Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

by Krishna-kripa Das

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gaura Purnima Lecture Notes—Varsana Swami—Alachua

Because Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Original Personality of Godhead Himself, Krishna, combined with Radha, the benefit achieved from Him is far greater than that from the usual yuga avataras. Golokera prema-dhana harinama-sankirtana: His sankirtana movement gives love for Krishna.

In the maha-mantra we both worship Krishna, in vaidhi [according to regulations] which can give us santa [neutrality] and dasya [servitude] rasa [relationships with Lord], and Radha in raganuga [spontaneous love], through which we can enter the higher rasas [relationships of friendship, parenthood, and conjugal love].

Radha is the emblem of Vraja bhakti.

Why did Lord Caitanya select Puri for His pastimes? Puri is where devotees congregate by the millions to perform harinama-sankirtana in Ratha-yatra, and it was this sankirtana He came to teach.

Subhadra told Rohini that she would, with outstretched arms, guard the door in Dvakara while Rohini narrated the Lord’s Vraja lila before Krishna’s queens so Krishna and Balarama could not enter and become overwhelmed with ecstasy. But hearing the pastimes herself, Subhadra experienced so much ecstasy her eyes opened widely and her arms contracted and entered into her body, and thus she could not prevent Krishna and Balarama from hearing the narration. When Krishna and Balarama heard the narrations they also manifested ecstatic forms, which Narada requested they allow to be worshiped somewhere on earth. Thus Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra are worshiped in those forms in Puri.

To allay the feelings of separation of Vrajavasis, Uddhava was requested to go to Vraja, but because he had already been and promised to bring Krishna, He felt they wouldn’t believe him. Balarama also doubted they would believe him as He previously promised Krishna would return. Subhadra volunteered, telling a story that Krishna, Balarama, and herself started out at the same time from Dvakara, but Krishna was delayed reciprocating with many kings along the way.

When Radha was almost dead from separation from Krishna, Candravali touched the feet of Radha, and admitted she appeared as Her competitor by yogamaya, just to increase the ecstasy of the Lord’s pastimes.

Once a professor gave a lecture on Ratha-yatha. He spoke mostly to the nondevotees, saying it was a festival of recreation. “Recreation” he explained as “re-creation”, recreating the meeting of the Vrajavasis with the Lord at Kuruksetra.

Imagine not seeing someone for years and then finally seeing someone people say is that person, and then finding it is someone else. Lord Caitanya in the mood of Radharani expressed that She wanted to be with Krishna as He was in Vrindavana not as He is in Dvaraka.

The gopis complained about hearing instructions on yoga to remember Krishna. They did not need a process to remember Krishna for their devotion is like rivers flowing to the sea.

When Lord Caitanya danced behind Lord Jagannatha’s cart, it stopped. And when Lord Caitanya came in front, it started again. The car of the Lord moves by superior power.

Balarama’s conch shell, representing duty, draws him back to Dvaraka where he must kill demons and thus protect the world, including Vraja. But ropes of love draw Him to Vraja. Subala and Radha appeared as if in a dream to invite Him to enter again their respective pastimes in Vraja.

Ratha-yatra is the image of the Lord’s own heart.

When Gangadevi [the Ganges River] wanted to go underground because of sinful situation of Kali, Krishna told her in 5000 years My devotee who worships me by My mantra will gather up devotees from all over the world, and they will bathe in your waters and purify them.

Lord Caitanya first caused the appearance of the holy name, and then inspired all to engage in sankirtana.

Sankirtana means using everything and everyone, harmonized in one voice, for the glorification of the Lord.

If the whole world was delivered by the mere presence of Lord Caitanya, what is the need for His pastimes of delivering Jagai and Madhai, Raghunatha Dasa, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, etc.. He did it to show how anyone can be delivered by His process.

Before Lord Caitanya no one ever dreamed one could enter into Vraja prema [the loving service mood of Krishna]. But it is that prema, Lord Caitanya came to distribute.

You cannot enter Vraja without an invitation and someone to lead the path. Therefore as Srila Prabhupada himself said, “I have created your good fortune.”

The whole world can be delivered as it was 500 years ago. During Lord Caitanya’s pastimes, even those who blasphemed attained Vaikuntha and those appreciated attained Goloka.

One would consider it fortunate to be appointed to the king’s court. No one could imagine being adopted by the king and living in His own chambers. Lord Caitanya is giving an intimate relationship with God like that.

In separation from the guru we internalize everything he taught and come to realize he is still present.

Krishna is bound by love alone. Radha and Krishna, in the form of the subtle sound of the maha-mantra, reveal that love to us.

We should never forget this love is the ultimate goal, and we should never stop following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to share this love with others.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Travel Journal#6.3: Gainesville, Miami, Ocala

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 3
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2010, part one)
Gainesville

(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, USA, on February 25, 2010)


Highlights


Harinama at the Super Bowl

Bringing Krishna to the Ocala Regional Rainbow Gathering

Insights from Rtadhvaja Swami, Brahmatirtha Prabhu,

Chaturatma Prabhu, Kalakantha Prabhu, Nanda Prabhu,
Sunanda Prabhu, and Others


Where I Am and What I Am Doing


I am living in the Krishna House in Gainesville and chanting at the University of Florida for two and a half or three hours a day. On Wednesday afternoon, we chant at the farmers’ market downtown for one or two hours, and on Friday night, we chant downtown near the bars and restaurants for an hour or an hour and a half in the evening. Three days a week I teach an hour-long course on a chapter of Bhagavad-gita. I also help with morning and evening classes occasionally. There are several students who are enthusiastic about different of our practices, and so it is very inspiring to be here.


