Travel Journal#8.3: Florida, New York, London
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 3
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2011, part one)
Florida, New York, London
(Sent from Mayapur, West Bengal, on April 14, 2012)
Where I Was and What I Did
The beginning of February was an incredibly intense time for me with lots of happenings and going to many places in a very short time. The first day I learned that three devotees I knew died in a car crash the night before. Usually people die one by one, so that was a special shock, especially for those who knew them all well. I told about them and their devotional activities and activities in a previous blog: http://krishnamonk.blogspot.com/2012/02/remembering-three-devotee-friends.html
[Since that was written I uploaded beautiful kirtanas by Badahari Prabhu and others from Tim Carter’s funeral and reception:
I also heard from a friend who lived through in a near fatal accident that it was his conviction that the three devotees in the accident did not feel a thing, as he did not feel any pain until coming to consciousness on the side of the road later.] The next day I gave the morning class in Gainesville, and afterward people told about how those devotees had inspired them. That evening I drove up to Jacksonville with my friends Kisora and Damodar Prabhus for the evening program at the campus,
a morning program at a student’s house, and
chanting at University of North Florida that day with Haridas,
a Los Angeles devotee visiting his parents in Jacksonville. [Thanks to Damodar Prasad (below, left) for the photos.]
Several students expressed interest in coming to our Thursday night program. A high point for me was when Valarie, who had attended all three of our Thursday night programs, stopped by and bought Bhagavad-gita As It Is. [Now at the end of the semester, program organizer Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu reports 12 people are regulars at the Thursday program, with 6 people chanting Hare Krishna on beads!]
That evening I drove to Tallahassee to chant at a lively First Friday with a van full of Gainesville devotees, including a couple new people beginning to get interested in Krishna. I chanted in a park in Tallahassee the next day with my friends there and returned to Gainesville for the weekly Saturday evening kirtana program, and two programs for Lord Nityananda on Sunday and a funeral for Nitai Dasa. Monday was Tim’s funeral and reception, and then I went to New York for two days of harinama, one day with my diksa-guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and one day helping my mother organize her possessions. Then off to London, with a Sunday feast lecture, a lunch program talk and four harinamas in three days, and off to India the next day. No wonder I got so far behind in this journal!
I share some beautiful glorification of Lord Nityananda Prabhu by Caturatma Prabhu and other devotees, a summary of London ISKCON’s weekly Prabhupada lecture, valuable insights from senior ladies, Malati and Nanda Prabhus and temple presidents of Gainesville and Tallahassee, Kalakantha and Subuddhi Krishna Prabhus, and finally, wonderful points from Kadamba Kanana Swami speaking in London.
Glorification of Lord Nityananda
I joined in St. Louis, and our temple president was a great devotee of Lord Nityananda, and thus we all became aware of the importance of Lord Nityananda. It is essential to take shelter of Lord Nityananda to perfect our spiritual lives.
In our state of feeling ourselves fallen we should hanker for and expect the mercy.
The moon of divine mad men, He who bestows love of Krishna, He who is maddened with ecstatic mellows are some of the twelve names of Nityananda given by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya.
In the company of Jagai and Madhai and Lord Nityannda, Haridasa Thakura remarked the two brothers are drunk with alcohol and Nityananda is drunk with love of God. I am the only sober one here!
Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami received the opportunity to attain the mercy of Lord Caitanya by the mercy of Lord Nityananda. That is the proper way.
Lord Caitanya delivered the intelligent and aristocratic people while Lord Nityananda delivered the common people and even the debauchees.
As Laksmana, the younger brother of Lord Rama, Laksmana had to experience Rama's discomfort but could not allay it. Thus when Krishna came Laksmana appeared as the older brother of Krishna, Balarama, so He could offer all protection to Krishna. As Nityananda Prabhu, the Lord had a similar mood to Balarama. He appeared 12 years before Lord Caitanya.
