Travel Journal#6.4: Gainesville, Alachua, La Crosse
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 4
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2010, part two)
(Sent from Jacksonville, Florida, USA, on March 8, 2010)
Where I Was and What I Did
I continued in Gainesville doing the same harinama and lecture programs as in the first half of the month.
On Saturdays Ali Krishna arranged for us to visit different devotees and different projects in the Alachua and Gainesville areas to give the students some ideas how devotees practice Krishna consciousness at home and how they engage their talents and interests in devotional service. Chaturatma Prabhu told and showed us about deity worship.
Kesihanta and Devaki Prabhus told about the cow protection program in Alachua, and the students got to feed the cows “cow balls” made of grains that Devaki prepared.
Puskara Prabhu showed us his studio with many paintings completed and in progress and talked about painting in service to Krishna.
Madhava Prabhu demonstrated worship of Govardhan-sila and showed us how his whole family was engaged in deity worship, the boys bathing their own small deities once a week. He also engaged us in the service of tulasi, Krishna’s favorite plant, by removing bugs from her, and cleansing her pots.
In Gainesville we saw the old Jagannatha deities from Gainesville on a beautifully decorated altar with a backdrop like a Ratha-yatra cart at Jaya Hari and Radha Katha’s place. Then we went to Hanan and Tsurit’s place, and saw a demonstration of offering prasadam and heard Lord Caitanya’s pastime of the liberation of Sivananda Sena’s dog to get in the mood to celebrate Gaura Purnima.
[Notes on Guru Das speaking in Alachua at Nalini Kanta Prabhu’s house. Stories I heard him tell in London in November, I do not repeat here.]
Our kirtanas in San Francisco were an hour. People would bring violins. One small guy played a large kettledrum.
Malati stole some butter, and Prabhupada showed us how to make different preparations with it. Prabhupada explained to Malati that we shouldn’t steal other people’s property, and said, “We should treat other people’s property like trash in the street.” “But,” he continued, “if you have to steal, butter is the best thing. Krishna stole butter.”
Accounting means putting down in writing immediately.
We would say, “let see if we can imitate the Swami and eat food without touching our mouth.”
Srila Prabhupada once said, “There is enough tapasya in this world without creating some for yourself.”
Another detail: When Harsarani complained that Srila Prabhupada ate a pakora as she was preparing them, Srila Prabhupada ate another one, before saying he could break the rules because he made them and that he could eat as many as she could make.
My dog used to come into the temple and chant in those days.
For some time we had pictures of Lord Jesus in San Francisco.
We painted the Hare Krishna mantra on our cars.
Brother David had a multi-cultural altar that burned down, so he left.
We did kirtana, prasadam, and whatever service we could do.
The fire sacrifice was made with wood from fruit boxes, which is not really wood at all, and margarine, not ghee, so the fire got off to a slow start.
Harsarani told me that I should marry Yamuna as we were living together. We decided that of our spiritually minded leaders the Swami was the best one to perform the ceremony. So we asked the Swami. He said we had to be initiated first. We asked when. He said tomorrow. He did not want to give me too much time to think about. When we were initiated, I asked when we should be married. He said tomorrow.
To solve Srila Prabhupada’s visa problems, we thought of alternatives like getting Prabhupada married. He declined because he was sannyasi. We thought of adopting him. He said, “They will say what are you doing with such an elderly child.”
Once during an initiation, the initiate, a hippie girl who wanted to marry Srila Prabhupada, was not conscious that her baby’s head was hitting the ground from time to time. Srila Prabhupada said, “Pick up baby’s head and put it on your lap.” She did. Then Srila Prabhupada said, “Baby will be very strong.”
We were cool hipsters, but Srila Prabhupada was the coolest hipster because he was depending on Krishna’s protection. He was never disturbed by any situation.
Interview with the Swami:
Q: Why do you live in Haight Asbury?
A: The rents are cheap.
Q: Why are your followers hippies?
A: They are not hippies. They are happies.
Q: How did you come?
A: I got free passage on Scindia steamership lines.
Q: Are you a free loader?
A: Yes. [Srila Prabhupada had not heard of what “free loader” was.]
Then we heard a thud, like the interviewer fell off her seat.
Once in Vrindavana, Srila Prabhupada had us all speak. I spoke from my heart about how I appreciated Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada said, “You spoke so nicely I can retire.”
Once Piscima, Srila Prabhupada’s sister, allayed a grieving woman by indicating that the person they were grieving for was with Krishna.”
Prabhupada saw into the hearts of us all. It did not matter if we were men, women, or children.
George Harrison said he was on a plane and it started shaking, and he chanted Hare Krishna, which he had heard on the Happening album, until it stopped vibrating.
Ken Keesy: You have the heaviest guru.
