Travel Journal#7.23: Tallahassee, Gainesville, Alachua
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 7, No. 23
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2011, part one)
Tallahassee, Gainesville, Alachua
(Sent from Uruapan, Mexico, on January 3, 2012)
Where I Went and What I Did?
I spent a week in Tallahassee during the end of November and the beginning of December. The highpoint of that was when enthusiastic Krishna House devotees came to assist our outreach at First Friday. Also wonderful was that the next day at Lake Ella, a lady liked Pritha’s chanting so much, she wanted Pritha to call her the next time she sang so she could come hear. After Tallahassee, it was chanting at Krishna Lunch in Gainesville as usual and the Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, or this time, across the street from the market due to competition. We had an extra late night Friday night end-of-the-semester street chanting program attended by a few enthusiastic devotees and appreciated by some local party-goers. Purusarta Prabhu and Madhava Prabhu (our local Madhava) have been doing kirtana on Saturday nights at the Gainesville Krishna House, and there is great response in terms of local devotee attendance. Here is some video of these end-of-the-year kirtana events:
The UF Campus Ministry Cooperative (an interfaith group) had a progressive dinner, visiting four places of worship and sharing food. Krishna House supplied their famous spaghetti, which was served at St. Augustine Catholic Church, as Krishna House was off of University Avenue. I connected with lots of students in different ways, the most rewarding being seeing that students who sang in the choir agreed that singing for the Lord was the most powerful spiritual experience for them. The entertainment for the event was Ekendra Prabhu playing guitar with Kalakantha Prabhu and Gopala Prabhu assisting him on bass and drums, respectively. One student was happy to find in me another person not too shy to dance to the music.
The Alachua community chanted at two Christmas parades at that second Saturday in December. The devotees were spirited, and their joy was appreciated by the locals, through glances, smiles, waves, and moving with the music. Devotees distributed one thousand of pieces of spiritual food and lots of literature. I was surprised that Alachua parade was mostly faithful old-timers and a bunch of kids with just a few young adults attending, and our attendance seemed smaller than in the past. Of my Gainesville friends, I recall seeing only one. The High Spring parade attendance, with just twelve devotees, although very enthusiastic ones who made it a success, was more disheartening. Chanting in these parades during this holiday season is such a simple way for us to share with hundreds of our friendly neighbors the joy of connecting with the Lord through his chanting the holy name, and that joy is what Christmas and what life itself is all about! Come out next year, Alachua County devotees, and increase the ecstasy!
I share wise words from Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada, and lots of contemporary devotees, notably Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami and Chaturatma, Malati, Kalakantha and Sesa Prabhus, in particular, as well as some Krishna House devotees and friends, like Ekendra Prabhu, who made some valuable observations.
First Friday with Boost from Krishna House
About twelve devotees from Krishna House joined our kirtana program at Tallahassee’s First Friday where Daru Brahma Prabhu serves Krishna dinner to about two hundred people. I was surprised to see their enthusiasm to explain to those walking by and waiting in line for food about Krishna and His teachings. At one point, there were at least three devotees talking to the people, including some who did not usually do that kind of thing. One high school girl remembered seeing us chanting at Lake Ella and was happy to see us again. Mother Amrita Keli talked to one guy for over an hour. Estefania even sold someone a set of chanting beads, in addition to the many books the devotees distributed. When the Tallahassee devotees joined us, we had so many people that we could chant at the prasadam serve out and also have a chanting party walk throughout the whole area. Our serve-out place is too dim to take video with my camera, which is meant for still shots, but I did take a clip of the walking chanting party, when a local dancer took pleasure dancing with us:
Seeing the enthusiasm of the Krishna House devotees made me think that groups of three or four of them could go to other cities and settle there and create new Krishna centers by their youthful enthusiasm and by their faith.
Insights from Devotees
from Siksamrita on rural living:
Better to produce ghee rather than cheese.
Try to avoid purchasing food from outside for the cows.
Send some cows from New Vrndavana to our goshalas in Vrindavan and Mayapur.
The Western civilization will be finished as a result of this sinful activity of killing the cows.
Comment by Mother Citraratha: I was a new devotee and twenty years old in 1975, I received a little inheritance and knew I should offer it to Krishna. My temple president asked how I wanted to spend it, and I said I wanted to buy a cow for New Mayapur farm in France, and so we did.
