Monday, July 08, 2013

Travel Journal#9.11: Adventures in England

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 11
By Krishna-kripa das
(June 2013, part one
Adventures in England
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on July 8, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

Because I was in London to see my sister, I learned of the Bath Ratha-yatra and had the opportunity to go to that and the wild London Saturday night harinama that evening. Then on to Leeds for an afternoon program, with harinama before and after, the one before having five people. Then three days in Newcastle and back to London for the UK Brahmacari Conference, a Camden harinama, another London Saturday night harinama, the London Ratha-yatra, and a few days of harinama, with Vishnujana, Gaura Karuna, and Syama-rasa Prabhus, old friends from the Polish Woodstock, who are traveling all over the world doing harinama, along with Harinamananda Prabhu. Then those harinama devotees and I joined Janananda Goswami in his visit to Brighton, where we did harinamas and a stage show at People’s Day, along with Mahavishnu Swami.

I share quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books and notes from his lectures. I also share a quote from the second volume of the autobiography of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. While at the UK Brahmacari Conference at Bhaktivedanta Manor I heard nice lectures by Jayadvaita Swami, Atmanivedana Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami, and Dayananda Swami, and senior devotees like Uttamasloka Prabhu, and I share notes from these.

Thanks to the devotees who took pictures of me at the Bath Ratha-yatra, and to Vidyapati and Sandipani Muni Prabhus who took videos in Brighton.

Bath Ratha-yatra

Parasurama Prabhu likes to do Ratha-yatras all over England, and when I offered to speak at his Friday program in Kings Cross when I came to London to meet my sister, he invited me to the Bath Ratha-yatra the next day. Because I like to dance for Lord Jagannatha at as many Ratha-yatras as possible I accepted his invitation.

The weather was sunny and warm. We spent at least half an hour of the two-hour parade (or carnival as they say in the UK) at one square in the city so lots people got exposure to the event. Lots of people watched, many took photos,

a few danced, like this boy and his mom below,

and some even chanted with us. Some, like the couple below, joined the procession to the park where we chanted for another half hour and had prasadam.

Kids seeing our kirtana party began to dance.

The Bath Hindu Community members helped with the prasadam. Parasurama Prabhu was very liberal and let me lead at least a quarter of the time.

Yuka, a new devotee from a Japanese background who we knew from Newcastle, now works in Bristol, half an hour from Bath, and it was awesome to see her love for chanting and dancing in the kirtana.

I took nine video clips of the Bath Ratha-yatra and the picnic in the park, and placed them in the following YouTube playlist:

London Saturday Night Harinamas

Parasurama Prabhu was so enthusiastic to go to the Saturday night harinama that as prasadam was being served out after the Bath Ratha-yatra, he was packing up the cart to return to the Manor, normally a two-hour drive away, so he could drop off the cart and then go to Central London, a forty-five minute drive, for the harinama.

The next week I was also in London and brahmacaris from the conference at the Manor joined the many lively singers, dancers, and distributors of flyers and books who weekly go on that Saturday harinama in London.

At one point we danced in front of a theater showing Singin’ in the Rain. Fortunately for us, although we were in London, there was no rain to sing in that night!

Devotees took pleasure encouraging others to dance in our harinama procession.

Many people did.

Among them a group of roller skaters, who danced in a circle,

and also in a line.

Seeing the dancing brahmacaris,

they imitated their moves.

Newcastle Harinamas

I had couple austere days chanting by myself in Newcastle that week between my London trips, but I always put out a collection basket and give out a few books, so in that sense it was an increase. The first day back I got 21 British pounds ($32.50) even before I set out my basket. Robert, a former attender at the temple, donated two bananas and a person who was tired of hearing me sing, donated a cup of water as a farewell gift. That was an unusual day.

Seeing an enthusiasm for kirtana among the youth I suggested we have a twelve-hour kirtana, like we did the previous year. They recalled that the first few hours of that kirtana, practically no one came, so we decided to do an eight-hour kirtana instead. We chose Ekadasi as it is a good day to increase our hearing and chanting about Krishna.
It still got off to a slow start. I sang first to get things going. Then Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu chanted, but there were still not many people.

Later Satya Medha’s little boy, Bhanu, was inspired by the others to begin playing on his little drum.

Diya, who has a powerful and beautiful voice, led with a larger group of responders.

Malvika led such a fired-up kirtana that a bunch of men danced.

Ekachakranath Prabhu then led a lively kirtana, getting several ladies up dancing.

