Thursday, March 17, 2011

Travel Journal#7.4: Tucson

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 4
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2011, part two)
(Sent from Gainesville on March 17, 2011)

[Note: My computer crashed, so I am skipping Volume 7, Numbers 2 and 3, the end of January and beginning of February 2011, until I recover the data, Krishna willing.]

Where I Was and What I Did

The end of February, I was in Tucson, where I would chant for three hours daily at a book table on the mall at University of Arizona. I would advertise my weekly Tuesday lectures near the campus on topics from Bhagavad-gita, as well as advertising Hare Krishna temple programs and Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet, and trying to interest students in buying Srila Prabhupada’s books. I also helped with programs for students at the temple and our participation in the the Tucson Peace Fair.

I share notes from lectures, Hare Krishna videos, and books that were striking in some way. These include those by Srila Prabhupada, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, Dasaratha Prabhu, Mother Sandamini, Jaya Kesava, Gangeya, and other local devotees. The videos were one on life of Srila Bhaktisiddhana Saravati Thakura, and remembrances of an early San Francisco Ratha-yatra.

Tentative Itinerary

Gainesville, FL: March 17–March 25
St. Augustine Ratha-yatra: March 26
Tallahassee, FL: March 27–April 3 (including Ratha-yatra on April 2)
Gainesville, FL : April 4
Northeast USA: April 5–April 26
London, UK: April 27
Radhadesh: April 28–29
Amsterdam: April 30

Antwerp, Amsterdam, Cologne: May 1–11
Munich: May 12–14
(May 12: harinama with Sacinandana Swami, May 14: Ratha-yatra)
Nrsimha Festival, Simhachalam, Germany, May 15–16
Belfast: May 17–31
UK: June
Scandinavian Ratha-yatras: beginning of July
Prague Ratha-yatra?: mid July
Lithuanian Festival?: last week in July
Poland Woodstock: August 1–6
Croatian Harinama Tour: rest of August
The Kirtana Mela Festival (Leipzig): August 29–September 4
Ukraine Festival?: second week of September
Boston Ratha-yatra and Prabhupada festival: September 17–18

Philadelphia Ratha-yatra: September 24

School Kids Visit Tucson Temple on Nityananda Tryaodasi

Perhaps fifteen or so first graders visited the Tucson temple on the afternoon of Lord Nityananda’s appearance day. We taught them to chant the maha-mantra. Some did better than others, as distraction is a problem for kids that age. At Tucson temple they have so many extra instruments like tambourines, gongs, shakers, and karatalas that any kid who wanted to could play one. I taught the kids the swami step, a simple dance Srila Prabhupada taught the early devotees. I was surprised how quickly they caught on. Then we did some more elaborate dancing, including jumping up and down. Almost everyone was very enthusiastic to dance. It really made my day seeing all those kids smiling and dancing in the kirtana. It was my first day back in Tucson, and because of the festival schedule and the visit of the kids, I did not have time to chant at the campus. However, I was able chant with the kids and share with them the happiness of dancing for Krishna. And that was Lord Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy on me and on them.

College Programs in Tucson

My first lecture called “Real Happiness is Within” was advertised as being on the philosophy of yoga and meditation. Two girls who were best friends came from seeing the poster I left in the cafĂ© where I was holding the lecture. Also a girl who offered to be an officer in our club from last semester came as well. The new girls applied themselves nicely to the chanting of japa and became more and more in enthusiastic in the kirtana as time went on. I encouraged them to chant daily for ten minutes, and one of them came by my book table and said she is chanting when she does her two-mile daily run for exercise.

Professor Darlene Martin, the Asian religions teacher at Pima Community College who invited us to speak in her class last semester, brought her class to the temple for Bhagavad-gita class one Wednesday. We had kirtana before and after the class as usual, and a few of the students tried the chanting. One boy, with no previous experience chanted for the whole kirtana. Another student kept perfect time with a percussion instrument we let him play. In the talk, beyond explaining about the soul, God, and their relationship, I mentioned how although Hinduism is considered polytheistic, in Bhagavad-gita, the text that practically all Hindus accept, Krishna says that those who worship other gods, actually worship only Him, but in the wrong way, and therefore, in fact, monotheistic worship is recommended.

Tucson Peace Fair

The Tucson Peace Center organized a peace fair in Reid Park on Saturday, February 26. Bhakta James was in charge of the Hare Krishna participation in it. The local Hare Krishnas, along with visitors like myself and Jaya Kesava Prabhu, got to sing for 40 minutes on the stage. Not being selected to sing or speak, nor eager to play the instruments, I contributed by dancing. A few people from the crowd danced in front of the stage, some even chanted, an older man played his African djembe, and some people took pictures. While dancing, I noted those who participated, and after the performance I thanked them and gave them invitations to the temple and Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet.

Before and after our time on the stage, I chanted on the path between the parking lot and the Peace Fair, talking with some people who passed by. Ananta Deva Prabhu accompanied me before our performance. Govinda’s Natural Foods Buffet is popular in Tucson, and so the devotees have a good reputation. Some people passing me on their way out after the program said they had liked our chanting on the stage. One older man asked if he could sing with me, and after singing three mantras, he presented me with a peace button, saying I could keep it if I wore it, which I promised to do.

