Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Travel Journal#8.2: Gainesville and Jacksonville

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 2
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2012, part two)
Gainesville and Jacksonville
(Sent from Mayapur, West Bengal, on April 11, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the rest of January I was based in Gainesville where I chanted for two and a half hours a day on the campus at the University of Florida during the Krishna Lunch program and frequently gave classes. One day Bhaktimarga Swami spent morning, afternoon, and evening with us in Gainesville, inspiring all the devotees.


Twenty-eight people joined in when Bhaktimarga Swami chanted with us at the Farmers’ Market in the afternoon, some devotees and some onlookers.

Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu, who joined in Gainesville, started a Tuesday program at his present residence in Jacksonville and a Thursday program at the University of North Florida there. I would go up for the Thursday programs, sometimes going early to chant on the campus and advertize them, and it was pleasing to see the interest in them. The last Saturday night in the month, the devotees in Gainesville share realizations at their weekly chanting program. This time there were a couple creative devotional poems.

I share insights from my siksa and diksa gurus, in this case, Srila Prabhupada and Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, from Bhaktimarga Swami, who gives good advice for applying the philosophy in our lives and who briefly tells how he came to Krishna, from Mother Visakha on harmony and Bhagavad-gita, from the latest Back to Godhead magazine, from the senior devotees from Alachua who lecture in Gainesville, and from both the senior and junior devotees in Gainesville.


On Saturday nights in Gainesville we have Gaura arati, prasadam, and then two hours of kirtana. The last Saturday of the month, we decided to share realizations.

Cintamani: Giriraja Swami said that Madhava [the famed kirtana leader] said he chants each mantra as if it will be his last.

Madhava Prabhu (from the Alachua community):

I wanted to somehow relate an amazing experience I had one morning, our last morning on Anastasia Beach. Staying in St. Augustine for a week we developed a good schedule of arriving early at the beach and staying till we’re good and cooked. Upon arriving I would take a long japa walk up the beach.

Today, after about 2 rounds distance, I noticed a pretty good sized ghost crab up ahead. A rather large body, with two large white claws in front. Eight yellowing legs kept it steady and moved it with ease. It sat just at the point where the water stretches out before turning back. It sat there, seemingly meditating on the morning sun. As I approached, it turned to me. It looked at me as if to say, “What they hell do you want? Can’t you see I was meditating?” I felt sorry that I disturbed him/her and I make a wide circle around it, continuing to walk down the beach. I peeked back and saw that it resumed its position—gazing out at the sea.

Walking further, my mind was mixed on japa and the crab. I was fantasizing that the crab was doing its morning pranamas to the sun. But, it was strange to see a crab like that… don’t they usually scurry to make their holes in the sand for the day?

After another round or two, I turned around—secretly hoping to see the crab again. Up ahead I saw “him” and my heart jumped, happy to see him again. He again turned to look at me, then back to the sunrise. I was fascinated. What is he doing? I decided to sit with him and chant. At first he watched me, staring with those “floating” beady eyes. Then, as previously done, he turned back to the sun, just standing, gazing out over the ocean.

I began to speculate on what was actually going on here. Was he indeed meditating? What was he thinking? Why is he not going in, or not digging his hole. One round, two rounds. With each passing round, I noticed the crab weakening. As the waves crept up the sand, closer to him, he did not protest, or move. A wave would tumble him backwards, legs flailing to flip him back, then repositioning himself facing the sea.

Day after day, he must have come from the ocean to dig his hole, and as night approaches, off back in the sea he would go. His life the sea—what do they really think, should they think at all?

Could it be… he is leaving his body? Did I stumble upon an ancient crab ritual of the elderly to consciously give up their life in this fascinating way? Now I was intrigued. I sat, chanting in wonder. Did he come out of the ocean this morning and decide, “I just can’t bring myself to dig another hole—it is time…” and then set out his kusha grass mat to accept the end of the body? What courage and determination he had.

Wave after wave,
toppling him over,
waiting for the next.
Oh, sage crab
how you have inspired me.
Krishna tvadiya-pada-pankaja-panjarantam.
Let me leave now
while I can still think of You,
Oh my Lord,
let my mind become
entrapped in the stems
of your lotus feet.

Noticeably weaker,
old crab finding it harder and harder to reset,
struggling to ready for the next wave.
Gulls flying over head,
afraid to come near,
knowing also what is about to happen.

Chanting in compassion,
In awe
In amazement!
Let his journey be a successful one!
Oh Lord!
You have somehow brought us together,
for him to hear
for me to learn.
Valuable lessons,
never to be forgotten.
We will all leave this crustacean
of a body,
let it be willingly,
like this sage.
Oh crab,
may you be blessed
by the holy name.

One eye falling down,
wobbling to reset,
the end is clearly near.
No more protest
when thrown backwards
the jiva
no longer there.

I offer obeisances,
with a tears in my eyes,
thank you for the lesson,
Oh Sage Crab.

Walking back,
chanting, chanting.
I glance back,
the feast begun.
But “he” is not there.

