Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 1
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2012, part one)
Mexico, Texas, Gainesville
(Sent from Mayapur, West Bengal, on April 6, 2012)
Where I Was and What I Did
For New Year’s Day, the Vaishnava Youth Bus tour attended and played a major role in a twelve-hour kirtana at our Mexico City temple. In the next three days, we visited our two restaurants in Tulancingo and Uruapan and our temple in Guadalajara, and did evening festivals in each city. On our way home, Citsukananda Prabhu, the first Mexico City temple president, hosted us for dinner at his house in Texas near the border and told stories of Prabhupada in Mexico and the early days of the mission there. Then we stopped at Dallas temple for pizza and a five-hour kirtana, and then back home to Florida, where Madhava Prabhu did bhajanas after the Alachua Sunday feast and where Krishna Lunch was to resume for the spring semester in Gainesville the very next day. While returning, the devotees shared their realizations from the tour, and I found them most inspiring, and I hope you do to.
I include some nice reading notes from Prabhupada’s books and notes from the classes mostly of senior devotees at Krishna House and some interesting favorite verses and spiritual realizations during winter break and from an India trip.
March 31–April 19: Mayapur, India
April 21–April 25: Mumbai, India
April 25–April 27: London, England
April 28–April 29: Radhadesh, Belgium
April 30: Amsterdam (Queen’s Day)
May 4–8: Simhachalam (Nrsimha Caturdasi)
May 9–June 1: The North of England
June 2–3: Birmingham Twenty-four Hour Kirtana
June 4–16: England
June 17: London Ratha-yatra
June 17–19: London
June 20–21: Stonehenge Solstice Festival
June 22–July 24: Belfast
July 25–27: Paris
July 28: Geneva
July 29–30: Zurich
July 31–August 5: Polish Woodstock
August 6–August 15: Croatian harinama tour or Berlin and the Polish tour
August 16–19: Czech Woodstock (Trutnov)
August 20–September 1: Croatian harinama tour or the Polish tour and Berlin
September 2–September 7: Kirtan Mela near Leipzig
September 8: Leipzig Ratha-yatra
September 9–15?: Ukraine festival
September 16–October 29?: Belfast and/or The North of England
November 1–November 18: Upstate New York (SDG and Ma)
November 19–December 15: Gainesville and Alachua Festival of the Holy Name
December 15–January 7, 2013?: Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour
January 8–April 20, 2013: Gainesville Krishna House
Bus Tour Part II
On New Year’s Day, we had a twelve-hour kirtana at our temple in Mexico City.
The last few times that we have done kirtanas for several hours I have only participated about two-thirds of the time, so this time I was determined to improve. This time I did not use the Internet, take a nap, or spend a lot of time talking with devotees during the kirtana time, and so I do not think I spent more than an hour away from the kirtana. It was difficult as I only slept four and a quarter hours the previous night, because although our festival ended early, we stayed up late to celebrate the coming of the New Year and I had to get up early to finish my rounds before the kirtana started. Still, although it was austere sometimes, I felt good that I entered the spirit of the extended kirtana. Madhava Prabhu did the first and the last session.
The last one ended one hour and ten minutes after the scheduled time. A lot of the young devotees in the bus tour are good singers and musicians, and they sang for a lot of the time, and some did some of my favorite tunes. There was a lot of awesome dancing too. I did not get to lead the singing myself and felt a little sad about that, but someone gave me a garland from Lord Jagannatha at the end of the evening which cheered me up.
On January 2, we did a program in Tulancingo, where the devotees have a Govinda’s Restaurant, with evening programs on Friday and Saturday. The prasadam the devotees provided there was the best on our Mexico travels. The outside temperature was cold, and since the program was outside, I wished I wore my winter coat. Still many people attended the program and happily participated in the kirtana by dancing, even some old ladies.
Seeing the video of it makes me think it was one of the liveliest program as far as the dancing was concerned. One person, perhaps from the police or military, with a large weapon strapped to his body, looked at copy of one of Srila Prabhupada’s books, a curious new sight for me.
On January 3, we did a program in Uruapan, where devotees also have a Govinda’s restaurant. There they have an evening program on Sunday. The devotees had great invitations, both for the restaurant and their Sunday feast program, which we could pass out to the people who showed a great interest in the program. The venue was very well lit and easier to video. Many people danced with great joy with the devotees.
Finally on January 4, we went to our temple in Guadalajara, where we have very nice Jagannatha deities. We did a last program in a venue where several groups were performing nearby. It was good in that many people were around but bad also because there was a certain amount of noise interference and distraction from the other groups. There was some lively dancing there as well. Some devotees who did not know about the festival, encountered it come home from work and stayed to take part. There was also lively dancing there.
