Sunday, September 30, 2012

Travel Journal#8.16: Czech Woodstock, Polish Padayatra & Festival, Slovakia

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 8, No. 16
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2012, part two
)
Czech Woodstock, Polish Padayatra & Festival, Slovakia
(Sent from Manchester, England, on September 30, 2012)

Where I Went and What I Did

After the Kirtana Mela in Spain, I took a late night flight to Budapest, spent the night with Uddhava Prabhu, who I knew from America, and then took buses to Prague and then to Trutnov for the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival, also known as the Czech Woodstock. I love sharing kirtana with the people at that event, and I share with you some highlights. Next at the invitation of my Polish devotee friends, I attended their padayatra and nama-hatta festival, both very satisfying experiences. Then I met up with Bhakta Trevor and Dhruva Prabhu and traveled to eastern Slovakia where we joined Janananda Goswami and his followers and did harinamas and programs in Slovakia and one Czech Republic.

I have an extensive “Insights” section this time, and include points from Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and books, realizations by Janananda Goswami, notes from the lectures, books, and online journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, notes on a seminar by Krishna Ksetra Prabhu on yama and niyama, as well as an initiation lecture by him, and notes by lectures by senior devotees in the Polish yatra.

More Polish Woodstock Stories

Since I wrote about the Polish Woodstock, I have heard more nice stories about it from different devotees.

One devotee from Wroclaw told me he saw a girl at the Woodstock who loved dancing in our Ratha-yatra procession. She was so enthusiastic that she induced her boyfriend and another couple to also participate and so they all spend three hours dancing in the Ratha-yatra procession. A month later the devotee telling me the story was standing by the book table after the Ratha-yatra in Wroclaw, and he saw that very same girl, and she inquired from him which of the book he recommended.

For several years, several of my friends and I have done harinama at the train station the day after the Polish Woodstock. Many hundreds of people are camped out around the train station waiting for trains, and those who liked visiting our Krishna's Village of Peace are happy to see us once again before returning home. If you haven’t seen the video for this year, here is a link to it:


Gatida Prabhu, who organizes the questions and answers tent on the Polish tour, has a friendly relationship with the person in charge of organizing all the extra trains needed to take the thousands of people back to their homes after the event. That man told him that there was a lot of tension there at the train station among the people waiting for hours for the trains, but when the devotees came through with their chanting, the tension disappeared. The man requested, or practically ordered, that each year the devotees do harinama at the train station after the Woodstock to keep the peace. The man is also involved in naming the extra trains. One of the trains this year was a Polish phrase that meant warm and sweet, and referred to the halava that the devotees serve 150,000 plates of during the Woodstock event. Gatida said we could have some input into the train names and perhaps next year they could be given names like “Jagannath Express,” one of the trains in India from Howrah to Puri.

Trutnov Open Air Music Festival
(Czech Woodstock)

Our participation in the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (also known as Czech Woodstock) continues for three and a half days. Mostly we do chanting and distribution of spiritual food. Beyond that there is bharat-natyam dance, face painting, a questions and answers booth, and of course, a book table. We are friends with Martin, the organizer, who loves the form of Lord Jagannatha, and includes His face on all the stages, wristbands, and promotional material. 



Thus we have our own stage and camp. There are other stages, and we also got to chant and discuss our philosophy on the stage next to the main stage this year for a change.



I danced with the mantra sign in front of the stage because I could not find a good place to put it on the stage.


Guru Das (center above), disciple of Srila Prabhupada, who joined in San Francisco in 1967, was our guest this year, and he spoke several times at a couple different venues. His theme was that open air music concerts were about more than music and drugs, but a place where people can get to together and share ideas about living a better life and benefiting the world.



He talked about the history of open air music events beginning in the sixties and of his relationship with George Harrison and the Beatles. He was happy doing his own thing in those days, but when he met Srila Prabhupada he became even happier. The high of drugs wore off and became a low, but the swami had a program for staying high forever, and it worked. “Don’t take my word for it,” he said. “Try it yourself. Chant Hare Krishna.” I think anyone with a tendency to seek a higher consciousness would have been moved by his words and his friendly appeal. One young lady in the front row of the audience laughed at the humorous points he made during one talk, so I decided to give her a mantra card and invitation to our programs, which she gave to a friend. That night she returned and sat again in the front row, listening to the kirtana. Then she suddenly jumped up and began chanting and dancing like everyone else in front of her. Then she would sit down for a little bit, but it would become to ecstatic, and again she would get up and chant and dance. The beautiful thing about Trutnov is you can see attendees gradually advance in attraction to Krishna even in the course of a single festival.

Some people in the audience put a lot of feeling in their chanting which was impressive to me. Some even chanted during both the lead and response, and a few would go on for hours. Often you could just look at people and chant, smile, and dance, and they would begin to chant, smile, and dance, too.

One group of five people from Holland told me they have been coming to Trutnov for seven years. Dancing and singing with the Hare Krishnas is a regular daily part of the festival for them. We remembered each other from previous years, and they all wanted their picture taken with me. I told them how we have 200 people singing at Queen’s Day in Amsterdam.

My harinama friend Vishnujana Prabhu said some people told him they have been coming to our Krishna camp at Trutnov for five years.

At our spiritual food booth run by Govinda’s restaurant, two girls came by with trays and a list of food items for a band on the main stage called Anti-Flag. Apparently three of the band members wanted vegan Krishna food for dinner and had sent their staff to get it! According to Wikipedia, Anti-Flag is an American punk rock band from Pittsburg started back in 1988. They also played at the Polish Woodstock.

I would dance a certain step on our stage, and some people in the crowd would faithfully follow it with delight. The next two days some of the people would see me and begin the dance I taught them with smiles on their faces.

I saw Shari and Elishka chanting and dancing in crowd, mutual friends who I have known for three years and who appear my video from 2009. At Trutnov, Shari says, she only eats our food, and the other food makes her sick. Shari wants to get a Ph.D. in ethnology specializing in religion. She is friends with the people who run the devotee restaurant named Baladeva’s in Trutnov. She likes the Trutnov festival because you can count on their being kirtana there whenever you go, whereas kirtana programs at Govinda’s in Prague are rare. I suggested periodically we should do a six-hour kirtana at Govinda’s in Prague, later Punya Palaka Prabhu and I began to make plans for one.

