Travel Journal#6.17a: Janmastami/Vyasa Puja in London
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 6, No. 17a
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2010, part one, section one)
(Sent from Tucson, Arizona, on October 30, 2010)
Where I Was and What I Did
My traveling partner, Dhruva Prabhu, a 59-year-old devotee from an Indian background, wanted to go to Janmastami at Bhaktivedanta Manor. Festivals with 70,000 devotees do not really appeal to me, and I would never have chosen to go to such an event on my own, but as we were traveling together, I came anyway. Janmastami turned out to be especially interesting for me because the Soho Street devotees do harinama on crowded Oxford Street, and at the Bhaktivedanta Manor, Parasurama and Govinda Prabhus do harinama through the crowd of tens of thousands who visit there, both on the Janmastami day itself and the following Sunday. I attended the Soho harinamas, but I got there late for the Manor harinamas. Still I was able to sing and dance in the Manor kirtana tent from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday and help Parasurama Prabhu distribute halava prasadam to the people in the audience. The Vyasa Puja events are scheduled so you can hear the offerings at the Manor, and then go to Soho Street for the feast and the afternoon Vyasa Puja Day harinama, and then hear the offerings at Soho Street in the evening. The offerings are an opportunity to understand the vision of gratitude that motivates the individual devotees to serve Srila Prabhupada throughout the year, and can inspire us to increase our own devotional motivation. The net result of the London Janmastami/Vyasa Puja schedule at the Manor and Soho Street was I went on more harinamas and heard more offerings that at any Janmastami/Vyasa Puja festival I ever attended, so it was a pleasant surprise!
Before my flight to Ukraine the following Wednesday, I stayed at the Soho Street temple and gave classes and went on harinamas, relishing the opportunities afforded by crowded Oxford Street and the enthusiastic devotees at the Soho Street temple.
Vyasa Puja Offerings
[This is not a complete summary of all the offerings or even those mentioned. I just noted points that were unique or which resonated with me from a variety of the offerings I heard, both at the Manor and Soho Street.]
Srila Prabhupada [quotes from a beautiful multimedia presentation by Rupa Vilasa Prabhu]:
“So when I was seventy years old I decided, ‘Now I must do and execute the order of my Guru Maharaja.’ I was not hopeful. I thought when I would say, ‘So my dear sir, you have to give up meat-eating and illicit sex and intoxication and gambling.’ They would say, ‘Please go home.’ That was my experience of my godbrother, who when he told one Englishman that he would have to follow these four principles to become a brahmana, received the reply, “Impossible.”
The argument that ‘we did not have a previous life because we cannot remember it’ is not strong, as we do not remember so many experiences in our childhood.
Death means when this body is useless, you do not come to this body, but to another body. A sober man thinks if I am eternal, then why should I take on a temporary body.
Our proposition is that, “If you do not know who is God, and if we present how Krishna is God, then why do you not accept Him?” If all the acaryas (great teachers) have accepted Krishna is God. I am not presenting something whimsically.
If you are not prepared to give up [your own ideas], you cannot accept God.
You pay the treasury, and it is distributed to each department. You can give to each department, but it will not be effective. It will be incomplete. Similarly if you love Krishna, then you will love everyone. You will love even the ant.
They [the scientists] cannot create even an ant, and they are trying create super beings. Just see the foolishness!
They say, “No one has seen God.” But how can they say that? Have they talked to every person? It means they have not seen God, and they have not seen a person who has seen God.
One Berkeley reporter remarked, “After hearing these Hare Krishnas chanting for a few minutes, I chanted it all the way home.”
Just as the majority of persons live outside the prison house, similarly the majority of persons live in the spiritual world, not the material world.
Just as the government knows a certain percentage will be criminal so they create the prison house. Similarly the Lord creates the material world for the rebellious souls.
The 40th anniversary of Radha-Londonisvara was significant. It shows how we have matured over the course of the years.
Thank you teaching us how to live and how to die.
It inspires me to see new devotees taking your instructions seriously in the lives.
It is you who have given me whatever qualifications I have.
Bless me I can continue to take your message to the many towns still left in England.
Sruti Dharma Prabhu:
The older I get, the more I realize whatever you said is true.
Guru Carana Padma dd:
When I read your Bhagavad-gita, I experienced clarity I never experienced before. Other teachings I had heard all fell into place.
