Saturday, August 25, 2012

Travel Journal#8.14: Ireland, Paris, Switzerland

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 14
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2012, part two
Ireland, Paris, Switzerland
(Sent from New Shantipur Farm, Czarnów, Poland, on August 25, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

After chanting in Dublin and Belfast, Ananta Nitai and I went to Govindadvipa to chant at a couple towns near our Krishna island, namely Enniskillen, Northern Island, and Cavan, Ireland, with Bhagavata Dasi, who has great enthusiasm for sharing Krishna. Then we returned to Dublin for the 12-hour harinama that we organized for that coming Saturday. After a few more days of harinama in Dublin, I went to chant for three days with my friends in Paris. Then I went to Langenthal, Switzerland, for the Saturday feast program, and to Zurich for the Sunday Jhulan Yatra festival and harinama on Monday. Then off to Berlin enroute to Kostrzyn, Poland, for my twelfth year at the Polish Woodstock festival which I describe in my next journal.

I share insights from a variety of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s books, which are quoted in his online journal, Viraha Bhavan, which I regularly proofread, from Gour Govinda Swami’s disciple, Madhavananda Prabhu, who was visiting Paris, from Bhakti-sastri teacher, Adi Purusa Prabhu, who was visiting Zurich, and from my harinama partners in Dublin and Paris. I also include the experience of a man I met on a bus who met the Hare Krishna devotees at a festival.

Harinamas in Ireland

Invited by Bhagavata Dasi, Ananta Nitai Prabhu and I went to Govindadvipa to do harinamas in two nearby towns, Enniskillen, in Northern Ireland, and Cavan, in the Republic.

In Enniskillen, devotees chant in a little pedestrian area in the center of the town. The people were more appreciative and more charitable in general than the people in Cavan the next day. Bhagavata Dasi had some small books we gave all those who gave a donation, no matter how small. We did, however, encounter one macabre surprise, a fight between two women, perhaps in their twenties or thirties, no more than three meters in front of where we were chanting. One knocked the other down on the ground and was shouting and punching her out, to the horror of her son, who was standing, helpless, nearby. The one on the ground ended up with a bloody nose. No one intervened in the fight, other than a man who said a few words to no avail. The woman who was knocked down had her belongings scattered, and some people helped her pick them up, including the women who punched her out, who found her cell phone a little ways away and returned it to her. Five policemen came and interrogated the aggressive lady. It was truly a bizarre scene. I was singing and playing the harmonium at the time, so I just kept on chanting, as it was not clear what else I could really do. No one seemed to have a better idea. For me, it was just another example of how degrading humanity is becoming?that one woman would beat up another and that no one would try to intervene and prevent injury.

In Cavan the next day we had another great location in the center of the town where we chanted another three hours. The temple president, Gopal Acarya Prabhu, and his family encouraged us by coming out for the first hour or so. The best part was a young man coming up to the devotees, looking for Bhagavad-gita, and giving twenty euros. Otherwise, except for a few smiles, there was not a great response.

Twelve-Hour Harinama in Dublin

The previous week, Ananta Nitai Prabhu suggested that we might do a twenty-four hour harinama in Dublin. Thinking back on how I always have to take a break for three hours to get some rest during the twenty-four hour kirtanas, I suggested we start with a twelve-hour harinama. We settled on a week from Saturday, specifically, Saturday, July 21, and Premarnava Prabhu advertised it on Facebook, and we told all our harinama friends. I was most impressed by the participation of Ananta Nitai Prabhu himself, who participated for at least eleven hours, and the participation of a couple of devotee ladies from out of town, who we had chanted with during our brief tour of Ireland. Bhagavata Dasi took the bus two hours each way from Govindadvipa and chanted for four and half hours. Anet took the train one hour each way from her home and amazingly distributed books during the harinama for ten hours. Her only comment at the end, before returning home, was “When is the next one?” Premarnava Prabhu also put in five hours, and Robert came extra early for the regular Saturday evening harinama to participate. One break dancer enjoyed dancing with us in the afternoon, and group of young boys and one young lady really got into the dancing in the evening.