Adyaiva me visatu

“They” say, animals have no soul, no feelings, no deliberation. (And certainly not crustaceans!) But it was so clear to me, this crab consciously broke from the “instinct” of hole digging and peacefully gave up it’s life, where he loved it the best—on the beach, at sunrise. Tomorrow is Janmastami, and perhaps this meeting with an old, dying crab, will be the high point of the week—when I stop to really think, of what I am doing here. And will I be so fortunate to be free of the kapha-vata-pittaih to the stage of real smaranam?

Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu: Here is poem I wrote on Krishna in Vraja.:


Barefoot is the way
I like to spend my day
As I walk the path to Braj

And He always knows
I like sand between my toes
The holy dham is my beach of choice

Where I surf on His waves
There’s no nights, only days
My friend, He surf’s at my side

When I’m heavy on my feet
I look down where we meet
Then four suddenly become two

I think I’m alone
But no, you’ve just shown
You will carry me through the storm.

I look over at You
And what do you do?
You smile and blow me a kiss.

In ecstasy I cry
Oh when will I die?
Because I never want You to go.

Krishna, He laughs
Saying, “There’s no need to gasp;
You’re not never nowhere I’m not.”

So what do I do
When my life is through
And all I want is to go Home?

Chant and dance You say
All night and all day
For surely you will come to Me.

I jump on the ground
Spinning round and around
But You’re gone in just one blink.

Falling to my knees
I say thank you and please
Chanting I look up.
I’m in Braj.

Amrita-keli dd: My first week in Vrindavana. Aindra Prabhu left his body. I recorded part of his last kirtana, but then I lost my camera. I was so upset. I came to see it as a reaction from an improper mentality. Later, however, the temple president came up to me with the camera and said some gurukula kid had found it. I was so happy. [Amrita-Keli promised to share this video with us, and when she does, I will share it with you.]


Srila Prabhupada:

from SB 1.10.16 purport :

The Vedic wisdom, therefore, forbids us to be attracted by false beauty.”

Therefore, the conclusion is that the spiritual spark is beautiful, and because of the soul’s beauty one is attracted by the beauty of the outward body.”

from “Prabhupada Speaks Out,” Back to Godhead, Mar / Apr 2012:

So the controller of the senses is the mind. And above the mind is the intelligence. And above the intelligence is the soul. We cannot see even the mind and intelligence, so how can we see the soul?”

Bhaktimarga Swami:

Krishna is a magnet, and everyone is like an iron filing is attracted to Him.

When Krishna and Balarama entered the wrestling arena, everyone was attracted to Krishna according to their relationship with Him.

At Kurukshetra there is a Krishna Museum, which has Krishna paraphernalia from all over India, including artifacts dug up in Dvaraka.

Comment by Brahmatirtha Prabhu: There is evidence of another city beneath the present Dvaraka excavations.

That would make sense to me because the artifacts seem like those of ordinary sized men when during Krishna’s time, the Dvarapa-yuga, were much larger.

In the time of Krishna, that idea that it takes a village to raise a child was very much how it was done then. The other ladies in Vrindavan also fed Krishna.

We have different relationships. Persons you look up to who inspire you by instructions and habits. We have friends who can be a great motivating factor. How many things have we done from peer pressure. We have those averse to us, but we cannot take so seriously when what they say impedes our service.

The positive side of those averse is there may be a grain of truth in what they say that we can benefit from from. Also they help us understand that the material world is, like Krishna says, a place of misery.

If you do not take care of your parents, you may find that your children will not look after you when you are old, so you must consider that.

Sometimes the stepmother plays a more important role than the mother. Karna said in effect to Kunti, “You are not my real mother because you did not take care of me.”

We used to collect with ISKCON cans, cankirtana, we called it. I met Brahmananda and Gargamuni’s mother. She said she would not give a donation because her boys did not call her very much.

Krishna consciousness is very much about owing something to others. Krishna consciousness is all about thankfulness and giving gratitude.

We may neglect our other mothers, but we cannot neglect the earth.

In India, every day is Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day.

Sannyasis are into families. Without families they would not be fed.

It is good to strive for equilibrium and to oppose fanaticism.

To keep relationships, unless people are inimical to you, I think is wise, even if only as a matter of duty. Duty is not always pleasant.

My Catholic father said, “You have a perfect religion, why do you want to go to another?” Then as he saw I was moral and did not have some of the problems like divorces and addictions he saw my friends have, he became more favorable.

Prabhupada does not represent callousness towards others (like our family members).

We are grounded, anchored in principal.

St. Francis once said, “Preach and if you have to, use some words.”

Even Prabhupada said once you cannot please all of the people all of the time. But even if you cannot please the people by a certain action, you should try to make up for it to the people later.

Kalakantha Prabhu commented: A sannyasi is like the father for all ashrams.

Bg. 6.32 is a very soft verse about seeing the equality in everyone, something that everyone can appreciate.

We should not be scared to talk about oneness. The Mayavadis do not have a monopoly on the word “one.”

We use the material body, although it is perishable, in Krishna’s service.

There is a time when we tell the material energy, “No way, Jose!” There is supposed to be a time when we stop our flirtations with material energy, and we just want to be with Krishna.

We respect the material energy by not getting involved in it. One way we do that is to see all living entities have a spiritual essence.