The beginning of the month we did a couple weekend adventures, chanting at the Super Bowl in Miami and at the regional Rainbow Gathering in Ocala National Forest, where we also served prasadam.


Harinama at the Superbowl


Four devotees from the Alachua area joined four devotees from Miami in chanting for three hours at the stadium in Miami before the Super Bowl game. Siddha-vidya Prabhu, who has been doing harinama in Miami for decades, and Sunanda Prabhu, presently the head cook at Gainesville’s Krishna Lunch, were the main singers. Only one devotee lady was on the party.


We chanted inside the stadium gate for sometime, until relocated to outside the gate by the police. Once outside the gate, we were warned not block the sidewalk, which, in fact, meant that none of us could even stand on the sidewalk, with being warned again by the police. We accepted that we were given any place at all to chant was a benediction from the Lord. Previously devotees had been ordered by the police to leave after no more than an hour’s chanting, so I felt we were blessed.


More than one person said he hadn’t seen the Hare Krishnas in years, and for me, that is additional evidence we should get out there in public and chant the holy name more often. One such person appeared glad to see us and eagerly took the “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlet I gave him. Another person exclaimed, “They used to have three hundred people, and now there are only nine!”


I do not recall any persons who were inimical except some Christians who took the trouble to blaspheme Krishna. The Christians were out in force, on each street corner, where there were a man with a loudspeaker, some people holding signs, and some others giving out propaganda. Some of the signs protested abortion.


I was thinking the Saints fans being from New Orleans, where we have a temple, were more familiar with the devotees, and gave a us more positive reception, and so that might be favorable for their victory. It turns out the Saints did win.


Although it was five-hour drive from the Alachua / Gainesville area to Miami, we all felt it was worth it to help thousands of people come in touch with the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra which we received from the chain of spiritual teachers by the grace of Srila Prabhupada and his followers and which we feel has greatly benefited our lives.


Bringing Krishna to the Ocala Regional Rainbow Gathering


For years devotees in Alachua and Gainesville have brought Krishna prasadam and kirtana to the Rainbow Gathering in Ocala National Forest, at least to extent of a day of kirtanaand prasadam. This time was especially sweet because so many people appreciated our contribution and no one complained. We brought half a bucket of chili and rice, two buckets of spaghetti, and three buckets of trail mix halava, one of this years’ most popular flavors. When we arrived at the trade circle, where many people were sharing their wares, a young lady named Michele, who was happy to see us, found a place for us to set up and offered her blanket for us to sit on. People came with their plates, which were sometimes pieces of cardboard, bark from trees, or a bowl made from half a coconut. Others simply accepted prasadam on their palms. We chanted for three hours while distributing prasadam.


I asked one girl who was glancing at the kirtana party as she ate her halava if she had encountered the Hare Krishnas before. To my great surprise, she exclaimed, “Krishna-kripa, you don’t remember me?” It turned out I talked to her in our Tallahassee temple one time, and she was the roommate of the daughter of a friend of mine. Rafael, who helped Daru Brahma Prabhu prepare and serve prasadam at Tallahassee, was also there. One girl told me about how the devotees came to her peace picnic at University of North Florida in Jacksonville and asked if I remembered her. I said, “Are you Amanda?” “Yes,” she said. “Amanda Fowler, right?” I replied. “Yes.” She was surprised I remembered. I told her we were thinking of chanting in Jacksonville again during our spring break and would keep in touch.


Next we did a little harinama through the woods for half an hour or so. The girl from Tallahassee who remembered me, followed at the end of our party, eating her halava on the way. Two boys, who had also taken prasadam, also followed our harinama.


While on harinama, we learned of the location of the main circle and since evening was approaching, we returned to the trade circle and packed up the remaining prasadam, a bucket and a half of halava, and proceeded to the main circle on the path which was demarcated by pink ribbons tied on the trees. I played my harinama harmonium along the pathway in the woods, struggling to avoid branches overhead and debris underfoot, as I walked and sang.


At the main circle, Garuda Prabhu, known also by the Rainbow name Soaring Turkey, was making an enthusiastic appeal that the Rainbow people unite to discourage the use of alcohol and which was becoming excessive to the point of being a disturbance to the mood of the gathering in recent years. It was nice to see a devotee advocating that persons, who he plays a leadership role in relationship with, act to protect a principle of religion. Garuda Prabhu, as usual, camped out and shared prasadam and kirtana with the people for most of the gathering, and we were glad to see him again this year.


We chanted “om” with the Rainbows and then began serving out our halava at the main circle, Mahakirti Prabhu starting at one point, and I starting 180 degrees away. For many, the halava was the first preparation on their very imaginative plates, and they were eager to get it. The halava went around the circle once, and then I took seconds to about half the circle, and many people were happy to get some more.