Guru Das: Guru means heavy.
Ken Keesy: He is Heeaavvyy!
At the Mantra Rock Dance, we were afraid of the Hell’s Angels, so we made them our security so they would be on our side.
Once there was banging on the door, and Srila Prabhupada asked me to investigate. I went next door, there was this big Hell’s Angels guy. I explained our swami was about to being the lecture. He said, “You were playing music, and we liked it so we pounded on the wall to show our gratitude.” We told them we would come and play for them sometime, and so we did.
Hare Krishna was the fastest selling of all the Apple singles (not albums, but singles).
In Mayapur one time Srila Prabhupada told us the farmers are asking for rain, and so Krishna says, “Take it.” And Prabhupada made a sound like rain showers.
The oak tree sees the rose and says, “How beautiful!” and the rose sees the oak tree and says, “How strong!” So we all have qualities to engage in Krishna’s service.
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 inraganuga [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-yatra. 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 was 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.
Bhakti Tirtha Swami (then Ghanashyama Prabhu) said to me while we were observing one of the first Vyasa Puja ceremonies of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, “He is offering everything to Srila Prabhupada.” Thus I learned from him the position of the guru in ISKCON.
I learned from Bhakti Tirtha Swami lessons I am still trying to apply 36 years later such as what it means to be servant of Srila Prabhupada.
I observed him imbibing Srila Prabhupada’s instructions in an amazing way. He would rise at 1:00 a.m. and write in his journal. He would pray to Srila Prabhupada and the acaryas to be empowered to do the service we were given on the library party.
I loved him in a unreserved way like no one else.
To a nursing instructor, he presented the Krishna book as excellent for getting people out of a coma. She bought forty copies.
Initiation Lecture by Bhakti Tirtha Swami:
Initiation is like a baptism. It is mentioned there is a time there will be baptism by fire. It frees one from encumbrances.
We are made for love. We are starving for love.
There are two kinds of disciples, external and internal. The external are interested in flag waving, and the internal are busying carrying out the instructions of the guru, knowing results speak louder than words.
Where there is bhakti, it must affect people’s hearts. Otherwise we will not be able to inspire them to get beyond their usual difficulties.
What is most important is what we do in our day-to-day activities and especially our association.
Those who are becoming initiated as brahmanas are caretakers of the siddhanta [the spiritual conclusions of the tradition]. The greatest problem is not crime or war but lack of proper spiritual leadership. With proper spiritual leadership, the negativity is minimized.
We bow down to the devotees in this spirit: I am honoring the God in you and therefore be godly.
The enjoyment one has in one’s spiritual life comes from the association of devotees.
Building community is equally important to our sadhana.
I first met him just after he took sannyasa. We went from Washington to Nairobi. Although we were a small group, he created a whole family of devotees, which expanded as he traveled from place to place in Africa.
He was very aware of social norms and used that to his advantage in sharing Krishna consciousness with others.
I never met Srila Vyasadeva. He never came to D.C. Bhakti Tirtha Swami did come to D.C.
He would hand write letters to his disciples.
Bhakti Tirtha Swami called me the mother of the institute.
He wrote me in a letter: How do we become free from something? First we have to become aware of it. Sometimes it has to even hit us on the head. The more we associate with the guru’s instructions, we see both the good things and bad things within ourselves. If we are humble and follow the scriptures, our weeds will not disturb. Sometimes disciples ride on the energy of the guru, thinking it is their own energy.
Everything was very uplifting when he came. People would jump higher in the kirtana. I, however, was most impressed by his seriousness. He wouldn’t talk to the women.
He and Radhanatha Swami were a duo and brought the bhakti back that we missed. He was always very encouraging.
He would go to sleep later than any devotee, and wake up earlier than any devotee. He was everything in devotional service that I wasn’t. He was so self-controlled. He never ate any sweets. Never except one time:
In St. Louis there were 3 32-gallon barrels of gulabjamons left after Chicago Ratha-yatra, and so the devotees had a gulabjamon eating contest. Bhakti Tirtha Swami ate 75 gulabs. Vaisesika Prabhu ate 78 gulabs.
Parijata dd Prabhu:
Srila Prabhupada responded to Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s concern by saying, “So people are identifying you with your body? If you are disturbed that people are thinking you are the body, then you are also nonsense.”
He had a natural love for people. He always had gifts for us. At this meeting here, they are continuing the mood.
Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu:
I saw him reading Srimad-Bhagavatam at the time others chant japa. I asked if he was going to chant. The devotees told me he had already chanted his rounds, all thirty-two of them.
He connected with each individual. His heart was soft and humble. He possessed humility, kindness, and respect.
He took my concerns very seriously, showing great respect for me as an individual, not in a contrived way, but from the heart.
