Thursday, June 14, 2012

Travel Journal#8.9: Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Newcastle

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 9
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2012, part one)
Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Newcastle
(Sent from Bhaktivedanta Manor, England, on June 14, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

After Queen’s Day, I traveled to Simhachalam with some brahmacaris from Leipzig, having a wonderful time doing harinama on the way. We observed Nrsimha Caturdasi there with many senior devotees like Bhaktivaibhava Swami, Kavicandra Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Ravinda Svarupa Prabhu, Dina Sarana Devi, and Kadamba Kanana Swami, who shared a lot of nice realizations. In particular, Kavicandra Swami shared some inspiring memories of Srila Prabhupada’s celebrated disciple, Jayananda Prabhu. Also several visiting devotees with practical experience spoke about the importance of self-sufficiency and how to develop self-sufficient communities. After the festival, and after doing harinama in Munich and Memmingen, I flew to England with three friends to do harinama with Janananda Goswami in the Newcastle area.

Janananda Goswami gave many classes sharing inspiring realizations. I also include a powerful story about the great spiritual teacher in the line of Lord Caitanya, known as Syamananda Pandit, who had great power to awaken love of God in others.

I thank Markandeya Prabhu for his nice pictures of the Luxemburg harinama and Jivananda Prabhu for his nice pictures of Newcastle harinamas, and Vishnujana Prabhu for his nice pictures of both.

Harinamas in Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany

After Queen’s Day, I traveled to Simhachalam, the Nrsimha farm in Bavaria, with Sadbhuja Prabhu and two vans of devotees from Leipzig and three guests. After half an hour on the road we got a phone call saying that we left without one of the devote guests who wanted to travel with us. While one van returned to Radhadesh to pick up that devotee, the devotees in the other did a spontaneous harinama (street chanting) in a small Belgian town for almost an hour. A number of people were happy to see the devotees chanting. In the late afternoon, our whole party stopped in Luxembourg and did harinama for one and a half hours.

I was very excited because I always like to chant in a new country. There were parks, pedestrian-only streets with shops on both sides, and restaurants with outside seating, so many people heard the harinama. Sometimes we danced in a circle and had a circle of onlookers surrounding us. Some people waved, some people clapped and some people danced.

Sometimes a devotee would link arms with an onlooker and swing him around. 

Even little children participated.

We stayed that night in our vacant Heidelberg temple, and the next day we chanted in Heidelberg for two hours on a street with a lot of people. It was Ekadasi, and after the harinama many devotees were inspired to cook something wonderful for dinner. We ended up having a feast with three desserts. Because we had only done two hours of harinama and I like to do three, I suggested we go out again, even though it was after 7:00 p.m. when the feast was over. Seven people were inspired to go out, and some of them found that second harinama to be even better than the first. I was enlivened to see their enthusiasm. Just as we were about to end, a couple of policewomen told us it was not permitted to use amplification for music on that street. During our conversation with them, one of the devotees joking asked them to come along and dance with us, and one said she would if she was not on duty. Before leaving the Heidelberg temple the devotees nicely cooperated to clean up the temple. One of my friends was impressed to see the spontaneous cooperative spirit of the party of Leipzig brahmacaris headed by Sadbhuja Prabhu.

The next day on the way to Simhachalam we stopped in Heilbronn and did harinama for an hour. Devotees have rarely chanted there but many people, young and old, were happy to see the harinama party.

The day before Nrsimha Caturdasi some of us visiting Simhachalam for the festival wanted to do harinama. The schedule was for a varnasrama seminar in the morning which organized by the German leaders, and I did not think it wise to complete with it. Besides, I wanted to attend the program myself. Thus I suggested we go in the afternoon, as some of my friends also did not want to go in the morning. Thus we ended up having two harinamas in Passau, the city nearest Simhachalam that day. About 6 or 7 devotees went in the morning, and about 20 devotees went for an hour in the evening. There were more people in Passau than I expected, and some people were very happy to encounter our party. One dog even became attracted and followed us some of the time. I offered the suggestion that a mass harinama in Passau be added as an official part of the festival program for next year, and I hope it comes to pass.

The day after Nrsimha Caturdasi, we drove to Munich and did two hours of harinama there from Sendlinger Tor all the way Odeonplatz and back. Several people took videos of us, including one regular attender to the temple.

The next day we did harinama in Munich before going to Memmingen to fly to Manchester, and because we got to Memmingen over an hour early, Vishnujana Prabhu, Gaura Karuna Prabhu, and I also did harinama there. A bunch of teenagers were hanging out at the train station, and about seven of them, mostly adventurous girls, joined our party for a block and a half. Some danced, some chanted, and some took pictures of each other with the devotees. Later, when we passed the train station, some participated again.

