Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

by Krishna-kripa Das

Monday, April 19, 2010

Travel Journal#6.6: Gainesville, St. Augustine, Tallahassee

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 6
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2010, part two)
Gainesville, St. Augustine, and Tallahassee
(Sent from New York on April 19, 2010)

Highlights

Highlights from the St. Augustine Ratha-yatra
Highlights from the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra
Inspiring the Kids on Harinama
Notes from a Harinama Gathering

Insights from Varsana Swami, Bhakti Vasudeva Swami,

Kalakantha Prabhu
, Nanda Prabhu, Ranjit Prabhu,
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu
, Sesa Prabhu, and Others

Where I Am and What I’m Doing

I spent the last two weeks in March in Gainesville, chanting on the campus daily during the prasadam serve out. Often students come by to take pictures of us for a class project.


Here I taught one girl how to play the karatalas as her friend sang the response. The guy in the trio took pictures, as did Gargamuni Prabhu, who is taking a photography class and who took all the pictures in this issue of this journal.

At our Krishna House, I covered one chapter of Bhagavad-gita per class in a one-hour class, three days a week. Usually between three and six people attended. Akshay did a great job of memorizing one verse per chapter. I tried to stress the relevance of Bhagavad-gita in our lives and to create an interest in studying it.

By the hard work of Sagar, our bhakti-yoga club president, we had Festival of India on the campus, and I enjoyed talking to some students about our philosophy. At the vegetarian display, I talked to a couple people who were interested in Andres’s vegetarian cooking classes.

We were very happy to have Bada Hari Prabhu come, along with Purusharta Prabhu and Amala, and played Hare Krishna tunes on several occasions.

One day Visvambhara and Kishor of the Mayapuri’s sang


and all the devotees and their friends danced with joy and enthusiasm, as the students watched, while eating lunch, including me.



Visvambhara is getting to be as good an MC as he is a musician.

One reporter wrote an article with the erroneous statement that I sing Bhagavad-gita every morning for three hours. It reminded me of how I previously would offer to proofread the students’ articles before they are printed to avoid the errors that inevitably appear in them.

In North Florida, we had two Ratha-yatras in the second half of March, one in St. Augustine on March 20, and the other in Tallahassee on March 27. I’ll describe the highlights of both.

Highlights from the St. Augustine Ratha-yatra

About two hundred devotees, mostly from Alachua, came to participate in the St. Augustine Ratha-yatra, on one of the first beautiful spring days this year. Because there were so many devotees, I had to be careful to avoid getting stuck in the middle with little room to dance for Lord Jagannath. For me it was nice seeing people like Stephania, who just began coming around this time last year, happily dancing in the Lord’s Ratha-yatra.

Because St. Augustine is a resort area with many tourists, doing Ratha-yatra there reaches people from many places. I met one old couple who was very eager to try the free prasadam lunch. The devotees cooked for 250 people, but the devotees numbered 200. The pujaris gave curious people prasadam when they looked at the cart where the Deities waited at the end of the parade.

Bada Hari, Purusartha, Ekendra, Tulasi Priya and Gaura Shakti Prabhus played bhajanas on the stage in the middle of the park at the end of St. George’s St. during and after the parade. Later Ganga and her sister, Yamuna, also with some of the other Vaishnava youth girls, did an Orissan dance to the song Jagannathastakam, which was a nice addition.

Later many devotees went to the beach. Tim said his group of friends did some chanting there, and at one point, ten girls joyfully danced along.