Lord Nityananda implored everyone to chant the pure name of the Lord, giving up all offenses. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains that those who cannot give up desires for material enjoyment and liberation cannot attain love for God by chanting the Lord’s name.
As a child, Lord Nityananda engaged all his playmates in enacting the Ramayana so wonderfully the adults would stop and watch. The adults were amazed He knew the pastimes so well, and they asked how He knew them. Nityananda smiled and said, “This are all My pastimes.”
Nityananda was so dear to the residents of Ekacakra that the other parents offered their own kids to the traveling sannyasi as an assistant in place of Nityananda. After the departure of Nityananda, Ekacakra, the town of His birth, was like a dead body.
Once Nityananda appeared at Lord Caitanya’s place wearing an elaborate turban and nothing else. Lord Caitanya untied his own turban and put the cloth around Nityananda’s waist. Mother Saci brought some sandesh, but Nityananda Prabhu threw it away. He denied it and advised her to get some more. She said that had no more, but Nityananda asked her to check anyway. She did and found more were there. When she returned with them, she found Nityananda was eating the original sandesh.
The fish on Nityananda’s feet indicate that as a fish cannot live without water, the surrendered soul cannot live without His feet. The goad indicates the elephant of one's uncontrolled mind can be controlled by Lord Nityananda.
Lord Caitanya as Nityananda Prabhu preaches to those who are not interested.
Nityananda preaches to those who do not want to be preached to, or rather, as the preach word is not popular these days, teaches those who do not want to be taught.
Nityananda came across a disturbance, which is not uncommon in this age of Kali. Today I heard a soccer team won, and 75 people died.
Outraged as seeing the wound inflicted on Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Caitanya actually forgot His identity.
I had no idea that God had a sense of humor.
There are eternal relationships particularly those with the creator, and they are full of juice.
Lord Nityananda chanted in front of bar window, and the drunkards heard Him and began to chant. The drunkards chanted so much they became sober, and then chanted more and became intoxicated in love of God.
Lord Nityananda Prabhu removes the obstacles on our path of devotional service. The proof is the pastime of Raghunatha and the chipped rice festival.
Tulasi Priya dd:
Lord Nityananda means “eternal bliss,” and in fact, He is eternally blissful. By contacting Nityananda, you will become blissful.
When I was in difficulty at one point, I began offering prayers to Lord Nityananda and my anxiety level went way down.
Harinama in New York City
I was happy to have two friends join me in chanting at Adi Purusa Prabhu’s spiritual food distribution program. In particular, Michael, a friend of Tim Carter, had overheard me say in Gainesville the previous week that I was going to New York and he told me he would be there too. I told him I planned to chant during the prasadam program at Tompkins Square Park, and if he met me at the Bhakti Center by 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, he could chant too. So with no further discussion, he appeared just on time at the Bhakti Center, and I was amazed to see him. We also chanted a little at the Hare Krishna tree in Tompkins Square Park because some of the devotees had never been to that special place.
The day I flew to London I arranged an afternoon harinama in New York before I left. I was so happy a few devotees got together and went chanting with me in Little Italy, were there are lots of restaurants and people in the street and also on Broadway.
Insights from Lectures
This body has no existence. It is simply a covering. It is called maya. At night we forget this body, and we attain another body to act in a dream.
We have gross and subtle body. When we work with the gross body, the subtle body is not working. When we work with the subtle body, the gross body is not working. But I am beyond both the subtle and gross body.
The cats and dogs cannot understand the soul beyond the bodies, but a human can understand.
We work so hard simply for sense gratification. If we ask a man why he is working so hard, he has no purpose other than different phases of sense gratification.
We create so many “isms” but it is all sense gratification.
We want to satisfy the senses of our brother, and our sister, and our friends.
Communists think, “Why should the capitalist enjoy sense gratification? Better the laborers who do the work enjoy sense gratification.” But it is still sense gratification.
The dogs and hogs have to work for sense gratification. And so the man is working in the same way, just under the plea of some “ism.”
