Friday, April 12, 2013

Travel Journal#9.4: North Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 4
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2013, part two
North Florida
(Sent from Jacksonville, Florida, on April 11, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

The second half of February I spent mostly in Gainesville, organizing the chanting at Krishna Lunch. I also went on a brief visit to Tallahassee, promoting our Krishna Lunch and temple programs there, and to Jacksonville, chanting on campus and promoting our Krishna Club programs there. I share inspiring incidents from these trips. I had an unusual Nityananda’s appearance day, which I briefly describe.

I have quotes from the writings of my siksa and diksa gurus, Srila Prabhupada and Satsvarupa das Goswami, and notes on recorded lectures by Niranjana and Radhanath Swamis. I also have notes on another wonderful lecture by visiting Prabhupada disciple, Amala Bhakta Prabhu, and notes from lectures of many local speakers.

Chanting in Tallahassee

At one point, six of us chanted together at Tallahassee’s Lake Ella one Saturday. Krishna is kind to give me friends to chant with in so many cities. One friend had left Tallahassee for Gainesville, but another had left Gainesville for Tallahassee. One lady came by our chanting party, wondering where our Tallahassee temple was, and other people were happy to get sweets and to hear of our vegan/vegetarian food options in the city.

On Monday and Tuesday, I chanted at Florida State University, and the first person I talked to was interested in meditation and came to our Tuesday Bhagavad-gita class. Both days I met someone who had become vegetarian very recently, so I was able to interest them in our lunch program and cooking classes. I was pleased each day to have nice conversations with several students and to distribute many prasadam sweets.

Chanting at the University of North Florida

On Wednesday we chanted for four and three-quarters hours on the green at the University of North Florida, and at one point nine people were on the blanket chanting with us. One girl who was a friend of someone in Krishna Club sat down with us and fell in love with the drum, playing a nonstandard beat that fit the music. She also chanted Hare Krishna for the first time, even as she played the drum. She is a Resident Advisor for a dorm and invited us to do a program there sometime.

Also on Wednesday, one young gentleman, originally from Kenya, who frequents the UNF Library sat on the bench, enjoying the kirtana. Amrita invited him to our program, and he came two weeks in a row, taking Coming Back, and talking with the devotees about spiritual topics and giving donations each time. Later he visited our temple in Alachua several times before relocating to south Florida for a job opportunity.

A couple girls sitting on a bench at UNF liked listening to our chanting for half an hour. When one of them saw our weekly program was called “Soul Medicine,” she smiled, saying she liked the name because when she sat down she had a neck and back ache but it went away with the singing. When we took a break, she thought with alarm, “Why did they stop?”
Later we taught a beat on the drum to the president of our Bhakti Yoga club who was playing mrdanga for the first time and we taught a Christian girl we talked with earlier in the week how to play the karatalas, also for the first time. Miraculously, in just a few minutes they were both able to play in time as we played harmonium. That was a rarity. I had never seen such a wonder in my thirty years as a devotee that new people would pick up the instruments so fast!
Lord Caitanya is so kind inspire the people with such appreciation and abilities, and to engage us all in His service.

The next Wednesday I was out of town, but Amrita Keli said the chanting on the green was fabulous. One student danced for an hour and a half, not realizing how fast the time was passing. It is wonderful see Americans naturally attracted to Krishna consciousness, especially in the present day.

Lord Nityananda’s Appearance Day

The devotees who were to drive me home to Gainesville were sick, and so I ended up celebrating Lord Nityananda’s appearance day in Jacksonville. The devotees who organize the programs at University of North Florida impressed me on Lord Nityananda’s appearance by spending two hours in the morning reading Caitanya-caritamrita and Nityananda Caritamrita, and talking about Lord Nityananda. Then in the afternoon, other Alachua and Jacksonville friends impressed me by their enthusiasm to do congregational chanting of the holy name at the Jacksonville stadium before the crowds attending the Monster Truck Jam, instead of attending the festival in Alachua. Lord Nityananda appeared to deliver the most fallen, and I could not help but think that people who take pleasure in watching monster trucks smash into each other fit into that category. One friend told me that last time he went to such an event he was nine-years-old. It was a tough crowd to distribute pamphlets to. You had to watch and make sure the people did not throw them out when you were not looking. On the bright side, in front of the devotees’ chanting party, one man danced joyfully with his young daughter. Later she and a friend joined with some of the devotee ladies and danced for quite sometime with them. It was definitely an unusual day, but I think that in the ultimate issue Lord Nityananda Prabhu was pleased by all our attempts to glorify Him and to share His mercy, and that made it worth it.