A couple of girls from Seattle girl happened to encounter our harinama at least twice during the day, and their smiles of joy inspired me to talk with them. One said that seeing the harinama was the best part of her Dublin trip. I encouraged them to visit our temple in Seattle, when they return home, for the local Sunday feast program there. I participated myself in our twelve-hour harinama for over eleven hours. Not realizing the strength of the Irish sun in that chilly land, I got the worst sunburn this year. I learned some strategies for my increasing participation. Just have a small lunch so you do not become tired and need to take rest, and do not drink so much you have to always take a bathroom break. I reported our harinama successes to my authority in the UK and Ireland, Janananda Goswami, who encouraged me to return to Ireland again after I come back to the UK from Europe in late September.

Metroyoga in Paris

I was happy to join my friends, Chandrasekhara Acharya Prabhu, Gadadhara Priya Prabhu, and Bhaktin Sara, in chanting on the metros in Paris again, a program called Metroyoga. Recently Chandrasekhara Acharya has written a nice article for Back to Godhead describing the program. You always meet some people who really appreciate the chanting and the presentation, and that makes it all worth it.

Langenthal, Switzerland

There is a growing community of devotees in Langenthal, Switzerland, about an hour from Zurich, in the German-speaking part of the country. They have a larger temple room than most of our temples in Europe. There were a lot of devotees there who had enthusiasm for the kirtana at their weekly Saturday feast program. At Langenthal three householder families have a prasadam business by which they maintain themselves.


I was in Zurich for the Jhulan Yatra (Radha Krishna swing festival) on Sunday and harinama by the lake on Monday. Special features of the Zurich Jhulan Yatra are that the swing is suspended over a pool of water, and to satisfy both the Tamil-speaking congregation, largely from Sri Lanka, and the local German-speaking congregation, the festival is held twice, so I got to swing Radha-Krishna two times. This festival is observed in our temples with Radha Krishna deities for the five days before and including Lord Balarama’s appearance day, but in recent years I had not been in a temple where it was held, so it was a treat to be there in Zurich and to swing Radha and Krishna twice in one day. The Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya stresses service to the divine couple, Radha and Krishna, and this swing festival of Theirs gives everyone in the congregation a little experience of that. For that reason, it is one of my favorite festivals.

I felt indebted to temple president, Krishna Prema Rupa Prabhu, who kindly organized a nearly two-hour harinama on Monday with ten devotees down along the lake in Zurich. There was a lot of enthusiasm among the devotees. We even went further around the lake than they ever do, through a small region where they do not have permission to chant, to the other side of the lake where it is again permitted. We passed out many temple invitations, both to the Sunday feast and the upcoming Janmastami festival. One woman came up to me asking about devotees’ summer festival, and I gave her an invitation for the Janmastami event. Apparently there the devotees celebrate Janmastami so nicely people in the city look forward to it each year.

I took a night train from Zurich to Berlin on the way to the Polish Woodstock. Although it was over eleven hours, it was only $43, a rare deal from the Swiss train company, SBB.


Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

Emerson says, “Beware what you set your heart upon, for it will surely be yours.”

Make war on Maya in your life.

O Ugra Lion-Man,
Your black body,Your
stance of ready-to-fight,
massive black head
plainly silver teeth and
10 arms and hands I can
almost see them all?
be real for me,
I don’t fear You because
You are our protector against
evil. Therefore I ask You
please come alive?and
tear out form the roots
my anarthas.

And life ebbs out like from a slightly leaking pot.

I thought this is so strange. The blue-faced murti of a calm Nrsimha holding Laksmi on His lap. India, and a religion of strange forms. Is it not that way? Unless you are born and raised here (or you live here many years and become Indian-religionized) it remains alien to you. But you have one thing?your surrender to Prabhupada. And he expertly teaches and induces you to accept Krsna consciousness in a scientific nonsectarian way. Except for him, even Gaudiya Vaisnavism remains strange gods, alien words, hard to believe miracles. . . .

Srila Prabhupada followed his guru life and soul yet made his own way in America, innovated, etc. Can you?

Don’t want to die “off” or die having not fulfilled what you could have become if you dared. Let everyone live out the best he or she can become.

How do you develop selfless service for
the guru?” she asks. I’m at a loss to
answer precisely because
I don’t know it myself!

I am in lap of Gaura-Nitai [being in Mayapura]. Please I ask Them, please shape me and give good meaning to my visit.

I can occupy myself splendidly if people would just leave me alone.

But you have seen Lord Nrsimha
and can call His names,
please protect me from demons,
please kill my own demons
in the heart.