Highlights from the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra

One thing I like about Tallahassee Ratha-yatra is that you get the best of both kinds of Ratha-yatras. Let me explain. Sometimes, as in Tallahassee, Gainesville, and Washington, D.C., our Ratha-yatra cart is part of a larger parade, and so we get much greater exposure than we could get with our own festival. But in Tallahassee, there is also street fair, on each side of Monroe Street, the street the parade follows, in the middle of its route. So, after the parade ends, we do harinama at that street fair which covers about seven blocks is attended by thousands of people, and thus the kirtana can continue longer, we can pass out flyers and books, and we can more closely interact with the people than in the parade. Because the street fair is not a simple circle, we had to go through twice, probably for nearly an hour, to make sure everyone got a chance to hear. Many people were happy to see us. Three Florida State University girls who were majoring in theatre took great pleasure dancing with us when the kirtana was especially lively. Daru Brahma served a tasty feast full of variety in a park near the Turlington Education building, around the end of the parade. The apple crisp, a favorite from my youth, which does not exist in abundance in the Hare Krishna movement was very good, and I had thirds. Kelly wrote an article about her experience. I can’t believe she didn’t mention the apple crisp! Afterwards, some of the Gainesville devotees wanted to visit the temple in Tallahassee for the first time. We have beautiful neem wood deities of Gaura-Nitai there. Ali Krishna Prabhu kindly encouraged us to help her godbrother, Daru Brahma clean up the feast before we went to the temple and once we arrived there, which we very well might have been too lazy to do on our own, after the long day—a 2.5 hour drive from Gainesville, the parade, the harinama, and the feast. While at the temple, we found the Jagannathastakam song sheets we printed after last year’s Ratha-yatra and sang that beautiful prayer that really adds a lot to the celebration of Ratha-yatra, at least for me.

Inspiring the Kids on Harinama

Krishna-priya Prabhu, who would occasionally come out on some of my extra Saturday harinamas in her youth, as well as weekly with the other Vaishnava Academy girls, invited me to give a class to inspire the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders in the New Raman Reti School to come on a harinama she was organizing for them later in the week. It was an enjoyable experience for me. I explained why we go out. Lord Caitanya did harinama, and so did Srila Prabhupada, and in the beginning of the movement devotees would go out for hours a day. The chanting of the holy name frees people from karma, plants a seed of devotion in their hearts, and waters their existing creepers of devotion. I showed of video of harinama at Jacksonville Beach, Budapest, Trutnov (CZ), Prague, and Zagreb, Croatia, with Sacinandana Swami on Radhastami, pausing it from time to time to make points.



The singer at Jacksonville, Krishnaa, was the aunt of some of the kids in the school, and was a devotee youth herself. In the Zagreb harinama, all the sixty or seventy devotees were happily dancing in time, by the inspiration of Sacinandana Swami and in the festive spirit of celebrating Radhastami. [Vedanta-sutra Prabhu videoed the Jacksonville Beach harinama, and I did the others.] I also explained that sometimes we are afraid to go on harinama, and worry what people think of us but after just a few minutes we come to the spiritual platform and that goes away, and we are completely happy. At the end of the class, when Krishna-priya asked the students how many wanted to come on harinama, thirteen students eagerly raised their hands. I felt very victorious.

Insights from a Holy Name Gathering

In Alachua, every Thursday, a group of devotees, mostly consisting of those born in devotee families, gets together at a different member’s house and discusses the holy name, has kirtana, and some light prasadam.

Jaya Radhe:

From Sacinandana Swami: We should always think, “Have I pleased Lord Krishna today?”

My husband, Manu, offered this prayer as daily meditation: “My dear Lord Krishna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am Your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.” (CC Madhya 22.33)

Abhaya: Only the pure name removes more sins that we can commit.

To rectify commission of the 5th and 6th offenses, admit your fault to an assembly of Vaishnavas, and ask them for enlightenment about the true position of the holy name.

Jaya Radhe:

There is a scientific study on “intentional chocolate”—chocolate some Buddhist monks prayed for—which showed its beneficial psychological effects. You can buy it online.

Mrkanda: Three things that block pure chanting: residual reactions of karma, offenses, and pride in our own bhakti.

Bada Hari: We have to remember the holy name is a person, who we do not want to offend.

First we have to recognize we are making an offense to surpass it.

Abhaya: According to Jaiva Dharma, we should just “chant with the conception of the holy name given by the guru.” In this way we can defeat the offensive conceptions of exaggeration and mundane interpretation.

