Saturday, November 26, 2011

Travel Journal#7.18: United Kingdom, Philadelphia, New York

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 18
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2011, part two)
United Kingdom, Philadelphia, New York
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on November 25, 2011)

[Note: Manorama Prabhu (formerly Manu) invited me to come on the 12 festival Youth Bus Tour to Mexico (December 15, 2011–January 8, 2012) as he likes to have a few older devotees to accompany the youth. For me to go, I need some sponsors. If you would like to help out, click on this link,, and click on “Donate” and fill out the form. When you see “Add special instructions to the seller”, click on it and type “for Krishna-kripa das”. Thank you so much.]

Where I Went and What I Did

After leaving the Ukraine festival in mid-September, I did a nama-hatta program in Crawley, England, attended the Ratha-yatra in Cardiff, Wales, and celebrated the end of World Holy Name Week doing harinama in London. Then I went to Philadelphia for the Ratha-yatra. The next day, I went to Queens for a twelve-hour kirtana, and the following day, we went chanting at Adi Purusa Prabhu's Food for Life in the morning, at Union Square during the day, and at Occupy Wall Street in the evening, returning to Philadelphia the next day for five days of harinama there.

I have some insights from Srila Prabhupada, Maha-Vishnu Swami, Kripa Moya Prabhu, as well as others, and some great quotes from Gopiparanadhana Prabhu’s soon-to-be-printed Tattva-sandarbha.

Cardiff Ratha-yatra

I came back from Ukraine a week earlier than usual in hopes of attending the Prabhupada festival in Boston, but I could not find a cheap flight. Thus I took advantage of my unexpected stay in the UK to attend a nama-hatta in Crawley and the Cardiff Ratha-yatra. I had never heard of Crawley until this year when a devotee who liked my Bhakti Sastri class at Soho told me he was from there. Later, the week after the London Ratha-yatra, I went to the Crawley Ratha-yatra. Jai Nitai Prabhu also invited me to help out with the nama-hattas southeast of London like Crawley. Furthermore I heard Gatwick Airport, the destination of my Ukraine flight, was nearby so the devotees could pick me up. So it all worked out very well. Thirty or forty people came for the event, and there was good participation during the kirtana.

The next day was Ratha-yatra in Cardiff, as I learned from the UK Ratha-yatra web site, and I took the train there. It was a bit pricey but the Crawley devotees donations covered it. I was excited because Wales is a new country for me. Having arrived at the train station halfway through the Ratha-yatra, I was worried I would not find it, but I passed a man who had just seen it, and he directed me. I was so happy to be with my UK festival friends, like Maha-Vishnu Swami, Parasurama Prabhu and Giridhari Prabhus who I had chanted with at places like Stonehenge and at the Crawley and Scandinavian Ratha-yatras. I also saw several friends from the Polish tour. Gaura Hari, who led kirtana, and Gopal Kumar Prabhus were there from England, and Gundica Prabhu, who is now living in Wales, with his wife, Ganga Seva dd, who got a lot of people dancing at the stage show after the Ratha-yatra. Both Ratha-yatra and stage show were very lively as you can see from the video. I recall one couple I invited to the festival came and stayed till almost the end, dancing in the kirtana as well. One friend of the devotees got ready to leave twice during the kirtana, but then got back into singing and dancing again, not being able to pull herself away from the ecstasy!

World Holy Name Week

I always spend part of World Holy Name Week at the Ukraine festival, where we do three hours of kirtana each night. The challenge is to have good congregational chanting programs for the other days. World Holy Name Week is not really a week, but eleven days, this year September 10–20. The Ukraine festival covered September 10–14, and Cardiff Ratha-yatra was on September 17. That left September 18, 19, and 20. By Krishna’s grace I was in London, where I can almost always find devotees to chant with. Not only that, but Maha-Vishnu Swami, who is enthusiasm personified when it comes to harinama was visiting London. Because of such good fortune, we had eight harinamas in those three days: Sunday after breakfast and after the Sunday feast, and Monday and Tuesday after breakfast, at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, and 6:00 p.m. in the evening. The following video depicts some of the transcendental happiness of it all:

While in London, I got to hear some very lively Guru Puja kirtanas by Maha-Vishnu Swami at our Soho Street temple, as you can see in the following video. Among the women singing and dancing is singer songwriter Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, who is friends with some London devotees and chants Hare Krishna and visits the temple.

Philadelphia Ratha-yatra

Hare Krishna devotees observed Ratha-yatra on September 24, 2011, in Philadelphia. This year the Panca-Tattva deities who live above Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant on South Street rode in their own chariot. Janananda Goswami, seen dancing blissfully, visited from the UK. Philly Ratha-yatra has some uncommon features like the bag pipe band, the drummers, the devotees dressed as incarnations of the Lord, demigods, and famous devotees. Also may kids pulled small carts in the parade.

At the festival in the park in front of the art musuem after the parade, there are lots of activities. There is a stage show, a
kirtana tent, face painting, instruction in chanting Hare Krishna on beads, and hatha-yoga. I see my younger devotee friends playing different important and useful roles. Navina Shyama Prabhu was the stage show MC, and one of my gurukula science students, Purusharta Prabhu’s son, Devananda, was in charge of the sound booth. Ganga Varuni taught yoga, and Jaya Sita dd did face painting. The prasadam is always tasty and well organized, with lots of help from the mostly Indian congregation. The Philly art museums happened to give students free admission on that day, so extra students were nearby to participant in our festival. I talked to several young people happily eating prasadam and willing to hear about our vegetarian restaurant and temple programs in Philadelphia. That is my second year in a row at the Philly Ratha-yatra, and I hope I can keep coming.

Philadelphia Harinamas

Three afternoons I chanted at Rittenhouse Square with a Hare Krishna friend. On Tuesday, September 27, Steven James came out with me. One sweet young lady photographer called Gaby who has a blog called “The Square People,” talked with us and included pictures she took in her blog:

Picture of Steven James and Krishna-kripa das

She wrote of her experience, “As I entered the square from the Walnut and 18th Street entrance, I was greeted by the soothing sounds of music and chanting. After catching up with some square regulars, I returned to meet Krishna-kripa Das (right) and Steven (left). They are Hare Krishnas and follow a spiritual practice based on traditional Hindu scriptures. As I develop an understanding of my own spirituality, I have found practices of the Hare Krishna, such as meditation and yoga, extremely worthwhile. While it’s not for everyone, I think the emphasis on connectivity, recognition of personal and worldly beauty, and peace is universally important.”

On Wednesday, September 28, Bhagavatananda Prabhu, who is very friendly and outgoing, came out with me. He encouraged one man, Gabe, to try chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, reading it from the Philly temple invitation, and he encouraged Bret, who likes kirtana, to play the karatalas with us. Bret surprised us by supplying his own karatalas. Bret’s friend took this video:

Every second Friday evening, Ganga Varuni and a friend arrange a harinama at Rittenhouse Square. Gandharvika dd made a sweet for distribution, and we had temple invitations and books, about twenty books being distributed.

One Saturday, we had harinama at U. Penn. The devotees liked the experience and became eager to do more harinamas. Later on, they decided to chant at Occupy Philly. Near the beginning of the occupation devotees chanted for seven hours. In the month of October, going out twice a week, and distributing spiritual books and food, the devotees distributed about five hundred books and one thousand plates of spiritual food.

Insights from Lectures

Srila Prabhupada:

Because I was sponsored by a private individual and not an organization the officials did not want to approve my going to America. I took it to a superior, and when I entered his office, he immediately said, “Don't worry, Swamiji, I have approved you.”

When I entered America, the immigration wanted to know how long I would stay. I had a one-month sponsorship, and figured under the circumstances I could stay at most at two months. Each time I extended my visa, I paid ten dollars. After a year, they would not extend it any more, so I engaged a lawyer, who helped get me permanent residency.

In July 1967, I was feeling very bad due to heart stroke, I thought, “Let me return to Vrindavana and die there.” But I returned to America in December 1967.

Q: Why did Srila Prabhupada book his return ticket for a two-month stay?

A [by Maha-Vishnu Swami]: Srila Prabhupada did not come thinking he would definitely be successful in starting a worldwide movement. Srila Prabhupada wasn't thinking, “I am an empowered incarnation.” He was humbly thinking that by Krishna's grace something could happen.

Maha-Vishnu Swami [London]:

The Vedic conception of God is He is that from whom everything has emanated, or in other words, the cause of all causes.

We give the scientists credit. They are intelligent because that are looking for the ultimate cause, up to a point, up to the Big Bang. Sometimes there is a big bang and many people are killed. The police are not satisfied simply to say there was a big bang and to leave it at that. They investigate the cause of the bang. Who or what was behind it?

We have an asuric [demonic] mentality—to enjoy at another's expense. Because we all have come here with this mentality, there can never really be peace in the material world.

Q: Krishna as Bhagavan, He who possesses all opulence, has done things like lift Govardhan Hill, marry 16,000 wives and possess 16,000 places. How can we help people to understand how this is possible?