The weather was unusually good for Newcastle, sunny and not too cool, so for the last two hours we sang in the park across the street from the temple.

A group of boys, and later, a lady danced with us. I took some great pictures of the boys dancing, but they wanted me to delete the pictures from my camera while they watched, perhaps afraid that their parents or friends might see them. I did so, but was amazed by such fear among boys perhaps ten or twelve years old. The devotees enthusiastically cooked some great Ekadasi prasadam for the event as you can see below:

Camden Harinama

At noon each Saturday a van load of devotees (about seventeen) from Bhaktivedanta Manor chants in public at a different locations in the London vicinity. The party goes out even in the winter, but has about half the number of people. The day before the London Ratha-yatra, I went with them to Camden and helped out by leading kirtana and distributing Ratha-yatra invitations.

Many people danced, like this mom and daughter,

and these guys below.

Many also took pictures of our party. Devotees distributed books and prasadam sweets and packets of dried fruit. On the ride home we had puris and tea. It was a pleasant experience.

London Ratha-yatra

London Ratha-yatra is big with three large carts and lots of devotees. For London the weather was good. In other words, it did not rain and it was not too cold. Many new people were happy to encounter the devotees and see the Jagannatha carts and hear the kirtana. Many people took pictures. There were two kirtana parties before Lord Jagannatha, and of course, other kirtana parties before the other deities. In recent years, I have been thinking my goal in life is to sing and dance for Lord Jagannatha as far as Ratha-yatra is concerned, Thus after seeing Baladeva’s and Subhadra’s carts pass by, I stayed singing and dancing in front of Lord Jagannatha the rest of the time. I did not take many pictures, but if you look, you can find many on the the Internet. I was happy just chanting and dancing for Lord Jagannath, my eternal master and the Lord of the Universe. I would invite people who seemed very interested in the procession to the festival at Trafalgar Square afterward. The prasadam cooked by Parasurama Prabhu and his team was excellent as usual. The sabji with curd in it, and the srikhand were high points for me, and I had thirds on the sabji and seconds on the srikhand instead of thirds only because they ran out. The prasadam was sponsored by the Hinduja Foundation in honor of Dharam Hinduja. Paola, one young lady who came to Ratha-yatra for the first time last year, and who later came to our food distribution at Stonehenge a few days later, was happy when I reminded her of this year’s festival and was very happy to come again.

People danced along with the stage show.

The traveling harinama party did a little harinama by the carts, something that I do not recall was done before.

On the way back to Soho Street temple, we did harinama and some people enjoyed dancing with us.

After we arrived at Soho Street, Vidyapati Prabhu was in such a festive mood from the Ratha-yatra that he continued chanting in the brahmacari ashram, as devotees took some maha-prasadam from Lord Jagannatha, as you can see in the video below:

London Daily Harinamas

It was my great fortune that my friends who travel around the world doing harinama decided to stay in London between the London Ratha-yatra and the Stonehenge Solstice Festival. Another young man from the near Manor, and three young devotee ladies who are friends also decided to spend the week following Ratha-yatra in London, so we had lots of people to go chanting. We had different experience. A costumed man posed with our drum.

A couple of young ladies joined our party, dancing for some time.

One day we encountered a school group visiting London from a town two or three hours away.

The kids were fascinated with kirtana, and almost all took part enthusiastically as you can see in the video:

People seeing the harinamas often seem to be attracted to dancing in a circle, like the group in this video below:

Another day, when we chanted at Piccadilly Circus, we had three wonderful experiences. One was another group of people danced with us all at once in a circle, and they all had a great time, as you can see from this video:

Another was I saw one young woman trying to sing the mantra with an expression of great delight on her face. I came over to her and gave her a mantra card, which she was very grateful for. I asked her if she had met the Hare Krishna devotees before, and to my surprise, she said this was her first encounter with them. She continued singing during both the lead and the response with a blissful smile on her face which amazed me. She told me her name was Irena and she was from a small town in Spain but that Victor, the young man she was traveling with was from Madrid, where I had said we had a center. I hope she continues her interest in chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Judging from the joy with which she chanted the mantra, as seen in her expression in the picture below, she must have done some devotional service in a past life.