The devotees distributed 200 free mini granola bars, and sold two trays of cake for $2 a piece. We learned that event is a great opportunity for prasadam distribution, and perhaps in future years we will increase. We also had invitations, and books and items from our gift shop for sale.

Because my mother is a peace activist, I felt more at home in that crowd than in many places in the material world. I wish I had the chance to speak to the them, as I could have talked about how the holy name can free us of the selfish tendencies that lead to war, and that a simple act of peace anyone can perform is to become vegetarian. The karma for killing animals is so heavy that meat eaters can only dream of peace but never experience it.

Insight from Lectures

Srila Prabhupada:

Up until five thousand years ago, the earth was ruled by many kings under one emperor whose capital city was Hastinapura.

One of the grandsons of King Pariksit ruled Eastern Europe, Greece, and Rome.

Now there are no brahmana, ksatriyas, or vaisyas, only sudras. Guided by sudras, no one can be happy. Giving up meat eating, intoxications, illicit sex, and gambling are the preliminary qualifications of a brahmana.

Brahmanas are the head of the social body, ksatriyas are the arms, vaisyas are the belly, and sudras are the legs. If you have a body with just arms, belly, and legs, you have a dead body. Similarly, a society without brahmanas is a dead society.

Seeing all as equal and being gentle are traits of the learned.

Lord Caitanya does not say only chant Krishna’s name. If you have another name of God, you can chant it.

Chant Hare Krishna and take as much prasadam [spiritual food] as possible. Simply by engaging the tongue in this way, your consciousness will become purified, and you will able to perceive Krishna.

From a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 4.13:

An animal is also a national, but they [the materialistic people] cannot see so broadly. By karma we create the next body. This is a great science. But there is no cultivation of this knowledge in the universities.

Science cannot solve the real problems–birth, death, disease, and old age.

If I take to this process of becoming free from birth, death, disease, and old age, my human life is successful.

People are so attached to the material body, they are prepared to become animals, but they are not prepared to go back to Godhead.

If we think this head is very expensive, always eating, let me cut it off, that is foolish. Similarly we cannot eliminate the brahmana class [the head of the social body]. A brahmana is one who knows God and teaches others how to know God. If there are no brahmanas, we have only an animal society.

If you take up this Krishna consciousness, your nation will be first class in the world.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami from his Qualities of Sri Krishna:

“A good way to demonstrate forgiveness is to continue to give people Krishna consciousness despite their ingratitude. This is the preacher’s mood. Although there are so many reasons why we may want to reject the nondevotees, a devotee displays forgiveness by continuing to preach.”

Dasaratha Prabhu:

To go beyond birth and death, first we have to understand we are not the body.

Krishna wanted Arjuna to understand two things:
  1. Krishna’s desire would be executed, and Arjuna’s job was to play his part.
  2. We are all eternal.

A devotee is tolerant of his own suffering but not the suffering of others. Srila Prabhupada said, “The devotees first business is to stop violence.”

In a class given in Alachua, Trivikrama Swami said that he was attracted by the philosophy, the complete dedication of the devotees, and the prasadam.

Rewakening our dormant love of God is the goal of human life, but it is not even on the agenda of the president of the United Nations.

If we did not have this restaurant (Govinda’s Natural Food Buffet in Tucson), no one would come here. Prasadam attracts people.

Devotional service—how to engage everything in Krishna’s service, beginning with our own body and mind.

Srila Prabhupada said that the residents of Vrndavana attained it after thousands of lives austerities, and after life in Vrndavana, they get to go back to Godhead, and thus they are happy.

How to be happy in Krishna consciousness? Follow and don’t criticize devotees, or you will lose your taste.

We are more blessed than the Vrajavasis because we have the opportunity to preach.

Mother Sandamini dd:

Perhaps the oldest Srila Prabhupada disciple, Vraja Vadhu dd, in San Diego, now 95 or 96, sometimes complains that all these young people are dying, while she is still dragging on [in an increasingly uncomfortable body].

From The Universal Teacher, a video about the life of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:

At age seven, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura helped edit his father’s periodical, Sajjana Tosani, began the worship of a Kurma deity, and received harinama initiation from his father.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura defeated the Aryan Samaj’s mistaken idea that Lord Caitanya was not an incarnation of both Radha and Krishna.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did not like his disciples living at Radha Kunda as that is for the highest level of devotees. He preferred they live at Govardhan instead.

He said life is meant for service and sacrifice to Krishna.

If we die while doing kirtana, our life is successful.

Notes on San Francisco Ratha-yatra Memories video:

There was almost a disaster because no one checked on the mechanism for raising and lowering the dome on the cart, thinking that Nara-narayana Prabhu must have handled it, until Srila Prabhupada asked about it. Then Srila Prabhupada commented that no one should be completely in charge of anything. There should always be a committee. Otherwise there might be some mistake.

