Sunday, September 02, 2012

Travel Journal#8.15: Polish Woodstock, Prague, and Spain

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 15
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2012, part one
Polish Woodstock, Prague, Spain
(Sent from Wroclaw, Poland, on September 2, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

I went on the Polish Woodstock for the twelfth time. It was nice to see how each year people become more favorable to Krishna consciousness, and more devotees I know from America come each year. I went to Prague for a couple of days and did harinama with some friends from Slovakia and Czech Republic. Then I went to Spain, with my friend, Dhruva Prabhu, at the request of Yadunandana Swami, who invited me when he traveled through Dublin. I felt victorious as in the eight days we were in Spain we did three harinamas and participated in a three-day kirtana-mela. Two of the harinamas inspired people to come to the temple and visit, a rarity.

Bhaktivaibhava Swami and Kadamba Kanana Swami share beautiful realizations at Spain’s three-day kirtana-mela. Devotees in Málaga share moving Prabhupada pastimes and words of gratitude on his Vyasa Puja. As usual I pass on insights from the journal and books of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I also include the words of senior devotees like Vedavyasa Prabhu and Yadunandana Swami.

Thanks to Ananta Vrindavan Prabhu, Vishnujana Prabhu, and aatist_kks for the photos. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Polish Woodstock 2012

After over 14 hours on trains starting in Zurich, I made it to the Woodstock for the first harinama. More devotees than I had even seen since I started coming in 2001 took part in that harinama, and more people from the festival joined us in chanting and dancing than usual, some staying with us till the end.

It is nice to see friends from ISKCON Alachua like Bada Haridas, Chaturatma Dasa, Purusartha Das are here again. New York kirtana leader, Acyuta Gopi, came for the first time and chanted both on Ratha-yatra and the kirtana tent.

It is difficult for me to sift through the pictures and choose the best. Here are a couple albums you can look at. Click on the “>>” above the right side of the image to view the next image:

Twenty Woodstock attendees were dancing on the Ratha-yatra at the busier times, some with the women and some amidst the men. Some pulled the ratha, with beer in hand. Here are three videos of the Ratha-yatra so you can see what it was like:

You also see new T-shirts with new slogans and novel costumes each year. One young woman wore a green T-shirt with the question “Can you maintain me?” written on it with white letters. That reminded me of how according to the scripture, male-female relationships are meant to be regulated through marriage for spiritual elevation of human society. The man’s duty is to maintain the woman he wishes to have an intimate relationship with, but in this age so many men neglect that duty, and so the T-shirt is a reminder by the woman to the man about his duty.

Anna, who talked to Indradyumna Swami two years before, asked us to arrange another meeting with him now, and I had one of my former interpreters, Radhanandini Dasi, help her out with that.

One girl had a great time in our camp at the first two days of the festival, and so she told me she wanted to join us. Knowing the tour is not really equipped to train new people, and it was not possible to tell the depth of her seriousness immediately, I urged her to first attend the Sunday feast in Wroclaw, where she lives, and then see about joining us. Still it was impressive that she was so happy in the association of the devotees that she was thinking in that way. Later in the summer Polish told me that she was joining one of our temples.

I met one person who remembered me from Zary over eight years ago, and many people remembered me from more recent years. It is so embarrassing that so many remember me, and I remember so few of them.

I danced in back of the kirtana tent. In the evening, it was packed full of people.

One young lady followed my dance step and learned it. After a little while, I smiled, and said “Dobrze! [Very good.]” Then, as it is not my dharma to dance with the ladies, I stood just outside our tent, to facilitate encouraging people to come in tent or thanking them for their dancing as they left. Over half an hour later on her way out that same young lady wanted to dance that step she learned from me one more time, and six more people joined in, some people chanting as well as dancing.

One girl asked to know what is Hare Krishna, and I looked around for someone who could translate for me, and a girl who worked reception in previous years volunteered.

Two girls, Monika and Ana, remembered me from last year. They are from Kostrzyn, the city where the Woodstock has been held since 2004. Monika and her friends came and danced on several occasions throughout the four-and-half-day event. She knew English very well merely from studying it high school. The last day I gave Monika my business card and explained that she and her friends could find nice Krishna music which they liked so much on that web site.

The guy who remembered me from Zary and sent me photos he took a previous year, offered me some plums the second time he saw me this year. He said our kirtana yoga tent was best of venue of all as it was only one with lyrics to the songs displayed on the walls for everyone to see.

A boy said we had the best party of all. He and his friend took pleasure in singing and dancing with us.

I would dance to the music in the kirtana tent by myself in the beginning, but then gradually more people would gather. Sometimes I would tell the devotees sitting around the perimeter of the kirtana tent to dance as it would attract people to come to watch and thus hear the kirtana. During one kirtana, I taught a dance step to seven people. Usually it was the girls who were more inclined to dance, and it was awkward being a brahmacari showing them a dance. Later I danced outside the tent with eight people or so, half men and half women. While passing out mantra cards, I met another person who I taught a dance to, and who wanted to dance with me again.

Someone asked me where he could buy a dhoti, and I pointed to our gift shop.

I met a couple who offered to do some service. They said they had seen me at several Woodstocks. I suggested serving prasadam or picking up trash. They chose the trash, so I got plastic gloves and trash bags for them. I gave them my card and promised to send contact information for the devotees who does programs in their city of Krakow. Later I saw the girl dancing in the kirtana.

