Thursday, October 13, 2011

Travel Journal#7.16: Czech Woodstock, Czech Festival, Polish Tour, and Kirtan Mela

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 16
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2011, part two)
Trutnov (Czech Woodstock), Czech Festivals, Polish Tour, Kirtan Mela
(Sent from New York City on October 14, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

The second half of August was particularly intense with four powerful experiences, Trutnov (the Czech Woodstock), Janmastami and Vyasa Puja at the Czech farm, the final four days of Indradyumna Swami's Polish festival tour, and the first annual Kirtan Mela, near Leipzig, Germany. In addition, between the Czech farm and the Polish coast, I had the adventure of walking 12 km across the border of the two countries and sleeping at a Polish train station. On the bright side, I had the rewarding experience of being instrumental in some high school students chanting Hare Krishna and dancing on a train in Poland.

There is an ocean of nectar in terms of lecture notes this time. Lots from the swamis at Kirtan Mela: Indradyumna Swami, Jayadvaita Swami, Lokanath Swami, Sacinandana Swami, and Bhakti Vijnana Swami. Madhava Prabhu also said a few things. Then there are great Prabhupada stories from Caruhasa and Jaya Gurudeva Prabhus from Vyasa Puja in Czech Republic. Nila Madhava Prabhu from Prague tells a bit of the history of the movement there. I put in a link to the nice realizations shared by Gopiparanadhana Prabhu on the Polish festival tour which I previously posted, in case you did not read them yet.

Trutnov Open Air Festival (The Czech Woodstock)

Trutnov Open Air Music Festival, also known as the Czech Woodstock, is a three and a half-day music concert, attended by around 20,000 people who pay about 40 euros to get in. It is in Trutnov, a small city in the mountainous area of Czech, about 20 kilometers south of the Polish border. The organizer, Martin, is friends with the devotees, and thus the Czech Hare Krishnas have their own area and stage, and usually two or three venues where prasadam (spiritual food) is distributed.

Martin has a fascination for Lord Jagannatha, whose smiling face appears on the arm bands of the attendees, the main stage for the whole event, and even on the numerous plastic beer mugs.

I like to talk to the people who seem to really like to sing and dance with the devotees, and tell them of temples and gatherings their area so they develop their attraction to this all-auspicious spiritual activity after the Trutnov festival is over.

Linda, a student from Brno, the first person I talked to, remembered me from last year, although I did not remember her. She was eager to get contact information for the temple in Brno, where she goes to college. She loves to chant Hare Krishna and dance in the kirtana. Later she mentioned she had friends who became vegan and who gave up smoking, and who said they were happier as a result. I mentioned to her that if she continues to chant Hare Krishna, she will find that that the mantra gives one the strength to give up self-destructive habits in a natural way. She came and chanted in the kirtanas many times.

Punya Palaka Prabhu, Krishna camp organizer (left).
Monika, a spiritual seeker who studies in Liberec (right).

I was happy to see Monika, who wrote me eleven months after last year's Trutnov to tell me that she appreciated the Czech version of Coming Back she purchased there and liked the idea of reincarnation. Since coming to our Krishna camp last year, she got a First Canto, Part One of Srimad-Bhagavatam and a volume of Krishna book. Once she met the devotees chanting in Liberec, where she goes to school, and she enjoyed talking to them, but she never saw them again. Concluding her letter she said, “I collect knowledge from lots of things. But Krishna consciousness is my favorite and gives me the most now. So I just wanted you to know, that I've never been so happy. [The] few days at Trutnov completely changed my life and I will be grateful forever. And I'm really looking forward Trutnov festival this year.” She knows a lots of spiritually minded people in Liberec who she thinks will be interested in Krishna consciousness, and she knows a venue where Nila Madhava Prabhu, the Czech
nama-hatta leader I introduced her to, can do a program. I also introduced her to Madhusudana Prabhu, the brahmacari leader of the party that regularly chants and distributes books in Liberec and other different Czech cities and whose parents live in the Liberec area. This year at Trutnov she enjoyed Trilokatma Prabhu's lecture on the Krishna philosophy, and she spent hours a day in our Krishna camp. I am so happy to see her expanding spiritual good fortune, and glad to play a little role in it.

Gabriela, who lives in Regentsberg, Germany, was interested enough to take from me the beautiful card the Germany devotees have listing all the German temples and regular Krishna gatherings in Germany, and her sister and friend from Prague took the invitation to Govinda's Restaurant and its spiritual program on Wednesday evenings.

Barbora, from near Ostrava, who met the devotees chanting on several occasions in Brno, where she would sometimes talk with them, took down the Brno nama-hatta web page address. Seeing her singing constantly whenever she visited our camp the first two days of the festival, I thought I might investigate her interest. She said, “If I did not want to hear a few bands, I would spend all my time in your camp. This is so nice it seems like something you could do for your whole life!” I smiled and agreed with her, saying that I met the Krishnas when I was twenty and now I am fifty-one. I explained unlike material pleasures, the happiness of devotional service increases with time. I saw her chanting with us several more times. The last day she seemed more subdued, and I figured she was just tired like the rest of us. Turned out she had done something she really regretted and was feeling really bad. A friend then said not to feel bad about it but to go to the Krishna camp because people always feel better after going there. She went and did feel a lot better. Because I knew she liked to chant and dance, I suggested she do that and get her mind off her problems, but she was so wiped out, she said she would chant and dance in her mind. I accepted that as her actual condition but found to my surprise in just five or ten minutes she came up front, and began to dance and then began to chant, which she did for the next two or three hours, just taking a few breaks from the dancing. She even asked the devotees for a tambourine and played it while dancing or sometimes sitting on the edge of the stage facing the devotee singers. It was inspiring for me to see how her consciousness really transformed just by hearing the kirtana. Many, like Barbora, have such appreciation for the spiritual atmosphere the devotees created there at their Trutnov Krishna camp, and in her case, she even felt that the chanting was something she could do for one's whole life, and she lamented having to return to her drab life as a student.