Navina Shyama: Our position approaching the holy name seems to me like as if we had a falling out with a person and then had amnesia, and now we are coming back to them, but they have not forgotten what happened.

Others: But Krishna’s mentality is more like a parent with a child. Although the parent remembers the child’s neglect, the parent does not hold it against the child, because of love.

Bada Hari: I think we have to have children to realize what Krishna is going through [having all these children who do not always behave as He wishes].

Insight from Lectures

Varsana Swami:

Chand Kazi in Lord Caitanya’s pastimes was Kamsa in Krishna’s pastimes. That is why Lord Caitanya mentioned he had a nephew-uncle relationship with the Kazi. The Nawab Hussian Shah corresponds to Jarasandha in Krishna’s pastimes.

Bhakti Vasudeva Swami:

If someone says controlling the mind is easy, that means he is not a practitioner. Krishna does not reject Arjuna’s analysis that controlling the mind is difficult, “[He doesn’t say:] What do you mean Arjuna? Controlling the mind is a piece of cake!” Krishna admits it is difficult, but it is possible by practice and detachment.

One Boston devotee gave a Harvard professor a BTG, and the man didn’t accept the gift, saying, “Don’t you know I am a Harvard professor.”

Bhakti Vasudeva Swami [Bg. 18.26]:

In Alachua, mostly all the cows are male, but the devotees nicely take care of them without getting any result. This is a great example of action in mode of goodness that Krishna recommends in the Gita. Not only do we serve the deities without expectation of result, but we also serve all members of the Vaishnava community without expectation. If we take care of the deities, but not those who are part and parcel of the deities, this is not good. We will not be happy, the devotees will not be happy and the Lord will not be happy.

If we have different sophisticated ideas of how to serve the Lord, but we do not get together in the temple daily to glorify the Lord together, we are missing the point. This sankirtana is important. It is what Lord Caitanya brought all the way from the spiritual world. Innovation is great, but we must be should make sure we are following what Srila Prabhupada taught first. We have to be willing to use our intelligence to free the members of our community from bondage. A Vaishnava does not care for himself.

Association is always there. In the spiritual world, you are not going to be alone with Krishna. You will be either with Krishna and His cowherd boys or Krishna and His cowherd girls.

We need to counsel our children about the stages of life they go through, both materially and spiritually, otherwise their minds can drive them to do things that we will regret.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

Mother Earth gives and gives and we take and take. She is so compassionate!

I invited all the other chaplains at UF to come to share about their religion at our morning class. One asked, “What time is the class?” I replied, “7:30 a.m.” They all were stunned in disbelief and indicated it was not possible for them.

There is one sure fire way to increase your attachment to the association of devotees, and that is to leave it for a period of time.

In an emergency, when there is no policeman around, if a citizen acts to interfere with a crime or make an arrest, he is not at fault. Similarly, in Vedic culture, in emergency condition one can temporarily assume the duty of another.

In sales, they say to keep talking about the benefits about the product and not to push people to buy it. When people hear the benefits of the product enough, then they will choose to buy it. Therefore, we should always be talking about how we have benefited from the practices of Krishna consciousness, and people will naturally be attracted.

Leadership means to delegate to others that which you could do better yourself. In leadership, it becomes your service to let others do their duties imperfectly, although you could do them perfectly.

Srila Prabhupada told the GBC they should be like the US motto “e pluribus unum” (unity in diversity).

Those using security cameras try to observe without being seen and thus try to imitate God in that way, but they cannot know what people are thinking as the Lord as the Supersoul can. Krishna as Supersoul also knows everything that we have done to bring us to the point where we are.

It is a great advantage to have a friend in a high place, so all living beings are fortunate because God is a friend to all.

Ben Franklin said, “Any fool, can complain, criticize, and condemn, and most fools do.

It hurts ourselves when we blame others.

You can answer the most difficult of all questions by responding with a question. There are many advantages to this. One is you get to see how much the person knows. Another is you can avoid unnecessarily accusing others.

