Friday, May 13, 2011

Travel Journal#7.8: Northeast USA and Europe

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 8

By Krishna-kripa das
(April 2011, part two)
Princeton, Philly, NYC, London, Radhadesh, Amsterdam
(Sent from Munich, Germany, on May 13, 2011)

Where I Was and What I Did

I went to Princeton with the Bhakti Center devotees where we heard a great discussion between Radhanath Swami and Cornel West. Then I continued to Philadelphia where I did harinama every day and one Sunday Feast lecture. I also took my niece to Govinda’s in Philly, where she and a friend enjoyed their famed vegetarian “chicken” cheese steak. I spend two days doing harinama in New York City, and one day doing two lectures and a harinama in Central London. I was happily surprised to see more devotees and more guests there in our Soho center than before. I think Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara are fulfilling the devotees prayers for more assistants. Then I went to Kadamda Kanana Swami’s Vyasa Puja at Radhadesh, where a lot of realizations, knowledge and devotional sentiments were shared about the guru-disciple relationship. I ended the month by attending the Queen’s Day maha-harinama for the fourth time. I share some nice realizations by Srila Prabhupada, Candrasekhara Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, Ravinda Svarupa Prabhu, Kadamba Kanana Swami and other devotees.

East Meets West at Princeton University
(Discussion Between Radhanath Swami and Cornel West)


The discussion was sponsored by a variety of student groups, Hindu, Christian, academic, etc.


Vinit Chandra [Vyenkata Bhatta] (leader of the club which was the main sponsor): Two persons who serve as guides and role models for me, I bring together, to share with you. They each have written memoirs, and while reading them, there were amazing experiences that seem to be too good to be true, and I had to set the book down, and say to myself, “Did this really happen?” They gave me faith in the existence of miracles.


Rev. Paul Raushenbush: When we talk of East meeting West, sometimes it is not such a delicious fusion in that sometimes differences are amplified. It is exciting they have written autobiographies and thus it is not abstract but actually lived lives. They have been in the street and in the academy.


Rev. Raushenbush asked each to speak on God, love, and spiritual activism from their own traditions for ten or fifteen minutes each, and they could decide who would go first. Cornel West urged Radhanatha Swami to go first.


Radhanatha Swami:


There were four or five of us poor people in a tea stall in Afghanistan. An incident that happened there that changed my life. An incredibly poor teenager, with blind eyes, swollen and discolored, with a makeshift instrument, came in and sang the glories of God, for almost an hour with an incredibly sweet voice, and as he sang, he become more and more illuminated with joy. He was the happiest person I had seen until that time in my life. I was taught that money and power obtained by education was life’s goal. Now I was questioning that.  I recalled the words of contemporary thinkers. Martin Luther King said, “It is ironic. We have guided missiles, but misguided men.” Gandhi said, “We should be the change we want to see in the world.” Still I saw within myself seeds of the same things that plague the world, and concluded that until we purify ourselves we cannot help the world. After studying many traditions, I came across the path of bhakti.


I was impressed one verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, text 1.2.6, “The supreme occupational duty [dharma] for all of mankind is that by which one can attain to loving service unto the transcendent Lord. Such service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.” I recalled one teaching I had heard. “Until we have an ideal we are willing to die for, we have nothing else to live for.” True religion is selfless love of God and every living being. True wisdom is to see that life is sacred, not just human life, but animal life and plant life as well. Every living entity is an eternal servant of God. God is the father of life. Para-duhkha duhkhi and para-sukha-sukhi, to take pain in another’s distress and to rejoice in another’s happiness, are traits of the realized soul. We are sacred children of the one supreme truth. To live by that principle is the goal of life. Brooker T. Washington, “I will not allow anyone to degrade my soul by causing me to hate him.”


In Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada said, “Everything can be spiritualized.” When we all things are God’s property and use it that way, we can be agents for real change.


Dr. West, in your book, you say, “Pleasure, property and power corrupt us.”

This principle of a spiritual foundation is most essential.


Srila Prabhupada came from India to America in 38 days on a cargo ship. When a journalist said, “We have so many religions here. Why have you come?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “To remind you of the essence of religion: to love God and to and love others. Spiritual activism is the expression of an enlightened being. We can be empowered to help people when we truly care. After reading Dr. West’s book, I concluded that although we are so different, we are nonetheless soul brothers.


I spoke to an assembly of Indian accountants, and after my speech one spoke up and said, “Everything you have said is completely useless. If everyone became a swami, like you, who would grow the food, who would run the government, etc.?” He got an applause that lasted two minutes, and I wondered what I would say to that, so I prayed to Krishna. Then I said if everyone became an accountant, who would grow the food, who would run the government, etc? We all have different skills, and all are important. Just like in the body, the different organs are necessary for it to function. Thus farmers, statements, accountants, and even swamis have a role to play. Hearing this they all applauded, even longer than before.