Last year when Dhruva and I left the Trutnov festival, the trains were so crowded, they were delayed, and I could see we would not make our connection. All the conductors spoke only Czech, so I asked one young man to translate for us. This year he introduced himself to me, and I thanked him again for his service. He joined the kirtanas a few times, even late in the final evening.

There were two students from Prague who chanted “Hare Krishna” and danced without interruption in a very amazing way. There only connection with chanting Hare Krishna was Trutnov, and they were glad to get the invitation to the Wednesday program at the restaurant. They came by other times for prasadam and to dance in the final kirtana.

Girl wearing 'Party Till You Puke' T-shirt

One girl had a T-shirt with the message “Party Till You Puke” written on it. That so much seemed to capture the foolishness of unrestricted sense enjoyment it made me smile, and I even took a picture of it. Surprising me, during the kirtana, the girl chanted along, as did her boyfriend. She pointed to the devotees and then her nose, as she talked to her friend, and I figured she was asking him about the devotees’ tilaka. After they left the kirtana tent, I talked to the boy, an inquisitive person, about Krishna consciousness, while she was visiting our face painter. I was surprised when her face painting was done. Instead of having patterns of colorful decorations on her forehead as most girls get, she had beautiful Vaishnava tilaka.

Katalina, who lives in Trutnov, a mere two minutes from our camp, was in great anxiety seeing us stop our kirtana at 3 a.m. the final evening. She was worried we would not continue, and her worry was well founded as we had to stop to break down the festival. One friend of the devotees, who played contemporary music, then took over our stage, as his friends were expecting him to sing his songs again and were not satisfied merely hearing him playing Hare Krishna guitar with us. I told Katalina that I would play her a Hare Krishna tune after the other singer finished. He sang six or seven tunes, including “My Sweet Lord,” which I requested upon hearing him sing another George Harrison song. Then he played a few more songs from other singers. Katalina told me she felt it was not good that our program end with anything but Hare Krishna, and I smiled in agreement, appreciating her realization. As the other singer finished and our crew dismantled the sound system, I played the portable harmonium and sang for her and five or six others, a popular Village of Peace Hare Krishna tune. They were very enthusiastic and sang both the lead and response for most of the time. Another girl took up the tambourine and played along. One boy enjoyed loudly chanting and danced. I must have at played least twenty minutes. Katalina said that each year she always comes to our camp at the end of the Trutnov festival to chant Hare Krishna with us.

This year was special for us as a couple Prabhupada disciples visited the event, Janananda Goswami, who chanted in the Ratha-yatra, and Caruhasa Prabhu, who chanted on our stage. They appear in the movies I made of the event:

Ratha-yatra Video:

Krishna Camp Video, Part 1:

To learn when Part 2 of my Krishna camp video is complete, subscribe to my YouTube videos:

To see a very beautiful video clip another devotee posted on Facebook, click below:

Krishna is all-attractive, and so is His name. It is inspiring to see at these festivals the people in general becoming more and more attracted. And so I come to the festivals and try to help the people to have more regular experience of Krishna
kirtana so they can become more attracted, and more happy in spiritual consciousness.

Thanks to Punya Palaka Prabhu and the very cooperative team of Czech devotees who put on our Krishna camp at Trutnov, and who share a lot of spiritual pleasure with a lot of people. All glories to Srila Prabhupada who is engaging us all in activities of spiritual welfare work.

Czech Janmastami and Vyasa Puja Festivals

I am glad Punya Palaka Prabhu invited me to the Janmastami and Vyasa Puja festivals at the Czech farm. I have been coming to Czech Republic since 2004, when Lokanath Swami told me Prague was the best city for harinama. Over the years, I have done harinamas, Ratha-yatras, and Trutnov festivals with the devotees there, and I have a lot of admiration and affection for many of them.

They had a tent set up as the temple room is too small to hold the devotees. On Janmastami, in addition to kirtana, there was a puppet show of Krishna pastimes, and a couple devotee kids, dressed like Radha Krishna observed the Jhulan Yatra, and the others pushed Them on a swing and offered Them flowers, and other worship. I had some doubts about this, but Caruhasa Prabhu told of a Prabhupada pastime in which Prabhupada encouraged to the devotees to offer full respects to the devotees playing Krishna in a drama on the consideration that Krishna’s form is not different from Krishna, and Caruhasa asked me to take pictures of Them. Jaya Gurudeva, a Prabhupada disciple I knew from Trutnov, where he plays folk and other styles of Hare Krishna with a guitar, shared nice realizations and helped accommodate Caruhasa and me, who know only English. The Janmastami feast was very nice, thank God, because I had to leave before the Vyasa Puja feast to catch a train to the Polish coast for the festivals. I lost the chance talk about Prabhupada myself on Vyasa Puja day, looking on the Internet for a better rail connection so I wouldn't miss the feast.

