Monday, February 07, 2011

Travel Journal#7-1: North Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 1
By Krishna-kripa das

(January 2011, part one)

North Florida

(Sent from Gainesville on February 7, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

After attending the harinama at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, on New Years Day, I spend a week in Tallahassee chanting and promoting our programs there. There had one great harinama at Lake Ella attended by eight devotees, a lot for that small community. Then I returned to Gainesville for most of the rest of the month to chant at the UF campus and teach a new meditation course for students and The Nectar of Devotion course for the new devotees.

I share insights from lectures by Srila Prabhupada, Kalakantha Prabhu, Mother Laksmimoni, Mother Nanda, Puskara Prabhu, and others.

Upcoming Itinerary (Krishna Willing)

Gainesville, FL: February 7–14
Ocala Rainbow Gathering: February 12
Tucson, AZ: February 15–March 16
Gainesville, FL?: March 17–March 29
Tallahassee, FL: March 30–April 3
Gainesville, FL : April 4
Northeast USA: April 5–April 26
London, UK: April 27
Radhadesh: April 28–29
Amsterdam: April 30
UK: June
Scandinavian Ratha-yatras: beginning of July
Prague Ratha-yatra?: mid July
Lithuanian Festival?: last week in July
Poland Woodstock: beginning of August
Croatian Harinama Tour: rest of August
European Kirtana Festival?: last weekend in August?
Ukraine Festival: second week of September
Boston Ratha-yatra and Prabhupada festival?: third week September

Harinama at the Gator Bowl

About thirty-five devotees from Alachua, Gainesville, and Jacksonville attended the New Years Day harinama at the Jacksonville Stadium. I was so happy to see such a nice attendence.

Guru Vagmi Prabhu supplied lots of Chanting Hare Krishna pamplets, Mother Dvijapriya took lots of photos, and Godruma Prabhu and Mother Vishnu Priya provided a nice meal for the devotees after the harinama.

We sang from the parking lot to the stadium.

I chanted, danced, and gave out pamphlets.

As usual some people danced with us.

A few were curious about what we were doing.

It was a great way to start a New Year, doing the yuga dharma, harinama-sankirtana, and at a venue where thousands could hear and become purified!

Harinamas in Tallahassee

I always like to see increases, and on Sunday, January 9, we had a new record attendance for harinama at Lake Ella, eight regular attenders, and five guests. In addition to myself, Dina Bandhu Prabhu, Padma, Pritha, Rafael, Kruti, Stan, and one former attender, who had moved away from Tallahassee, chanted for a couple hours and were joined for half an hour by about five young people from the Quaker meeting, who had come to the lake after their service and who were friends with some of the devotees. One of them asked about purchasing a Journey of Self Discovery. Padma took a video when her sister, Pritha, was leading the chanting. It was a sunny day, but a little cold, being January, and that is why you do not see so many other people there. On the previous day, fewer of us went to chant, but there were more people to interact with because it was warmer.

Click here to see the video:!/video/video.php?v=518874714692

Insights from Lectures

Srila Prabhupada:

We are teaching how to be first-class yogis—chant Hare Krishna and be happy.

The government has a university and a criminal department. The citizen has free choice. He can go to the university or the prison. The government does not canvas, “Please go to the prison.” Still people go. And if you are in the prison, you cannot complain that it is uncomfortable. It is meant to be uncomfortable so the people will understand, “I should not act like that.” And so it is with this material world. We cannot expect this material world to be free from miseries for it is the criminal department of the Lord.

You can ask questions after you are fully surrendered, not before. Otherwise, it will not act.

Nowadays religion is just sentiment. One may change from one religion to another, but the man does not change. Real religion is a change of consciousness—a spiritual education that awakens the love of God that is there in everyone's heart. First-class religion is to accept principles which awaken our love of God.

There are many Indians here in London. Your duty is to take this Krishna consciousness seriously and preach it in these western countries.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

Having goals helps us to progress both spiritually and materially.

Goals should be SMART:






Mother Laksmimoni:

King Yadu could see that the avadhuta brahmana could have made it in the material world but chose not to, so he inquired, why?

The material energy teaches us positively and negatively, so we can learn to avoid the modes of material nature.

The brahmana learned from the trees and mountains to use one's resources to benefit others.

At first when I had the stroke, I couldn't speak and I fell over. Then I wasn't thinking about anything, but once I got to the hospital everything reminded me of Krishna. The doctor was Indian and talked about Krishna. The nurse was a devotee and talked about Krishna. The Indian lady who took blood was eating lugloos. When I went into surgery, I gave someone the mantra to chant if things went wrong. That person told me how he met devotees on the plane yesterday, and how his daughter ate Krishna Lunch and was curious about Krishna.

In the hospital there was a ninety-old lady who had a ninety-year-old boyfriend, a childhood sweetheart with whom she was reunited after many decades. It was the talk of the floor. But for me it, was like a story from the Bhagavatam illustrating the power and illusion of material attachment in a most graphic way.

The saintly person is like water who cleanses everywhere.

Inattention toward a saintly person can burn like a fire.