After our long ride back to the USA, Citsukhananda Prabhu, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and Mexico City’s first temple president, hosted our party, then numbering about 21 devotees, at his home, just across the U.S. Border in Texas. He has a spiritual restaurant there, and he and his family and friends made a nice feast for us.
We requested he speak something about Srila Prabhupada, and here are some notes on what he said.
I was temple president of the Hare Krishna temple in San Francisco. I found when I was selling books that whenever I met Mexicans, even if they had only five dollars they would give one. I asked Srila Prabhupada if I could preach in Mexico. Prabhupada thought it was a great idea, and said, “Go immediately. If you start a temple, I will come there.” And so I did and he did.
Once in Mexico I was preaching with two other devotee men in an area with the highest crime rate though we didn’t know it. At 3 a.m. three ladies of the evening came by and asked if they could come it. I said yes before I could understand who they were, and when I realized what going on, I started chanting Hare Krishna. After we chanted just one mantra, the ladies apologized saying, “Oh father, we did not realize you were holy men.”
When Prabhupada entered the temple room in Mexico City, his presence was so powerful even new people bowed down, shedding tears from their eyes.
Being with Srila Prabhupada was very exhausting. I could not keep up with him on his morning walk.
The people would come in to see Srila Prabhupada and say “Benedicion.” He asked about that, and I explained, “They want a blessing.” “Oh!” he replied and said, “Hare Krishna!” to the people and smiled.
One devotee was staying up late chanting, and Srila Prabhupada asked him what he was doing and he said he was finishing his sixteen rounds. Srila Prabhupada smiled and said, “Thank you very much.”
I took buses from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Once Prabhupada asked how I had come there. When I explained I came by bus, he asked how long it took. When I said it took 28 hours, Prabhupada told me, “You should not take the bus anymore. If you need money to fly, let me know and I will give it to you.”
We are all one family. Srila Prabhupada gave us so much mercy. We should give some to others.
Realizations from the Vaishnava Youth Bus Tour to Mexico 2011
As we were traveling the many hours back to Florida, Manorama Prabhu encouraged us to share our realizations. Seven people had already left, but many of those remaining shared something.
I am so happy when the people who attend our festivals take a Bhagavad-gita. The small books are nice, but the Gita is special. This kind of outreach works for me because I am not good at book distribution. It is a way I can share Krishna consciousness by assisting other devotees, so even though it makes my sadhana [personal spiritual practice] difficult, it is worth it.
There are always a few individual people at each festival who actually cry or whose eyes tear up.
Ananta did a small harinama one day, and one boy’s eyes filled with tears.
Bhakti Lata dd:
Srila Prabhupada would say if one person takes to Krishna consciousness, the whole event was worth it.
Chanting at Palenque at the yoga ashram was impressive in that although the people had their own style they still appreciated the devotees.
At Tampico, we sold 3,000 pesos of books and CDs before the program even started and then another 2,000 pesos worth later. It was amazing to see the interest of the people in the literature and music.
A Palenque while chanting at the yoga ashram, I did not have to man a book table or give out mantra cards during the kirtana, so I could just focus on the chanting, and put my heart in it. It was wonderful to see the dancing and smiling of the woman there who had lived in our Heidelberg temple and the Simhachalam farm in Bavaria. One reason I think Krishna sent us there was to remind her how nice Krishna kirtana is.
At the Tulum yoga ashram, we got to sleep early, and I chanted sixteen rounds facing the sea as the sea breezes blew. I was seeing Krishna as the ocean among the bodies of water and the wind among purifiers, and as the holy name Himself. The sun rose during my final round. It was a beautiful meditation.
One family at Izamal loved our program. Even the father danced with gusto. The father, mother, and kids all liked it and expressed their heartfelt gratitude several times.
It was beautiful to see. Rukmini Priya has a picture of them.
A couple in Orizaba who came last year returned for a second time. I saw them reading the mantra from our card and smilingly singing along.
A little girl loved dancing with us at Uruapan.
I realized my lack of humility and tolerance more keenly than usual. When have your own room with a private bathroom you can imagine that you are tolerant and humble, but when you live with 27 other people in a bus for three weeks, you can get a more accurate understanding of how tolerant and humble you actually are.
The late nights festivals are not a problem for me, but I was not accustomed to the other devotees talking for an hour with their friends after the festival pack up ended. I want to apologize to the devotees for all the nasty thoughts I had toward them for keeping me up too late. Two days before the end of the tour, I found the solution. I could do my accounting service for the tour and write in my journal while the others talked late at night and then I would not feel bad about being kept up late.
I want to thank Madhava Prabhu for teaching us how to concentrate on the holy name in kirtana. That is great mercy for us.