Simhachalam Nrsimha Festival

There is always a lot of chanting, good prasadam, an awesome abhiseka [bathing ceremony of the Deity] and great association at the Nrsimha festival at Simhachalam, the German farm. This year was different for me because my friend Jayananda Prabhu, who plays a management role there, encouraged me to cook one of the 108 special offerings for the Lord on His appearance day. Because the speaker in the kitchen was flaky I missed a lot of the pastimes but I did get to cook coconut burfi for the Lord. Moreover I got to help Sacinandana Swami’s servant Gaura Hari by making a lassi for the raja-bhoga offering on the Lord’s appearance day. When I was living in Alachua I would always cook for the appearance days, but while traveling I got out of the habit.

They had a harinama for children around the temple, that was a nice engagement for them, and something I do not remember from before. One young boy had an awesome voice and great enthusiasm for the kirtana.

At Simhachalam they are celebrating more festivals, and this year they have a special thirtieth anniversary festival for Sri Sri Prahlada Nrsimha on September 30.

Harinama in Newcastle

My instructing spiritual master, Niranjana Swami, said I proved I can live simply and go to a variety of places, but I have not shown that I can stay in a place and increase the devotional service going on there. Thus he advised me to go fewer places and stay longer and help the people come to a higher level of devotion. Because Janananda Goswami invited me to make my base Newcastle and The North of England, I decided to spend more time there, at least in the summer. Thus I embarked on a month-long visit to Newcastle. Generally the temple is vacant except for a few school programs, a Wednesday chanting program, and the usual ISKCON Sunday Feast program. Janananda Goswami invited several disciples and friends to live there for some time so practically every day we had between three and seven people chanting for three hours a day, along with distribution of invitations and books.

In early May there were daily harinamas in Newcastle with Janananda Goswami, Jivananda Prabhu, Gaura Karuna Prabhu, Vishnujana Prabhu, Vamana Prabhu, Sri Gadadhara Prabhu, and myself. We would usually chant about three hours a day. On one Saturday, during a twelve-hour kirtana at the temple, we did a harinama for three hours with the devotees mentioned above plus another ten or so devotees from the temple congregation, including some very lively students from Durham University. At one point, we went to a square with many, many young people and some of them took great pleasure in dancing with the devotees. 

Some would even swing around with Janananda Goswami.

Others were brave enough to sing along with the devotees. In many cities, many young people congregate in certain regions of the city, especially on weekends, and that is a great opportunity to share Hare Krishna with them. Often the kids would dance with us.

Sometimes people would chant with us. 

Sometimes they would also try to play the instruments.

Gaura Karuna Prabhu was enthusiastically distributing books and CDs to anyone and everyone, while riding on his miniature bicycle, which was decorated with flags and Krishna slogans and art.

Sri Gadadhara Prabhu also distributed many books.

I got a Facebook friend request from one high-school kid that Gaura Karuna Prabhu had sold a book or CD to. I showed her links to some videos of devotees chanting Hare Krishna, and she and a friend expressed some interested in visiting our Wednesday chanting program. Later Sri Gadadhara and I met them on harinama, and they again participated in the kirtana.

Vamana Prabhu was so enthusiastic, he would leap into the air, even while leading the kirtana.

Or bounce on the toy of an onlooker.

The kirtana devotees were very exuberant.

It was great to have Janananda Goswami there to personally inspire us.

Insights from Books and Lectures

Srila Prabhupada:

from lecture in Nairobi, October 31, 1975, quoted in Back to Godhead 46-4:

Here is God on the altar. Here is God, factually, but the kanistha-adhikari, in the lower stage of devotional service, has no realization that “Here is God.” But if he accepts even theoretically that “Here is God,” then he becomes more advanced than the Mayavadi who thinks of God without a head or legs.

quoted in Back to Godhead 46-4, page 41:

A surrendered devotee sees that everything is part of Krishna’s plan and that whatever is meant to be, I am doing that; so let me do it with my full attention to every detail, let me become absorbed in such service, never mind what it is; let all other considerations be forgotten and my only desire be to do the best thing for Krishna’s pleasure alone. That is the advanced stage of understanding devotional service.”

Bhaktivaibhava Swami:

Our body is attractive because the soul is within. No one is attracted to a dead body. The soul is attractive because it is part of Krishna. So ultimately Krishna is the real attraction.

The trees and creepers of Ayodhya lamented when Lord Rama left for the forest.