One Indian lady joined the harinama party and chanted with us for quite a while at Piccadilly and then came back to the Soho temple. She asked to see the temple room, and ended up attending the last forty-five minutes of the japa class that replaces the Bhagavad-gita class on Wednesday night. Then she stayed for the evening arati. After the arati, recognizing her from the harinama, I spoke to her, and she told me the most amazing story. Recently she had been in India and doing pilgrimage to Benares, Hardwar, and Rishikesh. At Rishikesh in the Ganges she found I deity that she did not recognize, and later she learned it was a deity of Jagannatha, a form of Lord Krishna, who she had not encountered before. Although from India, she had never seen Lord Jagannatha worshiped in a temple, and after finding that deity, she developed the desire to see Him worshiped on the altar. That afternoon, immediately after she came out of a movie theater, she saw and joined our harinama party and came back to the temple, and ultimately saw Lord Jagannatha blissfully smiling on the altar. He had fulfilled her desire to see Him worshiped in a temple! She had not known there was a Hare Krishna temple in London. I invited her to next week’s Croydon Ratha-yatra, but she told me she would not be in town and that she lived in Manchester. She did not know we had a Hare Krishna temple in Manchester, so I gave her the address and told her of the web site, and the Friday and Sunday programs there. I also told her that we would be having a Ratha-yatra in Manchester later in the summer.

Norwood Program

Louise, a devotee who attends our Soho Street temple, started a program at Norwood Junction, near where she lives. When Sandipani Muni Prabhu and I exited the Norwood Junction station, a well dressed man, who looked to be in his fifties expressed surprise to see Hare Krishnas at Norwood Junction. I explained that we had just started a program there that met on Thursday evenings. He said he had a friend who had been involved with the Hare Krishnas, and that it did him a world of good. He asked if we accepted donations, and I said we did, so he gave us a five-pound note. I offered him a Bhagavad-gita I had in my pocket, but he declined it because he said he would not read it. It was positive to be greeted with such enthusiasm for Hare Krishna on my first visit to Norwood Junction, and to hear a man report of a positive experience his friend had had with the devotees.

Brighton Harinamas and People’s Day

We got to Brighton by the special mercy of Krishna. I wanted to do harinama in London as long as possible before taking the coach to Brighton. I allowed an extra ten minutes to get to the coach station, but the bus we took there got stuck in traffic, taking an extra fifteen minutes for the journey. We dashed the two blocks between the bus and coach stations, arriving about three minutes after the scheduled departure to see the bus just pulling out of the gate. We banged on the glass and waved to the driver. Janananda Goswami, who was more experienced than us and had arrived much earlier, saw us. He told the bus driver to stop and let us board which he kindly did. And thus despite our gambling, we made the bus. Thus we saw our dependence on the mercy of Krishna and His devotee in our practical life, and we resolved to allow more time to catch the coaches in the future.

Our party included seven people and thus the vehicle sent to pick up Janananda Goswami could not accommodate us. Thus we did harinama to the Brighton temple.

Janananda Goswami describes Brighton as abounding with ex-hippies and their offspring, and so the crowd was more open-minded and receptive than most.

We got good responses as we passed the cafes,

and on the sidewalks as well.

Harinamananda Prabhu swung an onlooker about.

We also did harinama from the temple to the evening program. As we passed a park, a whole family took interest in our kirtana.

They began dancing themselves.

Even swinging their kids.

Then dancing with us.

Even the grandmother swung around.

Then next day Janananda Goswami joined the harinama.

Mahavishnu Swami also did harinama, as you can see below,

even going into shops, like this costume shop, 

and this guitar shop:

Later in the day we performed on the stage at an event called People’s Day. The host was pleased with us and did a few dance steps herself. Mahavishnu Swami led a wild kirtana on the stage, and Janananda Goswami encouraged people to dance in front of the stage. In addition, Mahavishnu Swami paraphrased Srila Prabhupada’s explanation of the Hare Krishna mantra and added music to it. Here is some video of the event:


Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.1 given in New Delhi on November 28, 1975:

The Krishna consciousness movement is just to teach people not to be attracted by the false reality.

The love in this world is like a reflection. It is like a mirage in the desert.

We are hunting after pleasure, but we do not know that the real pleasure is in relationship with Krishna.