Cornel West:


He [Radhanath Swami] is a militant for tenderness.


Justice is what love looks like in public. Tenderness is what love looks like in private.


I have got much to learn about sentient beings. I am a Christian jazz man, and more familiar lamenting for losing some girl or guy.


We are bewildered so much weapons of mass distraction.


I like Radhanath Swami; he does not give a sermon about humility; he just is humble. Once we had a seminar at Princeton on civility, but why not just be civil?


There is no Christian tradition without the rich Jewish tradition.


Formerly in America it was against the law for black man to worship God without white supervision.


It does not make any sense to love your enemy, unless you are backed by a power greater than yourself.


How do we convince the Princeton students that to be the smartest person in the class and to be the richest person is not the goal?


We are morally constipated, and even if we do know what is right, it won’t flow.

We are spiritually malnourished.


You think you are well equipped with your Princeton degree, and then your mother dies. How are able to handle that?


Question by Rev. Raushenbush to both: Share something unique in your tradition.


Cornel West:


My question is why did Socrates not cry and Jesus not laugh?

Krishna does laugh and dance? Doesn’t He? [Radhanath Swami replies, “Yes.”]        

B. B. King sang, “Nobody loves me but my mother and she might be jiving too.”

[Radhanath Swami interjects, “I talked to your mom, and she loves you.”]

We are all unique souls.


Radhanatha Swami:


Na dhanam na janam… Lord Caitanya advises not to seek after wealth, popularity, or an intimate relationship with the opposite sex, but rather He stresses selfless service. Selfless service is a way to express love of God through our actions. God has His all-pervading feature, and His aspect within the heart, but His feature as the supreme person is most complete. The idea of having an intimate relationship with the supreme person I found unique and attractive.


What attracted me is the Krishna likes music.


Question by Rev. Raushenbush: How do you address the existence of evil.


Cornel West:


The existence of evil. That sounds too textbookish for me.

Even if you have everything, there is still psychic suffering.


Radhanatha Swami:


Evil is darkness and good is light. If we turn to the sun, we see light, if we turn away from sun, we see darkness. Today there is light and dark in all our hearts. Bhakti Tirtha Swami told me on his deathbed to write my autobiography. I said, “Is it not an act of arrogance to write about yourself?” He replied, “Not if your writing can help others to realize themselves. Then it would arrogant not to write.” He said there are two dogs in our hearts, a good dog and a bad dog, and they are fighting. The dog that will win is the dog that we choose to feed by the choices we make in life.


Question by Rev. Raushenbush to both of them: How can we maintain God consciousness in our studies?


Cornel West:


I think that has already been answered. We have to feed the right dog!

We do not put a premium on courage but complicity and conformity.

The dominant paradigm is “to be adjusted to injustice.”


Radhanatha Swami:


Balance is crucial for living in this world and not of this world. The Bhagavad-gita taught how to keep divine ideals on a battlefield, the most unlikely place.  We can take shelter of the Lord and try to be in an instrument of the Lord in any capacity. If someone is so absorbed in the athletics or academics that they cannot eat or sleep, how long can it last? Similarly we have give time for a spiritual practice, to go to a spiritual place, to connect with spiritual people, and in this way have a spiritual foundation for our life.


In India, I had a friend Narayan, who had a Moslem friend, Mohammed, who was his best friend. They would share realizations sincerely for an hour a day from their traditions. I asked Narayana how is it that you are from such different traditions, traditions that have been in conflict for centuries, yet you are such good friends? He said, “A dog will recognize the master in any way the master dresses. If we cannot recognize our supreme master when He comes to other people in another dress, we have so much to learn from the dog.”


After the discussion concluded, and as people were rising to leave, a respectable, older lady sitting near me asked me to quote one verse Radhanath Swami mentioned in the lecture. From her paraphrase of it, I understood it to be the fourth verse of the Siksastaka, the eight verses of instruction left by Lord Caitanya, and so I gave her a translation of it, and my email, if she had any more questions. That is certainly a victory that a respectable senior lady was inquiring about theSiksastaka as a result of Radhanath Swami’s presentation.


I think it was clear from the discussion both spiritual leaders had great admiration for each other, and I think many attendees were impressed with Radhanath Swami’s presentation, so much so that they would probably come to hear him speak again.


