Monday, December 12, 2011

Travel Journal#7.20: New Vrindavan, North Carolina, Florida


Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 20
By Krishna-kripa das
(October 2011, part two)
New Vrindavan, North Carolina, Gainesville, Orlando
(Sent from Gainesville, FL, on December 12, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

By the grace of the Lord and His devotees, Bhakta Max, from Columbia, drove me from New Jersey to New Vrindavan where I participated in the 24-hour kirtan (chanting) program there. Then Mitra Sena Prabhu kindly drove me to North Carolina where I stayed at Prabhupada Village for two days, chanting once at the North Carolina School of the Arts, before Madhuha Prabhu drove me to Gainesville. One weekend, the Gainesville devotees chanted at the Veggie Fest in Orlando. We also chanted at The Fest (a punk festive in Gainesville), at the forty year anniversary of Krishna Lunch festival, and downtown on Halloween as well. [Halloween is always slower when it is on a Monday.] All in all, October was a great month for extra kirtana.

I include notes from lectures by Prabhupada disciples, Kalakantha Prabhu, Mother Nanda, and Ranjit Prabhu, and also some from several younger devotees at the Gainesville Krishna House.

New Vrindavan Karttika 24-Hour Kirtan

At the conclusion of the 24-hour kirtana, temple president and disciple of Sacinandana Swami, Jaya Krishna Prabhu, said that New Vrindavan is committed to having two 24-hours kirtanas a year, one in the summer and the other at Karttika. He also said they are thinking about doing a Kirtan Mela, like the devotees did in Germany this year.

I chanted the response for some time while my friend Garrison sang between 1:10 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. I was so tired that at least ten times I was awakened when I nodded off and my mouth touched the microphone. I do not know if it was obvious. I would be curious to see the video of it.

I danced for 90% of the time I participated in the kirtana event. There was some dancing but not as much as at the Kirtan Mela in Germany. This was partly because there were several times more people at Kirtan Mela.

Out of the twenty-four, I lost three and a half hours from sleeping, three and a quarter hours from taking meals and talking with devotees afterward, an hour from taking showers and dressing. I spent an hour helping in the kitchen. I planned to either sing or played kirtana tapes and sing along with them to keep the kirtana going, but I spaced out perhaps half the time so I should subtract another half hour. Thus I spent fifteen and three-quarters hours in kirtana or about two-thirds of the time. That reminds me how Sacinandana Swami recommended that we chant at least eight of the twelve hours each day at the Kirtan Mela in Germany, or also two-thirds. I chanted japa during the kirtana while the leader was singing and during pauses between the lead and response. I would chant the response and count it as one mantra toward my japa. In this way, I chanted sixteen rounds in two in a half hours instead of an hour and three-quarters, and I was able to chant the response to the kirtana almost the whole time.

Here is some video I took of the 24-hour kirtana:

Prabhupada Village in North Carolina

I was happy I got to sing in a new state and a new college for me, North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Three people talked to me during the three hours I was there. One high school girl sat down and chanted a few mantras. One boy from Columbia had Hare Krishna friends in his home country, and he knew of ISKCON guru, Bhakti Bhusana Swami, originally from Germany. The police stopped me after I had chanted my three hours, so it did not really matter. We had guessed wrong about the location of the free speech area.

Every place its challenges, and the shortest path from Mitra Sena Prabhu’s house to the temple in Prabhupada Village is to walk through the creek. I am not used to walking through creeks in the dark of the early morning, so it was a little challenge for me!

Mitra Sena Prabhu is super friendly and a great musician, playing a variety of intruments. He played a really sweet Hare Krishna tune on the banjo one night, and I had a great time chanting and dancing along.

Orlando Veggie Fest

The Orlando Veggie Fest was a great event to share Krishna consciousness at. Many people listened to our kirtana, sat down on our blanket and chanted with us, and some danced along to the kirtana as well. Sometimes people interact with our kirtana party when their consciousness is altered by intoxication, because they are too shy otherwise, but these people were choosing to associate with the devotees and the chanting in their normal consciousness. Trivikrama Swami and devotees from Orlando were there doing kirtana, and the Orlando devotees joined with us and the collaboration made it more powerful. Mothers Govinda Mohini and Olivia walked around and distributed many books to the people there. Next year we hope to distribute prasadam as well.

This video begins we our chanting at the Orlando Veggie Fest, and includes many of the other harinama programs around Gainesville in October:

Harinama at the Punk Fest

Usually on Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day, the devotees do a special arati in evening for Srila Prabhupada and then chant Hare Krishna in the temple the rest of the evening. This year after the evening Prabhupada arati and a brief kirtana, we had a harinama downtown. The reason was to benefit the some of the thousands of people in Gainesville for the annual punk festival, known as The Fest. Adi Karta Prabhu led some very enthusiastic kirtana, playing his accordion. Lots of people waved, clapped, chanted, and danced with us in the course of the evening. We were a little overambitious in chanting, entering a couple of bars, which did not go over too well, especially with the police. We have not developed the rapport with the local establishments that Miami's Siddha Vidya Prabhu has, which make him beloved for his chanting in their places. Still it was nice to spend the evening of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day in sharing his gift of the holy name with others. People all over the world come for that festival, and we talked to some boys from Austria who appreciated our chanting.

