Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Travel Journal#9.2: Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 2
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2013, part two
(Sent from Jacksonville, Florida, on March 6, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

During the second half of January, I returned to Gainesville to live at Krishna House and help maintain the program of chanting for two and a half hours during the serving of Krishna Lunch at the University of Florida and chanting at the Gainesville Farmers Market on Wednesday. In addition, I attended a program of our Krishna Club at University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

On Martin Luther King Day five of us chanted in the parade for King, with Damodar Prasad singing enthusiastically and Hladini talking to people and distributing literature, and then we joined the other Krishna House devotees for a picnic in a nearby park. While we were chanting in the park, one man remarked that our chanting was disturbing the wildlife. I laughed to myself, thinking that as we are vegetarian, we do less damage to the environment than your average American meat eater. In addition, all the wildlife made great spiritual benefit which the poor chap could not see.

Devotees from both Alachua and Gainesville drove to Tampa to do harinama at a the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, which is said to be attended by 500,000 people, and I share some descriptions, pictures and video of that.

I have many insights from Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and his books, some notes on a recorded lecture by Niranjana Swami, notes of lectures from Prabhupada disciples, including Kalakantha and Sesa Prabhus, and realizations from newer devotees at Krishna House.

Thanks to Tulasirani dd for the picture of the Krishna House picnic crew, Flickr user BXGD for the picture of the devotees dancing at Gasparilla, and Amanda from Krishna House for the videos.

Chanting at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa on January 26 was a great event for exposing thousands of people to the Hare Krishna mantra and getting a number of them to dance with our chanting party.

Tulasirani dd from Krishna House commented, “At the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa people were standing around waiting for something fun to happen, and we supplied the fun with the harinama and people were very happy to dance with us.”

These videos by Amanda from Krishna House in Gainesville will give you a feel for the wildness of it all. In particular, you can see why the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “A number of apparently well-lubricated spectators danced with devotees of Hare Krishna.”

One girl from the crowd encountered the devotees on three separate occasions and danced enthusiastically with us each time.

A party of devotees from Alachua chanted for three hours, while a party of younger devotees from Gainesville chanted for two. I was amazed that the older people from Alachua showed greater endurance than the Gainesville youth. Perhaps they did not jump up and down so much in the hot sun and thus could keep going longer. After my friends from Gainesville desisted, I joined the Alachua party, as I was psyched to do the whole three hours.

The weather was incredible, sunny and around 75° F [24° C]. I got sunburned as I was not prepared for so much sun in January.

After the afternoon of chanting the Tampa nama-hatta devotees served excellent prasadam in a nearby park for all the devotees.

We all had a great time and look forward to doing it again next year. Come and bring your dancing shoes.


Srila Prabhupada:

If I am not jolly, maya has attacked me. If I am in contact with Krishna, how can I be morose? That is the test.

We must be enthusiastic, but we cannot be enthusiastic artificially. It has to be based on connection with Krishna.

If we cannot rise early in the morning, we are under the clutches of maya. That is the test. Sleeping is very dangerous. It is the symptom of tamo-guma (the mode of darkness).

A politician may pose that he is advanced spiritually, but when we see he is more interested in politics than Krishna consciousness, we can understand his real position.

Vaishnava means to understand the Absolute Truth is a person.

Krishna understanding is difficult, but by the mercy of Krishna in the form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, it is possible because of His great liberality. If we do not take advantage, how unfortunate we are!

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.32, purport:

Nothing is false. One thing may be permanent and another temporary, but both the permanent and the temporary are facts. For example, if someone becomes angry for a certain period, no one can say that his anger is false. It is simply temporary. Everything we experience in our daily lives is of this same character; it is temporary but real.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.33, purport:

Philosophers and scientists have been trying to study the entire cosmic situation and have been theorizing and calculating in different ways for millions and millions of years. However, the speculative research work of a so-called scientist or philosopher is always interrupted when he dies, and the laws of nature go on without regard for his work.”

from Bhagavad-gita 5.29, purport:

A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krishna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world. The more one is advanced, the more he is freed from the clutches of matter. The Lord is not partial toward anyone. Everything depends on one’s practical performance of duties in Krishna consciousness, which helps one control the senses in every respect and conquer the influence of desire and anger. And one who stands fast in Krishna consciousness, controlling the abovementioned passions, remains factually in the transcendental stage, or brahma-nirvana.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.4, purport:

