If one chants the holy name, and does not blaspheme others, Lord Krishna will deliver Him.”
Lord Caitanya concluded by raising His arms and said, “Abandoning criticism of others, chant Lord Krishna’s name.”
To be an effective preacher one has to have the right vision. We cannot just calculate how people will benefit ourselves, but rather, consider how to benefit them.
Radharani experiences ten million times as much pleasure when She bring others forward for Krishna’s pleasure than when She enjoys being with Krishna Himself because Krishna is pleased with that behavior of Hers.
The Lord is so kind that He accepts even an insignificant offering made by His devotee with love.
Preaching means to look for the spark of the tendency to do something for the pleasure of the Lord.
Because Jagai restrained his brother, Madhai, from striking Nityananda again, Lord Caitanya immediately became compassionate upon Jagai, embracing him and giving him love of God, ignoring his life of criminal activities. The devotee of the Lord must embody this compassionate nature of the Lord.
The devotee does not seek revenge because he sees the situation as Krishna’s arrangement for his purification.
For criticism to be effective, it must be completely free of malicious intent. If there is a trace of malice, it will not be effective.
Better we look in our heart to make sure that we are not pointing out faults in others that are also in ourselves.
By serving one who is free from the propensity to criticize others, one can attain that qualify.
Until we can have compassionate dealings among devotees, there is no hope of being able to minister to others.
Suklambara Brahmacari would beg in the poorest areas and get only broken grains of rice. Still before he could offer it to the Lord, the Lord would snatch it out of his hands, proving He is eager to accept things from the hands of His devotees. Suklambara Brahmacari did not know the meaning of poverty, because he was always satisfied with whatever he collected by the Lord’s grace.
Someone may make some mistake, and then we may lose our compassion and criticize him, forgetting that anyone who does even a little service for the Lord, is very dear to Him, and because of such criticism we can lose our own attachment to Krishna.
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says in the Madhurya Kadambini one can attain nistha (the level of steadiness in devotional service) by offenselessly chanting the holy name.
When a devotee asked what to do about the mind during chanting, Prabhupada explained we should worry about the sincerity of our chanting and not worry about our mind.
The most essential thing is to believe that Krishna and Radha are actually present when we chant Hare Krishna, because if we believe They are present, we can chant to Them, and then we can actually experience Their presence, if They desire.
Krishna is in our heart, and He knows how much we want to be conscious of Him, and He wants to reveal Himself to us.
God controls everything, and we are trying to control everything, or at least to control something. That is our project in this world. If we cannot control everything else, at least we can control the food that is on our plate. At least the banana on my plate is willing to surrender to me, to enter into me, and to empower me.
How do we honor prasadam? We pay attention to it. We offer prayers to it. If we actually chew and taste the prasadam then we might remember Krishna, and then it becomes an act of devotion, and we become Krishna conscious, and our desire to become Lord of the material world decreases.
If we eat too much, we will have to collect too much, and then we will have to endeavor too much.
In America people do not die of starvation, they die of eating too much. They have contributed to the world Mc Donald’s and Coka Cola. If you put a tooth or a nail in Coka Cola it will dissolve in one week, yet we ingest this into our bodies.
And if you are working all day, you will have to hear and speak about so many things not directly related to Krishna. Prahlada Maharaja said the professional soldier, the thief, etc., risk their lives simply for money.
Srila Prabhupada said that we are not only trying to chant Hare Krishna, but we are trying to create a situation where we can chant peacefully.
Kunti prayed for problems, but in Kali-yuga we have enough problems without having to pray for them.
Most of the time we are uncomfortable because we think we are uncomfortable, but if we think about Krishna instead, we will find we are comfortable.
There are so many things we think we need, and so many things we have lost. We are one ten-thousandths the tip of a hair in size, but we have so much attachment to the matter around us. Because we are small we should take shelter of Krishna, and then we will forget about the unnecessary things.
The conclusion is that we should just chant Hare Krishna and pay attention. 99% of our thoughts are products of our past crazy lives, and 1% of our thoughts are plans for future craziness. Thus we should disregard our mind’s thoughts and chant Hare Krishna.