Srila Prabhupada:

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.24.8, purport:

Not caring what will happen in the next birth, gross materialists are simply busy enjoying during the present short span of life. A Vaisnava is always anxious to give all such bewildered materialists the real happiness of spiritual bliss.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.24.19, purport:

When one becomes a pure devotee in love, he may also be blessed with a good material position by the will of the Supreme Lord. However, one should not mistakenly think that the material opulence of a devotee is the result of his devotional service. The real result of devotional service is the awakening of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which continues under all circumstances.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.3–4, purport:

When the intrigue of the Battle of Kuruksetra was going on, she [Gandhari] was not in favor of fighting with the Pandavas; rather, she blamed Dhrtarastra, her husband, for such a fratricidal war. She desired that the state be divided into two parts, for the sons of Pandu and her own.

from Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 3.178):
Haridas Thakura, however, said that the desired result of chanting the holy name of the Lord is not that one is liberated from material bondage or freed from the reactions of sinful life. The actual result of chanting the holy name of the Lord is that one awakens his dormant Krishna consciousness, his loving service to the Lord.
from notes by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami on a Prabhupada lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.23 given on November 23, 1974, in Mumbai:
When the sravanam-kirtanam is about Krishna, then there is no suffering or unhappiness. Other hearing and talking will not reduce suffering. Devotional service is so nice that even in the material world, the devotee will not suffer material miseries. Because his mind is absorbed in thought of Krishna, he does not suffer.”
from The Nectar of Devotion:
When a devotee is never tired of executing devotional service and is always engaged in Krishna conscious activities, constantly relishing the transcendental mellows in relationship with Krishna, he is called perfect. . . . Anyone who becomes exhilarated by hearing of the pastimes of Lord Krishna when He was present on this earth with His associates is to be understood as nitya-siddha, eternally perfect.

from a lecture:
Lord Caitanya taught there is a goal beyond liberation, love of Godhead.
Krishna says anything other than surrender to the lotus feet of Krishna is not real dharma.
One cannot say, “I do not accept the laws given by the state. I will make my own laws.” So in the same way, we cannot make our own dharma. Dharma is given by God.
Krishna is not speaking just to the Hindus. He is speaking to everyone as the father of all living beings.
This Krishna consciousness movement is very important because people are not understanding they are spiritual souls and not their bodies.
Our love has become spread out to our nation, our relatives, our friends, but it must become concentrated on Krishna.
Previously it was considered abominable to become a drunkard. Now it has become a fashion.
Our only request is that you take up this chanting of Hare Krishna.
People should take this Krishna consciousness movement very seriously.
Lord Caitanya’s movement is meant for both the common men and the educated. The common men can simply chant Hare Krishna, and the educated can study our vast literature.
Vasudeva wanted a son like Krishna, but Krishna is without an equal, and so He Himself appeared as the son of Vasudeva.
The mahatma is not under the control of the material energy but under the protection of the spiritual energy. His symptom is that he has no other activity besides the service of the Lord.
The whole Vedic civilization is to engage people in pious activities because by engaging in pious activities they will one day come to the point of bhajana.
There are many Bhagavans, but Krishna is the original.
We are telling people, “You are the son of Krishna, a most important personality. Why not go to your home? Why are you rotting in this material world?” People have to understand they are rotting in this material world.
from Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.4–5:
Atheists try to conceal the hand of God, which is present in every creation, but they cannot explain how all these creations could come into existence without a competent intelligence and almighty power behind them. Simply to imagine or speculate is a waste of time. In Bhagavad-gita (10.8), the Lord says, aham sarvasya prabhavo: “I am the origin of everything.” Mattah sarvam pravartate: “whatever exists in the creation emanates from Me.” Iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah: "When one fully understands that I create everything by My omnipotence, one becomes firmly situated in devotional service and fully surrenders at My lotus feet."
Niranjana Swami:

The result that a devotee aspires for is that Krishna may be pleased by his efforts in devotional service.

