Friday, December 16, 2011

Travel Journal#7.21: Gainesville, Tallahassee, New Orleans

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 21
By Krishna-kripa das
(November 2011, part one)
Gainesville, Tallahassee, New Orleans
(Sent from Houston, Texas, on December 16, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

I stayed in Gainesville, chanting daily for 2½ hours at Krishna Lunch and 2 hours at the Wednesday Farmers’ Market, through the Ratha-yatra on November 4. Then taking a bus immediately afterward, I went to Tallahassee for First Friday that very evening, and a week of chanting there at Lake Ella, Krishna Lunch, and on the campus in front of the library and in front of the statues. The next weekend I had a great adventure traveling with the Vaishnava Youth bus, including many of my friends from Gainesville’s Krishna House, to New Orleans for the Ratha-yatra and its two-day festival, via New Talavan, the Mississippi Krishna farm. Then I came back to Gainesville to continue our program of chanting at Krishna Lunch.

I include notes on a few lectures from October, which did not make the last issue, such as one by our local Madhava Prabhu on Krishna’s Govardhan pastime, one by Yogesvara Prabhu on George Harrison at the Krishna Lunch 40 Years Festival, and one by Hanan for newcomers on spiritual enlightenment. There are also great quotes from Srila Prabhupada from a Back to Godhead article, from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami from his new book, Prabhupada Smaranam, and from a lecture Yogesvara Prabhu gave on the spiritual side of George Harrison’s life, and there is much, much more.

Gainesville Ratha-yatra

Each year Gainesville and Alachua devotees do Ratha-yatra in the University of Florida Homecoming Parade. This year I was assigned the role of holding the sign, and so I could not take any video of the event. It was challenging enough to figure out how to dance while holding the sign. I think we had a few less devotees than usual. Still many people smiled, waved, took photos, and danced as a result seeing the Ratha-yatra procession.

Chanting in Tallahassee

I was very happy to see a lot of enthusiasm for chanting in Tallahassee. We chanted longer than ever before at First Friday, about four and a quarter hours. Pritha participated practically the whole time despite being six months pregnant. Sivam, who read in my blog I was coming to Tallahassee, choose to return to his former home the week I was there, and he chanted for four hours. That was first time I had been at First Friday since April, seven months ago, and I was happy to see the enthusiasm.

That weekend and the next Friday, the Veteran’s Day holiday, we chanted at Lake Ella. At Lake Ella, lots of people get their exercise, walk their dogs, and stroll their kids. On Veteran’s Day one man donated two cases of water to us, and sat nearby for some time and made it clear he liked the chanting. Later a middle-aged lady liked Pritha’s chanting so much she said if did not have an appointment, she would have stayed there all day listening.

Normally we chant at Krishna Lunch on Tuesdays in Tallahassee when I am visiting, but Sivam was interested to go out on Monday, so we chanted twice at Krishna Lunch that week and a few people voiced their appreciation.

Chanting on the campus in front of the library, I met an older lady who was a professor of archeology who liked Krishna food and had even taken a cooking class at the temple in the past. One attractive young student joyfully ran up to me eager to find out where our Krishna Lunch was served. She did a paper on Hare Krishna and heard of the lunch program but could somehow or other never find it. One senior who had been vegetarian for five years had never heard of the Krishna Lunch, so I could see we definitely need to do more advertising there.

One new devotee visiting from North Carolina to take care of his sister in Tallahassee visited the temple for the day. He came out with me and was very good at distributing the sweets.

On Wednesday, we went to Garuda Prabhu’s yoga class. Turns out that five out of the ten people there that night were Hare Krishna devotees. Garuda introduced Subuddhi Krishna Prabhu, the temple president, and had him explain some Bhagavad-gita verses, in the course of the yoga class.