It is described that Lord Rama and Lord Nrsimha also possess the six kinds of opulence that Krishna does, but Krishna is the original Lord, svayam bhagavan.

Although it appeared that Sisupala and Dantavakra merged into the body of Krishna, they actually attained their original positions in the spiritual world.

In order to blaspheme Krishna, Sisupala had to describe His form and activity, thus he was always absorbed in the form of Krishna. After Krishna killed him, according to Baladeva Vidyabhusana, he attained prema, and embraced Krishna and resumed his spiritual form.

Janananda Goswami:

Most people think religion is just to make life in the material world more enjoyable rather than to elevate ourselves to the spiritual world.

One devotee who is in charge of a drug rehabilitation in Malaysia said that 90% of the people who leave end up coming back.

We hear of people praying to God to become free from the reactions to their sinful activities, but we do not hear of anyone praying to God to become free from the reactions to their pious activities. This is because everyone wants to enjoy in this world.

If we expect people in this material world to be 100% pure, then we will be disappointed. Even people on the spiritual path have so much baggage from their past material activities.

You can chant the holy name in rain, on the train, on the plane, in Ukraine, if you are insane or in pain.

Brahmanas are meant to understand total range of knowledge and what part of it to give a particular person so that person will advance spiritually.

Lord Caitanya rejected even sarva dharma parityajya [Krishna’s final instruction in Bhagavad-gita to abandon all varieties of religion] because it focuses on the material world and not directly on our relationship with Him. It was not till Ramananda Raya mentioned hearing talks of Krishna that Lord Caitanya accepted his statements.

It is said in the scriptures that any river where a thirsty cow drinks the water is as good as the Ganges, so it could be the River Tyne [in The North of England] is more holy than you think.

When I joined the Hare Krishna movement we had five classes a day, and we chanted on the streets seven hours a day. Now if we chant for two hours we think we have done a lot.

My favorite temple president these days is Ananda Vardhana Prabhu, in Tallin, Estonia, who says that harinama (street chanting) begins at four hours. During the summer, devotees go out every day there.

There is a pizza chain in New Zealand called Hell. Its ads proclaim, “Hell is open.” Sometimes the devotees chant in front of it.

The reason people need so much variety is because their activities are shallow, and so they are not satisfying. Reading the Bhagavatam and the other devotional activities are satisfying and ever fresh.

If one aspires for devotional service, one will find happiness automatically, just as when we sit near the fire, we will find warmth.

Once in Loches, France, the rain was harder than I had ever seen in Europe. I was amazed to see because it was market day, there were still many people shopping, dashing from one shop to another. We decided that if the materialists could be out in the rain like that, we should go out and chant for Lord Caitanya. We got completely soaked in 10 seconds, but after you got completely soaked, it did not matter anymore. People were so amazed to see us out there, they were very favorable. We were going to go one time through the town, with just a few of the men, but we got back to the van, the rest of men, women, and children were eager to join us, so we ended up going three times around the town!

There are 100 towns with an hour of Newcastle, and on market days, they are great places for harinama.

Sometimes the society provides advantages that can be used in the service of the Lord. English citizens over 60 years old can ride the local buses anywhere in the country for free.

You cannot depend on the weather, you cannot depend on your body, you cannot depend on prasadam, at least as far as it being ready on time, you can only depend on chanting Hare Krishna.

Just by being absorbed in devotional service, one can be fixed on the transcendental platform. We do not need to be too analytical about it.

We are always attached. Detachment is unnatural. Devotional service is the process of become more attached to Krishna, the devotional service of Krishna, and devotees of Krishna.

It is alright to desire to be accepted in society, if you want to accepted in society in order to better promote Krishna consciousness.

Pious activities can be utilized in the service of Krishna, but we have to remember the goal is to please Krishna, not to be famous as pious men.

People may see the chanting we do as something that is fun, but they do not understand how it benefits society.

Absorbing the body, mind, and words in the service of the Lord is devotional service.

Srila Prabhupada would often say, “If you want to please me, keep 24-hours a day engaged in devotional service.” He gave so much to do we could not think of anything else.

If you put a block of iron on a small fire, it will put out the fire. But if you have a large fire, you can melt the block of iron. Our problem is our fire of devotional service is not so large, so our impurities tend to smother it, instead of being burned up by it.

Although Krishna enjoys fighting with the demons, because they do not act to please the Lord, their action cannot be considered devotional service. On the other hand, Krishna is fearful of His mother’s stick, but because Her chastisement is meant for His welfare, it counts as devotional service.

The suffering a devotee undergoes is especially designed by the Lord to detach us from any remaining material attachments.