Nanda Prabhu:

Although Maharaja Pariksit was a pure devotee of the Lord, he still sought advice from the sages to show the proper example.

Srila Prabhupada often made the point that one moment of time cannot be bought with any amount of gold.

Cleanliness is both internal and external, and we must chant Hare Krishna to purify our mind as well as shower to cleanse the body.

Simply by becoming vegetarian, your whole consciousness changes within a week or two. For me it was a significant turning point because at that time, I realized that so many things this society teaches are actually completely wrong, and I gave up my faith in them.

Ranjit (Rama Navami festival, Alachua):

Descartes said, “I think therefore I am,” but he got it backwards. In reality, “because I am, therefore I think.”

We see stories of floods and kings killing innocent children found in the Vedic scriptures also show up in the Bible.

A devotee, who is firm in his faith, has no fear of enemies because he is assured of the Lord’s protection.

The proper devotional attitude is a solution to all the problems of life.

Lord Ramacandra’s brothers could have just had an easy life living in the palace, but Ramacandra engaged them in conquering the world on his behalf.

Srila Prabhupada describes that the most residents of Ayodhya were kanistha [materialistic, neophyte] devotees, but they attained the abode of the Lord.

The door to the spiritual world is unlocked with devotion.

Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu [from his weekly telephone lecture]:

It is hard to take control of material nature if someone is already at the control panel, thus the scientists assume no one is there.

Sesa Prabhu:

Although Lord Caitanya rejected Kala-krishna dasa, the devotees gave him some service and so he continued to receive mercy from the Lord in this way. In this way, the devotees sometimes show more mercy than the Lord by His grace.

Lord Ramacandra is sometimes called lila-purusottama because He showed the qualities of an ideal man.

The Lord’s quality of svarat, or not being in need of anything, makes him able to happily accept everyone’s offering of love, regardless of how small it appears.

If you are a lawyer, you do not want to call a devotee as a witness. They do not make very good witnesses [as we can see from Dharma who speaks in such a philosophical way, considering so many points, it is difficult to understand what he ultimately means].

Q [by Kelly]: If we understand everything is God’s will, we may be in danger of accepting something that is not ultimately good for us. How can we avoid this?
A: We have to be very careful not to use the philosophy that everything is God’s will to avoid personal responsibility.

Madhava Prabhu: Bharata, because of his love for Lord Rama, did not want to have anything to do with his mother who had schemed to banish Rama to the forest and did not want to fulfill her desire that he rule instead of Rama.

Ali Krishna Prabhu: Abundance is so much a law of nature. One tree produces so many seeds. In this way we can see Krishna’s completeness.

Bhakta Nic: I find at UF a false shelter. So much it is promised that one will attain all happiness by going to college, but I see practically it is a false shelter.

Bhakta Ross:

[In his class, Ross chose to enumerate some of the anomalies of Kali-yuga.] Half the pregnancies are unwanted, and half of them end in abortion, of 22% of all pregnancies. Children spend more time in front of the TV and the computer than with their parents. In my high school of 800, four students committed suicide.

Comments During Different Classes and Kirtanas:

Brahma Tirtha Prabhu: Politicians have no idea of how introduce God in a nonsectarian way so they leave God out of the picture. Our contribution is to give real spiritual philosophy. After we are all dead and gone, and everyone who knows us is dead and gone, what Srila Prabhupada will be known for is his philosophy.

Gadi Prabhu: If we serve the Lord in a pure way, then we will automatically serve the devotees purely.

Ganga-Narayana Prabhu: Before Rama, there had not been the intimate relationships like that between Him and his brothers or emotions like the feelings of separation in His relationship with Sita. Then, of course, with Krishna, this was developed still more.

Ali Krishna Prabhu: Environmentalists tend to criticize religion has being too human centered and without concern with the other living beings and the environment, and thus they make the environment the center. Transcendental to this is the reality in which God is the center. This theocentricism is the proper conception, because then all beings will be respected in relationship with God.