A: Even ordinary people can do amazing things. There is one tower in Dubai 1,200 feet high, and there is one French man who climbed up the tower by his finger nails. How is it hard to understand that the person who is maintaining all the planets in orbit can lift up an insignificant hill 13 miles across?

Kripamoya Prabhu [London at the Soho Sunday Feast]:

As a new devotee in the 1970s, periodically we would be stopped by the police for chanting and dancing on the streets of London. Sometimes we were even locked up until we promised we would never, ever chant and dance on the streets of London again. This year I was impressed that all the policemen at the Cardiff Ratha-yatra were wearing garlands of flowers and smiling as they guided us through the streets. Times are changing.

During the Ratha-yatra, a lady came up to me, and said, “I am a yoga teacher, and I saw your chariot, and everyone singing and dancing, so happily. I wanted what you had, so I started to sing your song. I felt if I did not have a care in the world. And I started to cry. And I am not a sentimental person. I never cry, but cried for ten minutes. I just thought I should tell you.”

Whenever there is a revolution for change, there is often a song that goes along with it. We would like to think our that song, the Hare Krishna mantra, will be a song for change.

The words of the Hare Krishna mantra will give you a taste of eternity. We can taste eternity because we are eternal. As a Christian I learn that if I believed in Christ, I would attain eternality, but as a Hare Krishna I learned that I was already eternal. We just have to become qualified to experience our eternality.

The word “eternal” comes from a Greek word that means forever existing in the future, and also forever existing in the past.

Spiritual life means I will make a determined effort to never push the snooze button and return to the sleeping condition of material life.

When you see a car, if you like cars you will notice the car, otherwise you notice the person. The needs of car and the driver are different. If you give the driver petrol to drink, he will not like it. Similar if you put creamy doughnuts in the gas tank, the car will not like it. Unfortunately, we do not know the food for the soul, so we simply look for food for the mind and body. The sound of kirtana, devotional chanting, is food for the soul.

Decades ago I went into a temple and they told me to experiment with chanting the mantra. I did, and I am still experimenting. If it stops working tomorrow, I am out the door. No temple president can convince me to stay. But so far I like it.

One devotee prays to the Lord, I see you dragging me back to you by a rope you have attached to my toe, but I am foolishly flapping my arms to get away. Please excuse my flapping, for I really do want to come back to you.

It is said Lord Nrsimha is looking with love from one eye at Prahlada Maharaja and looking with anger from the other eye at Hiranyakasipu. Sridhara Swami in his 13th century commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam says that Lord Nrsimha is like a lioness who feds her cubs with affection at one moment and then fights an intruder to protect them at another, and then returns to feeding her cubs with affection.

Struggle is there to give up something for something greater, but by doing that we become peaceful.

Whenever there is seeking after God, there is song. When there are new realizations, they are expressed in song. And saints use songs to share spiritual truths with the general public.

To an extent when we give up the temporary, we can taste the eternal.

Mantra is a protective sound formula, protecting us from being materially absorbed.

We must know God as real, as friendly, as within and without, as the controller, as the ultimate destination, and as the greatest friend.

Lord Caitanya encouraged, “Come out of your places of worship and come into the streets and sing.”

Sometimes Bhaktivinoda Thakura would write songs of pure devotion to God and sign them, the anonymous Sufi, so people would sing them.

According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, “You are standing on the threshold of bhakti if you can just do the six items of surrender.”

In all problems, we must open our umbrella and take shelter of Krishna's mercy.

Akrura Prabhu [London]:

Krishna is the supreme enjoyer but He noticed Radha was enjoying serving Him more than He was enjoying being served. Thus he descended as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to taste the feelings of Srimati Radharani.

I can see at Gitanagari, Bhakti Tirtha Swami trained his disciples to be very caring.

Attaining unconditional love for Krishna and all living entities seems to be the more difficult thing.

My mother never asked anything of me. She never asked me to finish high school, which I did not do, nor to do time in the army, which I was obliged to do, but did not, nor to get just get a job, which I did not do.

One lady was cheated by her husband in such a bad way she spent 7 years in jail. When she got out, she got cancer. Finding no hope for cure, she saw a karma diagnostic man who said, “You have cancer because you did not forgive your husband.” So she seriously forgave her husband, and she is still alive.

I have found many devotees who are stuck because they have not forgiven someone.

Instead of blaming people, if we take responsibility, we will become free.

Commenting on the tat te 'nukampam verse, Srila Prabhupada says we get much less than we deserve. How much less? Once he says if you are to be fined millions of dollars, the judge will fine you ten cents.

In one sense it is arrogant to forgive, because we should not have blamed them in the first place. It is just our karma we were getting.

One lady lamented, “My husband left me!” I explained that it could have been your karma that he killed you, but it was reduced. Then she was relieved.

Q: What about people who they are not on that level to forgive as your recommended?

A: They still have to do it. It is the truth. You have to encourage them to try. They will be feel better.

Q: How can remember to forgive?

A: Sometimes we are doing everything right, but we are not happy. It could be you have not forgiven someone. I will remind you every month to make sure you have forgiven everyone.

If you do not forgive, you will have to be born again in the material world.

Comment by Jai Nitai Prabhu: Another point is that one who harms us has done us a favor, because we had it coming due to our karma.

One of our duties as preachers is to set people free by telling the people truth about their situation, regardless of their religion because ultimately it is the same truth.

Bhutabhavana Prabhu [London]:

We may have lust, greed, and anger in our heart, but that does not have to be the motive for our devotional service. We can still execute devotional service simply to please guru and Krishna.

A trick of maya is to make us too conscious of our anarthas [impurities], and thus become discouraged by them.

The more we feel we are OK, the more we are not.

Too much money and too many followers are not the cause of falldown but too little Krishna consciousness.

Tattva-Sandarbha and commentary by Gopiparanadhana Prabhu:

[With the permission of the BBT editors, I include quotes from the yet-to-be-printed, Tattva-sandarbha.]

“And elsewhere it is said, “The name Purana comes from the word ‘completion’ [purana].”

“Vedic literature appears to consist of many separate books with numerous categories of texts, which seem to have been written at different times, for different purposes, in different styles of language, and by authors with different convictions and different levels of knowledge. But the Vedas explain themselves in another way, and if we are willing to look at the entire Vedic literature from its own point of view rather than from a foreign, critical viewpoint, then with some scrutiny we can see the true picture: The apparent diversity of the texts is due not to their being written by different authors but to their being intended for several different audiences.”

The Supreme Lord says in the Matsya Purana, “O best of brahmanas, foreseeing that in the course of time the Puranas will be neglected, I appear as Vyasa in each age to condense them. In every Dvapara-yuga I divide the Purana into eighteen books, totaling 400,000 verses, and that is how they are spread on earth. But even today on the planets of the demigods the Purana contains one billion verses. The 400,000-verse edition concisely embodies the purport of that original Purana.

The universe passes through varying cycles, “days of Brahma,” during which the lower material modes, the modes of passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas), are at times prominent. During those periods the Supreme Lord gracefully allows such servants of His as Lord Shiva to defeat Him in competition and otherwise seem superior. Puranas that describe the events of these rajasic and tamasic kalpas thus superficially seem to elevate demigods to the position of God. It is no wonder that imperfectly informed students of the Puranas cannot discern the unity of the underlying Puranic message: that the powerful controllers and wonderful opulences of this universe are all energies of the supreme energetic, the Personality of Godhead.

Each of the collected Puranas is especially suitable for a particular class of people, so each Purana has a right to advertise its own superexcellence.

The Garuda Purana states, “This is the most complete [of the Puranas]. It is the purport of the Vedanta-sutras, it establishes the meaning of the Mahabharata, it is a commentary on Gayatri, and it completes the message of the Vedas. Spoken directly by the Personality of Godhead, it is the Sama Veda among the Puranas. With twelve cantos, hundreds of chapters, and eighteen thousand verses, this work is called Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Srila Jiva Gosvami throughout his life was famous for being completely honest. He was a lifelong celibate, and even as a child he was renounced in his habits. It is said that he never spoke anything, even in his dreams, that could not be verified to be true. (28.2, commentary)

To explain the difference between the internal and external energies of the Supreme, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana offers an analogy: the internal energy is like an emperor’s favorite queen, the external energy like a menial maidservant who always stays outside his quarters. (31.3, commentary)

“One female goat gives birth to many offspring like herself, with bodies colored red, white, and black. One male goat lies with her and enjoys her, while another shows no interest in enjoying her, for he feels satiated.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.5) This Upanisadic text involves a play on the word aja (female, aja, with the last ‘a’ having a bar above it), which means both “goat” and “eternal being.” The eternal female (material nature) replicates her three modes—goodness (white), passion (red), and ignorance (black)—in the bodies of all life forms. One eternal male, the fallen jiva, tries to enjoy nature, while the other eternal male, the self-satisfied Supreme Lord, shows no interest in her. (34, commentary).