The Lord is always prepared to excuse His devotee, but if a devotee takes advantage of the Lord’s leniency and purposefully commits mistakes again and again, the Lord will certainly punish him by letting him fall down into the clutches of the illusory energy. In other words, theoretical knowledge acquired by studying the Vedas is insufficient to protect one from the clutches of maya. One must strongly adhere to the lotus feet of the Lord in devotional service. Then one’s position is secure.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.7:

Prahlada Maharaja, the topmost devotee of the Lord, is a reservoir of all the good qualities of great personalities. His character and activities have delivered all the fallen members of his demoniac family.”

from a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.13:

Nature is like a great machine. Every machine has an operator. Thus nature must have an operator. We may not be able to see the operator, but the operator is there. That operator is God. Human life is meant for inquiring about God.

All science and philosophy is there, but if you are not interested in philosophy you can just chant Hare Krishna and attain perfection. But if you think “what is this nonsense chanting of Hare Krishna?” Then so many books are there you can read.

Although you are not initiated, your coming here counts as service. It is like depositing a cent in the bank every day. Someday you will have $100. So coming here every day is like depositing a cent every day. When it gets to be $100, you become a devotee.

Q: One man says he is not suffering and he is not afraid of death. What do we say to him?
A: He is a madman.

You can attain Krishna by surrendering to Him. How long does it take to surrender to Krishna? It can be done in a moment. What does surrender mean? You do what Krishna says. What is that? Four things. Man mana bhava mad bhakto . . . Think of Krishna, become His devotee, bow down to Him, and offer homage to Him. Then you come to Him.

A human being will ask how he can control his mind. A dog will never ask how to control this barking habit. That is the difference between a human being and a dog.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.19 Chapter Summary:

Bharata-varsa has special significance because in this tract of land there exists the Vedic principle of varnasrama-dharma, which divides society into four varnas and four asramas. Furthermore, Narada Muni’s opinion is that even if there is some temporary disturbance in the execution of the varnasrama-dharma principles, they can be revived at any moment. The effect of adhering to the institution of varnasrama is gradual elevation to the spiritual platform and liberation from material bondage. By following the principles of varnasrama-dharma, one gets the opportunity to associate with devotees. Such association gradually awakens one’s dormant propensity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and frees one from all the basic principles of sinful life. One then gets the opportunity to offer unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Vasudeva. Because of this opportunity, the inhabitants of Bharata-varsa are praised even in the heavenly planets. Even in the topmost planet of this universe, Brahmaloka, the position of Bharata-varsa is discussed with great relish.”

from The Nectar of Devotion:

In the Naradiya Purana there is a statement of how this servitorship is transcendental. It is said there that a person who is constantly engaged in devotional service by his body, mind and words, or even a person who is not practically engaged but is simply desiring to be so, is considered to be liberated.”

Third Canto, Seventh Chapter, verse 19, of Srimad-Bhagavatam: Let me become a sincere servant of the devotees, because by serving them one can achieve unalloyed
devotional service unto the lotus feet of the Lord. The service of devotees diminishes all miserable material conditions and develops within one a deep devotional love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’”

In the Padma Purana also it is stated, ‘The chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra is present only on the lips of a person who has for many births worshiped Vasudeva.’”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.6.10 given in Bombay on December 28, 1976:

In India it is simply in name. There is actually no varnasrama. Most people are sudras.

Most people do not have a clear idea of God nor a desire to know Him.

The same activity performed with knowledge of atma-tattva, knowledge of the spiritual truth, leads on to spiritual perfection but performed without such knowledge leads to a hellish condition.

Don’t act anything except for the satisfaction of Krishna. That is Krishna consciousness.

A classless society cannot be. Even in the Russia, the Communist country, they wanted to create a classless society but ended up having to retain a managing class and a working class.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.17.4, purport:

[Srila Prabhupada was not enamored by the accomplishments of material science as statements like this reveal.] “So-called advanced scientists of the modern age are trying to go to the higher planets, but at the same time they are experiencing a power shortage on earth. If they were actually capable scientists, they could personally go by airplane to other planets, but this they are unable to do. Having now given up their moon excursions, they are attempting to go to other planets, but without success.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.17.24, purport:

. . . the living entity is entangled in fruitive activities, which are executed by the illusory energy, maya. He is exactly like a computer handled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The so-called scientists say that nature acts independently, but they cannot explain what nature is. Nature is nothing but a machine operated by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When one understands the operator, his problems of life are solved.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter Two:

As a man's mental disease is cured by the directions of a psychiatrist, so this sadhana bhakti cures the conditioned soul of his madness under the spell of maya, material illusion.”