After serving prasadam, we asked Garuda Prabhu where we could chant Hare Krishna, and he invited us to his tepee, which had a fire burning within it and was just a few feet from the main circle. We chanted for an hour, and then he chanted for about fifteen minutes until it was 8:00 p.m., the time we planned to leave. While we were chanting, I asked a girl who seemed to be really getting into dancing to the kirtana, if she had encountered the devotees before. She said she hadn’t. She was from Coconut Creek and into Tibetan Buddhist meditation. After awhile, she stopped dancing and sat near the fire to meditate. However, the kirtana was so lively, she soon found herself moving to the music, and abandoned her attempt to meditate and resumed dancing. The two boys who had followed our harinama were there along with a girl, who had come with them from Ashville, North Carolina. They had never met the devotees before, but they seemed really to appreciate both the kirtana and the prasadam. I gave them a card for Krishna.com, so they could get more information.


We chanted through the woods back to our car. As it was dark, the temperature was dropping and my fingers were getting numb as I played the harmonium, so I had to reposition them to improve the circulation. It was Krishna’s mercy that Jaya Sita had asked as we were about to leave if we had any flashlights, and finding we had none, she lent us two. Her brother held one facing ahead of him and the other facing behind him, so we could see the path. It was the hardest experience for me to play harmonium in the dark, in the cold, and on a path in the woods, but by Krishna’s grace I kept it up for forty-five minutes or so, until we reached the car.


Thirteen devotees came out together from the Gainesville and Alachua area and all of them loved the program, many saying they would like to attend the Tallahassee Regional Rainbow in March as we did last year for the first time. We saw old friends and made new ones, and many people, including ourselves, advanced in Krishna consciousness.


Insight from Lectures


Rtadhvaja Swami:

When people are situated properly according to varna and asrama, they will naturally be happy.

My friend’s Dad planned to work hard his whole life and buy a recreational vehicle and travel around the US. The day he was to leave on his trip he got his first heart attack. His insurance paid for it, and then six months later he tried again. In the course of his traveling, he got another heart attack, but his insurance would not pay. He had to sell his recreational vehicle and live off his social security.

When I met the devotees, they told me I couldn’t enjoy in the material world. I thought they just hadn’t figured out how to do it, unlike me. I could show them how to enjoy in the material world. After several months, I realized they were right. I called the temple and told the devotees, “You ruined all my fun.” I used to enjoy all these things, but now I realize such enjoyment is not real.

My father said on his deathbed, “I can’t stop this,” and died.

Learn to give up material things slowly, and do not get too involved in material things in the first place. If you do a Folio search, you will be amazed to see how often Srila Prabhupada used the word “gradually”.

We should have SGA, Sense Gratifiers Anonymous. We come before the Deities and say, “I am Maharaja, and I am an addict.” We have our twelve step program, “Mangala arati,Krishna prasadam, . . .

Brahmatirtha Prabhu [known as the Bob Cohen in Perfect Questions, Perfection Answers] originally heard Hare Krishna from the musical Hair and could not get the mantra out of his mind.

Whenever I would call home, my mother would criticize Krishna and the devotees, and I would preach to her. After this went on for two years, I finally made a truce with my mother. She would not criticize Krishna and His devotees, and I wouldn’t preach to her. I haven’t preached to my family for 35 years. If they asked a question, I would answer it. In that time, they asked two questions.

Brahmatirtha Prabhu:


Srila Prabhupada said not to change things after he left, but he also wanted us to act about time, place, and circumstances.


It is said they are no atheists in the foxholes, however, after the war there are many atheists because both sides pray to win but one side loses.


Why do bad things happen to good people? One Biblical answer, fortunately not the only Biblical answer, is that there are no good people because we are all tainted. We all deserve to suffer in hell.


Once I went to the Museum of Torture, where I learned that much of the torture in history was performed by priests who considered that by torturing people they were purifying them of their sins.


Bad philosophy creates bad activities.


What do bad things happen to good people? I have heard two explanations: (1) I don’t know. (2) Karma. The “I don’t know” is sometimes phrased in different ways such as “You just have to have faith.”


In a hospital there is always a morgue because so many people die there, but it never has a sign on it that says “Morgue” because that would freak out people. It is called “X-Ray Room” or something like that.


Brahma Tirtha Prabhu: What good does it do if we are suffering for something we did in the past life if we cannot remember it?

Gopal: Well, if a murderer gets amnesia and cannot remember his sinful act, should he not be punished?


Chaturatma Prabhu:


Srila Prabhupada was also aware of the contemporary culture as can be seen from his description of Maharaja Bharata, “Because of the boy's becoming so strong, more than the so-called modern Tarzan, the rsis in the forest called him Sarvadaman, or one who is able to control everyone.”


In a public lecture in San Diego, Srila Prabhupada was explaining that we cannot get any satisfaction. Then he turned to a devotee, “Just like that song says. Don’t think I do not know these things.”


We can learn one pointedness from Arjuna who was tested by his archery teacher Dronacarya who wanted him to shoot the eye of fish behind a wheel situated on the ceiling that was seen only by reflection. Because he saw only the eye of the fish, he was successful.


Although Sridhara Swami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura disagree in their commentaries, Srila Prabhupada saw the value in both versions and gives evidence how both are reasonable. This is a wonderful example to be followed.