Another couple from Krakow wanted to get a CD of the kirtana in our kirtana yoga tent and get the contact information for the Krishna programs in their city. Perhaps we should put the recordings from the kirtana tent online, so the people who loved our chanting could keep it with them.

We did not go quite as late as last year, ending our chanting at 0:50, 2:15, 2:45 and 2:30, respectively, the four nights of the festival.

Sometimes two or three people would come running, skipping, or dancing, with smiles on their faces to join our kirtanas in the tent. Sometimes a girlfriend would drag a reluctant boyfriend into the kirtana tent, and sometimes a boyfriend would drag in a reluctant girlfriend. Whole families would come and listen, watch, and dance. Sometimes the parents would reject my offer of a mantra card because they thought Krishna consciousness was opposed to their Christian tradition, but as entertainment, they liked the kirtana, and they encouraged their children in it.

Often the devotees would dance in such a way that each person was holding the hand of the person before him and the person after him, as in a chain. Sometimes devotees would try to grab people from the audience and add them to the chain and sometimes those visiting our camp would also also grab people to add them to the chain. Sometimes some of the guys visiting our camp were a little too eager to grab the attractive girls, even the devotee girls, and add them to the chain.

One young lady from Bydgoszcz came to our camp for four years. She said she waits a whole year to eat our food. I told her there is a couple in Bydgoszcz that does a few programs a year, so she could have Krishna food more often, and she took down their phone number.

One man from Szczecin took the invitation to the Berlin temple, the closest one to him.

Izabela from Kostrzyn who has been coming and bringing her friends to Krishna’s Village of Peace for the food for years told me she finally graduated and will soon being working in Wroclaw. I gave her an invitation to the Wroclaw Ratha-yatra and Wroclaw temple Sunday feast, and she said she would try to make it for the Ratha-yatra.

Another girl from Kostrzyn happily told me she has been coming to our camp for the spiritual food since Woodstock came to her city back in 2004.

After our final Ratha-yatra, one girl from Germany’s Baltic coast asked me to explain what the Hare Krishna philosophy is. I stressed how the soul is present in all bodies and is symptomized by consciousness. Human life is special because we can awaken our love for God, the supreme conscious person, through the chanting of His holy name, especially the Hare Krishna mantra. I gave her our invitation to the Berlin temple and told her about Hamburg and Leipzig Ratha-yatras coming up on August 25 and September 8, respectively. She said she likes to go to Leipzig and will come for the Ratha-yatha. I explained how that one is special because the week before several hundred of us who will participate in it will be chanting for eight hours a day for six days. This year the city gave us a better location for our festival after the parade so more people will come. She explained that she is just beginning a spiritual search.

One young man from Berlin took an invitation to that center after I briefly explained the philosophy to him.

Another young man said that when he was in our kirtana yoga tent, he forgot all his problems.

Sometimes the people could not speak English very well, so I would tell them in Polish that we have a questions and answers booth over there, pointing in its direction, and go back to dancing and distributing mantra cards.

When I would show people who had been visiting the kirtana yoga tent the mantra cards, a small minority of people were averse, some people were indifferent, but most people were favorable, often very much so. Often they would smile in recognition, seeing the text representation of the song they were hearing and/or singing. Some would begin singing along to the words, often with their friends, and I would smile and sing along with them and dance. I often would remember a recent newsletter by Janananda Goswami wherein he quoted Srila Prabhupada many times saying, “Somehow or other, get them to chant.”

Lots of people wanted to have their pictures taken with us.

Gaura Hari Prabhu, a brahmacari from Leipzig who came for the first time, was impressed with the qualities of the people in the kirtana tent. Alhtough drunk, they are not as sexually motivated or angry as drunk people usually are at such late night music events. They were also very respectful.

Jananivasa Prabhu, one of my former interpreters, told me that each year the quality of the questions in the question and answers booth improves. Now there are no longer people who are just joking around trying to call attention to themselves, but rather, many sincere spiritual inquirers. A devotee who worked in our book tent told me that the questions of the people get more serious each year.

For several years, the day after the Woodstock festival, some of my friends and I have done harinama at the train station. 

I think this was the best year, as each year it gets better. We had eight devotees participate, more than usual, and we encountered more people there waiting for the trains. Some were very happy to see us.

People of the town came to their windows to see us.

Others danced with us.

We chanted both by the station and by the tracks.

One devotee took a movie of it.

Harinama in Prague

Lokanatha Swami told in me 2004 that Prague is the best city for harinama, and when I chanted there with my friends for two days after the Polish Woodstock, I could see how that is true. In one place you meet people from all over the world, and the people are not so much in a rush as in London, but more relaxed and looking for some kind of cultural experience. Many people take pictures and have some pleasing interaction with the harinama devotees. I gave the words of the mantra to one girl who was appreciating the kirtana, but she said did not need them because in Prague the people hear it so much they know the words.

Once we were detained in a area that was protected from the rain. The drunks who were also taking shelter there were a little angry at first but by the power of the kirtana they either mellowed out or went away. Other people there liked having the entertainment while waiting out the storm.

Harinamas in Spain

I had no plan to go to Spain when I came to Europe this year, but I met my Spanish friend and godbrother, Yadunandana Swami, in both England and Ireland this year, and he invited me to a three-day kirtana-mela at our farm outside of Madrid. I cannot afford to travel to Spain, but I asked my friend and benefactor Dhruva Prabhu, who has traveled with me to different European festivals if he wanted to go and would be willing to help me out, and he agreed. I wanted to go for just the three days of the kirtana-mela, as I know for certain I have friends to do harinama with in Czech Republic and Germany, whereas Spain I did not know about. Dhruva, however, thought if we were going to Spain we should go for at least a week. Thus reluctantly I went to Spain with five whole days before the mela. Fortunately Yadunandana Swami helped me organize some harinamas, and we were able to go out three of the days before the festival.