It is unreasonable to propose that the one pure spiritual entity, Brahman, has the power to maintain maya and is full of perfect knowledge and yet becomes an object of the influence of maya and is overcome by ignorance. Therefore we can understand that the jiva and God are different. And from the fact that the jiva and God display different identities and capabilities, we can deduce that they are in fact two separate entities. (35)

The contrary idea—that the Supreme is one without qualities and that all names and forms are unreal—has always been popular among those who want the kingdom of God without God. But one can hold to such an idea only by denying the clear dictates of logic, experience, and common sense. (35, commentary)

The delusion of the jiva only increases when He presumes himself identical with the Supreme. We can hardly expect a poor beggar in prison to free himself simply by imagining “I am the king.” (38, commentary)

As long as a single person is faithfully practicing and working to spread the sublime instructions of Srimad-Bhagavatam, hope still exists for peace and happiness. (47.2, commentary)

It is said that once, as Vyasadeva was dictating various verses to his disciple Jaimini, when Vyasadeva came to one verse from the Ninth Canto of the Bhagavatam (9.9.17) Jaimini hesitated to write it down.

matra svasra duhitra va

naviviktasano bhavet

balavan indriya-gramo

vidvamsam api karsati

“One should not allow oneself to sit on the same seat even with one’s own mother, sister, or daughter, for the senses are so strong that even though one is very advanced in knowledge he may be attracted by sex.” Jaimini apologized, but he could not agree that a self-realized sage might become agitated by the mere physical presence of a woman. Srila Vyasa simply smiled and by his mystic power suddenly turned himself into a young woman. Jaimini, attracted against his will, found himself trying to embrace the woman, who just as suddenly turned herself back into the not-very-attractive old sage Vyasadeva. (48)

“Seekers of truth disagree among one another only until they acquire a taste for hearing about and discussing the all-attractive qualities of Lord Hari. Scholars who dispute the nature of the Absolute Truth do so because they are not self-satisfied. Dissatisfied and confused, they can hardly enlighten anyone else. As long as adherents of various religions are ready to condemn and even kill one another, they have obviously not yet attained the stage of self-satisfaction.” (49, commentary)

“Vaishnava acaryas, in their commentaries to Srimad-Bhagavatam, explain that no material body is produced until some conditioned soul wants to possess it. Even the subtle aggregates of the material elements are not created by maya until particular demigods are each willing to accept one of them as his own body.” (57.3, commentary)

And scripture is commonly known as sastra because it is seen, in particular cases, to engage in overruling. Elsewhere [than in Vacaspati’s statement] we see that both inference and scriptural evidence refute the sensory perception that the sun globe or some other celestial body is very small, because from observation one has learned that far-away things appear like that and also because this understanding is established from the scriptures. (Sarva-samvadini [Jiva Goswami’s commentary on his own Tattva-sandarbha] 30)

According to Srila Kavi-karnapura, one of the great poets among the associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and author of the textbook Alankara-kaustubha, rasa is the soul of poetry, dhvani (vyanjana) [suggestion] its life air, words and their meaning its body, and the ornaments of sound and meaning (sabdalankaras and arthalankaras) the decorations of the body. (Sarva-samvadini 50)

Revealed scripture is always independent of the dictates of speculative reasoning. If speculation were ever allowed to overrule the sabda-pramana of scripture, the authority of scripture would be undermined. Logic must yield the right of way to sastra, not the other way around. (Sarva-samvadini 53, commentary)

Yajna Purusa Prabhu [New York City]:

Niranjana Swami said, “Bada Hari Prabhu is my bhajana guru.”

Devamrita Swami told me that I should go the Ukraine festival because it is my guru’s festival and because it is the best festival in ISKCON.

Niranjana Swami was visiting a close friend of his who had opened up many centers in Europe. The two of them were visiting a married couple and the man asked Niranjana Swami's friend to tell a Prabhupada story. The story he told goes like this: “The devotees used to bring many people to see Srila Prabhupada because he would visit the centers with the more preaching opportunities. One devotee brought one important man to see Prabhupada. Prabhupada asked if the man had any questions. The man said no. The devotee was heartbroken. Prabhupada repeated, “You have no questions?” The man again replied, “No.” So Prabhupada got the harmonium and chanted 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes. The man was drawn in by the sweetness of the kirtana and was obviously moved. Prabhupada said, “This is what we do,” and asked the devotees to give the man some sweets.”

Adi Purusa Prabhu [New York City]:

In the past teachers received money by the inspiration of those who heard from them, but now they charge money.

Without dedicating our activities to the service of the Lord, we will be degraded.

There is not need to fear failure in devotional service because it is not an external thing. If we can simply please Krishna we are successful.

We see in our prasadam distribution, people passing by see what we are doing and they help, by setting up tables, giving donations, etc.

My experience is speaking to hundreds of people a day for decades is that most people are willing to give in charity.

In the course of distributing books, we would talk to everyone without discrimination. We would not consider these people are too rowdy, these people are too well dressed, these people are too much clustered together, etc.

Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu [New York City]:

Because the poison of Kaliya was so severe the birds flying over poisoned water would fall down dead. Not only that but the trees on the banks of the river had died. Because the water, air, and land were all poisoned you could say it was the greatest ecological disaster of its time.

Before jumping in the water, Krishna adjusted his clothing. This is practical as you know if you have ever gone swimming and had your swimming trunks come off in the water.

Balarama was just enjoying the Kaliya pastime because He knew Krishna was in no danger.

The residents of Vrindavan were almost on the point of death seeing Krishna entangled in the coils of Kaliya. One might ask, “Why did Krishna let it come to that point?” Krishna wanted to bring the attention of His devotees completely on Himself.

Kaliya according to Bhaktivinoda Thakura represents envy and anger.

Not only does envy mean that we want what someone else has, but we also do not want them to have it.

Kaliya is not ordinary because he was allowed to embrace Krishna for two hours in his coils.

If you encounter someone that you envy, you should thank Krishna because that brings out the envy which would not otherwise not be brought out.

Because of the prayers of his wives, Kaliya was saved by Krishna.

The body is the greatest impediment to realize we are not our body. But at the time of death, it is easier to see the futility of bodily enjoyment.

I was talking to an administrator at Columbia University who asked if I was a Hare Krishna. She said she was too, or at least she was involved in the movement years ago, during Srila Prabhupada's time. She was telling me that for the last four hours of her mother's life she read Bhagavad-gita to her. When she had to take a break from reading to use the bathroom, her mother would moan, indicating she wanted her to continue reading.

Q [by Rama Raya]: Kapila talks about not viewing death with horror. How can we practically do this?

A: We are so conditioned by considering the body the cause of our pleasure for so long it maybe not be possible not to view death with horror. But we can count on Krishna and His devotees to make it easier for us to remember the Lord at the time of death and attain perfection.

Haryasva Prabhu [Philadelphia]:

Grace is to situate yourself where you can receive the causeless mercy of the Lord.

Bhurijana Prabhu says knowing Krishna’s opulences increases our devotion because we we feel fortunate to have an intimate relationship with such an amazingly qualified person. Knowing Krishna’s opulence helps our devotional service by increasing our faith.

I think of Bhagavad-gita as illustrating, through the examples of Krishna and Arjuna, the ideal spiritual-disciple relationship.

Spiritual life looks to some like a cop out for people who are materially unsuccessful when in reality is an awakening of knowledge that there is a more important goal of life.

It is refreshing to note the change from material to spiritual life is mostly merely a change in consciousness.

Everyone talks about the kingdom of God, but nobody is ready to die to go.

Religion is to bring you to point of genuine spirituality.

The lower self goes down when we pump up the higher self.

I had a lot of spiritual aspirations in my youth, but when puberty set in, religiosity went out the back door. I was so bad I could not describe to my brother how bad I was. He took me to the temple. The kirtana was so lively I took off my coat and tie and got into the dancing. My realization was that, “This is better than the club, and I didn't take anything [any intoxication].”


punah punah piyaiya haya mahamatta

nace, kande, hase, gaya, yaiche mada-matta

Sri Panca-tattva themselves danced again and again and thus made it easier to drink nectarean love of Godhead. They danced, cried, laughed and chanted like madmen, and in this way they distributed love of Godhead” (Cc. Adi 7.22).

Monday, November 07, 2011

Travel Journal#7.17: Leipzig Ratha-yatra, Radhastami, Berlin Harinamas, Ukraine Festival

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 17
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2011, part one)
Leipzig Ratha-yatra, Radhastami, Berlin Harinamas, Ukraine Festival
(Sent from Tallahassee, Florida, on November 10, 2011)

Where I Went and What I Did

Hundreds of devotees from the Kirtan Mela traveled by bus to Leipzig for the Ratha-yatra on September 3. With so many devotees and kirtana leaders like Lokanatha Swami, Sacinandana Swami, and Kadamba Kanana Swami, it was Ratha-yatra at its best. The next day, Kadamba Kanana Swami did initiations at the Leipzig temple, and we did harinama in Leipzig before proceeding to Berlin to celebrate Radhastami there. Kadamba Kanana Swami and Kavicandra Swami, who was still in town because of an airline ticket problem, both gave nice lectures, which I describe separately from the other lectures under “Radhastami Lectures.” We did harinama for three hours on Radhastami, and it was really festive despite the cloudy, drizzly weather. The next day we did harinama for five hours. The day after that we did an hour harinama in Dresden, a new city for me,, before taking 40 hours of trains to the Ukraine festival. We stopped in Wroclaw to see the temple, and we chanted at the train station there for almost an hour. The Ukraine festival is always worth attending with its twenty-four seminars to choose from and three hours of kirtana every night for five days. Bada Hari Prabhu returned after a few years absence, Indradyumna Swami returned after at least a year’s absence, and Madhava Prabhu returned again after being introduced to the festival last year.