Insight from Lectures

Kalakantha Prabhu:

Saintly persons do not reject the world but see how it can be used in Krishna's service.

The saintly person sees how materialistic people are essentially spiritual and does not judge them for their temporary material covering.

In the mode of goodness one sees the commonalities as prominent while in the modes of passion and ignorance one sees the differences as prominent.

Definition of Politics: Who gets what, when, and where.

Prabhupada said he was never defeated in argument except when his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura, convinced him that Indian independence was not necessary to spread its spiritual knowledge.

There is three million dollars for every man on earth.

Actual revolution means changing our consciousness.

Headline in Vancouver paper after Bush’s second election: “How Can 51 Million People Be So Dumb?”

Ballaba Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada says in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.14.31. It is the duty of a saintly person to upset the demoniac political situation: “If the king or government becomes demonic, it is the duty of a saintly person to upset the government and replace it with deserving persons who follow the orders and instructions of saintly persons.”

The morning program is like a daily medication.

A few people with conviction can change the world.

Lord Caitanya was living in India when the Muslims were in control, but he never advocated overthrowing the Muslim rule. Only when they stopped the sankirtana [the congregational chanting of the holy name] did He protest.

Mother Nanda dd:

I like to review the context in the Bhagavatam class because if we understand the context we will understand the importance of the present text in relationship to its surrounding ones and thus be more inclined to remember it.

This idea of indebtedness is a very Eastern idea. We are indebted to our parents, our society, etc.. Often in the West we forget this, but it is very important.

When I lived in South Florida, occasionally I would do some preaching. One Bhakta Tom came for some time and then did not come for a year or so. When he returned, he said, “Not a day went by when I did not think of Krishna at least once.”

Q: How do we know if we are spiritually advancing?
A: Detachment from material desire.
A (by me): The nine symptoms of bhava, which include detachment as you mentioned, also include attachment to the holy name and the holy dhama [the holy places], great eagerness, and hope of attaining the Lord’s mercy.

The devotee may seem to suffer the same reactions as a materialistic man, but in fact, his suffering is administered directly by the Lord for his purification.

One man was telling Srila Prabhupada that he was struggling greatly in devotional service, and he asked if there was any special mercy that he could attain. Srila Prabhupada said that there was indeed special mercy, and he explained that when Krishna is especially favorable He takes away all one’s material assets so one is forced to surrender to Him. Prabhupada asked if he wanted that mercy, but out of fear, the man declined.

The tendency when something bad happens to us, is to think we do not deserve it.

If we think everything that happens to us is happening by Krishna’s kind arrangement, that greatly increases our remembrance of Krishna.

Thinking we are unworthy is actually based on reality, but if that idea is used to pull us away from doing devotional service, then it is a manifestation of maya [illusion].

Lord Caitanya’s mercy is that all the people are getting the opportunity for devotional service although they do not deserve it.

Q: How do I become free from doubts for good? They go and yet return.
A: Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita they should be slashed with the weapon knowledge.

Sometimes we look ahead to the goal of pure devotional service, and we feel despondent because we have so far to go. But if we look back and see how far we have come, then we will be encouraged. If we only look back, then we can be illusioned, thinking we have come so far, and therefore, we have to look both ahead and back.

Ranjit Prabhu:

An important understanding in our Vaishnava tradition is that everything emanates from God and thus everything is actually part of God.

There is an interest in investigating the cause of the universe, and modern society spends billions of dollars on scientific research, both on macroscopic level with astronomy which deals in measuring the extent of the universe through telescopes, and on the microscopic level, dealing with atomic particles.

Sometimes the particle physicists will do an experiment and find a particle which does not show up when they replicate the experiment.

The material world is endlessly mutable.

The problem with cancer is that everyone has a different mutation of the disease.

The motive of science toward material progress and freedom from suffering is different from that required to understand reality.

Bhagavad-gita ultimately teaches we must be engaged in spiritual activities 24/7. [twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week]. This state is accomplished by surrender to, service to, and inquiries from a self-realized soul.

Chanting in groups or alone is the most powerful practice.

Faith sustains one’s practice at all stages.

Some qualities and activities leading to devotional development are present in the lives of the perfectly realized. Faith in the protection of Krishna is there in the residents of Vrindavan, as in the cowherd boys who fearlessly entered the serpert, Aghasura. Worship is there as well.

Q: Some of our spiritual ideas are known to other groups as well so what is so secret about them?
A: Although there some knowledge, the experience may not be there. One cannot taste the honey without opening the jar.

Comment by Abhi: Srila Prabhupada says faith comes from reading Bhagavad-gita.

Braja-hari Prabhu:

We can remember Krishna if we have love for Him. Analogies to show how love makes steady remembrance possible include the analogy of the wife and paramour and the mother and the baby. Because of love the wife remembers her paramour, even while she does her household duties, and because of love, the mother remembers her child despite other activities.