Brihuega is the town nearest our farm project an hour from Madrid known as Nueva (New) Vraja Mandala. In recent years devotees have just done a weekly harinama in Madrid. Previously they would do four days a week, and include Guadalajara and two other cities. Still in recent times they had not chanted in Brihuega, the closest town to them at all. We chanted from 8:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. in a square in the center of town that had some restaurants off to one side. That is not a late hour there as people take a break during the heat of the day and stay up late as a regular lifestyle. We set up near one entrance to the park so a lot of people would have to pass by us, not too close to the restaurants, in case the managers did not like it and told us to stop. Originally we were going to do a sitting down harinama, but some of the devotees thought people may not like us constantly chanting in one place, so we planned to walk around. As it turned out, we were so well-received in the park that we just stayed there, standing instead of sitting as we did not bring our mats. At one point, when I was singing and two young devotee ladies were dancing together in a nice pattern, quite a crowd gathered. I counted forty people, mostly elementary school aged children and a few adults. In fact, we always had some people watching from the beginning to the end of the harinama. The two ladies engaged some of the more brave children in dancing with them. One gave one of the young girls a flower garland which she was happy to receive. At the end of the evening five or six teenaged girls came by and had a great time dancing with the young devotee lady who stayed till the end. Afterward, the girls wanted to have their picture with her. One man watched us the whole time. He explained to me in Spanish that he was half Indian. He also wanted his picture taken with the devotees. Surprisingly enough, four days later I saw him on our farm at the cow festival following the Sunday feast program. It is not everyday that someone who meets the harinama party ends up coming to the temple, but such was the case with my first harinama in Spain. Seeing the popularity of the harinama in their local village, I advised them to do at least one harinama each week in Brihuega. Let’s hope they can do it.


We began our Janmastami celebration in Málaga by doing a 1½ hour harinama attended by eight devotees. Our plan was to go right after the morning class, before it got too hot and the devotees became tired from fasting. As it turned out it was from 11:15 to 12:45 that we chanted. Lots of people, mostly tourists took pictures. Three people danced with us. We gave out invitations to the evening Janmastami program, as well as the weekly Sunday feast, and several people were interested in coming. One Spanish man, who had spent two months in Vrindavan, was happy to hear the chanting again in his own country. In Central London, devotees do harinama in Janmastami in the afternoon on Oxford Street, and in Leipzig they do it in the evening when the curtains are closed before the final arati. In the future, you may consider celebrating Janmastami by doing harinama in a city near you!


On Vyasa Puja day, just before our evening program, we did 40 minutes of harinama with four devotees around Churriana, the town where our Málaga temple is located. We passed out five invitations to our Sunday program, and although it was Saturday, seven people came to the temple, three staying to hear a few homages to Srila Prabhupada. I was overjoyed, and I saw this as Srila Prabhupada’s reciprocation for us doing outreach on his glorious appearance day!

Kirtana Mela in Spain

They have incredibly beautiful Radha Krishna deities called Radha Govindacandra there at Nueva Vraja Mandala, and it was a pleasure to chant for them.

There were not too many people at this kirtana-mela, perhaps fifty to eighty or so. I was happy that there was room to dance. During the hot part of the day, we stayed inside.

When it cooled we went outside.

Bhaktivaibhava Swami and Kadamba Kanana Swami were both there and led very lively kirtanas, as did some other kirtana leaders from Spain that I did not know.

Kadamba Kanana Swami also inspired people to dance when others, especially Bhaktivaibhava Swami, led kirtana.

I personally had a great time dancing.

There were lots of great realizations about chanting which you can read in the “Insights” below. Kadamba Kanana Swami at the end challenged the devotees to have a kirtana-mela with two hundred devotees for next year’s anniversary of the installation of the deities there.

I am grateful to Yadunandana Swami and Dhruva Prabhu for giving me with such a wonderful opportunity in Spain.


Bhaktivaibhava Swami:

When Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya asked Lord Caitanya the best process of bhakti He quoted the verse beginning harer nama harer nama . . . in this age there is no other process for self-realization other than the chanting of the holy name.

The iti sodasakam verse indicates that specifically the maha-mantra is the best spiritual practice in all the Vedas.

The illusory energy of the Lord makes one forget that he endeavored for material happiness before and he just got beaten over the head.

The devotees are most fortunate because they are utilizing lives properly.

We are not painting everything black. Birth, death, old age, and disease are a fact. If death is natural, why does every living entity resist it if you try to kill it?

If we maintain the purity of our chanting, others will be attracted in the future, as we were attracted in the past.

Krishna appears as His holy name when we have a service-inclined tongue and ears. When the tongue is controlled, all the senses become controlled

In the Garuda Purana, it describes many subtle beings, and all these beings are liberated when the harinama party goes by.

Pudma Purana describes that even by thinking of the Ganges River, one becomes liberated.