The Daily Princetonian ran the following article on the discussion the next day:


Philadelphia Harinamas


I chanted at Rittenhouse Square Wednesday through Friday myself during the afternoon, in addition to the advertised Friday evening and Saturday afternoon chanting. The first two days were sunny and many people were out. One young lady caught the plate I was using for donations when the wind blew it away. Turned out she was studying yoga, liked the maha-sandesa I gave her, and gave a donation. Another was sitting near where I was playing for half an hour, so I thought she might be favorable. She asked about veganism. I explained that because there was cruelty in the dairy industry, I could understand people becoming vegan, but it is God’s arrangement that cows give more milk than their calves need, and that is meant for human society. Krishna spent his youth as a cowherd boy, so we are not vegan. I asked if she was vegan. She said not, and that she worked on a diary farm. She expressed interest in coming to the temple. She also invited me on a march protesting against fracking, a kind of natural gas prospecting which damages the environment. As it turned out the march came through the park when I was chanting on Saturday, so I joined the parade and distributed some prasadam to the participants and talked to some about the spiritual cause of environmental problems. Another time while I was walking back to Govinda’s from the park and singing on the way, one girl said “Hare Krishna” to me in great happiness. I asked how she knew the devotees, and she explained she knew about kirtana from a local yoga studio run by a devotee where they have kirtana. She also said she would like to come to the temple and check it out. I met a guy named Mike, who comes often to the Sunday feast. He sat down and listened to the kirtana for half an hour. Once a photographer named Ashly Kim took some pictures of me chanting at Rittenhouse Square, including the one above, which she kindly sent me.


I just met a lot of nice people in Philadelphia and that reminded me of the meaning of its name, the city of brotherly love.


The scheduled harinamas I did with other people did not turn out as nicely as I hoped as the weather was bad both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. For Friday night, three other devotees came with me anyway, and we found the entrance way to a business that was closed which sheltered us from the intermittent rain. I was happy to see the devotees were enthusiastic enough to come out in spite of the poor weather conditions. Saturday I was alone as it sky looked like rain might fall at any moment, and no one wanted to chance it.


The best harinama was the one we decided to do at U. Penn on Sunday, before the feast, with about eight devotees mostly students attending. One boy was so enthusiastic that he stayed out till 2:00 p.m., just two hours before his international flight to New Zealand. Most of the devotees were students of an Indian background, and they all had a great time chanting at the campus.


I would hand out temple invitations, getting people’s attention by smiling and saying, “Yoga? Meditation?” One girl stopped, and I was explaining that we taught the yoga of devotion. She inquired, “Is this bhakti?” I said, “Yes,” marveling that now society has been educated to the point where people you meet on the street know about bhakti. Manasi, a young Indian student who lives near the temple, is a leader of the campus club and was enthusiastic to arrange the harinama. She told me about one passerby who inquired about our chanting party, saying, “Is this bhajan?” Hare Krishna terminology is catching on more than I had realized in America.


I thank the three devotees who came out in the rain on Friday, and those on Sunday at U. Penn who chanted there and who thus made my trip to Philly a success.


Kadamba Kanana Swami’s Vyasa Puja


Different senior devotees and disciples offered some words of praise, and often Kadamba Kanana Swami would make a few comments after them. These are just very few things that were said, and not always the most important, but I can only write so much. Sometimes I reorder my notes, listing the senior people first, but here I just follow the original flow.


Samba Prabhu:


I find seeing Kadamba Kanana Swami as a guru and sannyasi to be very inspiring. When I worked with him in the Samadhi in Mayapur, I saw him as a very efficient householder administrator, but didn’t think he would become a sannyasi.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


When taking care of the godbrothers of my guru, Jayadvaita Swami, I realize that from a lifetime of service, they have become treasure houses of transcendental potency. It is my wish that you also become treasure houses of transcendental potency.


Rupa Sanatana Prabhu:


Rupa Sanatana praised Kadamba Kanana Swami  for being a public hermit, with an exemplary sadhana, chanting whenever he gets a chance, while also manifesting the generosity of preacher, using time to help others.


Krishna-kripa Das:


Vasudeva Prabhu and Sad-bhunja Prabhu, the moderators of the Vyasa Puja event, asked if I wanted to say anything. I consider Kadamba Kanana Swami an instructing guru, especially when it comes to preaching in Europe. I made some notes quickly while others spoke. I am not sure if I said everything I wrote down, but these are my notes, with some elaboration.


First I glorified Jayadvaita Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami’s guru, for his steadiness in devotional service and his wonderful lectures. I met Jayadvaita Swami in 1979 when I was a new devotee in New York. At that time, we had a special lecture on Sunday during the feast program for those who were more interested in Krishna consciousness and that was given by Jayadvaita Swami. Some of the new devotees, the bhaktas, would serve the prasadam meal after the class, and so we also got to hear the lecture. For me, hearing Jayadvaita Swami, and serving the favorable people prasadam was the perfection of life. I loved his Bhagavad-gita classes. I praised Kadamba Kanana Swami for his choice of such an exemplary guru as Jayadvaita Swami.


