Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Travel Journal#7.9: Benelux Harinamas and German Festivals

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 9
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2011, part one)
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Munich, Simhachalam
(Sent from London on May 25, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

I did harinama in the Netherlands and Belgium and attended the Nrsimha Caturdasi festival at our Bavarian farm, Simhachalam, all of which I have done the last four years. I recommend everyone to go to Simhachalam Nrsimha festival at least once in one’s life. It’s got an awesome Nrsimha deity, great singers, great speakers, and great cooks. Now they do the Munich Ratha-yatra the Saturday before, to add to the ecstasy.

I took lots of notes on great lectures: Sacinandana Swami did a seminar on the chanting of the holy name, and Vijaya Prabhu did one on book distribution. Bhakti Bhusana Swami and Kadamba Kanana Swami did a joint initiation and both spoke valuable words about that important part of our spiritual life. A lot of senior devotees share a lots of insights, many at the Nrsimha festival, so make sure you read the “Insights from Lectures” section too.

I want to thank Sivananda Sena and Bhakta Miso of Rotterdam and Mother Krishna-priya and Aravindaksa Prabhu of Antwerp for their kind donations that help me to travel onward to my future destinations.


London: May 25–May 28
Birmingham:  May 28–30
Belfast: May 30–June 12
London: June 12
Croydon Ratha-yatra: June 19
Stonehenge solstice festival: June 21
Empowerment and the Sacred conference, Leeds: June 24–26
England and Scotland: June 27–July 6
Scandinavian Ratha-yatras: July 8–16
Prague Ratha-yatra?: July 16 or 17
Croatian Harinama Tour: July 18–31
Poland Woodstock: August 1–6
Berlin: August 7–10
Polish tour: August 11–17
Trutnov Open Air Festival (Czech Woodstock): August 18–21
Leipzig, Czech or Slovakia: August 22–23 (Janmastami, Vyasa Puja)
Kirtana-mela, Leipzig: August 29–September 4
Lvov, Ukraine: September 6
Kharkov, Ukraine: September 7–beginning of Ukraine Festival
Ukraine Festival: September 10-15?
Boston Ratha-yatra and Prabhupada festival: September 17–18
New York: September 19–23?
Philadelphia Ratha-yatra: September 24–25
Albany: September 26–30?
Florida, Arizona, Nevada: October–December

Harinama in Vondel Park

For five days, I chanted, usually three hours a day in Vondel Park in Amsterdam, a place visited by Srila Prabhupada in person. I felt I connected with a few people. Here are some.

One day I met a man from Bengal who said he liked that Srila Prabhupada commented on Bhagavad-gita in such a way that Krishna’s message was presented as it is whereas the other commentaries he read seemed to twist the meaning of Krishna’s words. He said he was not very religious, but as far as I can see, that particular realization of his is glorious.

One man who stopped by said he met Srila Prabhupada at Kumbha Mela in 1976.

One lady, who was the follower of one Indian guru, wanted to donate a harmonium to our temple. She said I got her contact information last year when I was chanting in the park, but that no one ever got back to her. I made sure I gave her information to someone responsible this year.

One middle-aged French man came by two different days and brought some wild flowers each time and 20 euro cents the last time. He said he likes to read Bhaktivedanta Swami’s books, and took down our French centers’ addresses.

Harinamas in Rotterdam

Not having gone to Rotterdam last year, I decided to accept the invitation of devotees to go there for three days, enroute to Antwerp. Sivananda Sena Prabhu and his wife, Mother Moksa Laksmi, are both newly initiated disciples of Janananda Goswami, the famed harinama guru, and they have imbibed a good measure of their guru’s enthusiasm for harinama. They chant in Den Haag (The Hague) on Thursdays for a couple of hours, and on Fridays and Saturdays, also for two hours, in Rotterdam, where they reside. In Rotterdam they go to a crowded shopping street near the central station that is closed to automotive traffic and has dozens of shops. They have nice sound system that is light and loud. Somewhere between five and fifteen devotees join them depending on the night. Moksa Laksmi likes to sell books and distributes many each harinama, and sometimes she makes sweets for distribution as well. They are a good example of a couple where both partners like going out chanting in public. On Sunday, I had the choice of attending three feast programs, in Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Den Haag, all with guest lecturers speaking in Dutch, so I decided instead to go on harinama with Sivananda Sena and Moksa Laksmi in Rotterdam at a big park near a museum, and in this way increase our service.