A day here is worth
millions somewhere else says
Navadvipa Mahatmya.
Bumpkin returns to the
West with stars in eyes
and plan. He’ll be a
Prabhupada Gauranga man.

Tell them. . . . I love you, I love this, but I also love to be alone?it’s hard work but very rewarding in a quiet and deep way.

O Lord, I thank You, it’s You who arrange this, who guide me to do it. Now may I do it purely.

Well life and death are somewhat the same and they are definitely related. When you are aware of death then you live in a certain way, a better way. The certainty of death, and thinking about it, turns your life more serious. It doesn’t mean you live in a deathlike way. You can still be very much in the moment, and so to speak, enjoy it all, but you’re aware that it’s really over soon, and you live in a way to improve your next life. So you see what I mean, how death and life are connected?

Yesterday you were complaining a little that there has been so much talk in your life about people dying, especially devotees in Vrndavana. But partly it’s just your own fear and avoidance of death that makes you not want to hear all of this. And the positive way to take it is to be aware of death as you live. That doesn’t spoil everything in the present moment, but it rather infuses it with a certain energetic fervent quality. If you can drive out sense gratification and serve Krsna then you are successful.

Tomorrow we’ll try a new strategy of just completely closing the windows because the bugs are coming right through the screens. I’ve never seen any place where they have such multitudes of insects. Prabhupada talks about it in some of his lectures, how in Mayapur during the night these creatures are born and live and die in one night and how in the morning you see heaps and heaps of bodies. Sometimes when I heard the lecture I felt perhaps he was exaggerating when he said that there were thousands and thousands of bugs and heaps and heaps of bodies in the morning and that you could sweep them away. But now I see it’s true. Why don’t I take Prabhupada literally true on face value all the time? Just it’s a matter of time before you find out that what he says is true.

from My Letters from Srila Prabhupada, Volume 3, I am Never Displeased with Any Member:

I was recently speaking with one devotee who told me that her fifteen-year-old daughter is so fixed on becoming a devotee that she even thought of running away from home and joining an ISKCON temple (her mother wants her to stay home and finish school). Despite the horrors that so many of us suffered, there’s another side: Living in a temple really helped us become devotees, solidly fixed in sadhana.

We shared living space, bathrooms, food, cooking duties, trouble, anxiety and the triumph of having received such a letter from Prabhupada. We worshiped together and felt the bliss of collective peak experience that comes from working hard for Krishna. Our lives were so different from anything we could have imagined them to be. We weren’t living abstract ideas of unity and community as were the hippies in their cynicism. Prabhupada had given us the real thing. Prabhupada was the center. It wasn’t always easy?and I’m aware that I’m stressing the good side?but we were all devotees, disciples, together. There was no question that we could do other than we did if we were sincere. Putting aside the old ISKCON debate, we should be mature enough to just try and feel the essence of something Prabhupada gave us and which many of us are so fortunate to have taken part in, even if things have changed. We joined the spiritual world.”

from Srila Prabhupapa Samadhi Diary:

O Prabhupada, may we live in you until we die; may we serve in this life and the next. May we study your words and repeat them with joy and conviction. May we know Krishna and Radha through you.”

Dhruva Prabhu:

The Sanskrit verses of the scripture purify us so it is good to chant them repeatedly.

Prabhupada was very liberal and said it does not matter what religion you follow but that you must follow strictly whatever religion you choose. Just like you have to learn math, but which math book you use is up to you.

If we love someone, we must remember that person and we must do something for that person, and so it is with Krishna.

The greatest gift is love of God.

In America the greatest worry is “will my money run out before I die?”

The beauty of Krishna consciousness is the giver and the receiver both benefit.

A saint is not recognized in his own town. The great example is Prabhupada who had so much difficulty preaching Krishna consciousness in India but became very successful in the West.

In the material world if someone praises you, you praise them, “You must be so intelligent to realize how intelligent I am.”

Our preaching is successful if one comes to appreciate different features of Krishna consciousness, the harinama, the prasadam, and the books.

I have been on many harinamas, but the ones that Indradyumna Swami has in Poland are the most amazing. The devotees are all dressed very nicely and play the instruments very nicely. People are very attracted, and you can see it.

In India the children see the mother and father as God because mother and father maintain them as God maintains them.

It is no wonder we fall several times a day, but we must recognize we have fallen, and continue chanting.

We do not see our big faults, but we are very expert in finding innumerable insignificant faults in others.

