Friday, August 10, 2012

Travel Journal#8.12: London Ratha-yatra, Stonehenge, and More

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 12
By Krishna-kripa das
(June 2012, part two
London Ratha-yatra, Stonehenge, and More
(Sent from Málaga, Spain, on Janmastami, August 10, 2012)

Where I Where and What I Did

London Ratha-yatra was wonderful as usual with a great parade, super prasadam, and various booths and a stage show that attracted people from all over the world. The next couple days, I did harinama in London, along with Sri Gadadhara and Trevor Prabhus, a couple new devotees I had been serving with in Newcastle. Next these friends and I joined with Parasurama Prabhu and his crew to go to Stonehenge for the annual solstice festival, joined by one attendee from the London Ratha-yatra I invited to come. Many people heard the holy name and took prasadam there on that cold, windy, and wet night. Then my little sankirtana party returned to London for a few more days of harinama. Trevor flew to Czech Republic, and on the way back to Newcastle, Sri Gadadhara, my remaining sankirtana partner, and I stopped in Leeds for their monthly Sunday feast. There the congregation pleasantly surprised me by joining us for an hour of harinama after the program. While waiting for the bus back to Newcastle the next morning, I took a break and chanted for a few minutes on the crowded sidewalks where the Olympic torch bearer was passing through Leeds. The final few days of the month we did harinama in Newcastle and nearby localities.

In the “Insights” section I include a great quote about spiritual pleasure from The Nectar of Devotion, and notes on a beautiful class given by Srila Prabhupada on Bhaktivinoda Thakura. It seems Candramauli Swami is making even better points in his lectures as the years go by. Hrdayananda Goswami makes wonderful observations about Srila Prabhupada and his intense desire that we all share the knowledge he gave us. Niranjana Swami shares observations about the simplicity of brahmacari life. Prahladananda Swami challenges materialistic science. Isana Gaura Prabhu speaks valuable words about bhakti, the holy name, and the Lord Krishna’s conversation with Uddhava, known as “Uddhava Gita.”

London Ratha-yatra

London Ratha-yatra was held on a beautiful day, such a relief from last year’s which was drenched with continuous rain. I talked to many people from a variety of countries. One young lady said she spent time with the devotees in Berlin recently and had attended Govinda’s restaurant in Soho when she previously lived in London. I told her about our program of chanting and food distribution on the Stonehenge solstice festival in a few days, and amazingly enough, she decided to come.

I loved the prasadam, especially the srikand. I had seconds or thirds, I cannot remember! Parasurama Prabhu who is in charge of the feast is determined to make a good impression on the public with great prasadam. The last kirtana on the stage was lively, and the audience was appreciating, including a couple of Scottish girls who were really charmed by it. Mahavishnu Swami did a harinama back to the Soho temple after the festival at Trafalgar Square.

Many people took great photos of London Ratha-yatra. I do not have time to look through them and choose the best, but I can share links to their galleries with you so you may look at them. Click on the picture or links below, to see the galleries:

Darshana Photo Art: London Ratha Yatra 2012

On YouTube there are many videos of London Ratha-yatra, if you want to get an idea of what it is like:

Stonehenge Solstice Festival

Parasurama Prabhu, who does transcendental food distribution in London on a daily basis, brings food and a chanting party to the Stonehenge solstice festival each year. These activities go on usually from midnight to six or seven in the morning on the day of the summer solstice, June 21. If the weather is good, which it wasn’t this year, he even has a Ratha-yatra for two hours, from one to three. This year was the worst weather in the three years I have gone. It started raining not long after we started our walking harinama to the stone, and it did not let for some time. We all got soaked. I did not bring any socks, fearing they would get soaked, but in retrospect I think wet socks would have been better than no socks, as my feet would have been warmer. There was a little shelter from the rain where we were serving the spiritual food, but I was so wet that the cold wind made me suffer so much I took shelter of the van and Giridhari Prabhu’s sleeping bag from four to six just to stay warm, out of fear of getting sick, and I missed the height of the event. Sri Gadadhara and Trevor Prabhus, the two newer devotees who were traveling with me, were able, along with three others, somehow or other, to continue chanting the whole time up to the stones and then back, and they said many people were happy to see them and to sing and dance with them as usual. Someone took the following video of them and posted it on YouTube:

One blogger, Ross Merritt, commented on the devotees, “The hardcore, Hare Krishna types were there as usual, who for some reason were singing their mantra in the tune of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’! They must be trying to reach out to a new fan base!”