In addition to the Radhastami lectures, there were lots of great lectures by the Kirtan Mela devotees and the Ukraine festival devotees including Bhaktivaibhava Swami, Candramauli Swami, Devamrita Swami, Indradyumna Swami, Jayadvaita Swami, Niranjana Swami, Prahladananda Swami, and Bada Hari Prabhu. I also include some nice observations by Navina Shyama Prabhu from a BTG article.

Leipzig Ratha-yatra

At the end of the Kirtan Mela, devotees went by bus to Leipzig for the yearly Ratha-yatra there. Leipzig is not a big city and its downtown area is also small. To have hundreds of devotees performing Ratha-yatra there was very impressive. Lokanath Swami, in particular, led some amazing kirtana, getting the devotees dancing in a big way.

I enjoyed singing, dancing, and passing out invitations to the festival in the park. Because we had such a large group of devotees we had to do the festival in a park several minutes walk from the downtown and so the attendance there was not so great. Still a high percentage of the people coming through the park did take spiritual food and watched the kirtana, dance, and drama, at least for some time. Many also gladly took the temple invitations.

Radhastami Lectures

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

The ever-increasing nature of love of Radha and Krishna I find attractive in this section of Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila 4.142-145).

Radha smiles slightly upon seeing Krishna because They are in public and Their relationship is socially forbidden. Seeing Radha's slight smile Krishna smiled slightly Himself. Seeing Krishna smiling, Radha smiled even more. And so on, until such smiling is irrepressible.

Krishna is millions of times more dear to Radha than Her very life.

Radha's love being like a mirror, reflecting Krishna's qualities and increasing more and more, shows that the nature of the love of the spiritual world is ever-increasing.

One of the Goswami's divided the word “Bhagavan” in this way:




This means that Krishna is irresistibly lovable.

The gopis blocking Krishna’s chariot to Mathura was still service to Krishna even though He wanted to go, because they knew that Krishna could never be happy outside of Vrndavana.

Devotional service is a personal process, and the devotee wants to capture Krishna.

Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami says that Krishna is seeing Radha's image in every tree and creeper and learning dancing from Her.

The Yamuna’s water plants wrap around Krishna’s feet to hold on to Him.

The most advanced devotees realize the insignificance of their offerings in comparison to those of Radha and the gopis. And thus they prefer to assist Radha and the gopis in their service to Krishna. Radha and the eight sakhis are sakti-tattva, the sakhis being expansions of Radharani. The manjari assistants of the sakhis are jiva-tattva. Rupa Manjari is an assistant of Lalita Sakhi.

Krishna is akhila-rasamrita-murti, the embodiment of increasing transcendental pleasure.

Even the competitors of Srimati Radharani play a role. And when Radha wins that competition they also become happy that Krishna has been pleased by Radha in a very wonderful way.

In Goloka Vrndavana there is a tinge of madhurya in all the relationships because the other residents assist in the relationship of Radha and Krishna.

Once an incredibly beautiful, well-dressed girl appeared in the courtyard of Radha at Yavat looking like demigoddess. Radha sent a messenger to the lady to ask of her identity. She got no response so Radha went to her Herself. She did not talk at first. Radha assumed she was hurt, and tried to speak empathic words. She finally said, “You are so faithful to Krishna, but He always neglects you, and that makes me upset.” Radha said, “No, it is not like that. Krishna and I are never separated. We are of one mind. I am always thinking of Him, and He is always thinking of Me.” The demigoddess said, “I believe you feel like that. But how I can be sure Krishna feels like that. If you can make Krishna appear personally, than I shall believe it.” So Radha entered into a deep meditation on Krishna. And the demigoddess transformed into Krishna before Her.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura worshiped Gaura Gadadhara.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura was outspoken about not entering prematurely in the conjugal rasa.

Because Lord Caitanya has stolen the mood of Radharani, it is not present fully in the personality of Gadadhara, so he has the service attitude of Radharani but not the complete mood. Sometimes he is described as having a mood more like that of Rukmini.

Laksmi-Narayana worship is done on the platform of knowing Narayana is the Supreme Lord. Whereas Radha-Krishna is on platform of serving them out of pure love. If we forget the deity is the Supreme Lord, we will neglect Him. But on the platform of love, although they forget Krishna is God, they serve Him with great attention.

Q: If Krishna is supremely renounced, why is He so attached to Radharani?

A: The renunciation of Krishna is renunciation of material pleasure, for which He has absolutely no attraction. But he is not renounced as far as enjoying relationships with His devotees.

Q: How could Krishna and the gopis keep their relationship hidden in the village context?

A: It was difficult. Radharani would go out to the forest on the plea of collecting ingredients for worshiping the sun god. And of course, before the rasa dance, when He played the flute, thei gopis attachment to going to see Krishna overruled everything and for that they are famous as giving up all social taboos for Krishna.

Radhastami is not a big public festival, but more just for the devotees. It is for the devotees to get together and contemplate the pure devotional service of Radharani, and to realize our own service is so much lacking. It is a time for thinking how can I become more advanced in pure devotional service.

In our embodied state, we are limited in so many ways, but Radharani has a spiritual body, which is not limited. We have become limited by our lack of devotion for Krishna. We cannot understand Radha and Her unlimited spiritual body.

When raja and rani are used in relationship to spiritual personalities, they do not mean king and queen, but indicate a spiritually influential personality, and so it is with Radharani.

Krishna felt that the devotion of the gopis was so great that there was nothing in comparison to it, and thus he concluded that the greatness of their love for Krishna is in fact its own reward.

Paurnamasi is the wife of Sandipani Muni and the mother of Madhumangala.

Not only do the devotees in intimate relationship with Krishna forget His divinity, but Krishna forgets His own divinity for the pastimes to go on.

Nandamukhi inquired from Paurnamasi, about why Radha married Abhimanyu for it seemed to the worst possible match. She explained that Kamsa heard of Radha’s beauty, and they wanted to get Radha married before Kamsa had the chance to get Her.

We can never think we have conquered Krishna. Again and again, we have to conquer Krishna. Again and again, Radha has conquered Krishna.

Radha is always thinking of Krishna favorably, even when She is angry at Him.

To reduce Radha’s separation from Krishna, Visakha drew a beautiful picture of Krishna. But Radha emotions only doubled by seeing the picture of Krishna, and She complained to Visakha for committing an offense by making the situation worse.

Little by little [in the course of our devotional service] we become captured by Krishna.

Once I was going to be flying over the Alps, so when asked if I wanted an aisle or window seat, I chose the window seat. After looking at the view for a while, I got bored and picked up the The Nectar of Devotion and read how the gopis were not interested in seeing anything of this world, and I realized I had a ways to go.

Kavicandra Swami:

Srila Prabhupada said Radha was expert at everything, especially cooking and dancing, and of those, especially cooking.

Even in English we have a saying, “Separation makes the heart grow fonder.” The case of Krishna is special because Krishna Himself is present in the remembrance of Himself. So by remembering Him, one can feel the joy of His presence.

Some people in Vrndavana chant “Radhe, Radhe!” but Bhaktivinoda Thakura says we chant “Krishna” because that is what Radharani wants to hear.

Radha wore a dark blue dress so people could not see Her sneak out at night to see Krishna.

Whoever is cooking, pray to Radharani!

Once Srila Prabhupada was asked if there was something special to cook on Radhastami.

He replied, “Kaucoris, green pea kaucoris.

Q: If Krishna is supremely renounced, why is He so attached to Radharani.

A: He is reciprocal. To please His devotee, Radha, He reciprocates Her love.

The Goswamis read the whole Bhagavatam, not just the Ten Canto.

Radha keeps Krishna under Her control by Her great love.

Engaging everyone in the service of Krishna is the work of Radharani.

The deity at Alalanatha is Krishna disguising Himself as Narayana.

Sometimes people wonder what their eternal relationship with Krishna is, but the essence of the relationship is unalloyed service, and the devotee is satisfied simply to serve Krishna.

You used to wear glasses to see better, but now it is just fashion, eye wear.

Radha and the gopis take pleasure in dressing themselves for Krishna's pleasure, and we can also accept that mood of wanting to dress nicely to please Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada explained one must get the mercy of Lord Caitanya, and to do that one must get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, and to do that one must get the mercy of Jagai and Madhai, by preaching. The part about getting the mercy of Jagai and Madhai was not recorded, but I remember Srila Prabhupada saying it and so does Giriraja Maharaja.

Although Lord Caitanya is Radha and Krishna combined, in ecstasy He would enter into the pastimes of Radha and Krishna and engage in Their service.

