Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel Journal#8.5: Mayapur and Rishikesh

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 5
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2012, part one)
Mayapur and Rishikesh
(Sent from Radhadesh, Belgium, on April 30, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

I remained in Mayapur for the rest of the Gaura Purnima festival, which for me were highlighted by Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s Vyasa Puja day festival and Gaura Purnima itself, which I celebrated by swimming with Danavir Goswami and his followers in the Ganga (Ganges) and sitting on the Ganges bank with them and reading authoritative statements from the scriptures telling of Lord Caitanya’s birth and activities. I was just amazed by how many such statements there are! After that I traveled by train with three other devotees to Rishikesh for a program of sharing Krishna chanting, philosophy, and food with mostly the Western yoga students, seekers, and vacationers there which we called The Bhakti Experience. There we joined Navina Nirada, Ekalavya, and Rasikananda, the organizers of the program, along with a few others. Each day for two weeks we chanted in the streets both morning and evening, and had a noon program of chanting, philosophy, mantra meditation on beads, more chanting, and prasadam lunch. Between fifteen and thirty came each day, with many more coming for prasadam, and we collected fifty names of people desiring to know of future programs Some people came several times. We also chanted at some yoga centers, often being invited more than once.

My notes this time are highlighted by the homages on Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s Vyasa Puja, notes on Vaisnava Ke?—What Kind of Devotee Are You, a commentary on Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Bengali poem by Jayapataka Swami, and quotes from Bhaktivinoda Vani Vibhava, which is exclusively direct quotes of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, summarizing his teachings and compiled at the request of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura by Sripada Sundarananda Vidyavinoda. These teachings of Bhaktivinoda Thakura give a lot of insight into Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy and how to how to apply in one’s life. There are also notes on some talks in Rishikesh, including a fascinating “how I came to Krishna consciousness story” from Sadbhuja Prabhu, temple president in Leipzig.


April 30: Amsterdam (Queen’s Day)
May 1–3: harinama in Heidelberg and other German cities
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

Glorification of Bhakti Tirtha Swami on His Appearance Day

Mahamaya Devi Dasi:

Bhakti Tirtha Swami was able to get a whole group of people to join the Hare Krishna movement without them knowing they were joining the Hare Krishna movement.

Vraja-lila Devi Dasi:

Regarding the devotee youth, Bhakti Tirtha Swami would say in last days to Radhanath Swami, “Find ways to make them happy,”

A Russian devotee:

When he traveled in Russia, the whole yatra would come to see him in each place because he was well known to be compassionate to all—children, women, etc.

Someone asked him how he could help so many devotees. He said he took power from Prabhupada and power from helping people itself.

While in Russia, every day he would speak to people from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.

We love him very much although it was just a few years he came to Russia.

Suresvara Prabhu:

Bhaki Tirtha Swami, you cared about everything.

You are unity in diversity.

You wear so many hats, but your actual identity was a surrendered spirit to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for giving me back, my best friend, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami.

[The history was in 2005, unknown to me, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami had contacted Bhakti Tirtha Swami to resolve their relationship. Bhakti Tirtha Swami asked him to write something about him after his death.] Earlier when SDG had a slip, I said some things he did not appreciate, and for two years we did not communicate. That was very painful for me. Then I thanked Satsvarupa Maharaja for the beautiful piece of writing he did about you. After that we began communicating as before, and therefore, I thank you for giving me back my best friend.

Yamuna Devi and Dina Tarine Devi called you “Swami Love.”

Before we heard of the idea of “devotee care,” you were doing it.

Rajendranandana Prabhu:

Prabhupada wanted moonlike devotees, and Bhakti Tirtha Swami was one.

Jananivasa Prabhu said that one of Prabhupada’s godbrothers asked if Lord Caitanya’s message would be spread all over the world. Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes, by a fool completely surrendered to his guru, but do not worry, it is not you.”

Rddha Prabhu:

Bhakti Tirtha Swami would give shelter to downtrodden people that others would just criticize or politic against.

He would see sincerity and give initiation if he saw that was there, as he did with my son, Gopal.

I had Christian friends and martial arts friends, who on seeing him, would say, “He is an apostle.”

There is no doubt about it. He was someone special, someone divine.

Bhakti Sundara Maharaja:

I had never seen anyone dance like that, in a way that inspires.

He liked to so nicely reciprocate with his Godbrothers. He ordered me to give the next morning’s class, and he attended the class and had someone translate it [from Spanish] to English so he could understand it.

He was co-GBC with Guru Prasad Swami in Mexico. People had difficulty with the leaders. We discussed it, and I told a story he used in class. The story was about a brahmana who was so truthful he told some bandits where their victims were to be found, instead of lying and protecting their victims’ lives.

After his death, Bhakti Tirtha Swami appeared in a dream to me and said, “If you practice bhakti without controlling your mind, you are cheating yourselves and you are cheating others.”

Mahatma Prabhu:

When I think of him, I think of dried fruit, nuts, and carrots. Even from his diet, I understood he was not like us. He was in Los Angeles because he appreciated Ramesvara and after the library party he came to assist him, although he was so highly qualified himself.

He would give a class that made you feel, “What the hell are you doing for Srila Prabhupada?” It would shake us up. That was one of his contributions. If we are shaken up as a result of today’s homages that would be a good thing.

Janmastami Prabhu:

When I sent out letters inviting 75 sannyasis to give classes in Mayapur for Gaura Purnima, he was the first to respond. And when I asked for course details, he was the first to supply them. He also always had the most students.

He just wanted us to love each other, which is necessary to thrive, and even to survive.

Atul Krishna Prabhu:

When I first met him, his appearance was like the sun rising in the room. He preached to us for three hours. It was overwhelming.