Adventures from Czech Republic to the Baltic Sea

Missing the chance to glorify Prabhupada and missing the feast, were a frustration, but then I also missed one of the trains, as I didn't realize a train station had tracks on both sides of it. Thus I missed the last train to Poland that day and walked 12 km to the first Polish city with a train station, only to find there were no more trains to Wroclaw that day. The train employees, hearing my predicament allowed me to sleep in the train station, amazingly enough, and they locked me inside, with my permission, and thus I was undisturbed and warm. They even offered me tea and coffee, which I declined. I was impressed with their hospitality. I was wondering the whole time what Krishna's plan to protect me was. As it turned out, although missing a harinama, I got to visit the Wroclaw temple, bow down to the deities, hear a Prabhupada lecture, take a shower, see a few friends, give a donation, and grab some prasadam to go and catch a train that was considerable cheaper than the one evening before. Later I found out the harinama I missed was only one hour instead of the usual three because of the rain.

Polish Kids Chant Hare Krishna and Dance on Train

The best part of the rescheduled journey was that a group of high school kids on the train to the coast chanted Hare Krishna and danced with me on the train. I think that was really Krishna's mercy upon me. I am introverted and not a leader by nature. Neither am I a good singer, yet somehow the kids chanted along.

The train in Wroclaw was so crowded, I took shelter of the bicycle car, which was less so. At Poznan everyone left, and this group of kids boarded, and so we were alone together in the bicycle car most of the rest of the journey. In the course of our travel, I told them about the Krishna camp at Woodstock and the festivals of India's spiritual culture on the Baltic coast, including one in the town that was our train's destination that very night and the following one. They had a guitar, and asked if I could play it. I said no, but that if they could place the chord progression “F C G C” I could sing. So they played, and I sang the simple and popular Hare Krishna tune that Prabhupada introduced. Then I gave them Polish mantra cards and got them singing. Then I added the dancing. They had a good time, and I was amazed that we could get away with all that on a Polish train. After some time I decided I needed to take a nap, so I left the kids for a quieter and more comfortable part of the train. I was touched and surprised that to say goodbye to me, they chanted Hare Krishna again, just like the devotees do when a saintly person leaves.

Polish Tour

Five things made an impression on my mind on the Polish tour this year: the happiness of the devotees to see me, the enthusiasm of a Vaisnava youth friend to go on our last three harinamas, two girls liking Hare Krishna so much they followed our harinama party back to our site and took lunch with the devotees and took down the nama-hatta contact for their town, Indradyumna Swami's expert lectures at the festivals, and Gopipiparanadhana Prabhu's wisdom and saintly qualities.

Kirtan Mela

I was the navigator from Kolobrzeg on the Polish coast to the Kirtan Mela, and my party made the journey for just 19 euros per person, 11 euros cheaper than the bus that many devotees took, and which was too full for us.

I did not have enough money for even the minimum accommodation, but I had a friend in the festival organization and other friends who were cooking for themselves, so I got a place to stay and some prasadam. Hearing the urgent heartfelt pleas of GBC Mother Dina Sharana for help in the kitchen, I helped out for 2 hours a day, mostly serving lunch.

I found it hard to chant for twelve hours a day although I like chanting very much. I had to figure out where I was going for the Radhastami and how I was getting to America, as well as my usual service of proofreading Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami's journal. I also got involved in helping people travel by train to their next destinations, so in reality I chanted between six and eight hours a day, if you count my kitchen kirtana as part of it. In the future, I am going to have to plan ahead to avoid having important obligations to do while a Kirtan Mela is going on.

Still it was wonderful having the best kirtana leaders in ISKCON to hear from and to dance to. Especially striking to me were B. B. Govinda Swami, Indradyumna Swami, Lokanath Swami, Niranjana Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami, Bada Hari Prabhu, and Madhava Prabhu. Some of my friends impressed me with their ability to dance for hours on end. Occasionally the kirtana was so fired up, several sannyasis danced, running back and forth, and that was truly wonderful to see.

From this video, with its joyous singing and exuberant dancing, you can get a feel for how ecstatic it was:

The amazing Leipzig Ratha-yatra, with hundreds of devotees, after we had chanted twelve hours for the previous four days, I tell about in my next journal.

My siksa guru, Niranjana Swami, was there and we talked about my program. He said that I had proved I can live simply and that I can travel and do harinamas and give lectures, but I have not demonstrated the ability to gradually bring people to a higher level of devotional commitment, and to do that should spend more time in fewer places. So for the fall and winter I will focus on Gainesville and in the spring and summer, the UK outside of London. Janananda Swami wanted me to make The North of England my base, Kadamba Kanana Swami encouraged me to go to the UK outside of London, as London itself gets lots of attention already, Caitanya-candradaya Prabhu encouraged me to make Belfast my base, and Jai Nitai Prabhu encouraged me to go to the nama-hattas surrounding London, and so I will spend time in this area. I will still travel to my favorite festivals, Queen's Day harinama, the Polish Woodstock and tour, Trutnov (the Czech Woodstock), the Croatian harinama tour, and the Ukraine festival, which takes about six weeks, August and the first two weeks of September.