There is a story of frog couple who went on pilgrimage to go to the Ganges River and dive in and become liberated. Unfortunately, they met a snake on the way. They tried to preach to the snake that they were innocent and should not be killed. The snake preached to the frogs, that by God's arrangement they were his prey and it was right for him to eat them. The snake prepared to eat them, and they cried out “Ganga Mayi” as they left their bodies. Thus both frogs attained the heavenly planets, the male shared the throne with Indra. After many, many years of enjoyment on the heavenly planets, a Vaikunntha airplane came to take the two former frogs to the spiritual world.

One who perfectly follows his spiritual master reaches the Supersoul.

One can learn by hearing or by experience, but it is better to learn by hearing.

My mother told me, “My dear son, do not marry.” She had not had a good experience of marriage, and thus so she instructed me thus. So I accepted it.

We are not against material desires. We will not be successful in our preaching if we instruct people, especially young people, not to have material desires. But they should go about the fulfillment of their material desires in the proper way, and in this way they will suffer less.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from his journal, Viraha Bhavan, August 4:

I am not serving any big projects
in ISKCON, just writing, reading,
telling of my little life and tending to
my sadhana. I’m doing as my departed
Godbrother, Sridhara Maharaja, said,
“Just be yourself
and make your contribution.”

from Journal and Poems, Volume 3:

Then, where are the directly God conscious, devotional haikus? One cannot say that they are omitted in a neutral, natural way. To omit the Absolute Truth is itself a metaphysical statement. To light incense and not offer it to God. To write of erotic moments in defiance of scriptural codes. To write hundreds of nature poems assuming that the perception of birds, beasts, sky, elements, etc., is sufficient spiritual nourishment—and that God is just another ‘thing.’ These are all atheistic proclamations.
Write of the bomb? Write of a sexual affair? ‘We must,’ they say, ‘because this is our life, this is reality.’
“I am no Buddha
no Jayadeva,
but someone has to say it:
Which haiku
will save us
at death?
“Basho's death poem
is a wishful hope,
wandering across the moor.
Issa gave a humble farewell—
‘I was a fool,
so are we all!
Which haiku will save us?
The frog jumps in?
The wings of the dragonfly?
Talented poets,
please make a poem-prayer.
But first you have to learn it.
“Delicate senses
in a floating world,
is not enough.
Don't you know
we all have to come back
to another body?
“Now who will come forward
and say it with beauty?

Alas, my gayatris go by too quickly, and I can’t get them back. Is it that I think my time is better spent in writing?

“‘But how do you know there is God?’
“‘Because the
Srimad-Bhagavatam assures us.’
“‘But isn’t that just an old book of stories?’
“‘No, it’s
sastra. It’s the book of authority. Srila Prabhupada said, ‘At least we have a book.’ Srimad-Bhagavatam is solid authority, at least among those who cherish it and who are learned in spiritual science. It is self-effulgent, describes the highest nature of religion as love of God. Are we so dull that we can't appreciate its standard?’
So it goes, me and the atheist, like two guys at a sidewalk café in Paris arguing over whether or not God exists.

from Karttika Notes:

In this temple [in Mayapura] they keep moving people who are in front of honored guests like me and so I had a clear vision of Sri Sri Nrsimhadeva. I can’t say that I prayed to Him to remove the anarthas, but at least I was enthusiastic to be in His presence, and I know that He is fierce and that He is going to work on you when you come close to Him in a respectful devotional way.

Today is Gopastami. The Deities of the gopis and Radharani had their feet showing. They said the reason is because these gopis are all going to see the cows for Gopastami and they don’t want to get their saris muddy so they lifted them up a bit.

[Pankajanghri Prabhu said in a letter to Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami]: “Opposite to any other place I’ve stayed, Sri Mayapura gets more and more attractive the longer one stays and one’s attachment to it increases proportionately.”

I have many favorite memories [of Srila Prabhupada]. One memory I like is of a lecture that Prabhupada gave in 1975 at the annual Mayapur festival. Prabhupada quoted Bhaktivinoda Thakura saying that he longed for the day when the Europeans (and Americans) would join with their Bengali brothers and chant the holy names of Krishna and Caitanya. Prabhupada announced from the vyasasana that now that prophecy had taken place today. It was a wonderful moment of history to be present while Prabhupada announced that the prophecy of Bhaktivinoda Thakura had been fulfilled by Prabhupada’s own work and by his own movement and witnessed at Sri Caitanya-candrodaya Mandir.

Yes. Prabhupada asked all of his devotees to write. Krishna is our best friend, so we can express ourselves to him in the form of a journal. It may contain sastric verses and our own realizations, and even our lamentations at our lack of realizations. A devotee’s journal is not mundane, but it is filled with transcendental aspirations and is a recommended way of practicing Krishna consciousness.

from his journal, Viraha Bhavan, August 5:

My drawing for today is
three colorful
dancing with upraised arms.
They are red and black and green
and smiling in the bliss of
Swirls of color surround them as auras
of auspiciousness, and they make the viewer
happy. That is the symptom of the
, that he induces others to also
chant Hare Krishna. These three are infectious,
and they invite you to join with them in the most
important function: the congregational
chanting of the holy names.

from My Letters from Srila Prabhupada, Volume 2, You Cannot Leave Boston:

I had another service which I liked very much, which was writing the blurbs on the back of the books and the introductions describing what the books were. I took a lot of pleasure in that assignment. It was an area where I could use my knowledge of the Western mentality and of readers and to try to attract readers who knew nothing about Krishna. Writing those blurbs was always challenging. When we printed the Second Canto chapters as small paperbacks, I also titled the chapters. Those were the first books ISKCON Press printed. Prabhupada liked them, but after a while our printing mistakes became obvious as the books started to fall apart. We were still in an experimental stage at that time. I chose the titles from references in each chapter and tried to use Srila Prabhupada’s varied expressions.

from Narada-bhakti-sutra, verse 23:

“‘On the other hand, displays of devotion without knowledge of God’s greatness are no better than the affairs of illicit lovers.’

