Monday, August 20, 2012

Travel Journal#8.13: The North of England, Dublin, and Belfast

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 13
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2012, part one)
The North of England, Dublin, and Belfast
(Sent from New Shantipur Farm, Czarnów, Poland, on August 20, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

The first week of July I spent in Newcastle doing harinama with Sri Gadadhara Prabhu, and sometimes joined by Prema Sankirtana Prabhu, and once also with photographer, Bhakta Lauris. As usual, sometimes we chanted in Newcastle itself and sometimes in neighboring regions. Next we went to the monthly Manchester harinama, the second Sunday of the month. GBC of the UK Praghosa Prabhu was there, and I got to tell him about my new program of working in his region in the summers under the direction of Janananda Goswami. Brahmacaris from the Bhaktivedanta Manor were visiting and did harinamas with us in Manchester on Monday and Leeds on Tuesday. Wednesday was a wild day traveling from Leeds to Manchester to help with a program for elementary students, and then going to Sheffield for the afternoon harinama and evening program, and then taking a train to Birmingham to catch a bus to Dublin. I spent a few days in Dublin and Belfast chanting three hours almost every day with my new harinama partner, a disciple of Maha-Vishnu Swami, Ananta Nitai Prabhu.

I share a couple quotes from Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami about the most sacred place in the world, and Srila Prabhupada’s explanation for why certain activities are considered sinful. I include insights from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami from a variety of his books. Yadunandana Swami came to Dublin and shared some insights which I include. The question of remembering Krishna at the time of death and the potential problem of Alzheimer’s disease generated an interesting discussion and devotees share some real life stories about that. GBC Praghosa Prabhu at the Manchester Sunday Feast glorified Srila Prabhupada and encouraged us to follow his example. My harinama partners also share some interesting realizations in their classes.

I apologize for the lack of photos to illustrate this issue. My camera died, and I was not enthusiastic enough to ask the devotee photographers for the pictures they took at the time. I tried writing some of them by email later, asking for pictures, but no one responded.

More Harinamas in The North of England

We chanted in Sunderland and three boys, perhaps ten or twelve or so, amazed us by trying to chant and for dancing with us for fifteen minutes. One was especially fired up. Later Sri Gadadhara Prabhu sold a Bhagavad-gita to a couple girls who reminded us of the hippie era by their dress and behavior. They maintained themselves by face painting and Tarot card reading. They joined our harinama and chanted and danced so in such a lively way as we passed through the streets and malls of Sunderland, it was as though they were brahmacarinis from one of our ashrams.

In Manchester we had such a fired up harinama that two or three young Muslim ladies danced right in the middle of one of two facing lines of dancing devotees who were repeatedly coming together, jumping, and moving apart. Although Muslim ladies are often attracted, usually they just smile, take pictures, or dance with their friends a little distant from our party, but this time they were right in the thick of it. At the same time, a couple of visiting Italian girls, also danced in one of the lines of dancing devotees at one end. One man from Kuwait was watching when the Muslim ladies danced and spoke disapprovingly about them to me, saying they were from Pakistan and were setting a bad example for Muslim ladies. His comment seemed a little humorous to me, perhaps because I had not encountered such internal disagreements among the Muslims before.

Sutapa Prabhu and a van load of devotees from Bhaktivedanta Manor were visiting the Manchester area, and we did an amazing four hours of harinama in downtown Manchester on Monday and then harinama for a couple of hours in Leeds on Tuesday before the evening program there. Having all the extra devotees made the kirtana at the Leeds program very lively. As a result of a good experience, Sutapa Prabhu is considering coming to The North of England with some of his party more often to assist the outreach up there.

Manchester Program for School Students

Tribhangananda Prabhu does programs for school children who come to the temple to learn about Hinduism. He makes it really interactive for them by having them dress up as avatars, demigods and demigoddess, and having them hold dolls of different Hindu deities, and pass them around the room. Then he talks about the qualities and activities of each deity. I was surprised that some of the students remembered details of the Ramayana from their Hinduism class at school and were able to identify some of the personalities from it. Sri Gadadhara Prabhu and I played a brief role by leading kirtana for the kids and demonstrating the musical instruments. The kids and their teachers all get prasadam afterward. You could see that both the students and the teachers liked the program. It was impressive to me that the teachers expressed appreciation that my friend and I had taken time out of our lives just to sing for them. As it was, by running and taking two buses, I made it to the train station just two minutes before my train to Sheffield, but my friend, who was less determined, missed his flight to Czech.