We like to throw our Sanskrit words to our friends in the yoga community because they are a little into the Indian thing. I teach them “ahankara” which means “ego.” “Ego,” in the material sense, is ugly, so I say “ahankara” in a very ugly way.

Q: What about if I am too heavy with myself?

A: I think it is good to be in the company of people who encourage you. We should take inspiration from our role models. Srila Prabhupada was very upbeat. There are only two ways of being, upbeat or beat up. When you have a philosophy that is upbeat and food that is upbeat, you should be upbeat.

Q:What do you learn from being on the road?

A: Went you walk you have take the heat, the cold, the rain, the mosquitoes, the horse flies, the deer flies. The road is a friend telling you to keep going. On the road, you see the beauty that is in nature, the textures, the smells. You feel a lot closer to Krishna. A former padayatri said that anyone who has walked over vast tracks of land comes to believe in God. It is you, Krishna’s names, and Krishna’s nature. It is good to have a support person to keep you company.

When you meet people on the trail, you have a lot of shared experience, so the interactions are of greater quality.

In Manu-samhita, it is advised that a criminal walk a long distance, for it is purifying.

Walking an hour and a half walk a day is very therapeutic. It frees from stress and gives time to sort things out. By walking you improve your appetite, improve your sleep, see exciting things, and improve your physique.

It would be nice if we could introduce the culture of walking for pilgrimage purposes.

I first heard the mantra from the Hair album. The next time was in Toronto. I then met three tall shaven headed devotees in British Columbia. I thought they were more pushy than Jehovah’s Witnesses. My friend gave them a quarter to get them away. They gave us a Back to Godhead magazine and found they believed what I did. I later got another BTG, and liked it more. The next day I bought a Bhagavad-gita and invited the devotees to my place. My friend had a marijuana planet in the window. The devotees were saying we should have a tulasi plant instead. We had a All Things Must Pass album, and one of the devotees noticed George Harrison was wearing tilaka in the album picture and they all crowded around the picture to see. They were vegetarian. I was brought up on farm. We see the animals born, and grow, and then see them in another form, and I thought there was something wrong in that. I started to read The Nectar of Devotion. There is something magical in that book. I saw Prabhupada six times but never asked him a question. He was guarded by these men with sticks, and I was a shy brahmacari. I understood that we got his mercy through serving his devotees, and I was satisfied with that. I was in Atlanta, and the head cook asked for someone to cook dal for Prabhupada. No one volunteered, so I did. I had never made dal before, so I followed the Hare Krishna recipe book. I was to afraid to ask if he liked it. I never found out. But when I make dal people tell me they like it, so I think that is Prabhupada’s mercy.

When Prabhupada was with us, he was very encouraging and empowering for those who had talent in the performing arts. After he left, those people were more left to themselves. We have created VANDE (Vaishnava Arts in the New Devotional Era) to support the arts in ISKCON.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

Later that summer [after I took sannyasa] I personally met again with Srila Prabhupada, and he encouraged me to obtain a bus and hold festivals while I travel.

from Memories:

I also remember the letter he [Srila Prabhupada] wrote outlining the ideal behavior of a traveling preacher going to colleges. He described principles of cleanliness and neat appearance and told us to write down our realizations every day to make our preaching sharper.”

from Twenty-six Qualities of a Devotee:

9. A Devotee Is Without Material Possessions, Akincana:

The underlying axiomatic truth here is that Krishna is the Supreme Proprietor. Anyone who claims to own possessions, therefore, is a kind of madness or thievery. As stated in Isopanisad Mantra #1, ‘Everything animate and inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself which is set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.’

But what is that ‘quota?’ Although the scriptures allow for limited sense gratification and material possessions, that sanction does not constitute pure devotional service. Ultimately Krishna’s last instruction is to give up even those religious concessions:

“‘Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.’ (Bg. 18.66)”

Mother Nanda:

Even during Krishna’s presence, many people did not come directly in touch with Krishna, but developed affection for him by hearing about him. Thus there is hope for us now that we can also awaken affection for Krishna.

Prabhupada talks about gold, jewels, pearls, and valuable stones as being nature’s gifts, and in the previous verse, he describes a woman’s shyness to also be a gift of nature. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.10.16–17)

It is easier to positively engage the senses in devotional service than to restrict them from sense endeavor.

Krishna Dharma Prabhu [from “Time to Ditch Bad Leaders”, Back to Godhead, March/April 2012, p. 30]:

The right vision means recognizing that no one in this world has independent authority. All authority derives from God and must therefore be exercised on His behalf. Without God’s sanction nothing can succeed.”

Braja Hari Prabhu:

One meaning of detachment from family life means to be detached from the ups and downs of family life.

Srila Prabhupada says we do not need to know how we came into this material world other than to understand we had a desire to enjoy separately from Krishna.

Krishna respects our privacy yet remains with us, hidden in our heart as the Supersoul, to benefit us.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.3, Brahma tells one thing to give up, one thing to maintain, and one thing to add. One should give up the speculative method of acquiring knowledge of the Absolute Truth, one should maintain his performance of his social duties according to his position, and one should offer respect with body, words, and minds to descriptions of the personality and pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Thus one can conquer the Supreme Lord who is otherwise unconquerable by anyone in the three worlds.