Once a leader who was pushing on Krishna consciousness in a particular part of the world was complaining to Prabhupada about how difficult it was to get the devotees to work nicely in the way he wanted. Srila Prabhupada smiled and said, “As I am tolerating you, you must tolerate them.”


We cannot hold maya back ourselves, but in the association of devotees, it becomes possible.


As far a plant is high, so deep are the roots. Similarly in the hearts there are the roots of our sinful tendencies. These must to uprooted by taking shelter of the Hare Krishna mantra.


State fathers must be wise devotees of the Lord, breakers of the discipline of sinful, and uprooters of the symptoms of Kali.


Srila Prabhupada was not just an acarya, teacher by example, for the twelve years he was preaching in the West, but for his entire life, including his childhood, which he engaged in devotional service.


The different between a grhamedhi and grhastha is how much you give Krishna consciousness to others.


It is important to have the Deity in the home, so we realize this is not my house, but Krishna’s house. Otherwise the tendency is the male-female relationship tends too much toward sense gratification. As grhasthas, you have to have deity worship in the home, otherwise you end up thinking you are lord of the home. Many times Srila Prabhupada speaks of the necessity having deities in the home for grhasthas.


From the viewpoint of the Protestant, Jewish, and Moslem faiths, the idea of deity worship is completely foreign. In Catholicism, there is the idea of the worship of the form of saints.


Srila Prabhupada writes that no one can worship in raganuga through the bhagavata vidhi without going through the pancaratrika vidhi (sadhana-bhakti). Pancaratrika worship allows anyone regardless of background to do deity worship as long as he is initiated by a spiritual master.


In the temple, the standard is very strict, but in the home it is the mood of convenience. This, however, does not mean a mood of frivolity. For example, the deities take rest at a certain time, but if you have friends over for bhajanas and things go late, it is alright that they take rest late. If you are performing arati, and a guest comes, you invite them in, and then continue with the arati. You may not use all the mantras and gestures that are used in the temple worship. It can be very simple, or in a phase of your life when you have more time, it can be more complicated. You have to be practical and not fanatical, otherwise you will cause distress for both yourself and others. Both in the temple and at home, cleanliness is most important. By consulting with the spiritual master, other devotees, and the scriptures, we can refine our worship.


If you have many deities, it may not be possible to worship them all every day. However, the main deity, your ista-deva, should be worshiped every day.


Caturatma Prabhu has three silas from Narottama Dasa Thakura. He has a little cloth from Lord Nityananda’s staff and Lord Caitanya’s dhoti, and salagram-sila forms of all of the dasa-avatara (ten avatars) except Lord Kalki. He also various remnants from Srila Prabhupada, and bark from the Siddha-bakula tree, the tree Lord Caitanya was born under, and tree in Tompkins Square Park that Srila Prabhupada chanted under, and many, many amazing historical Vaishnava remnants.


The bath water from the salagram-silas can be used bath the Siva lingam and Ganesa.


Q: Why worship demigods at all?

A: Because by pleasing the servants of the Lord, we can approach the Lord. The example is the gopis worshiping Katyayani to attain Krishna.


In the homes of the different devotees in the community, the focus is worshiping Krishna for the perfection of developing love of Krishna, but the details are different.


The coral from the beach in Dvaraka (known as dvaraka-sila) is nondifferent from Krishna.


Kush is the best oil for polishing the sila. Never leave a bottle of oil uncovered.


You can either sit the sila on tulasi or stick tulasi with sandlewood to his head.


You can use one side of the sink for Krishna’s plates and the other for your own. Use a separate set of cloths to dry the different plates.


As many householders there are, there are different ways of offering bhoga. The simplest is just to set the plate on the altar.


Gauranga-kisora Prabhu told a story that Puri Maharaja served a feast to the devotees in the temple. Radhanatha Swami inquired if they should close the deity’s curtains. Puri Maharaja said, “No, the Lord like to see His devotees eat.”


Q: When someone lives in an ashram is it alright worship personal deities?

A: Yes, but your personal deity worship should not overshadow or interfere with the temple worship.

Bhaktin Lacie adds: when I do the temple service to the temple deities, I meditate on my personal deities.


On neem deities, water destroys the wood and oil destroys the paint, so do not use those substances in bathing them. Wiping with a slightly damp cloth is sufficient.


Srila Prabhupada told the early book distributors they could do arati to the Bhagavatam before they read it.


I put our dying bird, which I found on the bottom of his cage, in front of our altar and with his beak he struggled up two steps to Srila Prabhupada’s altar, looked at Srila Prabhupada, and left his body. My wife and I were amazed to see this.


Kalakantha Prabhu:


In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana gave the Pandavas half the kingdom, but the half where nothing grows and which was useless for all practical purposes. By Krishna’s grace, they were able to turn it a place so wonderful that was called Indraprastha, the abode of Indra, the king of heaven. Therefore Duryodhana refused to give the Pandavas even five villages to rule for fear of giving them the slightest foothold, and thus he caused the Kuruksetra War.


Srila Prabhupada said the defending propensity is even stronger than the mating propensity.


Steve Covey’s book on self-improvement was originally a Mormon book on spiritual upliftment, but the publisher encouraged the author to secularize it and, it became incredibly popular.