I met Kadamba Kanana Swami when I was taking the bhakti-sastri course in Mayapur. I remember that once he told us that now we had been living in the holy dhama of Mayapur for several weeks that we probably realized it was our real home. That was my feeling, and I was encouraged to hear him express it. He led wonderful parikramas on many of the Saturdays while teaching in Mayapur, and we loved hearing his kirtanas and realizations.


When Kadamba Kanana Swami gives classes I always learn a lot and have a lot to share with others in my journal.


A real sadhu is someone who by his association you experience practically an increase in your devotional service, and Kadamba Kanana Swami is such a sadhu, expanding my program of outreach in many ways.


He invited me to come to Queen’s Day back in 2008, and I have come each year, and even wrote a Back to Godheadarticle about it.


He also got me involved in doing harinama and lecturing in Switzerland over the last couple of years, and he encouraged me to go to the less visited areas of the United Kingdom, outside of London.


He kindly invited me to South Africa, paying my ticket, and engaging me in writing about the different ways the devotees there are sharing Krishna with others.


There are different special qualities that advanced devotees have that are striking. I am impressed with Kadamba Kanana Swami for being a staunch sadhaka (spiritual practitioner), committed to going back to Godhead.


He is a person of integrity, and he inspires integrity in others. He is very friendly and very practical.


I love his enthusiasm for the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord. The extra kirtana he did at the end of the stage show after the Prague Ratha-yatra made it my favorite of all the Ratha-yatra festivals last summer.


I mentioned how Kadamba Kanana Swami was saying we needed a thousand sannyasis to spread the mission all over the world, and that one of my Godbrothers encouraged me in sannyasa and Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami approved. I suggested that Kadamba Kanana Swami could aid in the transformation of this spaced out brahmacari into a sannyasi.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


Sannyasa means “I am not just going to live for myself, but I am going to give myself for the welfare of others.” Of course, we have are looking for responsibility in whatever ashram one is in. The biggest problem in the marriages, in most cases, is that the men are irresponsible.


Mother Svaha of Pretoria, South Africa:


I hope Krishna gives you at least twenty more years because it will take me that long to get to the platform you want be to be on.


Working for the government of South Africa, I really see degradation perhaps more than anyone else. Srila Prabhupada said there really is no United Nations, and he was speaking the truth. Now more than ever, I realize that Krishna consciousness is the real solution.


Sacinandana Swami:


I will speak as a friend. It is valuable to see the different kinds of relationships a great personality has.


I appreciate that Kadamba Kanana Swami is a genuine seeker who is desirous of doing what is necessary to go back to Godhead.


He is exemplary among the older devotees for sacrificing his life and energy. I appreciate his honesty in sharing his thoughts.


The stories he tells make important and relevant points in his lectures.


He once said in a lecture, “If you come to Krishna consciousness, come to stay. Burn your old cloth.”


I want for him excellent health, the support of Lord Balarama, the protection of Lord Nrsimha, attraction to Radha Krishna in Vrindavan, and good disciples to relieve his burden of service, so he can write of Lord Caitanya.


I could talk much more about Maharaja, but he would feel embarrassed, and I do not want to do that on his birthday.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


Sacinandana Swami says, “Listen my dear devotees very carefully, for I am going to tell you something very valuable.” And then he shares his deep thoughts.


The devotees make us want to do the sacrifice for Krishna.


Mother Sukhayanti from Israel:


Forgive me for being emotional, matajis like to cry.


You are not just speaking exemplary words, but you are living them. We want to live it [the life of a Krishna conscious person] too. By your living it, you make us want to live it to.


You do not make it smooth or beautiful, maybe by your jokes you make it easier to accept. You do not compromise. You want perfection and ask for it.


You are really my spiritual father.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


Thank you for remaining fixed. Sometimes we have preaching opportunities and sometimes not, but we remain fixed, and that will bear fruit.


Yudhisthira Prabhu from Norway:


I am nervous, but I would rather be nervous than overconfident.


Reading his journal from his travel in summer 2010 with Kadamba Kanana Swami: Kadamba Kanana Swami said that Srila Prabhupada was great because of his devotion for Krishna. His instruction to drink milk is perfect. The spiritual benefit the cows get from our offering their milk for Krishna exceeds the vegans attempts to benefit them by material calculation.


Mother Ragalehka of Capetown:


It is a easily task to glorify you because of your many glorious qualities, but it is also a difficult task because the extent of them.