According to Vedic injunctions, when a brahmana eats it is to be understood that the Personality of Godhead is eating through him. It is not, however, that the brahmana should simply eat on behalf of the Lord and not preach the message of Bhagavad-gita to the world. Actually, one who preaches the message of the Gita is very dear to Krishna, as is confirmed in the Gita itself. Such a preacher is factually a brahmana, and thus by feeding him one feeds the Supreme Lord directly.”

Sri Visakhanandabhidha-stotra: Prayers with Names That Are the Bliss of Visakha by Raghunatha Dasa Goswami:

She is known as Radha because the worship (radha) of Her removes all distress.

Niranjana Swami:

from a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 6.32 given in Boston on Sunday, December 9, 2012:

Prahlada Maharaja describes the materialists as chewing the chewed, repeating trying to enjoy the same things that have not satisfied them in the past. I had a friend in school who would stick his gum on the bottom of his seat at the end of the day, and then take it off and begin chewing it the next day.

The Lord relishes the activities of those who are selflessly engaged in service to Him and who are thus so satisfied that they desire nothing else. The Lord gives His heart to such a devotee. And that devotee can share the Lord with others.

When Durvasa Muni approached the Lord, desiring His compassion, the Lord indicated that He had given His heart to Maharaja Ambarisa, and therefore Durvasa should approach him.

Devotional service is such a rare, precious, valuable jewel. To render service to the Lord is the most precious gift of life. We must learn to appreciate that gift when it is offered to us. Otherwise we might mistake it for something else.

The Lord can fulfill our desires much better than anyone else. He knows how to fulfill the desires of his devotees.

In Ananda Vrndavana Campu, Kavi Karnapura explains that within His form as an eternal fresh youth, are His baby and childhood forms, and He manifests those forms to please His devotees who want to see Him in those features.

Even when Krishna does something amazing, His intimate associates in Vrindavana are not disturbed by thinking the Krishna is God, but remain fixed in their intimate relationship with Him.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from his journal, Viraha Bhavan, January 30, 2013, poem:

are the original conjugal couple,
and all love relations expand
from Them, even the perverted
forms in the material world.
When we worship Radha-Krishna
we give up mundane sex desire
and only wish to serve Them
in Their pastimes. To serve
the Lord of the senses with
your senses is the perfection
of bhakti. It is the eternal svarupa or
nature of the liberated
being. It is eternal, blissful, and full of knowledge.

from Shack Notes:

Love of God takes the form of lust in the material realm. The cleansing process is the chanting and hearing of the name, form, teachings and pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Just apply yourself to bhakti and all contamination will be washed away. Extra counseling and discussion is only needed by ‘dysfunctional’ persons, or those who think they are dysfunctional. Only those persons who cannot obey the command, ‘Chant and don’t worry’ need special attention. And who is not in that category?”

Akuti Prabhu:

Maya, the Lord’s illusory energy, is sometimes called a witch, and “that which is not.” Hearing these qualities, would we be attracted to serve her?

Devotional service convinces us that in this life we should abandon illusory material enjoyment and engage in the service of Krishna.

Unless we surrender to Krishna, we are surrendering to maya.

One of maya’s tricks is glitter. She can make rotten flesh an exotic culinary preparation or rotten grapes a tasty beverage.

One trick to conquer maya is to get up early. I think she takes a nap at that time.

When the mind bothers you, go outside and chant louder and more distinctly.

Go out and tell someone else about Krishna. It is so healthy for your spiritual life. At least once a week. Tell either a devotee or a new person.

Regularly hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, online if not live.

comment by Kaliya Phani Prabhu: I have a technique for dealing with the mind like the strategy of not letting the salesman get in the door. When the mind proposes something, tell it, “We may do it or may not do it, but we will not do it now.”

comment by Indian student: I found at Krishna House during the break there was less service so my mind became more materially directed. I found if I did more service at Krishna House that solved the problem.

comment by another devotee: Prabhupada said to keep the mind at peace we should think of how to spread this Krishna consciousness.

Ananda Loka Prabhu:

In devotional service, all we give up is temporary and all we gain is eternal.