Bg 4.34 states we should take shelter of the Lord’s servants. “Satisfaction of the self-realized spiritual master is the secret to make spiritual advancement.”
To do this we must become humble, as our disease is to think we are the body and are proud of the qualities of our body.
Just being humble is not enough. One must acquire transcendental knowledge and expertise from the guru.
Srila Prabhupada engaged all kinds of people in devotional service and the loving exchanges between devotees.
In the spiritual world, we serve all the devotees there. If George Bush somehow goes back to Godhead, when we go back there, we will serve him.
Thus we have to practice honoring and serving the devotees in this world.
We should ask Krishna to tell us from within how to serve His devotees.
Lord Nityananda represents the desire of Lord Caitanya to bring everyone back to the spiritual world.
We are suffering due to separation from Krishna. Just as a baby continues to cry until it reaches its mother, the living entity is not satisfied until sheltered under Krishna.
Commenting on Lord Caitanya’s statement that by one moment of association with a pure devotee, one can attain all perfection, Srila Prabhupada cited his own example: “Without a few moments of association of Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura in 1922, I never would have translated Srimad-Bhagavatam into the English language.”
One devotee wrote that he was experiencing many stumbling blocks on his path of Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada replied by saying, “There are no stumbling blocks on the path of Krishna consciousness. They are all illusory. With one kick of my foot, I can kick away all stumbling blocks, but you have to follow my instructions.”
For the advanced devotee, difficulties make it more relishable.
I saw many times how Srila Prabhupada kicked out the stumbling blocks of his disciples, including myself.
When I first became Srila Prabhupada’s servant, he said some very amazing things to me. I was just twenty years old and had lived in the temple just a year. On the second day, he asked me if I took a nap after lunch. I said no. At that time, no devotees ever took rest after lunch. He said with great humility, “Because I am an old man, I sometimes take a nap after lunch, because I cannot sleep too long at any one time.” A year later, I would take a nap every day after lunch. Once I was sleeping very soundly, and I heard the bell Srila Prabhupada was ring to call me, so I rushed in, and as I bowed down before him, I was exercising my eyes, not to appear sleepy. He said, “I was ringing the bell for hours, and you were sleeping like a dead man. Why weren’t you chanting your rounds?” I would lose all intelligence when Srila Prabhupada would yell at me, so I replied that “I was sitting alone with nothing to do, and so I was unable to chant my rounds.” This, of course, did not make any sense. But he did not laugh at me. He simply said, “What can we do to make it so you can chant your rounds?” He called for Karandara the GBC of Los Angeles, and he explained the problem to him. Karandara also did not laugh at me. Because Srila Prabhupada took the problem seriously, so did Karandara. Srila Prabhupada, then said, I have an idea. He asked if Karandara could get another Dictaphone. He replied yes. He said he had another sitting room and would begin to translate CC in the other sitting room with the new Dictaphone and Srutakirti could transcribe it, and then because he had more service, that he could chant his rounds. I felt really good because I could see Srila Prabhupada was really taking care of me.
The next day, I chanted my rounds in the morning, as I was inspired by Srila Prabhupada’s concern for me, and I wanted to have them done so I could do my service. He did not translate at that time any more of Caitanya-caritamrita. But I was chanting my roundsbecause of the love he showed me.
Prabhupada never wasted one second. Every word he spoke, every movement he made, he did only what was required.
When he went on a walk, you had to be ready with his shoes and cane, and you had to help him put his shoes on as he was walking, and then hand him his cane. Yet, although he was so careful not to waste time, he would take the time to remove the stumbling blocks from his disciple’s path. The guru will never break the relationship with the disciple, but by not being faithful, by not following or by accepting another guru, a disciple can break the relationship.
We used to say that everything in Krishna consciousness is based on love and trust. We would not say trust and love. Love comes first. This is true with all our relationships in Krishna consciousness, if we understand that that the devotees love us, we will progress.
Many devotees asked Srila Prabhupada, “How can I please you the most?” Once a book distributor asked that question, and Srila Prabhupada did not say, “Distribute my books.” He said, “By becoming fully Krishna conscious.”
Srila Prabhupada enjoyed being with his disciples and seeing them chanting Hare Krishna and dancing.