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.32, purport:

To get rid of one miserable condition, we have to put ourselves in another kind of miserable condition. A poor man suffers for want of money, but if he wants to become rich, he has to struggle in so many ways. Actually that is not a valid counteracting process but a snare of the illusory energy. If one does not endeavor to counteract his situation but is satisfied with his position, knowing that he has obtained his position through past activities, he can instead engage his energy to develop Krishna consciousness. This is recommended in all Vedic literature. . . . Actually the material condition cannot be improved. The process of improvement means accepting another miserable condition. However, if we endeavor to improve our Krishna consciousness, the distresses of material life will disappear without extraneous endeavor.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.34:

One can counteract a dream only by awaking. Similarly, our material existence is due to our ignorance and illusion. Unless we awaken to Krishna consciousness, we cannot be relieved of such dreams.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.35, purport:

The Vedas therefore enjoin that one should factually understand that he is not material, but is actually Brahman (aham brahmasmi). This understanding cannot be fully realized unless one is engaged in Brahman activities, namely devotional service. To get free from the material conditions, one has to take to Krishna consciousness. That is the only remedy.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.38, purport:

Simply by hearing of the glories of the Lord, one is elevated to the transcendental position.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.29.3–40, purport:

A Krishna conscious person is never disturbed by the bodily necessities — namely eating, sleeping, mating and defending.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 1.126, purport:

Being absolute in all circumstances, Lord Jagannatha’s person, form, picture and kirtana are all identical. Therefore when Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, He was pacified. Previously, He had been feeling very morose due to separation from Jagannatha. The conclusion is that whenever a kirtana of pure devotees takes place, the Lord is immediately present. By chanting the holy names of the Lord, we associate with the Lord personally.

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 1.170 :

Even a Muslim king could understand Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s transcendental position as a prophet; therefore he ordered the local magistrate not to disturb Him but to let Him do whatever He liked.”

from a lecture on the teachings of Prahlada Maharaja, Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.5:

People waste years of their lives not realizing the importance of this human form of life.

The Vedic social divisions are not divisions of caste but divisions of culture with the brahmanas having the topmost spiritual culture. Aryans are those advanced in spiritual culture.

Madhukari means begging door-to-door for the bare necessities of life. Rupa Goswami did that, but not with a plan to sell the surplus rotis [a kind of flat Indian bread].

Without reading the books like The Nectar of Devotion, we will misunderstand Radha-Krishna.

We should not imitate prema-bhakti [devotional service in spontaneous love] without going through the practice of vidhi-bhakti [devotional service in practice].

Not that just because we have come to Vrindavan that we have become advanced.

The body changes from material to spiritual when we are in constant touch with Krishna consciousness.

Prahlada Maharaja advises us not to waste years of our lives without spiritual cultivation.

Narottama Dasa Thakura songs are as good as Vedic evidence.

Life can be finished at any time.

Every moment we are living we are actually dying. Thus we are mudha, bewildered.

As the expert geologist is required to find out gold in the soil. A spiritual expert is required to find the soul within the body.

This movement cannot be understood unless one understands what I am. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is so nice that if one chants and dances, someday he will be able to understand.

Comments by Parividha Prabhu:

One thing I always notice is that Srila Prabhupada’s classes are short because he wanted devotees to do a lot of service.

Those who enjoy life, either spiritually or materially, find sleep to be a waste of time.

Jayadvaita Swami:

from a program in Harrow organized by the Pandava Sena devotees:

Q: What about persons who are homosexual and want to be Krishna conscious?
A: They will have to change their lifestyle because homosexual sex can not be engaged in Krishna’s service. If they can self controlled enough, they can be celibate and live in an ashram, but that may not be possible.

Q: What do we see so much religious terrorism?
A: Governments have found it a convenient way to mask their own activities. The Gulf War is a clash of economics interests not a clash between Islamic groups. The real clash is between the demoniac and the divine. And the demoniac are more numerous in this age. There is a grabbing for sense gratification without regard for suffering caused to others. Tobacco companies target 13 to 16-year-olds to get them hooked on their brand for life.

Q: If a brahmana-initated devotee breaks the regulative principles does the guru suffer for his karma and can the disciple go back to Godhead?
A: Of course, the guru suffers from the embarrassment. One should take vows seriously, but if one makes a mistake and rectifies himself, he could go back to Godhead.

Q: To what extent does Krishna consciousness condone capital punishment?
A: 100%. For one thing, it eliminates the problem of repeat offenders. And the Bhagavatam states that for the criminal, he is purified by such punishment and will not have to suffer in the future.

Q: What about the problem of someone receiving capital punishment who is later found to be innocent?
A: Such mistakes are possible, and if there is not capital punishment, one may be released and kill 40 people. We cannot govern based on exceptions.
There was a case in a hotel in a Muslim country where guests found something missing and accused the hotel staff, and the hotel staff member lost his hand for it. Then the guests found they had not lost the thing after all, and they lost their own hand for the false accusation. Thus justice must be administered carefully, especially in a Muslim country.