From the absolute point of a view, a few lifetimes is insignificant. If someone just says “Hare Krishna” their material existence is finished.

Prabhupada said to some life members in LA, “'This Ratha-yata is so important. If one sees Jagannath on His cart, when at the end of life, all the impressions of life pass before him, when that picture of Jagannath comes up, all the other impressions are wiped out.”

After a Ratha-yatra. Srila Prabhupada said, “All you boys and girls who have seen Lord Jagannath today will go back to Godhead in the next life.” Most of them were intoxicated, but still the effect was there.

All we can do is to give people the opportunity to contact Krishna. That is why the sankirtana [the public congregational chanting of the holy name] is so important. It is like being exposed to radiation—gradually the effects are felt.

Lord Caitanya’s humility was the springboard for the conversion of the Mayavadi sannysasis.

Lord Caitanya would only speak philosophy to those who were philosophically inclined.

Varanasi is a great place for harinama. If you just start chanting anywhere in that city, many, many people will come. Where they come from I do not know, but they just start showing up.

When Vishnujana Swami took sannyasa Srila Prabhupada told him, “Your duty as a sannyasi is to chant and dance and inspire other people to chant and dance.”

The sankirtana movement is to bring everyone to together and unite them. We see a little of this on harinama. The Muslims, especially the children, are very much attracted to the chanting.

In 1976 twenty-five of us did harinama in the airport in Baghdad for eight hours between flights. Mostly it was Muslim sheiks who were there. They did not know what it was, but they liked it.

I’ll bet at least fifty thousand people heard our three-hour harinama in Newcastle. The street has become the temple. The building is not the temple. Where the harinama sankirtana is going on is the temple.

The purpose of the movement is to perform nama-yajna [chanting of the holy name] in any time and place. There are plenty of people everywhere.

When we chant the holy name in public we must be thinking favorably about the holy name ourselves if we want others to be attracted to Him.

The idea in all our temples all over the world is that Krishna kirtana and talks on spiritual life should be going on twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.

Someday the Muslim countries will open up, and who knows, perhaps they will become the best devotees. We never thought the communist countries would ever be favorable for Krishna consciousness. Imagine doing harinama and Ratha-yatra in Mecca!

What we see in this world is not reality, but it is based on reality.

As souls our natural desire is for eternally, enlightenment, and happiness but in ignorance we look for these things in this world. But we do not belong in this material world, and we cannot find these things here.

After your two week Mediterranean vacation you have to work fifty years to pay for it. But the spiritual world, you can go and you can stay there eternally, without working in the factory.

We need to purify our consciousness from its contamination by the material nature. Due to this contamination different people see things differently and the same person sees things differently at different times.

Our spiritual qualities become manifest when we are in the association of Krishna who is the source of all qualities.

There is no school in the the spiritual world and no exams.

Krishna performs His pastimes to attract us to Him and the spiritual world.

Play whatever instrument you have, but chant Hare Krishna.

There is no problem with having opulence, but to forget it is God given and should be used for God is the problem.

If you come here, you will not get a Masters degree, but a Servants degree.

In 1969, when the Hare Krishna mantra record was a popular single, it was played regularly at the halftime of the football games, and that is one of the first times I heard it.

One can only be delivered by Krishna. It is not a mechanical process.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “What is that mercy that the spiritual master gives? It is his instructions.”

Srila Prabhupada was urging one political leader in Malaysia to build a temple for Krishna there. She kept saying, “By your mercy. By your mercy.” Srila Prabhupada explained, “It is my mercy I am giving you this opportunity. If someone is drowning and I throw him a rope, and he says, ‘Help me to hold the rope,’ what can I do?”

There was a devotee who periodically would go away for some time and then later come back asking for forgiveness. After this happened a few times and some devotees were disturbed by it, Tamal Krishna Goswami asked Srila Prabhupada, “Is there a point where we cannot forgive anymore?”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “No.”

Bharata Maharaja’s defect is he did not consult his spiritual master when he realized his attachment to a deer was ruining his spiritual practice.

According to Bhanu Swami, one Purana describes that Bharata Maharaja had offended a Vaishnava in a previous life, and thus he had to fall down for some time although attaining preliminary love of God.

When a pure devotee expresses anger, it is only a manifestation of his mercy, but for us it may be mixed with frustration or even hatred.

A devotee does not think he is protected by his past service or his spiritual practice. He is humble and takes shelter of the Lord and His devotees.

Lord Caitanya personally gave the holy name to everyone but did not personally give diksa to anyone. He had others do that.

The people who heard the chanting on the streets or at the school programs could very well become devotees in this life.