One girl stayed in our tent for over an a hour with her boyfriend, who was often chanting, but although she smiled, she never chanted the whole time. I wondered, “What will it take to get that girl to chant?”



The next day the couple met us on harinama and during the harinama she began to sing along. Later she came to our camp and chanted with us as well.

One lady, who looked to be in her thirties, remembered me from last year. She said she came to our camp the previous night and found the kirtana very powerful, so much so it brought tears to her eyes.

A brother and sister from Brno both liked the chanting and dancing. I told them I planned to be in Brno the evening of August 27 hoped to do some chanting then, and they gave me they contact details so I could inform them.

One young lady whose mother is Czech and whose father is Italian was singing both during the lead and the response and dancing vigorously, with heart and soul. She seemed so enthusiastic that I thought she must have had previous experience with the devotees, but she said coming to our tent the night before was her first experience. Mostly she lives in Prague, so I gave her an invitation to the our Wednesday program at the Govinda’s restaurant there, which she was happy to receive. Seeing her enthusiasm I was reminded that Krishna promises to reward us as we surrender to Him, and so if someone puts their heart and soul into chanting His names, they will certainly experience some reciprocation from Krishna, who will inspire them to continue.

One person who only knew Czech I referred to Punya Palaka Prabhu who later told me what he said. He had very grave look on his face and he said he experienced the Hare Krishna mantra to be like a powerful drug, not just marijuana but like heroin. Punya could not understand if he felt Hare Krishna was positive or not, so he asked him. The man said gravely that it was neither bad nor good but very powerful. I found that to be an interesting realization because transcendental pleasure is beyond the good and bad of the material world, and the Hare Krishnal mantra is described to be so powerful it can free one from all his karma. Later on in my reading of Caitanya-caritamrita, I found that the author compared the love of God distributed by Lord Caitanya through the medium of the holy name with a great intoxicant: “The fruit of love of Godhead distributed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu is such a great intoxicant that anyone who eats it, filling his belly, immediately becomes maddened by it, and automatically he chants, dances, laughs and enjoys.” So this young Czech man had a little realization of this, although he was worried because he was not aware that the effect is beneficial.

On the last night, I brought my harmonium and sound system in case some of the Trutnov attendees wanted to continue the chanting while other devotees were packing up our camp. One lady and three guys stayed and we chanted another 15 minutes or so, along with Bhaktin Martina (known as TG) from Slovakia, who likes to sing. The lady in the group lives in Trutnov, and Punya Palaka Prabhu explained to her that we have periodic programs in our restaurant there called Baladeva.

Poland Padayatra 2012



Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Srila Prabhupada were the actual leaders of the Polish Padayatra, whose participants walked for five days, August 19 to 23, between and through villages around New Shantipur farm in southwestern Poland. 


The Polish devotees did padayatra with a small ox cart pulled by one bull. 


Here we passed cows in the field, and they looked like they longed to join our party.


The devotees did a two-hour evening program with sit down bhajans,



Ramayana puppet show, lecture,


a stand up kirtana, 



and prasadam each evening.

During the walk we would chant Hare Krishna the entire time. One or two devotees would distribute books.



Also a teenage devotee girl named Devaki would distribute prasadam cookies, and she was very successful, getting almost everyone to take one, and friend of hers took pictures. Sometimes during the afternoon one or two devotees would distribute books in the village where the evening program was to be held and invite people to it.

The people in general were happy to see the devotees. One man removed his hat and waved it in salute, speaking words of praise as the cart bearing Gaura-Nitai and Srila Prabhupada, and followed by their harinama sankirtana party, passed. One man offered a military salute. Many people waved, smiled, and took pictures. Even the drivers of cars passing us slowed down and took pictures.



One car had a sun roof, and a child stood on the seat of the car and took pictures from the opening in the roof as the car drove slowly by. From the same car, an adult took pictures through the opened window on the passenger side of the vehicle. One car passed us and stopped, and a lady got out to take pictures. I thought about Lord Caitanya’s prediction of his name being chanted in every town and village and was filled with ecstatic emotions seeing it gradually happening. I usually focus on chanting in the cities because more people benefit, but Lord Caitanya actually said “nagaradi grama,” every town and village. He is so merciful, He wants to benefit everyone everywhere, in all the teeny little villages, not just the masses in the cities.


The family of Visvakarma Prabhu, a former head cook on the Polish tour, impressed me with their participation in the evening bhajanas. Husband, wife, and children were very much into the kirtana, all happily chanting, and the young twin girls were singing, smiling, clapping, and swaying back and forth with the music the entire time. Usually kids space out after awhile and lose interest, but the twin girls were enthusiastic the whole time, and it was beautiful to see.

Srila Prabhupada says on his popular recording describing the Hare Krishna mantra that “even a dog can take part in the chanting.” I never had so much realization of the truth of this as at one evening program on the padayatra, when four kids from the audience danced to the kirtana, with their pet dog in the middle of them.



Two kids were on each side of the dog, with the two kids next to the dog each holding one of the front paws of the animal, while it danced on its back two legs. It was amazing to see. 

Here is a video with some highlights of the Polish Padayatra:



For those averse to austerities, I recommend the Polish padayatra over the Slovenian and Czech padayatras, which I visited in 2009. In Poland only the bull and one or two devotees camped out where our walk finished each day. The rest of the devotees returned to the temple by minibus and came back early the next afternoon. There was only about two hours of walking each day, compared to the longest padayatra I visited, the one in Slovenia where they do sometimes five or six hours a day. The Polish padayatra included a public program every evening, like the Czech one. The Slovenian padayatra did a public evening program every fourth day or so, but had a more extensive program of prasadam and book distribution during the walk.

When I first saw the cart which was much smaller than the ones in Czech and Slovenia, I was thinking in material way that this was a small time event. I mentioned my surprise at the small cart to a brahmacari friend, Pancatattva Prabhu, who said “Small is beautiful.” And indeed it was a very wonderful padayatra despite its apparent smallness. It was beautiful to see the happiness of the souls in the different towns and villages who from their words and smiles you could see had a spontaneous attraction to the devotees and their chanting. It reminded me of Srila Prabhupada’s statement:

Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived and the process is recommended by authorities for this age. By practical experience also, we can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or the great chanting for deliverance, one can at once feel transcendental ecstasy from the spiritual stratum.”