Vedavyasa Prabhu:

One can listen for a long time, but if he is not submissive, he will not benefit.

Any topic in relationship with Krishna is glorious and worth hearing.

Bhaktisiddhana Sarasvati Thakura spoke to Radha Kunda babajis about Prahlada Maharaja instead of satisfying their desire to hear of Krishna’s intimate pastimes.

Kasyapa had the duty to satisfy his wife Diti sexually, but not at an inauspicious time.

Q: It is difficult to liberate one’s children in this age, so is better not to have any?
A: We must have the intent to liberate them.

Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami says that the man is either completely rational or completely emotional while the woman is always half rational and half emotional, and so a man when in his state of being completely emotional can take shelter of the intelligence of the woman.

If a householder is sensually agitated he can always take shelter of his wife, while those in the renounced order can become completely degraded if they cannot tolerate the agitation.

There were cases where people could not follow the strictly follow the principle of having sex only for procreation, and Prabhupada advised them to minimize the sex as far as possible.

If there is no repentance of inability to follow but just the offering of excuses, that presents a problem to progress.

The idea is that by having sex according to dharma and raising the children properly you will be purified from the sex desire. Otherwise it will remain.

It is better to go through some authority to arrange a male-female relationship to leading to a marriage. Sometimes persons in a spiritual community pursue male-female relationships without intending to get married, but that ends up creating a disturbance.

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

A gray van came to my town and too many pink men come out. I popped into a shop. Someone said they are a dangerous sect. They looked dangerous to me. When I heard them on TV three months later, explaining their philosophy, no meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex, and no gambling, and chanting 16 rounds a day then I knew they were dangerous.

The power of the holy name is such that even the reluctant would be touched by the holy nmae of the Lord.

The holy name penetrates into our heart and gradually our desires change and thus it can create a revolution in this entire world.

The mercy of the pure devotee of the Lord is very possible. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrita one devotee is described as able to deliver the entire world. Seeing Srila Prabhupada’s activities we can understand how this is possible.

Srila Prabhupada understood that by their hearing the holy name, it will work in their heart, and they will come back.

Smita Krishna Swami said that Srila Prabhupada said that when a harinama party goes through the street it does not just change the people in the street, it changes the whole street as well. Anyone who goes through that street later becomes purified.

Once Srila Prabhupada said, “We do not need to use this microphone. We are using this microphone to purify the microphone maker.”

It is not only the people who chant Hare Krishna that benefit, but also those that hear.

Once in Spain there was an ad with four Hare Krishnas on a big Easyrider, Harley Davidson motorcycle. The people in general think it is funny—monks on a motorcycle. But we laugh because monks are at home on a motorcycle. This movement is meant to pick up all kinds of people.

The holy name can reach out to the most fallen. It does not require any qualification.

We travel all over the people to meet the same people and do the same thing—chant Hare Krishna. But it is not always the same, it is a great transcendental adventure. Sometimes there is magic in the kirtana, and we can all feel the presence of Krishna, and we think this is the best, and for that moment, our eyes are open, and we experience the truth, that chanting the holy name is the best thing.

In New Mayapur, in central France, Prabhupada told the devotees to offer some fruits to the Deities in the afternoon. A devotee said he would buy some. Prabhupada said, “Why buy? Just pick some bananas from the garden.” The devotees said they are no bananas in our garden, but Prabhupada said in the future there will be.

Q: Who gets more purified? The chanter or the hearer?
A: One may chant with partial faith, but another can hear it with complete faith and can make great progress. Often persons have heard about Krishna originally from unserious persons but became very serious themselves.

The holy name is Krishna, and He has an individual relationship with each one so you never know who gets purified.

Srila Prabhupada just let the holy name act. He was not trying to change the world by his power. He had prayed to Krishna, “Why can I say to deliver these people? I can only repeat your words.” Prabhupada was convinced. Are we convinced? If we were, we would just stay here and chant Hare Krishna all day. We chant, but we also looking for happiness elsewhere.

It is said that Ajamila was the best by far among those in the gurukula at that time, so the teachers decided to do his astrological chart and find out how great a personality he was. But when they saw his chart, it was not so auspicious. He was in a Jupiter period and doing very well, but it was not to last. So they decided to get him married to a nice brahmani lady. But he saw a low class man embracing a low class women intimately, and he decided that he must have that woman. So he engaged her as a maidservant, and sent his wife back to her father, and later sent a note saying there was no need for her to return.

Sometimes we say “mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the best karma of all.” Some people, maybe even relatives, have relatively good karma, but those who have stuck around in the material world until the Kali-yuga have mostly bad karma. The standard is brought so low, that those who could not get a human body in another age, get a human body in Kali-yuga. Kali-yuga is like a school for retarded children.

In kirtana we get strength from the other devotees, but in japa we are alone with Krishna. In kirtana, we can show off, but in japa we are alone with Krishna, and He is not impressed. Krishna can see into our hearts, and that is why it is so hard to chant japa. But when we switch off the mind, and we just hear the holy name, it can be very nice.

Kirtana in the evening can bring life to japa in the morning.