Harinamas in Belgium

I can always count on Janmastami Prabhu, an accordion-playing disciple of Lokanath Swami, who loves to chant, to go with me on harinama for three hours daily. We chanted three days in Antwerp where there are lots of sidewalk cafes. Once when there were just the two of us, one man asked if we would be willing to play at his girlfriend’s birthday party. We figured it would give more people the chance to hear the holy name, so we agreed. After our three-hour stint downtown was over, he took us in a taxi to her office, where we chanted Hare Krishna for her and her coworkers, for five minutes or so, and they all seemed to enjoy it. He gave us 20 euros for our service, and we gave them invitations, as we were separated from our book distributors that day. We gave the 20 euros to the temple. It was interesting for me to learn that Hare Krishnas have a good enough reputation, at least in Antwerp, that someone would consider inviting them to play at a birthday party! That was a new thing for me.

The last day of my stay in Belgium we went to Leuven where we did harinama with our book distributor friends, Tomas from Slovakia and Adam from Ireland. There were lots of school children who were attracted by the harinama and the prasadam that we distributed. We ended up chanting at the main bus station which turned out to be perfectly legal and a great place to contact many, many people.

Munich Ratha-yatra

In Munich, Lord Jagannatha showed that He was in control and that His will is not possible to exactly ascertain, as He often does in Ratha-yatra festivals. When my friends and I disappeared into the U-Bahn (subway) station enroute to the Ratha-yatra site, the weather was cloudy with a few sprinkles of rain as it had been all morning. However, when we came out at Odeonsplatz, just half an hour later, at noon, the start time of the Ratha-yatra, we were amazed to see the sun shining brilliantly and the sky clear, except for some wisps of clouds near the horizon. We all got sunburned because the weather had been so bad no one thought to bring any sunscreen, although we had all prayed that the rain would end and the Ratha-yatra would go on.

The next mysterious event was an hour into the parade, when there was the cracking of the back left wheel of the cart and its jamming into the cart’s side in such a way that the wheel could not turn. It looked so bad, in fact, that Sacinandana Swami said we would have to abandon the cart and do harinama through the parade route instead. It was such an unthinkable event to have the cart disabled just one hour into a four-hour parade. I was thinking how I spent 61 euros and traveled on twelve hours of regional trains to get to Munich from Belgium in time for the Ratha-yatra and now it was not to be. Then some devotees came with a portable power saw and cut the side of the cart in such a way as to unjam the wheel, and then amazingly enough, they actually fixed the wheel, and we were able to continue in just half an hour with the parade, almost keeping on schedule.

Some parts of the Ratha-yatra route were very crowded and others less so. Many people watched and took pictures. We stopped the cart for half an hour at Sendlinger Tor, a crowded place with a big outside café, where we chanted and danced. There are many tourists in Munich. I did not talk to very many people, but I met a couple from Russia, a girl from America, and a girl from Turkey, all of whom were attracted by the stage show after the Ratha-yatra which was scheduled to be 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Karlsplatz. Three girls seemed to have such a good time dancing with the devotees, I decided to invite them to the temple. They were tourists, however, and were leaving the next day. One was from northern New Jersey, and she was happy to hear that we would be having the same festival in New York City on June 11, and I told her the details. Sometimes there were fifty and maybe even a hundred people watching the stage show and several onlookers joined in the dancing, inspired by Sacinandana Swami’s Gaura Hari band. The rain ended up revisiting us, from time to time, but we were able to continue until 7:15 p.m.

The day was a real adventure, completely unpredictable. The downside for me was there were just a handful of temple invitations to distribute at the stage show. Such festivals are a good opportunity to create an interest in our local temple programs, and I hope they print more invitations before next year’s festival. The consolation was that they had the temple web site listed on the front of the stage, so anyone who took a picture of the stage show, would also learn how to contact the temple, or if they wanted to, they could copy down the web site address.

For at least the second year, they scheduled the Munich Ratha-yatra the Saturday before the Nrsimha festival at Simhachalam, just two hours away, so visiting swamis and other devotees, could attend both, a wise move.

Simhachalam Nrsimha Caturdasi Festival

For the fourth consecutive time I attended the Nrsimha Caturdasi festival at Simhachalam. Since making Queen’s Day in Amsterdam on April 30 part of my yearly schedule, I am in Europe for Nrsimha Caturdasi, and Simhachalam seems the ideal place to observe it. The Prahlad-Nrsimha deity at Simhachalam is the only large deity there, and so He is the natural focus of everyone’s attention. Although Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra, who came from Berlin for the Ratha-yatra, also attend the festival, it is clearly Lord Nrsimha’s temple. Lord Jagannatha even shows His lion face on the occasion.