Thursday I went with Subuddhi Krishna to an Indian family’s home for a fire sacrifice, a Satya Narayana Puja, and the offering of lamps Krishna in His Damodara feature. The kids really participated in the chanting of Hare Krishna that was done. I could see Subuddhi Krishna Prabhu, the new temple president, was making progress reaching out to the Indian community.

All in all, a lot of public chanting happened in Tallahassee, eight times in eight days, with Rafael joining me seven times and his wife, Pritha, coming out six times. The final day I was in Tallahassee, Rafael and Pritha found out about the youth bus tour to the New Orleans Ratha-yatra which left that very evening. Amazingly enough two seats were free on the bus so they were able to come. I told them this good fortune was the Lord reciprocating with their enthusiasm for the public chanting.

Here is some video from our chanting in Tallahassee:

New Orleans Ratha-yatra and Two-Day Festival

Lots of people were eager to watch the Ratha-yatra and to take pictures as well. A few people had a great time dancing in the parade. And one mother pushing a stroller, accompanied by her family, enjoyed walking in the parade for awhile.

There were different styles of the devotional music on the stage show, and Bhaktimarga Swami directed a play.

Just behind our exhibit tents one evening Bhaktimarga Swami led some congregational chanting. Devotees were spontaneously attracted to join, and others watched. Sometimes Bhaktimarga Swami would invite one of the onlookers to dance in the middle, and most everyone who was invited would do so.

On the whole it was a very lively event. I was especially glad to see my Gainesville Krishna House friends contributing by playing the instruments, dancing, distributing food, distributing literature, and talking to the visitors.

Here is some video from the event:

Insights from Lectures and Writings

Srila Prabhupada [quoted in BTG]:

No. It is not God’s plan that you suffer; you suffer because you violate God’s laws. He is controlling everything, but He has given you minute independence: You can either follow His laws or violate them. But you are so foolish that you do not understand you are suffering. Your position is like that of the cats and dogs, who also cannot understand that they are suffering. Our point is that you are suffering because you have violated

God’s laws, and if you become obedient to God you will not suffer.

If you are suffering from some disease, you cannot expect to be cured immediately. But one who is taking the medicine is very intelligent. His sufferings will soon be gone. But these nondevotee rascals will not even take the medicine—Krishna consciousness—so they will continue to suffer.

Niranjana Swami [from recording of class in Hartford]:

Vaisesika Prabhu tells the members of the audience they may leave their cell phone on, but that if it rings during class they have to buy a Krishna book for $5.

Lord Caitanya came to teach people how to perform devotional service by His example:

Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord one can attain all perfection in life.

Lord Caitanya did not wait for us to surrender, He took the first step.

The first thing that fallen persons have to recognize to get Lord Caitanya’s mercy is that they are fallen. For the proud, advancement is difficult.

Simply by chanting the holy name, dancing, and taking prasadam with a motive to please the Lord we can easily satisfy Lord Krishna in His form as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami [from Prabhupada Smaranam]:

Srila Prabhupada said, ‘It is your fault if you stick to false religionists and reject religion. If you receive counterfeit coin you should not reject all coins.’” (p. 93)

Just as when he was in a very grave mood we became serious, so we laughed with him wholeheartedly when he tickled our ribs with a laughable point of view.” (p. 94)

Telephone communication and even internet have improved the communications, but these material advancements don’t make up for the loss of the peace and purity that once reigned in Vrindavan.” (p. 97)

[Commenting one a picture and discussing Prabhupada’s samadhi:]Prabhupada’s warm smile and gesture of hands and pranamas is a cheerful welcome. However one may have strayed away from Prabhupada or if one never met him in one’s lifetime, he is waiting to forgive us and welcome us to his eternal residence, provided we come with an open heart and an attitude of submission to the dearmost resident of Vrindavana who traveled away from Vraja to preach its glories and returned permanently to whoever has the good sense to come and associate with him.” (p. 99)