Comment by Frances: I saw the devotees chanting on Oxford St. when I was nine. In those days, our parents were suspicious, especially the Catholic parents, and they would try to hurry us along. But I was very attracted by it.

Comment by Atul Krishna: I saw the devotees on the Top of the Pops when I was nine, and I found that sound to be amazing. Later I found a Hare Krishna mantra single, and I would play it all the time and dance to it. I did not know what it was.

Renunciation is not the goal, engagement of the senses in the Lord’s service is. Renunciation can assist in that.

When we do such pure activities as chanting Hare Krishna and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books there is less chance our false ego will get in the way of our transmission of the spiritual message.

Once a devotee was saying in Srila Prabhupada’s presence, “Sometimes a devotee leaves ISKCON . . . ” Srila Prabhupada cut him off, saying, “No one leaves ISKCON.”

Forty years ago, on harinama one devotee would be on the look out for policeman. If we encountered one, we would run for our lives. Otherwise, we would be arrested and hauled off to the prison. Now in Newcastle if you smile at them, they smile back.

It is not a question of changing from one religion to another but to change the heart.

Get the people to somehow or other connect with Krishna.

Kavicandra Swami:

No hankering or lamenting refers to material things. We should be hankering for the association of devotees.

Whatever we have, Krishna is pleased if we offer it to Him.

Sri Prahlada is praying that his enemies within be killed, not his enemies outside.

Prahlada prayed that Nrsimhadeva excuse his father although his father tried to kill him in many ways.

Srila Prabhupada said, “Our austerity is very simple—16 rounds 4 rules and Srmad-Bhagavatam, but you cannot even do that.” But those who can do that become empowered.

Liberation means love of Krishna, for in that state we do not care for other things.

The spiritual master is enlivened when his disciple makes advancement.

One devotee decided he would cultivate relationships with the politicians so that they might facilitate the devotees. He found the politicians were very austere, hardly sleeping at all, but they were very selfish and not interested in doing things to benefit to others.

One former professor of Richard Dawkins said that Richard Dawkins is the ultimate religious fanatic.

One school teacher in England told the students that there was no Santa Claus. That caused great controversy, and the teacher lost her job. But you can teach there is no God and nobody protests. That is the degradation of this age of Kali.

Srila Prabhupada told us over and over again that the cause of his success was his dedication to the order of his spiritual master.

George Harrison was impressed that the devotees would go out and chant all day, despite the often rainy and cold weather of London, and he decided they must be serious and they must have something significant to offer.

Prahlada Maharaja agreed to take the post of king so that by his administration his demoniac subjects might become divine.

Nanda Kumara Prabhu told us that Prabhupada said, “You will see changes in society take place in this life as a result of this movement.”

I thank you for the blissful kirtanas and your eagerness to hear. It is quite amazing. Distribute it to others.

The children’s harinama was wonderful, that one small boy was so enthusiastic and fearless, knowing all the songs and chanting them.

In the early days of ISKCON in Germany the government authorities made life so difficult for the devotees they nicknamed Germany “Daityastan,” the place of the demons. Now many people are favorable, and it might well become “Devastan,” the place of gods.

Q: Sometimes I think that people take “chanting not caring for outsiders” too seriously.
A (by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu): There are some people I would rather not have go on harinama because they are so eccentric that people will think we are coming from a mental hospital.
A (by Kavicandra Swami): Indradyumna Swami has a nice program of making sure everyone dressed nicely.

In the old days, some devotees considered that if the police broke up a harinama then it was a very good harinama.

remembering Jayananda Prabhu:

[Jayananda Prabhu was such an exemplary disciple of Srila Prabhupada that Prabhupada advised we have a festival on his disappearance day each year. I have noticed that this is still observed in America, where many devotees know Jayananda Prabhu, but often not in Europe and India. Having been in Europe the previous four years and having missed hearing about Jayananda, I was happy that Kavicandra Swami spoke about him this year at Simhachalam in Germany.]

No one ever criticized Jayananda. I mentioned that to Gargamuni, and Gargamuni replied and said, “Jayananda never did anything wrong.” There are few people Gargamuni would say that about.

Jayananda Prabhu left me in front of a pile of wood and told me to build a stage for the Ratha-yatra show. I was overwhelmed. It was one of the first times I prayed to Krishna. I built it, and the devotees danced on it the whole afternoon. I was worried it would break, but somehow, by Janananda’s mercy it didn’t. When I gave him credit, he did not accept, but said it was my doing.

If two devotees disagreed, they put Jayananda Prabhu between them, because he was not judgemental, and in ten minutes everything was resolved by his angelic smile.