Bhakti cannot be regulated or controlled by anything other than bhakti.

Brahma Tirtha Prabhu:

It is said that death and taxes are for certain. I know some successful tax evaders, but death evaders are harder to come by.

Lord Bhisma was happy that Krishna broke his vow not to raise a weapon in order to protect His devotee Arjuna, thus teaching the people in general that Krishna values protecting His devotees more than keeping His personal promises.

As devotees our biggest challenge is to do something and think of Krishna. Sometimes we decide to just think of Krishna, and we do so, for some time, before our mind wanders. Sometimes we decide just to do something. But to do something and think of Krishna at the same time is a challenge.

My mother-in-law was about as fervent atheist as you can be. As the time of her death was approaching, she moved to Gainesville to be near her daughter. When she talked to her daughter, it was all mundane, but when she would go out of the room, she would turn to me and say, “So what is going to happen when I die.” So I explained about it, and she said, “When I go, I am going to wave goodbye.” When the end was near, my wife and I were reading the Bhagavatam to her and trying to create the better spiritual situation for her passing. At one point, she did wave her hands, and then she was gone.

Q: Some say we must die to live. What does that mean?
A: Of course, we also have to live to die. To me, it means we cannot really live properly without taking into account death.
Comment by Kalakantha Prabhu: We have to give up our false conception of who we are to live spiritually.

from a class by Niranjana Swami played by Brahma Tirtha Prabhu in his class:

This civilization is designed in such a way people are taught to pursue sense gratification without considering there is an ultimate event that is going to come at the end of life and the purpose of life is to understand how to deal with that final event.

Sivarama Swami advised me to be with my mother at the time of death for in that way I could pay back the debt I owed to my mother, and that was one reason I was there.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

Bhismadeva, celebrated as the grandfather of the Pandavas, was so dear to Arjuna he was willing to renounce his occupation as a fighter rather than to fight with him.

The fact is that Bhagavad-gita is considered by the scholars to be a very authentic text, without disputes about the original text, unlike many major religious scriptures.

Utsaha, enthusiasm, means to put a little energy in to doing things nicely for Krishna. To be enthusiastic to serve our creator is our actual position.

When you are sick, focus your devotional energy on chanting your rounds.

Prevention is worth days of recuperation.

When I was a new devotee, there was a devotee who was struggling like anything to stay awake while chanting in the morning on his beads. He finally asked the temple president if he could go upstairs and take rest. When the temple president said “Yes,” the devotee exclaimed, “Jaya!” and ran up the stairs to take rest. This made a big impression on me—most fatigue is mental.

Fatigue is overcome by regulation. Go to sleep early.

from a discussion after lunch:

When packing a car, it is best to put the biggest item in first, and then pack the other smaller items around it. If you put the smaller things in first, you may not have room for the biggest one. Similarly with our spiritual life, we should put our spiritual practice first, and fit the other aspects of our life, our family, our work, etc., around that. If we prioritize our family and our work and other things, we may find we have no time for our spiritual practice, and our life may be wasted without profiting spiritually.

from a Sunday feast lecture in Alachua:

Yamuna Prabhu explained that the recording session that George Harrison did to make the Radha Krishna temple album went late into the night. All the devotees fell asleep except Yamuna who played the harmonium and sang a bhajana, a devotional song, that she had heard Srila Prabhupada sing many times, Bhajahu Re Mana, as she waited for George to finish mixing the recordings. George recorded her singing without her knowing, and decided to include it in the album. Yamuna protested vehemently, but George liked it and included it anyway. Some of the words were wrong and the verses were in the wrong order, but Srila Prabhupada liked it very much, and said she could fix it later.

There are sixty trillion cells in the human body, and the creepy thing is that only ten trillion cells are human, the others being symbiotic or parasitic.

It is not by guilt, fear, coersion, that we advance in devotional service.

We have to be happier performing devotional service, however faulty, than pursuing sense gratification, however successfully.

O Lord please let me serve you.” I had never heard that prayer in all my life. Usually it is “O Lord give me this or that.”

That is why we like that bhajana (Bhajahu Re Mana”) so much because it has Srila Prabhupada’s name, Abhaya Caranaravindam.

Srila Prabhupada said that if we just once say, “Krishna, take me, I’m yours” that we may forget it or change our minds, but Krishna never will, and He will make all arrangements for us.