The last day of the padayatra was the best. We passed out all the prasadam cookies as we walked. Sometimes some children followed us for ten or fifteen minutes, sometimes half an hour, walking or riding their bicycles. I gave a Polish mantra card to a couple of girls who seemed older and more seriously attracted than the rest, and they chanted a few mantras with us.

At the final kirtana of the program, three moms in the audience, perhaps in their thirties, loudly chanted the Hare Krishna mantra with big smiles on their faces. Several people videoed the parts of the kirtana, and one man videoed the whole thing. We only had a few mantra cards which we gave to the most enthusiastic chanters. As we were packing up, the three ladies amazed us by starting a Hare Krishna kirtana themselves. Some of the girls danced, and some of the devotees joined in and began playing the instruments.

We talk about how Krishna consciousness is universal and meant for everyone. Sometimes we have doubts because few are attracted. This program was a powerful confirmation for me that Krishna consciousness is for everyone and Krishna is all-attractive. Otherwise, how is it that thirty or forty people from a town so small I cannot find its population listed stay interested in the whole two-hour program? And how were these moms, with no prior experience of it, suddenly so happy to chant and so much attracted they wanted to start chanting on their own when we stopped?

Lord Caitanya wanted His name chanted in every town and village, and we can see that He does reciprocate when His followers endeavor in that way. We can only hope that more devotees in more countries, cities, towns, and villages, might endeavor in this way, and Lord Caitanya’s prediction might be realized sooner, rather than later, and many, many people will be benefited.

Poland Nama-Hatta Festival

Each year the Polish devotees have a nama-hatta festival at their farm in south Poland, New Shantipur. This year’s special guest was Krishna Ksetra Prabhu, who did a series of lectures on yama and nivasa, the first two steps of the astanga, or eight-step, yoga system. These two also have relevance in bhakti-yoga, and he talked about that. Lots of devotees like kirtana there, and it was fun to chant with them. I did a little seminar on the meanings of our daily songs and prayers as they are more fulfilling to sing when we know what they mean, and the few people who came were glad they had. A special feature they added this year was a Ratha-yatra on the roads surrounding the farm.


I was given a kerosene torch to hold, and I found it challenging to illuminate Lord Jagannatha while walking along with the cart. You had to avoid stepping on other people’s toes, setting the cart on fire, or stepping in the stinging nettle plants along the side of the road. Still it was great to do another Ratha-yatra, although I recommended they might consider doing it during the daytime next year. Nama Hatta leader, Trisama Prabhu, who I have known from coming to the Polish tour for years, kindly gave me a donation for my travels and invited me back to the festival next year.

Chanting Enroute from Poland to Slovakia

Trevor, who aspires to be initiated by Janananda Goswami, and I traveled together from Wroclaw, Poland, to Bratislava, Slovakia, together, to meet my friend, Dhruva Prabhu, who was flying in from London, and then continued to join Janananda Goswami’s traveling harinama party which was presently based on our farm, New Ekacakra, outside Presov, in eastern Slovakia. While traveling we chanting in Wroclaw before our train began, and in Klodzko, Poland, while waiting for a bus that was meant to replace our train to Miedzylesie, the town on the Polish/Czech border. Two construction workers took a break from their work to investigate us. Having a limited Polish vocabulary, I explained our performance as “spiritual vibrations from India,” which they seemed to understand, accept, and appreciate.

At Ústí n.Orlicí in Czech we met a girl I remembered from the Czech Woodstock this year. She dressed like a hippie, with a long colorful skirt and had come every day to our Krishna camp with her friends, and always seemed happy to be there. I mentioned we had programs in different part of Czech, and she said that she was already in contact with one of the devotee girls about them. She said she had come to the Trutnov festival five times. She was so into it she had the armbands for all five festivals on her arm! I gave her some maha-prasadam, burfi from our Polish farm, and she was very happy to receive it. I was trying to figure out if there was some reason Krishna arranged we miss our train in Poland and had to take a later one, and I came to the conclusion one reason might be He wanted to give that girl some more mercy.

We were too late to chant much at Brno, where I hoped we would do harinama. We did chant some while waiting for a tram, on the way to our place to stay, offered by a Brno student we had met at Trutnov the previous year, who has began regularly attending the weekly programs at our local center. (The book distributors were traveling so we could not stay at the center.) While we were chanting a lady came up to us, smiling happily to encounter the Hare Krishnas, and she began to sing along. She talked to our host, and we learned that the woman apparently lived in Australia from where, she said, she knew about Hare Krishnas and that she is really into eastern philosophy. Both at the train station and on the way to our place several people said, “Hare Krishna” to us. This is probably because each Friday the devotees do harinama around the train station in Brno. We chanted the evening tune with our host, who we helped to learn the standard karatala beat, as Trevor cooked an Ekadasi dinner of potatoes and tomatoes. The next morming we chanted for the commuters waiting for the city bus, and people at the train station who happened to be standing on the same platform as our train toward Bratislava.

We got to Bratislava airport early, and we must have chanted for an hour there, both before and after meeting Dhruva Prabhu. We were pleased that the authorities allowed our chanting to continue unabated. Trevor practiced a few Hare Krishna tunes in the space between the carriages on the train to eastern Slovakia and also was not disturbed by the authorities.

Harinamas in Slovakia

Gypsy village near New Ekacakra:

We chanted for one and half hours at a gypsy village near the Hare Krishna farm in eastern Slovakia, Nova Ekacakra. For an hour we had an audience of 100 people. Some smiled, some clapped, some danced, and some even chanted Hare Krishna in tune. When we left the village 50 gypsy children followed us back to our car. We had one car and nine people so we had to make two trips to back to the temple, and some of us kept chanting while we waited for the car to return for us. When the last car left, there were still twenty kids there to wave good-bye to the chanting party.

Roznava:


We must have had about twelve devotees, led by Janananda Goswami, on harinama in Roznava, a district town in eastern Slovakia.