Aiden: The Tao-de-zing says there is nothing missing and nothing extraneous. In this way, it is like the description of the complete whole in the Isopanisad invocation.

Ankush:

I heard in Chowpatty one speaker joked, “I used to be an atheist until I realized I was God.”

Lord Rama had an army of many millions of monkeys. This is evidence of his divinity, since an ordinary man cannot even engage five monkeys in a positive way!

Kelly:

I never met a more diverse group of people in my entire life than the Hare Krishnas, all kinds of colors, all kinds of mental capacities, etc.

I heard in one class that “obedience is humility in action.”

Marco: Bhakti will conquer.

-----

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituki apratihata
yayatma suprasidati

“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Travel Journal#6.5: Chanting In North Florida Cities

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 5
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2010, part one)
Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Saint Augustine

(Sent from Lewes, Delaware, USA, on April 13, 2010)


Highlights

Chanting at Florida State University (Tallahassee)

Chanting at University of North Florida (Jacksonville)

Chanting in Saint Augustine

A Prabhupada Story

Insights from Hridayananda Goswami, Niranjana Swami,
and Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu


Where I Am and What I’m Doing


I promised Kalakantha Prabhu that I would assist in his center in Gainesville for the month of February, and on the last day of that month, I realized I should continue my traveling program. I promised the GBC of Tallahassee I would spend some time there, and the best time would be when my friend Frank would be there, which in March was just its first week. Thus at 5:00 a.m. on March 1, I went with Frank to Tallahassee. There I daily did morning and evening programs and three hours of chanting on the campus, and I chanted at a street festival called First Friday, and read devotional poetry at an open mic night at Amen Ra.


The state universities in North Florida all have their spring breaks at the same time, except for University of North Florida which is the next week, so as I did last year, I decided to chant there during the Gainesville and Tallahassee spring breaks. I met a lot of positive students and a friendly professor on the campus, and I describe that wonderful experience below.


We planned to go to the Tallahassee Rainbow Gathering to distribute prasadam and sing, but on the night before we checked the directions and found that because it is on the other side of Apalachicola Park that it would take four hours to get there! We decided instead to go chanting at Saint Augustine, and some of us sang there for four and a half hours.


Chanting at Florida State University (Tallahassee)


Sarah, who interviewed me at our Gaura Purnima festival in Alachua the day before for her documentary on kirtana, told me she got a couple nice additional interviews and enjoyed the festival.


Codey saw us at the Rainbow Gathering in Tallahassee and was hoping we were coming again.


Manda became vegetarian for thirteen years. As a young girl in the summers she would take care of a calf at a relative’s farm in Wisconsin. One day her relatives’ feed her meat from the calf, which they had butchered without telling her. When she found out she became vegetarian.


Basil, a Quaker girl, tells me they sing spiritual songs for half an hour before the Tallahassee Quaker meeting, which is not very common. I had her sing some songs as I was brought up as a Quaker and knew some. She is vegetarian and did not know about our Hare Krishna lunch program on campus, so I told her. She was excited about it as vegetarian options on the campus are slim.


Cittesh, a Nepali boy said he would come to the Sunday program when he heard we worship Krishna and study Bhagavad-gita.


Pat, who works in the administration, came by to get another carob coconut sweet, liking the first one from a previous day. I got her email to send her the recipe.


Grace remembered us from the Ocala Rainbow Gathering last month. She is majoring in psychology, and explained to her that Bhagavad-gita has a lot to say about psychology. She ultimately bought aPerfection of Yoga.


Stan who attends our programs in Tallahassee suggested I read my poetry at an Afro-American book store, which has open mike night on Thursday. He even gave me $7 for the cover charge. I rewrote one of the poems to make it appreciated by a more general theistic audience. Some others performing there were experienced poets and musicians, but others had never read in public. Some girls, also from Gainesville, later said they liked my reading. The person who drove me home saw my harmonium and asked me to play next time, so perhaps I will. I did lots of my personal writing while waiting to do my reading, but I also heard some of the poems. Here are some lines with spiritual messages.


