Friday, July 27, 2012

Travel Journal#8.11: England

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 11
By Krishna-kripa das
(June 2012, part one)
(Sent from Sarcelles, France, on July 27, 2012)

What I Went and What I Did

The first weekend in June I attended the Birmingham Tweny-Four Hour Kirtana for the third straight year where Sacinandana Swami shared wonderful insights about kirtana. Afterward we continued doing harinama in Newcastle and other cities in The North of England, and we continued to see people taking an interest in the chanting. I went to Manchester for their monthly harinama and to give the lecture for the Sunday Feast. I also chanted in there in Piccadilly Gardens the next day. Fortunately two other devotees joined me. Then Sri Gadadhara Prabhu and I went to Leeds and Sheffield for the weekly nama-hatta programs, and we helped advertise them by doing harinama. Next we went with Dayananda Swami to Bhaktivedanta Manor for the UK Brahmacari Conference, with lectures by visiting swamis, many of which I have notes on. About thirty brahmacaris participated in the Borehamwood Ratha-yatra, the Manor’s entry in a local municipality’s parade where we won second place. Then some of my friends from Bhaktivedanta Manor went to Central London for the lively Saturday night harinama before the next day’s Ratha-yatra.

The insights are really great this issue. I especially like some from Srila Prabhupada himself, others by Prahladananda Swami on health, Candramauli Swami on cooperation in ashram life, and Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami on the glories of Srila Prabhupada.

Thanks to Lauris of BRR Films for all of the great pictures.

Birmingham Twenty-Four Hour Kirtana

Before the Birmingham Twenty-Four Hour Kirtana I attended the weekly Saturday harinama in Birmingham which was on New Street at a place so busy it reminded me of London. The devotees usually chant from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m., but were a little late setting it up. Many young people took pleasure in dancing with us. Several people stood and watched for awhile, and two or three devotees distributed many books to those in the crowd who were interested.

I foolishly left my harmonium on the city bus while traveling from the temple to the harinama. Bhakta Bob, a devotee who worked as a city bus driver tracked it down in the depot, and we went to pick it up after the Twenty-four Hour Kirtana. The men at the office joked that they would give it back to me, but only if I played a tune for them. So I got to play a Hare Krishna tune for the men in the bus company office!

At the Twenty-Four Hour Kirtana it was wonderful, as usual, to associate with so many devotees who have faith in the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord and to chant for twenty-four hours. It was very large crowd, and I could only find a little space near the wall to dance in. I usually take a nap for three hours in the middle and maybe another half an hour after a meal. When morning comes around, I chant my japa during the singing of the leader and then I chant the response, counting that as a mantra toward my japa quota, thus it takes me two and a half or three hours to chant my sixteen rounds instead of an hour and three-quarters, but I do not really miss too much of the kirtana that way. For next year, I hope they put a speaker near the prasadam queue and the room where the devotees take prasadam so we do not feel like we are missing out.

During the kirtana, there was an abhiseka (bathing ceremony) for the Birmingham deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra.

Later, Jagannatha and Baladeva wore an elephant dress.

Madhava Prabhu led many joyful meditative kirtanas.

Janananda Goswami would encourage others by his example to dance with upraised arms.

Here are some notes from speakers at the Birmingham Twenty-four Hour Kirtana:

Sacinandana Swami:

Use the body as a springboard to absorb yourself in Krishna consciousness with your mind.

The glorification of the Lord is first done externally and then within our heart. In this way it can be done twenty-four hours a day.

In the German language there are songs called “ear worms—songs that become so dear to you that they become embedded in your ears. The Hare Krishna mantra should become like that for us.
We should internalize the holy name so it becomes like our heartbeat or our breath.

On the platform of practice there is a struggle between our weaknesses and what we hope to attain.

Before Aindra Prabhu established the 24-hour kirtana in Vrindavan, I would participate in the night shift, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The karatala player fell asleep, the mrdanga player fell asleep. Even the guard fell asleep. I decided to stick with it, although I had four more hours to go.

Stay with the holy name until you realize there is someone listening and that someone is Krishna.

Sing for the ears of God and see how you are supplied with transcendental strength.

The names of God are not just names of God but God Himself.