Kaunteya Prabhu:

I feel resentment that he did not stay longer.

He realized some people would stay in Krishna consciousness no matter what, but others needed to be inspired, and he was ready to do it.

Chandrasekhara Prabhu:

Bhakti Tirtha Swami said, “If I have to put on diapers to spread Krishna consciousness, I would do it.”

He had so much faith that Krishna consciousness was independent of external symptoms.

He had a sculpted form of the Panca-tattva, and I was really into Pancatattva from associating with Brghupati, and I wanted that, so when I accompanied my guru, Bhakti Caru Swami, who was visiting him in his finally months, I asked Bhakti Tirtha Swami for his Panca-tattva, and he said, “Seeing your eagerness, I have to give it to you.”

Bhaktimarga Swami:

We are not so much of a God worshiping movement as a devotee worshiping movement.
The neophyte devotee has the attitude: “I love God, but to hell with everyone else.”

Bhakti Tirtha Swami brought out the best in everyone, through his smile, though his dancing.

In Dallas, he once said, “I will dress for the occasion. If I have to dress in a bathing suit, I will do it.”

My Favorite Gaura Purnima in Mayapur

This was the best Gaura Purnima for me in Mayapur for several reasons. One is that I bathed in the Ganga with Danavir Goswami and some of his disciples and followers, including Ananda Vidya Prabhu, his servant, and Chandrasekhara Prabhu and Atma-nivedana Prabhu, friends of mine. After bathing, the devotees took turns reading from a compilation of different conclusive verses from the Vedic literature which describe Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His mission. It was truly awesome to see how many verses there were. Especially nice was the entire text of the Caitanya Upanisad of the Atharva Veda. Some verses were so ecstatic they could bring tears to your eyes, especially when reading them at that holy time and at that holy place. Some would speak of the Lord appearing in Navadvipa on the shore of the Ganges, the very same shore that we were sitting on. This event itself made it the best Gaura Purnima, but there was more to it than that.

I took Matthew and Denisse, who were visiting from New York City, on a pilgrimage to Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house. Matthew had never been, and it was his last day of his first visit to Mayapur, and he really wanted to go. There we chanted the pranama mantras for Bhaktivinoda Thakura, showed where Bhaktivinoda Thakura had a vision of a wonderful temple across the Jalangi, and chanted a couple of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s bhajanas, Jaya Radha Madhava and the Gaura arati song. We stopped at the ISKCON Jagannatha temple on the way back and Srila Prabhupada’s grand nephew, Sankarsana Prabhu, was very hospitable and spoke nicely about bhakti-yoga to Matthew and Denisse. They had a great time, and I was happy to do something to benefit newer devotees, for a change. Perhaps I should do more of that sort of thing.

The Mayapur harinama, which I daily participate in, had our usual late afternoon harinama, but today it was practically four hours, from 4:45 to 8:45 p.m. instead of just two. The feast was schedule to be served at 7:00 p.m., and I was impressed that the devotees were willing to continue the kirtana for almost two hours after that. Their enthusiasm had, in fact, exceeded mine! In the beginning of the kirtana many of the local Bengali pilgrams danced with us, and later on, after the abhiseka had completed, and even later, after the feast was over, more international pilgrims sang and danced with great delight. It was very festive. I do not remember doing four hours of harinama on Gaura Purnima ever before, so that was very special. Toward the end I had mixed emotions as I loved the chanting but also was eager to honor the feast after fasting all day, and I definitely did not want to have to wander from one kitchen to another in search of free food at the end of the kirtan. I had a feeling Lord Caitanya would take care of me for supporting His kirtan program, but I was not sure how. As it turned out the second kitchen I went to, the Brahmacari Kitchen, where I had lunch every day, still had all the feast preparations in abundance, and one super friendly devotee from Ujjain took pleasure in serving us. I took seconds only on the dessert, a milky sweet preparation that was really good.

Trip to Rishikesh

Enroute to Rishikesh, I traveled with Jyotisvara Prabhu from Denmark, Vishnujana Prabhu from Slovakia, and a new devotee from Switzerland. From Nabadwip Dham (which is how they transliterate Navadvipa Dhama in Bengal) to Bandel, a full two hours, we and a couple Russian devotees going to Puri chanted Hare Krishna on the train. Then we chanted at Bandel Junction station for another hour or so. We had a good crowd around us, some who were very happy about it.

A Bengali Vaishnava family was next to us on the train to Haridvar. The old grandmother was reading two issues of Bhagavat Darsana, the Bengali Back to Godhead, for practically two hours. When we chanted on the train, that family liked it as did some other people, but I very surprised when, as I was singing, one lady from my compartment slapped my harmonium with vengeance. No one in India had been so averse, so I did not taken her complaint seriously, but after five minutes, she whacked my harmonium again. Turns out she was a Muslim and objected to us chanting the names of “our God.” One man from the next carriage, said there was free space near him, and invited us to come there and continue our kirtana and we did for forty-five minutes. At least eleven people directly participated and others heard from a distance.Another man took photos and videos which he shared with us:


Vishnujana Prabhu played his own two-headed drum, and Silvan, our new devotee from Switzerland, having learned the karatalas very quickly, played along.

It was inspiring to see the obvious concentration in the faces of the Indians on the train. Just see
the mercy of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada!

The recording level of the sound was too high in the videos, so it is distorted, so I will just include the least distorted clips to give you a feel for the experience:

We also chanted at the platforms in Varanasi and Lucknow, when the train stopped for several minutes. Doing harinama enroute is one of nice features of traveling with devotees, and I felt really grateful to the Lord for this opportunity.