I am a disciple of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. At one point he had some difficulty in his spiritual life. Some disciples rejected him, others remained faithful, and others were in between. However, I saw that Bhakti Tirtha Swami remained fixed in his respect for Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. At the end of his life, when Bhakti Tirtha Swami did not accept calls from others, he would still accept calls from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. And he requested that after his passing that Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami write something for the devotees on that occasion. Seeing these dealings, I find that my respect for my own guru increased because of Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s appreciation of him.
At one Bhakti Tirtha Swami Vyasa Puja in Mayapur a devotee told how Bhakti Tirtha Swami did a radio show in Africa that was so nice the leader of the country called the radio station and requested they play the show again the next week. The next week the leader heard it again, and again was so impressed he asked the radio station to play it a third time. Ultimately, the leader personally met with Bhakti Tirtha Swami.
Radhanatha Swami spoke for five and a half hours on Bhakti Tirtha Swami when he first returned to Chowpatty after his disappearance. I missed the lecture, but the devotees transcribed it and asked me to proofread it. It was 82 pages long. The next week Radhanatha Swami told a couple things he missed in his first lecture. I recalled one: Behind the iron curtain, in the communist Eastern Europe, Bhakti Tirtha Swami was distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in the universities. He noticed a suspicious person was following him. He was worried it was the KGB, the Soviet police force. He started running, and the person started running. He went down a corridor, and turned left, and immediately entered the first door he saw. He looked at his watch, and told the professor he was here for his 1:00 p.m. appointment. The professor was surprised. “Your secretary did not tell you?” Bhakti Tirtha Swami said. Then he proceeded to show the professor the books and expertly convinced the professor to order a set while eluding the KGB at the same time.
I know many of Bhakti Tirtha Swami disciples in Mayapur. They are among my best friends there. They are serious and friendly devotees. My leader on the harinama party, his disciple Shastra Prabhu, is a very loving Vaishnava with great commitment to harinama. I also often see his dedicated followers Ekavira Prabhu and his wife in Mayapur too. The test of a guru is that his disciples have good qualities, and that is true for Bhakti Tirtha Swami.
He used the word love. He talked about love.
I read Transforming Lust into Love then stayed one year in Krishna House and then went to Gitanagari to serve at Maharaja’s samadhi. Reading about his love for Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON, I have so much to aspire for. I love what Bhakti Tirtha Swami has brought me to.
Ananga Manjari dd BTS Prabhu:
Being part of Gitanagari, we got such a deep connection.
I realized I was too fragile to live at Gitanagari, and I told him that. He asked, “Where do you want to live?” I said, “New Raman Reti.” By his grace I am here.
Tulasi Priya dd Prabhu:
I appreciate him through his disciples. Once at a retreat his disciple Jagannatha Dasi disciple washed all my laundry when I was too busy to do it myself.
Salagram Sila dd Prabhu:
My Guru Maharaja has given me the opportunity to wear a Vaishnava mask, although I am not yet a Vaishnava.
When I grew up in LA, when I lived in New Raman Reti, and when I lived my guru’s home in Gitanagari, so many Vaishnavas have taken care of me.
By the end of the life, I hope to be a real Vaishnava and not just a wearer of a Vaishnava mask.
[During a class in Gainesville, Rtadhvaja Swami wanted to tell the new devotees what a different experience it was to meet the Hare Krishnas in the 1970s, and so he narrated his own experience.]
I used to play music, and one time I got home from playing a concert at 6:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. someone knocked on my door dressed in a pink dress, pink shirt, pink hat, and pink socks, asking if he could pick some flowers. I was sort of an alternative person and had planted flowers all over my yard. I said, “Fine. What’s mine is yours.” Ten minutes later, he woke me up again and asked to borrow a knife. I returned to sleep. Waking up at 4:00 p.m., I saw every single flower in my yard was gone.
Later I saw the devotee. He offered some incense in exchange for the flowers. I said there was no need. I was satisfied to donate them. He showed me how the flowers were decorating their altar. It looked nice. Vishnujana was singing and then began to explain the song. I thought, “Songs have no meaning, I have been singing songs for years.” And so I left.
At one point I got in a car accident and spent a lot of time recovering. When I could finally walk, I walked around my neighborhood but became tired from my injuries and stopped at the house of a friend to rest. His brother had become a devotee and sent him some of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and so I started reading them while I was resting. I liked them and would borrow them. Both this friend and I began developing an interest in Krishna consciousness.
We went one weekend to visit the temple in Winnipeg, about eight hours away. We found the place and were greeted by somehow who had no hair. We were surprised. One of the reasons we liked Krishna so much was he had long hair. We all had long hair. We thought Krishna was a hippy too.