I am a little afraid of him [Prabhupada]. It is a fear that comes from love. I am afraid of displeasing him. It would be terrible if I displeased him. Yet I feel very thrilled and privileged to be accepted by him, to know that he trusts me and gives me responsibility. It is a dynamic relationship, tense in some ways, not easy and casual, yet with a deep bond. And when all is said and done it is very simple: you walk closely behind him and you are filled with dedication and ready to do as he says.” (p. 106)

In 1966 Swamiji allowed us to wear a small wooden Jagannatha murti on a necklace around our necks, in addition to the standard tulasi-mala. An eye-screw was inserted into His flat head and a strap or necklace was worn around the neck coming down to about the chest. For awhile it was quite popular and many of the then-few devotees wore them. I even wore mine with my suit and tie to my welfare office job. When the case workers went on strike, and I broke the picket lines they used to mock me for wearing my protective amulet and threatened to harm it. Some devotees even dressed the deities. But after a few years the fashion wore out. Maybe even Prabhupada suggested it wasn’t such a good idea.” (p. 109)

Once when being driven through Paris, Prabhupada noted the great museum Le Louvre and said, ‘Its perfection would be to be used as a temple for Krishna.’ He always looked at beautiful buildings with that in mind. Sometimes he asked the owners to give us the building free because we were using it for such an important purpose. Only George Harrison responded by donating the handsome Bhaktivedanta Manor as a gift.” (p. 214)

Madhava Prabhu[in Gainesville]:

We cannot understand Krishna’s Govardhan pastime without entering the Vrndavana mood, focusing on Syamasundara Krishna [His youthful feature].

This pastime is to draw us to take exclusive shelter of Krishna through Govardhan Hill.

Nanda was easily dissuaded from the Indra sacrifice as his heart was not in it.

Krishna was making the point that you can get this reciprocation you are getting from Indra even more from Govardhan.

The Vrajavasi were all laughing during the Govardhan puja as they were happily engaged in their constitutional position of pure service to Krishna.

When Indra sent the clouds, Nanda doubted for a moment and entered his puja room and began to chant Indra mantras. Krishna came in with angry eyes and accused his father of not trusting him, and encouraged him again to take shelter of Govardhan.

In the Govardhan pastime Krishna brought all his groups of friends together instead of just spending time with the boys, the girls, or the elders.

Yogesvara Prabhu [author of Here Cones the Sun—A Spiritual and Music Tribute to George Harrison]:

His father wanted George to become an electrician.

In 1964, Bill Epstein, Beatles manager, predicted that in 50 years young people would still be listening to their music. Just this year, the Beatles collection was released on iTunes.

At age 21, he got a million parcels for his birthday.

Half the town of Sydney came to one concert (300,000).

In 1964 when the Beatles toured America, 50 million dollars of Beatles merchandise was sold.

Someone who heard the Beatles liked Hare Krishna dressed in a sheet, and burst through a skylight, falling on the piano, and rolling to the floor. John Lennon said to George, “this must be one of yours”, and kept strumming the guitar.

By age twenty-three, he was burning out on success. “It was a little part that got played in this life.”

When George was in the womb of his mother, she heard a program called All India. When heard the sitar of Ravi Shankar he felt a familiarity. Was it from the time in the womb or a previous life? We will never know.

Ravi told him, “Make the right sound and you can reveal God.”

George liked the idea that the love in this world is a reflection the love that is in God.

George took the Beatles to Maharishi’s ashram in Hrishikesa.

I picked up the sitar and found that notes when I found my song “Norwegian Wood” needed something.

They wrote forty songs in Hrishikesa.

After that trip, he met Syamasundara, and some time after with Prabhupada.

He chanted on beads.

The first day the Hare Krishna mantra sold 40,000 copies. And in 9 countries it made the top ten.

All Things Must Pass was the first three-record album.

He did a charity concert feeling that he should give something called “The Concert for Bangladesh.”

Living in the Material World also quickly rose to the top of the charts.