He was always busy fixing something, cooking, taking out the trash, etc.

When he had cancer and could not do so much active service, he was given the service of calling people to invite them to the Sunday Feast. So many people I talked to came simply because he invited them.

He would wake up devotees with laddus [a tasty Indian sweet].

Srila Prabhupada wrote to Ramesvara, “Everyone should follow the example of Jayananda.”

Tamal Krishna Goswami said that Jayananda Prabhu was the most advanced devotee in the movement.

He was very humble, and humility is necessary.

Prabhupada said in a letter to Jayananda, “We must avoid becoming overly organized like the materialistic businessmen.”

He liked peanut butter and pineapple halavas, in particular. Samosas, also he liked, and going on harinama.

Prabhupada told him, “Anyone who follows the Ratha-yatra cart can get the benediction of going back to Godhead.” So he became very enthusiastic about Ratha-yatra.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from From Imperfection Purity Will Come About:

Every moment is special, and when you pass the fifty-year mark, every moment becomes more precious. I still haven’t been able to write a profound epic, but at least I am able to stop and breathe prayers and to remind myself that I am writing as one who is about to die for those who are also about to die. Don’t waste time.

We want to surrender to beautiful, playful Kṛṣṇa. Surrender means to want to please Him even before we know Him.

from his May 3, 2012, poem, reprinting a biography of a guru in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line named Syamananda Pandita:

One interesting episode in the course of Syamananda’s preaching in Orissa happened one day when Syamananda and his disciples were performing harinama sankirtana in the street. One officer of the Muslim government, a militant Pathan of the name of Sher Khan, became furious when he saw the blissful devotees chanting the holy names of the Lord in public. He immediately barged into the middle of the sankirtana party and threatened all the devotees with dire consequences if he ever saw them chanting in public again. Unperturbed by such threats, the very next day Syamananda and his disciples were again out in the street chanting when Sher Khan, in a violent mood, arrived on the spot with his soldiers. They then broke the drums and threw away the karatalas. Suddenly Syamananda began singing in a high-pitched mystical way, calling the names of Radha and Krishna. Suddenly the beards and mustaches of Sher Khan and his men burst into flames. Utterly flabbergasted and shocked by the sudden turn of affairs, all the Pathans ran way. That night Sher Khan had a bad dream, Allah came to him and gave him a slap saying the name and form of Krishna is the same as His. Allah also told Sher Khan that in His most confidential feature He has appeared on earth as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The very next day Sher Khan came before the sankirtana party and bowed down to Syamananda, pleading for forgiveness and requesting Syamananda to initiate him into the chanting of the holy name. Sher Khan became an important disciple of Syamananda, receiving the spiritual name Caitanya dasa. This episode illustrates the great spiritual potency of Syamananda.

from his May 13, 2012, journal:

Once when a big festival celebrating Gaura-purnima was being held nearby, these same Gaura-Nitai Deities [which Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda had personally manifested and given to Gauridasa Pandita] jumped down from the altar, dancing wildly in ecstasy. Gauridasa had to chase after Them, and when Gaura-Nitai saw him coming in an angry mood carrying a big stick, They suddenly disappeared into the heart of Gauridasa’s disciple Caitanya dasa. On seeing this, Gauridasa immediately embraced his disciple, and from that time on his disciple became known as Hridaya-Caitanya dasa, because Caitanya and Nityananda hid inside his heart (hridaya). Hridaya Caitanya later became the guru of Syamananda Pandita.

Dina Sharana Devi [co-GBC of Germany]:

God is so attractive that the atheists spend so much time trying to disprove the existence of this nonexistent being.

We must see how we are being attracted and adjust our course toward Krishna.

We should introspect and ascertain where we are at. Then we should admit, “This is where I am at, but I am going to continue the process of Krishna consciousness and make progress, and attain spiritual success.”

If we recall our life before meeting the devotees, we can see how much has already changed, even now.

If in this year we can work on just one thing, we can make advancement.

If we are seeing “this is mine” and “that is yours,” or “this is my friend” and “this is my enemy,” we can understand we still have work to do.

Gopiparanadhana Prabhu from Tattva-sardarbha, quoted in Back to Godhead 46-4, page 15:
Because the practice of Krishna consciousness pleases the Supreme Lord, He gradually frees His devotees from material entanglement and awakens within their hearts their dormant love for Him.

Krishna Ksetra Prabhu:

Jada Bharata is telling it like it is, and fortunately King Rahugana is ready to hear him.

Srila Prabhupada said one meaning of sadhu is one who cuts. He cuts away the false ego.

Dasa can mean either servant or slaves. We are trying to be slaves of God.