Ekalavya Prabhu plays trumpet, and Akincana Prabhu, the drum,
at harinama at Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh. March 2012.

Our Rishikesh programs were in front of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram on the steps down to the Ganges River, underneath a diorama of Krishna and Arjuna on a chariot, and near a large statue of Lord Shiva. They were two hours a day, from noon to 2 p.m. every day for two weeks, with chanting, philosophy, mantra meditation on beads, more chanting, and prasadam lunch. Also we did two daily harinamas 1 to 1½ hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. Both locals and tourists likes the harinamas. Several times we also chanted at yoga centers in the evenings, so it was a program of full engagement.

I talked to a few people attending our programs at Rishikesh, mostly while collecting their emails:

One Lithuanian guy said he want to go to see us at Polish Woodstock. A Russian girl who stayed in Vrndavana, wanted to know about our Russian festival, as did a few other Russian people. One girl who was spending a year in Shanghai wanted to know if we had programs in China.

A Canadian man was impressed seeing a Vaishnava Youth Bus tour program with Karnamrita in Vancouver. He liked her singing so much he bought her CD. He also knew of the farm in Ashcroft and restaurant in Nelson.

One young French lady studying yoga and Vipasanna meditation, and who recently became vegetarian, on her second visit chanted japa, saying it was good and she would be back. She did return after that, perhaps seven times altogether. She had been impressed initially with how all the devotees were happy all the time. She also brought another girl from France a couple times. The last day she went to a yoga program where we played and came on a harinama. When she heard us mention that Krishna’s place of Vrindavan was near Agra, she and a friend came to visit Vrindavan for a few days, after seeing the Taj Mahal. She met some French devotees in Vrindavan, and Rasikananda Prabhu took her on Govardhan Hill parikrama. Her meeting us at Rishikesh was her first contact with the Hare Krishnas, and it was awesome she came later to Vrindavan. It was nine years between when I met the devotees and I came to Vrindavan Dham.

I could see many people had pleasant first encounters with the devotees in Rishikesh, and others were happy to see them again and to learn and to experience more. I am grateful to Navina Nirada Prabhu for organizing the event and Ekalavya Prabhu for inviting me to attend it. Tentatively we are planning to do that program yearly in March and October, the next one planned for October 20–30. For more information, see our Facebook page called The Bhakti Experience.

Notes on Vaisnava Ke?—What Kind of Devotee Are You
A Commentary on Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Bengali Poem
By Jayapataka Swami

When in 1972 His Divine Grace Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived in Sridhama Mayapur to inaugurate the new center of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the first thing he did was send his disciples, including the translator of this work, to invite all the followers of his spiritual master to a meeting at the new ISKCON world headquarters. When they all had assembled on Srila Prabhupada’s invitation, he paid his humble obeisances to them and begged them to reunite and cooperate. He said something to the effect of:

It is the desire of our beloved spiritual master His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura that we all cooperate together. Let us work as one! Let us reunite! Now I have many sincere followers from various foreign countries. I will provide you with vehicles, give financial aid to finish your incomplete temple constructions, and give foreign devotees to accompany your preaching parties. Let us all work together as Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura desired!

In spite of this sincere and humble appeal, his offer was not accepted. In private, one head (acarya) of a temple explained, “Your stature as a preacher and devotee is so great that if we reunite with you, our position will be diminished by your side. Who will care for us when they see and hear you? Better to be the head of 200 followers than second-place in the midst of thousands.” Srila Prabhupada was disgusted by this frank admission of personal interest separate from Lord Krishnas interest. Although thereafter Srila Prabhupada did not call any more mass meetings to reunite the mission of his spiritual master, he would personally request his godbrothers individually whenever he met them to work with him. His Divine Grace’s repeated attempts to engage the cooperation of a dear sannyasi godbrother in preaching Krishna consciousness overseas, and the frustration and heartbreak he experienced when these attempts too were rejected was yet another chapter of Srila Prabhupada’s unending attempt to fulfill his spiritual master’s desire that his followers serve cooperatively together.

Gosthy-anandi . . . means “one who feels increasing transcendental ecstasy in devotional service to the Lord by seeing the expansion of the society of devotees.”

A devotee is naturally fearless of death due to dependence on the protection of Lord Krishna. Nevertheless a devotee is afraid of the contamination of the material world which may lead him away from the path of devotional service. Srila Prabhupada praises this fear as the transcendental opulence of a devotee.

Although death is fearful for the materialist, for the pure devotee it is the time to return to Lord Krishna. The devotee does not die, but merely gives up his material body and painlessly attains his eternal spiritual body. Thus, the pure devotee’s only fear is of forgetting Lord Krishna due to material contamination. For this very reason, a pure devotee fears phalgu-vairagya as a subtle trick of maya. Phalgu-vairagya, whether in the form of the dry renunciation of material objects which is devoid of devotion to Krsna, or the renunciation of the association and service of pure devotees in favor of so-called “nirjana-bhajana”—both are categorically rejected by pure devotees. Phalgu-vairagya is a spiritual disease that devastates the Krishna consciousness of the persons who fall under its sway. After contracting the phalgu-vairagya disease, it is almost impossible to become a pure devotee in this lifetime. Therefore, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura strongly advises his readers to remain properly fixed in yukta-vairagya, and never to become bewildered by thoughts of phalgu-vairagya and thus give up the association of the Lord’s devotees or to give up devotional practices approved of by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.

Krishna’s devotees never demand praise, but because they try to glorify Krishna, He enjoys making special arrangements to see that they are properly glorified, and in this way, there is spiritual competition. The devotee does not consider himself worthy of praise, but sometimes because it increases the sankirtana movement, he may tolerate it.