Devotees come from all over Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and there are regularly even a few from Radhadesh (Belgium) and London. Bhakti Bhusana, Bhaktivaibhava, Sacinandana, and Kadamba Kanana Swamis, almost always attend the event, and this year Kavicandra Swami came too. Kripa Moya Prabhu from the UK likes it so much he came three of the last four years.

There is this really awesome maha-abhiseka, and I volunteered to be part of it this year. Lord Nrsimha looks really intense up close. I got to put the dried fruit garlands on him. He looks especially far out when they pour the blended strawberries over Him. During the festival, they put an outfit on Him that is made entirely of colored sandesa (a sweet made with curd, flavor, and sweetener):

Each night of the festival there are always a few devotees enthusiastic enough to stay up all night chanting kirtana in the temple room. There are also some really good cooks, especially a team from Czech Republic, and there is always plenty of prasadam. This year I recall the Nrsimha feast included samosas, pakoras, malpura, srikhand, gulab jamuns, as well as three kinds of cake. It was one of those feasts where you do not need to go back for seconds because you are lucky if you can finish your firsts. There was so much malpura, I had some for the next three meals.

Remember to check out the nice realizations of the senior devotees about Lord Nrsimha in the “Insights from Lectures” section below. For more pictures of the festival, click here: Simhachalam gallery of festival pictures

If you find yourself in Europe in May, I recommend you check out this festival. I think you will find it a very rewarding experience, and you will find Lord Nrsimha to become more endearing as a result.

Taking Shelter of the Holy Name by Sacinandana Swami

The song udilo aruna introduced me to the idea of nama-asraya [taking shelter of the holy name]. Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings, “This temporary life is full of various miseries. Take shelter of the holy name as your only business.”

I have found devotees in ISKCON are not interested taking shelter of the holy name. Thus I am looking for other venues, such as yoga centers. Still, I wanted to start at home.

Our Gaudiya samprayada teaches the principle upaya (way of attainment) is by taking shelter of the holy name.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says the conditioned soul first meets Krishna in the holy name, and then the holy name manifests the form of Krishna. The holy name raises us up to the level where we can enter the kingdom of God.

When do we take shelter? When we realize that we cannot do it on our own.

Faith brings the strength we need to take shelter of the holy name.

Prahlada was victorious over his father because he took shelter of Krishna. He felt so protected that when his father came before him with a sword Prahlada thought, “My father must be joking.” Without enough faith in Krishna, we will take shelter of our doctors, our therapies, and our connections.

If the holy name is just a sound for you, if you have no connection with Krishna, you will become restless when you chant.

Psychologists say that if you can do something for two hours without paying attention to it, it can make you spaced out for the whole day. I do not agree with them that chanting can ever be bad, even if it is inattentive, but they have a point.

If you do not chant with a feeling of connection with Krishna, there is no relationship. Do not think about this and that.

You are now at the festival. Be present. You came to Lord Nrsimhadeva. You came to the devotees.

To chant with connection, sambandha, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says:

(1)  To think I am eternal particle of consciousness and an eternal servant of Krishna.

(2)  To remember that Krishna is infinite and cosmic, and our master.

(3)  To consider the world a prison house meant to correct our absentmindedness.

We should pray to Krishna, “Although I forgotten you for so many long years, today I am surrendering unto you. I am your sincere and serious servant.”

Once Krishna was playing dice with Rukmini, but He was losing, losing, losing. Rukmini said, “You never lose. Where is your mind?” Krishna said, “My devotee is in danger. And I am worried about her.” Rukmini said, “Then go to your devotee. Your promise to protect Your devotee.” Krishna said, “No. I will arrive too late.” Krishna continued to lose, and Rukmini encouraged Him to go protect His devotee. Krishna insisted, “No, I will arrive too late.” This continued and finally Krishna said, “I can come now. Draupadi has built the road, the road of her tears.” What had happened was initially Draupadi was trying to take shelter of Bhisma, and other persons in the assembly, but finally she came to understand that only Krishna could save her, and then she cried out to Him alone.

Draupadi asked Krishna later why He took so long in coming. Krishna said, “You called out to Me, but you turned toward Bhismadeva. So I figured you expected him to help you. Then you called out to Me, but you looked toward Duryodhana, etc.

We turn to the devotee in Krishna consciousness not in social consciousness.