You could understand Hare Krishnas were a rare sight in Roznava by seeing the reactions of the people, but there are always some who smile approvingly, who give the old thumbs up, or take pictures. We started at Tesco, a traditional harinama meeting point in different cities, only surpassed by Marks and Spencers in the UK. Unfortunately we could not even stay a whole hour as we had to catch a couple buses to Hankova, which Maharaja has a disciple and where we stayed the night.

Stitnik:

It took two buses to Hankova, and so we had twenty minute layover at Stitnik, at a bus stop, surrounded by shops in the middle of that small town, with a bunch of people hanging out. I decided to chant, using our amplifier, as we sat on the bench waiting for the bus. A couple people came up close and took pictures. One lady wanted to have her picture taken with the devotees, and Jivananda Prabhu, the only one of the four of us who knew the Slovak language spoke to her. A boy took five minutes of video, smiling a lot while he was filming. Jivananda Prabhu said book distributors who later came to Stitnik found the residents still remembering favorably our spontaneous kirtana there.

Lucenec:




Lucenec, where a very few devotees live, was another short and sweet harinama. We went up and down the main street once before having to catch our train to Bratislava. Janananda Goswami is very liberal to look after these devotees in small cities in eastern Slovakia by coming there and doing harinamas and programs with them.

Chanting in Czech

Janananda Goswami attended a monthly nama-hatta program just outside the medium-sized city of Pardubice, in northern Czech Republic, just 85 miles from the Polish border, the city where the first Czech temple was started. As our over-priced EC train arrived over an hour before the program, I suggested we do a harinama, and so four of us did. I always feel victorious to chant in a new city. We met two very favorable people. One was a young man who says he already chants Hare Krishna because he had heard a popular recording of the mantra a Czech pop singer had made in the 1960s or 1970s. Jivananda Prabhu talked to him and gave him information about our programs in Czech Republic. Another was a middle-aged gypsy woman who loved music, and imitated all our dance steps, spending over 20 minutes participating in our harinama. She kept trying to get her friends to join in, and one came over to look for a few minutes. It reminded me how attraction to Krishna sound is such an individual thing. Trevor considered the whole 75-minute harinama successful because that one lady was inspired to hear it so much and dance along. We’ chanted another ten minutes later at the Pardubice train station as we waited for our train to Poland for the next day’s Ratha-yatra in Wroclaw, which for us was to be followed by Kirtana-Mela in Germany.

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.2 given in Hyderabad, April 13, 1975:

Mukti [liberation] means to live without conditions.

To follow the mahajanas means to serve their mission. We are followers of Rupa Goswami. Why? Because he wanted to establish the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He understood that Caitanya was Krishna come as a devotee to demonstrate the process to love Him.

We are bound up, but we are declaring independence. That is our foolishness. If you really want independence you have to surrender to Krishna or His representative.

For one who determined to be happy in the material world, it is impossible to advance in Krishna consciousness.

We are thinking we are purusa, the enjoyer, but we are actually prakrti, that which is enjoyed. When we accept our identity as prakrti and understand that we are to be enjoyed by Krishna, then we are liberated.

As long as we want something, we cannot be prasanta, peaceful.

from lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.2 in London on September 17, 1969:

Liberation or freedom means you go to the spiritual world and do not come back. Not like the scientists going to the moon planet, collecting some dust, and coming back.

People are like animals. They have two hands and two legs, but they are animals, because they have been trained to be like animals.

If you associate with a mahatma (great soul) you become mahatma, if you associate with debauch, you become debauch.

from his Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.7.6 purport:

If we massage a person’s legs, we do not really serve the legs but the person who possesses the legs. All the demigods are different parts of the Lord, and if we offer service to them, we actually serve the Lord Himself.

Janananda Goswami:

The Goswamis are our friends and our primary siksa [instructing] gurus. By serving them all obstacles to devotional service are vanquished and all spiritual desires are fulfilled. This result is obtained in proportion to our degree of surrender.

Taking the shelter of feet of the Six Goswamis can be understood to mean taking shelter of the servants of the Six Goswamis by following their instructions.

Rupa Manjari is in the party of Lalita.

We cannot write songs imitating Narottama Dasa Thakura or Bhaktivinoda Thakura as they are eternal associates of the Lord who have come to reveal a little of the spiritual world to us.

If we do not like serve the immediate predecessor, we will not make it in the spiritual world, because there also the devotees serve their immediate superior in the service of the Lord. They are satisfied to be the servant of the servant.

Raganuga spontaneously arises after the stage of liberation, after all anartas or unwanted things are eliminated. It is not something you can read about in book and practice. The removal of the anarthas happens by the mercy of Krishna who is pleased our practice of following the instructions of the scriptures and the saintly persons.

The barometer of advancement is increase in faith.

One of the biggest reasons we do not advance as that we do not hear attentively.

The guru gives us practical service we can render to remove anarthas. In the beginning we may not be able to understand how the practice Srila Prabhupada gave us is complete, but if we continue acting according to it, we will see how we are purified.

Although the asta-kalika lila is not part of our practice, our acaryas have given us different songs for different times of day, such as udilo aruna for the morning, bhaja bhakata at noon, and kiba jaya jaya gourcander in the evening.

The sankirtana movement is primarily the movement of Lord Nityananda. When He sees someone trying to distribute the holy name, He becomes very merciful.

To have no fear, remember Lord Nityananda and chant the holy name.

Q: What does khoda nitai mean?
A: Lord Nityananda is Himself the Owner and Manager [of the marketplace of the holy name].

Dhruva Maharaja by following the instructions of Narada he got the darsana of the Supreme Lord and offered many prayers from his purified consciousness to Supreme Lord.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu liked especially the pastimes of Dhruva Maharaja and Prahlada Maharaja. He was not just absorbed in the the madhurya-lila.

When we engage our senses in the service of Krishna, we become free from maya.

Maya is just to see things separately from Krishna. It is not a separate energy competing with Krishna like Satan.

Fire is in paper and a iron rod, but it takes more energy to realize the fire in a iron rod than in paper. But when either paper or a iron is hot, they can ignite something else.

When the senses are purified, one sees this material world as the spiritual world.

In practically every chapter, Krishna is telling Arjuna how he can remember Him.

Srila Prabhupada was asked, “What is Vaikuntha [the spiritual world] like?”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “ . . . You cannot see?”

