Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 23
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2009, part one)
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, USA, on January 30, 2010)
Where I Am and What I Am Doing
For six weeks, beginning in early December, I went to visit Sridham Mayapur, which I consider my eternal home. I resumed my place on the nagar-sankirtana party led by Shastra Prabhu. I had enough funds to buy the ticket, primarily because of donations from the Durban temple and Dhruva Prabhu, who traveled with me in the summer, and because my mom and Kalakantha Prabhu, my temple president in Gainesville, funded my ticket to America, and I am very grateful to all of them for the opportunity.
Our harinama party went to Jagannath Mandir the day I arrived in Mayapur, and Jagannath Misra Prabhu let me sing the whole way there. It was four kilometers and at least an hour and a half, but I did not feel tired from the distance or the time, or from the fact I had just spent 40 hours, mostly on trains traveling from Mumbai to Mayapur. On the way back we took the public bus. In Mayapur, some of the public buses, including the one we took, have tulasi plants on the dashboard, a sweet devotional touch I have seen nowhere else but Mayapur. One friend on the harinama party told me the buses with the tulasis always have a special atmosphere. Once we were settled on the bus, we chanted accompanied by our harmonium, drum, and karatalas, all the way to our temple. It was a very sweet experience and a great welcome home to Mayapur.
On the way to the ferry to Navadvipa, two children took pleasure in repeatedly bowing down before our cart with Gaura-Nitai Deities on it. Usually, at the best, they will bow down once, and that is not in most cases. Later in Navadvipa itself, I saw some children show respect to the Deities, even when their parents, standing right next to them, did not. Perhaps the grandparents had trained the kids in this, or perhaps the parents had trained them out of duty, but lacked the spontaneous enthusiasm to do it when that opportunity arose. One boy, with a smiling face, ran out of his dwelling when he heard the chanting, eager to offer respect with folded hands to the Lord. During our harinamas,you do get a sense that the residents of the holy dhama are not ordinary, but have a high degree of devotion from their blessed pasts.
We went to Murari Gupta’s temple on harinama, and stayed there chanting on the road outside for about 10 minutes. An appreciative crowd of about fifty villagers gathered to hear. Then we continued fifteen minutes further down the road, going away from the Ganga, to another village with a large building having a clearing in front. We stopped there for about half an hour and about a hundred and twenty people gathered to see and hear. Three of our harinamaladies danced in three circles with five or seven village children each. Except for the harinamas where we distribute prasadam, these attracted the most attention from the general populace.
At the Jagannatha Mandir, I was happy to find I knew enough of the Bengali script and the Sanskrit language to translate the sloka above the Deities:
nilacala nivasaya nityaya paramatmane
balabhadra-subhadrabhyam jagannathaya te namah
I offer obeisances to the Supreme Souls, Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Jagannatha, who eternally reside in Nilacala.
On the public bus we took back to the temple from the Jagannatha mandir, after the first stop, the back step was free, and four devotees sat with harmonium, African drum, karatalas, and mrdanga, and we played our instruments and chanted Hare Krishna the rest of the way back. Two middle-aged Bengali ladies in our party clapped to the music and sang along with great enthusiasm. It is great we can do kirtana on the public buses in India.
On Saturday, we did harinama in Krishnanagara, the largest of the nearby cities. There is a statue of Lord Caitanya there and the Mayapur devotee lady who has a houseful of Deities had a dream in which Lord Caitanya told her to tell Shastra to do harinama beginning at that statue of the Lord, and that she herself should distribute prasadam to all the assembled devotees, and so it happened. Shastra got permission from the cities authorities to repaint and to cleanse that statue of Lord Caitanya, and so in the future, He will appear more glorious.
The streets were crowded and many people were glad to see the devotees and their procession. After the harinama we joined the MIHET parikrama at Nrsimha Pali which was led by Kadamba Kanana Swami (see notes on talk).