We ask permission from our guru to do the practice, and then offer him prasadam afterwards.

Once Srila Prabhupada said, “You just address Krishna, just like you are addressing me now. Just address Krishna through His name.”

Srila Prabhupada once said, “I have not come to teach you anything. I have come to request you to please chant Hare Krishna, cleanse your spiritual consciousness, and come to understand your identity.”

We may think that Krishna is far away in the spiritual world, but actually Krishna is only a prayer away.

Book Distribution Seminar by Vijaya Prabhu

There is a monthly sankirtana festival throughout the movement—people vowing to go out once a month. As a result, book distribution is increasing.

Always leave people with a good impression. If they do not leave with a book, let them leave with a smile.

We should pray to Krishna for the proper intention—to help the conditioned souls and to please Krishna.

In the spiritual world, everyone is selfless. We have to imbibe this selflessness.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “Whoever I saw who took the most risk to spread Krishna consciousness, I chose as GBCs [members of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission].”

When I distribute books, I am constantly chanting.

Srila Prabhupada stresses preaching in his books, and there I get my inspiration. My favorite is Bhagavad-gita.

One lady was so impressed with the knowledge in Prabhupada’s books, she immediately wanted to share it with others. She became a devotee and distributed books for forty years.

The problem on book distribution is the false ego. Unfortunately people give up book distribution, instead of giving up the false ego. Better to give up the false ego, and continue to distribute books.

I came because of Bhagavad-gita. Most people come because of Bhagavad-gita. Therefore, I distribute Bhagavad-gita.

I read three hours a day. That strengthens the intelligence. Then we can control the mind.

Why Bhagavad-gita? Bhagavad-gita is Krishna’s word, so it is very powerful. It is very concentrated on pure devotional service.

If people are not taking books but you are still trying, that is still service. Tolerating that condition and continuing is counted as service. That is when we get the most purification.

If it becomes so hard you cannot do it nicely. It is alright to take a break and read or chant a round.

Sometimes I have had so much fun distributing books, smiling from one person to another, I had to stop and massage my smiling muscles.

I was trying to distribute a book to a man who went into his flat and then gave me a Bhagavad-gita he already had, saying he had it a long time and did not want it, and that it would be better I gave it to somebody else. I suggested he might read it in the future, but he persisted. Finally I took it, and as I was leaving, a car pulled up in the same driveway, and I decide to try selling the Gita to that man. He was interested but didn’t have money with him, so he went in the flat with the book in hand to get the money.  I hoped his friend did not notice the book in his hand. He didn’t, and the man bought the book. The moral of the story is: When Krishna does not want to leave, He does not leave.

 One man rejected the book I presented saying, “I worship Satan.” I replied, “Oh! You worship Satan? This is about God, so you should know your enemy.” He thought for a moment and agreed, giving $20 for the Bhagavad-gita.

Notes on Joint Initiation

Bhakti Bhusana Swami [from an initiation lecture]:

Srila Prabhupada said the odds of meeting a bona fide spiritual master are like the odds that a tortoise swimming in ocean will come up for air under the knot hole in a piece of wood floating in the water. It is very rare.

Srila Prabhupada said that renunciation of the four sinful acts comprises the four pillars of our platform of pure devotional service.

When Srila Prabhupada saw me sitting in the initiation arena with my long hair, he said either you shave your head or keep it long, pointing to a picture of the Panca-tattva.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura said one who initiates people without considering their qualifications commits an offense against the holy name.

That Bhakti Hanu thought that he was not ready for initiation for a long time is a positive thing.

Kadamba Kanana Swami [from an initiation lecture]:

How can we make a commitment for a lifetime?

It is not by our own endeavor or strength that we can keep our initiation vows, and so we are not only making a commitment to follow vows, but also to take shelter of the nine-fold process of devotional service, for only by Krishna’s mercy can we conquer over the influence of the material energy.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura makes the point that by chanting the holy name even if we commit offenses to Krishna Himself, we will be delivered, so Krishna is more merciful as the holy name.

Chanting is never a mechanical process. It is Krishna bestowing His mercy in the form of the holy name.

We must also find a nice quality in each devotee. Then we will not be inclined to offend them.

Neither Brahma nor Siva can give the liberation which Vishnu bestows. And beyond liberation, Krishna Himself, in his original form, gives pure love of God. So we take shelter of Krishna.