Please protect me from feeling false pride considering I am your disciple. Let me feel rather great fortune that I have some connection with you.
At the end of your life, you still were concerned simply for your disciples. Your selfless love for your disciples is your greatest quality. You have never abandoned us and never will abandon us.
Smara Hari Prabhu:
This is the most wonderful day on the Vaisnava calendar. If it were not for Srila Prabhupada, none of us would be here.
Once there was a very successful collection program going on, but some of the devotees were burning out. Srila Prabhupada canceled the program saying, “I do not want to lose a single devotee.” Srila Prabhupada considered each individual person to be valuable.
Rupa Vilasa Prabhu:
My father said, “(1) Don’t bow down to anyone, and (2) I do not know if there is God and nobody knows if there is God.”
Srila Prabhupada defeated the first by saying that we had to bow down to birth, death, disease, and old age.
Later I told my father Prabhupada’s argument, “Just because you do not know if there is God, does not mean no one knows if there is God.” He said, “I never thought of that.”
Someone asked you what it was like to be a self-realized soul, and you answered in two words, “No fear.” We actually all experienced complete fearless just hearing these words from Srila Prabhupada.
“We were totally exposed by your laser look of love.”
I am floundering, but I will never forget you and I will never stop trying to serve you.
As Kishor had encouraged us, we would bow down to the people in Glasgow and beg them to take a Bhagavad-gita. I thought it was crazy, and the only way we could do it was think of your great humility in coming to the west on a cargo ship to enlighten us. We became the biggest book distribution party in the world.
In dream you appeared and told me to learn the siddhantic truth in the talks between Ramananda Raya and Lord Caitanya.
I pray that you will continue to instruct me and that I will be willing to share what you have given.
Srila Prabhupada told his lady disciples to offer dandavats, but I never do it because I am too much affected by prevailing social customs.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura was asked how many disciples he had, and he said, “Four. My arms and legs.” One godbrother said, “Four or five, maybe eight.”
I do not know how good a disciple I am. I pray to Srila Prabhupada that he might accept what I am able to offer.
There is a story of a master who gave coins to his disciples. The ones he gave the coins to, who by investment doubled them, he was most pleased with, but the one who buried his for safekeeping, he was the least satisfied with, and told him to give back what he had given him.
Sang Srila Prabhupada’s offering of a poem to Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura, saying that we used to sing this.
Thank you for all you have given.
Thank you for sacrificing your ideal situation in Vrndavana to struggle on a boat to come to the West.
Thank you for showing by your life there may be struggles but we must continue with enthusiasm.
Thank you for your expert dealings, for letting me go on preaching programs with you to see you in action.
Thank you for introducing us to the dhama. I saw my initiation video, and I could see you handing me my beads.
Thank you for a life full of adventures, padayatra, Ratha-yatras, and festivals.
Without you, our life would be mere shell of a life.
I relish listening to my godbrothers and godsisters each year I come here.
There are minor rules and regulations that can occasionally be broken, like showing the Deities to an important man who was briefly in Vrndavana, although the Deities were asleep.
One life member snuck into a darsana and invited Srila Prabhupada to his village and he immediately agreed, asking when we were going.
He could understand time, place, and circumstances, and make decisions on the spot.
One time although Srila Prabhupada had been lying in bed for days, when I was telling him about a life member who had left his body recently, he sat up to hear attentively.
Srila Prabhupada said you should bring the gurukula children to the forest for picnics.
With a leader like Srila Prabhupada, you can take over the world in eighteen days. I have no doubt it will happen when Krishna desires.
Krishna has made arrangements for me to take shelter of the association of devotees more, and I am grateful for that.
I was bobbing in a semiconscious state. I am now in a dance with my wonderful Vaishnava friends by your mercy.
You have taught me that I am an observer of my body, mind, and intelligence. Some disturbing things arise, so I am not disturbed, because of your protection. I hope to expand my dealings with each of the devotees before they leave this section of the dance floor.
Bhakta Vinaya, our lawyer, and the communication team:
You are there, reminding us to tend our creepers of devotion.
On behalf Sangiv Agarwal, patrons council:
Thank you for creating this wonderful house in which we can live in.
The commentary by Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura on Bhagavad-gita 2.41 fixed you in devotion to your guru’s mission and can fix us in our determination to execute your instructions.