Comment by Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu: When I was Ekacakra [in West Bengal], all the prasadam we had was grown in that place.
In your country, the dog is protected and the cow is killed.
In New Vrindavan, the mountains can be renamed New Govardhana, and if there are lakes they can be renamed Shyama Kunda and Radha Kunda.
Do not make it too much luxurious but have the basic necessities of life.
The problem in your country is that people want to maintain attachments to sense gratification and also advance transcendentally.
The defect of this modern civilization is people make volumes of money but do not know how to use it. They waste it on illicit sex and intoxication.
All these properties are of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Comment by Mother Citraratha: Radhanatha Swami tells a great story how Srila Prabhupada wanted Hayagriva Prabhu to become New Vrindavan temple president. Hayagriya Prabhu felt he was not advanced enough, and he did not like the idea. He came up with many arguments to support his case. When he went to meet Prabhupada, Prabhupada told him he wanted to expand his service by having him take sannyasa, the renounced order of life. He explained elaborately why he thought that would be good for Hayagriva and humanity as well. That was a most horrible idea to Hayagriva, who considered he was much to attached to practically be a sannyasi, and he rebelled against the idea. Then Srila Prabhupada suggested that Hayagriva become the temple president of New Vrindavan. That was such a relief from the idea of sannyasa that Hayagriva accepted it.
The foolish idea that plants or animals have no life is the cause of all sinful activities.
from Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.10–13, purport: “When one desires the benefit of the soul and nothing else, he is said to be desireless.”
from a Prabhupada DVD:
Lady: Can you see God?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You cannot see? God is everywhere. You do not see? Do you want to see?
Srila Prabhupada: Because you do not want to see, you cannot see.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:
Our main disease is to collect objects that have no relation with Krishna.
Only if our body falls chanting the name of Lord Hari will our life be successful.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
from his Vyasa Puja 2012 lecture:
“I had a job in the welfare office, and at first I wanted to quit so that I could be with Swamiji all day long like the other boys, who were all unemployed. So I resigned, handed in my official resignation, and went and told Swamiji. To my surprise he was disappointed, and he told me a story. He said there was a man, very nasty man, and he was married to his wife, but he wasn’t faithful to his wife. He was always hankering to visit and go enjoy himself with a very expensive prostitute, but he didn’t have the money. So when his wife learned of this, she went to the prostitute and said, ‘My husband would like to enjoy with you.’ And the prostitute laughed and said, ‘You don’t know how much I cost. I cost a thousand dollars a night.’ So the wife said, ‘Please accept me as your servant and I’ll serve you to earn money so that my husband can come to you.’ So she worked for her for a year, and the prostitute finally said, ‘All right. You can bring your husband.’ And the wife told the husband, and he so ruthlessly went to the prostitute and enjoyed himself.
“So I didn’t know why Prabhupada was telling me this story (or I did know). He said, ‘Whatever you may say about that wife, about her morality, we would have to admit that she was a very chaste wife to her husband and just tried to please him. So you may think the association in that office is not very spiritual, that it’s a dirty place to be. But by being there and contributing to our society you are doing the best service, better than if you stayed here.’ So I immediately went back to the office and retracted my resignation.”
“Prabhupada told me to write. He encouraged me very much in writing for Back to Godhead magazine.”
“Then with the Library Party we decided that there should be a book that we could circulate in the academic circles, an academic book about Krishna consciousness which would be acceptable in their Hinduism courses. So I wrote a book entitled Readings in Vedic Literature and Prabhupada approved of it.”
“Prabhupada said I wasn’t a good manager, but he kept me on the GBC because I did what he said. But he encouraged me in writing and thought of me as a writer.”
And then at the end of Prabhupada’s life, some members of the BBT wrote to his secretary Tamala Krishna Maharaja and asked if they could write a biography of Prabhupada as he was about to disappear. They wanted to get approval. And he said ‘Yes, and Satsvarupa Maharaja should write the book.’ So then at the GBC meeting after his disappearance, they commissioned me to write the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. So that was another order from Srila Prabhupada.”