Harinamas in Berlin and Elsewhere

On Radhastami in Berlin a multinational party of eleven devotees greatly inspired me by doing harinama at three S-bahn [train] stations, on the U-bahn [subway or underground], at three tram stops, on the tram itself, at Alexanderplatz, and near the temple for over three hours altogether. Radhastami harinama ki, jaya! For me, harinama is my favorite way to spend Radhastami. Lord Caitanya, who widely propagated the harinama sankirtana, was in the mood of Srimati Radharani, and so I think that this glorious activity is a great way to meditate on Her mood and enter into it.

The day after Radhastami we also did harinama in Berlin for almost five hours.

The next day we chanted in Dresden with Gaura Karuna Prabhu and Vishnujana Prabhu (formerly Bhakta Tomas from Slovakia) for an hour before taking the train to Wroclaw (pronounced Vrotswav) in Poland on the way to the Ukraine festival. One new devotee from France named Bhakta Allen also chanted with us because he decided to travel with me to the festival. It is always nicer to travel with someone else. It took about 40 hours altogether from Dresden on four different trains to get to Simferopol in Crimea but only cost about 59 euros each. I chanted harinama another hour that day in Wroclaw as we waited for our train toward the Ukrainian border. You could see some of the Polish people liked Hare Krishna, and no one was inimical.

Ukraine Festival

They say five thousand devotees registered, but that there were probably six thousand there. Last year four thousand registered and five thousand were thought to be there.

Sometimes I feel out of place at the festival. I am neither an exalted teacher of spiritual knowledge, nor a submissive servant of such a teacher. Still I benefit from the lectures and love the three hours of kirtana each night, and so I continue to go.

Niranjana Swami facilitates my stay there and that is his great kindness. I just try to be thankful for the benediction and try to become a better devotee.

As I left the Ukraine festival by bus to Dnepropetrovsk to catch a train to Kiev, the trains for the whole trip being sold out, I felt an emptiness. Where were the jubilant kirtanas, insightful lectures, and devotees with such a refreshingly nice service attitude? There were just my beads and the holy name. I recalled what I had heard again and again. There is no difference between Krishna and His holy name. There is nothing of value in the fourteen worlds but the holy name of the Lord. Perhaps this time it will sink in a little bit more. Thus I chant to feel the connection with Krishna.

Insight from Lectures

Jayadvaita Swami:

The ksatriyas are the police. The brahmanas protect the ksatriyas by giving them knowledge, and thus protect them from the illusory energy.

The materialistic society is a society of thieves where everyone is trying to exploit Krishna's energy for their own sense gratification. Varnasrama, on the contrary, is a cooperative system meant to for everyone’s spiritual benefit.

When the divisions cooperative, the Lord is pleased and gives them good direction.

The divisions of society are not meant for exploitation but cooperation for the satisfaction of Krishna.

That the Supersoul is in everyone's heart does not mean that each person has a different Supersoul.

Q: Since brahmanas and ksatriyas have different approaches might there be clashes?

A: There should not be clashes if everyone's does his own duty, and therefore, Krishna advises in Bhagavad-gita that one stick to one's own duty, even if imperfectly, rather than do another duty.

Q: Practically speaking we say “I did this” in our ordinary dealings although our philosophy is that we are not the doers.

A: Of course. When we say, “Who is going to cook today?” we know that ultimately the Supersoul is going to cook, but we select someone who will cook with the help of the Supersoul.

Everyone has experience of the Supersoul. The question is whether the person realizes it. Supersoul is arranging everything.

From an initiation lecture:

After millions of births a fortunate person gets to meet a bona fide spiritual master. Every human should look for that. The analogy of the turtle and the log in which the turtle comes up for air by sticking his head through a knot in a piece of wood floating in the ocean shows the rarity of meeting a bona fide guru.

So few people inquire about spiritual things and fewer get bona fide spiritual knowledge.

Once getting the seed, one has to water it, remove the weeds, and guard against offenses. Our real program is awaken our dormant love of Krishna. Even liberation is insignificant compared to devotion.

Our disease is we think we need things which we do not need and life’s ulimate goal we neglect. By engaging in devotion you get everything you need.

Service to the Lord means service to the Lord and His representative.

Kadamba Kanana Swami [from an initiation lecture]:

The scriptures say diksa is that time we receive divya-jnana from the guru.

After initiation everything becomes focused. Initiation is very important. Faithful means both having faith and being loyal. From initiation onward our energy should be used in the devotional service.

Srila Prabhupada said, in India no one chants less than 25 rounds, and thus he made a real concession for us.

One must learn to naturally to serve the Vaishnavas.

Having received initiation, the number one priority in our life is to be a devotee of Krishna. Developing the brahminical qualities can help us.

Second initiation is not an award but an opportunity.

A brahmacari is a celibate student and must be situated on the spiritual plane. One must study regularly and seriously. He is a menial servant of the guru.

As a spiritual master, I will keep my commitment to make sure you go back to Godhead, even if you do not want to go anymore.

Once, after a series of lectures increasing seriousness, Indradyumna Swami said that initiation is a happy occasion. Before initation the jiva is falling downward in material life, but after initiation one moves ever upward, and the graph of his progress charts out a smile.

The personal relationship with spiritiual master is what saves one. Once when Giriraja was fighting for the Juhu land an opposing lawyer decided to try to corrupt him, so the lawyer paid a prostitute to sit next to him, and press up against him. Giriraja Swami felt sure he would give into temptation, but then the thought of Srila Prabhupada and what Prabhupada would say, and he got the strength to remain undisturbed.

Nityananda is always happy because He knows the secret of happiness is to serve Lord Caitanya. He possesses the happiness of being the Lord and serving the Lord, so who can be happier than Him. He is so drunk with transcendental happiness that he gives out transcendental mercy without discrimination.

Candramauli Swami:

from a lecture on Bhaktivinoda Thakura's appearance:

Srila Prabhupada describes Bhaktivinoda Thakura as the pioneer for spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world. He practically established Krishna consciousness in the West, and we are simply carrying on what we started.

Although appearing in a family of saktas, acaryas consider him a nitya siddha, an eternally perfect person.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura practically single-handedly reestablished the respectability of Caitanya Vaishnavaism.

He spent twenty years looking for a copy of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.

He was magistrate in a town, which he was happy to find was populated by many Vaishnavas, and they appreciated his advanced devotion and gave him the name Sac-cid-ananda, which stuck the rest of his life.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura was so regulated he used a stopwatch to time his activities.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura was given his own railway car for his comfort as a token of appreciation of his service as a magistrate by the British Raj.

His established a Vaishnava organization called Vaishnava Sabha.

Srila Prabhupada considered Bhaktivinoda Thakura as a household paramahamsa, who showed by his life how to execute pure devotional service as a householder, an example that should be followed.

Srila Prabhupada said that devotees in the Krishna consciousness movement should read and study Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s book Jaiva Dharma, which teaches important Vaishnava philosophy and practices.

Another main accomplishment of his was to find Lord Caitanya's birthplace, which was erroneously thought to be in an incorrect place.

He had a vision of the people of the world chanting “Jaya Sacinandana!”

He wrote, “He reasons ill who say that Vaishnavas die while living still in sound,

Vaishnavas die to life and living spread the holy name around.” And he had the put on Haridasa Thakura's samadhi.

On the appearance and disappearance days of the great souls we can approach them direcly.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Kamala Manjari, a servant of Radharani, in the spiritual world.

His siksa-guru Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja was more prominent in his life than his diksa-guru Bipin Bihari Goswami.

Q: How is that in a few hundred years that Lord Caitanya’s teachings were practically lost?

A: It was about 1750 when Lord Caitanya’s teachings became almost eliminated. It is not so hard to understand because we can see that when Srila Prabhupada left so many other ideas sprung up even in our ISKCON in just a few years. When a great soul leaves, by the influence of time confusion arises. It is hard to maintain pure devotional principles in the material world.

from his seminar:

A devotee is like salt. He makes things wonderful but does not get any recognition.

Question by Candramauli Swami to his listeners, “If the Supreme Lord was willing to give you anything, what would you ask for?”

People gave the the following answers:

I said, “To be always engaged in devotional service and to be satisfied with that engagement.”

One lady said, “To always remember Krishna and never forget Him.”

Candramauli Swami himself said, “May the Ukraine festival never end.”

One boy said, “May Aindra Prabhu come back.” Candramauli Swami replied, “Maybe he does not want to come back. Better to pray to go where he is.”

Lord Caitanya said if you want my full mercy, do two things: (1) chant the holy name, (2) do not find fault with others.

How to get free from envy? Humbly serve the Vaishnavas.

Those who use chilis to imitate crying in devotional ecstasy I call “chili babas.

In the spiritual world there are no sannyasis because there is nothing there to renounce.

Spiritual arithmetic:

Krishna + everything = Krishna

Krishna – everything = Krishna

Caitanya said Mukunda is like someone who worships your feet nicely and then beats you on the head. Sometimes he associates nicely with the devotees, and on other occasions he hears from the Mayavadi impersonalists.