“Eternal things didn’t reach me much. I was too selfish.”

“Success is not measured by how many material possessions you have . . . , but whether your words are being heard.”

“God and fear cannot reside in the same place.”

“The choices you make determine whether you live in heaven or hell.”


Chanting at the First Friday, while Daru Brahma Prabhu distributes dinner, was especially inspiring because of a new instrumentalist. It was the Friday before spring break, and fewer students were around. One older man, who had brought his djembe to play in the drum circle, decided since there was no drum circle, that he would play with us. He played for an hour and a half. He explained that he had known about the Krishnas from when he had attended the Mantra Rock Dance in the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco back in 1967. This was a rock concert arranged by the devotees to raise money for the new Radha Krishna temple there, and Srila Prabhupada appeared at it.


Chanting at University of North Florida (Jacksonville)


I lived in Bhakta Frank’s condominium, a short walk and 25 minutes by bus from the campus at University of North Florida in Jacksonville. For four weekdays I chanted about three hours on the campus. In Tallahassee, I found some people were allergic to coconut and would not take my sweets, so in Jacksonville I made peanut butter sweets. When I found people were allergic to those also, I made some more coconut sweets to give them a choice.


The most amazing experience I had was one young man watched me playing for about half an hour, sometimes on a nearby bench, and then to get even closer, sitting on the sidewalk. Then he came up to me and asked if he could bring his class to listen to me play. I said it was quite alright, although I was surprised because he appeared to be the age of a student and not a teacher. He introduced himself as Nick, and said he was professor of music and philosophy. I explained briefly about the harmonium and played an attractive tune of Bada Hari Prabhu’s. One student knew how to play the keyboards, and I showed him a simple Hare Krishna tune that he picked up immediately. I sang and danced as the student played. The professor asked me some questions and had his kids ask me some questions. I lamented that I did not have some expert mrdanga and kalatala players to give a more complete and exciting presentation. I had a couple of friends who said they would come on Wednesday and who knew the drum, so I invited the class to come again which they did, although neither of my mrdanga friends were able to come. The second time, I explained about mantras as linking sound and philosophy. By chanting the mantras, which were sung, one could get realization of spiritual philosophy, so in ancient Vedic understanding there was a connection between music and philosophy. I told Professor Nick as much as I knew about ragas, the Vedic science of sound, but he wanted more. Tim told me there is a interview with Aindra Prabhu talking about them, and I found it posted on Danish Krishna web site krishna-online.dk. To download it, click here: Aindra Prabhu Interview. So I passed it on to Professor Nick.


I met some nice students as well. Samson played guitar along with me as I sang. Briana, who had been to programs where devotees sang and distributed spiritual food, filled up my water bottle on three occasions. On the fourth day, despite the pouring rain, Tim, Matt, and Vrindavan came all the way from Gainesville to chant with me. Krishna really reciprocated with us for chanting despite the conditions. Tipped off to the bad weather on the previous day, I got permission to chant in a protected area near the Student Union, in case we needed it, and we ended up playing there, ten feet from the campus bookstore for three and a half hours, without being harassed. I emailed all the people whose addresses I had collected so far that week about our new location on the last day. One girl, receiving an email via cell phone during a class with the subject heading “Krishna Band Plays at Student Union,” rushed to the Union after her class, hoping we would still be playing. When she was a kid in Colombia, her mom, who was into yoga and meditation, would take her to a Krishna temple to play on the weekends, and she had promised she would chant with me earlier in the week. She listened to our kirtana for a whole hour. I could see two hippy-like girls, moving in time to our beat even as they approached our blanket. They sat down and sang, clapped, smiled, and moved their bodies in time with the music for half an hour. They only left because it was time for their next class. They suggested we chant at a rural venue in Georgia that Tim and Vrindavan knew about. One guy who had a cynical attitude about life and human nature, took the peanut butter sweets three days in a row, and put his email on my list the final day to my surprise. Of the four schools whose campuses I have chanted at, Orlando (UCF), Gainesville (UF), Tallahassee (FSU), and Jacksonville (JAX), I always meet the nicest people at Jacksonville. Of course, in Gainesville, there are many favorable people, but that is largely because the devotees have been feeding them prasadam for years. In Jacksonville, however, even without feeding them, the students have some attraction to the chanting and curiosity about our ideas. Last year during the University of Florida spring break, we chanted two days in Jacksonville at University of North Florida, but this year we did four.