His third album received critical reviews, as the fans wanted the Beatle George, and not the preacher George, and he went into seclusion, and depression. The death of John Lennon intensified this mood.

When you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.

At the end of his life there was only the deeply spiritual side of George.

Ekendra Prabhu:

Some songs you get tired of hearing and some songs you don’t get tired of hearing, and the Hare Krishna mantra is one of those that you do not get tired of hearing.

Mother Tsurit:

Autumn is a time of festivals of light. In the Jewish tradition, Haunaka is an offering of another lamp each day.

Hanan Prabhu:

I want to give a class on enlightenment that I could give in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue.

One definition of enlightenment is a situation of full understanding.

What is enlightenment to you?

Mother Caitanya: To know ourselves as spiritual and to know the Supreme Spirit.

Mother Tulasi Priya: To understand why we are suffering.

Krishna-kripa das: In addition to knowing ourselves as spiritual and to know the Supreme Spirit, to act in harmony with the Supreme Spirit is necessary for enlightenment.

Michelle: To have a fresh intelligence to act in harmony not in a static way.

Q: Is it true our body changes every seven years?

A [by Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu]: All the chemicals of the body change in under a decade. Even the cells that do not divide and the DNA are composed of new molecules as time passes.

Symptoms of the enlightenment:

Free from happiness and distress.

Always satisfied in oneself.

Uses senses at one’s discretion like a tortoise.

I had an idea that I could escape all suffering by living in Hrishikesa. But as I lived there, I realized that was a very neophyte idea. I returned to Israel and got a job at an insurance company to make money. I met the Hare Krishnas, and I learned to chant. I would do my job, chant, and spend time with the devotees. I found I was making more progress spiritually than by living alone in the mountains. That was because I was following an authorized process.

Back in the 70s, Giriraja Swami’s father wanted his son to return home from his life as a Krishna monk and offered Srila Prabhupada a million dollars. Srila Prabhupada said his son was free to come or go as he chose. The father offered the money to his son, but Giriraja Prabhu felt his experience as Hare Krishna was so valuable he didn’t accept the million dollars in preference to it.

Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu:

Whether one is good or bad by nature, one who is sincere can advance in devotional service.

Communion with the Lord by transmission of the transcendental sound is nondifferent from the whole spirit Lord Sri Krishna. It is a completely perfect method for approaching the Lord.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.39, purport)

The demoniac simply pursue material objects because they have no faith in the value of devotional service to the Lord.

As children have a list of gifts they desire from Santa Claus, the materialistic religionists have a list of items they want from God.

Q: Which of the four kinds of pious persons were you when you came to Krishna consciousness?

Ananda Seva Prabhu: I guess I was inquisitive because I would always talk with the Mormons when they came to visit. When they tried to force me to get baptized, I lost interest in them. The next week I met the Krishna devotees.

Olivia: As I child, I always thought that when I grew up, I would automatically know what the purpose of life was. When I was older, I could see that no one really knew the purpose of life; they all had different ideas.

Ananda Seva Prabhu: The Spanish equivalent of the word “miscreants” means “badly raised.”

The asuras are committed to the idea that there is no God, while the other three classes who do not surrender to Krishna are not necessarily so.

Q: Can we judge our sincerity by our chanting and following the rules forbidding sinful conduct?

A: Actually, we are not a very good judge of our position. Our spiritual master is a better judge. Until we have a spiritual master, our position is unclear.

Q: A devotee in the second-class platform avoids the atheistic, but here it says the Bhagavatam can benefit them. How do we know what to do?

A: Each person is different. Hear their philosophy and try to determine how much Krishna consciousness they can take and give it to them.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

When we realize there is no way to get out of a situation, we can understand that Krishna has created the situation so we will take shelter of Him.