Q: Some people chant and quickly and attain perfection, but others do not for a long time even after performing devotional service. Why?
A: Everyone has the chance to attain Krishna consciousness, but not everyone takes the chance.

One may free from more sinful activities than he can commit by chanting Hare Krishna, but he should stop committing sinful activities.

Q: How do we prove that Krishna exists?
A: It is difficult to prove anything. Still we have to ask the question, what is the source of everything? Everything comes from nothing. Everything comes from a source which is devoid of varieties. Do these ideas make any sense?

The idea of chance denies the law of cause and effect. Sadaputa Prabhu, a mathematician, explained to us that chance does not cause anything, it just explains a certain observation. Chance means you do not have the slightest idea. Karma means there are reasons for events, and that is what we experience.

Q: How can we present Krishna consciousness as a superior philosophy?
A: Read the books again and again. One definition of a first-class devotee is he who knows all the arguments and can defeat anyone. Do your best. Sometimes you may do better than others. Learn by doing. If you wait to preach until your arguments are ideal you may wait until your own cremation. No one says I will wait until I am a perfect husband and then I will get married.

Q: What about Dr. Nayak?
A: His arguments are not very good. He cites different opinions within Hinduism as an excuse to reject it, but his Islam is not devoid of internal disagreements between the different groups.

If you want to avoid conflict, you are out of luck. Even in the spiritual world, there are two groups of gopis which disagree. Among the devotees, we should try to avoid needless dispute.

Q: How much respect do we give Lord Shiva? Is he just a deva or a great personality?
A: Just a deva? How much respect do we give the Queen in this country, and she is just the Queen. Shiva and the devas are given respect but not to the extent that Lord Vishnu is. Even Shiva says that Vishnu worship is the best.

After having been successful in expanding his Krishna consciousness movement, Srila Prabhupada explained that faith in the words of the Lord and in the instructions of his spiritual master were the reason for his success.

Chanting the holy name is also called prema-sankirtana. In the beginning it is done out of obedience and later out of love.

Srila Prabhupada said the chanting should be sweet and melodious.

The perfection of chanting is not a musical perfection but a perfection of devotion.

Srila Prabhupada was pleased with the enthusiastic chanting of Hare Krishna and distribution of the glories of the Lord.

The pleasure of chanting the holy name comes from the spiritual world.

By chanting Hare Krishna we are serving Radha Krishna perfectly.

Q (by Govinda Prabhu): During Srila Prabhupada’s time and Lord Caitanya’s time there was a lot of public chanting, but now there is not. Is that a problem or the way it is?
A: That is a problem and the way it is. If there is book distribution going on that is also public glorification of the Lord. But if there is neither public chanting or book distribution, then what is there?

The result of chanting among the devotees should be that the devotees desire to go out and chant for the public. Just like we do not just take prasadam ourselves, but we also distribute it to the public.

Sometimes we get focused on solving our own problems, but distributing Krishna consciousness to the public automatically solves so many of our own problems.

Q: What about going to other Gaudiya groups to learn sweet and melodious tunes?
A: In Prabhupada’s days, tunes were simple and melodious. Once Srila Prabhupada deprecated a kirtana for being simply clanging and banging. So I am all for people going to Gaudiya groups to get sweet and melodious tunes, if they do not bring back too much else.

In the beginning we are trained and then it becomes automatic. If we are not trained what we do automatically will be rubbish.

Q: Did Prabhupada like the chanting of the name of Radha?
A: Yes. Srila Prabhupada very much liked the name of Radha. The word Hare in the Hare Krishna mantra refers to Radha, and it is repeated eight times. That is eight out of the sixteen words.

In Vrindavana once Srila Prabhupada was displeased with the kirtana. He explained to Harikesa Maharaja that the devotees should sing the guru pranama mantra, the Panca-tattva mantra, and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Later Harikesa sang a kirtana that began like that and then went into “Radhe Radhe.” And Srila Prabhupada had a expression of anger on his face, and Harikesa realized he made a mistake. Prabhupada was serious about what he wanted.

Q: How to be focused on the guru’s instruction?
A: Hear the instruction, meditate on the instruction, carry out the instruction.

Regarding the Bombay temple installation ceremony, Srila Prabhupada, “They should chant the mantras they chant in Vrndavana. No new mantras.”

Srila Prabhupada said you can chant “Raghupati Raghava Raja Rama” once a year on Rama-navami.

There should be unlimited ISKCON acaryas. You should also be an ISKCON acarya.