Someone spoke highly of the focus of this tour on sharing Krishna with others. This reminds me of a speech Indradyumna Swami gave at the Polish Woodstock. He said there are many festivals where devotees get together and relish hearing and chanting about Krishna, but this festival is different because it focuses on giving Krishna to others, and there is a sweet taste in that that you will not find at the other festivals that makes it special. That reminded me too about how Amrita Keli dd told how she heard in the holy dhama that in Vrndavana the sweetness is prominent, but in Navadvipa the mercy is prominent. In the spreading of the mercy, there is a special spiritual taste that cannot be had otherwise.
For one who remembers Lord Caitanya, even difficult things become easy, but if one does not remember Him, even easy things become difficult. (Cc. Adi 14.1)
At first it was hard to collect funds to come on the tour, but when I realized that I was not just collecting for myself, but collecting to maintain a valuable program that helps people spiritually, I became more inspired.
I appreciate the devotees for their different strengths, Manorama Prabhu, for doing everything required to make the tour happen; Jaya Sri Radhe for a lot of great meals; Hayagriva for sometimes getting up early and chanting japa despite his youth and attraction to a variety of things; Nadia for making great meals happen and serving them out also; Rukmini Priya for lot of photos; Sruti Sagar for encouraging people to dance, Mohini for dancing and concentration in japa; Mira for her great service attitude; Abhimanyu for setting a nice example by studying the scripture regularly; Bhakti Lata dd for teaching the people in the audience to dance so nicely; Ananta for playing the drum and sharing such nice realizations; Devananda for setting up and breaking down the festivals and giving me a swim suit, a practical gift; Nanda Priya for her singing; Mike for being adventurous enough to come on a Hare Krishna youth tour; the drivers for driving a 45-foot bus on those winding roads in the mountains at night.
Bhakti asked why I did not say anything about Kyra, whose commentary on the Mexican scenery and everything else during japa drove me so crazy I subconsciously forgot about her. I then reflected that I had appreciated how Kyra, being older, had some motherly affection for the kids and tried to help them in different ways. I ialso appreciated when she told me there was strawberry jam I could put on the pancakes instead of the imitation maple syrup that I expressed disinterest in.
People had different lessons to teach us. One man at Palenque knew Toltec culture. I asked how he learned it. He said from a guru.
A couple at Palenque lived in Leon and knew and liked Mahajan, the temple president of Leon for many years. The two had seen Hridayananda Goswami when he had visited there as well.
Originally we did not know about Nuno and his yoga ashram in Tulum where we had great kirtana programs. Then he told us about Palenque, and his yoga friend there. Thus we can see Krishna is giving us opportunities.
I liked that Mexico 12-hour kirtana, and how the devotees on the tour celebrated my birthday.
Tulum and the yoga people and the violin player was also wonderful.
It is amazing how many people are waiting for devotees to come. We are a small group, but we have had so much effect.
Why are we not in tears, although sometimes those in the audience are?
Purity is the force in any service we do. The consciousness and the connection with our service and our guru and Krishna, that is what touches the people’s hearts. We perform austerities.
At the temple in Dallas it was nice to chant with the devotees, but many of the Indians were not chanting. The Mexicans, however, were willing to chant. Why is that?
The lady at Tulum who was sitting in yoga posture listening with rapt attention was teaching us a lesson on concentration during kirtana.
I was inspired by how receptive the people were. The scenery and weather was wonderful, but the people were more amazing.
One boy came up to me twice, the second time with a translator and said happily, “I came to this festival with a troubled heart and so much distress, but now my heart is free.”
Some people were so grateful they went home and returned with gifts for me.
I had so many plans for this period of time, but the bus tour was far better than all of them.
I did a lot of stuff I thought I would never do, like play the lead role in the drama.
My mom said if I got straight “A’s” she would pay for the trip. I did, and she did.
I thought I was coming to do kirtana with Madhava, but it was so much more.
My perspective on kirtana is different. I just wanted to play the mridanga and have a nice experience. On the tour, it became more of a self-realization thing. I became interested in focusing on the goal of kirtana, because we were not with just devotees and we had to share the experience with others. I was praying to Radha-Krishna.
Especially in the bus kirtanas, two hours just flew by. I think everyone had some experience of the time flying by.
It even took the devotees longer to get up and dance than it did the Mexicans.
I appreciate that they appreciated so much something that is powerful for me.
When Hayagriva and I were passing out plates, they said thank you, and we were just passing out plates!
I have been on lots of bus tours, but this was so focused on giving Krishna to others.
Everyone was chanting sixteen rounds and no one was left behind. I was happy to see Mike get counter beads.
It was nice meeting all those devotees from Mexico, etc.
Sruti Sagar Prabhu:
In Tampico even while Jaya Sita was doing her cello solo the people would chant.
I always liked dancing in the kirtana, but on the tour I got inspired to encourage the people in the audience to dance and that was a wonderful experience.
Serving prasasdam with the devotees, I felt we were all together on the platform of service.