I told Niranjana Swami about the beautiful verse by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati on kirtana:

Srinama-sankirtana [congregational chanting of the holy name] is the best sadhana [spiritual practice]. If other sadhanas help us in Krishna-sankirtana, then they deserve to be called sadhana; otherwise they are simply impediments to sadhana. Sri-Krishna-nama-sankirtana is the emperor of sadhanas. It is the only infallible sadhana capable of bringing us to siddhi [perfection].

He liked it and asked me to include it with the other inspirational holy name quotes displayed on the big screen in the kirtana hall, which I did with great pleasure.

Insights from Lectures

Srila Prabhupada:

Fear exists as long as there is identification with material existence, therefore we must purify our existence. Prahlada Maharaja was never afraid despite all the tribulations created by his father because he was pure.

When we understand that we have no connection with material existence, there is no more fearfulness.

In spiritual existence there is only present, no past or future. That you cannot realize now, but you can take the knowledge from the Vedic literature.

By the time factor the existence of the Supreme Lord can be felt, as the presence of the government can be felt by a prisoner when he is arrested. As the prisoner is put under the laws of the prison, the rebellious living entity is put under the control of the material nature.

When we understand we are the servant of Krishna, there is no fear. By engaging in devotional service to the Supreme Lord our existence is purified and we become free from fear.

A little deviation may cause great havoc, and Bharata had to take three births to attain perfection due to attachment to a deer.

Theoretically we know we are not the body, yet we experience fear based on the situation of the body.

The whole political atmosphere is one of fear. The Americans and Russians are afraid of each other. The Indians and the Pakistanis are afraid of each other.

If you kindly hear sri-krishna-sankirtana, so much benefit is there. It is so nice. There is no expenditure.

I am for human beings or I am for America. All are based on a limited conception.

Indradyumna Swami:

God loves all the species of life because He created them.

Birds can fly without an airplane. Butterflies are always beautiful without makeup. The gift God has given humans is intelligence. That intelligence is meant to understand the soul. This knowledge of the soul is not meant just for the people of India. If we do not know who we are, we cannot attain full satisfaction. Not any of us. Bhagavad-gita is meant for everyone.

Intuitively we understand the soul is in the heart. If we point to ourselves, we point to our chest.

The husband and wife do not create life. Only God can create life. They build a little house for the soul to enter.

If we go to the temple, church, synagogue, we learn God creates life, but when we go to school we learn that life comes from matter. If life can be created from matter, then why can't the scientists create life from chemicals by putting them in suitable conditions? Actually they never will, because God creates life.

Vedic culture has never accepted abortion because it is understood the embryo is alive since the soul entered the body at the time of conception.

You know where you are going exactly after you leave the festival tonight. You also know where you will go when your vacation is over. But we do not know exactly where we are going when we leave the body at death. That is a big problem.

As we always have some car, bus, or airplane to travel in, the soul always has a vehicle, a body, to travel in.

One person was telling me that the bad helps him to appreciate the good that much more. I replied that he deserved better than that. The soul wants pure happiness.

Just because there is not perfect happiness here, does not mean there is not a world of happiness somewhere else.

The greatest happiness is love. Even if one has everything but no one to share it with, he will not be happy. And the greatest love is love of God. We cannot allow ourselves to be so absorbed materially that we miss the opportunity for reawakening our love of God.

From a lecture at Kirtan Mela:

Prayer reveals the deep feelings the devotee has in his heart for Krishna.

If we do not yet have love for the Lord or His devotees, we can practice offering the prayers of exalted personalities, and by that practice our devotional sentiments will awaken. Just as a child learns speak by imitating his parents speaking, we can do the same with prayers.

I saw someone with a T-shirt that said on the front “Always remember Lord Krishna...” and on the back “and never forget Him.”

The key to always remember the Lord is to love Him. Actually there are two ways to remember someone, if you love them or if you hate them. Kamsa was always remembering Krishna because he hated Him. But real Krishna consciousness means to think of Krishna favorably.

Every day Kamsa sent a different demon to Krishna to kill Krishna. We just hear of the principle ones in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Every day before lunch Kamsa would send a different demon, and Krishna or Balarama would kill him, and His friends would talk about how wonderful Krishna was a lunch.

Kunti's love for Krishna is glorious because it did not waver throughout so many difficulties. There is Canakya verse, “Test a servant in his duty, a relative in times of difficulty, and wife in misfortune [and one more].” The fire of ordeal purifies one's devotion.

Krishna felt closer to the Lord Krishna in the times of ordeal when she reached out to Krishna.

Kunti is so exalted Krishna would leave His dhama to visit Kunti and the Pandavas and see to their welfare.

When Akrura came to visit Kunti according to Krishna's request, as soon as he mentioned Krishna's name, symptoms of ecstatic love of Godhead manifested in her body.

When Prabhupada was greeting the devotees from all over the world who came to Mayapur, according to the prediction of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Prabhupada went into an ecstatic trance and could not speak.

When I am giving a public lecture, I focus on the few who seem to be paying attention, and I try to speak to their hearts.

Srila Prabhupada told us in France, “Never there was a time I forgot the lotus feet of Radha-Krishna.”