Once you said, “If you just hold on to my lotus feet. I will take you back to Godhead. I have a key to the back door.”
The Krishna Avanti school received the award for the most “green” in the country.
Krishna Dharma Prabhu:
The pen cannot describe your glories but time will. Your qualities defeat our words.
Visvambara Prabhu [sankirtana leader]:
I am a lame, dumb, and blind man. We cannot repay the guru because he has given us everything. What can we give to him?
When we wake up and realize how fallen we are, then our spiritual life starts.
I hated book distribution in the beginning. Now after so many years, that same activity, which is his heart, is now entrusted to me.
We became devotees because of these books.
It was so inspiring to see the Janmastami guests taking books, Prabhupada’s heart, in their hands.
Sundara Nitai Prabhu (author of the Soho St. offering):
Preaching is the essence, cooperate and tolerate. By following you our destiny is assured. Only you could understand Lord Gaurasundara’s plan. You delivered those devoid of trust and full of lust making them bright faced. From Oxford St. you said we can reach the world. When McDonald’s becomes Govinda’s . . . When we have a goshala in Hyde Park . . .
Until three years ago, we all went to the Manor for this day. Except once fifteen years we did have Vyasa Puja offering in Soho. I was struck by the emotions expressed by those who had never met Srila Prabhupada. When Srila Prabhupada was present we had Vyasa Puja and made offerings. It was an opportunity to demonstrate how well you knew the philosophy. After Srila Prabhupada left, the offerings became so emotional. The first few years, it was so emotional people would have to be helped away afterward. Srila Prabhupada said that the disciple should speak his realizations on Vyasa Puja day and that is why the early devotees’ offerings were very philosophical. Srila Prabhupada got us to love him and that was basis of this movement. It is still based on love and that is something that cannot be taught in classes.
Seeing all the devoted followers of Srila Prabhupada, those initiated by him, those initiated by his disciples, those not even initiated, I see the distinction begins to blur. The commitment to Srila Prabhupada appears present in all, I feel honored to be in your association.
There are times I felt distance from you but not now as I write this offering, I do not feel that.
Thank you for giving my life shape and purpose.
Bhakti Brhat Bhagavat Swami:
You said that we can develop gopi-bhava through preaching.
Thank you for manifesting ISKCON as not different from yourself.
Prabhupada das Prabhu:
I used to see the devotees chant on Oxford St. I was a barrister, and based on what I heard from others, I thought they were all drug addicts, and so I did not want to have anything to do with them. Ranchor was a friend of mine and invited me to the temple. It was the day Radha-Londonisvara were installed. I gradually came to realize there was some good in the devotees. I put my name, address, and profession on their list as they invited the guests to do. In 1973, two devotees told me Srila Prabhupada said, “There is one Indian barrister, and I would like to speak to him.” The devotees were kicked out of Bury Place, and Prabhupada asked me to help. He said he heard the lawyers were expensive, and he wanted me to do the work for free. My father and grandfather told me to never charge the devotees of the Lord, and so I could understand. Through association, I realized Srila Prabhupada was not the guru of drug addicts but the guru of those who were to help benefit human society and the Indian community. I know I would not have become a devotee of Lord Krishna, despite my initiation and background in the Ramanuja sampradaya, were it not for Srila Prabhupada and his devotees.
Dear Srila Prabhupada,
namo om vishnu-padaya krishna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine
namaste sarasvati deve gaura-vani pracine
nivesesa-sunyavadi pascatya-desa tarine
Thank you for making it clear through your writings and your lectures that human life is simply meant for self-realization. We have no other business.
Thank you for creating a worldwide spiritual movement so we can associate with those who are serious about self-realization wherever we may be.
Thank you for describing the soul so authoritatively that we can appreciate its reality.
Thank you for exposing the illusion of material happiness.
Thank you for revealing the forms, instructions, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord to humanity in general.
Thank you for revealing the variety of relationships we eternally have with Krishna, so we can become inspired to aspire for one.
Thank you for giving us this confidential knowledge that there is no difference between the Supreme Lord and His holy name, so we can always be with Him by chanting.
Thank you for revealing the Hare Krishna mantra as the recommended configuration of holy names to chant in this age.
Please bless me that I might become an ideal representative of your ISKCON movement and that I might attain Krishna at the end of life.