One beggar would regularly insult the king. The king found out about it and disguised himself as another beggar. He came to the beggar, and said, “I heard you dislike the king.” “Yes,” said the beggar, “Not only do I dislike the king, but I want to kill the king.” The king disguised as a beggar said, “Oh, I happen to know a secret passage in the palace that goes right to the king’s throne.” The beggar was overjoyed. The king disguised as beggar showed the beggar a route so he passed so many saintly persons discussing the ultimate truth. The beggar decided, “No, evening is not a good time to kill the king, let us try morning.” In the morning, he saw arrangements by the king for giving charity and for the happiness of citizens. Thus he concluded that the king was not so bad after all. The king dressed as a beggar, showed him the secret path to the throne, and then excused himself while he put on his kingly robes and sat on the throne. When the beggar then saw the king was his friend, he apologized. The holy name is like that king. The holy name is always giving although we do not always appreciate.

The holy name is the bud of the flower of divine love. He is full of devotional tastes.

The mind is like this naughty child that will protest and run away.

You have ignored, neglected, and rejected, and the holy name still is desiring to benefit you.

Do not be absent-minded, be present-minded. Do not space out. Space in.

Remember I am not my body. I am not my mind. I am the soul within.

Chanting means to connect the heart with the deity who we praising.

By chanting, we are asking the Lord to accept us. So long we have turned away from Him, and now we want to turn back, and ask the Lord to accept us.

There is only so far you can go on your own strength. Krishna stands on the border and bring us further. He can capture you and pull you on.

O King of the country of love, I appeal to you for your affection. Somehow or other I am in adverse circumstances. Although I would like to I cannot find the ability to chant your holy name attentively. My soul will never be satisfied without Your companionship. Without your mercy, I cannot get beyond my imprisoned, restricted condition.

Sometimes with this prayer, Krishna will take us seriously and break down the wall.

I say this for two reasons. 1. As a reminder that Krishna wants us to give His mercy. 2. And to give us hope.

The formula to have a live-saving experience of kirtana:
  1. saintly association
  2. a peaceful place free from material influence
  3. a determined attitude

The chanting establishes the only relationship that is free from disappointment.

Some programs have more strength and others less strength, and this program of devotees chanting has great strength, and one of the strengths is the power to attract others, and thus this program [the Birmingham Twenty-four Hour Kirtana] has grown continuously since I have been coming to it. We outgrew this place, and some people had to stand outside in the rain last night while others returned to their hotel rooms and switched on their laptops to view it on the Internet. I suggest that we all make a commitment to each invite a new person, and then Krishna will see we are serious and will make an arrangement for a new place.

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

The Vaishnavas manifest the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So much energy is released when they get together, and the hope is that Krishna will manifest Himself in that situation. Krishna manifests Himself according to the advancement of the devotee. And it is that experience that keeps us coming back for more. And that is the reason I came to this Birmingham 24-hour kirtana.

a Brijbasi guest to Birmingham 24-hour kirtana:

I was gone from Vrindavana three or four weeks, and the first hours of your kirtana here was the first time I wasn’t missing Vrndavana.

The sadhus are crying for Krishna for centuries, yet Krishna does not come. While the gopis are reprimanding Krishna for His rascaldom, saying they wish He would go away, yet He is away present with them. Why? Because the gopis chant the holy name of Krishna, the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

Harinamas in the North of England

We would chant in Newcastle several days a week, and in small towns around Newcastle on other days. One day we went to Heaton, a small town where many students live.

Sri Gadadhara Prabhu tried to interest locals in the books of Srila Prabhupada.

I led kirtana for some time, playing the harmonium, with Prema Sankirtan on the drum, and Vamana Prabhu on the cymbals.

We had some friendly interactions with a few people.

In Newcastle one college student from Kyrgyzstan loved hearing our chanting on harinama. One devotee said there were tears in her eyes. I suggested that the lady devotee on the party invite her to our special evening program with the visiting swamis that night, and thus the two of them left for the temple for the program which was soon starting. Although a Muslim, the college student felt at home with the chanting and the devotees and came to four evening programs in a row, as well as for lunch prasadam a couple times. Hopefully we shall she her again when she returns from her summer vacation in her native land.

Crazy Ken, who had met us on harinama about ten days before, joined us for another Wednesday program sporting a custom T-shirt he had made with the Hare Krishna maha-mantra on the front, and the phrase “Can you dig it?” underneath. I had not encountered such sixties slang in a while, and I think some younger people were unfamiliar with it. He was happy to get the maha-mantra hit single CD and few George Harrison songs that a devotee gave to him.