Story illustrating knowledge and realization: Einstein’s driver heard him practice his lectures in the car so much he could give them himself. When the driver finished a sentence once before he finished it himself, Einstein came to understand this, and when he was not feeling well he asked the driver to give the lecture for him. All went well until the time came for questions. After hearing the first question, very long and involved, the driver said, “That question is not very significant, even my driver can answer it.” And he got Einstein from the car when he was resting to answer the question.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that one who walks the path of God will find it strewn with thorns. Why is this? Because Krishna wants to purify us.

Billy Graham was the spiritual adviser of every president from Truman to Bush. When asked after 9-11 [the destruction of World Trade Center towers], why God allowed such suffering, he replied that people have been asking me that question for years, and I have never been able to answer it to my full satisfaction. The advantage of Krishna consciousness is that there is an answer to that question. It is the karma of the people involved to suffer for some misdeeds in the past.

Peter Burwash gave his check for $1000 for life membership to the temple president of Hawaii, who disappeared with the money the next day. Peter asked Srila Prabhupada how to understand that, and Prabhupada said, “Do not blame the instrument of your own karma.”

America has two-thirds of the world’s lawyers, and if you get in an accident, you’ll get calls from several before you make it to the hospital. The tendency to blame others for our suffering is great, and people are ready to capitalize on it.

Wisdom comes when we go through things, and we persist in Krishna consciousness.

Although Brahma never touches the ground, when he apologized to Krishna for stealing his playmates, all four of his heads touched the ground.

How to deal with setbacks?

(1) Understand they are ultimately Krishna’s mercy.

(2) Understand the suffering is a result of my activities.

(3) Continue offering obeisances to the Lord with mind, body, and words.

Srila Prabhupada said the material world, “Shock after shock.”

If we have no expectation of enjoyment in this world, then we will have no disappointments.

It is abusive to say “it is your karma” to one who is not able to understand it.

If we give them Krishna consciousness, they get rid of their suffering permanently.

Intellectually understanding the philosophy that our material suffering is superficially is helpful, but the knowledge must ultimately go from our head to our heard to fully benefit by it.

Srila Prabhupada said, “If you chant your rounds when you are sick, that is real devotion.”

Comparing ourselves to others is not good. Either will become proud thinking we are better than other people or we will be feel bad thinking we are worse than others. Either will distract us from our service.

Mother Ali Krishna:

We are trying to be Krishnacentric, to have our lives revolve around Krishna.

Varnasrama is meant to gradually develop one’s renunciation.

We begin in a renounced order (brahmacarya) and we are supposed to end in a renounced order (sannyasa), a kind of renunciation sandwich.

Four stages of sannyasa:

Kuticaka—one lives in a hut outside the village and receives food from home.

Bahuduka—one does not accept food from home, but begs madhukari, like a bee, who collects nectar here and there.

Parivrajakacarya—one travels and preaches.

Paramahamsa—one settles in one place and absorbs himself in spiritual consciousness.

Renunciation is not devoid of action but full of action.

As a child we play with so many toys, but as we grow up that naturally falls away. Similarly by developing spiritual attachments, we naturally give up our material attachments.

Renunciation is part of all the varnas and ashramas, but it manifests in different ways in each.

Mother Govinda Mohini:

You have to accept a guru if you want to advance. If you do not take a guru, then your mind will be your guru.

Mother Caitanya:

Other yogas subdue lusty desires but they do not satisfy the soul.

Although I never met Srila Prabhupada, I feel I have a relationship with him through following his instructions.

If we do not develop friendly relationships with the devotees, we may think my mother has so much affection for me, more so than the devotees do, and my old friends liked me more than the devotees do, and in the way leave the association of devotees in search of friendship, although such friendship is often materially motivated.

Mother Amrita Keli:

When I visited home while I cooked I played my kirtana tapes, and I left books like Sri Isopanisad around. I would chant japa in the car. And it really backfired. My mother concluded we were really “out there.” Then Kalakantha Prabhu gave me the amazing advice to preach by not preaching.