One young lady named Paola, originally from Italy, who I met at the London Ratha-yatra, came with us to Stonehenge. She did not get as wet as we did because she did not go on the initial chanting party, helping to distribute food instead. Despite the bad weather, she had a positive experience, meeting the devotees, distributing prasadam, and helping the Indian ladies cook at the Manor before we left for Stonehenge. She told Parasurama Prabhu she would help him distribute prasadam in London sometimes.

Other Harinamas in England


I heard there was going to be a weekend warrior program in Croydon the Saturday after the London Ratha-yatra to advertise the Croydon Ratha-yatra the following day. Those programs usually involve chanting, book distribution, and talking to people about spiritual topics, so I generally like to go to them. Jai Nitai Prabhu, temple president of our Soho temple encouraged me to go to the one in Croydon, although I would have preferred to help my friend Giridhari Prabhu do a similar program in Ilford to advertise their spiritual cultural program to be held the following Thursday. It turns out neither of the two new devotees traveling with me wanted to go, no one else from the temple wanted to go. And when I got there, I found that no one else was there. I had gotten the number of the local contact person, so I explained that I was there and was determined to play my harmonium for three hours and chant, and if they supplied invitations for the next day’s Ratha-yatra I would gladly distribute them, and so they did. While I was chanting, waiting for the invitations, one jovial, black man came up to me, saying he wanted to give a donation. Noticing I had no receptacle for donations, he suggested if I get a bowl to put donations in, I would collect more money. I just wanted to chant and did not want to go shopping for a bowl. So, noticing there was a 99 pence store across the way, I suggested he might purchase a bowl for me as a donation. And so he did, placing the bowl before me with his penny in change being my first donation. By the end of the three hours, I collected over 27 pounds ($42) , more than covering the 8 pounds it cost me to get there and back. Some people, both Indians and Englishmen, simply seeing me chanting came up and asked about the Ratha-yatra, and others were happy to learn of the event for the first time. An Indian man from the Croydon congregation stopped by and helped by distributing the invitations as I sang for half an hour or so. As Janananda Goswami paid for my trip to London and the London temple paid for my trip to Croydon, I did not need to collect for my expenses, and so I gave all the money to the temple, and they used it to sponsor books for distribution. I learned from this experience that if you are determined to do your service despite all impediments, that Krishna definitely reciprocates.


After the monthly Sunday feast in Leeds, England, seven members of the congregation greatly inspired me by joining me and my friend Sri Gadadhara in chanting all around the center of the city for an hour. It was wonderful to see the devotees’ spiritual enthusiasm generated from the Sunday program utilized in sharing Krishna with others. We passed out many invitations to their weekly Tuesday evening program during the harinama. The post-feast program harinama reminded me of Kharkov, Ukraine, where devotees do two hours of chanting through the streets of their city after their weekly Sunday feast. When you think about it, for many devotees, especially those in the congregation, their greatest participation in devotional service to the Lord for the whole week comes from the weekly programs and so they are most appreciative of the value of Krishna consciousness in their life at this time. Therefore, it is actually the best time for them to engage in an activity like harinama, which involves sharing one’s enthusiasm for Krishna consciousness with others.

The next morning I took a break from waiting for my bus to Newcastle to play harmonium and chant Hare Krishna for a few minutes for a crowd watching the Olympic torch bearer run through the streets of Leeds. I followed the torch bearer for a block, along with several others. As I passed, one uniformed man smiled and shouted with confidence, “Gouranga!” I smiled back. I had heard that devotees from Scotland put up posters for years in Scotland, and perhaps The North of England as well, which said “Chant Gouranga!” Apparently this man took it seriously, and he was one of few who knew that the Hare Krishna’s were behind this “Chant Gouranga” campaign.