Final verse of Vaishava Ke?: This Sri-dayita dasa (His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the humble servitor of the all-merciful Srimati Radharani) simply desires to be absorbed in the nectar of spreading the glories of Lord Krishna’s holy names. My dear mind, now let us loudly chant the holy names of Krishna so we can continuously remain in the ocean of transcendental nectar. The congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna awakens the transcendental quality of natural spontaneous loving remembrance of Lord Krishna (including the Lord’s form, qualities and pastimes). At that moment, the confidential realization and pure practice of “solitary” loving devotional service to Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krishna is possible.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and no one can do what He did. Just as it is not authorized for the followers of Lord Jesus Christ to blindly imitate Lord Jesus and crucify themselves as a means of salvation, so similarly the followers of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu should not artificially imitate His final pastimes of nirjana-bhajana. Nor is it possible for anyone to duplicate Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic madness in love of Godhead.

from the biography of the author:

When he [Jayapataka Swami] was eleven, he cured himself of a skin disease by invoking the holy name of God at the suggestion of his grandfather.

During the period of the initial development of the Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir, the presiding deities, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava were brought to the temple, and Jayapataka Swami recognized Them from a dream he had had years before while preaching in the West.

Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava
(Compiled at the request of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
By Sripada Sundarananda Vidyavinoda)

Determined to build a temple in Mayapur, he [Bhaktivinoda Thakura] went door to door in Calcutta begging donations. . . . the foundation for the temple was being dug, a Deity of Adhoksaja Visnu was found. Referring to the Vaisnava scriptures, the Thakura discovered that this was the family Deity worshiped by Jagannatha Misra, Mahaprabhu’s father. The archeological evidence further confirmed the authenticity of the birth site of the Lord.

The worshipable, qualified acaryas should give initiation to the qualified candidates. Although in Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa the method for testing each other is recommended, it is often not practiced. That is why falls of both the spiritual master and the disciple, as well as pollution of the sampradaya, become inevitable.

By discussing the history, we understand that there was never any opinion against the system of sampradaya in this holy land of India. Only since India came in contact with scholars from Western countries have some people become opposed to the system of sampradaya.

The pathetic condition of a person who tries to consider the superiority and inferiority of the rasas without understanding the difference between matter and spirit is the same as
the pathetic condition of a person who tries to learn geometry without understanding the difference between an axiom and a postulate.

Those who call themselves Vaishnavas and make a show of performing kirtana but do not accept initiation are certainly self-deceivers. (Sajjana-tosani 11/6)

There is no worse association in the whole world than that of a dharmadvaji. One should rather associate with sense enjoyers. Being deceitful, the dharmadvajis take on the appearance of devotees with a desire to cheat everyone, and to fulfill their crooked desires, they cheat the foolish by helping them in their rascaldom. Some of the dharmadvajis become gurus and others become disciples, and by trickery, they
accumulate wealth, women, false prestige, and material assets. If one gives up the association of crooked hypocrites, one can honestly engage in devotional service.
(Sajjana-tosani 10/11)

There are two divisions in the original abode of Vrindavana. They are called Krishna-pitha and Gaura-pitha. In Krishna-pitha, eternally-perfect and eternally-liberated associates, who enjoy the mood of madhurya with a little audarya, associate with Krishna. The same eternally-perfect and eternally-liberated associates, who enjoy the mood of audarya with a little madhurya, are found in Gaura-pitha. Sometimes these associates expand to enjoy pastimes with the Lord in both pithas and sometimes they remain at one pitha in their original form and do not stay at the other pitha. While executing sadhana, those who worship only Gaura will serve only at Gaura-pitha after they achieve perfection; those who worship only Krishna will live at Krishna-pitha; and those who worship Krishna and Gaura will assume two bodies and simultaneously reside at both the pithas. This is
the supreme mystery of Gaura Krishna’s philosophy of acintya-bhedabheda.
(Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 17)

Because Sri Gauracandra appeared in Navadvipa, it is the crest jewel of all holy places. Offenders are punished at other holy pilgrimage places, but they are purified in Navadvipa-dhama. Examples of this are the two brothers Jagai and Madhai, who committed great offenses yet still received Nitai-Gaura. (Navadvipa Mahatmya, Chapter 1)

Mahaprabhu does not wish to spend lavishly on the festivals in Sri Mayapura.
(Sajjana-tosani 12/1)

A huge and wonderful temple will be constructed at the birthplace of Mahaprabhu, and the eternal service to Gauranga will manifest. (Navadvipa-mahatmya, Chapter 5)

Those who are trying their best to keep intact the flow of service to Sri Mayapura will be considered the benefactors of the future world of Vaishnavas. (Sajjana-tosani 12/1)

Those who take birth as devotees in various races and in many distant countries will one day desire to come and see the birthplace of Sri Mahaprabhu. (Sajjana-tosani 12/1)

Krishna performs different pastimes in the hearts of different devotees depending on their qualification at a particular time. Krishna takes birth in one devotee’s heart, He steals the gopis’ clothes in another’s, and He performs the rasa dance in another’s. He kills Putana in one other devotee’s heart, He kills Kamsa in another’s, He has an affair with Kubja in yet another’s, and He enacts His disappearance in the heart of a devotee who is leaving
his body. The planets, like the living entities, are innumerable. As one pastime takes place on one planet, another pastime takes place on another planet. In this way, each pastime continually takes place. Therefore, all of the Lord’s pastimes are eternal; there is no break, because the Lord’s energies are always active. (Sri Krishna-samhita, Chapter 7)

Those who have an intense desire to serve Krishna have no secrets amongst themselves or with others. To teach this principle to the devotees, Krishna stole the clothes of the gopis.
(Sri Krishna-samhita, Chapter 5)