“I wrote a book called Srila Prabhupada Samadhi Diary in Vrndavana. I had been going to see Narayana Maharaja, and then at a certain point I felt I should not continue to see him because it compromised my chastity in going to see Srila Prabhupada as my only guru. So I expressed my feelings of wanting to come back by visiting the Prabhupada Samadhi and Prabhupada rooms at different times in the day. And I wrote to him intimately.”
I would write timed writing sessions in different locations.
“I’m a writer, and this is my preaching field to readers, casting Lord Caitanyta’s net further–now and in the future.”
75% of my books are out of print, and I want to put them back into print, and I want you, my disciples, to help me do this.
I want to approve all these books before I pass away.
Christ earned the glorification of the Christians by tolerating a few nails in his body, but Bhismadeva spoke on religious principles with hundreds of arrows in his body.
As Bhimsadeva transcended the pain of arrows in his body to speak on religious principles, Srila Prabhupada transcended the pain of disease and old age to speak his Bhaktivedanta purports in his final days, whispering into a microphone a devotee held near his mouth.
If you want to talk about someone in a negative way you should not mention his name. This is explained by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who said to illustrate this that rather than say ‘cow’ say the big animal with horns that gives milk.
To separate a person from Krishna is violent.
One governor was called a coward by the very man whose sentence he reduced from the death penalty to life in prison. The governor did not pardon him because he was innocent but because he did not want anyone to be executed during his time in office.
Sometimes devotees stress vegetarianism when in fact eating vegetables not offered to God is also sinful, and sometimes Srila Prabhupada would say, “If Krishna ate meat, we would also eat meat.”
We may not immediately instruct people about the details of varnasrama but the dharma is the chanting of the holy name, and as the people become purified by chanting, we can tell them more.
Once a devotee was chanting during Srimad-Bhagavatam class when Srila Prabhupada was speaking, and Srila Prabhupada said, “What is this noise?”
Gopal: The arrows were just two fingers apart all over his Bhisma’s body.
Olivia: I had an idea of purifying myself from bad qualities. Now as a devotee, I see more clearly exactly what those bad qualities are and which I should first try to give up.
Mother Citraratha: So many extremists have their ideals which they violently advocate, but Prabhupada peacefully described how people should act for their betterment.
The scientists give different symptoms of death:
loss of color
livor mortis—blood settling in the lower part of the body
rigor mortis—stiffening of the body
I saw the body of one godsister who had died many hours before but she did not lose the color in her face.
There is one type of body building in which you work out in a gym, but we advocate another kind of body building.
One devotee mother was shocked when her child died untimely at age seven. She was shocked and was almost completely dysfunctional. It was decided they would take the body of the daughter to offer to the holy river Yamuna by carrying the body in a harinama party.
One devotee seamstress took darsana of the Lord for whom she had made outfits for years, having been away for quite some time because of Alzhiemer’s disease. I was surprised to see her absorption in the Deities. She saw me looking at her, and turned to me, saying “You may try to forget Krishna, but Krishna will not forget you.”
One Indian industrialist in his nineties, whose son became a fulltime devotee, was in Vrndavana area for Karttika, and while there he left his body. He folded his hands, and said, “Jaya Prabhupada! Jaya Gurudeva! Jaya Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! Jaya Sri Rama!” And left His body.
One devotee wondered what would happen in the case of sudden death. Prabhupada replied, “Do you think Krishna is ungrateful?” Then explained that Krishna would certainly take care of his devotee.
The First Canto gives us everything the Bhagavatam will give us. The remaining cantos just expand it out.
Sometimes Srila Prabhupada says household life is a license for sense enjoyment and sometimes a license for sex enjoyment. If one is not careful they become one and the same.
In India they offer Ganges water back to the Ganges. What is the point of that? By doing that we are acknowledging the source. In the same way, we offer Krishna’s property back to Krishna, for what else can we offer him?
Here the dharma of the king or ruler is such that in the present day, a dharmic leader would close the slaughterhouses and the liquor shops and promote religious principles in society, not merely promote one religion as opposed to another. We do not see any political candidates addressing these issues.
Because people have no sense control, parents abuse their children, political leaders abuse the citizens, and teachers abuse their students.
Kings would keep base desires in check by associating with saintly persons.