Often, when we think of cheating, we think of taking goods, but to exploit others is also cheating and a more serious kind of cheating.

The dynamics of exploitation is to think of other people as less than human or to make them see themselves as less than human, so it is easy to exploit them.

There are 3,000 jatis (social divisions) in India, many of whom have lost their occupations in the course of time and are thus struggling to exist.

People who think there is no relationship between politics and religion have not read Srimad-Bhagavatam. Politics and religion have everything to do with each other as the king is meant to be the representative of God.

I took many menial jobs to maintain my existence. I would only last a week as I did not see the point of the job and so I would not do it very quickly. I did last five months as a copy boy for a secretary at a German company. I learned the goal of the workers was to go on vacation, and that vacation consisted of going here and there and eating this and that, and I wondered if this was all there was to life. At that point, I met the Hare Krishnas.

We were are struggling to understand that we are servants, but in the spiritual world, that is not a problem for them. This is because they have the ideal master.

We want to take shelter of someone who is completely powerful and completely compassionate, and that person is Krishna.

Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu [co-GBC of Germany]:

Since almost the beginning of the universe, there has been an interplanetary war between the devas (the followers of the Supreme Lord) and the asuras (those who oppose the plan of the Lord). People no longer believe in these stories so they have to make up their own stories such as Star Wars.

I asked Srila Prabhupada, “Krishna is all-powerful. Why does he need so many demigods to run the universe?”
Prabhupada replied, “You do not know how to run a universe.”
I thought, “That is true. I do not know how to run a universe.”

Sukracarya, using Vedic knowledge, could bring the killed demoniac soldiers back to life, if their bodies were not dismembered. That is a impressive ability. And he was a demon!

Hiranyakasipu did not want the position of Indra but the position of Brahma so he could reverse the results of pious and impious action.

Although we in ISKCON consider the hamsa to be a swan, the hamsa is actually a bar-headed goose with two bars on the head, and it has the amazing ability to fly over the Himalayas at a height of 10,000 meters. Scientists have been studying this bird for its ability to tolerate the cold and lack of oxygen.

One scholar said, “The study of mantras presents a problem for scholars since we believe in the enlightenment conception in which magical things do not exist.”

Prayaksa means right in front of your eyes—direct perception.

Hiranyakasipu knew about Vishnu, but he thought He was just another big guy who could he could take on without difficulty.

The austerities of the devotees is actually very minimal compared to those who follow other processes such as astanga-yoga and the practice given by Sankaracarya.

Srila Prabhupada was able to do so much because he satisfied Krishna by taking on so many obstacles to spread his message. He had no institutional support, no money, no youthful energy, and no good health, but Krishna appreciated his austerity. The people who came Prabhupada were not qualified but Prabhupada wanted them to be devotees. When Krishna told Prabhupada, “They are not qualified,” Srila Prabhupada said, “Still I want them to become your devotees,” so Krishna said, “OK.”

Although we think we may not have any abilities, if we execute order of the spiritual master with complete seriousness, we can also do a lot to spread Krishna consciousness and benefit a lot of people.

In the Vedic context, drama is to intensify rasa [spiritual relationships and spiritual emotions]. The Lord’s pastimes are very dramatic.

Mother Urmila [from a BTG article]:

For example, people pay for movies and books that frighten, anger, or even horrify them, finding some pleasure in these sensations. However misguided and unfortunate the search for happiness that drives one to see a ghastly horror movie, the point is that even materialistic people seek happiness in a great diversity of ways. Why should spiritual happiness be devoid of such variety?

Kadambda Kanana Swami:

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura wrote in a letter that “Prahlada Maharaja saw Krishna everywhere and Hiranyakasipu saw Krishna nowhere, and we are in between.”

We have two sides in us, but by hearing and chanting about Krishna we strengthen our spiritual side. It is not difficult to understand how to become Krishna conscious.

In the beginning of our spiritual life, it is like we are pushing an old car up a hill.

Our faith is where we think pleasure is to be found. As we advance in Krishna consciousness we understand pleasure is to be found in relationship to Krishna.

Because at least partially we are chanting for Krishna’s pleasure, we will become free of the other motives.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says in the beginning bhakti is localized and the material energy is surrounding it. Later the material energy is like a ship passing by us at close range. At nishta [steadiness], the material energy is like a ship half way to the horizon. At asakti [attachment], the material energy is like a ship on the horizon, and at bhava [the stage of preliminary love of God] there is just a shadow of the material energy.

Rupa Goswami says at bhava, because a hint of offenses to Vaishnavas remains, there is a trace of misery still present. Prema is completely pure and has no traces of offenses or unhappiness.