Srila Prabhupada says practice can bring about success in an activity that we have the ability to perform. A child can practice to walk with success, however, if a child practices to fly, he will be unsuccessful.

I remember the five most important items of devotional service in this way:
A – association with devotees
B – Bhagavatam reading
C – Chanting the holy name
D – Deity worship
E – Entering the holy dhama [I would modify this to “Existing in the holy dhama.]

Q: What does it mean to see all beings equally?
A: To see how they can be engaged in devotional service to Krishna.

There is a story of saint who tried to save a scorpion from drowning, but each time the scorpion bit him. Finally he was successful, and a disciple asked why he was so determined to save the scorpion although the scorpion bit him. The saint said, “The scorpion was determined not give up his nature, so why should I give up mine?”

Dina Bandhu Prabhu:

Because I was so trained as a scientist, it was difficult for me read Srila Prabhupada's books for long periods at a time because he criticized my view of the world so forthrightly.

I find if I cultivate a relationship with a person who is beginning to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and they understand how much Srila Prabhupada is important to me, they will be more inclined to take his words seriously.

Kusum Sarorova is said to be bottomless. During British times the British tried to find the bottom of it to disprove the religion but they could not.

When they drained Radha and Shyama Kunda a few years back you could see how they were connected at the bottom. It is significant as it is described the gopis used water from Shyama Kunda to fill up Radha Kunda.

Apparently the monkeys leave the Seva Kunj area in the evening.

I found it easier to chant in the holy dhama, and I felt greater respect for the chanting.

I had a sense that the deities there were conscious of my deviations of mind and so I was more conscious to think devotionally before Them.

Hanan Prabhu:

The Mahabharata is so attractive that the Indian parliament recessed so they could watch it when it was on TV.

When one Israeli soldier returned home after five years of captivity, he was welcomed by the prime minister, the general, and his parents. It was very moving, and I was telling my wife, “Just think how much Krishna and the residents of the spiritual world will be happy to see us when we return there.”

Being dissatisfied is part of our spiritual life, and it helps us to move forward.

Arjuna vowed, “If anyone makes me put down my Gandiva bow, I will kill him.” But seeing his relatives on the opposite side on the battlefield was so traumatic that his bow fell from his hand.

The village of Radha Kunda was previously called Aristagrama.

Krishna defended his killing of the bull Aristasura by saying that Aristasura was not a bull but a demon taking the form of a bull.

Visakha said He should undergo atonement for killing the bull just as Indra had to undergo atonement for the killing of the brahmana, Vrtrasura.

Krishna invited the gopis to enjoy with Him in Shyama Kunda, but they refused saying that the water was contaminated by His sinful reactions. Instead they wanted to create their own bathing place.

Comment by Olivia: A materialistic person thinks obtaining the self-gratification will bring satisfaction and is not really sure what is the cause of his dissatisfaction. A Krishna conscious person knows why he is dissatisfied and knows that by engaging in devotional service he will be satisfied.

In Mahabharata Vidura tells Dhrtarastra that being angry with someone is like holding a burning cinder that you hope to throw on the person who incited your anger, but all the while, the cinder is burning you.

Comment by Dr. Dina Bandhu: The mental effects of anger are unclear, confused, and irrational thought. Physically there is increase heart rate, increase blood pressure, your pupils dialate, and your face may turn red.

Mohammed was asked thrice for a single deed most beneficial to spiritual advancement. Each time he said, “Give up anger,” explaining that if you do so, heaven is yours.

Alexander the Great story: Alexander came to Vrindavan and wanted to see a reputed sage there. They reached the sage’s place, and Alexander sent his messenger to the sage telling of the king’s arrival. The sage was not impressed. He told the messenger that Krishna is the only king in Vrindavan, but if Alexander wants to come in, he is quite welcome. Alexander could not follow the message, and repeated his request and got the same response, finally Alexander stormed with sword in hand, but was disarmed by the peaceful sage, so much so he set his weapon aside. The sage said, “You are servant of my servant.” “How is that?” replied Alexander. The sage replied, “I control anger, so anger is my servant. You are controlled by anger, so you are the servant of my servant.”

Comment by Ekendra: Originally when I tried to fix the sink, I did it in the mood thinking I was the doer and I was going to fix the sink. Things did not go at all well. The next day, before I attempted the task, I prayed to Krishna as His dishwasher, hoping for an improved facility and it went a lot better.

I asked one psychology student after he had studied for seven years if psychologists actually solve people’s problems. He said no, but they help the people see their situation in a broader perspective. I said that is also what Krishna does in Bhagavad-gita, as an expert psychologist. He gave Arjuna knowledge so he could see his predicament in a broader perspective.

By associating with God’s name, we are associating with God, who is the most patient person, and thus we become more patient by that association.


krishna-mantra haite habe samsara mocana
krishna-nama haite pabe krishnera carana

Simply by chanting the holy name of Krishna one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Adi-lila 7.73)