The harinama in Sheffield was especially memorable for several reasons. We encountered some street musicians who played along with us for some time and even began chanting Hare Krishna with us. Later a woman looking for directions came up to us, and it turned out she was looking for directions to our own evening program, not realizing it was we who were putting on. She was half an hour early, and so we invited her to join the harinama and she did. Usually we stop the harinama fifteen minutes before the program, but because I had not done my three hours of harinama that I day, I wanted to keep going for ten more minutes. An Indian man and his daughter heard the karatalas and found our kirtana party. They knew ISKCON from the Montreal Ratha-yatra. The girl was a student at Sheffield University and was happy to learn of the weekly program in that town. They came to that night to the program. While talking with them I learned they would be in London that weekend, and so I gave them an invitation to the London Ratha-yatra on Sunday, so they would have the chance to go.

Borehamwood Ratha-yatra

Midday on Saturday, June 16, Parasurama Prabhu, devotees from Bhaktivedanta Manor and Soho Street, as well as thirty brahmacaris from all over the United Kingdom, sang and danced for the pleasure of Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra in the Borehamwood Carnival, an annual parade in a community just five miles from the Manor. So many people were happy to see the kirtana of the devotees. Some smiled, some danced, some waved, and many took pictures and videos, including this one [the devotees participation starts around 1:44 minutes into the video]:

(If the embedded video above does not work, click this link:

Devotees distributed books and invitations to the London Ratha-yatra. The brahmacaris by their enthusiasm and their numbers added a lot to the party. We did a harinama to the beginning of the parade, chanted in the parade for 45 minutes, and then did harinama back to the car, so lots of people got to connect with Krishna.


Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture:

When people worship God with a motive, when they get what they want they may stop the worship and if they do not get what they want, they may become atheistic. Thus unmotivated devotion is superior.

Vedic culture is to train boys as brahmacaris to learn the purpose of life.
In the West I was surprised to see children 10 or 12 years old smoking. In India, I think that if they are less than 16 they are punished for smoking.

A computer is a wonderful machine, but still there must be some operator. Nature is a wonderful machine. Who is its operator? Scientists have no commonsense to see this.

Anyone who accepts the body as the self, has imperfect knowledge yet such people are posing as big, big professors. Therefore we are protesting because they are cheating the people.

The scientists are trying to create life but they have no knowledge that life is not created. Life is ever existing.

Comment: So the scientists are minutely analyzing the mirage and thus wasting their time.

They are wiping out Krishna, and your business is to establish Krishna. Prove that the background is Krishna. That will be the perfection of your education.

Candramauli Swami:

Love means to serve and to cooperate in order to serve. Without cooperation, it is just about me.

Srila Prabhupada would point out that the United Nations could not work as long as the individual nations were attached to their own self-interest.

I was with one yatra that was divided into two groups, each with a different way to serve Krishna. Prabhupada would say they are both right.

Material desires cause disunity.

Materialists when they try to unite on the material plane actually ending up creating more diversity.
Srila Prabhupada stressed that his followers could stay together by keeping his instructions in the center.

Living in an ashram is one of the greatest austerities in this age of Kali.

The basis of our spiritual life is good strong sadhana, and we should help each other to practice nicely.

The strength of a group can be seen by its weakest point not its strongest point. Therefore we all benefit by helping to bring up the weakest people to a higher level.

Devotees disagree but never fight.

My idea may be slightly better than your idea, but it is better for me to accept your idea than to fight for mine, unless your idea is completely off.

There is an analogy of two sons massaging father but quarreling among themselves and causing pain to the father.

Prabhupada asked a devotee he asked to find prasadam for guests, but the pujari who was in the middle of offering the food. The devotee took the food anyway, and the pujari became angry, not knowing Srila Prabhupada’s mind.

When maya sees someone is seriously practicing, she tests to see how serious he is. If he is very serious, he is not disturbed. If he is disturbed, soon he rectifies himself, and he goes on.

[Devotees often cite part of the letter Srila Prabhupada wrote to Atreya Rsi saying his criticism of devotees for quarreling was a manifestation of impersonalism but Candramauli Swami read the entire letter which was full of wisdom and valuable to hear.]

Q: It seems like we could get entangled in offending devotee who has a valid program for serving Krishna that differs from ours. How do we avoid this?
A: It is natural that disagreement is there. We do not criticize the people we disagree with but deal with the issue itself. In this way we can avoid Vaishnava

To sacrifice for others is a feature of making advancement. You have to do that in a ashram.

Q: How to avoid conflicts?
A: Communicate with others.