The sixteen names of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra are called astayugas or eight verses. This is the verdict of the Lord. The first verse, “Hare Krishna,” destroys one’s nescience. One is advised to congregationally chant the holy names of Krishna with faith. The second verse, “Hare Krishna,” means that the Supreme Lord Krishna is omnipotent. One is advised to take shelter of the holy names in the association of the devotees. This process will vanquish all one’s unwanted desires. When one’s unwanted desires are destroyed, one develops fixed faith. While chanting the third verse, “Krishna Krishna,” one is advised to
constantly chant the holy names with determination in the association of pure devotees.
Chanting the fourth verse, “Hare Hare,” awakens one’s unalloyed devotion to the Lord. One is advised to congregationally chant the holy names with taste. While chanting the fifth verse, “Hare Rama,” one is advised to become attached to the pure service and to remember the holy names of the Lord. The sixth verse, “Hare Rama,” is chanted to develop bhava. This results in detachment for material life, and taste for Krishna’s lotus feet. By chanting the seventh verse, “Rama Rama,” one becomes attached to madhurya-rasa and takes shelter of the lotus feet of Radha. This also awakens one’s mood of separation. The eighth verse, “Hare Hare,” refers to the devotees who are in the mood of the gopis and who constantly engage in loving devotional service to Radha-Krishna in Vraja and thus achieve the ultimate goal of life. (Bhajana Rahasya, Chapter 1)

The living entities are entangled by the shackles of maya, regardless of whether they are situated in the mode of goodness, passion, or ignorance. Although golden shackles, silver shackles, and iron shackles are made of different metals, nevertheless they are shackles and nothing else. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 16)

If free will is a disadvantage, why did the Supreme Lord give free will to the living entities? Free will is like a special jewel. If the living entities were not given free will, they would be very lowly and insignificant like matter. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 16)

Is the Supreme Lord responsible for the living entities misuse of free will? It cannot be said that God gives the distress the living entities suffer due to misuse of free will. The Supreme Lord is not to be blamed in anyway. He is not responsible for the distress the living entities suffer due to their transgressing rules and regulations. If the Supreme Creator forced the living entities to accept anarthas, He would be at fault for discrimination. However, if the living entities had used their free will to strengthen their
spiritual attachment, they would have increased their own glories. If they did not have free will, they would not have an opportunity to increase their own glories. We should know that by giving such wonderful free will to the living entities, the Supreme Lord has displayed His mercy upon them and degradation caused by misuse of free will is meant to rectify and deliver the living entities. (Tattva-sutra 20)

As long as a living entity enjoys the fruits of his own karma, he can never attain peace, because he is weak, unable, and incomplete. However, when he surrenders to the Supreme Lord, he no longer laments. (Tattva-sutra 13)

The only difference between the animals and the human beings is that the animals are devoid of proper thought and the human beings are capable of such thought. Self-realization is the result of proper thought. (Caitanya-siksamrita 2/2)

Although the waves are part of the ocean, they are never the ocean. Although the living entities are parts and parcels of God, they can never become God. (Tattva-sutra 10)

Vai??avism is the awakening of one’s rasa through the process of bhajana by taking shelter at the lotus feet of the spiritual master. (Sajjana-tosani 6/2)

A Vaishnava who is attached to the chanting of the Lord’s holy names offenselessly is a Vaishnava follower of Sri Caitanya’s lotus feet. Occasional cultivation of the holy names is the role of a Vaishnava. Constant cultivation of the holy names is the role of a better Vaishnava. The best Vaishnava is he by whose association one is induced to chant the pure names of the Lord. Everyone’s duty is to associate with these saintly persons.
(Sri Manah-siksa, Chapter 10)

The greatness of a Vaishnava depends on the amount of attachment he has for chanting the holy names of Krishna. (Hari-nama-cintamani)

In the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, there are two principal instructions: developing a taste for the chanting of the Lord’s holy names and displaying compassion to the fallen souls. The greatness of a Vaishnava depends on the extent he possesses these qualities. There is no need to endeavor for other good qualities. All good qualities of a Vaishnava automatically manifest in a Vaishnava who endeavors for these two qualities.
(Caitanya-siksamrita 1/7)

The renunciate Vaishnavas should not think that they are more respectable than the grihastha Vaishnavas. One should know that the difference in respect among the Vaishnavas lies only between uttama-adhikari and madhyama-adhikari. Both uttama-adhikaris and madhyama-adhikaris are found among the grihasthas. This rule also applies to the renunciate Vaishnavas. The glories of the renunciate Vaishnavas are that they have given up the association of women, greed for money, and bodily pleasure. The grihastha Vaishnavas have special glories. Many of them work hard to earn money, and after serving Krishna, they serve grihastha and sannyasi Vaishnavas. Whether one is a grihastha or a sannyasi, the principal cause for respect is the attainment of devotional service. One should be respected as a Vaishnava according to one’s advancement in devotional service. There is no other cause to distinguish the level of a Vaishnava.
(Sajjana-tosani 5/11)

Undeviating surrender to Lord Krishna is the svarupa-laksana, natural characteristic, of devotional service. Whoever possesses this quality will soon find that the other symptoms come to him unfailingly. If the marginal symptoms have not reached full maturity in a surrendered sadhu and some serious discrepancies in his character are visible, he is still to be respected as a sadhu or saintly soul.
(Hari-nama-cintamani, Chapter 4)

One should not discriminate, thinking, “This Vaishnava is good or a madhyama.” Only an uttama-adhikari can do so. If a madhyama-adhikari discriminates like this, he will become an offender. (Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 8)

In the neophyte stage, a kanistha-adhikari engages in namabhasa or chanting a reflection of the holy name. By this chanting, his anarthas are destroyed, and he becomes qualified to serve the Vaishnavas and purely chant the Lord’s holy name.