Human form of body is not meant for sense gratification, but they do not know.
Dog is sleeping on the street, but we have a very nice bedstead, but the subject matter is still sleeping.
So the question is what is human life meant for? Tapo-divyam. Austerity.
Before eating they drink wine, . . .
Sastra, scripture, says no. Decrease sense gratification to the point of nil. It is difficult, but that is the aim.
Raghunatha Dasa Goswami’s father earned 100,000 rupees per month. His father arranged a marriage with a beautiful girl to keep him involved in household affairs. His mother even suggest they chain him up to keep him at home, but the father said if his beautiful wife cannot keep him at home, what can shackles do?
When he finally left, his father sent 400 rupees a month, but he decided to refuse the money. Lord Caitanya appreciated his renunciation. Then he would beg charity at the temple, but he gave that up after a while to collect the rejected rice. Lord Caitanya saw his stash, and said, “What is this nice foodstuff you are eating?” Later every other day he would take some little bit of buttermilk.
Coming to the point of nil. No more eating, sleeping, mating, or defending.
People do not know we can avoid the miserable condition of the body.
People are so callous they are just like animals being taken to the slaughterhouse. One boy is taking 100 cows to the slaughterhouse. Easily they could gang up and kill the boy, but they do not have the intelligence. But we are similarly foolish because we foolishly accept the miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease.
The leaders of society are unaware of this.
Krishna says, “O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by
happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for
liberation.” (Bg. 2.15)
Amrta means immortality.
Hiranyakasipu because he was a demon went to Brahma for the power to become immortal but Brahma said he was also mortal and thus could not give such a boon. Thus Hiranyakasipu tried to get the boon indirectly by getting the boon of not being killed in various ways. So in those days, the demons understood the value of immortality.
Krishna says, “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and
activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this
material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Bg. 4.9)
Do austerity not like Hiranyakasipu but for understanding God.
This is the Krishna consciousness movement. Just to give people a chance to understand Krishna not to enjoy sense enjoyment in a polished way.
The hog is eating and getting fat and enjoying sex without restriction, but this human life is not meant for that.
By austerity you get purified. Why purify? To get eternal happiness.
Subuddhi Krishna Prabhu:
In India now the devotees are installing Bhagavatam in people’s houses. They put it on an altar, offer arati, and have the householder read publicly a few verses. Then they tell the householder that now he has begun to read Bhagavatam he should read a certain quota every day.
Bhagavata reading is very popular. One Indian lady in her twenties, probably from the Gaudiya Matha, gets 15,000 to 20,000 to come and here her speak Bhagavatam.
You never here of Kurma Purana saptaha, this saptaha or that saptaha, only Bhagavata
Sometimes we unnecessarily criticize the demigods. Srila Prabhupada once explained that the demigods are not unintelligent. They are all great devotees of the Lord. It is the followers of the demigods who are unintelligent.
During the December marathon in Bangalore, we sold a Srimad-Bhagavatam set and it was so wonderful. We decided to make sure that each day we would not return without selling at least one set. A couple of times we had to sell on an installment plan, where they would pay for a few books at a time.
Comment by Bhakta Joseph:
I had heard the glories of the Bhagavatam from the devotees. Then when visiting New Talavan I noticed their Bhagavatam display and spent time looking at it two days in a row. The temple president noticed me and asked if I had the Bhagavatam. “No,” I said. And he said, “Come with me.” And gave me a box with a full set of the Bhagavatam.
Drtharastra means determined to rule.
After so many family members were killed in the war, when Vidura returned home from pilgrimage, his friends and family were overwhelmed with joy to see him.
Initiation should be accepted cautiously as vows are meant to be kept.
We should not take additional vows without consulting with devotees.
Dhrtarastra’s main defect was lack of his determination to do the right thing, allowing himself to be affected by material ambition for his family.