The Bhagavatam (3.7.11) explains how the soul seems to be entangled although it is not: “As the moon reflected on water appears to the seer to tremble due to being associated with the quality of the water, so the self associated with matter appears to be qualified as matter.” Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport, “The Supreme Soul, the Personality of Godhead, is compared to the moon in the sky, and the living entities are compared to the reflection of the moon on water. The moon in the sky is fixed and does not appear to quiver like the moon on the water. Actually, like the original moon in the sky, the moon reflected on the water should also not quiver, but because of being associated with water, the reflection appears to be quivering, although in actual fact the moon is fixed. The water moves, but the moon does not move. Similarly, the living entities appear to be tainted by material qualities like illusion, lamentation and miseries, although in the pure soul such qualities are completely absent.”

We read Srimad-Bhagavatam not to attain knowledge but as a service to please Krishna.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

I went to my mother’s church on Christmas. During part of the program, the congregation repeated the words, “No one can see God.” What a depressing theology!

In the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition we understand that although God is not perceivable by our material senses, if we engage in His service, our senses are purified, and we can perceive Him.

Lord Vishnu is already ready with the conch and the lotus for those who approach him with love, and he is ready with the club and the disc for those who don’t.

Q: How do we know what Krishna wants us to do?

A: That is a perennial question. Krishna is able to accept a variety of services. Sometimes Prabhupada would ask the devotee who asked that question what they would like to do. Once a disciple named Isana replied that he wanted to make mrdangas that did not break. Prabhupada told him to do it then, and so we now have the indestructible Balarama mrdangas.

Comment by Caitanya: I was so attracted that in Krishna consciousness God relates to one in a friendly way rather than just demanding respect and threatening one.

Response by Kalakantha Prabhu: And God has a sense of humor. Where do we encounter humor in God in the Bible?

The last four governors of Illinois have ended up in prison due to corruption, demonstrating that in this world the law is above the person, but in the universe the Supreme Person, God, is above His laws.

Krishna does things that are inconceivable and apparently contradictory in His personal pastimes and also in our own lives.

If we understand that Krishna is benevolently arranging our lives so we progress spiritually, whether we experience happiness and distress along the way, we can always be peaceful and satisfied.

Canto One, Chapter Twelve, “The Birth of Emperor Pariksit” is the only chapter in the Bhagavatam where Yudhisthira is happy.

The ideal society is such that everyone has the necessities of life without having to act against their natural proclivities.

I have lived in Saranagati community several summers, and the devotees who live there are very hearty. The land is not very fertile, and if you are able to able to grow something, the bears are ready to devour it.

The material world is uncomfortable enough that a sane person will want not to remain here.

The wealthy people in America have become more wealthy in the last five years, while some middle class people have lost everything.

As devotees, we experience we need fewer material possessions to be happy.

If one’s senses are uncontrolled, one will never be satisfied.

The devotee has no interest in the material world. It is like we are in the waiting room for Vaikuntha, the spiritual kingdom.

Grhastha life is a life of accumulation, and when you move, you see the result of accumulation.

Once I asked a sannyasi friend if he could take a letter to Mayapur, but he said he had no room. He did not check any luggage and only took things that served.

Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu once said, “I think of sex life as something for young people, like skate boarding.”

Q: How do we become sense controlled?

A: It is as simple as chanting and following the four rules to avoid meat eating, illicit sex, gambling, and intoxication. Of course, going to the morning program helps give us a taste for leading a simple lifestyle. It does not happen all of sudden, but gradually in the course of time.

Comment by Olivia: I found it very powerful that the description of King Ambarisa concludes by saying he used his desires in fulfilling the desires of the Lord.

Krishna promises to be equal to everyone. As Krishna he takes care of the Pandavas, and He expands as Balarama to take care of Duryodhana.

When Arjuna was living incognito as a dance instructor in the court of King Virat, he pleased the king so much the king offered him his daughter, Uttara, who was one of his pupils, as a bride. Not wanting to marry his disciple, Arjuna suggested that his son, Abhimanyu, might marry the Uttara instead. So it happened, and Uttara give birth to King Pariksit, the heir of King Yudhisthira.

In the church the preacher said “No man has seen the Father.” I always found uncomfortable about that.

If you do not see another person, why is that? You do not want see them, they do not want to see you, or neither of you want to see each other. Why else do you not see a person? You may be blind, you may be asleep, you may be pretending to be asleep. The person may not exist. The person may be hiding.

If you do not want to see God, He will not force Himself on you, like a relative at Christmastime.

It appears to be God’s choice that He is not revealing Himself, but actually He is reciprocating with our choice to not really want to see Him that badly.

When I visited Yamuna Devi's house at Saranagati, I saw she had incredible stained glass depicting Krishna’s associates. I asked, “Who has done this?” She replied in a detached way, “Yamuna Devi.”

Christianity is all about having faith in a few miracles that Christ performed a couple thousand years ago.

Srila Prabhupada may well be the religious leader in all of history who was the most documented.

Nowhere in our theology do we say that no one can see God.