Everyone would praise Vishnujana Maharaja for being always enthusiastic in kirtana. But he would say, “I am not always enthusiastic in kirtana, but I act enthusiastic, and so the devotees become enthusiastic, and seeing the devotees becoming enthusiastic, I become enthusiastic.

The four sinful activities we give up, meat eating, intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling, are described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam to be where adharma (irreligion) resides in this age of Kali. Srila Prabhupada wanted to drive out the influence of the age of Kali, so he advised his followers to refrain from these four key sinful activities.

The handsome, single, Prince Nala was on the way to the svayamvara of Damayanti, and three demigods appeared. He offered obeisances to them and asked what he could do to serve them. They said, “Go to the svayamvara of Damayanti and win Damayanti on our behalf.” He was not so enthusiastic as he wanted Damayanti himself, but the demigods asked, so he was obliged to serve them. He went to the arena of the ceremony and informed Damayanti that the demigods would also be at the ceremony. Damayanti said she did not want the demigods, she wanted Nala. Nala returned, and Indra asked Nala what happened and he explained everything. So on the day of the syamavara there were four Nalas. Damayanti was perplexed. She prayed to the Supreme Lord that she gave her heart to Nala, but she could not identify him. At that moment, the demigods resumed their original forms, and Damayanti garlanded the real Nala. After some time, the personality of Kali persuaded Indra that Nala was unnecessarily proud, and he should have given the demigods the right to Damayanti, and he volunteered to rectify the situation. He entered the dice in a dice game, and Nala lost everything, time after time, until he had one dhoti left, and that he had to rip in half to share with his wife. Nala and his wife retreated to the forest. He was so illusioned by lamentation by the influence of Kali, that he left his wife alone in the forest, because he considered himself a failure in protecting her, and therefore it was better than he should leave her. The key thing is that Nala was illusioned by Kali who was influencing his thoughts, but he did not realize Kali was influencing his thoughts. Could it be possible that I am influenced by Kali and do not know it? And could it be possible that you are influenced by Kali and do not know it?

If you keep money for yourself, then Kali will come for it. You can maintain your house for Krishna, if you follow the four regulative principles and chant 16 rounds each day of Hare Krishna there. Otherwise, you will want a new car, you will want a new iPod, and you will want a new husband—this one is useless, he does not fulfill my desires.

When I was unconscious in the hospital I heard Srila Prabhupada chanting that familiar melody of Hare Krishna, and it was like the sun coming out.

Yadunandana Swami:

According to The Nectar of Devotion, observance of Janmastami is a limb of devotional service to Lord Krishna. The recent acarya, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, considered Janmastami and Ekadasi to be mothers of devotion.

In the Bhagavatam it is said Narada would worship Hirankasipu to avoid problems.

Principally Krishna comes to protect His devotees, but he also chastises the atheists.

Krishna is so merciful He promoted Putana to the post of nurse in the spiritual world although she came to kill Him.

Persons can transcend the fearfulness of the ocean of birth and death.

Krishna relieved Kamsa from his fear of death by killing him.

There are many cases of devotees who became fearless of death by devotees chanting the holy name around them at the end of life.

One man who went to India visited different temples. He compared them looking at characteristics such as deity worship, cleanliness, festivals, etc., and found the ISKCON temples were the best, the Gaudiya Math temples the second best, and the others after that.

Q: Sometimes people in India argue if Ravana and Kamsa attained liberation by being very bad people, why do we have to be good people?
A: They were very, very, very bad. So bad, the Lord appeared to kill them. Because the soul is naturally the eternally the servant of Krishna, it is very difficult to be that bad. Also generally the demons killed by Krishna attain sayujya-mukti, which is not as high as the liberation of living with the Lord in the spiritual world.

In India things have become so degraded people drink whiskey to celebrate Janmastami, just some Christian celebrate Christmas by drinking.

In Vrndavana, Krishna’s form is so sweet the people forget He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Krishna showed His universal form to Yasoda, but when she became reverential, He expanded His internal energy because He did not want her to be revertial.

The four special qualities of Krishna are:
lila-madhurya – He has wonderful pastimes.
prema-madhurya – His associates have wonderful love of God.
venu-madhurya – His flute playing attracts the whole universe.
rupa-madhuya – His form is one of incomparable beauty.

from evening Janmastami interview:

Bhagavad-gita is special because it is the only scripture where God talks about Himself.

Reading one verse a day can satisfy you.

In Vrindavan the atmosphere of spirituality is very profound in the temples.

The tilaka reminds us that we are spiritual beings, and God is in our heart.

If one accumulates more than he needs, he ends up taking that set aside for others, and one has to suffer some reaction for that.

If we endeavor spiritually, we will find our crises will be solved.

We should work as an offering to God, while viewing all beings to be part of God.

It is important to dedicate part of our day to spiritual cultivation.

I recommend that everyone take at least a small book to understand more about spiritual life.

Vyasa Puja Offerings

Offering by Prabhupada Disciples:

Jagannatha Nrsimha Prabhu:

The pure devotees is on a mission from Krishna to rescue fallen souls. By contacting him a disciple’s life changes. By Prabhupada’s life we can see the example of the life of a pure devotee of Krishna, and try to perfect our life.

The pure devotee establishes service to the Deity so we can be directly engaged in the Lord’s service, as there is no difference between the Deity and the Lord Himself.

We are so fortunate that we have found Srila Prabhupada, who is a true guru.

I served Srila Prabhupada in Vrindavan. Sometimes I could be sitting near him, chanting my japa for two hours, and he was not disturbed by that. He was very grave.