At the first home program I attended, Jayananda Prabhu, whose place it was at, told me he was a geologist, and it was really great because in the Hare Krishna movement we worship rocks (silas). I thought it was really cool.

Comment by Jayananda Prabhu: Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati said we should never consider that we make someone a devotee because they are already devotees [by constitution].

Sesa Prabhu:

In 1975 I went to the Chicago Ratha-yatra. One taxi cab driver expressed extraordinary amazement to see Lord Jagannatha on his cart. He explained he was a soldier in East India, and he had seen the original Ratha-yatra in Puri, and now he was seeing it unexpectedly in Chicago.

Jagannatha’s cart is 45 feet (13.5 meters) high and is made of 832 pieces of wood and has 16 wheels. Balarama’s cart is 44 feet (13.2 meters) high and has 14 wheels. Subhadra’s cart has 12 wheels.

Skanda Purana: Those who are fortunate to see the deities at Gundica attain benefits of 1,000 asvamedha yajnas.

Lord comes out of the temple to reveal Himself to the people so they can get His darsana.

The Puri pandas threatened to beat Varuna Prabhu and threw him out of the temple because his America-made T-shirt tipped them off to the fact he was an ISKCON devotee and not a “Hindu.”

Gaudiya Vaishnava’s know Lord Jagannatha’s confidential reasons for performing the pastime: The verse spoken by Radharani longing to enjoy the Lord’s association in Vrndavana on the bank of the Reva under the Vetasi tree. She was not happy to see the Lord in his Dvaraka ksatriya mood. Ratha-yatra is not a cultural festival, a place to gain heavenly benefits, an opportunity for liberation, but an expression of the confidential mood of vipralambha-seva.

The Ratha-yatra festival in New York in 1976 was a peak in Prabhupada’s preaching. Eleven years before he arrived in New York, not knowing anyone, not knowing whether to turn right or left, but now he was riding on the Ratha-yatra cart down Fifth Avenue, with hundreds of followers, celebrating the most auspicious religious festival on the most important street of the most important city in New York City.

I organized some Ratha-yatras in new cities like Atlantic City, and we entered the Mummer’s parade in Philly.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, commented on the Mummer’s Parade on January 1, “What can you say about a parade in which the Hare Krishna’s are the most conservative group?”

Q: What is the right mood to approach Ratha-yatra?

A: Understand the internal meaning, but make arrangements for people to become attracted to Krishna consciousness by participating it in.

On the web site for the Puri temple, it is said that Jagannath is Lord Krishna.

I [Krishna-kripa das] thought of things to say about Ratha-yatra in the questions/comments part of the class, some of which I said, and some which I didn’t. These include:

I went to the Puri Ratha-yatra:

It was so hot that people were spraying the crowd with water.

Hundreds of people were running, pulling the cart, after getting it moving from its stopped state. They did not want to stop. Ahead the thousands of people were walking much slower than those running from back with the cart. Feeling trapped, I cried out “Krishna!” with more sincerity than I ever had before or since. It was such a scary situation! Being trampled by the crowd, I lost my shoes, as did three of my friends. I found my shoes, but two of my friends did not.

Prabhupada’s saying that at death those who have seen the Jagannatha cart attain the spiritual world was Jayananda Prabhu’s motivation for personally doing everything he could do to make Ratha-yatra happen.

When I explain that Ratha-yatra is the Lord coming out of the temple to show mercy to those not able to come to the temple and see Him, people generally find that a pleasing idea.

At many Ratha-yatras I attend, there are kids carts.

Almost every year I see a new Ratha-yatra: 2007 in Brno, Czech Republic, 2008 in Prague, 2009 in Trutnov, Czech Republic, and in Wroclaw, Poland, and 2011 in Hamburg, Germany, and Frederikstad, Norway.

Even the drunks in Poland pull the cart, with a beer bottle in one hand and the rope in the other.