Unfortunately in modern society equality for women often means to have the opportunity to attain the same bad qualities that men have. Real equality is to have an equal opportunity to serve the Lord.
The tendency of the householder is to think this is my house, this is my property, this is my game room. In reality all these are the property the Personality of Godhead, and they should be used in His service.
There is a Govardhan-sila that formerly belonged to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu which presently resides in the Radha-Gokulananda temple. It has the thumb print of Lord Caitanya in it which you can see if you give the pujari a donation. The history of this sila is that Lord Caitanya gave it to Raghunatha Dasa Goswami who served it in great ecstasy. Next Krishna Dasa Kaviraja took up that worship and then Mukunda. Mukunda gave it to Krishna Priya Thakurani, who then took up the worship and then passed it on to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, who ultimately turned over the sila and his other deities to the Radha-Gokulananda temple.
This pastime of Bhismadeva leaving his body is a culmination of all the emotions of the Mahabharata.
The ultimate goal of Krishna consciousness is not just to learn philosophy but to experience transcendence emotions in relationship with the Lord and His devotees.
We can get to the stage of transcendental emotions by engaging as Bhismadeva did in Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.32: “Let me now invest my thinking, feeling and willing, which were so long engaged in different subjects and occupational duties, in the all-powerful Lord Sri Krishna.” The result of doing this is described ten verses later, “Now I can meditate with full concentration upon that one Lord, Sri Krishna, now present before me because now I have transcended the misconceptions of duality in regard to His presence in everyone's heart, even in the hearts of the mental speculators.”
Seeing anything separate from Krishna is the cause of all the suffering in this world. By engaging everything in Krishna’s service, one become frees from this duality.
Srila Prabhupada was questioned about his naming the deities of New Delhi as Radha Parthasarati as that seems to be an incompatible mixture of different moods, but he knew what he was doing. He wanted to make it clear to everyone that the Krishna of Vrindavan and the Krishna of Dvaraka are in fact the same person.
We do not accept “seeing is believing.” For us “hearing is believing.”
Hearing some Bengali bhajana singers playing in a competition, Srila Prabhupada said, “Stop this. There are just singing for money.”
Becoming Krishna consciousness is like waking up from your waking state.
Krishna is aware of our hearing about Him and our meditating on Him.
Tolerance means we go on hearing despite our imperfections due to impurity.
Comment by Mother Madhumati: Although hearing is sufficient, sometimes we experience if we see Bhagavatam acted out it more powerfully awakens our transcendental emotions.
Yes. That is true. Hearing can be aided as by acting in theater.
Comments by Mother Malati:
We are careful to read the label before we put something into our body but we do not restrict what we put in our ears.
One devotee asked about hearing in the toilet room, and Srila Prabhupada replied, “There is no prohibition.”
from a Sunday feast lecture:
At Christmastime there is an awareness of being good is valuable, whether we are children being good in order to get gifts or we are adults considering giving in charity.
In the “Divine and Demoniac Nature” chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna talks about the good qualities of our original spiritual nature.
Aversion to fault-finding (apaisunam) is a key divine quality.
One Vaishava teacher says that to describe the bad qualities of another, whether or not they are true, is very bad quality.
Krishna was not interested in efficient administration by a king with bad qualities. Duryodhana was not a bad king but a bad person.
Although he looked everywhere, Yudhisthira could not find one more fallen than himself. How many of us could honestly say that?
The consciousness of “me first” or “you have to look out for number one” does not help society.
If we see no one greater that ourselves that means we are finding fault with everyone else.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura advised, “Amend yourself rather prying into the frailties of others.” He also said, “In this world, only ‘patience, humility, and respect for others’ are friends of hari-bhajana.”
If we are going to change the world, we have to change ourselves.
Why do we find fault?
To make ourselves look better.
Because others criticize us.
Because I have bad qualities, I think others have the same bad qualities.
As a matter of gossip.
To correct problems in society, we criticize supposed causes.
When we are disturbed or in pain, we lash out.
We fail to look within.
If our first instinct is look within, then we go down a different path than if our first instinct is to criticize others.
The truth about our situation in this world is very humbling. Krishna says humility is the first item of knowledge.