The servant of your servants,
Rajni dd wife of Prabhupada das:
Thank you for giving us beautiful temples and devotees to help us become Krishna conscious.
Candravali dd [servant of Radha-Londonisvara for 25 years]:
I want to thank Srila Prabhupada for bringing Krishna consciousness to the west, and creating this temple in which we are performing service.
I became a life member in 1972. My wife said she thought I should do it, so I did. I got some land in Mauritius on a couple occasions and built a couple of temples and donated them ISKCON. My wife liked the Soho temple. She discouraged me from associating with drunkards, etc, and instead come to the temple, so I did.
Srila Prabhupada gave me my second birth. Srila Prabhupada can inspire us to work tirelessly for him, even though we never met him personally.
Murali Manohara Prabhu:
[He lived in Soho St. for 22 years. This is famous as a pressure cooker. Someone said the devotees were like coal. Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes, but I am applying pressure, and by pressure coal can become a diamond.” Murali Manohara is such a diamond.—Jai Nitai Prabhu]
Krishna handpicked you to appear in this world of darkness. Who could appreciate your appearance in the West, but some sages and demigods? By your example and your words, the movement of Lord Caitanya has become established. Reading your books, purified my heart. Through your appearance, hundreds of thousands have been given the gold of devotional service to Krishna.
Bhaktin Priya [South London]:
To say you have given me shelter is an understatement. I always feel at home at the ISKCON temples all around the world. I hope I can always serve your devotees and that you may one day become proud of me.
Gaura Kisora Prabhu:
Until I was much older I did not appreciate what Srila Prabhupada had given us. I did not notice until I went to a temple in another country. When I saw the Mayapur complex, I appreciated the genius of Srila Prabhupada even more.
Rama Sakti [Dedicated pujari]
Thank you for giving this highest transcendental knowledge by which we can transcend all material problems and attain the spiritual world and service of Radha Krishna. You are the embodiment for compassion. Thank you for the association of the devotees, the most intelligent people in the world. Thank you for these wonderful temples. Thank you for engaging us in the highest service, that of the Supreme Lord.
Srila Prabhupada gave a way that literally anyone can come to the level he himself was on.
Mother Bhava Bhakti:
I am grateful for the service without which I would be bored and for his giving me my guru. Sometimes we think the buck stops with our guru, but we forget Srila Prabhupada.
Insights from Lectures
Srila Prabhupada [lecture on Kapila’s verse on sound] :
Omkara and Hare Krishna are vibrations from the spiritual sky and so they are immediately effective. Narottama Dasa Thakura describes “goloka prema dhana harinama sankirtana [the congregational chanting of the holy name comes from the spiritual world].” A material sound you will get disgusted three or four times, but a spiritual sound you can chant 24 hours and not be disgusted. The Vedic injunction is to transfer ourselves from the temporary to eternal worlds. That is the only business in our human form of life.
Both Krishna are ourselves are sac-cid-ananda vigraha. The difference is that Krishna is the supreme controller.
By spiritual sound you can be immediately in touch with the spiritual world and gradually you can become directly in contact with the Supreme Lord.
The water substance is different from the word water so it cannot quench your thirst. In the spiritual world, the name and the named are the same. The name is pure, so by chanting and chanting, even though offensive in the beginning, we become pure.
“So ’ham” means we are spirit, like Krishna, but not that we are Krishna.
If we are not self-realized, we are not better than the cats and dogs. If you want to become happy, you must get this knowledge that you are not the body.
The Hare Krishna mantra should be chanted without attraction for sense gratification. That is perfection.
Some cinema song the artists get fifteen thousand rupees for—just see the attraction we have for these material sounds. So we have attraction to sound. Let our attraction be transferred from material sound to spiritual sound. The Hare Krishna movement is teaching people to do this.
Don’t become disturbed by the happiness or distress of this world. Chant Hare Krishna and be happy. That is propaganda of this Hare Krishna movement.
When I was temple president in Vrindavana, many of the brahmacaris protested when I tried to engage them in cleaning the temple. “That is the work of the banji class. We are frombrahmana families.” I lead a group of them in the cleaning work, and then they saw I was serious.
Q: How do you remain brahmacari?