Subuddhi Krishna Prabhu:

The Mura demon was harassing the demigods and no one could defeat him. Finally the Lord Himself engaged in battling Mura. It was a severe fight, and Lord Vishnu took a break in the middle and took rest in a cave. Mura followed Him to the cave, and found Him resting. Mura was very happy, thinking that this is the opportunity I have been waiting for to avenge the deaths of my demoniac associates by Lord Vishnu, and he prepared to kill the Lord. Just then a goddess appeared from the Lord’s body, and slew the demon. When the Lord awoke, He saw the goddess, and inquired about her identity, and she explained she was His potency. Inquired about her name, and she explained she had none, and requested the Lord to name her. Because it was the eleventh day of the moon, the Lord named her Ekadasi Devi. When He understood she had killed the demon, He offered her a benediction. She asked the Ekadasi day be known as the day of Lord Hari, and that it be celebrated by fasting from grains. He asked how that be accomplished. She asked Him to order sin personified to enter food grains. Thus it is very important to avoid eating grains on Ekadasi.

Three acts detrimental to progress: immorality, appreciation of the association of sinful people, or blasphemy of a saint or permitting it.

My mother would only eat on Wednesday because there was some restriction on every other day. When she came to see me in Bangalore, I encouraged her to ignore the other restrictions and just focus on fasting on the two Ekadasi days each month. It was difficult at first, but I ultimately convinced her. The whole family was very happy about it for the artificial austerities had not been good for any of them.

On Vaikuntha Ekadasi, the Ekadasi after Gita Jayanti, many pilgrims visit the temples in India, and the devotees take advantage to sell many Bhagavad-gita.

The Pandavas were told by Narada that if they observed Ekadasi they would get their kingdom back. When Bhima heard the restrictions, he said he could not follow, and he was given the concession that he fast without water just one day a year.

There is one room in the Jagannatha temple where the priests put all the ingredients for cooking and turn on the stove, lock the door, and return in an hour, and find a variety of preparations perfectly cooked by Laksmi Devi, the goddess of fortune and consort of the Lord.

The Supreme Soul can be understood by regulated spiritual practice, so it is no wonder that not many people know Him, because how many people seriously engage in a regulated spiritual practice?

To show that no one should think he is far superior, Krishna accepted Sandipani Muni as guru and Lord Caitanya heard spiritual topics from Ramananda Raya.

Srila Prabhupada would always translate bhakti as devotional service. Without service there is no meaning to devotion.

Doing karma is like sowing a seed, and karma-phala is the fruit of the seed.

Sometimes I ask the Indian people why they do not come to the temple. They say when Krishna calls me I will come. I ask them, “Do you think you are such a special person that Krishna will call you? Do you just invite anyone to your home? No, you invite your friends. So you if become friendly toward Krishna you can expect Him to reach out to you.”

If you get the children into Krishna activities then the parents get involved in them.

The story of Balaji is written in the Padmavati Upapurana of the Padma Purana.

The Devi Purana is not bona fide and says things like Krishna or Rama emanate from Durga.

Vishnu Purana, Naradiya Purana, Padma Purana, Garuda Purana, Varaha Purana, and Bhagavata Purana are in the mode of goodness. Garuda Purana tells the thousand names of Vishnu. Naradiya Purana tells about Jagannatha Puri and Dvaraka.

Brahmananda Purana, Brahma-vivarta Purana, Markandeya Purana, Bhavisya Purana, Vamana Purana, and Brahma Purana are for those in the mode of passion.

Brahma-vivarta Purana contains the harer nama verse.

There is part of the story of Vamana that Sukracarya wanted to stop Him from taking water from his water pot by becoming a fly and blocking the hole. Vamana took a kusa straw and forced it open, poking Sukracarya in the eye.

Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Linga Purana, Siva Purana, Skanda Purana, and Agni Purana are for those in the mode of ignorance. Kurma tells of Krishna instructing Visvasvan. Skanda Purana also includes Lord Shiva glorifying Lord Vishnu so the Vaishnavas also quote from it. Agni Purana tells about how to identify salagram-sila.