Patience is very important. Women are more patient than men.

Three things to be Krishna consciousness: (1) chant the holy names, (2) serve the Vaishnavas, and (3) avoid offenses.

We want Krishna and Maya, a little Krishna and a little Maya. So Krishna says, “OK, when you are tired of Maya, just let me know.”

Indradyumna Swami:

from his “Simple Living and High Thinking” seminar at the Ukraine Festival:

Let me take shelter of Sri Krishna who has descended in the form Lord Caitanya to teach real knowledge, His devotional service, and detachment from everything that does not foster Krishna consciousness. He has descended because He is an ocean of mercy. Let us take shelter of His lotus feet.”

Simply life and high thinking” is one of the mottoes of this Krishna consciousness movement and is in contrasted to the unspoken motto of the Western civilization, a complicated life with no time to think about Krishna consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada had different descriptive sayings that did not exact correspond to any particular verse but concisely expressed an important idea, for example, “Back home, back to Godhead.”

Chant Hare Krishna and your life will be sublime” is what Srila Prabhupada originally said. Someone changed it to “Chant and be happy,” but that not what Srila Prabhupada said. Sublime implies something deeper than just being happy.

Spiritual knowledge is not enough but it must be applied. Just having a recipe for a cake is not enough. You have to actually bake the cake!

We have to have a lifestyle that will result in realization.

Krishna does not say, “By reading this book, you will go back to Godhead,” but “by engaging in devotional service, you will attain Me.”

A simple life is described by this verse: One's desires should never be directed to self-gratification. One should desire a healthy life, or self-preservation, for the human form is simply meant for inquiring into the Absolute Truth. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.10) You can have sense gratification, as Srila Prabhupada would say, “to keep body and soul together.”

The jnanis, yogis, and bhaktas are all transcendentalists and deserve to be respected for striving for self-realization. Although we see bhakti as a superior path, we appreciate the endeavor of the other transcendentalists to renounce the material world and move toward a spiritual goal.

When I went to Muktinatha I was discussing this with a friend who slighted the other transcendentalists. The weather became worse, and then met one yogi returning, who said, “Namaste,” to which my friend said gruffly, “Hare Krishna.” The yogi was wearing only a cadar. My friend noticed the yogi was standing on the snow in his bare feet, which melted the snow as we talked. My friend become impressed with this, and said “Namaste,” as the yogi left, appreciating his amazing renunciation.

The slogan that sums up modern life is “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

This saying came from the gladiators who would engage in fights in which one opponent would live and the other would die. Because of their uncertain duration of life, they had that slogan.

They assume the more you enjoy the senses, the happier you will be, but can they prove it?

There are two paths, prvrtti-marga and nivrtti-marga, and they are diametrically opposed to each other. One must decide which to traverse. Our challenge is to show one man or one woman who has become completely satisfied by just addressing the demands of the senses. It is impossible just as it is not possible to satisfy a bird by cleaning the cage.

Every experienced traveler knows, “Travel light.”

In sending up a hot air balloon, in addition to inflating the balloon one must also throw off the ballast so the balloon will rise. Similarly we have to give up our material desires in addition to performing our spiritual practice.

There is a story of Sankaracarya. He wanted to take sannyasa at the age of five. His mother told him he could take sannyasa when he was an old man, on the verge of death. He replied, “An old man or on the verge of death?” She said, “On the verge of death.” He went to the river where the crocodiles were swimming, and he dove in the water. Being attacked by crocodiles and thus on the verge of death, he told his mother he was going to take sannyasa. He dressed in rags from a dead body and carried a stick symbolic of renunciation, and he renounced the world.

The acaryas do not drag us by the hair back to Godhead. They just instruct us.

Sometimes we get too caught up in the material world, and we forget to hear from our spiritual master

If we were as enthusiastic about our sadhana of chanting Hare Krishna and hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam class as we are about eating, we would be very advanced.

You purchase a newspaper and then you throw it away. How valuable can that knowledge be if you throw it away?

We should not let a day go by without reading a verse, a line of a verse, or a word of a verse from the scripture.”—Canakya Pandit

In London I got a call from my mother at 2 a.m. She said, “Can you take me to Vrndavana? I want to go to Vrndavana.” I was surprised because she had a materialistic philosophy and no interest in Krishna consciousness. I said I would call back when I got up in the morning. When I called three hours later, my brother answered. I asked to talk to my mother, but found she had just died. When my mother died, my brother said her last words were, “Don't lament I am not this body. I am going to Krish . . .” When she found she had cancer, she realized her materialistic philosophy was no solace, so she read the Bhagavad-gita I sent her years before every day for six months. She ordered 300 tapes from my tape ministry and listened to them every day. She was an intelligent lady, Phi Beta Kappa, and at the end of her life, she used her intelligence to realize the Absolute Truth. When I went to the funeral home to pay for the cremation, they apologized for not fulfilling her wish to have her ashes spread in the ocean and did not charge me. They said they had the ashes and would do it in a few days. I asked for the ashes and used the money saved from the cremation to go to Vrndavana and threw her ashes in the River Yamuna, thus fulfilling her last wish expressed to me to go to Vrndavana.

When the king dies, the kingdom goes on.”—Bengali proverb

Better we renounce everything willingly before we die than be forced to renounce it at death.

Thus Prabhupada wrote to Gandhi and advised him to give up everything and preach Bhagavad-gita as it is. Two weeks later, he was killed by a political enemy.

In India, on the planes everyone reads the newspaper. When they finish one, they take up another and read the same news again, and then they pick up a third. It is unfortunate that in the land of dharma, people are carried away by the mundane.

We must consider that sense enjoyment does not give lasting satisfaction. We have been doing it for years, and it has never given satisfaction, and therefore, we should give it up. It is just as foolish, as if I struggle with the microphone for five minutes and it does not work, and then I struggle with it for an hour, and it still doesn't work, and next year, when you come back to the Ukraine festival, I am still struggling with the microphone and it still doesn't work, and in twenty-five years, I am still struggling with the microphone.

Because the Lord is the father of all living beings, He feels obliged to maintain them and has set up a system to do that (Isopanisad Invocation). Sacrifice means to thank the Lord for providing our necessities. We are using all these material elements, but we have to say, “Thank you.”

By taking more than our quota, we create an imbalance. It cannot go on forever. We have the answer to restore the environment in which we live.

You can only live a simple life if your happiness is coming from within, and therefore, there must be high thinking for there to be simple living.

This knowledge has been valuable in the past, it is valuable in the present, and in 10,000 years this knowledge we still be valuable.

Prabhupada wanted a devotee to write a book of spiritual solutions to mundane problems.

My diary is the umbilical cord for my disciples to hear from me, and they must read it.

Usually at some point, we inquire, “Why am I suffering? Who am I? Is there some Absolute Truth?” Human life begins when you begin to question.

Thus education in Krishna consciousness begins at five years old.

Television is directed to the mind of a fourteen year old.

Mark Twain said civilization is limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.

Rogers: Too many people spend money they do not have, to buy things they do not need to impress people they do not like.

In Radha-kunda, I heard a father playing the drum and saw a boy doing arati with tears in his eyes, and the other sons and daughters were dancing, and it went on for an hour and a half. That I thought was real family life.

Now Americans spend four times more but are less happy than the previous generation.

Suppose you are working for someone and you quit and he still maintains you, and then you write bad articles about him and he still maintains you, and then you even say he doesn't exist, and he still maintains you. God is such a kind friend.

Jiva Goswami says kirtana is so powerful it enables even neophytes to taste some spiritual ecstasy.

Devamrita Swami:

We think we know how to enjoy, and that is the problem. We think we know what a good time is. Bhakti purifies us of the idea that we know what is pleasure because our idea of pleasure is contaminated with material conceptions.

Summer is mystical in Vrndavana. The summer heat is there, but it does not disturb anyone.

Vrndavana is a very sensual place with the beautiful sounds of waterfalls, cooling mist which cools the body, songs of birds, all for Krishna's pleasure, without having to work for it.

Why does Krishna carry a flute? To remind us, that Krishna is only playing; He never has to work.

Krishna simply acts with the intention of enjoying a pastime.

Krishna bewilders the materialists by making them think He has to take care of cows to maintain Himself, but the devotees know that it is all play.

In the spiritual world, Krishna's friends are encouraging each other in their sporting activities. This is its nature. Krishna does not keep the enjoyment for Himself but shares it with His friends.

The cowherd boys ask the cowherd girls how much the yogurt is and end up stealing as much as possible. Meanwhile Krishna is sleeping. His friends do what ever is best so Krishna enjoys more, sometimes jumping, fighting, teasing, imitating animals, etc. Krishna's intention is that all His devotees enjoy. Yet we are afraid if that if we surrender to Krishna, we will not enjoy.

Krishna is expert at transforming His devotees desires.

The demon Pralamba, with a plan to kill Krishna and Balaram, took the form of a cowherd boy who had stayed home that day. Krishna externally welcomed him as a friend but internally made a plan to kill him. The larger plan was for the enjoyment of his devotees and only incidentally for the killing of the demon.