Amita Krishna Prabhu:

If you have enough land, you can maintain cows at no expense, as the cows are simply satisfied with grass. There is a movement to reeducate the farmers in South India about this original idea called Zero Budget Farming.

Srila Prabhupada’s ideas are based on the fatherhood of the Supreme Lord, the motherhood of mother nature, and the brotherhood of all living entities. The idea of fatherhood of the Supreme Lord can appeal to those who are followers of different religions, Christians, Moslems, etc. The idea of the motherhood of material nature can appeal to the ecologists, environmentalists, etc.. The idea of brotherhood of all living entities can appeal to the animal rights and civil rights activists.

The three years I spent on padayatra was the best time of my life. The simplicity of the village people melted my heart. In the villages where they kept their self-sufficient lifestyle, the people were so hospitable that as soon as we arrived there, they started cooking for us. The invited us to stay in their homes, but their homes were so small there was not room. They would say, “Don’t worry. You sleep in our homes, and we will sleep outside.”

Srila Prabhupada says that economics means food.

Although the earth can provide for many times the present population, the demoniac have invented the worry about overpopulation. In China the government is so worried that they tax you heavily if you have two children and if you have three, they put you in jail.

We are scared to live with the cows, but we are not scared to live with our laptops.

Krishna through His pastimes not only taught religious values but also taught economics in terms of agriculture and cow protection.

Radha Krishna Prabhu in Hungary describes their self-sufficient farm to guests, and when the people ask about the inspiration behind the project he introduces Krishna consciousness.

The weakness that demoniac economic leaders have is they are few, while those they exploit are many.

We should have a magazine and seminars to promote the value of the self-sufficient economy over the present system.

Shyamasundara Prabhu (from Bhaktivedanta Manor on cow protection):

The GBCs are supposed to spend 10% of the time talking about self-sufficiency.

We have had a problem with leaders changing and everyone leaving.

We do not talk about self-sufficiency, probably because we do not have a clear program to implement it, and so it is easier not to talk about it.

If you do not protect the cow protectors, you will not have cow protection.

You need three people for a goshalla. One person to take care of the cows. One person to do it on the weekend. One person to do if it the others are sick. Four hours a day of service are needed for milking and care.

To get people to do take care of cows, you have to provide the workers with a steady situation. To do that you need to have regular donors for a goshalla.

Radha Krishna Prabhu (from the Hungary farm on varnasrama):

In Hungary we were very divided territorially, wishing others would not even set foot in our area, but after much work we have become more united. Now, we, as Sivarama Swami said, will sink or swim, but together.

Here today at Simhacalam, we should decide what we are going to do as a group here in Germany and all stick by it. Whatever our service we should see how it relates to the goal we have decided upon.

We could have thesis retreats at Simhacalam. We could advertise: “Come here for a month. Write your thesis. We will wash your clothes. We will feed you. It is peaceful.”

How much land do you need to produce vegetables for 100 devotees for a year? 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres).

How much land do you need to produce for the grains? 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres)

Sivarama Swami says there are even people in India who have been chanting 64 rounds of Hare Krishna daily and worshiping the deity for generations in their families, but they will not go back to Godhead because they just do it out of custom, not with the desire to attain love for Krishna.

Just as you can travel fast if you can get in the vacuum behind a moving vehicle, if you can get close enough a saintly person, you can get a boost in your spiritual life.

One devotee who lived near the New Vraja farm in Hungary was diagnosed with cancer. Sivarama Swami talked with her, and she expressed her desire to spend the rest of her life on our Krishna farm. We had a meeting at the farm and decided to arrange everyone’s schedule so we could have chanting and reading about Krishna going on around her 24-hours a day for the last two and a half weeks of her life.

My challenge to you is: Are you willing to make an arrangement so the Prabhupada disciples who have begun this movement for you in Germany have a suitable situation to leave this world at the end of life and attain the spiritual world?

Sri Gadadhara Prabhu [from a conversation]:

My spiritual master, Lokanath Swami, says the austerity in this age is to cooperate with the other devotees and to share Krishna consciousness with others.


My friend, Jagannath Misra Prabhu was telling me in Mayapur how he spoke to the Russian devotees about the beauty of Krishna in Srimad-Bhagavatam class one day. It reminded me of this beautiful verse from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita which I shared with him, and we both memorized it on the spot.

krishna-madhuryera eka svabhavika bala
krishna-adi nara-nari karaye cañcala

The beauty of Krishna has one natural strength: it thrills the hearts of all men and women, beginning with Lord Krishna Himself.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Adi 4.147)