When one becomes serious to follow the mission of the spiritual master, his resolution is tantamount to seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. . . . In conclusion, if a disciple is very serious to execute the mission of the spiritual master, he immediately associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by vani or vapuh. This is the only secret of success in seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Instead of being eager to see the Lord in some bush of Vrindavana while at the same time engaging in sense gratification, if one instead sticks to the principle of following the words of the spiritual master, he will see the Supreme Lord without difficulty. . . . If one engages in the service of the spiritual master, he not only sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead but attains liberation.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.51)

Comment by Laksmi: A reporter asked Richard Dawkins, “If you saw God, what would you say to him?” Dawkins replied, “I would ask Him, why are you so good at hiding Yourself?”

Faith develops by experience. And if you try the experience and do not like it, we give a karma back guarantee.

At the Dallas GBC meetings, Badrinarayana Prabhu made this point, “It is a sign of expert design that there is no evidence of the designer.”

Comment by Laksmi: It is not a surprise that God is not obviously present in this world. Krishna created this world so that people who are not interested in Him will not be confronted with Him at every step.

At the GBC meeting we discussed if we should be liberal or conservative? We decided to be liberal in the beginning and then become more conservative as the people advance. It reminded me of old political aphorism: “If you are not liberal when you are young, you have no heart. And if you are not conservative when you are old you have no brain.”

Madhava Prabhu:

Seeing Krishna was not enough for the female residents of the city of Hastinapura. Out of affection for Him, they wanted to talk about Him. They marveled at the good fortune of those who could see Krishna every day.

Krishna was gone for about a year during which the Battle of Kurukshetra happened. After Krishna decided to leave Hastinapura for Dvaraka, several months went by before he left.

Krishna did not blow on conch shells in Vrindavan, just the flute and the buffalo horn.

Krishna's Pancajanya conch shell was from the conch demon who stole the son of his guru, Sandipani Muni.

All the inhabitants of hell became free from their sinful reactions and attained liberation when Krishna, enroute to see Yamaraja, blew His Pancajanya conch shell.

Sesa Prabhu:

The residents of Dvaraka pray for a very personal protection from the Lord.

We are fortunate that when we appear in this world there is someone to look after us, our mother.

If we understand that we already have a relationship with God and that we just have to uncover it then we are already miles down the road to perfecting our lives.

For mundane love, it is said, “Short absence quickens love, long absence kills it.”

Separation intensifies our feelings for Krishna.

According to Gour Govinda Swami, the river is the pastimes of Krishna and its banks are vipralambha, (intense feelings of separation from Krishna) and sambhoga (union with Krishna).

Krishna creates the situation of separation to develop the relationship and nourish the love.

Just according to how we want to reciprocate with Krishna, He is ready approach us.

We do not speak with our voice and our words, but with our hearts.

On a stage, the lights are sometimes so bright that you cannot see the persons in the audience. Because you cannot see their responses to your smiles and gestures, you do not really connect with the people. In the material world our exchanges are like that when they do not touch the soul.

India is the largest democracy in the world.

Even in Vrindavan nowadays you have to worry if you have cow about people stealing it at night for slaughter.

In 1975 devotees arranged for a meeting for Srila Prabhupada with Indira Gandhi. Thus he curtailed his trip to America to return to India for the meeting. Prabhupada wrote down ten points to make at the meeting.

  1. grant immigration for 500 foreigners

  2. all members of parliament should be initiated brahmana [as they are advising the executive]

  3. Sanjaya as King, Indira as Queen Mother

  4. close slaughterhouses

  5. chanting

  6. no public meat eating

  7. prostitution punishable

  8. no religious groups except followers of Bhagavad-gita

  9. all government leaders should join kirtana at least twice a day

Due to fear of an attempt on her life, Indira Gandhi was not in a frame of mind to hear his suggestions, so Srila Prabhupada could not make them.

Fighting the attempt of the Russian government to ban Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the Indian government spoke about government support of Bhagavad-gita in India.

Replacing human jobs with machines make people idle which leads to crime.

Srila Prabhupada said that congregational chanting of the holy name is the basis of this Krishna consciousness movement.

Balavanta Prabhu said that Srila Prabhupada was upset when the U.S. Government abandoned the requirement that each dollar be backed up by a dollars worth of gold. Prabhupada favored elimination of paper money and considered that use of gold coins of real value would reduce economic problems. He also recommended barter. Beyond that if we are satisfied by local produce, then exchange would not be necessary.

Prabhupada felt an artificial scarcity of food created due to national interests was an economic anomaly.

If a city boy does not change his heart, he will be thinking of his life in the city even if he moves to a farm.

Lord Rama, showed he was not after material gain by giving the Ravana’s pious brother Vibisana the rule of Ravana’s kingdom after killing him.

Having a God consciousness leader is so important for the progressive spiritual advancement of civilization that Krishna felt all the bloodshed of the Battle of Kuruksetra was justified.

on Advaita Acarya’s appearance day:

This is a special time of the year because of the appearance days of Advaita Acarya, Nityananda Prabhu, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

I hope to be in Mayapur for Nityananda’s appearance day, and if you give me your blessings to safely get there, I will share that mercy with you. A devotee’s life is all about giving and getting mercy.