We got there about 1:00 a.m. but still the devotees woke us up at 3:00 a.m., telling us everyone had to get up for mangala-arati. There was one men’s bathroom for fifteen guys, so there was a long line. One guy was chanting in a foreign language. I asked what he was doing and he told me that he was reciting slokas. I asked what slokas were, and he explained they were verses from the scripture. I was a little impressed. I waited in line until it was my turn. In those days, the devotees tried to Indianize the toilets by removing the toilet seat, and I didn’t notice, until I tried to sit on it and fell back down into the toilet. Somehow using my arms, I was able to get out of the toilet. There was no toilet paper in the toilet, so I shouted out the door. “There is no TP in this bathroom.” They explained that the TP was not in the bathroom but still waiting in line. [Later I found out they meant the temple president.] They explained that they didn’t use toilet paper, but a “lota”. I asked what a “lota” was. And so they explained how to use a lota and take a shower afterward. When I got into the shower, I noticed there was no handle on the hot water. I shouted, exclaiming that there was no handle on the hot water, and they explained that hot water was maya. Well, my girlfriend’s name was Maya, and I thought they were saying that Maya was in hot water.
It was winter in Winnipeg, and the water could not have been much above freezing. Brrrrr. After drying off, when I started putting on some clean clothes. After I got dressed, they told me that if was an offense to wear blue in front of the deities. They then suggested I wear a dhoti. When I said that I didn’t have one, they showed me a box of dhotis and asked me to take one. At that time, no one had personal clothes. One devotee did the laundry and divided it into three boxes, dhotis, kurtas, and brahmana underwear, and the devotees took what they needed.
Mangala arati was a challenge because everyone was singing a language I didn’t know. I was glad when japa period came along, as I knew about japa, or at least I thought I did. I recall there was one black devotee who would hit his head on the wall as he chanted.
It was winter and there was snow on the ground. In the middle of guru puja, the devotees decided to do a fifteen-minute harinama around the block to purify the neighborhood, so they left the temple in their bare feet at 7:00 a.m. for the streets.
In the first Srimad-Bhagavatam class I heard, the speaker talked for two hours about how were are all hogs, dogs, camels, and asses, and he gave several vivid examples. I was convinced I really was each of these animals.
During my brief visit, I met one devotee who distributed 5 BTGs at the campus every day. Once I saw the temple president who was dressed in karmi cloths [pants] to buy jewelry for deities. He explained that he dressed that way so the karmis [nondevotees] would not become envious of the devotee’s opulence.
The Sunday feast lecture was also memorable, the topic being “We Did Not Go to the Moon.”
On the way home from our visit to the temple, I reflected on that incredible experience. “There are only two possibilities,” I told my friend. “They are the craziest people on earth, or they have the Absolute Truth.”
I continued chanting Hare Krishna and the devotees would call me sometimes. When they were starting a temple in Toronto, they encouraged me to drive their possessions there in my van. I took a month off from work to do that, and while there with them in Toronto, I decided I wanted to stay, so I gave up my job and my girlfriend, Maya, and joined the Krishna consciousness movement.
The program of chanting at the farmers’ market in downtown Gainesville on Wednesday, which we started when we were bored during spring break last year, fizzled out in the course of time, so I decided to try to start it again. Three devotees came the first week. One middle-aged gentleman asked if he could play along with us on his flute, and we agreed. When I went to give him some information about the temple, he declined saying, “I know all about you. I built Alfred Ford’s [Ambarisa Prabhu’s] house in Alachua!” To my surprise, he came out and played with us every week for four weeks! As we were about to finish, one lady complained that our music gave her daughter a headache, but otherwise there was no negative feedback. The second week, we had five devotees, and in addition, besides our flute player friend, one boy joined us, playing the djembe [African drum] for a while. The same lady complained again, this time that our music made it hard to talk to her customers, but no one else complained and somehow, by superior arrangement, that lady never came after that. By the third week, we had twelve devotees chanting, and at one point on the fourth week there were seventeen people! That week a vendor selling tempe thanked us for coming, saying he liked listening to and swaying to our music. Every week we were out there, the children running around grassy area would be attracted to our chanting party, and thus their parents also became a little curious. The fourth week one small girl danced for almost half an hour with Vrndavana, who though petite, was still twice her size, as her pleased mother looked on.
Each day we went we could see that people became more favorable during the hour or two we were there, and that over first four weeks that the program was revived, people became more appreciative and more devotees became attracted to participate. I am thinking of creating a team of devotees, a sort of GBC of the farmers’ market harinama, to keep it going this time when I leave Gainesville. I was encouraged that when I went to Tallahassee for a week, in my absence, ten devotees still went out on the farmers’ market harinama and had a great time.