If you are absorbed in Krishna by hearing and chanting, you can tolerate the small problems within the ashram.

Being proud of having philosophical knowledge, but not having proper behavior is a kind of false ego.

A leader has to be a visionary and create a team spirit.

One study showed leaders fail most often for not creating a team spirit among peers and subordinates, secondly, for not knowing what is expected of them, and thirdly, for not having the required skills.

The leader has to recognize unexpressed talents in others and figure out how to inspire them to engage those talents in Krishna’s service.

One article analyzed why Japanese businesses excelled American ones although having less facility. It was found the Japanese business people had better relationships and team spirit, and that made the difference. So it is also in Krishna consciousness.

Our advancement comes from serving others.
The Lord is never a debtor although he may appear to be.

The forest fire that Krishna swallowed was a demon who manifested in that way.

The reason that Krishna told the cowherd boys to close their eyes before He swallowed the forest fire was because previously Balarama had told Mother Yasoda that he had eaten dirt and 
He was worried Balarama would now tell her that he had eaten fire.

At the 2004 World Parliament of Religions in the evenings there was a different program every night. One night was Hindu night. The Mayavadis spoke so much philosophy, telling stories, and captivating everyone’s mind.” Finally one of them said, “You can become the supreme enjoyer!” They and their followers were enlivened by this, but the devotees were disgusted. Bhakti Svarupa Damodara peacefully tolerated it all, and then spoke on the verse, “vasudeva para veda vasudeva para makha . . . ” Then we had kirtana and all the Mayavadi yogis left. They could not relate to the kirtana. Their followers, however, stayed. loved the kirtana and began to dance. Then we served prasadam.

We are simply meant for exchanging love with Krishna, and Krishna is simply meant for exchanging love with us.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura once said that Krishna is not your gardener, your stock broker, or your marriage counselor, He is the enjoyer of loving relationships with His devotees.

Lord Caitanya explains that through the congregational chanting of the holy name we can attain an ever increasing ocean of happiness.

Srila Prabhupada says that to think one is an incarnation of God is the last snare of maya.
Through service we can experience the presence of Krishna.

There are nine stages of prema.

To worship the Lord to get something material or to become the Lord are two illusions that have affected spiritualists since time immemorial.

Janananda Goswami:

Prabhupada says that if we keep ourselves in the consciousness of “I am the servant of the servant of the master of the gopis, we will be always on the spiritual platform.

Prabhupada says that if we always chant Hare Krishna we will be in our svarupa, or constitutional position as servant of the Lord.

You can chant Hare Krishna anywhere, even in the toilet. The toilet is the perhaps the most important place to chant Krishna because it is so impure.

Before 1974 or so, book distribution would accompany the congregational chanting we would do in public. We would usually have two people distributing books and four people chanting, and we would take turns. There were no people who just did book distribution or just did chanting. The first day I went out, I was still a long-haired hippie, but I chanted and distributed books like the others. I distributed three Back to Godhead magazines, and I was the top distributor that day.
We are out there as representatives of Lord Caitanya and His associates to connect people with them. As jiva souls, living entities, we are meant to give pleasure to Krishna. That is the sankirtana movement. Sankirtana is really what pleases Krishna—complete glorification of Krishna, and so it really does include a variety of activities.

When I started the Newcastle Hare Krishna temple, I hitchhiked up here and stayed in a derelict’s house with a bum, not knowing where my next penny or next meal would come from.

Srila Prabhupada writes, “If there is one sincere soul, he can start a center.”

Srila Prabhupada writes, “If there is chanting going on, that will increase the book distribution.”

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained, “There is no other dharma than uttering the name of Krishna. . . . One who obstructs kirtana is the greatest atheist. There is no time to do mundane welfare work since the only dharma is Krishna kirtana.

If we cannot directly do the sankirtana, we must assist it.

The prime symptom of love of God is that one wants the Lord’s name spread all over the world.

Bless you” came from the time of bubonic plague because when the plague was happening, if you sneezed, that meant you had the plague and you would die.

In the early days of the Hare Krishna movement, we would have a bhajana class between 8:30 to 9:00 every night and always sing one or two bhajanas every day. The Vaishnavas gave us these songs to instruct us how to chant the holy name of Krishna properly.

There has to be some satisfaction in devotional service for us to proceed.

Usually chanting, dancing, and prasadam are attractive enough to everyone to stick with the process of devotional service.