Newcastle area:

Soon after we returned to Newcastle, one day a boy named David joined us, chanting with us for a few minutes near the monument. Sri Gadadhara told me that while I was traveling to Manchester, David had met the harinama in Newcastle and come to the Sunday program. He was happy to meet the devotees again, and said he would again come by the temple.

On Thursday we did a one and a half hour harinama in Chester Le Street, near Newcastle. The sky grew dark, and it started to rain, so we left quickly. Later Prema Sankirtana Prabhu saw this video of the town posted on the internet.

Seeing the video reminded me of this verse, yajñat bhavati parjanyo, rains are produced by performance of yajña [sacrifice] (Bg. 3.14).

After narrowly escaping the inundation at Chester Le Street, we went to Sunderland, and chanted for another half hour without disturbance by the rain. It was only in the evening when we returned to Newcastle and saw many abandoned cars stuck on the roads and lakes of water covering the pavement that we realized the magnitude of the storm Krishna had protected us from, while at the same time facilitating our


Srila Prabhupada:

from The Nectar of Devotion:

Without relishing some sort of mellow or loving mood in one’s activities, no one can continue to perform such activities. Similarly, in the transcendental life of Krishna consciousness in devotional service there must be some mellow or specific taste from the service. Generally this mellow is experienced by chanting, hearing, worshiping in the temple and being engaged in the service of the Lord. So when a person feels transcendental bliss, this is called ‘relishing the mellow.’ (The Nectar of Devotion, p. 152)

from a lecture on Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

Just as there is a material genealogical succession, there is a spiritual succession.

The Vedic injunction is not to acquire knowledge by speculation. That is useless. It is simply a waste of time. For thousands of years you can speculate, and you will never know God. You must approach a guru.

Although Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a grihastha (married man], he was guru. It does not matter about one’s material position. It does not matter. Anyone who knows the science can become guru.

Spiritual life means reducing eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. One should not sleep more than five to six hours. Sleeping is not a very important thing. Even some politicians sleep no more than two hours. Bhaktivinoda Thakura would rise at midnight.

Bhaktivinoda wrote a hundred books, sent books to foreign countries, gave instruction about developing Mayapur, and discovered Lord Caitanya’s birthplace.

Everyone should be educated in spiritual knowledge. There is a need for acaryas, spiritual teachers.

Prasadam is less available at the Jagannatha temple than formerly as the present administrators do not appreciate the value of it. Previously there were no restaurants since people could always get prasadam at the temples.

The rascal Bisika Sena said to Bhaktivinoda, “Jagannath is made of wood. I am directly the Supreme Lord Vishnu.” Thus Bhaktivinoda Thakura became angry, and understanding he was a cheater, had him arrested.
As you approach an important man through his secretary, you must approach God through a guru.

You cannot just study scriptures. There are different scriptures. The Bible was spoken in a desert region to people who were not very advanced. There was so much killing. They even tried to kill Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as a medical book is available in the market, but you have to study in the medical college. You cannot say. “I have read all the medical books you should recognize me as a doctor.” In the same way, you cannot just read the scriptures and understand God. You need a guru.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote many important books such as Caitanya Siksamrita and Jaiva Dharma.

We are honoring Bhaktivinoda Thakura today so that we may get his blessings. Simply by the blessings of the acaryas, the great spiritual teachers, we get the mercy of the Lord.

We should try to become servant of the servant. We should not approach the Lord directly.

If one says he is God. He is a false guru.

Our Krishna consciousness is very bona fide because we say what Krishna says.

Anyone who is inquisitive to understand the highest knowledge requires a guru.

First-class knowledge is to know I am the eternal servant of Krishna and to engage in Krishna’s service. Second-class knowledge aspires for liberation and third-class knowledge is knowledge of how to be comfortable in this world, like the animals have.

We are to educate people of this opportunity to attain spiritual perfection in this human form of life. Unfortunately in the schools and universities people do not have the opportunity to study this science.

a Prabhupada memory:

Janananda Goswami drove Srila Prabhupada to Bhaktivedanta Manor. During the trip Srila Prabhupada merely asked one question, “How are the cows?” This indicates how important cows are to a pure devotee of Krishna.

Candramauli Swami:

A person born in a family of doctors cannot claim to be a doctor on the strength of that birth without going to medical school, becoming certified, and actually practicing medicine. In the same way, one cannot be considered a brahmana simply by being born in a family of brahmanas.

After Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura spoke so expertly about the qualities of the brahmana and the qualities of a Vaishnava and the relationship between them that the caste brahmanas realized there was nothing they could say to establish their erroneous viewpoint, they left the assembly.

It is not enough to eat pradasam, but one should also avoid eating food that is not prasadam.

Simply defeating someone is not preaching. Changing someone’s heart is preaching.

A devotee may avoid hostile people, but he does not consider them to be enemies.

Success can be more dangerous than reverses because one can become proud of success and commit offenses and make other mistakes.

A devotee is steady. He does not take a break from devotional service for variety’s sake, thinking, “When I return to devotional service, it will be fresh again.”

In 1976 because people with second initiation were leaving, Srila Prabhupada said that one must take the Bhakti-sastri course before accepting second initiation (brahmana initiation). We are just beginning to implement that now.

To tell a half-truth to protect a person from being hurt is not considered lying.

Suffering is a state of consciousness. It is a question of how one perceives a situation that makes it a cause of suffering.

According to Manu-samhita, a businessman is not supposed to make more than 25% profit.

The some of twelve qualities of a brahmana:

jnanam satyam ca damah srutam ca
hy amatsaryam hris titiksanasuya
yajnas ca danam ca dhrtih samas ca
maha-vrata dvadasa brahmanasya

  1. knowledgable
  2. truthful
  3. sense controlled
  4. has heard from authority
  5. without enemies
  6. modest
  7. tolerant
  8. performs yajnas (sacrifices)
  9. charitable
  10. steadiness
  11. peaceful
  12. celibate

Hridayananda Dasa Goswami [from a lecture given at the LA Prabhupada Festival]:

Srila Prabhupada would introduce himself as the founder-acarya of ISKCON.

In every venue and in every forum in which Prabhupada spoke, he quoted Lord Caitanya’s verse ordering everyone to become a guru. In discussing it he would regularly explain that become a guru was simple—one simply had to repeat what Krishna has said. He did not make a distinction between diksa [initiating] and siksa [instructing] gurus.

The greatest guru of all was Lord Caitanya, and he was a siksa guru and not a diksa guru.

Only to businessmen did Prabhupada suggest that they did not have to become diksa gurus immediately.

Prabhupada’s fear was not that we would become gurus but that we would not become gurus.

The good news is: In Srila Prabhupada’s most important role, as founder-acarya of ISKCON, Gaura-Nitai’s emissary, we all have equal access to him.

Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita 18.68–69: “Those who explain this secret among the devoted, having rendered the highest service, will attain Me. No one is more dear to me, nor will there ever be one more dear.”

Everyone has to find what he can do in his life to spread this knowedge. That is Prabhupada’s desire.

I never saw Srila Prabhupada when he was doing anything other than trying to spread Krishna consciousness. Ever since he met his guru that was his focus.

There cannot be a movement made up of people who are not individually moving.” We have to be advancing. We must do japa or kirtana each day in such a way that we are advancing. When have group of advancing people with increasing enthusiasm, you get unstoppable irresistible force which is Prabhupada’s Hare Krishna movement.

When we are inviting people to our temple, we are in effect telling them their life is not complete without taking up this practice.

If we are moving ourselves, and not stagnating, then we have the right to ask other people to move.

You can drive yourself crazy worrying about your own desires, or you can stop the nonsense and put Srila Prabhupada’s desires in the center of you life, and if you do that,
Prabhupada will empower you to convince others to do that.

[If you would like to hear the Hridayananda Maharaja lecture yourself, you can find it at: ]

from a letter to his disciple Ali Krishna Devi Dasi: “The quality of our lives cannot exceed the quality of our japa.

Niranjana Swami:

from a lecture to Chowpatty brahmacaris:

If we are satisfied with the simplicity of Krishna consciousness, then we are very fortunate.

If we are satisfied with just what Srila Prabhupada gave us that is very good.

Real renunciation means attachment to these simple activities of Krishna consciousness.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said in the age of Kali, brahmacaris will remain brahmacaris because household life is too difficult. But that is not a reason to be a brahmacari. If you are meditating on the potential difficulties of household life, you will not be able to relish the simple activities of devotional service as a brahmacari and you will not be satisfied.