I appreciate Bhakti teaching the people to dance.
In Tuxtla some man said he saw Prabhupada and met the devotees. He stayed the whole time at our festival and at the end asked me a question, “How has Krishna consciousness changed since the beginning?” I said in the beginning you had to join the temple, but now all kinds of people can participate. He said, “Yes, in the beginning, I had a job, etc., and I could not change my situation.”
In the mall one guy said “I love India,” and we invited him to the festival, and he came. He came up to me saying, “My friend! My friend!” He also added me as his friend on Facebook.
I have never gone on a camping trip, what to speak of going to a foreign country with thirty people.
I learned that Krishna responds in both big and small ways. One night after the festival I needed to use the bathroom very badly but it was locked. A policeman saw me and opened the bathroom with his personal key.
We have an intimate service for the person who knows everything, so we are so fortunate. We should feel indebted to Him for that opportunity.
Kalakantha Prabhu says, “You are unique, like everyone else!”
Manorama is dhira, undisturbed. Nadia made nice prasadam. Mike was really sweet. Bhakti’s dancing was wonderful. Mohini chanted japa with inspiring concentration and was dedicated to making garlands. Mira had a amazing service attitude. Ananta was a great mrdanga player.
Bhakti Lata dd:
I wanted to dance bharat-natyam. I wanted to come on the tour since May. I felt drained by expending so much energy encouraging people to dance.
But I began to feel grateful for it, and depended on Krishna for replenishing me. I felt although I gave until there was nothing left, still I did not give that much.
Seeing other people crying in response, I was wondering why I or we are not experiencing that.
Manorama Prabhu decided to empty the sewage himself every time because he did not want anyone to have a bad experience on the bus tour. He is willing do every single service to make the bus tour happen.
I feel very inspired to see the amazing service capacity of Manorama Prabhu, Jaya Sri Radhe and others.
I found some of the sweet experiences like the pyramids and Agua Azul [the waterfalls], were not so nice this time, but rather, I took shelter more of service and the holy name.
I realized we grew in humility through our experiences.
It is wonderful to see how Krishna arranges everything so wonderfully for His devotees.
At Palenque, they listened to us for two hours, and then they did their thing. It was hard to listen to their performance at first but then I got more into and began to appreciate it.
The energy in Tampico was so wonderful. They loved chanting and dancing. They smiled as we served prasadam.
Lord Caitanya talks about feeling lower than a straw on the street. One time I felt lower than the Mexicans. It was a good feeling.
Being with devotees, there is a deepening of japa and kirtana.
In Vrndavana I was feeling I should be more absorbed and doing more service. Now I am.
Doing service with the devotees, you feel closer to Krishna than on your own.
It is rewarding sharing my dancing in a mood of using it to share Krishna with others.
There are a lot of neat things about the Mexican tours: beaches, snorkeling, pyramids, etc. There was a whole lot of kirtana going on.
As a background man, I did not see first-hand the appreciation of the public.
The service and unity was so strong between everyone on the tour, it became clear that the most satisfying thing is that service, and that was almost overwhelming for me.
At Veracruz we were behind schedule, and everyone came up to me asking for something to do to help. I felt a little bad since I am not an organizer and I could not always give them something to do. Still because of that cooperation, we ended up starting not so late after all. Seeing the cooperation was most inspiring.
The lessons I have been taught.
To stand back, and appreciate what the other people are doing. Who are we to think we are coming to liberate them? Like Madhava Prabhu was saying, we are also here to learn.
In Tampico, that festival is organized by someone who is not a devotee. He does not even have his own home or any help. Each year, he approaches the media and tells them about the event, and so many people come.
At Shambala, Carlos said two years ago, he and his friends cried tears. But why not us? We are absentminded with Krishna and the holy name. We are complacent.
Yamuna Devi was always teaching us to be grateful. If we have that gratitude, we will have the strength to avoid the offenses and stay on the namabhasa platform and deepen our relationship with Krishna.
Through the humility of serving the devotees, we get the taste of devotional service.
When Jaya Sri Radhe gets annoyed with someone, she does some service to rectify her mentality.
When you are really under stress then your real colors show.
Chanting, thinking of the mercy of the Vaishnavas and Lord Caitanya’s desire the holy name being spread all over the world and appreciating the effect of the chanting on the soul, we experience that the time flies by. Because you are in the spiritual energy, time does not matter.
The longest I ever played mrdanga for is 17 hours. There is a time when you feel your arms are going to fall off. Pray to Balaram for strength to cross that barrier, and you can keep going for hours. It depends on the strength of your mind and your determination.
Do not worry about the people. Worry about connecting to Krishna. If you are connected to Krishna if you chant the same tune for many hours, they will not get bored. This does not happen just by talking about it, but it takes a lot a hard work and practice.