Insights from Lectures
Srinivasa Acarya was the leader of the three friends, the others being Narottama Dasa Thakura and Syamananda Goswami.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura spoke against the thirteen apasampradayas, who are preaching adharma to due material attachments to intoxication and illicit sex. Even now, thousands of people are still affected by such misrepresentations of Lord Caitanya’s philosophy, and so many cultured people did not want to have anything to do with Lord Caitanya and His movement. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, through publishing literature like Sri Caitanya-caritamrita and Lord Caitanya’s philosophy, reestablished the respectability of Vaishnavism. Bhaktivinoda Thakura presented Lord Caitanya’s teachings in brilliant poetry in Sanskrit, Bengali, and English, surpassing Tagore, who only wrote in Bengali.
Deviant groups include the baula, who believe you have to engage in illicit sex with another man’s wife to understand the pastimes of Radha-Krishna, and the sakhibeki, who believe you have to become a woman to understand Radha-Krishna lila.
In just seventeen years, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura spread Krishna consciousness all over India, establishing sixty-four temples. Bhaktivinoda Thakura revived Lord Caitanya’s teachings and rediscovered His dhama (holy place of pastimes).
The Gaudiya Math disintegrated because the leaders could not understand the gravity of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s instruction to collectively manage the society. Our Srila Prabhupada revived this spirit of his guru. ISKCON has had so many difficulties, but because we followed this instruction to collectively manage the society, ISKCON is continuing and growing stronger.
On this day, we should commit ourselves to this mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and he will bless us unlimitedly. We should not endeavor for recognition.
Vedic literature is scientific and cannot be doubted. We may not be able to understand how to apply it.
Mayavadis are lower than the fruitive workers in that at least the fruitive workers are willing to perform sacrifice to Lord Vishnu, although for material gain.
If something is connected to Krishna, then it is special.
Rupa Goswami stresses that association with devotees is the cause of all our spiritual advancement.
One lump of dead matter does not love another lump of dead matter.
If you want the kind of love that Mother Yasoda has for Krishna, you have to get her association or the association of her associates.
The only qualification to attain prema (love of God) is to want it. Srila Prabhupada says that all a living entity can do is desire. Bhakti is the process and the goal. The holy name is the process and the goal.
Q: Are the dhama residents special?
A: The bidi smoking devotee in the chai shop in the holy dhama is that sadhana bhakta in your community who couldn’t follow the principles and died in that state.
The conception that we are “advanced” or “special” can keep us from attaining Krishna-prema for lifetimes. Humility is foremost because without it, you cannot attain Krishna-prema.
The spiritual body is there at bhava. There are five stages of bhava. At prema you attain Goloka. The Vrindavana pastimes is Srimad-Bhagavatam show how people get from bhava to prema.
There are some books that the Goswamis’ wrote that they felt were too elevated, so they buried them. There is a grantha-samadhi (book tomb) behind Sanatana Goswami’s samadhi.
Q: How is it that three of Advaita Acarya’s sons were Mayavadis as He is Vishnu Himself?
A: Advaita Acarya is both Vishnu and Sada Siva, so three sons took after Vishnu and three took after Siva (Sankara).
Those who come to this world with prema have spiritual bodies.
In most of the six philosophies God is known as the controller and as beyond the material, but little interest is there about having a relationship with God.
The blessings of the guru are that one will intuitively understand devotional service.
The soul has no connection with material nature. How then is he bound? We think we are bound. We are thinking of ourselves as different from Krishna. We are covered by our material desires (Bg. 3.39). If you ask people their ultimate goal, you will find it is sense gratification. “Create your own reality”—we have done it.
Sometimes Srila Prabhupada was asked how we fell; he would say we never fell, the fallen state is illusory.
Bhagavad-gita 15.7 states that we are eternal fragments of Krishna, and thus we can never become Krishna, who is the whole.
The Lord is realized in the repentant heart. Austerity is voluntary torment, and that is purifying.
Q: Explain the repentant mood.