We had twenty-five devotees on harinama in downtown Gainesville the Friday before Gaura Purnima. We had just had a Gaura Purnima festival for our student center in Gainesville, so everyone was very inspired. Because we had such a large group of enthusiastic souls, more people than usual were attracted to dance and many people took pamphlets and invitations.
Two girls danced a whole block with us. The tune Ali Krishna was leading was one where the instruments suddenly stop in the middle of the mantra, and with it, the devotees stop moving, and then the instruments resume and the walking and dancing resumes as well. The girls were able to pick it up, although it was a bit complicated.
Two other girls were dancing in time with our music, across the street from us. Later when we walked past them I gave them an invitation to our Saturday dinner program and explained that we had singing and dancing afterwards. One of the girls then said with a smile, “Yes, I heard you Hare Krishnas have terrific parties.” I had never heard anyone say that before. Perhaps it is hint of that day when people abandon their intoxication and promiscuity and party like the Hare Krishnas by chanting, dancing, and feasting!
We started chanting at events in Florida, because that was the best way to expose thousands of people to the Hare Krishna mantra. I was accustomed to doing the football games, which the devotees have done for at least the sixteen years since I’ve been in Alachua County. In the last couple of years, they got into doing the monster truck rallies. In some ways, the monster truck rallies are a better event as fewer of the people are completely wasted and there is a greater variation in ages of the fans. We had a group of eleven devotees from Alachua and Godruma Prabhu from Jacksonville, who along with his wife Vishnu Priya Prabhu, hosted us at his home, with prasadam before the event.
Many people danced as they walked by our chanting party. In the course of the harinama, two young men danced so vigorously with us that their cell phones fell out of their pockets, the cover coming off of one.
Different people expressed approval with the thumbs up and favorable words. As we were approaching our car to leave, a group of four people was mimicking our dancing on the way to the event. One of the girls in the group said to her friends, “What are those guys grooving on?”
Three devotees distributed “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlets and books.
Navin Shyama said, “Normally I tend to treat people differently according to their bodily situation, but on harinama I tend I see them more equally, as if Lord Caitanya is sharing his loving vision with me.”
Insights from Lectures, Books, Songs, and Conversations
“Most persons are passionate and ignorant, and therefore their plans and projects can hardly do any good to others. . . . The highest perfectional project of philanthropic activities is to engage everyone in the act of preaching bhakti-yoga all over the world because that alone can save the people from the control of maya.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.46, purport).
As Krishna enlightens the sankirtana leader about the best ways to approach people to distribute books, he enlightens the guru how to advise his disciples.
When I initiate someone, I pray to the line of disciplic succession to accept the person.
Narada told King Pracinhibarhi about a king “very much like” himself rather than commenting on the king’s situation direct situation. In this way, the king was able to hear his message.
Srila Prabhupada explained that as the regulative principles are there to raise us to the mode of goodness, similarly, the ten commandments are to raise people to the mode of goodness.
If we want to go back to Godhead, we have to choose our association very, very carefully.
I do not advise fasting more than on the recommended fasting days except if you have a fever. I have seen too many yogis turn into bhogis [sense enjoyers].
When I was aged 13, the priest of my church held up a picture of Radha-Krishna, and said, “These are idols. We do not worship these things.” In my mind, I disagreed with him.
On some Gauranga bhajanas Sunanda Prabhu sang at the Gainesville Gaura Purnima festival:
When I see people with their decorated bodies it reminds me of the idea from this song. “You spend your nights uselessly sleeping and your days decorating your body.” The body is temporary and will not last. Why spend so much time to decorate these dead bodies?
At least one or two of the three-fold miseries is always afflicting us. This is Kali-yuga.
We become upset over such minor things in this age. When I taught in the gurukula [devotional school], when the boys complained in this way, I told them, “I will give you $100 if you still remember this when you are forty.”
This is the claim of all devotees, “I am the most fallen.” We feel ourselves fallen and in need of Lord Caitanya’s mercy.
Srila Prabhupada said, “If you are not happy in Krishna consciousness, then you are doing something wrong.”
When I was in New York going to an appointment on the subway after I’d given the morning class, I saw a young lady give up her seat for an older woman. I was amazed. That was the first time I saw that happen in New York. I thought that young lady looked so pious. “Too bad I do not have a book to give her,” I thought. When my stop came, as I was getting off the subway, when I passed by the young lady, she said to me, “Nice class this morning, Maharaja!” She was a book distributor and wasn’t obviously a devotee by dress. But because of her devotion, that young lady had stood out among the others on the subway.
Locan Das Thakur said, “Kevala ananda kanda: This process is simply joyful.” We say chant, dance, feast, and be happy.
When somebody comes to me with some problem, I find myself telling the person to chant “Hare Krishna.”
Devotional service is very confidential because Krishna is controlled love.