Vasudeva Prabhu: The servant of the guru is serving him on behalf of the other disciples.


A personal servant of Maharaja:


Kadamba Kanana Swami did not like my policy of petting the temple cats. Once when I was caught in the act, I defended myself by saying that I saw Indradyumna Swami petting a cat with his foot. Kadamba Kanana Swami then said, “If Indradyumna Swami is petting a cat with his foot, he is blessing the world, but for you it is only material.”


It is amazing to see you never get tired of preaching to people and helping them out.


Once when you were sick, you came down from your sick bed, and gave one of the most wonderful classes on Caitanya-caritamrita I ever heard, and then you returned to your bed.


Once we were worried because Maharaja’s health was weak, so we reduced his schedule without consulting him. When he saw the reduced schedule, he was angry, and said, “I gave you so much service, but if you take it as your service to reduce my service, then I will reduce your service.” The point was clear.


Another servant:


Traveling with Maharaja changed my life. Living outside the temple was difficult for me, and I wasn’t able to follow the Krishna conscious program and now I am enthusiastic to live in the temple as a brahmacari and distribute books.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


I want to hear from Sutapa Prabhu who is a leader of devotees, developing a brahmacari asrama and book distribution, significant services in the householder community of the Bhaktivedanta Manor.


Sutapa Prabhu:


I was practicing for six years without a guru. Some people thought I was a rtvik. Then I was convinced through different lectures that I needed a guru. I prayed more and more about that, and I got the feeling in my heart that you were my guru.


I was a devotee for eight years and had no plan to go to dhama, and when you found out you chastised me, and I spend the month of January in Vrindavan, and it was a wonderful experience.


On your Dutch passport, for place of residence, you have written Vrindavan.


Kadamba Kanana Swami:


Vyasa Puja is purification for all of us. By hearing your words of appreciation, I realize what I must be. We both reconfirm our commitment to the relationship.


I was a song writer, but my guru did not want me to use that skill in the Lord’s service. Now I am happy to have a disciple who is a song writer. I never graduated from high school, and now I have many disciples with advanced degrees.


I want to do many things through you, just like Lord Caitanya said to Sanatana Goswami, but I am not Lord Caitanya and you are not Sanatana Goswami. But we can play our small role in the mission in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.


We have duty, and I am trying to awaken the sense of duty within you. But if it is all duty, and no relish, how long will be last. We should try to go deep.


Jiva Goswami says all devotional service should be preceded and followed by the holy name. That is where we can relish. The secret for having time for hearing and chanting is to rise early and the secret to rising early is to go to sleep early.


Because I joined in the holy dhama and lived many years in the dhama, and because residence there is one of the five processes, I realized that is an important part of our spiritual life.


We must take time to relish and take time to give.


We have to take care of the spiritual life of others. To do this we have to take care of our own spiritual life. We cannot cheat.


We should not think, “What will ISKCON do for me?” We are making ISKCON. We have inherited ISKCON, and we can really develop it into something. We cannot sit and point at ISKCON. We are ISKCON, a part of ISKCON, and we can make our part very nice.


We can have our own nature, but we also have to sacrifice everything.


I am demanding and yet liberal. You can do the worst nonsense, and I will not reject you, but I will remind you of the qualification to actually to make it to the spiritual world.


There is a great opportunity. There is a raging age of Kali around us. You can express your individuality, but if you do it so much you lose the association of devotees, then you will make it very difficult for your spiritual life.


The whole world likes cheese, but until you meet a Dutchman, you will not see a real cheese lover. The world loves freedom, but until you meet a Dutchman, you have not seen a real freedom lover. And I love freedom even more than your average Dutchman, but still have I had to adjust to the needs of the institution.


It not everyone has to become a book distributor. But everyone does have to reach out.


I am glad you came, and I hope you keep coming. It is like a samskara. We take something with us that benefits us.


It is a fashion that “you have to find a life outside the temple,” it has not always been like that, and it will not always be like that.


Try to do something to make ISKCON better. By doing that Srila Prabhupada will smile and all blessings will be there.

The devotees who did a drama on attentive chanting from Sacinandana Swami's recent japa retreat shared the drama with attendees at the Vyasa Puja festival:


Kadamba Kanana Swami: [from an initiation lecture]:


The initiation vows are investments like the pearls which Krishna planted and which bore fruit. The sixty-four items are to engage our senses in Krishna’s service. We must construct a shelter of these sixty-four items.


When we are tested, when things are taken away in our life, we can see how Krishna conscious we are.


At initiation there is no going back. We cannot walk away. We may not follow the vows, but if we do not they will beat our heart. At first initiation we begin to practice the brahminical life so we can ultimately take brahmana initiation in due course. By brahmana initiation we affirm our determination to go back to Godhead. The brahmana is generous, the opposite of miserly.