In those days if one family had no child, another family with children, often within the same extended family, would sometimes give one of their children to the childless family.
Draupadi was the incarnation of Saci, the wife of Indra.
We are distraught for the loss of our friends, but for the mothers who lose their sons, the lamentation is far greater.
Q [by Ananda Seva Prabhu]: What you would most like future generations to remember about how Srila Prabhupada dealt with women?
A: He treated us with equal respect and gave us equal opportunity to serve.
If we go too much against our nature, it does not help us, whether we have male or female bodies.
Regarding Yamuna Devi, she said everyone was welcome in her ashram, but she wished they would leave their bodily consciousness outside.
Pure devotees are mobile holy places.
Prabhupada formed ISKCON to create an association where people can hear and chant about Krishna together.
Bhurijana said Vidura was on pilgrimage for 40 years.
Because Krishna is in the pure devotees’ heart, he can speak with potency. The potency is embedded in the words of the pure devotees.
Meeting the pure devotee changes the course of one’s life. Proof is Prabhupada’s meeting with Bhaktisiddhanta.
Fruitive action cannot change our destiny.
Kadamda Kanana Swami:
The Vedas give proscriptions for all kinds of people.
The sakta worship is the lowest level of worship and for those in the mode of ignorance. The basic understanding is primitive. If the material energy wants your blood, you pacify it by giving some other blood.
The karma-kanda brahmanas hope to attain the heavenly planets in addition to performing sacrifices for the material benefit of those they perform sacrifices for.
We only can experience full pleasure from acting in relationship to Krishna. Otherwise we can only hope to have partial happiness.
In the Vedic culture, it is said if a woman does not give into her cravings during pregnancy, she will have a child that always drools.
Srila Prabhupada explained only those advanced in bhakti can take sannyasa because they are fully satisfied because of their engagement in devotional service. The impersonalists say, “This whole world is illusion,” but the difficulty is that it looks pretty good and they may be tempted to enjoy it, not being satisfied on the spiritual plane.
The phrase “back to Godhead” summarizes our mission.
The yajnic brahmanas were described as pure because they followed Vedic injunctions not because they were engaged in pure devotional service.
The senses are pushing, and we are obedient servants, supplying whatever they want, but are senses satisfied? They say, “Is that all you have to offer me?”
Fulfillment through serving Krishna is the only platform of freedom from maya.
Maya is not only on the outside but also on the inside.
Humility is about realizing that we are very small and therefore we need protection.
When I was observing the Hare Krishna movement from the outside, it appeared to me to be the ultimate height of fanaticism. It seemed dangerous. It seemed too extreme.
There was a wall around a monastery near my home outside Amsterdam that was seven meters high with broken glass on top of it. I always wondered, was the wall to keep people out or to keep people in?
This movement is very pure. We do not need to wear platform shoes to impress people. We do not need to put Brill Cream in our hair. It is not fanaticism, but we are returning to our true nature, and thus we are also not into the karma-kanda rituals of the Vedas.
Q: Racism is rejected in this country, so I do not think it is good that we are always criticizing the mayavadis and the saktas.
A: What do with the phrases of Krishna like “avidhi purvakam” or “mudha” (in the wrong way or foolish)? Why does Krishna use such strong words? He is warning people not to take the turtle lane, and take many, many lifetimes to attain success.
We are not the Vedic revival movement. We are Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement.
Q: We may still appear extreme. What to do about it?
A: The religion that marries the spirit of the age will be a widow tomorrow. If we embrace the fashion, then someday we will be out of fashion.
The danger of bridge preaching is that although for the first generation is understood as an outreach technique, for the second generation it becomes a way of life, and the pure teaching could become watered down.
nityanandam aham naumi
sarvananda karam param
“I bow down to Lord Nityananda Prabhu, who is the awarder of the highest joy to all, the bestower of the holy names, and the crest-jewel of all paramahamsa mendicants.” [Found in the deity worship book we used in San Diego in the early 1990s.]