The moon is not affected by its waning and waxing as we are not affected by the good times and bad times in this world. The material world will go on in its own way, and we are powerless to change that, but we will continue to exist through all the changes.

From the pigeon story we can learn that excessive attachment causes us to lose our discrimination. Unfortunately, we lose our consciousness by so many diversions like TV, etc.

Krishna has created the material world with enough bitterness so we can realize it is not a very nice place. One reason we avoid intoxication as devotees is so we do not filter out the bitterness [and thus fail to learn the important lesson that this world is miserable].

Nothing in the material world is inherently good or bad; it is neutral, but if we can engage it in Krishna's service, we should accept it and thus engage it.

Q: We emphasize detachment, but how can that practically be there within relationships without there being neglect.

A: Affection is natural, so to pretend it does not exist is artificial. The challenge is how to keep affection under control, so affection does not cloud our intelligence. If exchanges of love become a diversion, than it is a problem, but exchanges of love can be had with Krishna in the center and then it is progressive for spiritual advancement.

Mother Nanda:

There is very little freedom: just our choice of the material or spiritual energies.

Besides Krishna, what friend would accompany you as you descend to species like dogs and insects and remain your well-wisher?

If you ignore Krishna's warnings from within not to do stupid things, He gives you fewer and fewer such warnings because you cover Him with your nonsense desires. If you pay attention to Krishna's guidance, He will give you more guidance.

Srila Prabhupada explains that bhakti-yoga is so powerful that once one starts it, he will ultimately attain perfection.

Comment by Kalakantha Prabhu: We must practice counting our blessings. We may have 99 good things happening and just one bad thing, yet we are only focused on the bad thing. It takes two weeks to break a bad habit and another two weeks to establish a new one.

Puskara Prabhu:

At Advaita Acarya's house all food preparations that are known in Bengali and Orissa were offered to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

When devotees would get absorbed in chanting “Haribol,” Srila Prabhupada would say, “What are they chanting this 'Haribol'? They should chant Hare Krishna.”

People are attracted by our chanting and dancing. Srila Prabhupada would say they are advertising bliss everywhere. It is what they are looking for in their bars, etc., but it in its original pure feature in kirtana.

We read that.prayala, or devestation, is symptomized by a mixture of happiness and distress without any sense of either of them. If we are think I am experiencing a mixture of happiness and distress without being conscious of them, then we are pretending.

Anyone who sees that to this day Lord Caitanya's pastimes are still going on is most fortunate.

Lord Caitanya considered Himself ignorant, but felt by the association of His devotees, He was able to gain some valuable understanding.

Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu [from a meeting about Sadaputa Prabhu's work]:

The atheists say that the appearance of design is actually a product of chance. But someone could just as easily say that the appearance of chance is actually by design.

Rabid atheists are often just as simplistic as rabid creationists. They are two simplistic ideological extremes that feed off each other.

Yugala Kisora Prabhu:

We have faith in our parents, our teachers, in city officials, etc., why then can we not have faith in God?

We do not need great resources to perform devotional service. If we have nothing to give, we can give ourselves.

We cannot understand Krishna. He has to be experienced.

Our faith is transcendental when we have faith in nothing of this material world.

Everyone is looking for a resting place, the scientists, the sense gratifiers, the devotees. That resting place is Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada explains that the first symptom of a devotee is freedom from fear. We do not fear anything because nothing is lost. Sometimes we have a dream, and we are in a fearful situation. But then we realize we are in a dream, and we realize we just have to wait and it will be over.

We have to have experience in devotional life in order to give it to others. If we are doubtful, we cannot give it to others.

When I was undergoing a big upheaval in my life, someone told me, “You are not the first person to experience this and you will not be the last.”

Krishna Sharana Prabhu:

Krishna is with us, not just for one life, but life after life. Even though we take what He gives us, and use it for our own purposes, life after life, He still accompanies us. How compassionate is Krishna!

Patanjali lists the powers attained through yoga in chapter three of his yoga sutras, but in the first verse of the fourth chapter he mentions they can be attained by other means.

Formerly in debate, if you lost, then you had to become the disciple of the victor, and your disciples also became the disciples of the victor.

Sankaracarya was debating the leader of the mimamsakas and the wife of the man he was debating used an analogy involving mundane romance which he could not understand as a lifelong brahmacari. He asked to put the debate on hold for 100 days, and by his mystic power, he entered the body of a recently deceased hedonistic king and engaged in studying Kama-sutra in the day and applying his knowledge in relationships with women at night, and thus he came to understanding the meaning of the analogy. Then he returned to his former body and won the debate.

Although we neglect Krishna life after life, He does not become angry because He is not proud. He does not think, “I have so many transcendental qualifications. How is it this rascal does not care for Me?”

Pride jeopardizes the many achievements we may have made, so we have to be careful.


ataeva āmi ājñā diluń sabākāre
yāhāń tāhāń prema-phala deha' yāre tāre

[Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said,] “Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krishna consciousness movement [the fruit of love of Godhead] and distribute it everywhere.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 9.36)