When Prabhupada saw the picture of Krishna whirling around, he moved his arms in the same motion, imitating the pastime.

I was sent to go to Prabhupada’s kitchen three hours a day to do what was needed.

I would clean the floor and clean the kitchen. My mind was very dedicated to the service, and I was satisfied.

I did not have much of a spiritual urge, but in the association of a pure devotee, that develops.

Once Bhakti Charu Swami asked me to come into Prabhupada’s association. Prabhupada spoke to me very slowly, very softly. I said I did not speak English, but he went on speaking. I was very embarrassed. At the end I just folded my hands before him. Later I learned that he was asking me to be careful to leave the kitchen door shut so the monkeys did not get in. He also inquired about how I liked my service.

Once I was very happy after completing my service. As I was leave, I offered full obeisances on the floor. I saw he had a big smile on his face, from ear to ear.

Nrsimha Prabhu:

When Prabhupada was asked about his own guru, he replied, “What can I say, he was a Vaikuntha man [a resident of the spiritual world].”

He did not tell many stories about his guru but he did tell the story how he met his guru.

Just by hearing from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura for a few moments he could understand he was an authorized representative of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

He told of how one time he was early for a meeting with Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and he sat on the same seat at his guru. Then others came and sat on the floor and he realized he made a mistake. His guru did not say again, but Srila Prabhpada never made that mistake again.

Prabhupada stressed that everyone can associate with him by reading his books. Devotees would want to have some personal exchange with Srila Prabhupada and so would ask him questions, but he stressed that all answers to all questions were in his books.

Only a rare person such as Srila Prabhupada can accept the worship of the whole world.

Sometimes people consider the deity or murti to be a way of fixing the mind on an object of worship. It is that, but it is also that Krishna as the Deity personally accepts the food.

When Srila Prabhupada approved the worship of his murti form (representation as a statue), one disciple asked him if they could really offer food to the tomurti and that he could accept it. Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes.” And then he quoted a verse: Sak?ad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih.

I was a new devotee in Miami who joined almost immediately, attracted by the holy name. Later, when the offering of flowers to Srila Prabhupada was introduced, I found I was immediately attracted, seeing this a real connection with Srila Prabhupada, Krishna’s representative. I was very experiential in those days but not so philosophical, and so Krishna gave me those nice experiences. When Prabhupada came to New York, a thousand devotees from America and Canada came to greet him including me. When I saw him personally it seemed the same as worshiping him in the temple.

The devotees had a farm in Hawaii that the GBC wanted to sell, but Prabhupada told him not to sell it. He said he would enter nirjana-bhajana there and complete his translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam.” We had the simplest facility with no electricity and just a thin mat to sleep on, but Srila Prabhupada was very blissful the whole time. The devotees were worried about their lack of facility, but Srila Prabhupada was perfectly happy.

I presented to Srila Prabhupada an elaborate plan for a temple, ashram and elaborate preaching project there in Hawaii, but Srila Prabhupada replied if you just offer nice fruits and flowers to Gaura Nitai, they will be satisfied.

Srila Prabhupada wrote Vishnujana Swami, “When the waves of maya attack, your little sentiment for Krishna may not sustain you, therefore all the devotees must fully understand the philosophy.”

a Prabhupada disciple whose name I did not note down:

I am very happy how yesterday’s Janmastami went. I felt the presence of Srila Prabhupada in everything and every devotee.

As a student in my youth in Buenos Aires, I used to read Hindu poems and realized there was something I could not find in the western culture, so I decided go to India. While there I got a small bowl of halava and an invitation to the temple. I learned from this that we should invite everyone without discrimination because we do not know who may end up becoming a devotee.

I love India, and I want to end my life there. I love Vrindavan, everything about it, and Srila Prabhupada has given us enlightenment to appreciate.

In Rishikesh on either side of Ram Jhulan, you see sadhus, beggars, and monkeys. The monkeys sit as though chanting gayatri.

I traveled together throughout Europe with a Mexican friend who I immediately connect with because he was also interested in Srila Prabhupada’s books. We went to this devotee farm in central France, New Mayapur, where they just purchased an abandoned castle. We started helping with the renovation. We thought we were going for a weekend, but we stayed two years.

At a reception for Srila Prabhupada I took literally the instruction to roll in the dust of the pure devotee. The ground was wet and I got all muddy, but I was so happy I did not notice.

At my initiation while offering obeisances, and I went completely blank. They had to tell me to move.

My service was to keep anyone from disturbing Srila Prabhupada while he was translating. I also got to get the remnants of Srila Prabhupada as soon as they were available. I do not know how I got so much mercy.

We carried Srila Prabhupada by palanquin and noticed very little different in weigh whether Srila Prabhupada was in it or not.

The castle had hold locks with big holes, and devotees would look through the holes to see Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada noticed this, and peeked into the hole himself, saying “Haribol,” and surprising the devotee on the other end.

Srila Prabhupada had amazing qualities that make you want to respect him.

One in Paris Prabhupada showed his humility, there was choice between whether he or a devotee lady could proceed first, and Srila Prabhupada smiled, and said “Ladies first.”

One time Prabhupada had a choice to go this way or that way, Prabhupada chose a path that seemed otherwise less attractive because by that path he passed by one of his disciples, saying he wanted to see his devotee serving Krishna.

Offerings from the Vyasa Puja book:

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

If you arrived a decade earlier or later, you would not have found a class of people ready escape the rat race for a life of devotion to Krishna.