After chanting for awhile, I think, “My heart is just getting purified, why should we stop now?”
Thanks to all the devotees on the bus tour to Mexico. Here is a picture of most of us taken at Tuxtla.
Special thanks to Manorama Dasa and Rukmini Priya Poddar who took most of the pictures from the tour which illustrate this blog and the preceding one.
Here is a video from the kirtanas in the January part of the tour. Lots of wonderful dancing is there, especially in Tulancingo.
Spiritual Realizations from Winter Break
I experienced by sharing Krishna culture in Mexico the truth that spiritual culture is something that is attractive to everyone regardless of race, gender, status, etc. So many of the Mexicans participated by chanting and dancing it was beautiful to see.
Goloka means planet of cow, and when you go to Vrndavana, you will see that there are cows everywhere.
You can feel in the dhama that you are becoming purified at every step.
I felt that because of performing so much devotional service, I could appreciate Vrndavana much better than I had when I visited back 2004.
Hearing from the saints was one of the best parts of my experience there. I kept my notebook with me constantly. I did not want to miss anything.
Jerusalem is a sacred to the Jews, Christians, and Moslems. I visited places sacred to each.
The Wailing Wall is what is left of the temple of Israel, and Jews pray for its rebuilding.
Everyone wants to come there and worship there, but my realization is that building a temple in the heart is more important than constructing an external temple in the holy place.
This is the second time coming home as a vegetarian, and my family still offers me fish, eggs, etc.
My brother read the Spanish Perfection of Yoga. He did not understand it completely, but he promised to reread it until he understood. He liked the Krishna pastimes we told him, and we gave him the Spanish Krishna book.
I learned a lot about practicing patience, dealing every day with my father’s three children and his girlfriend’s two children.
I realized how much I love being around more devotee friends. A month visit home is more than enough for me.
The name Israel has a story behind it:
Jacob got into trouble and is going back to his brother who he manipulated, so he is worried. Someone starts fighting with him, and the battle lasts all night. Jacob thinks he will win, and puts everything into it, and then the person, breaks his thigh by a mere touch. Jacob realizes that person must be divine or he could not break his thigh so easily. Thus Jacob decides to ask the unknown divine person for a blessing. The being blessed him and gave him the name Israel which means “one who is able to struggle with God and with man,” and he got the blessing that future generations would be born from him.
Every time you have a problem, there is a blessing within it.
Dharma is a way of dealing with every situation in the right way. When you do that, you get the blessing of the situation.
From a lecture:
Peace treaties have been there for centuries, but there is no peace without Krishna consciousness. Materialistic persons always see as enemies those who possess more than they do.
You do not have to be a great scientist to teach a great scientist, you just have to know Krishna.
If one hears about Krishna, he will immediately become pious. Then he can understand “I am an eternal servant of Krishna” and engage in His service.
From the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
“One should perform activities only for the benefit of the soul; any other activity should be given up. When a person is situated in this way, he is said to be desireless. Actually a living entity cannot be totally desireless, but when he desires the benefit of the soul and nothing else, he is said to be desireless.” (SB 5.5.10–13, purport)
recalled on DVD by follower as saying:
“If you built this temple in Mayapur, Bhaktivinoda Thakura will come and personally take you all back to Godhead.”
As an eight-year-old child I saw my aunt pouring over the Bible. I concluded religion was for old or incompetent people. As I became confident of my abilities, I saw no real need for God.
A staunch atheistic claims he has no needs, but in reality there are so many needs, needs of the body, etc. Now the scientists and business are creating many unnecessary “needs.”
Although the atheists think they do not need God, they have an unlimited list of things they need, and thus they remain unsatisfied. The devotee, however, becomes satisfied simply by serving Krishna.
The atheists say that religion is the opiate of the masses but actually the situation is more like opium [and other kinds of intoxication] is the religion of the masses. God is not someone you lean on in need and then throw away. But when we lean on God and feel His support, that helps us to develop our relationship with him.
When I was a teenager sometimes at night when no one was around I would listen to a religious station on the radio, curious about what God is all about. That was not strong enough to keep away from peer pressure to get involved in other things.
In the kirtana, you can get a sense of God. We must pray to stay in situations where our consciousness grows.
Favorite Bhagavatam verses:
Olivia: 1.5.11, Bhagavatam is different creation, beyond this world. It will create a revolution. Even it if is imperfectly presented it is powerful. The truthful will accept it.
Amrita-keli dd: SB1.2.8: Prabhupada says in the purport the freedom we want is found in meeting the Supreme Spirit.
Ananta: SB 1.7.6: The miseries seem complicated, the solution is simple.
Comment by Kalakantha Prabhu: And the miseries are described as “superfluous.”
Dwijamani: SB 2.1.11: It is doubtless and fearless. It works for everyone.