Treasure these days in Krishna House when you can easily come together in the morning and do your spiritual practice for they may not last forever. When you are married you will not have so much time to devote in this way.


We talk of glorifying the name, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord, but my experience is the chaplain I meet because they have so little knowledge of these, they supplement their spiritual meetings with alcohol. One chaplain has “Theology on Tap” where they meet in a bar and discuss theology. Another chaplain was once given a big assignment by a leader in the church. To calm his nerves after hearing of it and to prepare himself to execute it, he had a drink. When he was quickly successful, the church leader celebrated by breaking out a bottle of whiskey.

The Lord is not punishing us in the material world but just letting us realize it is not possible to be happy separate from him.

Nanda Prabhu:


We are always incapable when it comes to making offerings to the Lord, and thus it is the devotion that makes the offerings worthy.


The Lord accepts the arca-vigraha, the deity form, so we can worship Him.


The Lord is always reciprocating, not only with Maharaja Pariksit, Maharaja Yudhisthira, and Sukadeva Goswamis, but also with us, who are trying to serve Him.


The Lord does not want the nondevotees to suffer but to become rectified.


Early in the movement, we had a regular event of devotees taking turns coming before Deities and offering prayers to Them during a Sunday morning kirtana.


Sunanda Prabhu:


Srila Prabhupada told us that an animal who takes prasadam next takes a human birth.


One great Vaishava acarya threw remnants of his meal to the fish in the river, and they assumed spiritual forms and returned to the spiritual world. His disciples had one doubt. “We always take your remnants of your food, but we remain in this world. Why is this?” The master replied that the fish had not committed any offense while taking theprasadam.


Disciple: Bhaktivinoda Thakura said he left his work unfinished. What did he mean by that?

SP: He left it for you to finish.


Lord Caitanya taught by His example to observe the Ratha-yatra festival, to travel and preach, etc. By following His example, we please the Lord and the acaryas.


The Lord’s example and instructions teach two principles: personal purification and benefiting others.


Although we are not important persons, still our good example can benefit each other and inspire those around us.


Paraphrase of some of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on prasadam distribution:


This program of mass distribution of prasadam was advocated by Lord Caitanya, because those who take prasadam will come again in touch with Krishna consciousness.


Prasadam is the key medicine for driving away maya.


If you have prasadam and sankirtana success will come very quickly.


Because you are preaching and distributing prasadam, management will follow like a shadow.


If only the intelligent class appreciate our mission, it will become successful.


By prasadam distribution you will please the Lord and also the public will be pleased.


As far as prasadam distribution, we do not discriminate between rich or poor, otherwise it will be karma-kanda.


What is the use of a temple with no prasadam distribution?


People cannot hear philosophy if they are hungry.


Prasadam in this country means full meal. Lord Caitanya’s policy was to feed people up to the neck, akantha.


Lord Caitanya would chant four hours of sankirtana and distribute prasadam.


You can keep two or three first-class cooks, and they must be fully engaged.


Our temple is managed by Srimati Radharani who Laksmiji [the goddess of fortune] so why should there be want?


Our main programs are distributing prasadam and sankirtana.


The official who gives permission for our Jacksonville Ratha-yatra ate Krishna lunch when he was a student. He gives us the band shell and other facilities.


Madhava Prabhu (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Appearance Day):


Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura initiated himself into sannyasi because he had no godbrothers to do it, and he wanted to remain in the line following Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja.


Ali Krishna Prabhu:


If we recite the prayers of the previous acaryas [spiritual teachers], we can be sure that we are praying for the right thing.


This universe is cosmic sensitivity training. When we suffer, we should think, “What is Krishna trying to teach me?”


I pray to increase my attraction to the devotees and to devotional service.


This is description of a Hare Krishna community: “Devotees of the Supreme Lord are twenty-four hours daily engaged in glorifying the qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Their hearts and souls are constantly submerged Krishna, and they take pleasure in discussing Him with other devotees.” (Bg. 10.9, purport)

We have to learn how to begin spiritual conversations with people in a way that they will not be disturbed, and they can gain spiritual knowledge. We must be pleasing and inspiring. It takes work, and we have to practice. We have to find out their background, so we can think of what aspect of Krishna consciousness might inspire them.

Seven steps toward more spiritual conversations from a Christian web site that may be valuable for us.

1) Make it a priority.
2) Pray for opportunities.
3) Get out in the community.
4) Cultivate relationships.
5) Learn to ask the right questions.
6) Look for evidence of God’s working.
7) Guard your heart.

Pray for spiritual conversations. Associate with more advanced devotees.

Q: How to speak with people?
A [by Kelly]: Just by being ladies and gentlemen is very powerful. Hear them to show that you care, otherwise you will seem irrelevant.

A by [Gauranga Kishore:] (1) Nothing is really mundane as if comes from Krishna, so if we talk about ordinary topics with a person for the sake of inspiring them in Krishna’s service that is OK. (2) Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura said that one should not tell others about Krishna if one doesn’t have tendency to give respect to others.

Gauranga Kishore Prabhu:

The message of Bhagavad-gita is simple. God is a person. We have a loving relationship with God. If we awaken our relationship God, we will find the happiness in life that we are looking for in other things.