Sheffield Harinama and Program

I like Sheffield because you can always count on some of the local devotees to come on harinama. Kay, the leader, and her daughter Radha, are almost always there. Another young man is very steady as well. Radha was scheduled to work but asked for the rest of the afternoon off because it was a slow day, and her boss gave it to her. Mark, who had not been coming around for awhile, saw me when I was chanting alone in the beginning, and he passed out flyers for me. When the others came, he continued with the harinama, and later came to the program. Four girls danced as they walked by the harinama, and then again when they passed by in the other direction. While Radha was singing, she encouraged three girls who were friends to participate. First the girls danced, and then they chanted, and they had a great time. At the program a new lady from India who heard about our ISKCON program from a student at the university, and who knew the devotees from Bangalore, came, stayed the whole time, bought some beads and made a vow to chant one round a day. Steven from Ghana, a regular at that program, and a taxi driver, gave me a complimentary ride to the train. As I reached the train to Sheffield, just two minutes before its departure, which caused me too much anxiety, this time we got there seven minutes early.

Dublin Harinamas

Premarnava and Ananta Nitai Prabhu have a regular program of going out every day on harinama for an hour or an hour and a half, sometimes joined by Mayesvara Prabhu, and so it was great to have their association. Ananta Nitai, in particular, did not mind increasing to three hours almost every day. We chanted in Dublin a couple of days, once assisted by Yadunandana Swami who was visiting and Mayesvara Prabhu, a regular.

Belfast Harinamas

Ananta Nitai Prabhu and I went to the usual Belfast harinama stop after arriving from Dublin by bus, as we had invited the temple devotees to join us there. Soon Bhaktin Annete, who loves distributing books on harinama, appeared and later Satya Rupa Devi, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who had moved to Ireland from Australia since I visited last year.

The next day we decided to do harinama before the Sunday feast for two and a half hours. This time, Shyama Mayi Devi, a regular on last year’s harinamas who had chanted with our Mayapur harinama party this spring, came out along with Annete. The advantage to pre-Sunday feast harinamas is that the interested people you meet can come back to the temple for the program, and this time it actually happened. A man, perhaps in his forties or fifties, who seemed to be on a spiritual search, came back with us by bus to the temple for the Sunday lecture, kirtana, and feast. I decided to sit with him during the feast, as no one else seemed very interested in talking to him. I asked what he thought of the philosophy, and he said he liked it. Because of his interest, I suggested that Ananta Nitai Prabhu might try to sell him a book. And so he did, not one, but four, and the man gave a 60 pound donation, almost $100. I saw it as Krishna encouraging us in our humble attempts to do outreach.

Monday, another enthusiastic devotee lady, Rukmamati Devi, who is a full-time pujari, joined the harinama, along with one of the other ladies, and Shyama Mayi joined us on Tuesday. I suggested to the four ladies who had come out on harinama over the four days we were there that they arrange their service schedules so they could go out on harinama two or three times a week, as they all were very happy to be chanting in the streets again, and I hope they do.

Next we went to Govindadvipa to chant with Bhagavata Dasi, a very enthusiastic devotee lady who is somewhere around sixty years in age, but still loves to go chanting in the towns near our temple there.


Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami [from Govinda-lilamrita]:

Describing the arena of Lord Krishna’s rasa dance:

Beneath a kalpa-druma tree [desire tree] is a palace wherein Lord Krishna’s jeweled throne is situated in a sacred place, and where the Agama-sastra explains the Lord has multitudes of pastimes with the gopis. It is also said that in this monarch of all places that by seeing Lord Govinda one would attain the qualities of Radharani and Her gopi friends with great joy.”

[Glorifying the names of Krishna is performed by the gopis, Krishna’s greatest devotees:]
By playing on His flute Lord Krishna announced His desire to enjoy the rasa dance. The gopis responded by singing various songs glorifying Lord Krishna’s names. These songs greatly pleased the Lord.”

Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture in Bombay, February 24, 1974:

Why are meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling considered sinful? Because they force the soul to accept another body, which is the source of misery.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from Prabhupada Meditations IV:

?It has been almost fourteen years since Prabhupada left us. We are getting older physically, but we are still spiritual infants. We have so much to learn. We pray to Prabhupada for better vision. Arjuna prayed for the eyes to see the Universal Form; we need the eyes to see what is in Prabhupada’s books. We need to understand the deeper meanings of Krishna consciousness. This doesn’t mean that Prabhupada didn’t give us everything. It only means that we have failed to recognize it.”

from his journal, Viraha Bhavan, for July 16, 2012:

nice when sadhus
dance so beautifully, like
Lord Caitanya did.
It enhances the performance
of sankirtana and induces
onlookers to appreciate and
even participate.

from Karttika Papers:

This is Mayapura where
you can commit offenses.
Everything you do is blessed
The Two Brothers Reign.
They bring you to gopi-bhava.