Srila Prabhupada once said, “The gopis never ask Krishna for anything, they just want to know what will please Krishna.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says bhakti is imbibed from another devotee. It is a mystical thing.

Krishna demonstrates that association with the devotees is better than His own association by sending Uddhava to Vrndavana. Krishna sent messages to His friends, the gopis, and His parents. Uddhava was surprised by the reactions of Krishna's parents. When Krishna said, “Do not worry, I am the supreme truth, the supreme pure, and the original person, and therefore I am never separated from you.” Nanda said, “What is this supreme pure? He is always covered with dust. What is this supreme truth? He is always stealing butter.” Yasoda said, “What is this eternal person, He took birth from my womb.”

We do not need to go to Vrndavana to get the association of the vrajavasis, for we have the ultimate vrajavasi, Srila Prabhupada. By serving him by sharing the chanting of Hare Krishna with everyone, we gain his association.

Once in Paris Srila Prabhupada asked me how the preaching was going. Because people in Paris had thrown garbage on us during harinama, I said it was difficult. And Srila Prabhupada replied, “When did I ever say it was easy?”

There was one woman who had her fingers in both ears and stuck out her tongue in response to the harinama. I reported that to Srila Prabhupada, and he asked, “What did you do?” “I just kept playing the mrdanga.” I said. “No.” said Srila Prabhupada, “You should have pulled her fingers out of her ears, and loudly chanted, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna . . .”

Sri Nama is a person, and He is very merciful. If we take Him out to the cities and the towns to benefit others, He becomes very, very merciful to us.

Jayadvaita Swami:

Materialists are fools because they are after that which will cause them suffer, while thinking they will enjoy. And the more they try to increase their enjoyment, the more they increase their suffering. This is illusion, maya.

The bhukti, mukti, siddhi kamis [those desiring sense enjoyment, liberation, and mystic perfections] cannot be happy because they seek a situation other than their constitution position.

In response to an imitator, who set up a kutir and chanted all day, Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja said, “One [who is not pregnant] cannot give birth to a child simply by entering the labor room.”

When the San Francisco Ratha-yatra was one of the main Ratha-yatras in ISKCON, the press workers had this idea of getting everyone in a van and driving to San Francisco, three days each way, to see Srila Prabhupada and the Ratha-yatra. When Srila Prabhupada heard about the plan, he rejected it saying, “They should stay and do their service.”

Other ways of glorifying Krishna are also kirtana, but that does not mean we do everything else in the name of kirtana and neglect the chanting of Hare Krishna.

One should hear the holy name from devotees of the holy name and devotees of Krishna.

At any stage of spiritual development, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is recommended.

The Lord tolerates offenses to Himself but not to His devotees.

Anyone who is engaged in the service of the Lord is great. Not that we glorify devotees we consider great and vilify devotees we consider small. That is a foolish, even suicidal, policy.

Anyone who chants the holy name of Krishna should be respected within the mind. Those engaged in devotional service, we should offer obeisances to. Those who are pure and free from the propensity to criticize others, we should hear from and render service to. Even to offend a neophyte devotee will get us in trouble with the Supreme Lord.

Q: If a devotee has taste for service, how can he misbehave?

A: By maya's tricks. Maya is very powerful. Although King Bharata gave up everything, he became attached to a dear. See how tricky maya is? Sometimes because of our conditioned life, unless we are completely free from maya, we may do something completely against devotional service principles.

The effect of inattentive chanting is that we can end up doing more inattentive chanting.

Krishna recommends that: “Wherever the mind wanders . . . we should bring it back.”

Inattention to the holy name means inattention to Krishna.

Inattentive chanting leads to inattentive service.

Focusing the sunlight you can start a fire otherwise you just get a little warmth and illumination. Similarly, chanting with attention has great power.

The grass never protests, “You are walking on me. Don't you know who I am? The grass also has rights.” It allows you to walk on it.

The tree never protests, “I will not give you shade because of what you did to me.”

Srila Prabhupada was asked, “What is the position of the disciple?” Prabhupada told a disciple to answer. “Servant, Srila Prabhupada,” the servant said. Prabhupada elaborated, “Menial servant.”

Lokanath Swami:

On the western calendar, Srila Prabhupada appeared on September 1, 1896.

The famous verse beginning krishna-varnam about Lord Caitanya was spoken in a conversation between Karabhajana Rsi and King Nimi of Mathila, the place of Sita, near Ayodhya, in response to the King's inquiry about the complexions, names, and processes to worship the Lord's avatars in the different ages.

Lord Caitanya's weapon, according to Jiva Goswami, is His great beauty. By His beautiful humility, form, and effulgence, He subdued the demoniac Mayavadi philosophers headed by Prakasananda Swami.

Krishna says in the middle of the battlefield to Arjuna, “yajnanam japa yajno 'smi,” of all sacrifices, I am japa, the chanting of the holy names. Here the Bhagavatam confirms the same thing, “yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedasah,” intelligent people worship the Lord chiefly by the chanting of the holy names.

Lord Caitanya is the most magnanimous because he gave sankirtana and radha-krishna-prema.

Lord Caitanya's arms are always upraised. He is always ready for action.

When we chant “Hare,” the name of Radha, Krishna is very pleased, and when we chant “Krishna” Radha is very pleased.

Srila Prabhupada said the perfection of human form of life is to join the dancing party of Radha and Krishna.