Q: Nowadays sometimes people do kirtana and charge for it as a means of livelihood.
A: In Prabhupada’s time devotees would do kirtana and accept money for the temple or the preaching and Prabhupada accepted that, but not as a means of personal livelihood.

Prabhupada endorsed the idea the householders could sell his books to maintain themselves.

Sometimes we do programs with all our own people and attended by all our own people, and perhaps a few newcomers, and then we end up unnecessarily chanting other mantras than Hare Krishna. We should be careful about that.

I do not have an opinion about dress. The main thing is to go out there and chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Q: Should we endeavor to remain brahmacari or just try to be absorbed in service.
A: One of my godbrothers talked with Srila Prabhupada about getting married, and afterward Prabhupada asked me, “Jayadvaita, do you want to get married?” “No,” I said, “So much trouble.” Prabhupada replied, “So you are chanting Hare Krishna and feeling happy.” And so I would say to you, “If you are chanting Hare Krishna and feeling happy, then what do you need a wife for?” But if someone is canvassing you to get married, it may be good for you to endeavor to remain brahmacari.

There is a strange myth that you are a brahmacari to a certain point like age 30 or 35, and then you decide if you want to get married or take sannyasa. So if you are afraid to take sannyasa, you get married.

Brahmacaris should be well-wishers of the householders but should not associate intimately with them lest they acquire all their attachments.

You may think that the brahmacari asrama is underdeveloped, but the vanaprastha asrama is really underdeveloped. One is not meant to stay in household life until the end of one’s days. Some people only know how to get into household life but not how to get out of it.

Q: How do you look at divorce?
A: It is a sign that marriage is not so happy a thing anyway. Marriage is like gambling, and like in gambling, you often lose. After a certain point, family life becomes not so relishable.

In the brahmacari asrama, you bypass both the pleasure and trouble of family life.

One devotee lady was worried about us convincing young boys to join the brahmacari ashram that the young girls would have no one to marry. But actually your daughter will get a more trained up, sense controlled husband if he is educated in a brahmacari ashram.

Q: What are good reasons to get married?
A: The order of the spiritual master. For the service of Krishna. If brahmacari life is not congenial.

Q: How do understand if one is struggling too hard to be a brahmacari.
A: Sometimes Prabhupada would say if one cannot maintain brahmacarya he should get married. It is like having to go to the toilet, sometimes you have to go, and sometimes you really have to go. Is that clear?

Janananda Goswami:

The svarupa-laksanam [principal characteristic] of devotional service is favorable service to Krishna.

The gopis assumed the city women to be sophisticated, just like formerly, when someone from a village went to live in London, it was consider that they ‘had made it.’

Krishna would sometimes talk of the gopis. Generally Rukmini would tolerate it. Once, however, Krishna said to Rukmini regarding the gopis, “I can live without you, but I cannot live without them.” That was too much and Rukmini left to perform austerities by always thinking about Krishna. Krishna also left out of separation from her and went to find her. When He appeared she did not like the idea of some man disturbing her austerities. He stayed nearby at the request of a devotee, manifesting himself as the deity Vitthalesvara in Pandarpura. When Rukmini saw Him in the form of that deity she became a deity herself.

As the highly elevated devotees, like the gopis, are always thinking of Krishna, He is always thinking of them.

Krishna never leaves us, even if we become the most sinful person. He is there in the heart, willing to give good direction.

When Srila Prabhupada left this world, those who had a lot of association with him would always think about him even after he left, even if their circumstances changed.

We cannot step over the vaidhi-bhakti [devotional service in practice] stage to attain raganuga (spontaneous devotional service).

Going on harinama without books is like going to a battle without weapons. Harinama sankirtana should always be accompanied by books and prasadam, as far as possible.

There are millions of excuses for not absorbing ourselves in sankirtana, but we should not give in to them.

When the sankirtana-yajna is performed the ghee of the holy name is poured from the ladle of the tongue into the ears, it enters the heart, fueling the fire of devotional service and manifesting symptoms of ecstasy.

The Skanda Purana it is said the dangerous snakes of Kali-yuga are destroyed the blazing fire of sankirtana.

According the Padma Purana, “As they dance on sankirtana, the devotees destroy all inauspiciousness on the earth by the touch of their feet, the impurities in the directions by their glances, and the disturbances in the heavenly planets by their upraised arms.”

The soul has no material color. In the spiritual world, the devotees assume forms of different colors in their service to Krishna.

Tomorrow is People’s Day. For most, people refers to just human beings, but to those versed in the Vedic knowledge, people includes a lot more.