It is the duty of pure devotees, who are situated on the platform of madhyama-adhikari, to love God, to make friendship with pure devotees, to bestow mercy on subordinates, and to neglect envious people. They behave in this way according to scripture. To discriminate while making a friendship, according to the degree of the friend’s devotional service, is proper. To discriminate while bestowing mercy, according to the degree of the ignorant people’s simplicity, is proper. To discriminate while neglecting
an envious person, according to the degree of his envy, is proper.
(Jaiva Dharma Chapter 8)

The character of a Vaishnava is sinless and no part of his character is fit for hiding. Simplicity is the life of a Vaishnava. He always teaches others by setting his own examples. Unless his character is pure, he is not fit to be called a Vaishnava.
(Sajjana-tosani 5/10)

The highest type of practitioners are those who believe that, of all the processes of sadhana-bhakti, taking shelter of the Lord’s holy name awards one all perfection.

The Vaishnava meekly and humbly says, “Father, Master, God, Friend and Husband of my soul! Hallowed be Thy name. I do not approach You for anything that You have already given me. I have sinned against You and I now repent and solicit Your pardon. Let Thy Holiness touch my soul and make me free from grossness. Let my spirit be devoted meekly to Your holy service in absolute love towards Thee. I have called You my God, and let my soul be wrapped up in admiration at Your Greatness! I have addressed You as my Master and let my soul be strongly devoted to Your service. I have called You my Friend and let my soul be in reverential love toward You and not in dread or fear! I have called You my Husband and let my spiritual nature be in eternal union with You, forever loving and never dreading, or feeling disgust. My love! Let me have strength enough to go up to You as the consort of my soul, so that we may be one in eternal love! Peace to the world!” (The Bhagavat: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics & Its Theology)

Serving guests is the principal duty of the householders. Any country where this principle is absent is as good as a desert and should be rejected. The lives of householders who do not entertain guests are useless and are in the lead among sinful people. Serving guests is a must for householders. The inevitable sinful activities that a householder commits are destroyed simply by serving guests. (Sajjana-tosani 8/12)

The principal activity of a householder is to serve the devotees of the Lord.
(Sajjana-tosani 11/12)

Only devotees who possess full knowledge of pure devotional service and who relish the mellows of offenseless chanting of the Lord’s holy names are qualified to preach.
(Sajjana-tosani 10/11)

When saintly people follow religious principles, this is called acara, proper code of conduct. To preach those religious principles to other living entities in the world is called pracara, preaching. If one wants to engage in the activities of acara or pracara, one should first learn the saintly person’s code of conduct. Some people, after learning, begin to preach even before they themselves follow. Hence, they yield insufficient results. If one does not personally follow the religious principles but preaches to others, he creates a great deal of disturbance in the world. (Sajjana-tosani 4/2)

Swanlike Vaishnavas are always engaged in purifying the hearts of sinful people by giving public lectures, friendly advice, and confidential instructions, and by rebuking, setting an example, and sometimes punishing sinners. (Sri Krishna-samhita 10/14)

Since the philosophies of kevala-vada, kevala-vada, suddhadvaita, and visistadvaita consist of partial statements of the Vedic literature, they are opposed to the remaining parts. The philosophy of acintya-bhedabheda is universal and it is the actual purport of the Vedas. It is the object of the living entities constitutional faith, and saintly persons accept it. (Sri Manah-siksa, Verse 9)

These six categories of philosophy are known in India as sat-darsana. These six philosophies are also widely respected in Greece. Through intensive research, Garbe, who was a professor in Greece, has recently ascertained that Aristotle was the disciple of Gautama’s philosophy of Nyaya, Thelis was the disciple of Kanada’s philosophy of
Vaisesika, Socrates was the disciple of Jaimini’s Mimamsa, Pluto was the disciple of Vyasadeva’s Vedanta, Pythagoras was the disciple of Kapila’s Sa?khya, and Zino was the disciple of Patañjali’s yoga. (Sajjana-tosani 7/1)

Insights from Lectures

Janananda Goswami:

from an initiation lecture:

The activities like chanting, etc., prepare us for initiation.

Srila Prabhupada gave initiations at Trafalgar Square at the foot of the Nelson Column in 1972 and 1973. In 1972 there were about 20 devotees to be initiated and about 10,000 people were watching. They called everyone’s name except mine. When Dhananjaya Prabhu found out, he talked to Prabhupada who told me to come immediately to the temple. I was worried that Prabhupada would say, “'We do not want you, go away!” but he was very gracious.

Do count the beads before initiation. In New Zealand at one initiation I counted and one initiate had 112 beads.
Initiation is a very serious commitment but it is also very festive because Krishna consciousness is very festive. Initiation is the mercy of the disciplic succession of spiritual teachers. Initiation frees us from karma and frees us from our impediments.

Imagine if you came home and you find your husband gave everything away? That was situation of Bali Maharaja’s wife. She reprimanded her husband, but not for giving everything away, but rather for thinking that he had anything of his own to give. Thus she proved her more advanced than her husband.

Once Srila Prabhupada stopped a sacrifice because a baby stuck his finger his mouth. Usually he was not so strict about such things, but in that case he wanted to make a point.

Initiation is a commitment to realize that we not our body but the servant of the servant of Krishna.

One nun asked Srila Prabhupada if he was the spiritual master of this Hare Krishna movement. Srila Prabhupada replied that he was just trying to be the servant of everyone in this movement.

Sometimes different offensive thoughts and conceptions arise in our minds later on, but if we just keep chanting and serving they will go away.