Chanting in Saint Augustine


Bhakta Tim and I, and about ten friends decided to chant at Saint Augustine the final Sunday of spring break. I was surprised that Vrindavan, usually a mild mannered, shy girl, was so enthusiastic she invited two of her friends to come. We chanted at the Castillo De San Marcos National Monument for two and a half hours. When the police saw me handing out a flyer, they gave me a warning. One can hand out only approved items, and the office granting approval was closed on Sunday. One Columbian man smiled as he watched our chanting for ten minutes. He went to our Krishna Lunch at the University of Florida in Gainesville in the 1980s when getting his undergraduate degree in biology. Later he received a medical degree in his country, and he now practices medicine in Tennessee. He has some devotee friends in Spain. Another couple from Columbia, also enjoyed the chanting for some time. The man was familiar enough with the devotees that he knew the food we have offered is called prasadam.


Some of us wanted to find something to eat, but Marco, Sophia, and I continued chanting, this time in the park at the end of St. George’s Street, for another two hours. Some high school aged kids sat down and listened for fifteen minutes. I know a five-part harmonium Hare Krishna tune with chords, and I taught Marco how to play it on his guitar, while I played harmonium, and Sophia played thekaratalas. It was a little dynamic and some people stopped to take pictures of us. We invited everyone we talked with to the Ratha-yatra in St. Augustine which was scheduled for the next weekend. It was inspiring to be chanting in another place with a very spontaneously formed kirtana party. I feel thankful to all the devotees who played a role in it.


A Prabhupada Story


I like to hear about Srila Prabhupada guiding people in their lives in different ways, because it makes us appreciate that he is still presently looking after us. At the Ukraine festival, Candramauli Swami, gave me a lead on this interesting story by Nidra Dasi, a longtime book distributor in Denver.


Nidra Dasi writes, “I met my husband at the airport in Denver while distributing books. He approached me because he had been collecting Srila Prabhupada’s books for a number of years. I was trying to distribute a ninth canto Srimad-Bhagavatam to him; he told me that he already had that book. He was dressed like a businessman, so I assumed that he must have already received a Bhagavad-gitaand was thinking that this was the same book (because most people do that, they insist that they already have the book, but it is the Gita that they have, not the Bhagavatam). Much to my amazement, he reached for his wallet, took out a piece of paper, unfolded it and showed me a list of all of the Bhagavatams and CCs that he already had and those that he was missing and pointed to the eighth canto, part two and said that this was one of the missing volumes that he was looking for.? I just happened to have my own personal copy of 8.2 with me (because I was reading that during break time), so I gave him my own copy as a gift, but he insisted that I take a donation for the book. The funny thing was that he thought that the Hare Krishnas were no longer active and this led to a nice conversation about Srila Prabhupada. At this point we talked about which volunes he still needed to complete his set and decided to write and arrange for the volumes to be sent in the mail. Over the course of the next year, I was able to help him complete his set of books as well as send gifts to him and his family. Due to the nature of his business, he was sent to Colorado a few times that year, and we would meet at Govinda’s buffet and discuss Krishna conscious philosophy and topics. At this point, neither of us were interested in marriage. Our relationship was simply based on exchanging Krishna consciousness and discussions about Srila Prabhupada.