Every interaction with our spiritual master is not to be taken as ordinary. He is always praying to Krishna for our spiritual perfection, and because he is dear to Krishna, his prayers are powerful. If one has difficulty following the instructions of his spiritual master, he should turn to his spiritual master for help, and thus always remain under the spiritual master’s shelter. We are accepting this process to go back to Godhead at the end of life, not just to become more serious about our spiritual practice.

The Vedas deal with both material and completely transcendental instructions. 

At initiation ceremonies, Srila Prabhupada would also have four brahmanas, each reading one from Srila Prabhupada’s four main books, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, and The Nectar of Devotion. Sri Caitanya-caritamrita says we should collect jewels from the revealed scriptures.

If we chant Hare Krishna, we will attain perfection. It does not only work for some. No one is too sinful to attain perfection by this process.

Mother Yasoda’s relatives consider Krishna to be Yasoda-nandana, the son of Mother Yasoda, while Nanda Maharaja’s relatives consider Krishna, Nanda-nandana, the son of Nanda Maharaja.

One couple had been around for many years. The husband said he and his wife celebrated her birthday by drinking a bottle of wine and did not feel less Krishna conscious by it. My answer was that you did not feel less Krishna consciousness because you were drunk [and lost your discrimination].

We should maintain and gradually increase our practice of purification.

We are not interested in improving our material situation. That may or may not happen, but we are interested in developing spiritually.

We should not preach the intimate glories of the Lord to the faithless, but the basic message that we are eternal servants of Krishna and that by chanting the holy name we can approach Him may be explained.

Some people come to Vrindavan and say Vrindavan is my guru. But if they do not serve the mission of Srila Prabhupada they will dry up.

We should not treat our material desires like pets and feed them very nicely. Then they will never go away.

The root cause of all offenses is inattentive chanting, according to Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

There are many practical things one can do to increase attention in chanting, but the mind becomes controlled by attaining a higher taste. Regularly hearing helps us get a taste for Krishna. By chanting the Panca-tattva mantra, which does not accept offense, we can get a higher taste. By rendering service, we can also get a higher taste.

The deities are here, the devotees are here, let us ask them all for their blessings that this initiation may be fruitful, and that the candidates may at the end of life go back to Godhead.

Bhakti Bhusana Swami:

Bhakti Hanu from Leipzig becomes Haladhara Dasa, a name for Baladeva, the adi-guru (original guru), who is always ready to give us spiritual strength.

When Srila Prabhupada came to London in the beginning, Kulasekhara and his wife were getting married. When he learned their parents were attending the marriage ceremony, he had the devotees bow down to their parents, who, of course, could not understand what was going on.

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

Gauranga, whose mother is a devotee and is present, becomes Gaur Mohan, which is the name of Srila Prabhupada’s father. Gaur Mohan means Lord Caitanya, who is so attractive that He bewilders the mind with his amazing transcendental nature. By meditating on and becoming agents of Lord Caitanya’s mercy, then we will experience the wonder of that mercy more and more.

Insight from Lectures

Srila Prabhupada [From a lecture in Hamburg in 1969]:

After explaining the impossibility of avoiding life’s real problems, the miseries of birth, disease, old age, and death, Srila Prabhupada said, “Therefore we are teaching Krishna consciousness to solve the problems of life. It is not sentiment or fanaticism or any sectarian religion.

Bhakti Bhusana Swami:

Lord Nrsimha is the personification of divine anger.

The world had never seen the amazing form of Lord Nrsimha before. Even the demigods were bewildered by this form of the Lord. The world had also never before seen such ecstasy as that experienced by Prahlada.

Srila Prabhupada was fond of Prahlada, and often quoted from his pastimes.

Srila Prabhupada would always consider his followers bona fide devotees despite what others thought. One godbrother of Srila Prabhupada would never eat food prepared by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, and by his influence, others also would not eat it. At the end of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes in this world, that godbrother asked Prabhupada if he had any final wishes. And Srila Prabhupada asked him to take prasadam.

It was only Srila Prabhupada who came to save us. Srila Prabhupada said many of his godbrothers were pure devotees, but still of those pure devotees, only Srila Prabhupada came to save us. He was in the mood of Prahlada Maharaja, to distribute the mercy of the Lord very widely.

Bhaktivaibhava Swami:

The Lord does not hesitate to take on any form to protect His devotees.

We may have a tendency to focus on the mystical aspects of the Lord’s appearance, but a more important feature is His determination to serve His devotees.

The Lord chose to appear at just the moment that Hiranyakasipu had not considered.