We cannot see electricity but we can see the effect of electricity, and so it is true of the Lord. Electricity can create heat or cold or produce images on a screen and thus we can understand that the electricity is present. Similarly the Supersoul enters the inert material energy and produces effects by which understand His presence.

When we try to enjoy this material energy in different ways we get burned.

Devotional service means learning how to use that which is at our disposal in relationship with Krishna.

Instead of being in the lap of maya, we have to come to the lap of Krishna. In age this is possible through the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.

The same material energy becomes the vehicle for our going back to Godhead when we engage it in devotional service.

The Lord delivers one who tries to engage everything in is devotional service.

Duryodhana is said to be an expansion of Kali.

Srila Prabhupada explained that some of the eternal servants of the Lord serve the Lord only in his pastimes in the material world, and he gave the example of Arjuna.

Google Goswami is the siksa-guru for everyone and everyone can approach him to inquire. [jokingly]

Q[by Dhruva Prabhu]: This verse seems to say that we should not be afraid of maya rather, we should welcome her and engage her in Krishna’s service.
A: That depends on our qualification. One who is not so advanced cannot engage the material energy in Krishna’s service in all respects. Prahlada Maharaja has prayers declaring his fear of maya and others declaring his fearlessness of maya. In the neophtye state we should be afraid of maya and use fear in Krishna’s service in that way.

On harinama in villages in Africa, and even in India, in the beginning it looks like no one is there and then suddenly people will appear from all directions.

You may have problems with your mind. But at least you have a mind, and as the song indicates, your task is simply to redirect the mind to the lotus feet for the Lord.

This is the way to control the mind. To chant Hare Krishna with others. This is the austerity for this age. It is the essential practice for all of us. It is not the age for solitary bhajanas.

The leaders brought in some German devotees to organize the English devotees to collect money to cover past debts. We bathed wherever we found water, pure or impure. The food was austere. We worked long hours, intimidating people to give money. It was complete contrary to my nature. It was so miserable I could not take it anymore, and I prayed to Krishna. Suddenly I could deal with the whole situation in a jovial way and when we came back to the temple that weekend, I was taken off that service and given just the service I desired.

Draupadi offended both this month of Purusottama Masa and Durvasa Muni in a previous life. She wanted a husband, and Durvasa Muni told her to worship the month of Purusottama, but she did not listen and thus she offended both the muni and the month. Thus she had to suffer very much in her next life. Everyone had rejected this month, but Krishna had accepted it and made it his own, naming it Purusottama masa, and so had become the the best of all holy months. After suffering greatly in her life as Draupadi, Krishna advised that she and the Pandavas worship the month of Purusottama, and their fortune completely changed. They regained everything they had lost.

Sometimes people complain, “Krishna married 16,108 wives. He is simply interested in sex. What a debauchee!” We can ask them where did you get that information that Krishna had so many wives. “From your books.” But did you continue reading how He expanded in 16,108 forms and lived with each wife in her own palace and satisfied them in all respects? You can hardly maintain one wife, and yet he perfectly maintained so many.

Srila Prabhupada made the point that Krishna as the Supreme Lord is the proprietor of everything and thus all the ladies belong to him. Thus the men who claim women as their wives are claiming Krishna’s women as their own and thus they could be considered debauchees but not Krishna.

Radhanatha Swami’s friend Ghanashyama was a prince in a royal family, but he fell in love with Vrindavana while on pilgrimage with the family, and decided to stay there. When after several attempts to get him to return, his family threatened that they would disinherit him and he would be poverty stricken. He picked up a grain of a dust from Vrindavan, and said this one grain of dust is more valuable than all the opulence of the material world.

Purnima is a holy day, and it is in Purusottama, a holy month. So it is a very, very holy day.

In English we say holiday, which derives from holy day, because most holidays were originally holy days.

Now, of course, holy days are not so holy. They have calculated more illegitimate children are conceived on Christmas and more liquor is drunk on Christmas than any other day. My father would never drink, smoke, or gamble, but on Christmas he would make an exception and do all three. He would eat meat, but on Christmas he would eat more than usual.

We should take advantage of holy days, such as Purnima and Ekadasi, to increase our hearing and chanting about Krishna.

The Six Goswamis wrote books, established temples, excavated the pastimes places of the Lord, and they taught the practical process of deity worship.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s song Suddha-bhakata teaches the value of devotional service.

When we associate with someone we are affected by their qualities. Thus if we associate with people who are attracted to Krishna we are affected by that.

When Krishna sees we are serving His devotees, He is very pleased and cleanses our hearts, and our natural attraction for Krishna arises.

When there is dirt on an electric contact, it will not conduct properly, until we clean it. In the same way, when our heart is cleansed with can connect with Krishna.

Ultimately it is the mercy of Krishna that we become attracted to Him, so we try to live in such a way that we attract Krishna’s mercy.

The material world is mostly upside down, and thus we end up going down.

The material world is very entangling, like a maze. We cannot see where was have come from or where we are going. We do not even know where we supposed to be going.

The seed that produced the tree cannot be seen once the tree has come into being. In the same way, we cannot see our origin.

How this material world works or what causes it to work we cannot understand.

When we stop trying to enjoy, control, and exploit this material world, and we try to surrender to Krishna, He releases us from this material world.

Devotional service is a practical way of living our lives in the consciousness that Krishna is the proprietor.

Some people say we have get rid of our ego, but that is not actually a fact. Ego means identity. So we cannot get rid of our identity, but we can get rid of our false ego, or misconception of our identity. Otherwise it is like getting rid of our head to get rid of a headache. The falsity needs to be removed, not the ego.

Some people thinks that individually is temporary, but in Bg. 15.7 explains that individuality is eternal.

The nature of the expansion of the living entities to serve the supreme.

In the material world we see ourselves in the center, but in the spiritual world we see Krishna in the center. By seeing the things in this center in relationship to Krishna we become qualified to go to the spiritual world.

So people consider if we take parts away from the whole, the whole becomes less, but there are examples that this is not always true. For example, when a mother gives birth to a child, both the mother and child continue to exist. Similarly when Krishna expands as the living entities, He does not lose His identity nor become lessened.

What are manifestations of pride?