Seeing Srila Prabhupada take prasadam, you could see it was an act of devotion. He would be alone and sit on the floor.
Yadubara Prabhu is a special devotee. Once Srila Prabhupada told him he could do anything he wanted.
Once toward the end of Srila Prabhupada’s life, Tamal Krishna Goswami forbid Yadubara from recording video, thinking it was disturbing Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada was hardly speaking at all, and then in only a whisper, but he overheard this comment, and said, “Yadubara can do anything he likes.”
I want to tell about how my wife Amekhala left her body, because she had many friends here, and they would be interested, and in it is a lesson for us all. While she was at this festival in 2008, she had a dream and Srila Prabhupada appeared in the dream, and told her, “You do not have much time.” We discussed what Srila Prabhupada meant, but we never thought he meant she would die soon. She was happiest at the festival when she saw all the devotees clapping, smiling, and crying when they heard about Srila Prabhupada. When she had not eaten or drank for two months, we felt very bad to see her state. Seeing our sadness, she said, “Don’t feel sorry for me. My suffering is finishing, but you all are going to have to go through all this. I am feeling sorry for you.” So Srila Prabhupada gave her some nice realizations.
Srila Prabhupada said, “This process is so simple, you can miss it.”
For Vedic culture to work, both men and woman must have the same understanding of how the culture works.
In this class, I want to talk about important role of women in the Vedic culture.
Usually the varna discussion deals with the duties outside the home.
The women have their own special role, for which no one can substitute for them, the raising of children. This is important because everyone needs a mother.
How do we choose a varna? As adults, it is simply what we like to do. What about for children?
In children, if you observe them, you can see who is a leader, who is a follower, who is inclined to study and knowledge, who can control the material energy? In this way, you can understand their varna or occupation.
According to the Bhagavatam, the best marriage happens when the boy and girl have the same background, similar education, the same economic circumstances, the same intelligence, and when the boy is a few years old than the girl. If the two are compatible in these ways, they can execute their spiritual duties nicely together.
It was understood the Vedic five kinds of sacrifices were meant to be perform by husband and wife together, so except for a few rare naistiki brahmacaris, men aspired for a suitable wife.
The vaisya and sudra children would not study very long, but learn from the elder men their duties. Brahmanas and ksatriyas would study the dharma sastras and the transcendental sastras.
The girls would be trained in skills and culture by their mothers. Even now I have seen in Indian families, often a girl of seven years of age can cook an entire meal.
As soon as sexual desires come into being there should be a legitimate way of fulfilling them. That was the reason for marriage before puberty, and it helps to minimize illicit sex. The strong sexual bond resulting from the couple uniting at such an early age would help the relationship last for life.
The older ladies, who husbands have taken sannyasa and left to give spiritual instruction to the world, stay at home, maintained by their sons, and play an important and essential role giving instruction to the rest of the family.
Man are either an intellectual mode or an emotional mode, but women are better at using intelligence to deal with the emotions, such as when the child is screaming and needs to be pacified. The man, on the other hand, is better at separating himself from material absorption, and attaining self-realization. When the women using her emotional understanding in support of her husband’s journey toward God, the relationship is beneficial for both.
Chastity was emphasized in Vedic culture, and they are many examples. Sita could have said, “That You were banished to the forest is Your problem. I am a princess, and I am going to stay my father’s palace.” But as the chaste wife of Lord Ramacandra, she decided, “Wherever You go, I will go.”
The women are very much the guardians of the culture because they teach the children from the beginning of life. You ladies have the power to do this, not the physical power, but the emotional power.
If the mother has respect for her husband, the child will also respect his father. If the mother does not respect the father, the child will not learn to respect any authority and will have difficulty respecting authorities throughout life.
Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, and unfortunately, do not even last five years. Second marriages are even less successful than first marriages.
The passion of the male and female relationships wears off after two years at the most, and after the passion is gone, there are two choices, goodness and ignorance. Relationships are maintained in goodness and destroyed in ignorance. There is love in goodness, but it has to be cultivated. When the husband and wife do their duties nicely they can develop love for each other in the mode of goodness, which will sustain their relationship. That is required.
Srila Prabhupada once said, “In your country, you marry the girl you love, and in my country, we love the girl we marry.”