In this world, the relationships with the Lord of santa [adoration] and dasya [servitude] exist, but not sakya [friendship] because that requires equality. Equality means we must either come up to Krishna’s level or He comes down to our level.
In friendship, a friend may climb on Krishna’s back, but if you go on the altar and start climbing on the back of the deity, it will cause disruption.
Krishna makes himself vulnerable by submitting to the love of his devotee.
Both cheating gurus and bona fide gurus who err by prematurely giving advanced knowledge to their disciples cause their disciples to go backwards instead of advancing.
Siva explained to Parvati that Srimati Radharani manifested Navadvipa-dhama as Her masterpiece of creative artwork to lure Krishna. Radha created a moat from the Ganga and Yamuna, and built a garden of nine islands, with groves and gardens, inviting springtime and cupid to make their residence there. She played Her flute and lured Krishna out of hiding [because He was with another gopi]. Krishna admitted He was most attracted by Her. Krishna said that They would stay there eternally. Those who come and worship Them will develop the service mood of themanjaris [the youthful associates of Radharani who assist Her in Her pastimes]. All who come will get the benefits of all the holy places and get prema, love for the Lord.
In Vraja pilgrams bathe in Radha-kunda to get the prema Radha feels for Krishna, then Shyama-kunda to get the prema Krishna feels for Radha, and finally again in Radha-kunda.
Yasoda viewing Radha she concluded that none would be suitable for Krishna but Her. Yasoda saw all auspicious lines on Her palms. Yasoda gave her some markings indicating marital engagement with Krishna. Her friends suggested that since engagement would limit their freedom that She should wash Her hands. As she went to do so for a moment she thought, “Perhaps I should make Gopala My constant companion.” But then She continued washing Her hands. As she continued to do so, the whole kunda [pond] turned gold in color. Later when Krishna came by, the kunda had a mystical effect on him, and when he looked he was amazed to see its golden color. When he looked at his reflection in it, He was amazed to see his reflection was gold. He decided to enter into the kunda so deeply to investigate the golden substance that only His peacock feather was visible to trace out His position.
When he came out, he found that He was transformed into a golden color, and not only that He had a different mood, one of prema, but not as He was used to, but as the love of Krishna, like thegopis. He began looking all over for Krishna, as the gopis do. After some time, the color and mood wore off, and Krishna continued on his way, looking for His lost cow.
Some people saw that Yasoda wanted Radha to be married to Krishna and told Kirtida and Vrsabhanu the good news. They were overjoyed and sent all kinds of jewels to Nanda. Nanda wanted to reciprocate, but he had only a few jewels. Krishna took them and planted them, so His father would have a greater number of jewels. His father was doubtful, but Krishna showed him the plot, which had already sprouted, giving many additional jewels. Seeing all this transpiring, Yogamaya was worried that if Radha and Krishna were actually married, the whole mood of Their pastimes would be disrupted, so she intrigued to stop it.
Although Siva was not eager to promote impersonalism, he understood that it was too much to go from atheism (Buddhism) to Vaishnavism in one step, so he reinstated the Vedas with an impersonal interpretation.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches to sacrifice everything to please Krishna, but his process is simply singing in sankirtana. Krishna dances with Radha in the Hare Krishna mantra. This cannot be attained by the ascending process of acquiring knowledge, but it descends through line of spiritual teachers and is attained by submission hearing. If we humble ourselves, Lord Caitanya will bless us with this.
Although Krishna, as Lord Caitanya, comes to taste the conjugal mellow, he also comes to taste the other mellows of Sri Vrindavan, and to also distribute them.
Radha and Krishna speak in a double language, so that Their superiors hear one thing, and They hear another.
Subala and Radharani look almost identical except Radharani is female.
The chant of Hare Krishna ultimately reveals our eternal relationship with Krishna.
New devotees often compromise their sadhana because of “urgent” external circumstances. This is a weakness.
Manisinah means both intelligent and human being.
Jantavah means conditional soul and also animal.
Spiritual practices are our wealth, and for us that is our chanting.
Giriraja Swami at Niranjana Swami’s Vyasa-puja in Ukraine said, “Kirtana resolves all problems and all controversies.”
Giriraja Swami tried to follow Srila Prabhupada’s order to chant twelve hours of kirtana on Sunday. His realization was whenever they did that the problems the devotees reported before Sunday would: (1) work themselves out, (2) be solved by inspiration from within the devotee, or (3) be solved by inspiration in Giriraja Swami’s heart.
To keep pure for the kirtana, we chant sixteen rounds on our beads.
If we remember Lord Caitanya difficult things become easy, thus we chant Hare Krishna and remember Lord Caitanya.
Serving the devotees means letting their instructions into your heart.
It does not matter where you live or what currency you have, it flows out about the same speed.