Lord Caitanya was very tall, the size of Lord Caitanya in the Panca-tattva Deities in Mayapur.

Mahaprabhu is the cause of our chanting and dancing.

Sacinandana Swami:

Make a conscious effort to chant for Krishna's pleasure.

Translating a German newspaper article: “For twelve long hours each day, one thousand members of Hare Krishna, which is not at all a sect but a deeply spiritual movement, are chanting to send positive vibrations all over the world.”

May Krishna give you exactly the realizations you need to continue on your journey back to Godhead.

In separation we call out for Krishna and to Krishna, as one who has not attained Krishna, saying, “Please accept me.”

The mind always wants to run away from the holy name, and thus we have to practice again and again to bring the mind to the chanting.

There is one Ayurvedic tonic that will bring an almost dead man back to life. To make you have to combine mercury and sulfur. You have to use a mortal and pestle. Because the mercury tends to run away from the sulfur, it takes two weeks of grinding to make it bind. We have to bind our mind to the holy name, and to do that we have to keep bringing the mind back.

People come up to me and say Maharaja, “I feel so dry within.” I tell them, “It is good that you realize it. Now you can do something about it.”

Locana dasa Thakura likens sankirtana-yajna to a pujari that causes that Lord to appear in a sacrificial fire. The ear is the fire pit, the tongue is the spoon, and the ghee is the holy name, and with the successful sacrifice, Krishna will be appear in the heart of the devotee chanter.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura asks the question, “Whose prayer does Krishna listen to?” It is not the one who chants “Rama” to indicate the German brand of margarine but the one who prays with connectedness to the Lord.

B. B. Govinda Swami [who left the Kirtan Mela this morning] sent me an SMS: “I am chanting and dancing like an intoxicated man in my hotel room in Moscow.”

I suggest you take the kirtana home and create kirtana parties, and learn how to play the instruments. There is much instruction online. Kirtan Mela Part II can take place anywhere.

The Gauranga Band once played in Warsaw to a crowd of 7,000. The people learned a new dance step—running back and forth. They did this on the tram on the way home from the concert. The result was the trams became unbalanced, and one of them fell over on its side, and this was reported in the papers, with a picture of the overturned tram.

The influence of Kali, this age of darkness, is present everywhere, just as the air is present everywhere. Only Krishna is powerful enough to conquer over the darkness of Kali. Because the holy name is Krishna Himself, the chanting of the holy name can drive out Kali's influence.

Srila Prabhupada explains that the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is special because it is in “transcendental position beyond material contamination,” being nondifferent from Krishna Himself.

By chanting the holy name you become a member of Vaikuntha, the anxiety-free world.

Members of the most prestigious yoga school, training 130,000 people a year, came to our Kirtan Mela and had a wonderful time. They said, “How can we leave this experience? This is the best.”

If you chant with offenses, the chanting will turn against you.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes that a glimpse of the holy name rising on the horizon of the sky of our hearts destroys the darkness of ignorance and gives divine knowledge.

When the sun of the holy name prevails, all kinds of attachments are vanquished.

Without love Krishna our life is so embarrassingly materialistic.

How long can we do our spiritual practice out of duty (kathavya-buddhi)? There must be some taste.

Spiritual life can be motivated by fear, hope, duty, and attachment.

There is a story about Emerson. He was unable to get a calf to go into the barn by pushing. The one Polish maid came out with a bowl of milk and lured the calf back into the barn, saying to Emerson, “You are a big philosopher, but you do not know these simple things.”

Confront the emptiness for the first time in your life. Do not run away and fill the emptiness with materialistic activities. Stay in the kirtana, and you will become sometime able to taste the nectar of the holy name.

Do not stop the Kirtan Mela now, go on singing.

[Sacinandana Swami was inspired by the success of the Kirtan Mela and wants to organize them all over the world.]

Bhakti Vijnana Goswami:

Yamaraja says in effect to his servant, “You fools. You do not know what dharma is. Dharma is directly connected to the Supreme Lord. Very few people know this dharma, but anyone who knows it becomes immortal. He explained the devotional service of the Lord is this dharma, and it begins with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.

It is a trick of this age that we are always looking for tricks or a methodology by which we can quickly attain success.

One devotee told me I read Govinda Lilamrita. I know I should not have, but I did anyway. And my chanting became so wonderful. It was like the Lord was there with me while I chanted. And it lasted about two days.

Without a loving feeling for the Lord, no trick will work.

Jiva Goswami explains the verse where Krishna is praising the good fortune of the gopis and their special devotion by saying by performing kevala-bhakti, devotion not mixed with anything else or any false motivation, you will attain the spiritual world, but if you perform bhakti with sneha, affection, then Krishna Himself is drawn to you.

To chant sincerely means to chant with an ardent desire to attain the Lord. We do not have this desire because our life does not feel empty without the Supreme Lord. We do not feel empty without the Supreme Lord because we are filling the emptiness with insignificant happiness of the material world. We have not realized the pettiness of material pleasure so we do not look beyond it. Because you are “alright,” there is no Krishna in your life.

If you have faith that by bhakti you will attain perfection and indeed anything else that is required. Then you will be able to perform bhakti with a sincere desire to serve Krishna. Faith is the complete conviction that by serving the Lord, one will attain all things.