When Vakresvara Pandit would dance, both the devotees and the demons were attracted.
Lord Caitanya said that Vakresvara Pandita was an embodiment of Krishna’s transcendental potency. When Krishna dances, so Vakresvara also dances.

The key which opens the door to chanting of the pure holy name and Krishna prema is the service of the Vaishnavas.

Lord Caitanya told Devananda Pandit, “You must use the same mouth that you used for blaspheme, to glorify the devotees and the Lord to become free from all offenses.”

It is not enough just to get the mercy of the Vaishnava you offended, but you have to admit your fault in public and to rectify it.

Prahladananda Swami:

Health is ephemeral. At the time of death practically no one has good health.

Our diet and medicine: Eat Krishna prasadam and chant Hare Krishna.

When through the holy name we experience happiness, we will not lament or hanker.

When we do not have a spirit of submission and surrender to the holy name, we will not 
experience happiness in chanting.

We should listen and try to improve the chanting.

Krishna decides how much He will reveal to us.

We have faith that Krishna is present in the sound of his name

One time Srila Prabhupada was in car, and everyone in car began to fall asleep, even the person who was supposed to keep the driver awake, and the driver himself. Prabhupada started playing the karatalas and chanting Hare Krishna.

Just try to chant as nicely as possible and be receptive.

When we speak, we should hear ourselves and make sure we are speaking words that truthful, pleasing, beneficial, not agitating to others, and following the Vedic conclusions [Bg. 7.15].

Good mental health leads to good physical health.

Good health is valuable because then health is one less distraction to our Krishna consciousness.

A little bad health is not bad because we have to practice tolerance so we can be completely absorbed.

Krishna knows how fallen we are, but we do not know how fallen we are.

Brahmacari life means being satisfied with having nothing. If we are not satisfied with nothing, then we will end up having more.

If get married, we may be satisfied, but our wife may not be satisfied or our children may not be satisfied.

If we are not satisfied with chanting Hare Krishna, then we may engage in self-destructive habits that give us bad health. We may overendeavor, underendeavor, or make the wrong endeavor.

Q: How much should we drink?
A: Drink when you are thirsty. The problem is we do not realize when we are thirsty or hungry. If it looks good and it is not moving, we eat it, regardless of time of day or night.

Q: Sometimes the scream of the thoughts in our mind is so intense. What to do?
A: Still our business is to try to hear the chanting. Chant louder. If we are really sincere,
maya will keep quiet. If we pay attention to maya, she will get louder and louder.

Q: How to surrender?
A: Follow the six items of
saranagati. Absorb yourself in Krishna’s service and cultivate the feeling that because you are engaged in Krishna’s service, He will supply whatever you actually need.

We are not fasting from water or food. We are fasting from maya. Less attention on the body means more attention to Krishna.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from Calling Out to Srila Prabhupada:

O Srila Prabhupada, whom we think of day and night;

O Prabhupada, who came to America with Srimad-Bhagavatams as his only means, who sold volumes to bookstores in order to pay for groceries, and who thought in the beginning, ‘They will never accept this Hare Krishna mantra, but let me try;’

O Prabhupada, who happily endured the austerities of New York winters on behalf of Lord Krishna; O master, who years later made thousands of disciples and had many houses to reside in but who said, ‘I was happier in the beginning in New York because I had no one to depend on but Krishna;’

O Prabhupada, who favored New York City by opening his first ISKCON center there and by singing in Tompkins Square Park, who beat the one-headed drum hours at a time and sang strongly, who braved all the rudeness and strangeness just to deliver us from birth and death by giving us the holy names of Krishna;

O Prabhupada, whose preaching was guided by Lord Krishna, whose preaching was to ‘go in like a needle and come out like a plow,’ whose preaching was pure and who stayed to do it, who fulfilled all the qualities of a saint, being tolerant, merciful, friendly to all and fixed in the Absolute Truth;

O Prabhupada, who loved his disciples and nurtured them like a mother cares for her children, and who, like a father, imparted to his sons and daughters the gift of the courage to stand and fight;

O Prabhupada, please live vibrantly in our thoughts and actions.

O Srila Prabhupada, of whom I often think, ‘Where are you?’ O Prabhupada, who doesn’t belong as the exclusive property of any one disciple;

O Prabhupada who is simultaneously giving thousands of instructions and yet is silent in Krishna meditation, please become more clear in my mind;

O Prabhupada, of whom we say, ‘I wish you were present now to tell us what is right and wrong and what to do,’ and yet whom we fear to think of in that way because surely he would be angry with us and expose our cherished notions as foolish and disobedient;

O Prabhupada, whom we sometimes prefer to worship at a distance, as is recommended in the 
scriptures, but whose lotus feet we want to touch, whose hand we want to feel on our heads and backs;

O Prabhupada, who is with us but also in another dimension, and of whom we think, ‘How can I reach you? When and where will we meet again?