A: First we have to realize that we have done something wrong, and that in fact our whole conception of life is wrong. We have to become humble for there to be understanding and then regret.
Q: What about getting involved in a material kind of lamentation that impedes Krishna consciousness?
A: That is there. As the Mayavadis think there are too great to surrender to God, these people think they are too small or too fallen to surrender to Krishna.
Q: How can we remember the miseries of material existence?
A: Read Srimad-Bhagavatam.
It is said all the demigods have residences here. In addition to the wild kirtanas here that B. B. Govinda Swami introduced, we could pray here for protection from our lower nature. Bhaktivinoda Thakura prayed that this deity to remove obstacles from our attaining Krishna-prema. Krishna will surely protect anyone who is chanting and sincerely trying. Prahlada was completely helpless, materially speaking. We are thinking we have so many things that can protect us, our money, our cell phones, etc. The reason we come to these places to increase our faith. The Bhaktivedanta Charity Trust was created by Srila Prabhupada to preserve holy places. Extraordinary miracles confirm the divinity of Supreme Lord’s avatars. The mango tree was a miracle of Lord Caitanya, but more so, His miraculous love of God. Sanatana Goswami says that at the Viraja River is Mount Kailasa and Siva, and on the spiritual side of the river, is the abode of Sada Siva. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura emphasized the Navadvipa dhama parikrama based on Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s book Navadvipa Dhama Mahatyma. Jananivasa Prabhu told us all the Deities in Mayapur take on the merciful mood of Lord Caitanya.
Krishna consciousness means to follow all the good instructions given by Krishna.
Bhakti Purusottama Swami:
The living entities do not try to get out of this material world because they do not recognize the suffering.
The path of bhakti-yoga does not consider the time, place, and circumstances. Otherwise spiritual candidates would have to be brahmanas by birth.
In our neophyte stage, our ananda (bliss) does not come from chanting, but rather when we have finished chanting [our quota].
We can practice chanting in the womb, as a kid, as an old person, in Yamaloka (the place of punishment for the sinful), etc.
The Lord did not create the world to cause the living entities to suffer, but so they could practice bhakti and attain ananda, ecstasy, the real pleasure.
If you are punished by the king for your crimes, you do not need to be punished by Yamaraja, the punisher of sinful persons.
Six hundred miles high there is a region of ghosts who devour the bodies of those who fall from heaven, their piety being exhausted. In the tears of the fallen, the atma, spiritual soul, leaves the body.
When the jnanis, or mental speculators, fall from so high, they become senseless stones, but because they like to glitter like Brahman, they can become diamonds.
Only Krishna’s lotus feet give shelter to the ever-moving living entities.
Hari Sauri Prabhu:
Ignorance is the real pain of existence. When we see ourselves as spiritual, we can seek ananda, spiritual bliss. As humans we can realize this.
The child is conscious the last couple of months before birth. They did a study showing that babies can recognize the theme tunes of the soap operas their mothers heard during pregnancy. Now they tell women not to drink or smoke during pregnancy.
Prayer gives relief. Just by acknowledging that Krishna is the supreme controller, there is relief.
The biggest industry is cosmetics. Jane Fonda has the world’s most popular movie about keeping fit. Now at seventy years old, she is in a wheel chair and has different artificial body parts.
There is a video of Sivarama Swami and a professor. Sivarama Swami makes the point that it is not God’s fault there is misery but ours. It is our karma.
One can challenge Richard Dawkins by saying, “If God does not exist then why are you always talking about Him. Someone who is always talking about something that does not exist is mad.”
By hearing, chanting, and remembering the glories of the Lord, we can attain ananda.
The body is always uncomfortable. Is there anyone out there who has a comfortable body?
They have these sensory deprivation chambers, which are soundproof and where you are floating in water of just the right temperature in the dark. They try to recreate the conditions in the womb, but they forget one thing—the worms.