Ananta Nitai Prabhu:

I always liked harinama, 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.

Tribhuvananatha Prabhu said, referring to the spiritually ignorant, a husband and wife love each other’s false egos at best.

I could chant four rounds a day, and I resigned my self to that, thinking I would never chant anymore than four. I heard that the association of devotees was valuable, so I took a week off from work and attended the temple morning program with fourteen devotees every day. By the fourth day, I was chanting sixteen rounds, and I have been chanting sixteen rounds a day ever since. That was thirteen years ago. Thus I practically can see the power of the association of devotees in my own life.

Mayesvara Prabhu:

Hridayananda Maharaja says just by seeing the smile of the empowered preacher of Krishna consciousness you can understand you are not your body.

comment by me: That reminds me of this description given by Srila Prabhupada in a purport about Kardama Muni, “Pure devotees are so absorbed in thought Krishna that they have no other engagement; although they may seem to think or act otherwise, they are always thinking of Krishna. The smile of such a Krishna conscious person is so attractive that simply by smiling he wins so many admirers, disciples and followers.” (SB 3.22.21)

Madhavananda Prabhu:

In America there was a poll showing that 60%–70% of the people who believe in God do not believe in religion. There is a popular book called How I Left Religion and Found God.

People have not found satisfaction through sectarian religion because they have missed the essence of religion, unmotivated, uninterrupted service to God.

Krishna explains that religion is meant to be practically experienced and to be happily performed. (Bg. 9.2)

Srila Prabhupada said, “Our only business is to get people to chant Hare Krishna.” We do not want anything in exchange. Elsewhere he explained, “Our only business is to make people happy.” He also explained that we are nonsectarian society with members coming from many different religions and that members of ISKCON may retain their own religious faiths.

In Zurich there are many streams but you cannot hear their sweet sounds during the day because of all the cars and buses. In the same way, we cannot hear the soul because of the radio of our minds.

There are saints in every religion who cry for the Lord, and the Lord hears their cries.

If you go to seek a job and when asked your qualification, you say you have none or that you are the most useless person in the world, will you get a job? No. But in spiritual life, it is different.

Having straw in your teeth, both indicates that you are not going to protest nor are you going to cry with your mouth but with your heart.

Narottama Dasa Thakura prays to the Lord, “You are famous as the savior of the most fallen, but if you do not save me, you will have to change your name.”

We have to cry in such a way that it is clear to Krishna that no toys He may give us will satisfy us; nothing will satisfy us except Him.

Sadhus say smaranam means maranam. Remembrance of God means death to all our material desires.

Krishna explains to Arjuna that only those who chant his name, crying from their souls, are dear Him.

All the great religions of the world are based on great saintly persons but later on their so-called followers became more interested in business.

bhakti-yoga bhakti-yoga bhakti-yoga dana
bhakti sei krishna-nama smarane krandana

Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura states that bhakti-yoga is the greatest charity, and bhakti-yoga means chanting the holy name of the Lord with remembrance and with crying.

Ramachandra Dev, was King of Jagannatha Puri, but he was defeated by a Muslim general. After thirteen months and fifteen days in prison, the general offered to release him and allow him to be king again, only he would have to become a Muslim and marry a Muslim woman. Seeing that as the only opportunity to continue his service to Jagannatha, he accepted the condition. All his other wives rejected him, and left him, along with their children. His friends also rejected him. He went to the Puri temple, but the priests would not even let him in, although he was the king of Puri, because he had a Muslim wife. Every night after the temple closed, Ramachandra Dev would go outside it and cry. When he was so aggrieved and he was about to end his life, the Lord appeared and said, “Do not cry.” Then the Lord manifested the Patita-pavana deity outside the temple so the king could see him.

When Ramachandra Dev cried for Krishna, Jagannatha (Krishna) cried for him.

Lord Jagannatha is the form of the greatest ecstasy.

In Orissa there Muslims who help build and pull the Ratha-yatra.

They say in Orissa, “The name of Rama is like a laddu, and the name of Krishna is like ghee, and the name of Hare is like sweetened condensed milk, and you mix them and drink it. That is the Hare Krishna mantra.

Q: How do I cry for Krishna?
A: Associate with people who are crying for Krishna.

Gour Govinda Swami explained there are two secrets for success:
1. Every day say some prayers to Lord Nityananda.
2. Pray for other people.