Krishna explains to Arjuna that real happiness does not come from anything external.

We say seeing is believing, but in reality, we see things according to our beliefs.

The confidential message of Bhagavad-gita is that Krishna is God. Many people both at the time the Gita was spoken, and now, understand there is a God, but it is very confidential knowledge that Krishna is that God.

-----

yajña-śistāśinah santo
mucyante sarva-kilbisaih
bhuñjate te tv agham pāpā
ye pacanty
ātma-kāranāt

“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (Bg. 3.13)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Travel Journal#6.2: India, London, USA

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 2
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2010, part two)
Chowpatty, London, Albany, Gainesville, Miami

(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, USA, on February 21, 2010)


Highlights


Traveling with Sacred Substances

Visiting Home

Miami Ratha-yatra

Insights from Tamohara Prabhu, Sesa Prabhu,

Madhava Prabhu, and Others


Where I Was and What I Did


The second half of January was full of traveling for me. I began at Ganga Sagar, West Bengal, taking the train to Mumbai, where I stayed in Radha-Gopinatha Mandir in Mumbai for a day. At that temple, every two weeks during the Bhagavatam class period on Monday, the devotees do harinama in the local area, and by the grace of the Lord, I showed up on that very day. There must have been about fifty devotees or so in the party, and it attracted attention of the people. Then I went on to London, where about nine devotees did a two-hour afternoon harinama, despite the 37 degree F (3 degree C) temperature. We were clearly the happiest people on the streets of London that day. Now each day, the London sankirtana devotees do four hours of book distribution in the morning and two hours of harinama in the afternoon. I next returned to America after nearly nine months, visiting my family in Albany for four days. Then back to Gainesville, Florida, except for a day trip to the Miami for the Ratha-yatra.


Traveling with Sacred Substances


I brought water and sand from Ganga Sagar, which are both considered sacred coming from a holy place. While boarding Kuwait Airlines in London, in addition to the standard security, officials again looked at our carry-on luggage before allowing us on the plane. My Ganga Sagar water was in an unmarked container than could not have been more than the 100 milliliter limit. Still the officials were going to take it from me since it was unidentified. Finally, they asked the ultimate authority, a very Arab-looking official of Kuwait Airlines. Wearing my saffron robes, I explained that this is water from a sacred place in India. Seeing the official, I thought that the Muslims have their sacred dress and their sacred places, and I hoped he would be liberal and let me board. He looked at me and the water and motioned that it was OK.


Arriving in New York, at customs we were threatened that if we had certain substances and we did not declare them, we could be punished. Soil was one of the forbidden substances, so I thought I should declare the sand from the beach at Ganga Sagar. The official made me find the soil in my baggage, and he was about ready to toss it, when I said in great anxiety, “It is not soil, it is sand!” He looked at it again, and gave it back to me.


Thus by Krishna’s grace, my sacred substances made it to America.


Visiting Home


In London’s Heathrow airport I told the official at one of many check points that I was going to America to see my mother. I did this to convey the idea to her, and anyone who was listening, that Hare Krishnas are socially responsible. She said, “Then you will get some nice home cooked food.” I explained that when I go home, I cook all the meals. “When I was young, my mother cooked for me. Now I cook for her.” She smiled and said, “Oh, you should tell my son that!”


Going home for me means cooking and distributing prasadam. My mom kindly bought me some ghee for $10, which upgraded my cooking program. Kofka balls are always a favorite. We used the recipe in Adi Raja Prabhu’s cookbook.


I always get up early and chant my japa while my relatives are asleep, and then start cooking. Usually I do pancakes at least one day for breakfast, using an eggless recipe I found on the internet. I like to make homemade syrup with whatever fruit is available. I play Bada Hari Prabhu’s CDs while I am cooking when I go home, as I once gave them to my sister since she likes mellow music.


My niece Fern has been vegetarian her whole life and likes the food we cook and helps to cook as well.


I always go to Quaker meeting with my mother. I always dress as a Hare Krishna monk when I go there as I have for over twenty years. People sit in a circle and share realizations when inspired. People were talking about having faith in the Lord’s plan. I spoke and told the story about the king and the minister which shows that the Lord’s plan is ultimately good, although it may not always seem good:


The king accidentally cut the end off of his finger, and the minister explained that it is God’s mercy. The king, angered at his opinion, threw the minister in jail. Later when the king was hunting in the forest, he was captured by dacoits, who want to offer him as a human sacrifice to Goddess Durga. While preparing him for sacrifice they see his finger is missing, and deciding he is unfit for sacrifice, they let him go. The king is overjoyed to be spared, and frees the minister from jail, now seeing that his missing finger was indeed God’s mercy. But he has one doubt. Why did God let him throw the minister in jail? The minister explained that if he were not in jail, he would have accompanied the king on his hunt, and when the dacoits found the king unsuitable for sacrifice, they would have sacrificed his minister instead, so it was God’s mercy that he was thrown in jail.


I made dal and coconut burfi for the lunch after the Quaker meeting, and many people got prasadam.


I saw Jack Daniels, the most theistic of my family’s friends from my youth. He is over 90 years old and has caretakers to assist him. He has Parkinson’s disease, and it is frustrating for him to be limited in his ability to move. I gave him some water from Ganga Sagar, and showed him my new harmonium from India which I played a Hare Krishna tune on. I also showed him some videos of Krishna festivals from my trip to Europe in the summer.