We did a program at a drug rehabilitation center in 1973. We did some chanting, and after the prasadam we did more chanting, and the people became so happy, enthusiastically singing and dancing, that I remember it even now. Even the guard dog took part in it.

When asked if God existed, my mother replied, “If He exists, I could see Him, and I cannot see Him, so He doesn’t exist.” I was not really convinced, but I could not present a better argument at that time.

All selfish acts produce karma. It is a law of nature. It does not matter what religion you follow.

By the association of the sun, one gets at least heat and light. Similarly, by associating with the holy name, at least we become purified.

You can say that Radharani is the feminine aspect of the Absolute Truth.

You can imagine how much ecstasy Lord Nityananda Prabhu would feel doing harinama in Brighton.

Srila Prabhupada advised that we give the holy name first and then later the philosophy.

It is good to have books along with the harinama party, because there are always people who are interested in the philosophy.

Mahavishnu Swami:

When the residents of Vrndavan saw Krishna at Kuruksetra they thought, “This is not the Krishna we want. We want Krishna in Vrndavana.”

It is not surprising that Lord Jagannatha wants leave the more opulent city atmosphere of His temple in Puri and go to the more rural Gundica temple.

This is not a “no, no” movement—a society for rules and regulations. Our rule is to always remember Lord Krishna and to never forget Him.

Once a year Lord Jagannatha comes to the streets of London to engage the people in their real life.

We are all children, and this is our chance to be children of Lord Jagannatha.

A devotee couple in Lika, Croatia, has a miraculous cow that is 21 years old. Her last calf was a bull born 9 years ago, but the cow still gives 12 liters (over 3 gallons) of milk a day.

Do not think that HSBC bank owns London, or some Rothschild owns London. No, Lord Jagannatha is the proprietor of London.

Prabhupada wanted us to connect all aspects of our life to Krishna.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from The Story of My Life, volume 2:

There’s also available the journal of the eighteenth-century Quaker minister John Woolman—‘My mind was turned toward the Lord to wait for His holy leadings.’—‘If selfish views or a partial spirit have any room in our man, we are unfit for the Lord’s work.’”

Atma-Nivedana Swami:

Temptation is Maya’s way of alluring us away from life’s goal.

It is easy to say that there is danger at every step, but to carefully watch every step and make sure everything you think, speak, and do is beneficial for your spiritual life is a challenge.

Sometimes we find someone is doing everything properly for his spiritual life, but his minds tricks him to give up his spiritual practice.

If our temple president gives us some temple service, and we ignore the instruction and instead we go on book distribution and benefit others, although we are doing an important service, we have been cheated by maya, and our tendency to act independently from spiritual authority will increase.

Taking shelter of Krishna is only the beginning.

If we pray to Krishna to help us while we chant our japa, we will come to appreciate the chanting, and we will find the offerings of the material world to be tasteless.

One devotee had several letters from his guru to start a preaching center in a certain city, but he felt that he had no facility, so he did not attempt it. Had he attempted it, he would have been successful.

We cannot judge someone’s heart by external vision, but Krishna can understand their hearts.

One devotee, Terry, who helped out for many years at Bhaktivedanta Manor left his body. He was challenged to give up his habit of smoking, and he never got initiated, yet he left his body with devotees and a Prabhupada tape chanting. Krishna says, “One who leaves his body remembering Me, attains Me without doubt.” One devotee protested, “He was not initiated. How can he go back to Godhead?” But initiation is not just a formality. Within the heart, one has to sincerely try to follow. Terry did sincerely try to serve.

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

I liked the spirit of the previous brahmacari conference.

Ashram life is difficult. You have the early risers and the late nighters. And then there are those people whose alarm clocks wake up everyone but themselves. The clocks go on beeping, while the people who set them go on sleeping.

For so many lives I have tried to enjoy my senses, and I am still not satisfied. I may as well forget about it. It does not work. This life I will focus on going back to Godhead. That is the brahmacari spirit.

There are other brahmacaris such as those who cannot get it together to be married.

In the lower types of brahmacarya, in which the aim is not going back to Godhead, the regulative principles will become unbearable to follow.

The focus of the brahmacari is:
a. going back to Godhead.
b. taking as many back with us possible.

It is not possible to separate the brahmacari ashram from preaching.

The dust at Krishna’s lotus feet is saffron. That is the best argument for saffron.

Dress can help one strengthen one’s identity.

There may be great cultivation, but if conviction is weak, that will not help.