Devotees who have a desire to serve have no desire for sadhana nor desire for perfection because that service is to satisfying.

One verse by Sanatana Goswami that says that nama-sankirtana will definitely bring prema. There is no doubt about it. You just have to have the genuine seed of faith in the devotional service of the Lord.

The devotee only wants to serve Krishna, and that service can be done in any circumstance.

You can get the pure desire to serve the Lord if you get the seed of pure faith from the heart of a pure devotee.

Gopiparanadhana Prabhu:

[Gopiparanadhana Prabhu gave morning lectures to the devotees on the Polish festival tour and answered questions in the evenings at the festivals. He shared so many nice realizations which I already posted as a tribute in honor of his unexpected disappearance for this world just less than three weeks later. Click here to read them:]

Caruhasa Prabhu [Prabhupada disciple from America visiting Trutnov, Prague, and the Czech farm]:

My first time celebrating Janmastami was like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time.

In Vrindavan on Janmastami it is wonderful because everyone is a devotee of Krishna or trying to be. Everyone is really into it.

[He asked if anyone else had been in Vrindavan and for them to describe it. One person had, and said it was like the spiritual world.]

I am really attracted to Krishna in his form as a baby because He puts Himself in a helpless position so you can care for Him. He is stealing butter and getting into trouble, like the kids around here. But this is to attract His devotee to Him. The villagers just thought he was a normal kid with a few extra powers, like a demigod. We can learn to love Him because He is very sweet, not to serve Him out of fear. He didn't have to come as a baby, but He comes to show His love.

We will never understand God. He is so wonderful His wonder is unlimited.

Q [by me]: How did you come to accept Krishna as God?

A: When I first came to the temple, and I saw the Bhagavad-gita glowing that did it for me. It was a supernatural glow. I had started to hitchhike to San Francisco temple, and as soon as I stuck up my thumb I got a ride. When I got to the temple, a ray of light was shining from the sky right on the door. Jayananda Prabhu answered the door. He turned to the devotees and said, “Jimmy Hendricks wants to join the Hare Krishnas.” I looked like Jimmy Hendricks, and people thought I was his younger brother. I would carry an electric guitar and dress like him. Because I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, I wanted to be a Franciscan monk, but when I went to the Franciscan monastery they were playing pool, so I became disillusioned. But Krishna consciousness was real. There was someone at the temple who whenever they would tell stories of Krishna, the room would get brighter and brighter. When I saw Srila Prabhupada the first time, he was glowing a bit too. I felt like a little kid around him. He was like my daddy. He would give me cookies. He had me sit with him sometimes, on his cushion, practically on his lap.

I did a painting of Radha and Krishna meeting once, and I thought Srila Prabhupada would really like it, but he said it was too intimate. It was just Radha coming up to Krishna, and I did not see what was so intimate about it. Later I decided he just said that to humble me.

Once I was working on some scaffolding to paint Lord Caitanya's pastimes on the ceiling, and Srila Prabhupada spoke to me, saying, “This is wonderful.” I practically fell off the scaffolding. He continued, “Lord Caitanya will bless you for this.” That sort of made up for his rejection of the painting. Prabhupada was like that.

Srila Prabhupada inspired faith, so much so, I was burning up with faith. I had a lot of mystical experiences. Because of these experiences, I thought I was special. But it is not good to see yourself as special so Krishna has to make you humble in some way. When some brahmacari would ask me to clean the floor, I would resent it, but whenever I had any negative thoughts, I would literally see hell. It was not a flashback from a drug experience but a reality. I called to the devotees, and they appeared to be helpless. Then I saw Jayananda. Jayananda started to read a Krishna story to me, and the room got brighter and brighter, and the hell around me dissolved. As a result I developed faith that Krishna was God, and that if I am humble and chant Hare Krishna everything will be alright.

At an airport reception, it had been raining and when Prabhupada arrived, the rain stopped. A light from the heavens came down and was shining on Srila Prabhupada's head and body, and that light followed him down the stairs. Devotees were talking about that for weeks afterwards.

Jaya Gurudeva Prabhu [Prabhupada disciple from Prague who sings at Trutnov]:

from a Vyasa Puja day lecture:

Srila Prabhupada spoke more on Bhagavad-gita 7.1 than any other verse. The five Srimad-Bhagavatam verses quoted in that purport are also in the poem he wrote on the boat, in which he prayed to Krishna for empowerment to do his mission.

Most people at 70 are looking to rest, but Srila Prabhupada launched a prime attack on maya, material illusion. The lady who he asked for a ticket on her cargo ship to America did not permit him to go. Only by seeing his incredible determination, she relented. Only one acquaintance was there when he made his historical voyage. It took over a month to make the journey, and he had two heart attacks.

These five Srimad-Bhagavatam verses (1.2.17–21) describe Srila Prabhupada's whole mission.

In this verse, Bg. 7.1, asamsayam, without doubt is very important. Without being without doubt, one cannot keep the mind attached to Krishna.

One scholar asked Srila Prabhupada about Aurobindu. Prabhupada said because he knew Krishna he did not need to know Aurobindo and his philosophy.

In western philosophical traditions doubts are important. In Christianity, Thomas had doubts about Jesus' resurrection and Jesus asked him to touch his wounds, and he again became faithful. Doubt in the extreme case leads to skepticism and nihilism.