Caru asked Srila Prabhupada how long it takes to become purified once in Australia when he was alone in Srila Prabhupada’s room. Srila Prabhupada replied, “About forty years.”

With what ever discretionary time you have, engage in your favorite devotional service, and you will advance more and more.

Q: Is our spiritual progress stalled if we do not follow the instructions of Krishna’s representative?
A: Yes. Krishna has sent this representative to us, so we must take advantage. Srila Prabhupada said we should not try to become big paramahamsas, but rather we should hang on to his dhoti, for he knows the back door to the spiritual world.

We can tell we are advancing when we spontaneously avoid things detrimental to devotional service because they are no longer appealing.

Even though they may not know a lot, no one can tell them they are not happy in devotional service. That is nistha or steadiness.

If you are enjoying japa you have made advancement.

If we had one-tenth as much faith in Krishna as we do that we are our body, we would attain Krishna prema [love of God].

Sesa Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada was not so much interested in propagating a religion as giving people the opportunity to have their consciousness fully blossom.

One’s character is a manifestation of one’s consciousness.

Mahabharata addresses who is qualified to be the ruler of the entire world, and can be said to be about properly governing the world and not about religion.

One can take Mahabharata as a job interview by Krishna, the paramesvara (supreme controller), for the position of ruler of the world.

Employers hire for competence and fire for character.

Employers look for ability, track record, character, positive attitude, and enthusiasm.

Duryodhana was asked to find someone greater than himself, and he could not. Yudhisthira was asked to find someone less than himself, and he could not. This indicates that Duryodhana was narcissistic, proud, bombastic, etc. Would you want to hire someone like that? Often when people have these bad qualities, they have other bad qualities because of not being able to deal properly with other people. Recently many military leaders have been found to have other serious character flaws.

There is a path to full developed consciousness that people have followed in the past and which can be followed even now.

Shiva drank an ocean of poison to save humanity from its ill effects.

At a petrol station in India one devotee asked a local student who knew English what he wanted to do with his life. He said that he wanted to do something to bring honor to his father’s name. You won’t get a response like that in America! That is just a remnant of the Vedic culture.

Svayambhuva Manu would use his free time to study the scripture to become a better leader, not to enjoy his senses in different ways.

The real solution to different ills like violence in society is to change the consciousness of the people. Mahabharata gives knowledge by which we can do that.

To make mistakes is human, but as our consciousness develops, we learn from our mistakes.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says others cannot harm us unless we harm ourselves. So just to protect ourselves it is in our self-interest to develop our character.

We can be overcome by lust but if we take shelter of the Lord, He will protect us.

Superficial change is not real change.

comment by Vaishnava dasa: I did not make a plan to be clean, but just by engaging in devotional service that came naturally.

The the asrama divisions in varnasrama follow the natural changes of our body.

The details of what we do might change but the reason we do things, to please Krishna, does not change.

Change should be made to develop our devotional service rather than as a reduction.

The instruction to stay in your own position does not mean to be complacent.

comment by a devotee: Srila Prabhupada used the analogy of cleaning a room to explain how when we begin our spiritual practice it seems that our life initially gets more complicated and confusing.

Q: What should we do when devotees disagree about what is a principle and what is a detail?
A: There is a principle of ista-gosthi, whereby which the devotees discuss the subject in detail, and then even if there seems to be no resolution, you will get mercy from Krishna from following His process of ista-gosthi.

Fault-finding is a very dangerous quality.

When we find faults, that person’s fault does not become magnified, rather our bad qualities become magnified.

Martin Luther King says he has a dream of a day when one is judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.

When I was a brahmacari in LA in the 1970s, the brahmacaris would take prasadam together, mostly in silence. One day one brahmacari said, “Baseball season starts today.” He could have been advising us of good opportunities for harinama or book distribution, but we did not give him a chance. Instead we got on his case for being in maya for talking of materialistic things because in those days we were very fanatical.

There are different kinds of intelligence, and if a manager because of being attached to a particular one, and not appreciating others, discourages a person that can be very detrimental.

Mostly the criticism is more about the person who makes criticism than the person who is criticized.

Motivations for criticism:

  1. gaining a sense of superiority.
  2. getting back at someone
  3. establish our position as being the best
  4. to distract people from considering our own faults

The pure soul is devoid of the quality of fault-finding.