Miami Ratha-yatra


I can’t miss an opportunity to go to a Ratha-yatra. Indeed, one year I prayed to Lord Jagannatha in Mayapur to be able to attend as many Ratha-yatras as possible. At the event, I consider my service to sing and dance for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha, but this year in a rare mood of semi-surrender, I also spent an hour and a half helping make puris for the feast. I also enjoyed explaining the event and its history and spiritual significance to local residents who were looking on with curiosity. The idea that the Lord and His devotees come out of the temple to bless the people who are unwilling to come to the place of worship has appeal to people with even a little piety.


An appealing feature of the Miami Ratha-yatra is that Lord Jagannatha and His entourage spend half an hour singing and dancing in Peacock Park in the middle of the yatra. It reminds me of how in the original Puri Ratha-yatra, the Lord enjoys at Gundica temple before returning to His temple in Puri.


At least fifteen of the participants came from Alachua, and they provided the cart, played music, and helped cook. Teamwork between ISKCON centers help make events such as Ratha Yatra possible.


For the final quarter of the kirtana, there was no chanting of Hare Krishna, just Jaya Jagannatha, and the like. I wished I could rectify the situation, but I did not know who was in charge and was afraid the leader would be offended if I told her to just chant “Hare Krishna.” Also, the parade route was in a not so populated place. Saturday would be a better day than Sunday, but perhaps the authorities did not want it that day. Outside of those anomalies, it was a great event.


All glories to Lord Jagannatha, who is an ocean of mercy.

Thanks to Purusharta Prabhu for the pictures of Ratha-yatra. For more, see http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2046718&id=1011940040


Insights from Lectures


Tamohara Prabhu [Gainesville on Lord Nityananda’s Appearance Day]:


We do not say that Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are incarnations because They are identical to Krishna and Balarama [original forms of the Lord].


Lord Nityananda Prabhu was about twelve years older than Lord Caitanya. They met when Lord Caitanya was twenty years old.


Lord Caitanya would say to Lord Nityananda Prabhu, “You are spreading the sankirtana movement. You are delivering all the fallen souls.”


Lord Nityananda is most dear to the devotees because of His compassion. By praying to Him, especially on His appearance day, we can get a taste for chanting the holy name and for devotional service.


Laksmipati Tirtha Swami was the swami who begged Nitai from his parents to be his servant.


Some of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers considered that Srila Prabhupada was personally empowered by Lord Nityananda to spread Krishna consciousness in this world.


One must pray for the mercy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu to understand Lord Caitanya.


A pack of thieves decided to plunder Lord Nityananda’s jewels. The first night, the thieves fell asleep. The next night, they saw Nityananda Prabhu’s house surrounded by powerful guards, all chanting the names of the Lord. The final time, they were struck with blindness. Some fell into ditches of leeches and scorpions. Indra sent hail and icy cold rain. Finally the leader of the thieves decided that the version of the people that Nityananda was the Lord was factual, and he decided to surrender to Lord Nityananda. When the thieves began thinking positively about Nityananda, they became free from their suffering. When the leader of the thieves bowed down at Lord Nityananda’s feet, he attained spiritual ecstasy and took up the chanting of the holy name. Ultimately, the former thief converted many other thieves to become devotees of Lord Nityananda.


Jagai pleased Lord Caitanya by stopping his brother from further attacking Lord Nityananda, and Lord Caitanya offered him any benediction, giving him devotional service. Madhai begged for mercy, but Lord Caitanya said that because he had hurt Nityananda Prabhu, his offense was greater. Lord Caitanya thus told Madhai to surrender completely at the feet of Lord Nityananda, and so he did, and attained the complete mercy.


Sesa Prabhu [Gainesville]:


In most traditions, there is the idea of the souls having a relationship with the Lord of either son or servant, but in Vaishnavism friendship, parental love, and conjugal love are also known.


Unalloyed transcendental service is the key to having an intimate relationship with the Lord.


“Service is pervertedly represented in the material world and broken untimely, resulting in sad experience.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.11.35, purport)


The Lord’s queens captivated the Lord by affection and service not feminine attractiveness.


Some qualities in the disciple which lead to a positive guru-disciple relationship: faith, determination, service attitude, humility.


Maya’s strategy is to isolate you from the other devotees.


Devotional service is very powerful, but we are very conditioned for millions of lives. However, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu are so kind that we can become purified in one life.


Q: Is not the chanting purifying? Why were you stressing association?

A: Yes, the chanting is purifying. What do we do in the association of devotees? So much chanting is there. And chanting in the association of devotees can strengthen us. We may have some weakness that could defeat us if we were left alone, but which could be overcome in the association of devotees.


Madhava Prabhu [Gainesville]:


As we take pleasure in varieties of relationships with elders, friends, and subordinates, so Krishna also takes pleasure in these relationships, which are individually manifest. Our imitative relationships in this world are not as fulfilling as our individual relationships with Krishna. In this world, we hope to gratify our senses through our relationships with others, but unless these are connected to Krishna, they will not be ultimately fulfilling.