When I came to Krishna consciousness, by hearing from Srila Prabhupada, I came to the stage of having no doubts about Krishna. Prabhupada had no doubts about Krishna. He did not see Krishna as one of the Hindu pantheon but rather that Krishna was in the heart of everyone. Because Prabhupada saw Krishna in everyone's heart he could awaken Krishna consciousness in the hearts of others.

If we met an extraordinary person, we would share knowledge of that person with others. And so it is with Srila Prabhuapda.

By the grace of Srila Prabhupada, we do not have doubts about Krishna.

When we are in a dangerous situation, we see how the devotees take shelter of Krishna. One devotee who was driving 160 mph in the fog and a truck hit him. He cried out Krishna, Krishna. He died, but he remembered Krishna at the end.

We have doubts about the organization or the character of someone in the organization.

I saw someone who, in the 1990s, had an interest in Krishna but forgot about it for twenty years. He is now again interested.

Krishna consciousness makes us peaceful because we have no doubts. Often people take books from the sankirtana devotees because their conviction inspires them.

The pure devotee can give Krishna like one gives a piece of property. We do not get Krishna by knowledge or philosophy, but the pure devotee spiritual master gives Krishna.

Everyone who could see Srila Prabhupada could understand he was very wealthy like that [being someone who could give Krishna] although he was poor.

Some think we have to do the bhajana in such a way as to attract the public, but everyone else is acting in that consciousness of trying to attract others. In reality, when people chant with devotion to Krishna, people can see there is a difference and then they are attracted.

Srila Prabhupada considered he was successful by the grace of his spiritual master, because he endeavored to please him.

from his Vyasa Puja offering:

Srila Prabhupada had a twist on Christians. They always asked what we do for the poor. Prabhupada would often counter with the argument that welfare work was a way of becoming popular. He stressed that animals are also our brothers and sisters, and we should not kill them.

In the conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Cardinal Danilou, the cardinal had a glass of wine in his hand, as he tried to convince Prabhupada that animals have no souls. Prabhupada was concerned to see the ignorance that a cardinal could not understand that he animals have souls. Danilou said, “The cow has no soul [Jaya Gurudeva said it with a perfect French accent, making everyone laugh.]” I saw Prabhupada's expression and felt that Prabhupada would strike him. This point that animals have souls is an important part of our philosophy that Prabhupada would stress. [Caruhasa Prabhu stressed that every living creature has a soul and there are all as dear to Krishna as we are. After the meeting with the cardinal, devotees suggested they arrange a meeting with the pope, and Srila Prabhupada, disgusted by the ignorance of the cardinal, said, “That will not be necessary.”]

Some people challenged, “Do you believe in the second coming of Jesus? Srila Prabhupada said, “Of course, we will be very happy if he comes.”

One nun Srila Prabhupada talked with said she found so much inspiration for her devotion to Christ in the devotees' association.

Everyone felt satisfied in Srila Prabhupada's presence.

One professor doubted the need for the four regulative principles [no meat eating, no intoxication, no gambling, and no illicit sex], but Srila Prabhupada presented the case so expertly he was convinced. Then he inquired about love of God, and Srila Prabhupada satisfied him by his expert presentation.

Nila Madhava Prabhu [a devotee from 1986, during communist times]:

I was a member of the underground during the communist times, fighting for freedom for the people, and for me, the underground was a means of self-realization, and I became like a warrior in the underground.

But in reality, I saw that freedom led to getting drunk, getting stoned, and having sex with the nearest mate. But after that, still I was looking for a real cause.

I went to a weekend underground meeting in 1987, and everyone was chanting Hare Krishna without taking drugs and alcohol, and people were blissful afterward, not suffering from a hangover. I decided that those people could help me move in a better direction, and I decided to continue in their association, although regular meetings were not possible in those days. People had to get on wait lists to get Srila Prabhupada's books. I was happy when Bhagavad-gita and Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita finally arrived.

One time got the association of senior devotees (B. B. Govinda Swami and Indradyumna Swami, I think it was), and we chanted and took prasadam exclusively for three days straight.

Bhaktivaibhava Swami arrived at our new center purchased in 1988 on Christmas, and for us, it was like for Srila Prabhupada or Krishna arriving. He was a very humble, unpretentious personality, but he lead us to Krishna consciousness. We worked for three days straight to get the house ready, doing kirtana with banging pots to stay awake.

I am convinced that the success of the revolution against communism was meant to facilitate the spreading of Krishna consciousness.

The present Ratha-yatra in Prague gets 6,000 to 7,000 attendees including 200 devotees. This year a total of 260 kilograms of prasadam was distributed during the parade and 211 books, and 750 plates of prasadam afterwards. The public and the city council appreciated it.

Twenty-two devotees Czech devotees went out distributing books for a week before Janmastami distributing 49 maha-big books, 1049 big books, 5 medium, 263 small books, and 288 magazines, and 2,195 pieces of prasadam.

Madhava Prabhu:

Aindra Prabhu always used to tell us to cry out to the Lord for His mercy like a child crying for his mother. And if you cannot cry like that, then cry out to the Lord for the ability to cry like that.

Haridasa Thakura said, “My body may be cut to pieces, but I will not stop chanting the holy names.”


satam prasangan mama virya-samvido

bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah

taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani

sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati

In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge a person gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.25)