O Prabhupada, who is not just another link in the disciplic succession of gurus, but who is the founder-acarya of the Krishna consciousness movement, and who said, ‘None of these men could fulfill the desires of Bhaktivinoda Thakura in the matter of preaching in the foreign countries’;

O Prabhupada, the remembrance of whom is like satori, whose moments are hundreds of haikus if we could only know them and see them rightly;

O Prabhupada, who said, ‘Everything is all right,’ indicating that there was no need for anxiety because Krishna is the controller of everything, yet who also used to say, ‘What can be done?’ indicating that he wanted even more success for spreading Krishna consciousness, but obstacles remained in the way—this was also the will of providence.

O Prabhupada, who didn’t speak of hidden, obscure meanings in the Vedas, who said it was very clear, and yet whose instructions may be looked at in new light, and whose sincere followers sometimes discover that they haven’t really understood what he meant even on basic issues;

O Prabhupada, who is the source of all writings and teachings in the ISKCON sampradaya;

O Prabhupada, who will always have true followers, and whose followers will keep up his standards in many places in the world;

O Prabhupada, please keep us at your lotus feet; please keep us alive in your service.”

Bhagavat Asraya Prabhu:

Early in the Gita Krishna advises balance in eating, sleeping, work, and recreation. The proper amount of each is an individual thing. Margaret Thachter, former prime minister of Great Britain, would sleep at most five hours and felt fully refreshed.

If the world is too much with you, you will be too much with the world.

Once on a morning walk, Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees what was the most important thing in their lives. They offered suggestions like spiritual practice and spiritual service, but he said health was most important because without health you cannot do anything.

To help good health avoid exertion and suppressive medicines.

Srila Prabhupada explained to Govinda dasi that if you chant the mangalacarana prayers before anything, then that activity will be a success.

Comment by Radha, a Vaishnava youth: I always chant Mangalacarana before I take an exam.

We seek a teacher because we do not know. The qualification of a student is that he must know that he does not know.

Reading books to acquire knowledge has limitations. You cannot advertise yourself as a doctor because you read a few books on medicine.

Another qualification of the student is that he wants to know.

Wisdom is beyond mere knowledge and knowledge is beyond mere data. Wisdom could be considered a distillation of knowledge.

If you are unsuccessful and unhappy, you are going die. If you are successful and happy, you are still going to die. What then does it matter if you are successful and happy? It does no good to say to someone, “there is a terrible leak in your side of the boat,” because we are all going to sink.

Arjuna is experiencing anticipatory grief in the beginning of the Gita.

Verses 11 through 30 of chapter two of Bhagavad-gita, the analytical study of the soul, is like a chapter within a chapter.

It was a revelation for me when in the course of reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is, I came to understand that “I am the soul.” From the religious training we receive in the west, we get the understanding that the soul is something that we possess rather than being our actual identity. [We think we have souls rather than we are souls.]

We are not going to learn the truth that “I am the soul” in any educational institution in the world.

You will not get such a clear presentation of the soul as you find in just a couple of verses of Bhagavad-gita [2.12 and 2.13]: “Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.

In the Middle Ages, at public gatherings there were reality plays that would illustrate moral lessons, and the character who was supposed to represent the common man was named “Everyman.” That is like the role Arjuna plays in the Gita.
The degree that we accept this knowledge and the degree that we apply this knowledge are always our free choice.

Surrender we must do, but the question is where we surrender and the result of the surrender.

We have to digest and then assimilate this knowledge of the soul.

Descartes was not so sharp. It is not “I think therefore I am” but rather “I am therefore I think.”

Even if by introspection you come to the understanding that you have nothing to do with your body, you still do not know what you are supposed to be doing.

The second part of spiritual knowledge is understand that you are a servant of Krishna.

Q: Is Krishna consciousness something that we acquire ourselves or something that is given to us?
A: It is something that is given to us. It is theoretical technical knowledge that you have to apply.
Srila Prabhupada said, “Chant Hare Krishna and your life with become sublime.” How are we going to know if it true? By applying it.

The difference between doing and realizing it and not doing it and not realizing it, is doing it.