Because Krishna had received the imitation cowherd boy as a friend, Balarama was reluctant to kill him at first. Krishna injected the idea into Balarama's mind that the cowherd boy was a demon in disguise and then He killed him.

On Haridasa Thakura's disappearance:

Although we cannot imitate Haridasa Thakura's practice of chanting Hare Krishna so many rounds a day, we can get enough strength from his example to attain success ourselves. If we emulate his determination to chant, we will see amazing results in our own spiritual life.

We can get strength seeing how he was able to overcome all kinds of impediments by chanting Hare Krishna.

In his activities you will see Vaishnava camaraderie and humility. Haridasa Thakura sincerely felt Sanatana Goswami was most important among Lord Caitanya’a associates, while Sanatana Goswami glorified Haridasa Thakura as being the foremost teacher of the holy name.

In addition to telling the prostitute to chant Hare Krishna, he also told her how to restructure her living situation: Give away your illicitly acquired wealth. Sit here and chant in front of the tulasi plant.

Devotees told Srila Prabhupada, “Isn't it enough to tell people to chant Hare Krishna?”

Srila Prabhupada explained, “We also have to teach the people how to live so their chanting will become offenseless.”

Haridasa Thakura explained that attaining love of Krishna is the real result of chanting Hare Krishna, not becoming liberated or becoming free from sinful reactions.

Haridasa Thakura taught that by chanting Hare Krishna can solve all problems. One can tolerate persecution. One can understand the Lord's internal feelings of compassion for all beings.

By bhakti, the devotee becomes privileged to understand the heart of the Supreme Lord, so much so that the Lord is surprised to see it.

Haridasa Thakura had a plan to leave the material world which he told to Lord Caitanya: I want Your feet on my heart, I want to look at Your face, I want the dust from the feet of Your devotees on my head, and I want to chant your name, Sri Krishna Caitanya, Sri Krishna Caitanya, Sri Krishna Caitanya. And the Lord fulfilled it.

Lord Caitanya showed His great love for His pure devotee, Haridasa Thakura, by organizing a great festival in honor of His disappearance, distributing prasadam, and chanting his glories.

Haridasa-natha, the Lord of Haridasa Thakura, is a name for Lord Caitanya.

One disciple of mine on returning home from the ashram, was visited in his room by a former girl friend at 9:00 p.m. who sat in front of him, hoping to engage in their former activities, and he just chanted Hare Krishna. She stayed the whole night, leaving around 8 a.m. in the morning. He called me internationally and told me he passed maya's test and told the whole story. “Why did you let her in?” I asked. It is not that we have to set up situations to test the power of chanting.

Maya first tries to wears down your confidence in bhakti. She says things like, “You're no saint, face it.” “Nobody really follows anyway.” “Bhakti works on exception people, and may even work on you in the future when you are old.” How do you get past this? What you do is just chant and chant and ignore all such thoughts, and you will never forget the results. This is Haridasa Thakura's example and his mercy. We can try for complete absorption in the holy name, and we will get some realization. We can realize by chanting Hare Krishna, you can drive the material energy away.

Maya creates false hopes for intimacy. Chanting Hare Krishna, however, can provide a greater intimacy than can be obtained by material means.

Relationships begin with trust, and so with our relationship with Krishna.

Krishna uses Haridasa Thakura to show that you can transcend the problems of the body by chanting Hare Krishna.

I was in Warsaw during communist times. It was a challenge to find a place for a meeting. The parents of some devotee went away for the weekend, and so we could have the place for a meeting. We had thirty people at the apartment, sitting in a circle, and the boy’s mom appeared, who happened to be a high official in the police (which the devotees had neglected to tell me about). She went around the room, looking at each person individually, memorizing their face, when she got to me, and stared at me, the light went out of her eyes, and they appeared like dull stones, and then she skipped me, and looked at the next person, who happened to be her son, and the light came back to her eyes again. She took him into the kitchen and began beating him for having political meetings in her home, risking her reputation. I took the opportunity to run out of the house. Later I asked what the lady had said about me, but she had never even seen me. From that I realized it is true that Krishna is controlling what we see.

Another time, during Communist rule, I had just spoken at the university, and so many students came and they were happy, and they invited me to go on the student radio program. We were austere brahmcaris, and slept in the car parked at the university. An official-looking man knocked on the window in the morning, and brought us to the office of the university president. You could tell they were happy they had caught some foreigners and were turning them over to the authorities. They took us to what we found out later was the KGB headquarters. There were 15 KGB men yelling accusations of political intrigue. Your American passports will not save you. They told us we had to tell them everyone we knew in the country, and there might be some hope for us. I prayed to Krishna for inspiration. Then I told them, “You may think I am an America because I have an America passport, but there men of color are oppressed. I cannot get a job. I am discriminated against. So I came to your country looking for freedom. I heard about the glories of socialism, and wanted to see it for myself. That is was I was speaking about at the university, and as I talked they became more and more happy, and they returned out passports and they apologized and said we could travel as we liked.”

The more pure we are, the more we will be effective, but even a new devotee will have some potency derived from the line of spiritual teachers.

When I hear Krishna's pastimes, I pray that I do not inject my own materialistic conceptions into them.

Aropya is the mistake of putting material conceptions upon the Lord's pastimes.

Kubja is the bhu-sakti of Krishna, but she is showing us a lesson.

Karma-yoga means you are attached to serving in a particular way, and you offer that to Krishna. Bhakti-yoga means you do whatever Krishna wants.

Although Kubja wants to use Krishna for her own desire, Krishna still deals with her.

Krishna goes to Kubja's house to elevate her to the platform of bhakti. When she held His feet to her chest, by smelling the fragrance of His lotus feet, she was freed from her lusty desires.

Krishna brought Uddhava with Him during His visit to Kubja because Uddhava was famous for His proper behavior, and thus no one would question His activities.

This pastime gives confidence that even if we approach Krishna with material desire, Krishna will handle the situation to purify us.

Kubja thought that Krishna was coming to please her senses, but Krishna was thinking He was coming there to turn her into a pure devotee.

Never mind your material desires. Run to Krishna. By running to kirtana, you are running to Krishna.

Niranjana Swami:

We always prefer questions on the subject matter of the class.

Propensity indicates something not artificial or contrary to one's nature. The soul has a propensity to serve Krishna. The whole purpose of the [Ukraine] festival [(Bhakti Sangama)] is to awaken that propensity to serve Krishna.

We know that we are progressing if we are becoming more absorbed in spiritual activities.

We know we are advancing when we find our relief within devotional service instead of looking for relief outside devotional service.

We all have our daily duties in life, but we find relief in our sadhana.

By increasing our absorption in devotional activities during this festival, we can come to appreciate the shelter our sadhana offers us in our daily life.

Srila Prabhupada himself was absorbed in these devotional engagements of hearing and chanting about Krishna.

Shyamasundara Prabhu, who was Srila Prabhupada's servant for three years, said he saw the most profound magic of his whole time as servant in the five days they were in Moscow. Srila Prabhupada spoke to one boy Shyamasundara met at the store for two days straight, telling everything the boy could absorb about Krishna consciousness.

This festival is a test of our ability to be absorbed.

The purpose of festivals, reciting Bhagavad-gita, and discussing katha [the instructions and pastimes of the Lord], is to give everyone the opportunity to awakening their propensity to serve Krishna.

To neglect the path of the line of spiritual teachers due to pride is the way of destruction.

To cultivate an understanding that we are not exceptional is a qualification for the Lord's mercy.

The Lord's heart is moved by the feelings of lack of qualification possessed by the great devotees.

Our recognition of our lack of qualification is our qualification. Those who are proud have difficult recognizing their lack of qualification.

The reason the devotees are very willing to donate for the festival is they know no one is profiting from it. They are just covering the expenses. Many devotees come just to do service and give a donation as well. That creates the nice mood here.

One should display tolerance as Haridasa Thakura did, despite so much adversity, and be compassionate to the people in general.

Quote from Amrta-vani:

What is actual independence? . . . Material independence is a disguised form of dependence. To be dependent on the Lord is actually to be independent. . . . Because the Lord is Absolute, dependence on Himself is our happy state of independence.”

Although we strive for complete independence in this world, it is not actually possible. We see powerful autocrats are eventually removed in due course.

Madhava Maharaja jokes, “In God we trust. All others pay cash.”

No one is self-sufficient in this world. If we do not want to become dependent on Krishna, we will become dependent on someone else. But foolishly we think that if we serve Krishna that we will become enslaved. In reality, the pure living entities can serve the Lord in anyway they want. Sometimes the Lord, because of love, gives up His position as the Supreme Lord to give Himself completely to His devotee in a subordinate relationship. Who is willing to do that in this world?

Time is destroying everyone's plans and everyone's independence.

Everything is taken away from the living entity who identifies with the material body, but nothing is taken away from the soul.

The bee is so eager to taste the nectar that he does not realize the flower is closing up, and similarly the Lord does not realize losing his superior position because of being absorbed in the love of His devotee who treats Him as a subordinate.