  1. Acting without considering the desire of Krishna.
  2. Lessening one’s spiritual practice.
  3. Becoming upset if we are not honored.
  4. Blaming others for our failings.
  5. Becoming upset when advised by others.
  6. We see that Krishna, the material energy, and our guru all meant to serve us.
  7. Showing off.
  8. Faultfinding.
  9. Inappropriately instructing others.
  10. Making no effort to be attentive while chanting japa because you think you have something better to do.
  11. You do not want to serve. You want to be served.
  12. Never forgiving.
  13. Forgetting the misery of being in maya (illusion).
  14. Taking things for granted.

When the deity installation ceremony was being televised in Australia, Srila Prabhupada did not refrain from correcting his disciples, although it may be misunderstood, because he was more concerned that Krishna be served properly than what people taught about him.

One who is not proud never takes offense at all. He sees that Krishna is trying to educate him or purified him.

You lose the benefit of the austerity if you advertise it or show it off.

To counteract pride, give credit to the guru, Krishna, and the other devotees.

Try to chanting the holy name of the Lord together, try to chant attentively, pray as Brahma did to not be affected by pride, try to serve the devotees, and regularly read Srila Prabhupada’s books. These will help conquer pride.

In mental japa there is no japa if the mind wanders, but when japa is audible then even if the mind wanders, there is still benefit.

Krishna reveals Himself to one who He desires, but if we do not follow the directions of the spiritual master, we cannot expect Krishna to reveal Himself to us. Thus we should chant the holy name according to the direction of the spiritual master if we want to advance.

Anyone can chant the holy name, but if we want to attain pure chanting, there are certain rules to follow.

Sankirtana means chanting together or complete glorification of the Lord. If the goal of our activities is complete glorification of the Lord, then that those activities can be considered to be sankirtana.

Even while sleeping or eating we can chant.

By chanting while we perform activities we will not be overwhelmed we that idea that we are the performer of our activities.

Although certain conditions may be helpful for chanting, we do not need to wait for any condition before chanting. By chanting one becomes completely pure.

Lord Caitanya is giving the holy name to both the qualified and the unqualified.

I have heard one million go shopping on Oxford Street, and if they see or hear the harinama, they benefit spiritually.

By performing kirtana, we experience bliss, but by smaranam one may not taste bliss, if the mind is impure.

Bhaktisiddanta Saravati Thakura makes the point that in the Siksastaka Lord Caitanya only talks about kirtana. He says that if our sadhana does not help us in developing attachment to kirtana, it is actually an impediment to sadhana.

Sankirtana is very absorbing, and we feel something changing within the heart.

Our little dose of japa often turns into a doze.

We generally beginning by become attracted to the external features of the kirtana—the happiness of the devotees, etc.

There is no impediment to sankirtana. We should be trying to remove impediments to sankirtana, not increase them.

On World Holy Name Week we should think of ways to increase the chanting of the holy name.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from a Rama Navami lecture:

The Lord’s pastimes are not allegories. An allegory is a higher meaning than the literal text, but when the text is about the Lord, the Supreme Truth, there is nothing higher.

When Lord Rama broke the bow of Janaka Maharaja, the noise was so loud that all but Lord Rama, Laksman, and Visvamita Muni became unconscious.

from a Nrsimha Caturdasi lecture:

Hiranyakasipu, although he ruled the whole universe and had all objects of sense enjoyment, because his senses were not controlled could never be satisfied, Thus he is an example of the ultimate materialist.

from Calling Out to Srila Prabhupada:

O Prabhupada, whose disciples must find out for themselves the extent of their surrender to you, but who need you always to direct and console them on the path;
O Prabhupada, who offers the absolute way of sabda-brahma, and who defies the predominance of the methods known as pratyaksa (direct perception) and anumana (mental speculation);
O Prabhupada, who leads his followers in the intellectual scholarship of Vyasa, the six Gosvamis, Visvanatha, and Baladeva, and whose own example was that he never was defeated by an opponent or thrown into doubt, and who was never impressed by the vain speculations of Western philosophers, even when he heard their intricate logical constructions on the nature of God and reality; O Prabhupada, whose followers gave up their own allegiances to favorite speculators and writers when you made it clear that the jnanis can never arrive at perfect knowledge because of their imperfect methods, no matter how powerful they may be in mind or in sincerity;
O Prabhupada, who brought his followers far beyond mental speculation and far beyond voidism and far, far beyond the light of undifferentiated spirit (Brahman); who brought his followers into the presence of Sri Krishna in Krishnaloka, and who did this simply by singing the prayers of the Brahma-samhita and by explaining that we’re all gods, but Krishna is the isvara-parama, the sarva-karana-karanam, the cause of all causes;
O Prabhupada, who in older age stayed mostly in his room or in a temple, or who was seen in the lecture hall, at a festival site, in a brief visit to someone’s home, or who was seen on morning walks in a park or on a beach; who moved two or three times a month thousands of miles to another country, and who thereby showed the places that a sannyasi preacher frequents if he wants to follow Prabhupada’s example;
O Prabhupada, who cannot be imitated in all the little details of life, such as what articles he placed on his desk, or how he gestured with his head and hands or how he thought, because no one can exactly know the mind of a liberated Vaishnava;
O Prabhupada, who should also not be imitated as a guru by accepting daily guru-puja from a big opulent vyasasana, and whom we cannot imitate by attempting to surpass the Bhaktivedanta purports to Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, and The Nectar of Devotion, but who left an unlimited field for his followers to develop in the literature and arts of Krishna consciousness;
O Prabhupada, who sacrificed everything to spread the teachings of Lord Krishna, but who never lost his own simple devotion to Lord Krishna.”
from Wild Garden:

If we know better who we are, then we will stop clamoring to be heard, and we will be able to chant with attention.”

from Memories:

Prabhupada said that the more sinful and extravagant we were in youth, the more we would suffer in old age.

from Viraha Bhavan, August 25, 2012, poem:

I talked with [Jayadvaita] Maharaja about our
possible destination in the next
life. He said he didn’t mind birth and death,
but dreaded adolescence again.

from Viraha Bhavan, August 27, 2012, poem:

Haridasa Thakura says,
This loud kind of kirtana is
millions of times better
than the silent utterance
of the holy name
which only benefits oneself. Chanting for others is
far superior for clearing the sins
and making one eligible for love of God.
So these sadhus are performing the
greatest welfare by
singing harinama to the people at large.

from Viraha Bhavan, August 28, 2012, poem:

Again they are
performing the topmost yajna
for the age of Kali, congregational
loud chanting. Onlookers are
forced to hear the holy names for
their eternal benefit, “It never
suffers loss or diminution and a little
effort in it can save you from
the greatest fear.” What seems
like casual roadside performance
is the greatest welfare for rescue
of the fallen souls.