The result of applying it, is you come to the realization that it is so satisfying that you do not want be to distracted from it.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “Do not trust me. Trust Krishna.” He explained that the guru’s 
business is very simple. Krishna says, “Surrender to me.” And the guru said, “Surrender to Krishna.”

Jagatatma Prabhu:

Dambhanda, a Sanskrit compound, means blinded by pride.

When devotees fly into Manchester they say it is like descending into a cloudy region of darkness. 

Why? Because Manchester is full of animal factories where the animals live under abominable 
conditions until they are merciless killed for food.

Kali-yuga is the age of vanity. People grow their hair just to look beautiful.

People are proud of possessing external symbols of religiosity thinking that makes them actually religious.

Some people think advancement is measured by what ashram you are in, how good an orator you 
are, how good a singer you are, or how good a dancer you are, whereas Bhagavatam speaks of obedience principles of religion and humility as characteristics of the advanced.

We are encouraging people to glorify Krishna and not to glorify ourselves. When we do that, there is no fighting because everyone has the same interest.

If varnasrama is implemented, then the positions in the varnas will be taken by those who are actually qualified for them. Varnasrama is practically very difficult to implement because the unqualified people presently in those positions will object to attempts to implement it.

We should be ambitious to serve guru and Krishna, and measure our advancement by our humility.

People appear to flourish by deceit, but that is not real flourishing. A mafia man may have a lot of money and a big house, but that does not mean he is successful.

When the disciples of Srila Prabhupada were so completely dedicated to his service, because of that dedication, their chanting was so pure.

Anyone who is more advanced than us is a guru.

Srila Prabhupada once explained that finding a guru is not as difficult as becoming a disciple.
If you apply what Krishna as the guru within has given, he will give you more, and ultimately he will give you an external guru.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura has written that the pure devotees are the back-benchers, the devotees who do all the work behind the scenes.

Nitai Carana Prabhu:

The demigods were so absorbed in the sense gratification of their assembly they neglected to respect their spiritual master, but the demons properly honored their guru, and so they become victorious over the demigods.

The quality of the spiritual master is not to curse anyone but to help them to come to a higher spiritual level, thus Brihaspati left the assembly of demigods without saying anything.

Bhakti Rasamrita Swami:

Surrender has connotations of humiliation, defeat, and disgrace. But spiritual surrender is victory, bliss, and supreme grace.

In the Gita, Krishna says He came to establish religion (4.8), yet he says to abandon all varieties of religion. How is that? Krishna came to teach the highest religion. Surrender to Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada explained that blind surrender will not sustain. It must be born of knowledge.
Even though Vyasadeva was such an enlightened soul he lamented when his son left home to seek Krishna.

A worthy disciple surrendering to a worthy spiritual master feels very happy.

It may seems as celibates we are giving up so many things of this world, but that is all ephemeral. What we get, however, is very tangible.

The most important quality of the Vaishnava is his complete surrender to Krishna.
There are main characteristics (svarupa-laksana) and marginal characteristics (tatastha-laksana). The only main characteristic of a Vaishnava is his complete surrender to Krishna.
The devotee is fearless due to his complete surrender to Krishna.

A brahmacari should be happy. That is the nature of a brahmacari. A brahmacari should not be morose.

On a very simple level surrender means obedience.

There is no spiritual life without accepting authority. Each of us follows an authority and some people accept us as an authority. In ISKCON no one has no authority. For the GBCs [Governing Body Commissioners] the whole GBC body is their authority. For Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is his authority.

Comment by Syamananda Prabhu: When someone complains that surrender is hard, I tell them that surrender is not so hard. We are always surrendered—only to maya or to Krishna.

Dayananda Swami:

In the material world everyone is egocentric, and so there is so much chaos. Prabhupada used the analogy of throwing pebbles into a pond to illustrate this. If all the pebbles are thrown in the same place the concentric waves will not interfere with each other, but if they are thrown in different places the ripples will all interfere with each other. When everyone tries to please the Lord it is like throwing all the pebbles in one place.

Sometimes we thinking pleasing our own mind is devotional service, but we must please the soul by pleasing the Supersoul.

What is our usual consciousness? Are with thinking about the body or the soul? That is why we talk of Krishna consciousness.

We cannot understand the material universe and the spiritual world beyond it anymore than an ant can understand what is going on in this room.

Faith is developed in this transcendental process in the association of those who are following it.