Prabhupada said, “Death is not
wonderful. Life is wonderful. And
this is life, Krsna consciousness.”

We need to take a break from the arduous duties and just hear the pastimes of Krsna.

from Journal and Poems, Volume One:

?In 1977 when Prabhupada was quite ill, he attended a big pandal in Bombay. He had to be carried onto the stage and the audience could see that he was physically diminished. Yet Prabhupada never preached more powerfully. At one of those programs, a man asked, ‘What about health?’ Prabhupada replied, ‘What is health? You’re going to die, so how can you be considered healthy?’ So one of the things I seem to be gaining during this recuperation period is the deepening realization that I’m going to die. I’m trying to recoup a little strength so that I can go on for many more years, but there’s no question of reversing the incurable process of aging unto death. Although this truth should be commonly understood, many have not realized it.

from Vrindavana Writing:

I want to taste the nectar so I can become like a maddened bee and remain always in the lotus of Your confidential pastimes. O Lord, I do not know anything but the spiritual masters who guide me are enticing me toward the goal. I’m not happy to be chanting and hearing without feeling the ecstasy of attraction for You. I am ashamed that this is my condition. I beg You to please relieve me of that shame.

Dear Lord, if there are obstacles to be removed before You grant me this request, then I further request that You show me those obstacles and teach me to surmount them. Give me the courage and intelligence to overcome a weak heart.

If You think I require more time to ripen before You will find me an enjoyable and attractive servant in Your pastimes, then I only ask to be allowed to associate in this world with devotees who have a deep affection for Srimati Radharani. Please allow me to serve those devotees life after life and to learn from them how to return to Her lotus feet.”

Yadunandana Swami:

The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the most glorious scripture because of its focus on describing the birth and activities of the Lord. Of its 335 chapters, the 90 chapters comprising the Tenth Canto deal with the pastimes of Krishna and the Eleventh Canto of over 30 chapters deals the legacy and final instructions of Krishna.

A teacher of nonviolent communications teaches we must know our own needs, and the needs of the others and then figure out how to connect with others, knowing this. The pleasure comes from connecting with others. Our first business in spiritual realization is sambandha, understanding our connection with and connecting with Krishna.

Now there is talk of a God particle. This means that the scientists directly or indirectly conscious of God. The function of the particle is to sustain matter, and that is one of God’s attributes.

One of Ramanujacarya’s gurus had the power to ask the Deity a question and have the Deity reply with an answer.  Someone asked him to ask the Deity, “What happens if your devotee cannot remember you at the time of death?” The Deity replied, “If the devotee does not remember Me at the time of death, I will remember my devotee.”

comment by Ananta Nitai Prabhu: My mother had Alzheimer’s disease, and at a certain point, she would just repeat what anyone said. I just chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, two words at a time, and she would repeat them, until she would say, “O stop!” Then I would try one more mantra, and when she would not complain, I would continue. After I while she would say, “O stop!” again. Then I would try one more mantra, and she would again not complain, so I would continue. This went on until she was too tired to say anything. Later my sister said she would sometimes hear my mother chanting the entire Hare Krishna mantra. This was amazing to me as usually someone with that condition  cannot remember anything, so I think this is evidence of Krishna giving her some special mercy.

comment by Mayesvara Prabhu: One devotee in Dublin had Alzheimer’s disease. Once he was in a large store, and he got separated from his wife, and he could not remember his own name nor who he had come with to have the store authorities make an announcement. He got the idea to say the Hare Krishna into microphone so his caretaker would understand what happened. Later when his wife could not longer take care of him, he lived in a home with others who required assistance. Many people in that situation in the same home were angry and bitter but he was peaceful and appeared effulgent. His wife would bring him prasadam and garlands from the Deities, and she wiped his face with Ganges water.

comment by me: Malati Prabhu told in a morning class of a devotee seamstress in New Vrindavana, who after a long absence due to Alzheimer’s disease, again took darsana of the Lord, for whom she had made outfits for years. Malati said, “I was surprised to see her absorption in the Deities. She saw me looking at her, and turned to me, saying, ‘You may try to forget Krishna, but Krishna will not forget you.’”