Brahmananda Prabhu and others did not want Srila Prabhupada to go on the Ratha-yatra because the Black Panthers had threatened to attack the devotees. Srila Prabhupada, however, was unafraid, and insisted on going. The devotees had to battle it out when the Black Panthers did attack.

Srila Prabhupada said that for the pleasure of the deities there should always be an ecstatic dancer.

Srila Prabhupada did not like the amplified kirtana in the cart but in front of the cart, as in India.

Srila Prabhupada told the hipples that they had rejected their society because they were dissatisfied with it, but unless they took to Krishna consciousness, they would attain a worse position.

Radhapada Prabhu:

Fighting is everywhere in the material world, and so are lust and greed. This is because of the mixing of the modes of material nature.

Daiva netrena” means everything is watched by the eyes of the divine.

Jaya Kesava Prabhu:

For me, the Ninth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is so far out it is like the soap opera canto. So many people taking birth in various ways…

Cursing and counter cursing as been going on since time immemorial. Vasistha said, “Since you disobeyed me, I curse you to die.” And King Nimi replied, “Because you are a self-interested guru, I curse you to die.” Just like someone says, “Your dress is ugly.” And the object of the criticism replies, “Your dress is even uglier.”

It is a given that the material body is miserable. It is just a question of who we are going to accept the misery for. For the devotee, it is Krishna.

The devotee does not worry because if Krishna sends him back to the material world to preach, he will not be affected by the material nature.

The moment we forget Krishna, Maya attacks.

We say that a devotee died and went back to Godhead, but a pure devotee is already back to Godhead in this life.

Although Bhakti Tirtha Swami was becoming more emaciated each day, he was so absorbed in hearing and chanting about Krishna, he told Radhanatha Swami, “It does not get better than this.”

Gangeya Prabhu:

Studies show that consumers, although knowing all the facts and figures, still tend to buy according to their emotions.

In Vedic culture, seeing the great power of the demigods, persons who were unaware of the supreme power of Krishna would take shelter of those demigods.

During a lecture someone interrupted Srila Prabhupada challengingly, “What is the value of this chanting?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “It saves you from death.”

There was a minister who retired after a long career. In his retirement, he did not even read the Bible. When asked, “Why not?” He replied, “I am retired.”

Jai Nitai Prabhu:

From a Sunday feast lecture:

Whatever the other choice, a devotee wants to choose Krishna.

If we hate the material, we remain trapped in duality.

I became a vegetarian before becoming a devotee. Just to kill an animal because I liked the taste of its flesh seemed a bit extreme.

How our intense desire for Krishna manifests is ultimately up to Krishna.

When you die, you get a new body, just like when you crack up your car, you get a new car. Still no one cracks up their car to get a new one. Suppose you got a car from your parents. If you crack it up, they may get you another one, but what are the odds that they will get you a better car, especially if you purposely cracked up the first one.

From a seminar on improving communication in communities:

Share all relevant information with those we are leading, including thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

Telling a person why we are asking them to do something makes for a better interaction.

Give people all information needed to make an informed choice.

Make sure the group of people agrees on important terms.

The more decisions are cooperatively made, the more commitment will be there by the group members.

Use decision making rules that generate the level of commitment needed.

From a Bhagavatam class:

The tendency of children still is to follow their parents, as it was in the Vedic culture, but now sometimes they excel them. There was one girl who was home schooled by her mom, in the cab of the truck she drove to make a living. The girl ended up graduating from Harvard.

The advanced devotees see the paraphernalia surrounding them to be Krishna’s property to be engaged in Krishna’s service.

It is not so much that we are trying to give up things, but rather we are trying to come to a point where we can take things or leave them according to Krishna’s desire.

Comments by Radhapada Prabhu:

The people who are always talking about what they gave to the temple are not really doing tyaga [renunciation].

You can engage in artificial renunciation by giving up something you are still attached to, but there is no such thing as artificial detachment. You are either detached, or you are not.

Ananta Deva Prabhu:

There was a women who had meditated regularly for ten years at Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas. One day she bumped her head on the ceiling, not realizing she had levitated during her meditation. She was so startled by the experience, she gave up meditation altogether.

Geno Prabhu:

One merchant possessing a valuable diamond, due to circumstance, had to share a hotel room with a thief. After they had slept for a few hours, the thief said, “I know you have a valuable diamond, but I could not find it in your pants, your shirt, or anywhere!” The merchant replied, “I knew you were eager to obtain my jewel ,so I hid it in a place you would never look—your own pocket.”


“The name of Krishna is purely spiritual. There is no knowledge as great as that of the name, and no practice of austerity or meditation, no result of spiritual activity, no form of renunciation, no act of sense control, no pious act, and no goal that can match it. The name is supreme liberation, the supreme destination, and the supreme peace. The name is eternal life itself. The name is supreme devotion and the supreme intelligence. The name is supreme love and the supreme remembrance. The name is the soul’s reason for existence. The name is the lord of the soul, the most worshipful object, and the supreme guru.” (Agni Purana, quoted in Nama Rahasya by Sacinandana Swami)