I went to a church on Sunday recently. There were ten people there. Churches are closing because having a business relationship, where we are seeking material benefits from God, does not satisfy the soul.

We have to come to understand that Krishna is the well-wishing friend of all living entities.

If we do not act according to the scripture, with our higher intelligence we will create more harm than the animals create as is evident in atrocities like the atom bombs exploded on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and chemical warfare.

There was one prisoner who read the Bhagavad-gita in the prison library. The devotees were not allowed to do programs in the prison so he had no one to explain the Gita to him. From his reading he came to the conclusion that there were three people he should kill when he got out of prison. That is a true story and shows why we need a devotee to explain Bhagavad-gita to us.

What is Krishna’s first instruction? To tolerate. (Bg. 2.14)

Suppose you hear some girl is asking questions about you. You would be attracted to know who is she. Similarly when we are asking about Krishna. He becomes attracted to know us.

Animal sacrifice was a program to gradually elevate the consciousness of those who take pleasure in killing to a higher level.

Before I was devotee, I considered myself fortunate to be able to eat beef, because a lot of people could not afford it.

At a program in England one Christian blasphemed Srila Prabhupada for glorifying the name of Krishna. Prabhupada asked Revatinandana Swami to answer. Revarinandana Swami prayed for inspiration, and spoke about how the Christians talk about love of God and loving thy neighbor but in reality they are killing animals and killing themselves. They are killing, killing, killing. Finally the Christian went away.

In America a person who had his own farm grew vegetables without chemical fertilizer and sold unpasteurized milk. He was put in jail for forty years. The penalty was so serious because the demoniac people in control want to discourage people from being self-sufficient so they can exploit them.

I saw a documentary on Borneo, a primitive culture. I learned they kill their elders when they 
become unproductive and eat them. That sounds outrageous, but the that mentality of killing the unproductive is there in our society there as far as the cows and oxen are concerned.

Lust is the original cause of envy.

Instead of being envious, we should think about how we can do good to the people.

The enlightened person does not try to enjoy this world nor does he try to renounce it. He just carries on with his devotional service.

Q: What if one has two authorities and they disagree?
A: If you have two authorities, they should negotiate so you do not get conflicting instructions.

We do not think of Yudhisthira Maharaja as a preacher, but he arranged for all the kings of the world to hear of and worship Krishna as the supreme person in the Rajasuya sacrifice.

By following the instructions of the great acaryas like Srila Prabhupada and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who had anxiety for pleasing Krishna, we can also develop such transcendental anxiety.

Srila Prabhupada, in the presence of the chief minister in Madras, hid a little statue of Krishna he received from him, from Sarasvati, the child of his servant, causing her to feel separation from Krishna, and causing all those watching to see a glimpse of what is anxiety of separation from Krishna.

A devotee must be sure he gets enough association and keeps himself spiritually and materially satisfied.

comment by Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu: Lack of facility facilitates surrender.

If there is too much facility that is not good as we tend to expect such a standard everywhere we go.

Prabodhananda Sarasvati Maharaja:

Bhagavatam is the essence of all Vedic literature.

Once one man asked Srila Prabhupada why just 200–300 people were hearing his Bhagavatam lecture although he was the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, while other reciters got thousands of people to hear. Srila Prabhupada said, “The other people are selling vegetables, and I am selling jewels, so which market has more people?”

The speaker of Bhagavatam must be free from the four primary sinful activities [meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling] and the four defects of a conditioned soul [imperfect senses, the tendency to make mistakes, the tendency to be illusioned, and the cheating propensity].

To understand the purport of Bhagavatam one must hear from one in the line of disciplic succession.

Even though Daksa cursed Narada, Narada continued to teach everyone the path of liberation.

The only business of the brahmacari is live in the ashram and to serve his guru. We chant everyday “guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya, ar na koriho mane asa.” We just want to serve the guru. We do not want anything else.

The disciple has faith that the guru is his only friend because he is representing Krishna.

Parasurama Prabhu [from a conversation]: Religion is for people who want to avoid going to hell, and spiritual life is for those who have already been there.

Mohnish [from a conversation]: Srila Prabhupada wanted 11 temples in Delhi alone.


nimna-ganam yatha ganga
devanam acyuto yatha
vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh?
purananam idam tatha

Just as the Ganges is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta [Krishna] the supreme among deities and Lord Shambhu [Shiva] the greatest of Vaishnavas, so Srimad-Bhagavatam [the Bhagavata Purana] is the greatest of all Puranas.” (SB 12.13.16)