Find a Vaishnava community where they love you, and there you will find everything you need.
When your heart is touched in remarkable ways, you surrender.
As soon as we decide somehow or other I will serve Krishna by following the process, the internal potency takes over and amazing things happen.
It is Lord Caitanya’s mercy that every jiva [embodied soul] can make great spiritual progress by taking up His process.
If we take one step toward Krishna, He will take ten steps toward us.
Once as I walked from serving Nirguna in the grhastha asrama to the brahmacari asrama in our large Mayapur complex I was overcome with a sense of loneliness. I was wondering who will be my friend. Then it was revealed to me by Lord Gauranga. “This is My dhama. I am in charge here. I will be your friend.”
When you actually apply this process, you get realization.
We haven’t even touched the process of bhakti, but the little bit we have experienced is so wonderful.
Gaur Govinda Swami says the ocean of bhakti has many jewels, but if you remain on the service all you will get is some fish.
In our society, we focus on the chanting and our interpersonal friendships are meant to deepen that.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura used to chant in a closet the size of his body and scream the holy name.
Sri Namamrita-mahima by Bhaktivinoda Thakura tells how the name is the means and the goal.
If you take shelter of tulasi, by screaming the holy name underneath her leaves, she will help you balance your material life and your sadhana.
I have experience of the Lord’s mercy. The doctors said it would take a year and half before my daughter was fully healed, but it took only five weeks. So many people were praying for her, and special pujas and aratis were done, including some for Nrsimhadeva in Mayapur. And we see the result.
Krishna is playing with his friends in the spiritual world. He is not punishing us. If I drive through a red light, does the mayor of Gainesville personally write me a ticket? Does the chief of police write me a ticket? No, just one of the policemen. Krishna just sets up the arrangement for punishment. Just as when a city is built, a prison is also built also, although there are no prisoners yet, because they will come.
Srila Prabhupada said in the gurukula, the teachers could show the kids a stick but never use it.
If we are not progressing, we are going backwards. If we stop paddling upstream, the river will carry us downstream.
As Gaura Purnima comes, we should see it as an opportunity to get the mercy.
Q: How should we receive the mercy of Gaura Purnima?
A: With great eagerness.
We had all facility not to be here in the material world, but we desired to be here.
Being undisturbed is quality of a self-realized soul, but it is not the goal in itself.
When Krishna came to make a peace settlement asking for five villages for the Pandavas, He revealed to Dhrtarastra a partial manifestation of His universal form, which Dhrtarastra could see despite his blindness, just to convince him to take his proposal seriously.
Bhakti (devotion) nourishes knowledge and detachment.
One definition of “home” is that place where you can always go, and they cannot turn you away but have to let stay as long as you want. Our home in this material world is not our real home because we cannot always go back there nor stay as long as we want.
Cremation helps the soul on his journey because it destroys the long built-up attachment the soul has for his body.
Offenses to devotees make maya look attractive.
The chastity of a wife is powerful enough to reform a fallen husband. Srila Prabhupada cited his sister as an example.
Raghunatha: Alzhiemer’s disease is often caused by separation.
Raghunatha: Gandhari was so powerful because of following her husband that she could even curse Krishna.
Krishna describes to the gopis three kinds of lovers:
Those like who, like parents, give without consideration, those who reciprocate as much as they receive, and those who are callous and do not reciprocate although receiving.
Moksada Prabhu [Margie Z]:
[Moksada Prabhu, known as Margie Z on her CDs, joined the Washington, D.C., temple in 1974 at age fourteen and began writing songs about Krishna at that young age. She played guitar and sang at the Gainesville Gaura Purnima festival. The lyrics I liked the best are the following:]
“Hear the Name, the Name you hear,
end all darkness, end all fear,
hear the Name, the Name you hear,
end all darkness, end all fear.
When you chant Hare Krishna,
God is all around,
when you chant Hare Krishna,
God is in the sound...”
One reason getting up early helps us to focus on our spiritual life is that the people who are uninterested in spiritual life and who might distract us are asleep and cannot disturb us.
After the battle was over and the funeral ceremonies for the dead on both sides completed, when people were embracing those on the opposite side, Dhrtarastra had so much anger that when he went to embrace Bhima, who had killed his hundred sons, Krishna advised Bhima to substitute an iron statue, which Dhrtarastra crushed in his embrace.
Only Krishna, because He understands everyone’s mind and everyone’s past and present activities, has a complete view of reality. We think that we have a better vision of reality than others and so we sometimes get in conflict with others who think the same of about themselves, but actually only Krishna has a complete view of reality.
In his glorification of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sanatana Goswami says the Srimad-Bhagavatam is Lord Krishna appearing among us and so is to be respected by all.
Sinful activity is so much the norm that people cannot see the connection between activities and their results.