Srila Prabhupada introduced the Nrsimha mantra for the protection of the devotees.

Once I went into Berlin on harinama alone in the winter. One drunk started pulling my dhoti off. I started chanting the Nrsimha prayer very loudly. The drunk was almost successful in removing my dhoti, when a tall man with a slight handicap came up and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and by his trousers and pushed him away, and he slid across the ice, and got up and walked away. I continued chanting.

The mother of a devotee in Russia passed away recently. She and her husband just tolerated their son’s practice, but did not really like it. When she was on her deathbed, she suddenly sat up, and said to her son, “This is how your Lord looks? He looks like a lion, but very, very beautiful,” and then she passed away.

Kavicandra Swami:

Once I was distributing books in the Chicago airport, and a man pulled a knife out of a rolled up magazine. I screamed out, “Nrsimha!” The man ran away.

Lord Caitanya visited many Nrsimhadeva deities in His south India to show His importance.

Only when we are purified can we really preach. Lord Nrsimha can purify our heart.

Prahlada Maharaja did not want to be liberated until everyone else was.

Jayananda Prabhu, whose disappearance day we celebrated yesterday, would always praise the kirtana and prasadam, “That was the best kirtana I have ever heard.” People would say, “But you said that yesterday.” And he would reply, “That was also very nice.” But he was completely sincere about it.

Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter saying that he was proud to have Jayananda Prabhu as a disciple. I cannot imagine a greater attainment than that.

Niranjana Swami [from a recorded lecture]:

If we do not have faith in the chanting of the holy name, our progress will be slow.

Something that appears to be not connected to Krishna is a manifestation of Krishna’s illusory energy and has little value. However, in our conditioned state, we think that if something is not connected to us, then it has little value.

Although the material energy is an inferior energy because it is directed by Krishna, it is impossible to overcome without His help.

Krishna’s name will protect us as Krishna protects us.

Prabhupada told a story that his son was initially in anxiety when the train conductor demanded his ticket. Then he remembered his father, and told the conductor, “This is my father.” Similarly, if we remember Krishna is taking care of us we will be fearless.

Because Krishna is only interested in our devotion, if we do devotional service with another motive, we must be doing it to please someone else.

Many people may chant Hare Krishna, but they are indifferent. If we understand that there is no difference between Krishna and his name, we will never be indifferent. Without Krishna’s name, this world is vacant.

By hearing of the glories of the holy name from Vaishnavas, we will be able to understand that the holy name of the Lord is everything.

When we chant in devotion, with the desire to please the Lord, as a service to Him, we realize the transcendental nature of the holy name and become more and more grateful to the Lord.

We must understand the holy name is a valuable jewel and not just a piece of glass, and thus we should hold it very tightly.

Sacinandana Swami:

Srila Prabhupada told his disciples that wherever they go they must remember Lord Nrsimhadeva, and they would be fearless.

Gaur Mohan, Srila Prabhupada’s father, and some fellow pilgrims, were stopped by dacoits on the way to Badrinatha. The dacoits told them to give them their money and then they would kill them so there would be no trace. Srila Prabhupada’s father said, “Take our money and kill us, but just let us say one prayer first.” In India even the thieves are religious so they said OK. Gaur Mohan began praying to Nrsimhadeva, “Tato tato yami tato nrsimhah.” Just then a lion growled and leapt up out of the bushes and devoured the dacoits. Perhaps Srila Prabhupada was thinking about that pastime when he told his disciples that Lord Nrsimha would protect them anywhere if they remembered Him.

A journalist asked Srila Prabhupada what he feels when he chants, and Srila Prabhupada replied, “I feel no fear.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays to Krishna, “You are my own protector. I have taken shelter of You. I belong to you. I no longer belong to myself.”

At the Kirtana Mela [August 29–September 4, 2011], there will be holy name therapy for the darkness of the heart. The Leipzig Ratha-yatra has been scheduled for the end of the mela, and we hope to have one thousand devotees.    

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

Lord Nrsimha is the personification of soft-heartedness, because he assumed such a ferocious form for the protection of his pure devotee.

We may think, “Lord Nrsimha may protect His pure devotee, but what about me?” Because we have the divine and demoniac nature within us, we wonder, “How will Lord Nrsimha treat us?”

We see Lord Nrsimha protecting entire sankirtana movement.

Lord Nrsimha is especially kind and affectionate to His devotees.

The success of our movement does not depend on propaganda but how much we embody the prema the Lord Caitanya wanted us to distribute. Lord Nrsimha can help us remove the obstacles to developing this prema.