Sometimes at markets, vendors give free samples so people get a little taste of their product and become attracted to buy it. Similarly Vyasadeva gives a little taste of Krishna’s pastimes in the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam to lure the reader onward.


We should not be disturbed by seeing the inconceivable in Krishna’s pastimes. If Krishna is God, it is not a surprise that He periodically does things that we cannot understand.


We have so much faith in different aspects of the material world, like faith that other drivers will follow the rules of the road. To advance spiritually, we must have such implicit faith in Krishna.


In the spiritual world the devotees are so absorbed in their own relationships with Krishna that they are not worried about whether another devotee is in a superior relationship to Krishna.


That we have even a little appreciation of Krishna’s pastimes is His mercy upon us.


The devotees who play roles in Krishna’s pastimes are not there by accident and do not play those roles just out of duty but strongly desire to relate with Krishna in those ways.


Syamanandana Prabhu [Chowpatty]:


Acting without the fruits can be compared to recording with the input level set at zero. When you play it back, there is nothing there.


Srila Prabhupada never advised filling the people’s hearts with “don’ts.” Srila Prabhupada came, he saw, and he chanted. Like a coach, he encouraged, “It is not difficult, just a little more effort and you can attain the goal.”


Lord Caitanya has not lowered the passing grade, but He has made the process of purification more powerful.


Bhutabhavana Prabhu [London]:


If the aim of your devotional service is to attain love of Godhead, whatever else that is needed, you will receive in abundance.


Srila Prabhupada said Krishna consciousness is difficult, but material life is impossible.


People think that a form would limit God, but even mathematically it is possible to have infinity in a defined space. One can take a centimeter of space and divide it in half. And those halves can also be divided in half, ad infinitum. Thus within a centimeter, you can have infinite divisions.


The day Krishna left Vrndavana, Radharani put on saffron.


Devotional service is to make our plan according to Krishna’s plan.


Srila Prabhupada was so kind to accept the devotees’ offerings, thinking that if he was displeased with them, then the disciples would have no access to Krishna.


Sometime Kartika is compared to a sale, but actually in devotional service every day there is a discount.

Vaikuntha Murti Prabhu [discussing Sivarama Swami’s Suddha-bhakti Cintamini in London]:


The pleasure of prema is millions of times greater than that of bhava what to speak of the insignificant pleasures of sense enjoyment and liberation.


If Krishna is not visible, one in prema feels oceans of remorse.


At bhava, Krishna sporadically appears in the heart of the devotee, and disappears to increase the devotee’s desire for Him.


Bhava is compared to a sunray and prema to the whole sun.


When the devotee gets darsana of Krishna [with his eyes], the other senses, by the grace of the Lord, can also inconceivably perceive him, and the experience overwhelms the devotee who faints. Krishna awakens him and begins to speak, and all the devotee’s senses can also inconceivably hear Him, and the experience overwhelms the devotee who again faints. Krishna again awakens him, and when he begins to smell the fragrance of Krishna’s body, and all the devotee’s senses also inconceivably smell Him, and the experience overwhelms the devotee who faints. This progression continues with the taste of Krishna’s remnants and touch of His form.


As much as the devotee is overwhelmed with prema, so is Krishna, when he considers the devotee’s loving service.


At bhava, the devotees know their siddha-deha, but have not been practically engaged in that eternal service.


Devotional service in the mode of goodness is performed for purification. If we perform devotional service for the purpose of going back to Godhead, we will become so purified that we will not desire any particular result from our devotional service.


Ali Krishna dd Prabhu [Gainesville]:


One should avoid giving your heart to those not spiritually inclined.


We can tell we are advancing when our relationships improve.


There are shelters in the mode of ignorance, like drugs, or in the mode of goodness, like our parents.


Sophia: Krishna consciousness is more than a lifestyle, it is a consciousness.


Dave: Seeking shelter in the material world will lead to more distress.


Rohini-kumara Prabhu on Japa:


We should chant loud enough to hear ourselves but soft enough so other people can hear themselves.


Comment: Confessions of a loud chanter: I chant loudly because Srila Prabhupada said we should cry out to Krishna.

Reply: We can scream without making a sound.


What you meditate on when you chant Hare Krishna does make a difference. At one japa retreat, a devotee was sitting on a rock, away from the other devotees. From time to time he worried what would happen if a bear were to come. Later a devotee, who was down the path a ways, looked up and saw the devotee on the rock, and behind him, a big bear. While he was wondering about how to warn his friend about the bear in the safest possible way, fortunately the bear disappeared of his own accord. Therefore, what you meditate on when you chant Hare Krishna does make a difference—it just might appear!


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ratharudho gacchan pathi milita-bhudeva-patalaih

stuti-pradurbhavam prati-padam upakarnya sadayah

daya-sindhur bandhuh sakala-jagatam sindhu-sutaya

jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me


As the Lord mounts His Ratha-yatra cart and parades along the road, there is a constant accompaniment of loud prayers and songs chanted by large assemblies of saintly brahmanas. Hearing their hymns, Lord Jagannatha is favorably disposed toward them. He is an ocean of mercy, and is the true friend of all the worlds. May that Lord of the Universe, along with His consort Laksmi, who was born from the ocean of nectar, kindly become visible unto me. (“Jagannathastakam”, verse 5)