We may feel that our only impediment is our material desires. We feel doubt because we are attracted to both material and spiritual, and we may worry that we cannot make it. But by Krishna’s mercy, it is possible. Therefore material desires are not the problem. It is offenses. Offenses can create new material desires.


Only Vishnu can give liberation, and only Krishna can give love of God.


Srila Prabhupada wrote Gargamuni Prabhu a letter and signed it “your ever well wisher,” and for that, he said at one Srila Prabhupada’s disappearace day in Vrndavana, he would never leave.


A few of the initiates:


Klausse became Ter Kadamba. He plans to attend the 12-year course by Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami in Mayapur.


As a devotee child, Nimai Caitanya, gradually decided he wanted to take initiation. As Lord Caitanya changed His name so I will change yours to Visvambhara Caitanya das.


One initiate he told, “You gradually came to understand the philosophy in the course of time. You did not passionately accept it, and this is auspicious. Thus I named you Prasannatma, one who is always satisfied.


Kumari is another Vaishnava youth who came to decide to accept the path of Krishna consciousness. I name her Kumari Kunti. Suzan from Slovakia became Seva-kunja Dasi.One lady became Gayatri Devi.


Queen’s Day Harinama


So what can I say that is new about Queen’s Day? Devotees who came last year liked it so much that they came back. These include Sacinandana Swami, and Parasurama Prabhu and his kirtana party from London. As he did last year, Kadamba Kanana Swami brought two busloads of friends and disciples from Radhadesh, so we had two hundred people for the eight-hour harinama. I took almost seventeen minutes of video before my camera’s battery ran out. Parasurama Prabhu and his kirtana group chanted nicely at our booth for four hours or so, during the time the party of two hundred was chanting throughout the city. Onlookers, at least for a few seconds, or a few minutes, forget their own parties to become absorbed in Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana party and for that they become free from a lot of karma and receive a seed of devotion, some becoming very joyful from the experience. Many people know some of the words of the mantra, and they took pleasure in chanting whatever they could remember in their inebriated condition.

Bhakta Michel from Rotterdam posted many nice photos on Facebook:

Insight from Lectures


Srila Prabhupada:                                                             


Sudra means he does not know the aim of life. In passion there is creative impetus. In goodness there is real knowledge.


I am not God but godly, having the quality of God.


Our dharma is to serve. If one has no one to serve, he picks up some cat or dog to serve. Instead of serving Krishna, I am serving my lusty desires. When we realize that we are eternal servants of Krishna and engage in Krishna’s service, that is self-realization.


By serving Krishna, one transcends all pious and impious activity.


Without knowledge and detachment our consciousness is like that of an animal.


Dharma is the law given by God, just as ordinary law is given by the government. You cannot manufacture dharma anymore than you can make your own laws.


Even a child can attain knowledge and detachment by simply chanting and dancing. This movement gives people the chance to associate with knowledge and detachment. There is no more attraction to cigarette or cinema.


The boys and girls are captivated to me not by miracles but chanting.


Candrasekhara Swami:


The world is not a perfect place in the sense it fulfills all our desires. It has other purposes. Sometimes we encounter people who actually work against us.


Mahabharata brings up different philosophical, social, and religious issues.  Sometimes Vyasadeva comments on the issues and sometimes he just reports them. Vyasadeva was not satisfied by writing the Mahabharata nor the other Vedas until he wrote Srimad-Bhagavatam. Mahabharata does not always give us the ultimate truth, but we can take the viewpoint of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and analyze the stories of Mahabharata.


Brahmanas are detached from society. They give advice to society but are not dependent on society.


King Yudhisthira’s subjects wanted to follow him into his exile. They argued, “As a cloth gains a good aroma by being associated with flowers, a person gains good qualities by association with good people.” Thus they did not want to associate with the demoniac Duryodhana, but rather the righteous Yudhisthira. King Yudhisthira advised the citizens to return home, saying it was inappropriate to follow him, and that they should try to be loyal to the present king. The citizens did return home, but the brahmanas did not.


The Pandavas’ situation was not at all good. But people who are close to the Supreme Lord suffer for different reasons than those who are far from Him. Sometimes those close to the Supreme Lord suffer because of trying to help others and getting caught up in their suffering. They also suffer so that others can see their good qualities. Otherwise, their good qualities may not be obvious. Also to remove the last traces of contamination from righteous people they sometimes suffer by the grace of the Lord. And finally, to focus people’s attention on the virtuous people, the Lord also sometimes puts them into extreme situations.