Creation, re-creation, history of sages, manvartara, geneology of kings are the topics of the Puranas.

We had a controversy about what the size the home deities could be as in India many people say because the home standard of worship is lower the deity should not be larger than your fist. Just before Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day, I had a dream with Srila Prabhupada sitting just across from me. He put his hand on my shoulder and smiled and said it does not matter if the deity is the small or large.

One Indian man who came to the temple occasionally, went to India after a seven-year absence. While visiting the ISKCON Hyderabad one devotee asked him if he had chanted japa before and personally led him into the temple and sat him down and chanted 2 rounds with him. He told him, “Think of this as your gift to Krishna. Each day chant with your wife and children.” “I do not have any children.” he said. “You will,” the devotee replied. That was September 19. Turns out that within a couple months the man and his wife had adopted a baby that was born on September 19.

One Swedish lady gave the Puri pandas 20,000,000 rupees, and she got a special darsana.

The tree the priest determined to be the one to use for the Jagannatha deity was on the property of a Muslim man who did not like the idea of it being used for a Hindu deity. Jagannatha appeared in the dreams of everyone in the household indicating they would lose their house, if they did not give up their tree, and the Muslim man submitted.

The fact that Indra is worried that a performer of austerities may take over his post is proof that Indra is a position not a personality, something that many people in India do not know.

Braja Hari Prabhu:

Bhaktivinoda Thakura predicted the spreading of Krishna consciousness all over the world very soon. Although the British were in control of India, Bhaktivinoda Thakura had faith in the scriptures and he knew the world change while the scriptures would not change.

Dharma is the obstacle for Indians to preach Krishna consciousness because they think they have so many other duties.

Brahma-tirtha Prabhu:

A place with spiritual sound vibrations is a true sanctuary.

Elegant solutions unexpectedly resolve a problem so that all concerned are satisfied.

I was on an airplane that was being hijacked, and I was in the front row of seats. I was very fearful, and I prayed to Krishna. The hijacker, who was in the process of trying to break into the cockpit, poured of a pot of hot coffee on a stewardess that was impeding him. I was outraged at such cruelty to an innocent person, and I stood up and looked him in the eye, and shouted, “You are going to die!” He stopped in his tracks and glared back as me, locking eyes with me, as the pilot safely landed the plane.

Q [by Gopala Prabhu]: What is the difference between gossip and calling a thief a thief?

A: We should always be ready to call ourselves a thief. If someone steals the hundi [donation] box, it is good to catch him. Once one devotee stole a lot of money, and they asked Prabhupada if they should call the police. Prabhupada said not to call the police because if they called the police then that devotee would never come back.

I associate with those people I trust.

Boot camp is great training, but if you spend your whole life in boot camp, you will go crazy. Srila Prabhupada put a fence around us so we would be protected as we grew up, just like farmers protect a young tree. But if you keep the fence in place once the tree is bigger, it will stifle the growth of the tree.

Sankarsana Prabhu [from BTG]:

The first offense is to be critical of those who have dedicated their lives to spread the Krishna consciousness movement. Such devotees are always to be loved and respected, even if we sometimes have a difference of opinion with them. Krishna says that unless we are the devotees of His devotees, then we are not His devotees. Therefore in all conditions we must remain the devotee of His devotees.”

Caitanya Carana BTG article:

because we are living in this world and taking air, water, sunlight, and food from nature, we need to know and follow the rules laid down by God, who gives what we need to live, including the knowledge of how to live.”


kalim sabhajayanty arya

guna jnah sara-bhaginah

yatra sankirtanenaiva

sarva-svartho ’bhilabhyate

Those who are actually advanced in knowledge are able to appreciate the essential value of this age of Kali. Such enlightened persons worship Kali-yuga because in this fallen age all perfection of life can easily be achieved by the performance of sankirtana.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.36)