Krishna is only pleased by unflinching, unalloyed devotional service.

Most of our obstacles are within our heart and can be cleansed by Krishna who becomes pleased by the devotees’ service of hearing and remembering Him.

Srila Prabhupada explains that anxiety is a feature of this world, and you can choose either to have material anxiety or to have spiritual anxiety.

If we are consciousness of our subservient position in relationship to the Lord, then we will be without [material] anxiety in this world.

A good result will ultimately manifest if we accept our position as a servant of Krishna.

Krishna is the supreme plan maker. I have my plans and Krishna has His plans, and Krishna always has the final decision.

Srila Prabhupada writes in his journal in February 1966 after a recording session with some friends, “Haridas Thakura has said that anyone who hears these holy names, even animals and beasts, can be attracted. Today I have personally witnessed the statement of Haridas Thakura. The Americans have been become attracted by the chanting. This is all Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy. It is not my credit.”

Krishna as our best friend can take care of our needs, but we need to remember Him. He can make a much better arrangement to remove our obstacles than we can ourselves because of his perfect knowledge.

Srila Prabhupada used a story of the train conductor asking for his son’s ticket, and his son being bewildered until he took shelter of his father to show how when we take shelter of Krishna all anxiety goes away.

Radhanatha Swami:

from a lecture on Lord Nityananda:

The conception that something is lovable exists is because of Krishna.

Service is so great that the Lord also desires to engage in service to show that pure unalloyed service is the ultimate experience.

Laksmana entered the forest for 14 years, simply to serve Lord Rama. It is said He remained awake for the entire time so as not to miss a chance to serve the Lord.

A real spiritual master teaches how to surrender to Krishna.

Ekacakra was experiencing a drought until Lord Nityananda Prabhu appeared, and then it rained pleasingly and all vegetation flourished.

The only play Nityananda Prabhu would engage in was to enact dramas of the pastimes of the Lord.

To execute His mission of assisting Lord Caitanya in His mission, Lord Nityananda would have to leave home. But He had such loving parents, how was it possible? Thus by the Lord’s arrangement, a sannyasi came who begged Hadai Pandit for his son in charity to be his assistant. Every parent in Ekacakra wanted to offer their son as a replacement as they loved Nitai so, but the sannyasi had disappeared.

When Nityananda on His tour saw the Shaivites and the Vaishnavas fighting, He who is the source of both Shiva and Vishnu laughed.

When He encountered Madhavendra Puri, He exclaimed, “I have traveled so far and seen so many pilgrimage places, but I have not yet seen such ecstatic love for Krishna as you have.”

Laksmipati Tirtha worshiped Balarama who appeared in a dream and told him to initiate a brahmana who would soon appear.

Lord Nityananda lived in Vrndavana, playing with cowherd boys and cows, and waiting for Nimai Pandit to inaugurate His sankirtana movement.

Lord Nityananda did not preach until He got the order from Lord Caitanya. This supreme humility has its origin in God Himself. He did not want to consider Himself the doer of His activities.

Srila Prabhupada told a reporter, “My only qualification is I am simply repeating the words of my spiritual master.” When asked if he was a pure devotee or if he was perfect, he explained, “I may or may not be a pure devotee or be perfect, but my words are perfect because I am repeating my guru’s words.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:
from Yellow Submarine, #213:
A quiet afternoon,
the hours go by slowly.
This is preaching too,
hearing gentle sounds
and trying to speak from the heart,
if you can find your heart.
Staying by the Lord
in a safe place,
the yellow submarine. From here
you can see eternity if you become
quiet enough and listen.
He’s just by your side,
and you can relax.
He’s coming through the ether,
and your pulse is beating softly.
Why don’t you go out?
I can hardly walk.
I’m content to sit and
hear His voice coming
to me in music muted.
It’s another day to be
with Krishna and write
your realizations for
your friends, your virtual friends.”
from Viraha Bhavan, February 24, 2013:
Japa is easy but
to do it seriously is difficult.
I was successful in keeping out
other thoughts except uttering
harinama. I tried to
do it with attention and
Amala Bhakta Prabhu:

When people have a unified aim, it is easier for them to work cooperatively.