Krishna is supplying remembrance and forgetfulness according to our desire. As long as we aspire for material happiness, Krishna will arrange for us to forget the suffering.
The fortunate think, “How I can escape this suffering?” The less intelligent just try to adjust things.
Q: What should we forget?
A: The pleasures of this world. Our troubles. Dwelling on suffering can lead to depression. And what should we remember? We should remember the mercy of the Lord’s instructions.
One of those films on life in the womb corroborates the Srimad-Bhagavatam’s descriptions. They say it takes one month for the baby to become accustomed to being outside the womb.
If we act for Krishna, tolerating duality, we advance. If we set aside our desire and instead fulfill Krishna’s desire, we will become very dear to Krishna.
To try to control maya is an illusion, for maya is controlling us. Krishna says if we surrender unto Him, he will call off maya.
The body is like a monster than is making demands all day, and we foolishly serve it. We spend our whole life foolishly meeting the demands of the body. If that is not foolish, I do not know what is!
Q: If the mind is above the senses, the intelligence is above the mind, and the soul is above the intelligence, then why is it so hard to act that way?
A: The mind has been king since time immemorial, and he is not going to give it up without a fight.
Q: Do we have to give up adjusting for bodily dualities?
A: No, just engage in it in Krishna’s service.
Comment: When Srila Prabhupada’s body was just skin and bones at the end of his life, he spoke so softly that you had to be right next to his mouth to hear him. In that condition, called for Bhavananda, who was organizing the Life Comes from Life Conference and asked if the visiting scientists would be comfortable in their rooms.
Srila Prabhupada says it is unfortunate that the miseries of life are not discussed, but we are probably feeling glad we don’t discuss them.
When we come to Krishna consciousness, we gradually realize it is the Absolute Truth, and we become really surrendered. Then in the course of time, we see our authorities may not be so Krishna conscious, and we think, “Why should I give my money to him?” Then we think, “Perhaps no one is as advanced as me.” We then begin criticizing others and lose our taste.
Srila Prabhupada says we can be happy by making the cows and the bulls happy. By God’s grace, there is enough land, and people can grow what they need. Srila Prabhupada said, “Varnasrama is essential to come to the mode of goodness.”
Bhakta Adam tells of a former sankirtana devote who once collected 33,000 Australian dollars and who now lives self-sufficiently on a farm with sixty cows, very happily.
Krishna has his pastimes as a rascal boy, which although they may appear like those of any ordinary boy, are transcendental, and by hearing about them, we become purified. In the beginning, we may not like to hear about Krishna, but it is therapeutic. If we are very diseased, it could take us lifetimes to become pure. Better slow and steady. Our disease is chronic, going on for many lives. If you can’t become attached to hearing about Krishna, get attached to a service given by the guru. Srila Prabhupada considered it sufficient to engage fulltime in serving Lord Caitanya by preaching Krishna consciousness. It does not matter where you came from or what your service is. If you are twenty-four hours a day engaged in devotional service, you are jivan-mukta, a liberated soul.
The GBCs and sannyasis should be the most responsible people in the movement for they are the head. If there is trouble with the head, there is trouble with the whole body. ISKCON devotees are very fortunate. We just have to be a little serious.
Eagerness to serve the Vaishnavas can reduce our offenses. We must adjust our attitude so we can stay in the association of devotees. We have our plan, and Krishna has His plan. Krishna is not a machine. When there is a little gap in our service, maya can enter.
Chowpatty Srimad-Bhagavatam class:
At every step of the way the demons and demigods encountered difficulty in churning the milk ocean, and the Lord had to assist in many ways, but when the poison arose, however, the Lord wanted to glorify Siva by engaging him in saving everyone from it.
Bhakti Purusottama Swami says without the quality of bhakti-vatsala the Lord’s qualities are not complete.
Devotees are more attracted by the Lord’s kindness than His greatness. The Lord manifests opulences according to the devotees’ desires.