It is the duty of the men to look after the spiritual welfare of their wives and children, especially when the children are young and the mothers are so busy with them.
Looking after the child is the first priority of the mother. Srila Prabhupada once told Malati, when she was lamenting she had no time to do other services, “Your child is your deity.”
Once someone in Hyderbad asked Srila Prabhupada why there was overpopulation. He explained there is no upward mobility. Things are blocked up. No one is going back to Godhead.
Mother Dina Sharana Devi Dasi:
In his purity, Prahlada was not afraid to approach Lord Nrsimha, because he was convinced of the affection of his master.
Srila Prahbupada makes the point that when one decides that only by engaging in devotional service to the Supreme Lord can one become happy, he works so all can attain that state.
The Vaishnava does not experience the pleasure and pains of this world because of his absorption in Krishna’s service.
We have been trying to find happiness in this material world and failed life after life. We can come to the realization that happiness is not found in that way. Then we can hear from those souls who have made the decision to help people attain Krishna.
When you leave the festival, keep up the determination to perform some service to this movement. Do not make this movement a fashion—a movement with nice clothing, nice prasadam,a nice culture.
Story of child who fell in a pot of milk:
For a year, the children had done a play of the pastime of Prahlad and Lord Nrsimha. Every week, the child who played Prahlad had been saved from being poisoned, from being thrown off a cliff and from being boiled in ghee, by the grace of Lord Nrsimha. One day that very child fell into a pot of milk. The child screamed piteously. Seeing the child was badly burned, the mother advised the child to pray to the Lord, not knowing if the child would survive. The child started to scream: "Nrsimhadev! Nrsimhadev, Nrsimhadev!" The child was taken to the hospital. After a treatment worse than the burn itself the child eventually recuperated. Some time later, an exhibition of pictures about the play was published, showing the child who played Prahlad being saved from being poisoned, from being thrown off a cliff and from being boiled in ghee, by the grace of Lord Nrsimha. The child happened to look at the pictures and said, "Believe me it is just a matter of chanting Hare Krishna!"
Q: We read so many nice stories in the scripture. What to do about the real suffering in life?
A: People think if the Lord was really merciful, he was spare us from suffering in this world, but then we would never understand that the material illusion can never make us happy. The suffering that we are going to endure is only to the degree of our stubbornness. And to the extent we surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we will be spared the suffering.
Q: You said that when Prahlad was touched by Nrsimha he attained full knowledge, wasn’t his enlightenment by Narada sufficient?
A: That reminds me of the Dhruva whose case was similar. Seeing the Supreme Lord in person is so amazing we become stunned and cannot think of what to say. Unless the Lord empowers us with what to say, we cannot speak.
In Vedic culture people are considered respectable by being senior by age, by initiation, by class, by spiritual order, by knowledge, but the more important is by bhakti, devotion to the Lord.
In the Atharva Veda, it is mentioned that Krishna is supreme, similarly in the Upanisads, Brahma Samhita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Bhagavad-gita.
Goloka Vrindavana is described as being larger than all the other Vaikuntha planets combined.
In 1970 Himavati was involved in a car accident and she wrote Prabhupada, who included these prayers to Lord Nrsimha that we now chant daily in our temples in his reply.
In 1983 and 1984, 35 dacoits attacked the devotees in Mayapur. A couple days later, Bhavananda Prabhu had dream in which Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared and was killing all those who had attacked. One devotee made a sketch of the form described by Bhavananda. The devotees decided they should get a deity of Nrsimha, and sent Atmatattva to a sthapati in South India with the sketch. The sthapati realized this was Ugra Nrhimha. When asked to carve this Urga Nrsimha, he was afraid as one town where Urga Nrsimha was formerly worshiped nicely had since become a ghost town. He tried to find someone else willing to carve the deity, but could not and returned to that sthapati who had since had a dream in which his sthapati-guru appeared and told him to carve the deity and so he was agreeable.
Srila Prabhupada wanted the devotees to establish a daivi-varnasrama society to give the people a positive alternative.
‘sādhu-sańga,’ ‘sādhu-sańga’—sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-sańge sarva-siddhi haya
“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 22.54)