Devotional service is its own reward because it brings the mercy of the Lord, and for one who has the mercy of the Lord, what is there left to attain?

We build up our bodies by working out and become so proud of our abilities, thinking we are invincible, but then a microscopic organism comes by and knocks us out for two weeks. Despite our pride, we have to admit that the person who made the virus is superior to us.

Everyone wants to live forever. They may say they do not want to live forever, but whenever there is some problem with the body, they are always going to the doctor. Why? Because they want to live forever. Why do we want to live forever? Because as souls we really do live forever.

We suffer from stress because our attachment to our body, but by spiritual practice that can be reduced.

It is very difficult [as a lecturer] to compete with prasadam [spiritual food].

Once the Bhagavatam speaker told one of the listeners who remained awake during the class to awaken the person next to him. The listener replied, “You put him to sleep. You can wake him up.”

If you are fully self-realized, you will get guidance from the Supreme Lord within how to help your dependents make advancement. In fact, if you become self-realized, you can truly benefit everyone.

Even God Himself appears as an ordinary person most of the time, except for a few occasions when He exhibits His superhuman opulence.

Charity, patience, and humility are virtues that can help us in self-realization.

We cannot dictate to Krishna when He will let us understand something.

We should see the Bhagavad-gita with reverence.

The biggest sin is to forget the Lord.

Best is if we chant as if we are crying out for Krishna’s assistance.

To feel the closeness, nearness, and presence of Krishna is the best thing, and when you get that you want to share it others, your family, your friends, and the people in general.

Srila Prabhupada’s words were floating on his divine energy.

If we start thinking I am better than him and I am better than him, then we became a materialist again.

If we have a residence in the USA and another in Italy, and yet another residence somewhere else, we become very proud of our good fortune, but Krishna has a residence in every atom.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

at Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu’s marriage:

In marriage, like anything, if we approach it in the mood of enjoying, we will fall flat on our face, but if we approach it in the mood of service, we will be successful.

If we put Krishna in the center and make our house a temple that will take the edge off any conflicts we may have.

Prasannatma Prabhu:

The love we have for our family, our nation, our dog, is incomplete and temporary. It is all finished in a moment and that moment is death. Sometimes the relationships end before death, there is divorce, or we transfer from one school to another, ending our friendships with people from the previous school.

Different goswamis give different explanations of the maha-mantra which are all true.

Lord Caitanya did not ask us to love Himself, but to develop love for the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna. First we meditate on Lord Gaura, and then we meditate on Radha-Krishna.

We follow Rupa Goswami and Raghunatha Goswami. We do not want to follow Madhvacarya, Ramanujacarya, Nimbarkacarya. We respect them all, but we are determined to follow Rupa Raghunatha.

Imagine Krishna cannot get something. Krishna is the supreme controller, and yet there was something He could not get, the experience of Radharani’s love for Himself. Thus He came as Lord Caitanya to experience this.

Gandhari never saw her 100 sons because of her voluntarily blindfolding herself so as not to excel her blind husband. What an austerity for a mother to perform! She was so determined.

When you do austerity you get much power. When you do not do austerity, you do not have much power.

The first word that was heard in this universe was “tapa” (austerity).

In France, when the government imposes some restriction, people go on strike, and chant “No austerity! No austerity!”

In America, people are eating anything at any time, boiled peanuts, chocolate candy, chips, etc.

In material life, people eat a little for breakfast, a little for lunch, and have a big dinner, while the devotee takes just a little at night so he can get up early and perform spiritual activities.

Ranjit Prabhu:

Constant engagement (satata-yuktanam) is not possible without loving ecstasy (priti-purvakam).

I recommend rereading Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is very rewarding. You will encounter a lot of things that you forgot along the way.