Laksmi: SB 1.2.9: It shows how our work should be done to attain perfection.
Sruti: SB 1.1.2: In India people are caught up in dharma, artha, kama, and moksa, but this shows real religion is beyond that.
Braja Hari Prabhu:
If a researcher publishes a couple papers, he feels great satisfaction, but Vyasadeva had compiled so much Vedic literature, yet he was dissatisfied. Therefore, Vyasadeva was trying to understand why.
What are the advantages of following varnasrama society?
One learns self-control, which helps in self-realization.
Social order is maintained.
One comes to accept the authority of the Vedas.
One comes to understand there are higher authorities.
Verses 1.2.16 to 1.2.21 shows the effect of hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam. One becomes happily situated in devotional service and detached from material life.
We are all here because we have some experience, but one may say our experience is just like the intoxication of some drug. What can we say about that?
Answer by Laksmi: The side effects of devotional service are all good, such as developing good qualities.
Answer by Dwijamani: The chanting satisfies the soul, not just the body and the mind.
We cannot convince people to accept Krishna consciousness. They must be sufficiently pious to accept it. Krishna states this in Bhagavad-gita (7.28), “Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.”
Q: What is the different between the Puranas and Itihasas?
A by me: Gopiparanadhana Prabhu writes in the glossary of his Tattva Sandarbha commentary, “In contrast to the more encyclopedic Puranas, each Itihasa usually tells one heroic story.”
In Chapter Ten Krishna describes His opulence in detail, and in Chapter Eleven, Arjuna wants to see the extent of them. We can only see Krishna if he reveals Himself. Arjuna is convinced about Krishna’s opulence but he wants to see the universal to convince others.
Satyahit Prabhu [from a conversation]:
When I was a new devotee we had so little money, we would beg for gas. If they would not fill up the tank, we asked for $5 worth, and then would go to another filling station and ask for more. We collected vegetables from behind the markets and would cook up some prasadam and set up in a park, and chant and distribute food and books.
Summary of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 1, Chapters 7 and 9
After compiling Mahabharata Vyasadeva felt despondent because he had not put
Krishna in the center, so in the Bhagavatam he began by rectifying the situation, revisiting topics from the Mahabharata in a more Krishna-centered way.
Key verses from the chapters make important points.
The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled this Vedic literature, which is in relation to the Supreme Truth. (Bhag. 1.7.6)
All different varieties of atmaramas [those who take pleasure in atma, or spirit self], especially those established on the path of self-realization, though freed from all kinds of material bondage, desire to render unalloyed devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead. This means that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and therefore can attract everyone, including liberated souls. (Bhag. 1.7.10)
Arjuna praises Krishna as the Lord, “You are the original Personality of Godhead [adah purursah, isvarah] who expands Himself all over the creations and is transcendental to material energy. You have cast away the effects of the material energy by dint of Your spiritual potency. You are always situated in eternal bliss and transcendental knowledge.” (Bhag. 1.7.23)
Asvattama kills the sons of Draupadi, flees in fear of Arjuna, attacks him with a brahmastra weapon, which he does not know how to counteract. Arjuna asked Krishna for advice, used his own brahmastra to counteract Asvattama’s weapon, and arrests Asvattama. Draupadi wanted to show mercy to Asvattama and Yudhisthira and Krishna agreed, while Bhima wanted to punish him.
“The Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna said [to Arjuna]: A friend of a brahmana is not to be killed, but if he is an aggressor he must be killed. All these rulings are in the scriptures, and you should act accordingly. You have to fulfill your promise to your wife, and you must also act to the satisfaction of Bhimasena and Me.” (Bhag. 1.7.53–54)
Here we learn from Krishna, the original guru, that we must follow the scripture, satisfy all the devotees, and satisfy the Lord Himself by our actions.
Krishna protects Pariksit in the womb at the request of his mother, Uttara, who glorifies Krishna’s divinity:
“Uttara said: O Lord of lords [deva-deava], Lord of the universe [jagat-pate]! You are the greatest of mystics [maha-yogin]. Please protect me, for there is no one else who can save me from the clutches of death in this world of duality.” (Bhag. 1.8.9)
The protection given by Krishna could not be given by another.
Kunti glorifies Krishna as the Lord:
Srimati Kunti said: “O Krishna, I offer my obeisances unto You because You are the original personality [purusam tvadyam] and are unaffected by the qualities of the material world [ isvaram praktreh param ].” (Bhag. 1.8.18)
“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” (Bhag. 1.8.25)
Faith in the Lord's darsana. Tolerance.