As Maha-Vishnu the Lord knows all that is going on in the material world, thus He comes to propagate devotion to the Supreme Lord to benefit the people.

Advaita Acarya was offered respect as an elder, but nowadays we do not always respect elders. Elders have wisdom, the affection of a grandfather, and they can do everything to pacify you by giving shelter.

Just imagine how loud Maha-Vishnu can cry for the Supreme Lord!

[Caturatma Prabhu dressed with a white beard and white hair, set up a plate of offering on the altar. When Sesa Prabhu cued him, he called out to the Lord to descend, and Sesa Prabhu invited others to call out. They called out “Haribol! Haribol!” It was very dramatic. It appeared to begin just like a regular class, but it had this novel dramatic element.]

Advaita Acarya lived 125 years, and 25 years after Lord Caitanya left.

Comment by Prana Govinda Prabhu: Advaita Acarya was older than Lord Caitanya’s father. In the scripture, Lord Caitanya appearance was predicted but the time of His appearance was not fixed. Because Advaita Acarya called for Him, He came at that time. So we should felt greatly fortunate that he called at that time.

Q (by Estefania): But if the Lord sends His superiors to appear before Him, then does that not overshadow the free will of Advaita Acarya.

A: Just because Lord Caitanya sends His superiors to appear before Him, does not mean that is contrary to the will of Advaita Acarya.

Visakha Devi:

I took pictures from being a kid. It was part of coming to understand about life.

I took photos of and participated in demonstrations against racism and the war in Vietnam.

I worked in the advertizing industry and found it lacking integrity. People would do anything to sell anything regardless of the value of the product. The ladies who did the ads were highly competitive.

I worked with an expert closeup photographer with noble ideas, but who was alcoholic and not on speaking terms with his ex-wife or children and had a volatile relationship with a Japanese woman half his age.

I had a friend who went to India and invited me to come in 1970, saying the photography was great.

I went in 1971. We took pictures in India, and went it got to hot went to Nepal and started trekking up the Himilayas, stopping at the snow line at 10,000 feet and rested in a shack. The villagers were kind and sharing their vegetables with us. My friend pulled a blue Prabhupada Gita from his bag and gave it to me to read. I could not understand it, but I had a sense it could give me a direction to ultimate happiness.

I went back to India. I saw the simple living people of Vrindavan, living happily in their spiritual devotion, whereas I was not happy aspiring for wealth, power, and happiness as those I knew in the West. This was a revolutionary experience for me.

We were impressed meeting Srila Prabhupada. His knowledge of the spiritual was phenomenal, and he acted according to his teachings and we were inspired and became his students. I studied the Gita for 25 years and decided to explain it in such a way that even a child could understand it.

I did Bhagavad-gita for children, Our Most Dear Friend. I start out explaining with illustrations about how we are eternal souls and change bodies one after another. Then I did a Gita for young adults, called Bhagavad-gita: A Photographic Essay, which won an award last year for independent publishers in the spiritual category.

Visakha showed us a picture of a relative, the left half was him in is 80s and the right, him in 20s.

In 1999, we moved from Los Angeles.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “Material or spiritual, everything is in harmony. That is God’s law. Everything is in harmony.”

I wrote another book about the Gita discussing four kinds of harmony.

1. Harmony Within

From ants we can learn be resolute in purpose.

The animals share our needs for eating, sleep, mating, and defending, which the human has to regulate for success.

  1. Harmony with the Earth and the Creatures of the Earth

A forest fire just stopped one mile from Saranagati farm. I use it to illustrate the uncontrolled mind, the worst enemy in spiritual life.

Our home grown cherry tomatoes were more succulent than anything from the market.

  1. Harmony Between Other People

Krishna says he speaks the Gita to Arjuna because he was nonenvious.

By chanting Krishna’s names we can become from from envy.

Tolerance and humility aid this.

  1. The Well Spring of Harmony

The Lord has all-pervading aspects and exists in the heart, but ultimately He exists in His abode which He describes in the Gita as not illuminated with sun, moon, fire, or electricity.

The different leaves, twigs, and branches are in harmony because they are connected to trunk. Similarly our different talents can be brought into harmony when they are offered to the Lord.

I met Srila Prabhupada in Bombay in 1971. I was searching, but not searching for a religion, as I was brought up as an atheist. Prabhupada was relaxed in India. My friend, John, and later husband, told me to bring my book of close-up photography. Prabhupada seemed to step out of a different era, an era when people had the qualities of respectability and integrity.

At a pandal program, I was impressed with the amazing reverence of the Indian people in the audience for Srila Prabhupada for his convincing Westerners to become Vaishnavas.

My favorite chapter of Bhagavad-gita changes from time to time. Now it is chapter two.

We did not want our daughter to grow up the way the other children did in the LA temple. If it was just the two of us, we would probably be still in LA, but we had that responsibility toward our daughter.

In the city, the hum of the technology drowned out the nonsense chatter of my mind, but when I moved to Saranagati, I had to learn how to tune that out. That took a lot of work. The sadhana Prabhupada gave us was conducive to that.