Krishna has newer and newer beauties that are beyond our understanding and experience.

Krishna was not attracted by the incomparable beauty and feminine charms of His queens but by their pure devotional service to Him.

Sometimes very sincere Christians would approach me to save me. Sometimes I would joke with them saying, “There are two kinds of people. Those who know and those who do not know. For those who know, no explanation is necessary, and for those who do not know, no explanation is possible.” It would sometimes frustrate them as they did not have an answer to it. To some extent that statement is true, but it also inaccurate because the desire of the pure devotee is so powerful that those who do not know can be enlightened.

Devotees would present different philosophies, and Srila Prabhupada would analyze them from the viewpoint of Krishna consciousness. Later some devotees realized that original presentations of the philosophies were incorrect, and asked if he would be willing to do it again, and he valued that project so much that it did it again. The second formulation is in Quest for Enlightenment.

Leibniz said that every thing has purpose in the universe and the purpose of the entire universe is to know the creator of the universe. Srila Prabhupada very much liked that philosophy.

Jung lamented that philosophy was no longer a way of life. He felt the rites of many religions had became unintelligible in the modern world.

Subuddhi Krishna Prabhu:

In Bangalore, one guest loved the kitri so much he asked for the recipe which I obtained for him from the cooks. When he made it himself, he complained it did not taste the same. I asked if he offered it to Krishna, but he had not. I gave him the mantras to offer it, and he tried again. It was better but not good enough. I asked if he just offered it so he could eat it, or if he had really offered it with devotion. He realized he had not done it with devotion, so he tried again, this time successfully. Thus we can see practically there is a difference between prasadam [food offered to Krishna with devotion] and ordinary food.

Prema Manjari dd:

Just as in a dream something completely illogical can happen at any moment, in our conditioned life, although our situation appears very stable, the reality is that something completely illogical can happen at any moment.

When the fiery demon started approaching Ambarisa Maharaja in order to kill him, Ambarisa Maharaja did not appeal to the Lord for protection. He merely continued thinking of the Lord as usual.

It is difficult to be surrendered to the Lord at every moment until one has developed one’s love for Him.

Madhava Prabhu (from Alachua):

We are giving up bad habits and developing new ones, so sometimes we act in a bad way and sometimes in a good way. Krishna does not take that too seriously if we are engaged in His service in devotion.

Srila Prabhupada describes what he means by an accidental falldown. If you were a smoker, and you accidentally associate with other smokers and you light up a cigarette, and later you feel bad, thinking “what have I done?” then it is forgiven. But if you think now I am a devotee, I can smoke like anything and it will all be forgiven, that is cheating.

comment by Tulasirani dd: Mother Laksmimoni would explain that if a sinful act is premeditated then it is not an accident.

Tulasirani dd:

There are austerities in devotional service like chanting, which are joyful, and others, like getting up for mangala-arati, where you have to grit your teeth. If you just do the austerities where you have to grit your teeth and not the joyful ones, then you will lose your taste for devotional service, so there has to be a balance.

It is not possible to absorb your mind for eternity in a stagnant object, but Krishna’s qualities are always increasing and captivating the mind more and more.

They do not have cell phones in the spiritual world. Krishna plays different tunes on his flute to call different groups of friends.

The gopis were envious of Krishna’s flute, for the flute constantly had Krishna’s association while they only did sometimes.

We want to become an instrument like a flute that Krishna can play and attract people back to the spiritual world.

Govardhana Hill adjusts the temperature of the rocks on its slopes to facilitate the pastimes of Krishna according to the season.

When you are humble it changes people’s hearts.

Vaishnava das Prabhu:

I see in the five years I have practiced I have improved. The mind is less of a disturbance.

Sometimes we try to act better just to look good to others, but that is not actually required, for in reality, just by engaging in devotional service we will attain all good qualities.

In Chapter Twelve of Bhagavad-gita many good qualities of a great devotee, such as tolerance in the face of dualities are described, and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there are examples like Maharaja Pariksit and Maharaja Ambarisa, who were not disturbed by extreme difficulty.