If we can find faults in ourselves, we are in a better position to learn from others’ criticism of ourselves.

comment by Dorian: Before Einstein was a great physicist he worked in a patent office, and his boss said that he would never amount to anything, and he said it just made him work harder.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, “Look within. Amend yourself rather than pry into the faults of others. Cultivate patience, humility, and respect for others”.

some verses related to the topic of fault-finding from Krishna-kripa das:

The worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.28)

One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krishna, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [diksa] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others. (Nectar of Instruction, verse 5)

Tattva-vit Prabhu:

Desire to serve the Lord personally does not imply service the Lord alone or without any intermediate.

Srila Prabhupada says becoming the servant of the Lord’s servants is the sum and substance of life. Narottama Dasa Thakura prays in that mood, “tadera carana-sebi-bhakta-sane bas—May I live with those devotees who serve the lotus feet of these six Gosvamis.”

Preachers should serve the Lord purely and joyfully to inspire others.

Our body, life, and ego are Krishna’s energy, and thus ultimately Krishna Himself.

Srila Prabhupada writes in The Nectar of Instruction that the first business of spiritual life is to train the senses and the mind.

By associating with devotees one will also come to desire eagerness to serve Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada told a reporter that his message could be very widely accepted if “they would hear it.”

comment by Bhakta Marlon: Because the self is part of Krishna if you present Krishna consciousness by telling people its about themselves that will be more appealing to them than telling them that its is about Krishna, who they are not so interested in.

Dana-keli Prabhu:

We hear about the pastimes so we can become purified and hear about about the pastimes in a deeper way.

Tamal Krishna Goswami in his Ph.D. dissertation explains that Srila Prabhupada special contribution was that he digested all the truths presented by the previous teachers in the spiritual line and expertly presented them for the modern world.

We may have difficulties in our spiritual practice but if we never abandon the association of devotees, ultimately we will attain success.

One thing that attracted me in the beginning of my practice of Krishna consciousness, was the idea that I have a relationship with God that is completely unique, not like that of anyone else’s, and I wanted to experience that.

One person would trick his mind into doing book distribution. When the mind would protest his program of going downtown and distributing books, he would tell his mind, “We are not going to distribute books. We just going to put books in the car and drive downtown.” When he got downtown, his mind would again protest, and he would say, “We are not going to distribute books, we are just going to get out of the car with a bag of books, and walk around.” So he got out of the car with the books and wandered around. When the mind was again worried about distributing books, he would say, “We are not going to distribute books, we are just going to say ‘Hello’ to people.” And by going on and on in this way, he tricked his mind into distributing books.

If we want to read the advanced Vaishnava literature Srila Prabhupada recommended in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, it is good to do it in the association of devotees.

Madhava Prabhu (from Alachua):

Twice Prabhupada spoke on the teachings of Queen Kunti and from those lectures, the BBT was able to publish the book Teachings of Queen Kunti.

To take shelter of Krishna alone is the great lesson we can learn from Kunti and her sons, the Pandavas. Vyasadeva teaches this important lesson in the very beginning Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Q: In Mahabharata Krishna asks Arjuna to get weapons from the demigods for use in the battle, so some people argue that it is alright to worship the demigods.
A: Krishna is sending Arjuna to his devotees to get the blessings of his devotees, the demigods. It is not that Arjuna is thinking that the demigods can offer him something that Krishna can’t.

Prema Manjari dd:

This is the most important of Kunti’s prayers as it is very rare that someone prays for more calamities.

In a crisis our whole world may fall apart. We may feel fear, depression, etc. Some people fall apart emotionally. Even after the crisis, people continue to suffer for years because of not being able to process what happened.

Psychologists who have analyzed post-traumatic-stress syndrome say those who suffer the most are those who consider themselves as victims.

On the other hand, there are cases of post-traumatic growth, which is a exciting field of new research in psychology. This is symptomized by greater psychological, emotional, and spiritual confidence, greater compassion, increased faith in self and others, more capacity for intimacy, gratitude, etc.

The crisis is an opportunity for us to apply the spiritual knowledge we have acquired, especially by taking completely shelter of Krishna.

This world is not a place where we can be comfortable and happy, but unfortunately most of us do not believe that. Thus Krishna needs to create situations for us to realize this. It is best to see calamities in this way.

After being in the holy dhama, when you return to the West the power of the material energy to impede our spiritual progress is very obvious.