A: It is easy to get blessings from brahmacaris and sannyasis to be brahmacari, but if you offend even one chaste women, you will not be successful. The whole Kuru army was defeated because they offended one chaste woman.
Every woman and every child can be satisfied by care, affection, and protection.
We can see all women as chaste if we consider what appears to be unchaste behavior as caused by exploitation of unscrupulous men.
It may appear to be difficult to see all women as mother, but if we see ourselves as son it is easier. Even if the women do not possess the attitude of a mother, we can still try to see ourselves as sons, for that is possible, easier, and that will help us.
When I was a kid in apartheid South Africa, the Indian teachers would alternate the Indian boys and the Indian girls to maintain discipline because the culture was that the boys and girls would not talk to each other. I sat next to a girl who I did not talk with for three years. This is not Krishna conscious but Indian culture.
Our goal is not be brahmacari but to be in an asrama that helps us make spiritual advancement.
Agitation when associating with the opposite sex is normal, but to aggravate it is not normal. This is clear from Bhagavad-gita 5.23.
The Indians try to imitate the Western world, but all they can do is imitate because it is so foreign to their nature.
Everyone who claims to be in complete control of his mind and senses is a bluffer and cheater of the first order. As devotees, Krishna controls our senses.
I did thousands of high school and university programs when I was in my late twenties. I got no less than seventy proposals from high school girls. I took full advantage of it and would visit their homes and put full sets of Bhagavatams in them. Sometimes I would do university programs and meet the same girls again. Five even became devotees, but by then they understood I was not interested in marrying them, and they ultimately married other brahmacaris. In these situations, we have to consider what is the purpose of our preaching. If we are fixed in our purpose, we will not be disturbed.
One wealthy life member once said, “If you just agree to propose to my daughter, I will put two million dollars in your bank account.” I said, “Do you think I am so cheap?” He thought I wanted more money.
Q (by me): I appreciate Radha-Londonisvara dasa’s point about becoming agitated by his solo college preaching. Once I did college preaching in one location for four months, and I felt I was becoming too friendly with the ladies involved in the program and those attending the program, so I said I would stay one month the next year.
A: It is our responsibility to do what is required to maintain our asrama.
Q: In ISKCON sometimes brahmacaris in leadership roles have difficulties when they have to manage women. When we explain our situation to brahmacaris in India, they say, “You should not have to deal with women as a brahmacari.” But that appears not to be a practical solution.
A: You are right. You cannot have the brahmacaris never talk to the women in every circumstance. It is not practical.
Sometimes a sannyasi becomes weak and falls down and some grhastha may criticize, “Oh, he associated too much with money. Oh, he associated too much with women.” Thus we blame the sannyasi, but it could be said that because the brahmacaris, grhasthas, and vanaprastha were not doing their duties nicely, the sannyasi became weak.
If we have difficulty with a service in an asrama, we may change our asrama to maintain our service, or we may change our service to maintain our asrama, but some service must be maintained for service is more important than asrama.
Srila Prabhupada once said we celebrate Janmastami to attract the nondevotees. For the devotees, Krishna is appearing at every moment. When we are chanting Hare Krishna, Krishna is always present as His holy name, whether we are neophyte, middle, or advanced devotees, so for us there is no question of Krishna appearing.
If you tell Yasoda that Krishna takes birth from her, she will be quite opposed to the idea, as she sees herself as eternal Krishna’s mother.
Is Mother Yasoda both in Bhauma Vrndavana and Goloka Vrindavana?
From our perspective Yasoda gives birth, but from hers she does not.
In the Vedic culture, when a mother with a male child rests, she lies on her left side with the boy on her arm, and she caresses the boy with her right hand.
Vasudeva carried baby Vasudeva not baby Syamasundara in Vrindavana. Syamasundara from his unmanifested state enters into Vasudeva Krishna when he reaches Vrindavana.
When Kamsa picks up Subhadra, to dash her to the floor to kill her, she manifests as Durga, and as Subhadra she takes shelter of the Vindhya Hills. Until Kamsa was killed, Subhadra could not manifest, and so there is no history of Subhadra from her appearance until she was a young women in Dvaraka.
So Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider that Krishna appears in Mahavana in Vrndavana while others may consider He appeared in Mathura.
Devaki is Yasoda, but Yasoda is not Devaki. Yasoda is not Devaki for Syamasundara. Vasudeva is Nanda Maharaja. Nanda Maharaja can become Vasudeva, but Vasudeva cannot become Nanda Maharaja.