Gopala Prabhu:

Krishna wanted to show that worship of Indra is not necessary but that worship should be directed to Krishna or Vishnu. Thus he advised his father not to perform sacrifice for Indra but instead to worship Govardhana Hill which sustained them. As Krishna is not different from Govardhana Hill, he was actually engaging them in Vishnu worship.

Although Krishna killed the many demons who would daily come and harass His associates in Vrindavana, He merely humiliated Indra, who inundated Vrindavana with torrential rain, by lifting Govardhana Hill, because Indra was a devotee at heart.

There are three ways material desires are “fulfilled”:
  1. You do not get it.
  2. It is not what you thought it would be.
  3. It is what you wanted, or even better, but it does not last.

Dr. Dina Bandhu Prabhu:

If we are not fixed on the Supreme, our minds will pursue sense enjoyment.

On the spiritual path, we must be moving forward, otherwise we will end up moving backward.

If we cultivate a relationship with Krishna through yoga, our relationships with other people will automatically improve.

Srila Prabhupada says that if we take one step to Krishna, He will take ten steps to us, but we cannot understand how Krishna will take ten steps toward us until we take that one step toward Him.

It is not if Krishna will reciprocate but when.

Lindsey: Regarding my trip to the Alachua temple for the weekend, I found everything I needed was supplied. I just had to desire to go there.

Amrita Keli devi dasi: We chanted several hours on New Year's Eve in Alachua, then slept five hours, and drove to JAX and chanted two or three hours at the football game, and then we drove to St. Augustine, and chanted several hours in the afternoon. When I returned to Jacksonville my body was wiped out, but I was so happy because of all the chanting which was more than I ever do. I can see Krishna really reciprocates when we go a little beyond what we think is our limit.

Joseph: We always think we do not have time for a spiritual practice, but we find when we make time for a spiritual practice, we still have enough time to do the other things we need to do.

It is a phenomenon that the more people who have the same delusion the more difficult it is to classify it as a delusion. The delusion of maya that we are the body and not the soul is such a widespread delusion.

If you are wearing handcuffs, you have to approach the person who has put them on you in order to get free. Our bondage to the material world is like that. We have to please the Lord to get free.

To understand the message of Krishna we have to hear it through Arjuna’s ears. In other words, we have to accept it as Arjuna did.

comment by Lovelesh: I encountered some web sites discussing popular translations of Bhagavad-gita and I found that often Bhagavad-gita As It Is is number one.

If someone claims to be representing a religious tradition, he should have a good understanding of the soul, for that is one of the ABCs.

comment by Kimani: I was looking for a mantra and found the Hare Krishna mantra in a book. I found it helpful in cleansing my heart and removing obstacles in my life. It brought me happiness that was not available in my life before.

Hanan Prabhu:

The ability to tolerate provoking situations is the quality of the greatest.

The saying “push my buttons” is interesting to me as a non-English speaker. It seems to imply we are like machines like computers that can be controlled by pushing buttons.

Karma is what happens to you, and free will is how you react.

Researchers says we have 32,000 thoughts going through our minds each day. Krishna advises how to deal with them: “A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires — that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still — can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Bg. 2.70)

Srila Prabhupada advises that we should not become angry at the agent of our karma. One example that illustrates the foolishness of becoming angry at the agent of karma is this: Suppose the postman comes and gives you a letter from Bank of America that states you owe the bank $20,000, and you become angry and take a stick and start beating the postman.

Kunti suffered greatly, perhaps more than anyone else in the Bhagavatam, so she is qualified to talk about it. After suffering many calamities caused by Duryodhana, during the Battle of Kurukshetra, she had to witness one son (Arjuna) killing another son (Karna), which is a terrible thing for a mother to see.

In the Israel army they have a person who has lost a son himself inform a family that their child has died, for such a person can empathize with their situation.

If we tell Krishna, “Tomorrow,” in response to his invitation to surrender. He will say, “Ok. Tomorrow, then.”


vande sri-krishna-caitanya-
nityanandau sahoditau
gaudodaye puspavantau
citrau san-dau tamo-nudau

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Krishna Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauḍa to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.2)