I gave you the typed pages, and you looked them over, and said they were well done. Then you gave me a few grapes. I foolishly thought “I worked so hard typing into the night, and all I get is a few grapes?” You gave me more manuscripts to type, and then you said, “Doing this typing is not a mechanical process. If you will love me, I will love you.” These words had a profound effect on me. They broke down my barriers of resistance and all the reasons I had for not becoming your disciple.

You are ISKCON’s flag victory.

You are the eternal resident of Vrindavan whom we must follow if we wish to enter Radha-Krishna’s service in Goloka Vrindavana.

Guru Prasad Swami:

You taught, following Rupa Goswmi, that desirelessness is to desire only for Krishna. You showed perfect desirelessness by desiring that everyone offering everything to Krishna and by spreading the chanting of Krishna’s name all over the world.

Bhakti Charu Swami:

I made a minor mistake and a godbrother reprimanded me heavily. You heard the details and said, “The sign of real advancement is not in the position we hold but in being tolerant in all circumstances and remaining unperturbed in every situation.”

You once told me, “Make sure the devotees get nice prasadam. It is the only sense gratification they have.” Then you explained to me that the first and foremost responsibility of leader is to take care of his followers. “If you take care of them, they will do anything for you.”

Giriraja Swami:

My hope going back to Godhead had diminished in the years since you left, but by the association with my godbrothers in Vrindavan, I acquired new hope. These verses encouraged me as I saw the truth in them by my experience.

One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside Mathura and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krishna. (Cc. Madhya 22.128–129)

Offerings by Other Devotees:

Yadunandana Swami:

Tamal Krishna Goswami’s book, A Living Theology of Krishna Bhakti, mentions the contributions of Srila Prabhupada.

He identifies two maha-vakyas of Srila Prabhupada.
1. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as explained by Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28.
2. devotional service, not just devotion, there must be service.

Srila Prabhupada contributed 50 volumes of translations, 60 volumes of lectures, 36 volumes of conversations, and some many volumes of letters. No other scholar contributed so much. You would have to dedicate your whole life to study it all.

We have not understood Srila Prabhupada with enough depth.

Srila Prabhupada got up early to contribute all the books so we could study them.

When we hear the glorification of the devotees, we are reminded that Srila Prabhupada is a touchstone even now, bringing out bhakti in their hearts.

In the Spanish yatra we tend to see all the things that are wrong, but we experience that Janmastami in Malaga is getting better each year. The senior leaders are still present, but the new people are taking more responsibility.

Dhruva Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada has given us all to each other. We did not know each other two days ago but now we are glorifying Srila Prabhupada as brothers and sisters. The devotees all over the world are a family, and Srila Prabupada is the father. We are all sons and daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters.

Wherever I travel in the world I am always in Srila Prabhupada’s house.

As an Indian I knew the mantra and would chant it 10 times a year. Prabhupada gift is that we chant 16 rounds a day. It is like the difference between taking a drop of honey and a whole bottle of honey.

You can read all the 700 verses of Bhagavad-gita and you will not chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. But if you read the purports of Srila Prabhupada, you will end up chanting Hare Krishna without even realizing.

In India maha-prasadam is not new. In every temple you get maha-prasadam, but you get only one peanut and you hardly know where it goes in your mouth, but Srila Prabhupada gave us whole meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so much you cannot eat any more.

The more we cooperate, the more Prabhupada is pleased.

I like whole Janmastami program here. The prasadam was packaged before midnight and it was distributed within fifteen minutes. Some places it is after one before everyone gets it. Also the guests got a drink and a sweet as soon as they came. In India we says the guests should be treated as God. It is important we receive the guests properly. They are not coming to see us, they are coming to see Srila Prabhupada.

Jiva Tattva Prabhu:

Prabhupada started without support at a late age. By material calculation, you would not expect success. He had two heart attacks on the boat. He had little money. His faith in Lord Caitanya’s prediction and his books were his only assets. He had no initial success. He shared living space with a Mayavadi who would not let him speak, and then later a drug-crazed madman. The faith and conviction Srila Prabhupada had to continue was incredible. It is like the Christians say, if one has a grain of faith, one can more mountains.

Rasamrta Mataji:

This philosophy is Srila Prabhupada’s greatest gift. He has given the means to purify the heart. He lets me live with those who desire a spiritual life.

Uttara Mataji:

I am happy to be at your Vyasa Puja. It is my favorite festival. You always take care of me. Many years ago when I lost my spiritual master, I prayed to you to send me a spiritual master. You sent me Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and he increased my love for you. I had a dream in which you asked me to make puris and to stitch your dhoti.

Rasasundari Mataji:

I had a dream which was very personal. I was in front of the murti, and the murti became Srila Prabhupada. That was very profound. I understood that Prabhupada is with us personally as his murti, and we can always take shelter of him.

My guru told me when we go beyond our comfort zone to do something for Srila Prabhupada we get so much mercy.

I am very grateful for being part of this family.

Gauranga-lila Devi:

I have a strong feeling of gratitude toward Srila Prabhupada, which gives me anxiety because I feel a great debt that I can never really pay back. Thus I pray for the intelligence to serve him nicely and that I will never leave his shelter.

Caitanya Candra Prabhu:

Prabhupada arranged everything so we can please Krishna. We should get more into Srila Prabhupada’s mission.


patrapatra-vicara nahi, nahi sthanasthana
yei yanha paya, tanha kare prema-dana

In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.23)