Krishna takes birth in aisvarya-bhava. As madhurya-bhava He is always sweet, he doesn’t have to become sweet. Yasoda who is in madhurya-bhava, expands as Devaki as aisvarya-bhava.Similarly Vasudeva who is in madhurya-bhava, expands as Vasudeva as aisvarya-bhava.
Srila Prabhupada once said about understanding the Lord’s appearance and activities, “If you understand that you do not fully understand, then you understand.” This is because the Lord and His devotional service are acintya, inconceivable. If you get a drop of this understanding of the inconceivability of Krishna, then you will understand that you cannot fully understand.
So many people come to Vraja in the month of Sravana, which includes Balarama Purnima and Janmastami. They do not come specifically to become Krishna consciousness, but they become Krishna conscious by coming there.
There is no question of age for Krishna in Goloka Vrndavana [the spiritual world]. There is no observance of Janmastami there.
Srila Prabhupada explained to his disciple Bhavananda, “Bhavananda means the bliss of the material world. What bliss is there in the material world that is not there in the spiritual world? The bliss of preaching. Therefore, you should preach.”
Q: When Krishna and His devotees come to this world, are they still in the spiritual world?
A: Just as Srila Prabhupada can be in different places as once, like in your temple, in Vrndavana, and in Mayapur, similarly Mother Yasoda can also be in more than one place at a time.
We always have to ask ourselves whether we have come to Krishna consciousness to enjoy or to serve. If we have come to enjoy then we cannot deepen our relationships in a spiritual way. If we come to enjoy we will not be satisfied but if we come to serve, you will enjoy. But we do not come to enjoy.
The more people between Krishna and ourselves the more devotion we have because we imbibe the devotion from all the people in the line before us.
Q: What is the best way I should meditate today?
A: Well, to answer that in a specific way can be a little impersonal in the sense that my meditation may be different from yours and yours may be different from someone else’s.
We should never break friendships with people. They may break them with us, but we do not have to break them.
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not Krishna. Therefore, Krishna is original.
Q: How do you know if you are ready for initiation?
A: If you are following nicely but you do not think you are ready for initiation, then you are ready for initiation. Actually it is not a question of initiation. Chant, follow the rules, serve the devotees, and do something to share Krishna consciousness. Initiation will come by higher arrangement.
Class on Bhagavad-gita 2.49:
We have basic need for food, clothing, and shelter. When we take more than our basic needs, then some people are deprived of these basic necessities.
Persons who give in charity are not actually detached if you analyze it. They have more than they need, and then they give in charity to those who have less than they need, but the reason those people receiving charity have less than they need is because those who give charity had taken more than they need in the first place.
In Krishna consciousness you do not have to give up anything because nothing was yours in the first place.
The devotee utilizes that which Krishna has temporarily given him custody of in Krishna’s service before the time of death when he would lose custody of it anyway.
People without knowledge of devotional service either engage in unrestricted sense enjoyment or artificial excessive renunciation.
Krishna consciousness is active renunciation and is the perfect balance.
Krishna declares in Bhagavad-gita 10.8 that both the spiritual and material emanate from him, and therefore both can be connected to Krishna through service.
Q: Bg. 6.3 says we have to give up the desires not the desired objects.
A: We can do what we like for Krishna or do what is Krishna’s desire for us. If we do what we like for Krishna, we are engaging our nature in Krishna’s service. Ultimately we will become purified and understand what is actually Krishna’s desire for us.
If your desire is identical with Krishna’s desire, then you are full empowered by the Panca-tattva.
Q: What is the danger of acting not according to your nature?
A: (1) You will be frustrated.
(2) You will not naturally be detached from your own nature by engaging it. The natural process will not be followed.
Spiritually you have to allow yourself to be monitored and very few can do that.
One devotee was initiated by Srila Prabhupada one day and left the next day. One leader inquired from Srila Prabhupada how that was. Srila Prabhupada replied, “I may have initiated him, but he was never my disciple.”
People tend to form alliances based on superficial similarities and consider those who are somehow different to be “enemies.” These friends and enemies are based who fulfills our desires.