Krishna Ksetra Prabhu:

from a seminar on yama and niyama:

Why talk about these two limbs of astanga-yoga?
  1. Because yoga, particularly astanga-yoga, is popular now.
  2. Bhagavad-gita is very much a yoga scripture, and Krishna advises Arjuna to be a yogi. (Bg. 6.46)
  3. The sixth chapter of Bhagavad-gita is very much a summary of astanga-yoga.

When Rupa Goswami explains bhakti is not janma-karmady-avrtam [or covered by janma, karma, etc.], the adi [etc.] refers to yoga.

With the mercy of the Lord, it becomes possible to practice bhakti-yoga. So if we are so engaged we can feel fortunate that we have some of the Lord’s mercy.

Although asana comes after yama and niyama, most yoga studios do not teach anything about the preliminaries, yama and niyama. We think that talk of yama and niyama would be of great benefit to them. In America, there is the beginning of an understanding of this idea in the yoga community.

Patanjali defines yoga as nirodha vrtti citta, the winding up of the churning of the consciousness. Traditional yoga means to stop the movement of the mind.

Pratyahara comes from prefix prati, which means the opposite, and ahara which means to consume. So pratyahara means to resist the tendency to consume.

Dharana means to concentrate on concentration.

There is not a distinct border between dhyana (meditation) or samadhi (complete absorption).

Kevala is a “freedom from” the negative, not a “freedom to” do something positive.

Yama and niyama both deal with self-control, and therefore, with ethical behavior.

Sometimes it is said that sankhya is the theory and yoga is the practice.

Although the traditional yoga culminates in oneness, and thus being alone, to get there we have to properly deal with others.

Yama and niyama are equipping oneself to climb the mountain of yoga.

Adhikara means qualification and authorization, or the right or ability to practice yoga.

There are five subdivisions in both yama and niyama.

Yama and niyama are both defined as restraint. The prefix ni can mean a greater depth or an application. Thus niyama can be regulations or practices. Thus yama is more negative and niyama is more positive.

Yamas
  1. ahimsa (nonviolence)
  2. satya (truthfulness)
  3. asteya (not stealing)
  4. brahmacarya (celibacy, continence)
  5. aparigraha (nonpossessiveness)

Niyamas
  1. sauca (cleanliness)
  2. santosa (complete satisfaction)
  3. tapasya (austerity)Tapasya comes from tapas or heat, as austerity creates a kind of internal heat.
Srila Prabhupada says it is the voluntary acceptance of difficulty for a higher purpose.
  1. svadhyaya (study of the Vedas or self-study)
  2. isvara-pranidana (surrender unto the Lord)
    This is one of the few places that Patanjali refers to the Lord.
    Some argue this surrender is only as a means to attain some goal,
    while others say that it reveals Patanjali’s nature as a devotee.

Q: If the astanga system is not practical why does Krishna mention it?
A: Bhagavad-gita is something like a supermarket in which Krishna surveys different known practices.

If we just had Bhagavad-gita we would be confused, and so Lord Caitanya came and told us what to do, chant Hare Krishna. By following the instructions in chapter six of Bhagavad-gita we can better chant Hare Krishna, and by chanting Hare Krishna, we can better follow the instructions in chapter six.

1. Ahimsa (nonviolence):

We may think because we are vegetarian, we have already got our nonviolence badge, but if we look deeper, we may see we still have work to do.

I see two reasons for violence, biological and psychological, biologically for survival and psychologically from fear, arising from separation from the Lord. Artful, courageous, and balanced action leads to nonviolence. We all have talents we can positively engage. By consciously facing fear and not running from it, we can conquer over fear. Then we will be free to think of others’ welfare.

2. Satya (truthfulness):

Related to ahimsa.

Because truth has power it humbles the speaker of truth.

To be true to the self is the opposite of self-indulgence.

Because Krishna is the Supreme Truth to be conscious of Krishna is to be truthful.

3. Asteya (non stealing):

Rvaindra Svarupa Prabhu would remind us, “Before we becoming superhuman, we must become human.”

4. Aparigraha (nonpossessiveness):

If we feel complete, we will not seek happiness through possessions.

Nonpossessiveness is the practice of letting go of all sorts of things.

Krishna says if you do sacrifice you will get whatever you need. (Bg. 3.10) Otherwise you are a thief. (Bg. 3.12)

Q: What is the fear motivating Vaishnava hatred toward other Vaishnava groups?
A: It is a fear concerning a need for belonging. The fanatics are those who least secure in their beliefs.

Sometimes we read Chapter 16, and we think it is about those terrible demons out there. But in reality, we have to face our our own demons. But we do not have to go looking for temptation.

5. Brahmacarya (celibacy):

Brahmacarya is very much recommended for spiritual life.


Niyamas:

1. Sauca (cleanliness):

Just as we cleanse the temple daily, because the body is also a temple, we bathe every day.

God is supremely pure, yet we give Him a bath every day. Why? Because as we feel good when we are freshly bathed, so does God.

Cleanliness is especially for the grhastha asrama because there is a tendency to engage too much in sex which is impure. Why is sex impure? Yoga means freeing the oneself from the churning of the mind, and nothing churns the mind so much as sexual activity.

What is the beneficial opposite of material madness? Sobriety and spiritual madness are both good for spiritual life.

2. Santosa (satisfaction):

Needs:
Security
Significance
Satisfaction of spiritual, mental, and physical needs
Prabhupada sees varnasrama as the vehicle for this.
Expression
Socialization

How to be satisfied? Make a plan to satisfy real needs. In the face of inevitable dissatisfaction, count your blessings—be grateful.

Acceptence makes it possible to let go of negative emotions, admitting we are not God, just servants of God, and do not have the power to change things.