Most of us have both divine and demoniac qualities.

Divine means to follow the instructions of God given in the scriptures.

The life of the soul in the material world is a dilemma. And spiritual life is also a dilemma.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               When we are preaching, we should consider where we are at, and preach what we have realized. It is important to be balanced and consistence. We must communicate Krishna’s message without hypocrisy.

Today is a birthday party. Devotees are special souls, and it is good to take advantage of such opportunities to glorify them. We wish the devotee a long life in Krishna consciousness.

Praghosa Prabhu (GBC UK):

In the spiritual world the bliss is every increasing yet we decided to come to the place of misery, the material world.

There was nothing in Prabhupada’s life that was separated from his mission.

Past the age of retirement, Prabhupada left India to share this knowledge with the world. He had no doubts about his mission. He knew people were suffering, and he wanted to help them.

If we do not have faith that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we cannot convince others. Therefore, Prabhupada challenged his leaders, “Are you convinced?”

There are so many words for suffering because it is a constant for everyone in this material world.

None of us are really comfortable in our bodies.

Nature programs are very popular yet if you think about it, all you see the different animals doing is four things, eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.

Radhanatha Swami’s father has 200 channels on his TV, but he is not satisfied as it is difficult to remember which had the best program.

Tell all your friends about Krishna in a way that makes them more attracted to Krishna.

The only reciprocation Prabhupada wanted is that we pass what he gave us.

Ananta Nitai Prabhu:

I always liked harinama, the congregational chanting in public, but it was not until I read what Aindra Prabhu wrote that I understood its great importance.

We cannot judge devotees externally. Externals do not represent the internal mood of the devotee, but it is the internal mood that Krishna reciprocates with.

Krishna’s statements in the Gita are enacted in His pastimes.

Tribhuvanatha Prabhu said, for the spiritually ignorant, a husband and wife love each other’s false ego at best.

Conditioned souls identify either with their bodies or their minds. Fearfulness arises from either identifying ourselves with our body or our mind. When we come in contact with the Lord, this fearfulness is annihilated.

The essence of life is to transcend death and that is the knowledge this Hare Krishna movement is giving.

The more pious we are, the less fearful of death we become, and the more sinful we are the more afraid of death we become.

The more selfless you become, the less you worry about the source of miseries which are in relationship the body.

There was a Christian Bible-Belt family who had a kid at an early age who remembered details of a previous life as a fighter pilot. He listed names and details of different aircraft. The family researched it to disprove the idea of reincarnation, but they became convinced of it.

Scientists describe the body functioning in terms of chemical reactions only, but can you show me a chemical reaction that is aware of itself?

One reason people like dogs because the dogs will not reject them.

comment by Annete: I see that when I am distributing books that some people are so glad to talk to me just because they are so lonely. Sometimes they take a book just because they are happy I talked to them.

comment by Guru Das from the Manor in another Srimad-Bhagavatam class: One’s mind wanders in proportion to one’s lack of desire to surrender to Krishna.

Nrsimha Tirtha Prabhu:

At the ceremony when the child is first offered grains, Narottama Thakura Dasa, as baby, refused to eat the grains because they were not offered to Krishna.

Lord Nityananda Prabhu, the original guru, took Narottama Thakura Dasa, as a youth, to the Padma River, to receive the love of God that Lord Caitanya had deposited there for him.

Narottama Thakura installed the deities in Khettari so the devotees there would make steady advancement by regularly serving the Lord.

Bhugarbha Goswami would chant within the earth, in a cave or underground, to make sure no one would disturb him, and that is why he is called Bhugarbha.

The pure devotees think they are fallen, but that motivates them to do more devotional service.

The acaryas, the great spiritual teachers, are looking for their faults in order to correct themselves, and that is expressed in their songs.

Sri Gadadhara Prabhu:

When we do our work for Krishna, it becomes an art.

Krishna consciousness is simple. Do your work for the gratification of Krishna’s senses not your own.

One householder devotee said, “Do not talk about love until you have been married for 15 years,” the purport being that without staying together and serving each other for a long time, through happiness and distress, there is no question of love.

Srila Prabhupada explained nonviolence as working for the spiritual benefit of everyone, but unless we engage in devotional service, we cannot do this. So not to engage in devotional service is actually violence.

Aindra Prabhu said simplicity is to follow whatever the Lord tells us from within.


prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

[Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:] “In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.” (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126)