Whatever we have difficulty with in spiritual life, Krishna will create situations to help us get passed it. A materialistic person will be frustrated by such situations but an advancing devotee will see them as sent by Krishna for his spiritual development.
We imagine “our people” will take care of us, but in reality no enemy can hurt us without the sanction of Krishna, and no friend can help us without the sanction of Krishna. Thus there are no friends or enemies. No one can hurt me, unless Krishna thinks I need to be hurt for some reason.
We all have the same father and the same mother. We are all in the same family.
If we love someone, then we will love those who are dear to that person. Because everyone is dear to Krishna, one who loves Krishna loves everyone.
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains in Madhurya Kadambini that Krishna is neutral, but the devotees go out and give people opportunities to get spiritual credits by harinama andprasadam. Therefore, the bhakti of the devotee creates bhakti in the heart of the people in general.
If two of our friends have a disagreement, we feel like helping them to work it out. Similarly the devotees help the people in general by helping them improve their relationship with Krishna.
Being equal to everybody does not mean to treat everyone the same.
There has to be death because we cannot fulfill all the desires we have in one kind of material body.
The Lord does not love us a pinch less than his eternal associates in the spiritual world.
Baladeva Vidyabhusana discussed three categories of devotees:
Sa-nistha cares more about social duties than devotional service.
Pari-nistha performs social duties only to set an example for others or to attract others.
Nirupesaka is a sannyasi who beyond all social duties.
“Unfortunately as long as we are in the material world, we have to follow our social duties so as to avoid criticism by others. That is Lord Caitanya’s desire.”
Lord Caitanya was hard like a thunderbolt as in the case of Junior Haridasa, but soft like a rose as in the case of the Orissan lady who climbed on Him to see Lord Jagannatha.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura introduced saffron cloth for the sannyasis and the brahmana’s thread.
It is rare that one goes from mode of passion to transcendence; gradual progress is the normal.
Lord Caitanya chanted a fixed number of holy names. His followers also chanted a fixed number. Haridas Thakura chanted 300,000 names or 192 rounds. Raghunath Das Goswami chanted 100,000 names or 64 rounds. Lord Caitanya would only eat at the home of a master of 100,000 names or one who chanted 64 rounds. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura advised his followers to chant 64 rounds, but insisted his busy leaders must chant at least sixteen. Srila Prabhupada originally proposed that his devotees chant thirty-two rounds, but he then quickly reduced it to sixteen. On several occasions, Srila Prabhupada promised those who chanted sixteen rounds and who followed the four rules to abstain from sinful acts would attain the spiritual kingdom at the end of life. Srila Prabhupada advised if one could not chant his sixteen rounds on one day, he must make up the remaining rounds the next day.
Haridasa Thakura considered, “I am in diseased condition,” when in old age he had difficulty keeping his great vow.
Dhruva performed great austerities, which we cannot imitate, but Srila Prabhupada felt we could follow Dhruva’s spirit of great determination in our own practice of chanting the sixteen rounds and following the four rules, which we were given.
If the dharma is sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name, one may ask why do we chant japa softly on our beads? The answer is because Lord Caitanya and His followers did it.
Many verses explain that in this age, chanting the holy name is the dharma.
This is regulated chanting of japa is our sadhana, or practice of devotion, which is needed to rise to the spontaneous devotion of bhava and prema [love of God].
Japa is the most essential of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions as he mentions in one Caitanya-caritamrita Madhya-lila purport.
How can we improve japa? Here are several ideas:
Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains in Harinama Cintamani that even if one does not commit any offense except inattention, that inattention alone will keep one from attaining love of God. Yet if one still commits other offenses, but can chant with attention, he will become free from all offenses and attain love for God by the power of his attentive chanting.
My experience is that if I try to chant with attention, I will look forward to chanting the next day.
We can increase our japa quota on special days, and that will increase our realization of the power of japa.
We can pray to advance spiritually.
We must attain love for God before we die, otherwise we will have to accept another material body, with all its miseries, and that fact alone can give us the impetus to chant nicely while we can.
You can hear this lecture on Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 7.37 at http://audio.iskcondesiretree.info/index.php?q=f&f=%2F03_-_ISKCON_Prabhujis%2FHis_Grace_Krishna_Kripa_Das
vināśāya ca duskritām
sambhavāmi yuge yuge
“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”—Sri Krishna (Bhagavad-gita 4.8)