3. Tapasya (austerity):

Austerity is there in all varnas and asramas. I am sorry. There are no exceptions.

What was the defect of Gandhi’s austerity of fasting for political ends? It had only temporary results.

4. Svadhyaya (study of the scriptures):

It is encouraged that you find the different parts of the scripture that are your favorites, and make them yours. Dhanurdhara Swami taught a course twenty years ago on the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and he said at that point he had read it fifty times. He just really liked the Second Canto.

Learning about the self is the second most interesting thing. The most interesting thing is learning about Krishna. The more we know, the more interesting it gets. And the more we know, the less we think we know.

5. Isvara-pranidhana (surrender unto the Lord):

Prayer, meditation.

This brings a religion element to classical yoga.

Five factors:
place: nothing happens no where
person: nothing happens without the doer
senses: nothing happens without instruments for the action
effort: nothing happens without effort
daiva (destiny, fate, or for us, divinity, the will of God): nothing happens without God.

Isvara-pranidhana reminds us there is a final controller.

After one of the classes on yama and niyama, I told Krishna Ksetra Prabhu I thought of a subtitle for it:

Yama and Niyama: If You Don’t Begin at the Beginning, You Won’t End at the End

He smiled liking it.

from an initiation lecture:

Initiation is into the Krishna conscious practice of bhakti-yoga.

I am happy to be taking part in this. I was sitting as a initiate forty years ago in Paris. It was outside, and a rain forced the ceremony to completed the next day.

Initiation” in addition to meaning “beginning” also means “entering” and “connecting.”

We hear a lot about hearing, and it is important to consider it is something that we do for our whole life. The ongoing hearing is the confirmation of the connection made at initiation. At initiation we commit ourselves to hearing from our guru and the previous acaryas. And we affirm what we have heard by repeating it. Not just repeating it like a parrot. We have to consider what we heard and digest it.

The best way to learn something is to teach it to others. This is especially important for the brahmana initiates to understand.

We are pushed from behind and pulled from in front back to Godhead. In a sense, all be have to do is to yield to this pushing and pulling. We have to become malleable to the guru. We must yield to Krishna’s will, and we must hear vigilantly to know what Krishna’s will is.

The aspirations of those in this world are temporary.

The promise is we can go to this spiritual world, where water is like nectar, very easily.

We are praying for the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and the support of all the Vaishnavas and Vaishnavas.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says if we can avoid inattention we can avoid all the offenses. I recommend you read his Harinama Cintamani where he elaborates on the offenses and how to overcome them.

Vraja Dhama Ananda Dasa.
Marut-suta Dasa, a name of Hanuman.

I want to thank Trisama Prabhu for the behind the scenes work cultivating all the creepers of these devotees.

Always remember Vishnu and never forget Vishnu can be simplified to always remember Vishnu, because if you remember Him you are not forgetting Him.

Trisama Prabhu:

In New Shantipur farm we have two devotees, the president and the pujari. In Warsaw there are four devotees. In Wroclaw there are six devotees. If all ISKCON was was a confederation of temples, we would have twelve devotees in Poland, but we are not just a confederation temples but a community sharing a lifestyle based on following Srila Prabhupada.

In the spiritual world, what do Krishna’s mother and father do? They take care of cows. They are vaisyas. So there is even varnasrama in the spiritual world.

One feature of daivi-varnasrama is that the people spontaneously want to do the role Krishna has given them for Krishna’s pleasure.

If one wants to be in a certain varna but it is not his nature and he is not trained for it, it will be very difficult.

A king is someone who has the desires to make other people’s lives better, not for profit, but out of duty.

The vaisyas formerly understood the law of karma—the more you give, the more you get.

We have been talking about karma for twenty years, and people are beginning to understand to karma, but they ask where is a community that operates according to these ideas.

If we are understanding that there is one family with Krishna in the center and we are all His children, why can’t we show a community with this value.

Everyone who has faith in Krishna is deserving of respect, and we can create a community with this understanding.

It is a problem that managers do not have the trust of those they manage, but management is required, so somehow this trust must be developed.

Covey did a seminar in Australia attended by 2000 people. One devotee attended. And the end of the seminar, everyone left, and the devotee stayed to ask Covey, who was packing up his papers, a question.
How many people we be able to create a successful business based on what you said?” the devotee asked.
Covey answered, “None of them. Those who are successful businessmen do not have time to come to such seminars. They are busy building up their businesses. They may send some representative to come.”

Dvaraka Acyuta Prabhu:

We meet people who say they love God, but they do not act as if they love God.

It is easier to die for God than to live for God because we have to do many things each day in His service.

Srila Prabhupada equates enthusiasm with seriousness.

There is one devotee who distributed books and prasadam for thirty years. After twenty-five years someone said I have been seeing you do these things for twenty-five years and by seeing you I feel happy.

By remembering devotees of Krishna, we remember Krishna.

Prabhupada transplanted Vedic knowledge to the west. Medically transplantation is a difficult operation. So much care as to be there to prevent rejection of the new organ. No one else could to this transplant, only Srila Prabhupada.

There is a relationship between enthusiasm, conviction, and patience, and the three qualities of the soul, sac-cid-ananda.
enthusiasm—happiness
conviction—knowledge
patience—eternality

Association with devotees increases our enthusiasm for devotional service.

To learn the Absolute Truth we must go to someone who knows the Absolute Truth.

There is a story of the thief who took shelter of a temple to avoid the police. By hearing the Bhagavatam he gave up his thieving business.

On a walk in Mumbai, a girl came up to Srila Prabhupada and said, “Hare Krishna, Swamiji!” Srila Prabhupada said to his associates, “Our mission is successful.”
The devotees were perplexed as to Srila Prabhupada’s conclusion, so he explained that just as by testing a single grain of rice you can tell the whole pot is cooked, similarly by seeing this one person is chanting Hare Krishna as a result of our work, we can understand all of Mumbai is chanting Hare Krishna.

-----

ei pañca-tattva-rupe sri-krishna-caitanya
krishna-nama-prema diya visva kaila dhanya
Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates of the Pañca-tattva distributed the holy name of the Lord to invoke love of Godhead throughout the universe, and thus the entire universe was thankful.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.163)