Rohini Kumara Prabhu:

The coach of a team that twice won the Super Bowl said, “Everyone wants to win. My teams wants to prepare to win.”

Caitanya dasi from Krishna House:

Hearing from the learned devotees while in Vrndavana, a common theme was that theoretical spiritual knowledge becomes realized more and more by sharing it with others.

My japa at Radha Damodara temple was very sweet, but it was not my doing it.

Nanda Kumar Prabhu:

What is striking about the narration of the prostitute Pingala, who because of frustration in her profession, surrendered to Krishna?

Typically misery causes frustration, but Pingala’s frustration brought detachment and knowledge. That was due to her past devotional activities.

comment by Tulasirani dd: Although sensual enjoyment is glorified in human society, Pingala the prostitute, comes to the conclusion that it is all useless, and that is very rare, and thus very striking.

comment by Indian student guest: The narration shows how even the most sinful person can get the mercy of the Lord.

Arjuna Prabhu:

It is a goal of mine to see how each of the chapters of Bhagavad-gita contributes to Krishna’s point that He is obtained by bhakti.

Tulasirani dd:

We were coming back from Festival of Inspiration, and we were really tired. The person who was driving swerved off the road. I cried out Krishna like I had never before done in my life. One of the girls was unconscious and covered with blood, and I knew she was not going to live, so I just chanted Hare Krishna and talked to her about Krishna. I was able to do that because I had just heard from my spiritual master at the Festival of Inspiration. There is nothing that anyone could have done for me in that car accident, except to tell me to remember Krishna. Earlier that very day my friend had said, “If I died today I would be so satisfied because I feel that I have this warm blanket of Krishna’s love around me.” I was so upset they took us to separate hospitals, because I would not be able help her remember Krishna, so I prayed to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. Turns out she was taken to a hospital where a devotee doctor was on duty and happened to remember her name and called all the devotees, and they came and were able to help her remember Krishna at the end of her life. This car accident helped me realize that death can come at any moment.

A friend was telling me that Krishna is the only one she has, all others will be taken away from us. I was surprised to hear she had such an advanced realization.

The devotees are valuable because they remind us to remember Krishna.

I asked one of my friends what made her so inspired. She said, “I think if this was the last day of my life, what are all the things I would do to please Krishna on this day, and then I try to act that way.”

We are dependent on Krishna, but it is up to us to depend on Krishna.

When you are in distress, where do find solace? What are you taking shelter of? It is good to step back and see, was I trying to take shelter of Krishna or something temporary?

We should be making plans to become more attracted to thinking of Krishna by hearing about Him and seriously chanting His holy names.

We should visit the holy dhamas to increase our attraction to Krishna.

Death is something that happens to everyone, yet we talk about so many nonsensical things but we do not want to talk about death.

Prepare for death is not as difficult as preparing for many tests. Going to mangala-arati and singing and dancing with your friends is easier than studying for many other tests.

Q: We make so many plans, getting our Ph.D., getting a job, etc.
A: As a duty to your family and Krishna you have to have to make plans, but you also have to spend time completely absorbed in sadhana [your spiritual practice] every day.

unspoken comments by Krishna-kripa das on the topic of the class:

In the Vishnu Purana it is written:

sa hanis tan mahac chidram
sa mohah sa ca vibhramah
yan-muhurtam kṣaṇam vapi
vasudevam na cintayet

If even for a moment remembrance of Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is missed, that is the greatest loss, that is the greatest illusion, and that is the greatest anomaly.”

yasyam vai sruyamanayam
krsne parama-puruse
bhaktir utpadyate pumsah

Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.7)

Vaishnava Dasa:

Radharani accused Krishna of being impure for killing Aristasura because he had the body of a bull, so Krishna called all the holy rivers to fill up Syama-kunda and he bathed there. Then he accused Radha of being impure for siding with a demon, and demanded that she purify Herself.

Jai Nitai Gauranga Prabhu:

If a scientist takes a dead mosquito he cannot repair it by taking body parts from other mosquitos. That is not possible.

We can ask ourselves how can manifest sincerity in my life now.

Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu:

Spiritual life includes material life, but my experience is that material life does not always include spiritual life.

Now at age 33, after 28 years of education I am a practicing physician, but in all that education I was never taught anything about the needs of the soul. I experienced difference levels of attainment in life but not the increased happiness I expected from that attainment. I was never taught that there is a spiritual goal for this human form of life.