“During the next year on one of his two visits, he proposed that we should consider getting married, but I totally rejected it. I explained to him my situation as a renunciate and let it go at that. Then he said before he left that I would change my mind, and that he would ask me again next year. I thought that this was crazy that he insisted in such a way as if he knew the future! The third year, he proposed marriage again, and again I refused. But I went through a transformation in my heart because I had a dream or “visit” of Srila Prabhupada telling me to get married! That was a shock because he was asking me to renounce being renounced! It was amazing that my husband at that time was so confident that we were going to get married (when I was a determined renunciate). It was not until after we were married that he told me that Srila Prabhupada had also “visited” him and told him to marry me at which time he also thought that it was crazy, but he felt he should follow the order of Srila Prabhupada. Now twenty years later we are still going on as a team to help spread Krsna consciousness, based on the special transcendental way that Srila Prabhupada communicated to both of us at different times to marry and serve together.


“Sometimes I hesitate to explain this because some take it in a wrong way about how Srila Prabhupada communicated this to us. Some may see it as speculation, just the mind alone dictating, or some cheap bogus sentiments like an hallucination or something. But, as some Vaishnavas say, “on the pretext of a dream” the guru appeared and gave instructions. So we do not feel that we are special and concocted this mystical arrangement. Rather we know that Srila Prabhupada is special and can communicate as he likes since Krishna empowers him to talk with anyone that Krishna wants him to, including the Christian lady at Srila Prahupada’s Palace of Gold in New Vrndavana who was told by Srila Prahupada to take his shoes! We are just insignificant aspiring servants of his servants, and we had this unusual experience because of the desire of the Lord and His representative, in order to help us get purified and to serve in a way that Srila Prabhupada felt would be favorable. Many times he had his daughters and sons (disciples) marry to help them to progress in Krishna consciousness. Sometimes he would have a daughter (disciple) marry if she were having difficulty with health or whatever. Srila Prabhupada always has our welfare in mind and takes care of us accordingly. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!”


Insight from Lectures


Hridayananda Dasa Goswami (from a tape):


We cultivate good qualities for Krishna’s satisfaction not for the sake of being virtuous. Enjoying being virtuous is a refined way of enjoying separately from Krishna.


Ignoring the principles and following principles externally are both causes of fall down.


If you want to feel good about yourself, try being a good person. Too often people just want to feel about themselves regardless.


Krishna gives us enough enjoyment but not so much it ruins our spiritual life.


We should be frugal. Wasting is sinful. Whatever I waste could have helped someone. Once I heard Srila Prabhupada chastise a disciple for wasting some Indian postage stamps although he was spending millions of dollars to spread Krishna consciousness.


Q: If our motives are mixed, what is the best way to purify them?

A: You should not stop your service. Chanting Hare Krishna and serving Krishna is the purifying process. But still externally people do both of these but some advance more than others, so there must be an invisible third thing. Recognizing you are mixed helps you to move in the right direction. Keep the sincerity to improve and move in the right direction.


The difference between neurosis and psychosis is that a person with psychosis thinks he is fine.


This world is a gym. Srila Prabhupada is our personal trainer. There is a tolerance machine and a vanity machine. Every experience is just another test in the gym.


Srila Prabhupada told me that when he got off the boat in New York City he did not know whether to go left or right, but he had 200 sets of his three volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, and those books were his confidence.


Niranjana Swami [from a tape]:


Srila Prabhupada told a disciple the best way we could help him is to chant Hare Krishna, to embrace the whole process of Krishna consciousness, and to tell other people about Krishna, for that is what Lord Caitanya wanted.


Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu [from his weekly conference call lecture]:


If we say the material world is spiritual so that we can enjoy it, then we have turned it back into material.


There is the spiritual energy, the material energy, and the spiritualized material energy. The spiritualized material energy is as good as the spiritual energy.


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darśane ’vaishnava haila, bale ‘krishna’ ‘hari’
premāveśe nāce loka ūrdhva bāhu kari’

“Just by seeing Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, everyone became a devotee. They began to chant “Krishna” and “Hari” and all the holy names. They all were merged in a great ecstasy of love, and they began to dance, raising their arms.” (Caitanya-caritāmrita, Madhya 7.116)