We must respect all living beings, not just human beings. We cannot talk about peace on earth and good will to men, as we enjoy our Christmas turkey dinner.
If fault-finding happens in the association of devotees, we lose our original nature.
Jagai and Madhai changed their hearts and became humble.
If I could ask one gift from all of you this holiday season, it would be to remove the tendency for fault-finding.
Comment by Yamaraja BTS: When we feel like finding fault, Bhakti Tirtha Swami recommends in Spiritual Warrior 3, breathe in the bad quality and breathe out love.
If your humility does not result in increased hari-bhajana [glorification of the Lord] then perhaps it is a destructive low self-esteem.
We do not need to fear. The Lord will protect us. We have to have that faith in the Lord’s protection to act with these spiritual quality.
Comment by Chaturatma Prabhu: If we serve others, that will neutralize the fault-finding tendency. After all, we do not want to serve someone who has bad qualities.
I heard this Mahabharata story in a lecture by Gauranga Prabhu. Four people ask Bhima about inconceivable events they experienced. Bhima cannot offer an explanation and so he refers each to King Yudhisthira, his eldest brother.
The first says that overnight his fence moved a few feet out onto his neighbor’s property.
The second says that he distributed the contents of a full waterpot to several smaller pots, but when he returned the water to the original pot, it was only half full.
The third says that he saw an entire elephant pass through the eye of a needle but then its tail got stuck.
The fourth says that a huge boulder was blocking the road and that no one could move it by any means until a sadhu came, waved his chadar, and the boulder immediately moved.
Yudhisthira explained that all of these events were symptoms of Kali-yuga, the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy, which was just then beginning.
The first event showed that in this age, no matter what one has, one is envious of what others have.
The second showed that one gives full love to his family members but only receives half in return.
The third showed that a rich person will give any amount of money for sense gratification, social functions, etc., but when asked by a saintly person for a small donation he will say he has no money.
The fourth showed that the obstacles of Kali-yuga cannot be moved by any means except by the blessings of a saintly person.
Why don’t we know Krishna? Because we do not love Krishna. If we do not love someone, why bother getting to know them?
There are so many, many things that we are very interested in. Practically we are interesting in anything but Krishna.
If we do not know Krishna then we are incoherent. If someone has an head injury, to see how serious it is they ask the person questions to determine their coherence. What is your name? Where do you live? Who is the president? In the same way, there are questions one could ask to determine one’s spiritual coherence.
Even in high graduate classes in the university, people do not take philosophy seriously. One professor at Temple University asked his students, “What is philosophy?” Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, who was a student, replied “To understand who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.” The professor replied, “Oh, one of those. That is easy to answer. I am Mr. Smith. I have come from the library, and I am going to the administration building.”
To get beyond the influence of the material energy is simple in principle, to surrender to Lord, but it can be difficult in the application.
If you are addicted to Krishna, you will not be addicted to all the things that other people are addicted to.
If you are humble, it is easy to find someone greater than yourself that you can learn from.
That this age of Kali is degraded we can see from the news reports:
A ten-year-old boy shot himself and six others because a girl would not go out with him.
They did an experiment by putting several men and women in a room and saying they could do anything they wanted. They started out talking and hitting each other with pillows, but then they ended up having sex, and later on they become violent. [This reminds me of the progression given in Bhagavad-gita 2.62: “While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.”
Comment by Nimai Pandit Prabhu: Mother Narayani said, “Every saint has had a past, and every sinner has a future.”
When I was in my twenties, I started chanting sixteen rounds and following the four rules, but later I ran into difficulty. I felt like the person who had immense wealth and lost it and thus was always thinking about it.
Braja Hari Prabhu:
Krishna is completely under the control of His devotees because of the purity of their devotion.
There is a conception that dhotis and saris are devotional dress, but most men in India who wear dhotis are not devotees, and most woman in India who wear saris are not devotees.
kṛpālu, akṛta-droha, satya-sāra sama
nidoṣa, vadānya, mṛdu, śuci, akiñcana
sarvopakāraka, śānta, kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇa
akāma, anīha, sthira, vijita-ṣaḍ-guṇa
mita-bhuk, apramatta, mānada, amānī
gambhīra, karuṇa, maitra, kavi, dakṣa, maunī