Some friends and followers of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, who is now 70 years old met, on December 11, 2009, in Mayapur. In attendance besides me, were Jayadvaita Swami, Janmastami Prabhu and his wife, Samkalpa, and their two sons, who led the initial chanting. There were also Kirtida Prabhu, and Yasoda Dulal Prabhu and his wife, Ramila Prabhu. Bhakti Rasa Prabhu was sick and could not attend.
Janmastami Prabhu appreciated japa inspiration from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami and hoped to pass it on to his sons.
I read some appreciations from a book which disciple Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu compiled, including one by Radhanatha Swami:
Radhanatha Swami: It is my honor and fortune to have the opportunity to express my love and gratitude to you on this special day.
Since 1972 to the present day, you have always showered immense kindness upon me. I remember at our first meeting in New Vrindaban you asked me about how I came to Srila Prabhupada. After I explained my story, your comment penetrated deep into my heart. You said, “Srila Prabhupada left India and traveled all the way to the West to deliver fallen souls and then he traveled all the way back to India to deliver you.” With these precious words you put my life forever in proper perspective by revealing that Srila Prabhupada’s mercy is all that I am made of. Through your gracious, humble and loving devotion that flow of mercy has transformed thousands of devotees, myself included. Most recently, your encouragement to me upon reading the manuscript for The Journey Home inspired me like no one else could have done. For that I am forever indebted.
I am remembering how while I was at the bedside of our beloved Godbrother H.H. Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, at a certain point he told me that he would discontinue all meetings, correspondence or telephone calls from everyone except for his immediate caretakers. But with tears in his eyes he told me that the only exception would be H.H. Satsvarupa Goswami Maharaja. He just couldn’t resist your association. We often shared our love for you in his last days.
Every day while taking lunch prasadam with all the temple devotees in Radha Gopinath Temple in Chowpatty, Bombay, we hear from Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita. At that time, each day, I feel so close to you and this gives me a feeling of shelter and wonderful joy.
On behalf of all the devotees in Chowpatty, Bombay, we send our sincerest gratitude and devotion to you for your Vyasa Puja and our prayers for your health.
Bhakti Rasa Prabhu, in an poetic offering read by his wife, Kirtida Prabhu, appreciates Srila Prabhupada started ISKCON at 70, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s present age. Some excerpts from his poem that especially appealed to me include:
“Seeking your own voice
speaking in modern tongues
sharing personal struggles
striving for Krishna consciousness
succor and sustenance to
servants and sympathizers like me
“Encouraged by instruction and example
to value our own uniqueness
grow as individuals
to make our chosen contribution
to ISKCON and humanity. . . .
“You did not hide from loss of pride
easy way out, disappear in fear
and the renounced order
under pressure from some peers.”
Jayadavaita Swami: I have been following online Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s journal Yellow Submarine. I am in awe of his realizations of chanting Hare Krishna. Our relationship with Krishna is as good as our relationship with the chanting of the holy name. The holy name is sadhana, but it is more that just sadhana. It is Krishna. We chant to keep the obligation, or worse, with our minds going everywhere else. I am impressed with Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s dedication to the chanting of the holy name for practically a lifetime. As temple president in Boston when I met him, he was serious about everything, and especially serious about chanting, not seeing it as a ritual, but a serious personal attempt to realize Krishna and to associate with Krishna and to serve Krishna in the form the holy name. Krishna as the name, the dhama, the prasadam, etc., are not for our enjoyment or our punishment, but for Krishna’s service. I noticed Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami was serious and maintained that seriousness throughout. Some of us are serious in the beginning, but after the honeymoon is over, it is a different story. He wrote that Japa Reform, which created a sensation that made us realize that many of us have a long way to go in improving our chanting. Today when we read his realizations, they are so mature. I get a sense that it the fruit of so much dedication. We must feel ourselves dependent on Krishna. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “Make this your business to take shelter of the holy name.” The material world is miserable place, a tricky place, a dangerous place. Maya is so strong that the illusion is very effective. Thus we must take shelter of Krishna, and Krishna means Krishna nama. You see this taking shelter of Krishna nama in the writing of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. We see a taste there. Sometimes I visited him when he was debilitated, and it was hard to chant. In this state, he said, with conviction and enthusiasm, “I like to chant.” I saw that with Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, from the beginning, “I like to serve.” Enthusiasm is what makes bhakti manifest. Srila Prabhupada said, “Enthusiasm is like an engine that makes everything go.” Then “niscaya”—I know it works; I am confident about it. Not that, maybe I should be doing “Hail Mary” or meditation, or something else. And dhairyat,patience—I will stick it through.