My parents were horrified that I became a devotee. They would just take prasadam. Had my daughters been born they might have become inclined to them, but my parents died before girls were born.

On a daily basis, three things nourish me most: japa, regularly reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, and associating with his followers.

The widows of Vrindavan would chant for three hours a day. Half would sing and the other half listen, and then switch. They would chanted with complete devotion. They had nothing else. The devotion of the residents of Vrindavan warmed my heart and changed me from an atheist into a devotee. Both the devotion and the result of the devotion, satisfaction with a simple life, most impressed me.

Each family in Saranagati is resourceful. One family does a health-food store supporting three families. One family produces and markets soap. There are two carpenters, and they have an organic farm supplying vegetables to Vancouver.

Tulasirani dd:

We can pray to Lord Hari so that he might steal away our material desires so our hearts will become soft and He can steal our minds.

Amrita Keli dd [from a conversation]:

Kirtana is great because everyone has a very individual experience but also a very positive collective experience, both at the same time.

Caturatama Prabhu:

Krishna has endless desires but also the ability to fulfill these desires. That differentiates the Lord from ourselves who may have endless desires but no ability to fulfill them all.

In one purport Srila Prabhupada said that Krishna only married sixteen thousand wives. Most people think sixteen thousand wives is an amazing number, but for the Supreme Lord, sixteen thousand is insignificant.

In Kali-yuga relationships become more gross.

Both yoga-maya and maha-maya cause one to forget the greatness but yoga-maya is completely transcendental.

Although Satyabhama received an entire tree of parijata flowers from Krishna, it grew high and bore flowers all which hung over Rukmini’s side of the fence, so Satyabhama had to beg Rukmini for flowers. [That is especially funny as Satyabhama originally demanded the tree because Rukmini had received a single flower as a gift.]

Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu:

When we are curious about our previous lives, what we are really looking for is not our past lives but our origin.

comment by Gopala Prabhu: I got Bg. before meeting the devotees. So I joined in spite of the devotees not because of them. The first devotee I met pinned a flower on me, gave me a book and asked for a donation. I gave her a couple of bucks, but she did not think it was enough so she took the book back. I saw her later, and I took off the flower, threw it on the floor, and ground it into the floor with my foot while she was watching.

If we focus more becoming free from anarthas (unwanted things) we can forget to focus on Krishna and miss out on spiritual nourishment.

Comment by Nimai Pandit Prabhu: I heard Krishna removes our anarthas in response to our devotional service to Him.

Comment by Caitanya dasi: I find that if I give my association to new people too much, I hear too many mundane topics we is not good for me.

In false ego we may think that self-pity will purify our heart, but actually self-pity is a form of sense gratification.

Comment by Caitanya dasi: Lord Caitanya stressed the importance of not offending the devotees when he told His mother she could not get love of God unless she was absolved of her offense of criticizing Advaita Acarya.

Damodara: I guess I was always sort of a spiritual person. During recess when I was in the third grade, I would meditate under a tree.

Amrita Keli dd: I was with my grandfather for two months before he died. He was really making a lot spiritual advancement in the end. When he actually left the body, the difference was so noticeable it was eerie. I thought I would read the Bhagavatam for a few minutes afterward, but I could tell no one was listening.

Medically it is not so obvious when a body is dead, but to me it is always obvious, without the thousands of dollars of tests that is necessary to prove it for the sake of lawyers. Once a nurse wanted me to confirm a body was dead, and when I entered the room, even before opening the curtain and seeing the patient, I just had the sense there was no one in the room but me.

Even family members notice that difference between the living soul and the dying body. “Joe was so active, and this body is just lying here.”

The story of the beautiful lady who takes laxatives and purgative and becomes ugly and shows the man attached to her external beauty the ‘essence of her beauty’ is practical for me because as a doctor I see how the beauty of the body can be destroyed, as by diseases like dysentery and cancer.

Incarnate means to take on flesh. Reincarnate means to take on flesh again. Or, in other words, to take on another body.

When the soul leaves the body, no one calls the body John or Mary anymore.

In this life we are so fortunate because we deserved to get a human body which we can use for spiritual development.

Many people who are rich and have many possessions are still looking for ultimate satisfaction. They have not found it yet.

If we take something material to get us high, we may find that when we come down, we end up at a lower point than where we started.

We can learn from Advaita Acarya’s method of calling Krishna to come into this world, how to invite Krishna to appear in our heart.

Comment by Clayton: Sometimes when I am spaced out on serving the Krishna Lunch drink, a twig of the tree above me will fall down on me.

Once I got was so absorbed in a kirtana I was leading, I did not realize I was chanting at such a high pitch none of devotees could follow. One devotee, appreciated my kirtana, but pointed out I chanted so high no one could follow. I was crushed, and it took me a while of reflection to accept this as a blessing.


Conditioning is very powerful.

In a book called Phantoms in the Brain, the author showed that denial is very powerful. One lady could not move her left arm because she was convinced that it belonged to her husband.

One friend denied her father's death so much that she did not cry until several months afterward, when she could appreciate what had happened.

In the Stanford Prison Experiment, to analyze conflict between policemen and prisoners, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo had students divided up into prisoners and guards and formed a mock prison. Those who played the roles of guards were instructed as real guards were. The study had to be stopped after six days because those students who played guards took their roles so seriously they abused the students who played prisoners.