Ultimately, we are not praying for Lord Nrsihmadeva to protect our bodies but to protect our souls.

Prahlada Maharaja was the forerunner of the sankirtana devotees because of his concern to help the people of the world.

Dhananjaya Prabhu:

The wealthy Hinduja family liked the devotees’ prasadam so much they asked the devotees to teach their cook how to make it, but although he tried following the recipes to the letter, it was never to Hinduja’s satisfaction. This is because he did not have the secret ingredient, bhakti (devotion to the Lord).

Just as a blind person cannot see the sun although the sun is present in the sky, the spiritually blind cannot see the Personality of Godhead although He exists everywhere.

Just as you can cut down a sandalwood tree and burn it for fuel, not knowing its real value, you can use the human life for sense gratification, not knowing its real value for self-realization.

Steve Jobs of Apple spent six months in the brahmacari ashram in the Berkeley temple.

Kripa Moya Prabhu:

Life is very short. I can tell you that by experience. I was young, and now I am old.

God is your protector, your support, your maintainer, and your proprietor.

Srila Prabhupada said that when you see Krishna’s property, it reminds you of Krishna.

To see the Lord in the Deity, in stone that is chiseled into the shape of the Lord is easy, but Prahlada could see the Lord in any ordinary stone. This requires divya-drsta, divine vision.

Prahlada saw the Lord everywhere, but his father could not even see Him when He appeared.

I pray to the Lord, “This year I have not been a very good devotee. At this festival, let me become better by Your grace than before.”

Prahlada has a special position on the lap of the Lord. This place is usually reserved for Laksmi, but in this case, Nrsimha was so angry, Laksmi could not approach him.

Your home never really belongs to you, most of the time it belongs to the bank. Your body is also not yours. As a child, it is your parents’. Then it belongs to the people who you pay the medical bills to. So your house and your body are not yours. Use them for Krishna.

Your main bad habit is that you do not want to see Krishna everywhere and you do not want to see Him at every moment.

Ramanujacarya said Krishna has two especially nice qualities. He makes it easy to for people to approach Him, and He also personally reaches out to them.

Give Krishna the first hour of your day, and if you can do it, the first two hours of your day, and if you can do it, the first three hours of the day. We can do this by thinking of Krishna at night, and not eating too much at night. Srila Prabhupada said do not eat grains after 6:00 p.m.

We brush our teeth and shower in the morning to cleanse the body, and we meditate on Krishna to cleanse the mind.

Once Srila Prabhupada said all you need for perfection in this age is the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and the picture of the Panca-tattva [Lord Caitanya and His four principle associates].

Sometimes people leave Krishna consciousness not having found the higher taste they were looking for. Some leave, worried they will miss out on other aspects of life. Sometimes they identify themselves with the mind and thus seek psychological counseling.

Sometimes Gaudiya Math members do not appreciate Srila Prabhupada’s emphasis on Nrsimha worship. However, when Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura sent his disciples to London in the 1930s, he gave his disciples the Nrismha mantras, saying, “You are in the land in the demons, and these mantras will protect you from them.”

One man wanted the devotees to leave their place in Scotland. There was a picture of him in the paper with his fist raised toward the temple, and his words “I will get you out of this place if it is last thing that I do.” The devotees prayed to Lord Nrsimhadeva for protection. The man had a heart attack and died.

Lord Nrsimhadeva’s palm is very soft for the devotees, but His nails are very hard to the demons.

In marriage, it is a challenge to balance one’s life. If one is too detached, like a brahmacari, the marriage will not work. Or if one is too attached, like a karmi [a materialistic person], the marriage will also not work.

Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Nrsimha came at precisely the right time.

Srila Prabhupada considered “hope” a weak word. ‘Firm conviction’ in the Lord’s protection is required.

If you are thinking of marrying for sense gratification, don’t do it.

Always have three devotee friends who tell you want you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Canakya Pandit says a woman surrenders to Krishna when her face is full of wrinkles, and a man surrenders to Krishna when he has lost his money and his children.

Indians donate to the temple the car, when it no longer works, or the cow, when it no longer gives milk. In Bengal, it is said that they give a drum when the drum is broken.

Krishna did not burst out of a pillar to protect Draupadi for he had a different mission. He wanted to eliminate so many demoniac people in the Kurukshetra war.

The Ramanuja followers say that to save His devotee Gajendra, Lord Vishnu came without His carrier Garuda, because of the urgency. Vishnu is actually faster without his carrier.