The ultimate goal is krishna-prema, love of God, but our intermediate goal is suddha-nama, pure chanting of the holy name.

The seeds of material desire sprout from inattentive chanting says Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

There are two seasons in Mayapur, the mosquito season and the fly season. During the fly season, in the presence of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, people were shooing the flies away, and Bhaktisiddhanta told them to stop. He explained, “The flies are dhama-vasis [residents of the holy place], and I am only a visitor. When they touch my body I am purified.”

It is a privilege, honor, and responsibility to give initiation on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and the parampara to these candidates.

Andre, from Latvia who lives in Estonia, who loves harinama, became Amala Bhakta Dasa.

Vilay, from Finland, became Vrindavana Candra Dasa.

comment of the yajna priest: Ramanujacarya says the eagerness with which one should approach a guru is comparable to the eagerness with which a man with a burning turban approaches water.

Bhakti Purusottama Swami:

When I joined ISKCON in 1978, the word maya was very popular. Whenever anyone was not following strictly, someone would tell him, “You are in maya, Prabhu!”

But maya does not just mean illusion. Maya means desire, maya means mercy, maya means knowledge, maya means inquisitiveness.

Krishna says in Bg. 4.6, he descends by his atma-maya. There maya can be said to be desire, mercy, and knowledge.

O Brahma, whatever appears to be of any value, if it is without relation to Me, has no reality. Know it as My illusory energy, that reflection which appears to be in darkness.” In this case, maya means “not this.”

Narada went to Narayana to ask what is maya. Narayana then took Narada for a walk.
Narada was thirsty and went to get water from a river while Narayana waited by the river. A man offered cool water from his home as a superior alternative, so Narada agreed to it. At home, the man offered to get Narada fruit in addition to the water.
While Narada waited for the fruit, the man’s daughter fanned him. Narada, attracted by the girl, proposes to marry her. They marry. He does agriculture to maintain her and their son. Later the son falls in river. Then the wife falls in the river, trying to rescue the son. A landslide causes Narada to fall in river as he tries to rescue the wife and son. Then Narada cries out, “Narayana!” and sees no wife, no son, and just Narayana with him by the river as before. Thus as an answer to Narada, Narayana demonstrated graphically by His mystic power the entangling and bewildering nature of maya, His illusory energy.

Jaimini expressed disbelieve in Vyasa’s statement that even by sitting next to a women one can be bewildered, but soon after Jaimini became hopelessly attracted to a girl due such slight contact. He proposed marriage to the girl. The girl said she would marry him if he carried her on his back to the Durga temple, on all fours, and he agreed, although it was very embarrassing. Arriving there, he saw the girl to his amazement transformed into Vyasa who smiled, and said, “Now do you believe . . . ?”

The material world is not maya [illusory], but to see the material world as separate from Krishna is maya.

Brahma tried for 100 years to understand Bhagavan the Lord. Lord Narayana appeared and said, “So you have understood me? What is your understanding?”
Brahma replied, “My understanding after 100 years, is that You are so great that I cannot understand. That is my understanding.”

Jayapataka Swami:

from a class to the Russians:

Scientists say that as a result of global warming people will become shorter. According to the Bhagavatam, at the end of the age Kali people will be three feet tall.

Krishna predicted that after 5,000 of Kali-yuga, someone would come who would spread the chanting all of the world and inaugurate a golden age for 10,000 years. That must be Srila Prabhupada because who had distributed the chanting of the holy name all over the world before him?

Lord Caitanya, because He is Krishna in the mood of Radha, gives out what no one had given or could give out before, love of Krishna. He does not consider who is fit and who is not fit.

So people may think that preaching is not such an exalted activity but that is not a fact. On Indradyumna Swami Facebook page is evidence that Gadadhara took the preaching very seriously.

Lord Caitanya taught about the five rasas.

The Mayavadis say the Lord has no form, no face, no hands, no feet. Suppose I say your wife has no form, no face, no hands, no feet, etc., how would you feel?

In India these Mayavadis are an obstacle. In Russia, you have your own obstacles. Somehow we must get the people to chant Hare Krishna and be happy.

The ISKCON Leadership Seminar had this motto, “Happier devotees, more devotees.”

Murari Gupta was teaching hatha-yoga. Lord Caitanya came there and repeated his instructions to his disciples in a mocking way. “Cross your legs.” “Sit straight.” “Bend down.” Murari Gupta was annoyed with him and asked about is identity. Lord Caitanya said he would teach him a lesson. Then he went home, and dressed Himself, just like Krishna, except golden in color. He returned to Murari Gupta's house when he was in middle of eating a meal of rice, declaring “You have interrupted your bhakti, so I interrupted your meal.”

We are so fortunate that we can participate in these pastimes.

Krishna says those who explain the Gita to others are the most dear to Him.

Sivarama Swami:

May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Saci-devi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.”

This fourth verse of Caitanya-caritamrita is a benediction given by Rupa Goswami.

Speaking on this verse in 1975 in Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada explained that unless you accept Lord Caitanya in your heart, you cannot understand Krishna and His pastimes.

One female Indology professor in Hungary I had ongoing arguments and discussions with for many years. I would give classes at the university, and she would correct me. She could never accept our conclusions, but she supervised several our devotees getting Ph.D.s, and after she left her body, her husband told us that she wanted to donate her entire library of 2,500 books to our theological college in Hungary. She did not want to be humiliated by the academic community during her life by favoring us, but at the end, she showed her appreciation by donating her library.

Kripa refers to mercy which is more formal, while karuna is more intimate mercy.

The great teachers conclude that Lord Caitanya’s weapon is His extraordinary beauty. We have this word in English “disarming.” Lord Caitanya’s beauty disarms one.