The Pandavas are the perfect examples of those who did nothing wrong but still suffered. If anyone had a right to complain about how the Lord dealt with them, it would be the Pandavas.


I see myself often to be situated like Dhrtarastra. Sometimes we do the wrong thing even though we know it is the wrong thing just because we are committed to the wrong thing from past habits.


Vidura, after the Pandavas’ exile, told Dhrtarastra that he should call the Pandavas back and tell Duryodhana to work with them, and if he is unwilling, then he should reject him. Dhrtarastra saw Vidura as siding with the enemy and sent him away.


Duryodhana’s attitude was that he wanted to be rid of the Pandavas, but is that a viable attitude? Duryodhana wanted what the Pandavas had, but he could not really understand what that was. He thought it was their kingdom or wife, but it was actually the inner beauty that comes from goodness, something he could not have until he changed his consciousness.


Maitreya tells Duryodhana that he cannot expect good fortune until he makes up with the Pandavas and that duty and righteousness are followed by victory, but Duryodhana shows through body language he does not care for Maitreya’s advice, though he does not say anything. Understanding his mind, Maitreya cursed Duryodhana to have his thigh broken by Bhima and to be killed along with his brothers.


It is easy to accept the will of God when it is in our favor, but when it is not in our favor then the test comes.


Spiritual life is cultivating the right attitude, and if one can offer respect to the Lord with body, mind, and words, while experiencing suffering, he can acquire the consciousness to enter the kingdom of God.


Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami [from Here is Srila Prabhupada, quoted in Viraha Bhavan, April 18, “Old Friends”]:

August 6, 1991

You [Srila Prabhupada] said, ‘Keep on with this business of writing articles . . . go on writing something glorifying the Lord and put our philosophy into words. Writing means to express oneself, how he is understanding the philosophy. So this writing is necessary for everyone. 


Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu:


From a conversation in his room:


In chapter 7 of  Bhagavad-gita Krishna said that he would tell Arjuna everything and there will be nothing remaining for him to know and amazingly enough, He actually did it. It took me three years to realize this, maybe more.


Harinama [our public group chanting] should be seen as a positive contribution to the urban environment.


When we are doing outreach, we are saying in effect, “You should be like me.” And the onlookers are thinking, “Do I want to be like them?”


With the development of edge cities with malls and parking lots, I think our next phase of outreach might be to book a convention hall on a long weekend, and have a full schedule music, dance, entertainment, educational seminars,etc. People, like our friends in the yoga centers, would easily be willing come to such a spiritual conference and pay enough to easily cover costs.


From his weekly phone conference call lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.14.8:


Parampara literally means “one after another.” In addition to the line of spiritual succession, it could also mean from one generation to another.


Pasanda is translated as infidel, imposter, or atheist, in different places.


Astikyam indicates that one accepts the Vedas, and derives from the word asti, “there exists.”


There is sometimes more disagreement within a single religion than between one religion and another.


Sreyas and preyas can be thought of as long term and short term benefits. Real sreyas is to understand your self, God, and your relationship with Him. People not interested in this are compared to children who do not want to go to school but play all day.


Krishna says that some say ultimate benefit is attained by dharma, fame, sense gratification, truthfulness, self-control, peacefulness, self-interest, opulence, renunciation, consumption, sacrifice, charity, austerities, vows, or regulated religious duties. Nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, celibacy, and not coveting the things of others are yamas. Cleanliness, contentment, austerity, study of scripture, and devotion to God are niyamas.


Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that desire for fame is the root cause of all unwanted desires.


Perfection is absorption in trance, not just material contentment.


In an industrial society, cow protection is a very expensive hobby unless the bulls are engaged and children are also a very expense hobby. But in an agrarian society the children would help out on the farm and not just be consumers.


When women entered the workplace it was an indication that child rearing was no longer considered a valuable occupation.


In the atheistic Sankyha the liberated state is a plurality of isolated purusas without attachment to prakrti and the pain coming from that.


Kadamba Kanana Swami [Cc.  Adi 7.20-21]:


“The more they tasted it [love of Krishna], the more their thirst for it grew.”


Badrinarayana Prabhu decided to preach in some place there was no preaching going on. He looked at a map, and chose New Guinea. After a long flight from the West Coast he finally arrived there, and found at the hotel the man behind the reception desk was reading one of Srila Prabhupada’s books.


It is not possible to stay enlivened without the devotees, who are endowed with generosity. When I was new devotee I was happy to receive a feast of fifteen preparations, all you can eat for free, and I felt like reciprocating.


Without friendship, how can we stay on the path?