When I would inquire about causes of the suffering in this world from people in the course of my life, they would generally discourage me, wondering why I wanted to think about such negative things.

Ultimately we take intoxication because we are not satisfied in ourselves or with our relationships.

What is required in spiritual life is to be open minded and be willing to try the experiment.

If a spiritual practice is bona fide, we should see some positive results from our practice.

comment by Amrita Keli dd: When I am absorbed in material consciousness, seeing devotees happily engaged in devotional service, makes me so happy.

comment by Matt: I was doing my own meditation and self-study, and I had come to some conclusions, but until I met the devotees, I never really had this well of bliss within me.

comment by Tulasirani dd: I was in Mayapur chanting with thousands of people from over 40 countries, and it was bliss to be with so many people chanting together from all different background. It is my dream to bring everyone there.

comments by Laura: I was agnostic before. I chanted Hare Krishna and found I was more peaceful and less angry. Why don’t I go around believing in God for a while and see if it makes a difference. So I did.

When you associate with people who have had spiritual experience their sincerity is very contagious.

from a conversation in Krishna House after hearing about Prabhupada in 1966 in New York City:

Krishna-kripa das:

I had a friend who in the beginning of his experience with Krishna consciousness was still getting high on marijuana. He noticed that the marijuana brought him down from the pleasure of chanting Hare Krishna, and so he gave it up.

Tulasirani dd:

When I first met the devotees in Ohio I had a habit of going to the bar every night, and so I would have them drop me off at the bar after the kirtana programs, saying they did not have to take me all the way home but could drop me downtown. After a while I noticed that drinking and the atmosphere of the bar did not feel so enjoyable anymore, so I would chant Hare Krishna more and go to the bar less.

The secret of Krishna consciousness is to stop endeavoring for your own happiness, but to try to act for Krishna’s happiness. Then you will find you become happier than you ever were before.

Hanan Prabhu:

I read Prabhupada’s books and lived in India, and felt that all my problems were all solved. But then when I returned to Israel, so many problems arose. We had to leave our place because it was going to be demolished, and then the Israeli army called me back for a month of service, and I had to rethink things.

story by Anna Angel: My father left home, leaving my mother with eight children to bring up, which upset me greatly. After many years, hearing I had some children, my father contacted me for the first time, wanting to see them, but I told him he could not. Four years later he died, and I had never seen him since he left. I felt very guilty and suffered greatly over it, but I came out realizing that without forgiveness we cannot progress spiritually.

One friend, who is being treated for cancer, said that they always tell the cancer patients that they are the cause of their disease, and then have to take responsibility for that, and then they can cure it.

When I am serving the Krishna Lunch, people come up and ask me why Bhagavad-gita is spoken on a battlefield, so I tell them in two minutes while I am serving the rice, that Krishna is teaching that by raising your consciousness you can do the most difficult thing in the most difficult place.

How to deal with difficulties?
  1. respond with prayer
  2. to react according to dharma
  3. get spiritual support

If a child gets up and tries to walk, adults nearby will come and help him so he does not fall over. However, if does not get up and try, no one will come to help. In the same way, God helps those who make some endeavor on their own.

There is a story from the Upanishads that is an analogy to our spiritual awakening. A merchant wanders through the forest, and is trapped by a tribe looking for a king, and rendered unconsciousness with a loss of memory of his former existence. They find the merchant has all the qualities they need, so they make him king. Later the brother of the merchant passes through the kingdom and is surprised to find his brother is king. But his brother the king could not recognize him. The brother read up on the tribe and found out the get a new king each year, and then cook the old king, and eat his body, thinking they will gain some of his qualities. So his brother tells the king of his actual situation, and after some time, was able to convince him of their relationship as brothers.

Why is bhakti the easiest yoga?
Here are some reasons:
  1. You do not have to have any material qualification to begin bhakti.
  2. The Lord helps you because you are approaching Him directly and He is reciprocal.
  3. You can engage all your abilities and all your emotions in it.
  4. You can do it twenty-four hours a day.

Practicing yoga is like keeping a spark in the fire. Without being in the fire, it will be extinguished.


svasty astu visvasya khalah prasidatam
dhyayantu a sivam mitho dhiya
manas ca bhadram bhajatad adhoksaje
avesyatam no matir apy ahaituki

[Prahlada Maharaja prayed:] May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.9)