We are always fearful because of our cheating propensity.
Krishna comes every day of Brahma, although from our point of view, because day of Brahma is 4.32 billion years, it seems a rare occurence.
Although it appears the Krishna left us alone in this miserable age of Kali and woe is me, Krishna is present with us even now as the deity, Srimad-Bhagavatam, His name, prasadam, Bhagavad-gita, the spiritual master, the Supersoul in everyone’s heart, and the holy dhama (sacred place).
Prabhupada says in many places deity worship is essential for householders. This is because it is easy for householders to get distracted from spiritual life.
Govardhan Hill has two personalities, Krishna Himself and the best devotee of Krishna, which Radha describes him as. Govardhan is merciful just like Jagannath is merciful. Anyone can see Govardhan Hill.
It is not recommended that you go to Govardhan and pick up a sila. They are supposed to be given to you. I decided to go to Govardhan and pray to Him and see what happens.
I got a salagram sila from Aindra. Salagrams are manifestations of different incarnations of Vishnu, so I asked Aindra which one was He. He replied Shyamasundara. For Aindra, all thesalagrams are manifestations of the original form of Krishna Himself.
During home deity worship, while you bathe and dress the deity you can hear a lecture to get your hearing in, and your spouse can cleanse the altar. The children can also bathe and dress their own deities.
Ali Krishna Prabhu:
The processes of cultivating knowledge and renunciation are not necessary for bhakti, but the qualities of knowledge and renunciation are necessary for as ignorance and material attachment are impediments to progressive devotional service.
The raganuga devotees are not dependent on scriptural injunctions for motivation because their spontaneous attachment motivates them.
People do not appreciate our following the four regulative principles, because they do not realize that their not following the four regulative principles is the cause of all their miseries.
Because of our independent desires, the Lord places us in the material world where we are controlled in such a way that we do not understand that we are being controlled.
We may theorize in this way or that, but if we do not understand the self, we will remain entangled in this world.
We can rebel against Krishna and be controlled indirectly by the three modes, or we can directly serve Krishna in devotion.
We choose see the Lord as all-devouring death or the eternal form of knowledge and bliss.
We have come to the platform where we can see where we are and choose to follow Krishna and become liberated, and therefore it is our responsibility to share this knowledge with others.
Lord Caitanya has said His holy name shall spread over the whole world and it is our duty to help this to happen.
[Madhava das’ son]: Every day things can get worse, but every day things can also get better.
Sophia: Understanding Krishna is the proprietor of everything and acting for his enjoyment, we can experience freedom from lust and frustration arising from it.
Ankush: If we do not follow the entire prescription the doctor is giving we will not get the full benefit, similarly you have follow all the directions of the scripture.
Aiden: Although Chapter 16 speaks strongly against the demonic nature, overcoming it is a gradual process.
Jahnavi Priya dd Prabhu:
We sometimes think as devotees we will have fewer calamities than other people, but that is not always true. Krishna wants us to return to Him, and does whatever he has to so we attain that. Although I grew up as a devotee, I think Krishna was gentle with me then, and when I moved into ashram, life was more difficult.
Because I was hit by a car at age six, as a kid I was very afraid of crossing the street, so I prayed to Krishna very intently. Then one old man offered me his hand to cross the street. I felt this was Krishna’s protection, and it increased my faith.
Brahma Tirtha Prabhu: I organized a festival in Houston and everything went wrong. The refrigerator truck stopped working. The power went out and there were no industrial fuses available. Rain was threatening. I wondered what Krishna was trying to teach me, and then it occurred to me: I forgot to invite Tamal Krishna Goswami to the festival. I went to his place with some other devotees. I said to him, “I think I made a big mistake.” “You are right you made big mistake,” he said. We apologized, and he accepted and wish us well.” When I returned to the festival site, the sun was out, the refrigerator truck engine was running and the power was on. I learned that better than taking shelter of Krishna is to take shelter of His devotee.
How to take shelter of Krishna?
1. Chant Hare Krishna
2. Take shelter of the devotees.
4. Take shelter of the Deity.
5. Meditate on the form of the Lord.
Kalakantha Prabhu: Hridayananda Dasa Goswami as a new devotee would set an altar up on his desk in physics class. When asked on a quiz to list the different energies, he wrote: spiritual, material, and marginal, and he stayed after class to argue with the professor when he was marked wrong.
Any Indian villager knows the duties of husband and wife, but in America even with such big educational institutions such knowledge is lacking, and so the more I stay in the west, the more I am appreciating India.
anarpita-carīm cirāt karunayāvatīrnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasām sva-bhakti-śriyam
sadā hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah śacī-nandanah
“May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.” (Sri Caitanya-caritāmrita, Adi-līlā 1.4)