I have received many, many blessings from the Vaishnavas, especially Jayadvaita Swami, who encouraged me in taking up the renounced life,


Hanuman offered to kill the Raksasis who were torturing her. Sita declined and told the story of the hunter, the bear, and tiger. The hunter pursued a tiger, who ended up pursuing him. He ran up a tree, but discovered a bear higher in the tree. The tiger told the bear to kick down the hunter, a mutual enemy, but the bear declined, saying the hunter was a guest in his home, and he could not possibly do that. Then the man did something to mistreat the bear, and the tiger again appealed to him to kick down the man who proved himself disreputable, so he could kill him, but the bear again refused to harm the guest in his tree.


We have to become Vaishnavas of noble character.


My spiritual master [Jayadvaita Swami] is dedicated to being a man of ideal character.


Generosity means giving more than money, things like appreciation.


Do not worry about what you are getting. Start giving. Do that and you will find that you do not need the things you thought you did.


Our security is our purity. If our purity is there, Krishna and His devotees will take care of us.


One devotee was becoming a householder and was planning to become a professional. I said, “That is only one option.” You can go to a new city, rent a place, and start preaching. People will appreciate, and things will expand. He replied that he did not have enough faith. That is our problem.


There are many devotees in this movement who have not read Srimad-Bhagavatam. If you have not read Srimad-Bhagavatam, you are below the poverty line.


We are in need of spiritual nourishment. And we need to nourish others. To do this, we need to become Vaishnavas of noble character.


Q: How hard should we try to develop our love for Krishna?

A: We must try with all our heart. We must try with every cell in body, with every thought that comes into our mind. We must try completely. Of course, we do not do that. And so we should pray for mercy.


I want Krishna prema [love of Krishna], but I am not willing to pay the price for it.


Q: In Vrndavana, so many swamis came around. Why did you choose Jayadvaita Swami as your guru?

A: He always treated me as if he was completely in charge of me, so I just surrendered to it.


Krishna Book reading realizations:


Vishnu Gada: Consider the magnitude of the Brahma’s offense, he kidnapped thousands of kids for one year.


Mataji: Calves drink only two liters of milk, but the cows may give ten or fourteen liters.


Q: Do the cows have vatsalya-bhava for Krishna? It appears from the Brahma-vimohana-lila they do.


Mataji: My husband said they brought a cow into the temple for Govardhan Puja in Mayapur, and when the cow saw Radha-Madhava, she started mooing and milk flowed from her udder onto the temple room.


Vishnu Gada: The elephant that carried the Deity regularly at festivals at the Guruvayur one night started banging on his stall, and his keeper took him out. The elephant went to the temple, bowed down in the direction of the altar. Then he left his body. We know that whatever state on remembers at death he attains, and so the elephant attained Krishna.


Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu:


Just by hearing about the Lord we can become free from the influence of material nature. It is really that simple. It just takes a long time to reach that platform.


If we do not understand that Krishna is beyond the modes of nature after reading the first nine cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam, we will be bewildered in understanding the tenth canto. Just as in the west, people get intimately involved with others before they even get to know them, and ultimately due to familiarity, the relationships end in failure.


The same supreme Lord who is the source of the light and heat of the entire universe, the pure souls embrace in the spiritual world.


Contemporary scientist Penrose proposes a theory the Big Bang is just one of many Big Bangs.


To understand the Supreme Person is the source of everything requires engagement in devotional service. This begins with the humility that I do not know everything. This understanding of ourselves as servants of God must be backed up by service to get realization.


The more we choose devotional service, the more we experience liberation, and the more we reject devotional service, the more we become bound up.


Before becoming a devotee, at least I believed in God enough to blame Him for my suffering.


I could see that the material world was a miserable place. But I had difficulty with a couple issues:  (1) How I could have left such a nice place as the spiritual world? (2) Why after attaining perfection I could end up coming back to the material world again? Even after moving into the ashram, these continued to plague me. Finally, after some time they did not bother me anymore. I had to accept I have free will that is eternal, and I could potentially misuse it.


If we remember the final goal, we will be happy to execute the activities that help us reach it.

Q: People tend to blame God for their suffering. How do we bring them to accept that they are the cause of their suffering?

A: Usually we do not bring that point up until they have had a lot of prasadam. [Laughter.] Then we talk about the mind and how we come into the world with certain mentalities. Then we introduce the idea of past lives. And in this way, we very gradually introduce the idea.


Chris Prabhu [statistics from a NYU cooking class]:


Organic milk has 70% more Omega 3 fatty acids than regular milk. Cold milk causes rheumatism and arthritis.




tad viddhi pranipatena

pariprasnena sevaya

upadeksyanti te jnanam

jnaninas tattva darsinah


“Just to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him and render service unto him. Self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” (Bhagavad-gita 4.34)