Prahladananda Swami:

The purport of all this literature is to convince us that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and then to understand that we are His eternal servants.

For Krishna to hold up Govardhan Hill for a week is not difficult. In Bhagavad-gita 15.13, Krishna says He enters each planet and keeps them in orbit.

Brahma-samhita describes how the sun moves in its orbit by the grace of Govinda.

In my college someone got a grant for $80,000 back in the 1960s to research why spiders build webs. They came to the conclusion that the purpose was to catch flies.

Any wild speculation can be considered in academia except the idea that behind everything is a supreme person.

No one has been able to create a machine that produces its own parts. Imagine a lawn mower that could take grass and produce blades!

Imagine if scientists could produce male Rolls Royces and female Rolls Royces that could get together and produce little Rolls Royces that grow up to become big ones?

If people are really trying to be scientific they should at least consider the possibility the there could be a supreme person beyond everything.

If you tell a big enough lie, long enough, people will accept it. This has happened in the case of materialistic science.

Srila Prabhupada would challenge people who say the universe came by chance, “What do you spend so much time studying? What not sit at home and by chance you might get a Ph.D.? Why work so many hours? What not sit at home and by chance you might get your paycheck?”

Krishna’s plan is to take everyone back to the spiritual kingdom, and our plan is to stay material world as long as possible.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from Shack Notes:

Srila Prabhupada sometimes spoke of his disciples as experiencing advanced states of Krishna consciousness by chanting and dancing and serving without fatigue or remuneration. ‘It is not material, it is not ordinary.’ He especially liked to inform audiences in India about ‘these American and European boys and girls’ who were fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness. We should not reject this estimation but live up to it.”

Govardhan Dasi [commenting on a lecture]:

In the class I was teaching at public school where I work, I asked students to do a poster for or against vegetarianism. Although the students were all meat eaters, all but two did pro-vegetarian posters.

Dayananda Swami:

Because Nrsimha Tirtha Prabhu [who is getting brahmana initiation] has the quality of humility, he has been able to take instruction and therefore progress quickly. I see he has taken a lot of responsibility in last couple of years.

Isana Gaura Prabhu:

If you are attracted to devotees, that means you are a devotee.

The four syllables Gauranga are exactly the same as “Hare Krishna.”

Lord Caitanya, having tasted the ecstasy of love of Krishna and seeing the people in general bereft of such ecstasy, felt the desire to share it with them.

Just chanting the Hare Krishna will give us liberation, and chanting with affection will give us love of God.

from a seminar on “Uddhava Gita”:

To absorb ourselves in Krishna we have to renounce material nature.

One has potency if he practices what he preaches.

Bharata, the son of Rsabha, was considered advanced because he rejected the material world.

The nine yogendras, masters of yoga, worked vigorously although already perfect. King Nimi asked each of the nine a different question.

The top of the universe is light and warm and the bottom is dark, cold, and wet.

The yaksas do not like to give out money so they are engaged in treasury work.

Sacrifices should be performed according to the direction of a brahmana. In the Hare Krishna movement that brahmana is Srila Prabhupada.

The fear is inside you. You do not realize it, but if someone entered this room with a gun, it would arise, just like that. Only by worshiping the Supreme Lord can you become free from this fear.

The heavenly beings can tone down their effulgence so it is not blinding.

So many instructions are there in Gita and in the Bhagavatam, and we have the personal examples of Lord Caitanya and His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. Our behavior is perfect if we follow these.

It is stated if one commits offenses he has no taste to chant and dance in kirtana.

Rama Nrsimha Prabhu [from a conversation]:

Like Parasurama says, “You can do your time [in prison] or you can do community service.” In the same way, instead of doing your karma, you can do devotional service.

Srinivasa Dasa:

Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu came to destroy five kinds of ignorance:
1. identification with body
2. thinking sense pleasure is the standard of happiness
3. lamentation
4. identification with the material
5. to consider there is something beyond the Absolute Truth


ataeva ami ajna dilun sabakare
yahan tahan prema-phala deha’ yare tare

[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:] “Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krishna consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 9.36)