“My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.” (Bhag. 1.8.26)
You may have this assets and engage them in devotional service, but aspiring for them separately can destroy our spiritual urges. As Krishna Himself says:
“In the minds of those who are too attached to sense enjoyment and material opulence, and who are bewildered by such things, the resolute determination for devotional service to the Supreme Lord does not take place.” (Bg. 2.44)
Krishna is full of contradictions as the Absolute Truth who contains everything:
“Of course it is bewildering, O soul of the universe, that You work, though You are inactive, and that You take birth, though You are the vital force and the unborn.” (Bhag. 1.8.26)
Kunti glorifies the bhakti of the Vrndavana devotee, Mother Yasoda:
“My dear Krishna, Yasoda took up a rope to bind You when You committed an offense, and Your perturbed eyes overflooded with tears, which washed the mascara from Your eyes. And You were afraid, though fear personified is afraid of You. This sight is bewildering to me.” (Bhag. 1.8.31)
And prays for pure devotion, ananya bhakti.
“O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto You without being diverted to anyone else.” (Bhag. 1.8.42)
Yudhisthira is stricken with grief because of the millions of people killed to put him on the throne. Krishna arranges that no one, not even Krishna Himself, could pacify Yudhisthira, except Bhimsadeva. Bhimsadeva is mahajana. The great sages of the universe came to him before he left his body. Krishna Himself was personally present.
Bhismadeva explained to Yudhisthira about the inconceivability of the Lord’s plan, “O King, no one can know the plan of the Lord [Sri Krishna]. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered.” (Bhag. 1.9.16)
At the end of life, Bhismadeva prayed:
“Let me now invest my thinking, feeling and willing, which were so long engaged in different subjects and occupational duties, in the all-powerful Lord Sri Krishna [bhagavati]. He is always self-satisfied, but sometimes, being the leader of the devotees, He enjoys transcendental pleasure by descending on the material world, although from Him only the material world is created.” (Bhag. 1.9.32)
“At the moment of death, let my ultimate attraction be to Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. I concentrate my mind upon the chariot driver of Arjuna who stood with a whip in His right hand and a bridle rope in His left, who was very careful to give protection to Arjuna’s chariot by all means. Those who saw Him on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra attained their original forms [sva-rupam] after death.” (Bhag. 1.9.39)
Here we learn the Arjuna and His brothers were not killing people on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra but blessing them by sending them to the spiritual world.
“Let my mind be fixed upon Lord whose Sri Krishna motions and smiles of love attracted the damsels of Vrajadhama [the gopis]. The damsels imitated the characteristic movements of the Lord [after His disappearance from the rasa dance]. (Bhag. 1.9.40)
Here Bhimsadeva remembers the great love of the cowherd damsels of Vraja, thus pleasing Krishna by glorifying the spontaneous love of His most intimate devotees.
Caitanya dasi [on visiting Vrindavan]:
In America everyone has slaughterhouses on their faces, but in India they know they should not kill their mother [the cow].
In India they are so eager to talk of Krishna’s pastimes it was inspiring.
The flowers in Vrndavana are abundant and fragrant.
Many people from all over come to Krishna-Balaram temple.
The trees were producing more flowers when hearing the pastimes of Radha and Krishna being together and fewer when hearing Their pastimes of separation.
I more understand the mood of searching for Krishna, vipralambha-seva, serving Krishna in separation.
In America we get sidetracked by sense gratification, but in Vrndavana even the rickshaw-wallas telling someone to move over says, “Radhe! Radhe!” and so we are reminded of Krishna.
I heard a couple Prabhupada pastimes from Prabhupada disciples and had a couple dreams of Srila Prabhupada soon after. Previously I had only had a couple Prabhupada dreams in my life. In one he taught that the Deity’s paraphenalia should not be put on the floor and in another he taught that money is laksmi, the goddess of fortune, and every penny should be accounted for and engaged in Krishna’s service.
There is no reason to live in America unless we are distributing spiritual knowledge. Better we live in Vrindavan.
If we judge others, either we become vain (if we see ourselves as superior) or bitter (if we see them as superior and envy them).
The best standard of deity worship is one that we can actually maintain.
Estefania from her presentation for the GBC on Krishna House:
As soon as I came to Gainesville, because I was vegetarian, I immediately came to Krishna Lunch, I was attracted to the kirtanas and the programs.
I had some experience with eastern philosophy and yoga, so I was familiar with the ideas, but I did not see them integrated so nicely into people’s lives before.
Moving into the Krishna House has been the best decision of my life.
People of different situations in study and work are accommodated.
We do field trips to Tallahassee for First Friday, Orlando Veggie Fest, etc.