Bhagavad-gita explains how our vision is distorted: “As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust.” (Bg. 3.38)

The history of the Hare Krishna is evidence that Srila Prabhupada’s method of saving people from their material conditioning is effective. His early followers were addicted to drugs and so many bad habits, but they gave them up.

Kirtida Dasi, although dying of cancer herself, was trained as a nurse, and she helped take care of other people who had also come to Vrndavana to leave their bodies. She did not take any pain killers because she wanted to remember Krishna at the end of life, but she appeared very happy in spiritual consciousness even a few days before her death.

Comment by ???: After having done Vedic astrology for years, I can see that people really do act helplessly according to their natures, just like Bhagavad-gita says. There is a tendency among people who do astrology for many years to take up a spiritual practice.

Because the part of the brain stimulated during a religious experience is same part that is stimulated by some drugs, scientists say that spiritual experience are just another material experience like drugs. One can also argue that spiritual experiences are natural and necessary, and that people who do not have religious experiences try to find the same effect with drugs.

The scientists have not been able to explain certain things such that life comes from matter.

Hanan Prabhu:

from a Sunday lecture:

In one study they gave four-year-old children marshmallows and told them, “If you can sit fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow, I will give you another one.” One third of the children did not eat the marshmallow. After fifteen years, they found 100% of the children who did not eat the marshmallow were successful in their activities and relationships.

Another study showed most people will make a bad decision because of impatience. If asked whether they want 50 dollars now or 100 dollars a year from now, they will take the 50 dollars now.

I went to a retreat. They would not let me room with my friend, but insisted I room with someone else. You will have to be with someone you do not know, and you will find out why later.

After three days, we were given an assignment to tell your roommates what you thought of each other. My roommate said, “I think you are stupid. You do not eat with everyone else. You get up earlier. You chant Hare Krishna.”

I said, “You have too long hair. You are too attached to his girlfriend [they were always touching each other].”

When he called me stupid, I decided to think about things I was stupid about in my life. I found a few and later said to the group. Someone said I was stupid, and I found how it was true.

After that our relationship changed. He became more caring than a mother for me, asking the cook to make special food for me and my vegetarian friend.

Our lifestyles did not change but our relationship improved.

Michelle: I think there is a fine line between patience and apathy. What is the point when you have to speak out?

Emily: When I become vegetarian, my family was not supportive, so I would cook for myself, but I would always ask them if they wanted some. Now after eight years, they buy vegetarian things and cook for me. I never fought with them over the issue.

Duane: We can be tolerant with meat eaters, remembering that becoming vegetarian is not something we were forced to do, but was a matter of coming to an understanding. We have to wait patiently until they come to that understanding.

Amrita Keli dd: I came home to show my family a better way of being happy, of vegetarianism and offering food to Krishna, but they were not interested. After I cooked dinner, they bought some ribs and put them on the very same table. It was horrible. Gradually through talking with others, I realized I was using the wrong approach, and I should preach by not preaching.

Patient: bearing misfortune without complaint or anger.

from another Sunday lecture:

In English we have one word for love, but in Greek there are eight, in Parsee there are eighty, and in Sanskrit there are ninety-three.

Sanskrit words for love:

trsna: thirst

kandarpa: some mutual emotions

manvanta: complete emotions

ricaya: we must have had a previous connection, I love you with my our heart

mother’s love: unconditional but based on the body

bhakti: devotional love for the Lord

karuna: compassion

Problems with falling love:

It is artificial in the sense that you do not fall in love with your friends or associates of the same gender. It is temporary.

Flavio: A smile and listening to someone are simple ways of manifesting love.

One reason having God in a relationship between two people helps is because one comes to understand oneself and others in a deeper way and therefore is more able to love because of that knowledge.

By the chanting of Hare Krishna, we purify ourselves and at the same time reestablish our relationship with God.

Story of pujari at Advaita Bhavan from Mula Prakrti’s book: [I heard that story three times recently, so I thought I should include it.] One pujari at Advaita Bhavan in Shantipur came to Mayapur some years after Prabhupada’s disappearance and told this story: For years pujari remembered a certain married man came periodically and chanted Hare Krishna on beads in the back of the temple. Sometimes he had tears in his eyes. Later, after some time, he came again, this time in sannyasa dress. He told me that his guru had given him an impossible mission of preaching Krishna consciousness in English in the West, and he came to pray for the ability to carry it out. Then in the coming years I saw Westerners dressed in dhotis and saris coming to my temple. Once one of them gave this magazine, Back to Godhead. In the front of the magazine, I saw a photo of the man who had been coming to Advaita Bhavan for so many years, and I realized that his mission was a success. Thus I wanted to come and share this story with you, his followers. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!


krishna—surya-sama; maya haya andhakara

yahan krishna, tahan nahi mayara adhikara

Krishna is compared to sunshine, and maya is compared to darkness. Wherever there is sunshine, there cannot be darkness. As soon as one takes to Krishna consciousness, the darkness of illusion (the influence of the external energy) will immediately vanish.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.31)