Srila Prabhupada made the point that you can become greater than God by becoming a devotee to whom the Lord is so much obliged because of his great love.

Q: What is the motivation about warning us not to invent something new. Is is a problem this days?

A: I spoke on it because I opened up the book and it seemed interesting so I spoke on it. The previous spiritual teachers in the line have warned us about the dangers of deviation. We must never think that any pious activity can be as valuable as propagating the holy name of the Lord. We should not equate the holy name with service to mankind. To propagate the holy name of the Lord is the best service to the Lord.

Q: What about innovative preaching?

A: If the result is that it brings people to the chanting of the holy name of the Lord it is OK, but it should not be done for some other result.

We cannot create a service for Krishna. Service for Krishna descends. First we must develop a desire for service. That is done by the chanting, which purifies our heart.

Q: You say we should avoid envious people, but then we have to look for faults in people. Should we look for faults in people?

A: To be adosa-darsi, to see no faults, is a very elevated platform. We should strive for that . . .

Q: You say chanting is more important. But you also say that we are chanting for service. So which is more important?

A: Chant and when you are given service, do it, but do not let the service interfere with your chanting.

Q: Regarding avoiding envious people dressed in Vaishnava clothing, does that mean if I am envious, I should not wear Vaishnava clothing or that I should leave the association of devotees?

A: Well, if you act enviously toward devotees, you will not have to leave the association of devotees, Krishna will see to it that you go. He is expert at weeding His garden. But better to recognize the envious mentality and at least avoid acting on the platform of envy.

Bhaktivaibhava Swami:

It is said because Narayana has four syllables, Krishna sent four Vishnudutas. There were three Yamadutas, who were thus outnumbered.

The holy name can destroy sins because it is the name of the All Powerful.

The first time he chanted Narayana, he became free from sins, but unfortunately he continued sinning. He lifespan was reduced because of his sinful acts, but when the Vishnudutas protected Him, the Lord extended it so he could perfect his spiritual life.

Srila Prabhupada emphasized the chanting of the holy name because the scripture stresses it is the only recommended spiritual practice for this age. This festival is so potent because we follow Srila Prabhupada's instructions and we follow the scripture.

Chanting the holy name in the association of so many devotees is such a powerful thing. I think we should keep these festivals going.

It may be difficult for some people to give up sinful activities, but at least they must not think “these sinful activities I commit are not very important because by chanting Hare Krishna I can be free from the reactions.” To think in that way is offensive.

There are many rules for dealing with different people according to their positions, but the more important thing is to remember that other people are conscious beings and not treat them like harmoniums. We will be treated as we treat others.

Often devotees think that life should be different as devotees, and they do not deal with their emotions arising in the context of relationships. But it is not so different. In fact the only difference is that Krishna is in the center.

Arjuna was in illusion at two times in his life. The difference between him and us is that we are always in maya [illusion].

Why do feelings and emotions and relationships exist at all? Because they exist in the spiritual world.

Lord Krishna is rasa. He is the embodiment of all relationships.

When we approach Krishna, we see how He reciprocates.

When you are aware of what you can realistically expect from a relationship then you will not be disturbed.

Q: If the Hare Krishna maha-mantra means “Please engage me in Your service,” then why can't we just do a variety of services. Why do we have to chant?

A: Because we also have to do our service to the holy name and that is to chant a fixed quota of holy names each day. We should also experience that the service we do is given by Krishna.

It is not that whatever that disciple feels he needs is necessarily a spiritual need which the guru is obliged to fulfill.

Sometimes ladies are too shy to express the need to be married. Some of them say that Krishna is my only husband, but practically we can see very few can actually act on that platform. Still we have to respect that feeling, because in some cases it is a genuine realization.

Is not proper for the wife to constantly express all her thoughts and feelings to her husband and thus overwhelm him. Better to share your feelings with a father or mother or other relative who can listen attentively and then bring up the problem to the husband if it is serious.

We always feel strong when we do things according our own nature, things that we are competent at. In the beginning we may not so be so competent, but we should not be disturbed because by practice we will become competent.

Some people are genuinely eager to do anything for Krishna. It is an advanced state. This cannot be imitated.

I think too many devotees think that they are not vaishyas, otherwise we would not have any financial problems.

If you can quickly learn something and teach it, then do that brahminical work for Krishna.

In this lifetime do something substantial for Krishna.

Generally Vaishnavas do not express their spiritual emotions. They are like his private parts. One does not display them to get followers.

If people are overly expressive to draw attention to themselves, that can detract from people's meditation on Krishna.

Q: How to avoid hiding behind masks?

A: By associating with advanced devotees, for they can see through these things.

Prahladananda Swami:

Maya makes our life seem very difficult, and we seem to have so many problems. Prahlada Maharaja says that there is only one problem, the uncontrolled mind. The mind is also very simple. It is either hankering or lamenting. If we stop focusing on this hankering and lamentation, we can absorb ourselves in the holy name and become happy.

One who is aware that the only shelter is Krishna, can perfect his life.

Kunti did not stay to Krishna, “Every day I chanted my rounds. Every day I followed the rules and regulations. Why are all these things happening to me?” Rather she prayed, “Please give me more troubles for in these troubles I am remembering You.”

People can challenge, “You are crazy because you are depending on Krishna.” And we can challenge back, “You are crazy because you are depending on Maya.”

If we pray to the Supreme Soul, please wake us up at 3:00 a.m., we will find the Supreme Soul is the greatest alarm clock. He can wake the sun up every morning, even if he is tired, and so he can certainly wake us up.

Everything is an instrument of Krishna.

If I understand I am a servant of Krishna, if I pray to Him, I will understand what to do.

Lord Caitanya wanted us to preach to the conditioned souls. Most of our friends and relatives are conditioned souls, so we can have kirtana morning and evening together and discuss Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam with them, and in this way please the Lord.

Giving Srila Prabhupada’s books is the best thing we can do for anyone’s spiritual life.

It is easy to be a pure devotee when everything is going all right. But if someone kicks you in the chest while you are sleeping, it would be difficult not to get angry.

By diksa one becomes gradually disinterested in material enjoyment and gradually attached to spiritual life.

Satisfaction of the self-realized devotee is the secret of success in Krishna consciousness.

By chanting we get the strength to follow the principles.

Advice on college preaching [from a lunchtime conversation]:

from Niranjana Swami:

Be yourself. Be a friend. Don’t be a “Hare Krishna monk.”

from Devamrita Swami:

Be patient.

Do not think the students will be as thoughtful these days as they were in your generation.

Bada Hari Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada revealed this truth that other religions do not understand, that even the greatest person in this world is a servant.

On book distribution one woman chastised me, saying that God is a not poor man. She was saying, “I have my mobile home because I am serving the real God while you are begging in a parking lot.” They do not understand that service is its own reward.

And we serve the greatest by serving his servants. And the service is so sweet the devotee does not want anything else. This is the beautiful gift that Srila Prabhupada has given us. What the whole world cannot figure out, Srila Prabhupada gave us in a few sentences. This service satisfies the heart, and we have experience of it. It is not just a lofty philosophy we just realize when we are pure devotees, but even before we are perfect, we can experience the pleasure of service.

If we serve Krishna, but want something else, that is cheating. This spoils our devotional service, and robs us of the pleasure of devotional service. We are not cheating Krishna, because He cannot be cheated. He is the greatest cheater. But we cheat ourselves.

Srila Prabhupada said that the service I have given you is all you know of love.

Srila Prabhupada said spiritual pleasure comes when you want to please Krishna. We may not be great devotees, but we can think, “How may I please Krishna?” Then under the guidance of devotees we can engage in that service and be satisfied.

This verse says the devotional service begins with the holy name, but according to Brhad-bhagavatamrita, the holy name is everything. Devotional service ends with the holy names as well. Brhad-bhagavatamrita recommends nama-sankirtana done with the aim of attaining the Lord's lotus feet.

Nama-sankirtana leads to Krishna prema.

The holy name is chanted with the heart not the tongue, but when chanted by the heart it appears on the tongue.

According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the holy name is the bud of the flower of divine love.

Some approach a babaji [a renounced holy name] to attain siddha-pranali [knowledge of our original relationship with Krishna], but Bhaktivinoda Thakura says the holy name ultimately gives us our spiritual form. Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji agreed that the holy name is a siddha mantra [a mantra granting spiritual perfection].

Navina Shyama Prabhu [from a BTG article]:

This world’s sole function is to simulate existence without God. . . . Why does He stay hidden? Simply to satisfy our desire to be rid of Him.

Such is the wonder of Krishna’s material creation: It is so complete and perfect that it can simultaneously provide a God-free playground for those wishing to ignore Him, as well as a God-centered temple for those wishing to serve Him.


vede ramayane caiva

purane bharate tatha

adav ante ca madhye ca

harih sarvatra giyate

Throughout the Vedas and everywhere in the Ramayana, Puranas, and Mahabharata, from the beginning to the middle to the end, the praises of Lord Hari are sung.” (Hari-vamsa 3.132.95)