If you pray to the Lord, “At this moment in my life, I do not feel your presence.” You will see He makes some arrangement to show you still there with you.

Veda Vyasa Prabhu:

The only necessity is to surrender to the Lord. He will take care of all aspects of our lives, even the material ones. The surrendered soul has confidence in that the Lord will maintain and protect him.

Lord Caitanya loved hearing the pastimes of Prahlada and Dhruva especially. When you think about it, these are both apparently helpless children who took full shelter of the Lord. In both cases, by the merciful touch of the Lord, the boys were able to offer wonderful prayers when He appeared before them.

The materialist thinks that when he obtains sense pleasures, that is very auspicious, but because material desires increase the length of our stay in this material world that is not true.

Here at Simhachalam Lord Nrsimha is peaceful because Prahlad Maharaja is on his lap. But in Mayapur, we have ugra Nrsimha. His nails are not meant for the demons because Mayapur is the land of the devotees. They are meant to destroy our material desires.

Vijaya Prabhu:

We cannot clean the heart, it is so dirty, thus we must take shelter of Krishna, who appears many forms such as His name.

If your best friend has stolen 100,000 euros from you, it will take some time before property, and so it is difficult for Krishna to trust us. We have to show Him we are serious about serving Him.

Lord Caitanya’s associates were expressing concern about the Moslems rulers harassing them. Lord Caitanya made the point that the Moslems could not do anything else He permitted them to, and to demonstrate His complete independent control, he gave Narayani Krishna-prema (love of a Godhead) immediately, and she manifested all the symptoms, such as crying in spiritual ecstasy, etc.

If you do not have wind, although you have an expert captain, you will not go anywhere. If you have wind, but no captain, you also will not achieve your destination. The spiritual master is the captain, and the scriptural injunctions are the winds. Both are needed.

There are four classes of disciples: the best understands the mind of the guru, and even without being told, acts as the guru wishes. The second willingly carries out the guru’s order. The third reluctantly carries out the guru’s order, and the fourth fails to carry out the guru’s order at all.

As it is difficult for a prisoner to come clean again, so we are also prisoners. It is difficult for us to change our ways. But as a prisoner can get released for good behavior, so can we.

Janakinatha Prabhu:

That a brahmacari traditionally acts as a student from age five to age twenty-five is not so strange. In the modern world, many people studying for advanced degrees remain students until age twenty-five.

In the region near Tirupati there are a hundred families, worshipers of Baliji, who are participating a varnasrama community because they appreciate its value.

In India, animal fat from slaughterhouse is put in the soaps.

Comments by Dhananjaya Prabhu:

In India cow killing is allowed is Kerala and West Bengal so they ship the cows there to be slaughtered.

Over 90% of the devotees who took sannyasa ended up getting married. Once a devotee who had formerly taken sannyasa appeared in the temple where I lived, wearing white, having gotten married. I asked Srila Prabhupada, “How is it that one of your sannyasis ended up getting married?” He replied, “Sometimes that happens, even in our sampradaya. Nityananda Prabhu was sannyasa and then He got married.”

The residents of Manipur are descendents of Arjuna by his Manipuri wife, and so they are all ksatriyas, and so sannyasa, an asrama accepted by mature brahmanas, is not part of their tradition. Thus when Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja took sannyasa, he was practically the first resident of Manipur to have done so.

Janmastami (LOK) Prabhu:

Hardly anyone is aware of the goal of life and what can make one really happy, ananda [spiritual bliss].

Because of his service to Narada Muni, Priyavrata could not forget about the service of Lord although engaged in so many family and governmental responsibilities.

Also because of obedience to the Lord’s representatives, he did not forget his spiritual focus.

The only way to make this world a better place is to transcend it.

Govinda Prabhu [the new temple president of Simhachalam]:

We have just two festivals here at Simhachalam, both when the weather is not so palatable. So we hope to organize some new festivals for the summer when the weather is nice, both festivals for the devotees and for the local community.

Once the devotees at Simhachalam had an open house and invited members of the local community. Two thousand people came, which was completely unexpected, so you can see there is quite a bit of local curiosity about devotees and their project.


naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaraṇyās

śoce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyārtha-
māyā-sukhāya bharam udvahato vimūḍhān

Prahlada Maharaja prays to Lord Nrsimha, “O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities. My concern is only for the fools and rascals who are making elaborate plans for material happiness and maintaining their families, societies and countries. I am simply concerned with love for them.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.43)