I was with Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami at an airport when Srila Prabhupada arrived and everyone was jumping up and down. And Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami said to me, “I don’t feel anything.” But that is the idea—to serve no matter how you feel. I am Krishna’s servant, and I serve. So Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami has cultivated and pursued that mood of “I am your servant.” Sanatana Goswami says to chant the holy name requires abject humility, that kind of humility that when you hear about it, you doubt if you really want to be that humble. “Without your mercy, I cannot live.” We see in Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s writing, either humility or the desire for humility. There is this dynamic in Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami of creativity and expressiveness and on the other side, to strictly follow the process. Chanting means does not mean just two hours work but the complete dedication of one’s life for Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada said a devotee thinks if didn’t do service to Krishna, what would I do? There is a sense that “this is my life,” the life of Krishna consciousness. When we read Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s writing over the years, and especially now, we see this dedication to the holy name of Krishna. It is a great fortune to see this realization in Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. So we offer our respects to Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami and our appreciation, wonder, and awe. I cannot chant like that. He is very special.
Q (by Samkalpa): We talk of getting a taste, but we are not supposed to enjoy Krishna, so what is meant by that?
A: It is a taste for service to Krishna. We are honoring prasadam not taking prasadam. It is Krishna’s mercy that we can serve Him. Whether I enjoy chanting or not, I chant because I am a servant of the holy name.
Those who stick with Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami have the opportunity to get the realization that he gets from his continued faith in holy name of Krishna. Justified loyalty and dedication in itself is a reward.
Yasoda Dulal Prabhu: Bhaktivinoda Thakura says when referring to Radharani’s love, when the relationship has every reason to break down, but doesn’t, that is love.
I read my offering as well:
“On the occasion of your Vyasa-puja, seventy years since your appearance, I want to first thank you for your wonderful gift of biographical writings on Srila Prabhupada, all presented with such appreciation that it awakens appreciation in the reader and hearer. As I travel in different parts of the world, devotees always tell me how much your Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta benefited their spiritual life, and in some places like London and Chowpatty, they daily hear it during prasadam. Your books on improvement of our spiritual practices also receive much praise from devotees everywhere.
“Now I am grateful for your present daily nourishment of our spiritual lives in form of your journal, Yellow Submarine. Every day you remind us of the paramount importance of japa in our spiritual life and that we should never cease trying to improve our performance, as you are showing by example. Every day you share the bold preaching of Srila Prabhupada with us, which you make even more wonderful by your appreciation of it, as Sukadeva Goswami renders Vyasadeva’s Bhagavatam sweeter by his retelling with realization. Every day you teach us to pray to Krishna, admitting our deficiencies while begging for the highest stage of perfection, following the mood of the great souls like Narottama Dasa Thakura and Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Thus every day you are doing your duty of enlightening us very admirably, even in the face of so many bodily inconveniences.
“Please accept my services of promoting the public congregational chanting of Hare Krishna, proofreading ISKCON publications including your own, answering questions about Krishna, preaching at the colleges, and trying to encourage devotees to faithfully follow Srila Prabhupada.”
The devotees were glad we all got together, and they especially felt fortified by Jayadvaita Swami’s mature realizations.
nama cintamanih krishnas
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
“The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna's name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna's name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krishna's name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical.” (Padma Purana)