We visit grhastha homes in Alachua to see how one can practically live as a devotee in household life.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
from Journal and Poems, Book II, July–December 1985:
“He [Srila Prabhupada] was the expert spiritual father and the expert preacher. When he proposed the Sunday feast, we prepared it with him, in an intimate exchange. We were up late Saturday night stirring milk sweets, pounding puri dough, ‘If someone eats prasadam,’ said Srila Prabhupada, ‘it is as good as if they chant the holy name.’ An ecstatic festival of chanting and eating; they who eat will never be the same. You could go back to Godhead from this food.
from Prabhupada DVD:
When I was planning to leave Mayapur to return to my Peace Corps work, Srila Prabhupada said, “Do not think L-E-A-V-E, think L-I-V-E!”
from a class in Gainesville:
The Sea of Galilee where the Sermon on the Mount was spoken evokes spiritual feelings that I did not experience in Jerusalem, which seems to me to be a political capital not a spiritual one.
In the sixties, many young men took shelter in Canada. Canada was cold, but there was no draft.
In the sixties, we felt the Vietnam War made no sense, and now as we look back on it, it makes even less sense.
The exam scores for males at Arizona State, one study shows, drops dramatically after the football team wins.
The palace intrigue that went on with the Pandava was there until 200 years among the kings and queens of England, who too often were killed by political adversaries in the same family.
Prabhupada makes the point that if you have a good form of government and bad leaders, then the result is bad, but if even if you have a bad government, if you have good leaders, things will go pretty well.
Prabhupada originally encouraged Balavanta Prabhu to run for office, but later discouraged him from continuing.
The cattle industry is upset that the meat eating is going down.
Sometimes Prabhupada would promote autocracy, and sometimes he would promote democracy.
There is something you can do:
Be the best person you can.
During Mahabharata times, you could go to the town square and protest the government.
One Greek historian who went to India, was amazed there was a department of the government to protect foreigners, so they rarely got accosted by anyone.
Varnasrama empowers everyone to do what they do best. When brahmanas became proud, the whole thing broke down.
Q: Should the effectiveness of the government be judged by the happiness of the people?A: Certainly. You hit the nail on the head.
notes on a Friday night lecture in Gainesville called “Why Yoga? Why Bhakti?”
Krishna House is an educational institution where you can learn transcendental knowledge and experience transcendental pleasure.
What is transcendental?
Surpassing others; preeminent or supreme.
Lying beyond the ordinary range of perception”
This knowledge comes from the Vedas. It is passed down through a chain of spiritual teachers.
We are eternal spiritual entities inhabiting a temporary material body which is an incompatible situation.
Before this material body becomes dysfunctional, it is most intelligent to realize our spiritual nature and enjoy spiritual happiness eternally. That is our task in the human form of life.
There is one supreme soul who is maintaining the others, and to connect with that Supreme Person one performs yoga,
The joy of connecting with the Supreme Person is the ultimate spiritual experience and is described in Bhagavad-gita:
“Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.” (Bg. 5.21)
“In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous stat one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth, and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.” (Bg. 6.20–23)
“The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness. He is beyond the mode of passion, he realizes his qualitative identity with the Supreme, and thus he is freed from all reactions to past deeds.” (Bg. 6.27)
“Thus the self-controlled yogi, constantly engaged in yoga practice, becomes free from all material contamination and achieves the stage of perfect happiness in transcendental loving service to the Lord.” (Bg. 6.28)
How this state is attained is also described:.
“Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt. My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.” (Bg. 12.8–9)
In the beginning of the Hare Krishna movement there were no temples and no deity worship, just a storefront with an elderly Indian man speaking in part of it.
What Prabhupada did have in the beginning was a philosophy that is eternal and all encompassing.
In India there was someone who explained the speed of light and gravity 400 years before Isaac Newton, and that is after the the Vedic culture had degraded for many years.
Philosophy actually comes before science. Without a philosophy of science, there can be no science.
The spread of this Krishna consciousness movement is the practical result of the chanting of the holy name.
Since the prediction by Lord Caitanya that this chanting would spread all over the world, it was wondered how it would actually happen.
There is a joke about people who claim to remember the late sixties in San Francisco that they could not have really been there [presumably because if they had they been there, they would have been so high on drugs, they would not have remembered it].
Srila Prabhupada said that the bhagavata-marga of preaching and the pancaratrika-marga of deity worship are like the two tracks that a train runs on and both are required.
Mukunda Goswami said, “When we made the Radha Krishna Temple Album, we did not expect it would be popular. George Harrison wanted to do it, and we wanted to do it.”
Srila Prabhupada considered that his spiritual master had sent him followers to help him spread Krishna consciousness.
Comment by me: The memorial offering of the GBC Krishna-Kesava Prabhu read that summarized Yamuna Devi’s life was nice, but in addition she had her own deities and a great love for deity worship, and also she loved the bhajanas as did Srila Prabhupada, something that seems to be lacking in ISKCON now. Prabhupada personally taught her some bhajanas, and she would also organize seminars and chant all the songs in Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Gitavali.
kathayantas ca mam nityam
tusyanti ca ramanti ca
“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.” (Lord Krishna speaking in Bhagavad-gita 10.9)