We get Lord Caitanya’s blessings, mostly by chanting Hare Krishna. Hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam and Deity worship are also there, but mostly chanting Hare Krishna is what is required.

Once Srila Prabhupada was asked which was more important, distributing books, chanting Hare Krishna in public, or distributing spiritual food, he said they were all important and refused to say one was better than the others.

Gokulananda Prabhu [who was in the audience] is my siksa-guru. He sold me my first book, and also first took me out on book distribution.

Narada says in the Mahabharata that the congregational chanting of the holy name is one hundred times better than chanting on beads for our personal benefit.

It is not that audarya is necessarily superior to madhurya, but it makes madhurya accessible. We worship Lord Caitanya in the mood of service. By Lord Caitanya’s mercy the sweetness (madhurya) of Vraja bhakti automatically becomes manifest.

Q: What was the destination of those who died in the Battle of Kurukshetra?
A: The great teachers confirm they attain their respective spiritual forms after death. The warriors were purified from their sinful deeds by their deaths and because they appreciated Krishna’s beauty and His humility in being chariot driver for Arjuna, they were blessed.

Mahavishnu Swami:

Lord Caitanya’s father came from Sylhet, which is now in Bangladesh. We have a temple there.

Because we are part and parcel of Krishna we are always looking for Krishna consciousness. We are looking for that place where every word is a song, every step is a dance, and people drink nectar not alcohol.

People have lost the clue to happiness.

In Calcutta, they used to have horse-drawn carriages. The horses would pass stool and in the hot sun it would become dry and the dust from it would give people bronchitis. When the horseless carriage came on the scene, people were excited to be free from that problem. In reality, the automobile created more serious pollution.

People know climate change is problem in many ways, but the people do not know what to do about it. Bhagavad-gita (3.10) gives a clue: “In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Vishnu, and blessed them by saying, ‘Be thou happy by this yajña [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.’”

There are parts of world where they have never seen a Hare Krishna festival. We need have more festivals.

When Srila Prabhupada was dancing in the London Ratha-yatra, because I was in charge, the police told me, “Tell the old man to stop dancing, because when he dances all the London traffic stops.”

My experience that even when we do not have books, we can go out with the holy name and people will be attracted.

Take up the mission of Lord Caitanya, benefit the people, and go back to Godhead.

Ekalavya Prabhu:

I like it when people dance in my Bhagavatam classes, it is better than when they sleep!

Human life means beyond eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, we can inquire about spirit.

It is not possible for us to be fully satisfied in this world because our original home is the spiritual world.

We are asking God for service to Him. We know He will give us bread. We want to do something for Him.

That service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to fully satisfy us.

When we are chanting Hare Krishna we are not really in the material world. It as if we are in a spiritual bubble.

In the Muslim tradition they have beads called tasby which they chant on.

Navina Nirada Prabhu:

Sukatala, the place Sukadeva Goswami spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit, is just half an hour down the Ganges River from Rishikesh.

What we meditate upon, we will achieve. So many people come to America because they meditate upon it and the people there, and they develop an attachment.

In Rishikesh no one goes hungry because people realize the should give in charity to purify themselves.

How can we feel charitable if we are feeling a lacking in within? That is why we have to immerse ourselves in bhakti.

Mother Ganges is giving to every one without consideration, and we can learn that here.

If we consider the body or mind to be ourselves, then in the long run we will be disappointed.

Nonviolence, truthfulness, and cleanliness are some of the yamas and niyamas required before one even begins the sitting postures, asanas, according to the astanga-yoga system.

Krishna recommends to practice to achieve the control of the mind.

Whether you go from night spot to night spot, ashram to ashram, or tree to tree, it is the same monkey business. Krishna teaches we can be happy anywhere by connecting with the Lord in the heart.

My Ayurvedic doctor told me if you properly chant mantra, you do not need any yoga or any medicine. Everything is included in the proper chanting of the mantra.

Everyone is sincere. Every is looking for something that they think that will bring them happiness.

To be humble and grateful attracts Krishna, and that is more valuable than anything in this world.

The secret is to have some friends that we can reveal our plans to so we learn ahead of time if they are worth pursuing.

There is a song in Swiss German that talks about a man who has everything he wants, but who realizes what he really wants he doesn’t have and what he has he doesn’t really want.

Rasikananda Prabhu:

Without penance one cannot understand Krishna.

Unless people inquire about the Absolute Truth, they will be affected by the illusory energy.

People cannot understand the personality of God because have not performed the required penance in devotional service for that to be revealed to them.

If you explain how you came to understand the scripture is authoritative, they can also come more easily to have that understanding.

Sadbhuja Prabhu:

A friend said spiritual life is like digging a well. You cannot dig a little here and a little there, but you have to dig a lot in one place.

By doing six-hours of meditation each day of a Chinese practice in the woods, I realized I was not my body. That meant I was not German. I was not male. I looked for a community based on this ideal, but all the spiritual communities I encountered had deficiencies. The people smoked marijuana, they were still attached to eating meat, or they wanted money to stay there. I got some Hare Krishna books and found they expressed realizations that I had experienced. I visited the Zurich temple, and I was impressed that the devotees were very friendly and giving. I still wondered about doubt, and one devotee says doubt is when you do not accept God. I was atheistic my whole life so that was hard to follow, but I knew it was true. It took a year for me to fully accept it, but I did.

If you dig on any real spiritual path you will first of all realize you are not the body and you will encounter the impersonal aspect of God. And then if you keep digging you will realize God the person.


harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha

“‘For spiritual progress in this Age of Kali, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative to the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord.’” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 7.76)