There are three kinds of mercy:
1. Mercy for the body.
2. Mercy for the mind.3. Mercy for the soul.

The Deity Govindaji in Jaipur appears effulgent because of all the devotees of the city love Him so much.

It is important to respect the leaders, otherwise progress is difficult.

There is a cartoon with a group of executives sitting at a table, with one at the head. The chief executive had an ax above his head and swords in his side. The chief executive is asking who wants to be the next chief executive.

If we expect people to be able to follow the varnasrama rules and regulations and we reject them if they do not, then we will become irrelevant.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains the dress of a Vaishnava is a way we can use the body to progress spiritually. However, if we think that such external features are required, and we disrespect real Vaishnavas who do not follow them, we become sectarian.

There is verse where is it said if you address Krishna before Radha, you get the reaction for killing a brahmana. That because it is so distasteful to Krishna.

In Mahabharata, it is said that the mother is ten times more respectable than the father.

India has the lowest divorce rate in the world.

Adi Purusa Prabhu:

Sankhya, analytical knowledge, is like a kaleidoscope. It is very attractive on the outside, but if you look inside you will find nothing of value.
One should not criticize people. One should not even criticize things because they are Krishna’s things.

A Vaishnava never chastises anyone except his students and disciples, and then only in a loving way.

There is one devotee who is a software engineer. He is so patient, kind, and respectful, all the workers in the company want him as a supervisor.

The biggest sacrifice is to give up your false ego.

If we accept that we do not have to be in the superior position, then that will help us in conflicts with other people.

Once I was arguing and arguing with another devotee. At one point, it occurred to me, I should try to understand how he was seeing things. Much to my surprise, as soon as I starting thinking in this way, the other devotee said, “Now I can understand what you are saying.”

Krishna allows each of us the right to be wrong. If we allow others the right to be wrong, that is a sign of respect. Everyone has a right to their opinion, even if it is not good for them.

Sacinandana Swami explained that our body belongs to Krishna, and therefore, we should loving take of it for Krishna’s service.

Who is the doer? In summary, the soul is responsible but dependent, and the Supersoul and material nature are neutral doers.

Every religion teaches there is a higher reality which is indestructible.

I came to Krishna consciousness because I wanted to find a method so I could experience a higher reality.

Previously I was a Buddhist, but I wondered what was after nirvana and never got clear answer.

We are entitled to eternity, bliss, and knowledge, but now we have turned away, so we have reconnect.

The highest pleasure is experienced in loving relationships by giving love.

Da Vinci depicted God as an old man, perhaps 60 or 70 years old. Why not a million years old? Because he is all-powerful he can stop aging. But if you could stop aging, would you choose to be 60 or 70 years old? No, you would choose to remain youthful. And so it is with Krishna. He is an eternal youth. Krishna is the original cool teenager.

At one point the Vatican removed some references to God as the supreme judge and giver of punishment.

In Vrndavana only the priests can swing Radha-Krishna. Srila Prabhupada has given us very special mercy to allow even visitors to the temple to participate in this pastime by swinging the Lord.

The eight gopis are associated with the eight directions.

By hearing about Krishna’s pure pastimes of love we connect with Him, and we remember these when we pull Radha Krishna on the swing.

Bhakti is pure if the goal is to serve Krishna with love, and that we do bhakti only to attain this goal. In addition, one must understand Krishna in truth, and engage in the nine kinds of devotional service.

My siksa guru, Niranjana Swami, has given me the best guidance in my life as a devotee. He explains the key to bhakti is intention. One simply has to act with the desire to please Krishna. If you feel unconnected to Krishna, try adjusting your intention, and you will see it makes all the difference.

Dave [a carpenter from Dublin I met on the bus from Beauvais Airport to Paris]:

I saw the Hare Krishnas in Dublin. Once I spent two hours in a Krishna tent at a festival. It just felt like 40 minutes. Many tunes of the same song, Hare Krishna, and they played in my mind for days after. [I gave him the card for the Sunday feast and Tuesday evening kirtana program in Dublin.]


naham tisthami vaikunthe
yoginam hrdayesu va
tatra tisthami narada
yatra gayanti mad-bhaktah

[Lord Krishna to Narada:] I am not in Vaikuntha [the spiritual world] nor in the hearts of the yogis. I remain where My devotees engage in glorifying My activities. (Padma Purana, quoted in Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.21.41, purport)