Brahmacaris are like herd animals. The group dynamics help to encourage them.

Conviction comes from contemplation.

Brahmacari literally means acting on the platform of spirit.

We may want to go back to Godhead because the material world stinks or because the spiritual world is a wonderful place.

It is important for brahmacaris to understand the entangling nature of male-female relationships.

In the 1980s there were all those classes in which the speaker would say things like “What if you turn the body inside out?”

A brahmacari who denies that women are attractive will not last very long.

The brahmacari has to cut material contemplation before it gets out of hand.

We have to keep a balance between late night preaching programs and early morning sadhana.

It is fashionable to talk about Vraja and being absorbed in Krishna’s pastimes, and they are attractive, but then our glance falls on Bhaktin Susie and we notice we are still disturbed.

Nistha, the stage of steadiness, is not attained without sacrifice.

In bhava, there is just a shadow of material desire. Rupa Goswami says that is due to remnants of reactions to offenses to devotees. In prema, that is absent.

We have to protect ourselves in the early stages by sadhana and jnana (knowledge).

A group of brahmacaris is at their best when they have a common mission.

Dayananda Maharaja: Being part of a brahmacari book distribution party was the best part of my brahmacari experience. It was not necessarily the service, but just the relationships between the other brahmacaris.

Q (by Sutapa Prabhu): We try to engage new brahmacaris according to the psychophysical natures. How then can we have a common goal?
A (by Kadamba Kanana Swami): I do not recommend we engage people right in the beginning according to their psychophysical natures, but rather create a common goal for them.
A (by Dayananda Swami): As for me, book distribution was completely against my nature, but I quickly developed a taste for it. I think if we engage people according psychophysical natures in the beginning, they can become too independent.

I think we have to separate the brahmacaris, keeping those who are trying to make it a lifetime commitment separate to strengthen them.

comment by Dayananda Swami: Preaching means bringing everyone closer to going back to Godhead.

If the brahmacari ashram does not inspire society to go back to Godhead what is its value? It is meant to revitalize the idealism of the movement.

comment by Sunder Nitai Prabhu: One householder gave a van to use for a brahmacari book distribution party. We used it in that way, and we noticed that the householders who previously were members of such parties in the past relived those days and were personally inspired.

The sannyasi because of his unique commitment can inspire many householders. Similarly a group of renounced brahmacaris can also be inspirational.

Sridhar Swami had a hat with “Prabhupada’s dog” written on it. At the end of his life of service, he said with a smile, “I have been a good boy.”

Dayananda Swami:

Radharani expands as the goddess of fortune. And the goddess of fortune in this world expands as Durga.

We have the tendency to seek good fortune, but as devotees, we have good fortune in many ways:

1. The congregational chanting of the holy name we do changes society by changing the hearts of the people.

2. We have a human body.

3. And we have the association of devotees.

Bhakti Devi in the heart of the devotee inspires him to share Krisna consciousness.

When we do not have a particular goal, it is hard to be enthusiastic in devotional service.

When Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, sees persons without material motives, she blesses them.

Self-sufficient communities are important to show a viable alternative to the modern materialistic civilization.

At the stage of nisthta (steadiness) one is steady and has good qualities. Being steady is more important because we can just have good qualities due to our past karma.

As a new devotee I went to a Vyasa Puja ceremony, and I was impressed, thinking, “No one glorifies people like this!”

Srila Prabhupada’s humility was more convincing to people than his philosophy. Once a female disciple asked if she could stand on Srila Prabhupada’s chair to hang a picture on his wall. He replied, “For service you can stand on my head.”

If we really want to make progress Krishna will fulfill our desire. He is the self-sufficient philosopher fulfilling everyone’s desire since time immemorial.

Wilma Rudolph, although a cripple, by her determination was able to win three gold medals in the Olympics.

If we are confident of the result we can be patient. That comes from understanding the sastra [the scripture].

Because we can read sastra [the scripture] with tinted vision, we need to have it explained to us.

Tribhangananda Prabhu:

Bhagavad-gita is not a story but a history.

Bhagavad-gita begins with Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna that the self is different from the body.

The less you have, the more you want, and the more you have, the more you want. That is the influence of the material energy.

To advance spiritually means to be more and more consciousness of our spiritual identity.

Nowadays people are studying the details of how the body works but nothing of the soul which animates the body.

Celibate student life these days is a joke. When my daughter went to the university she got a welcome packet, which I was not too happy about, that included vouchers for all the pubs and gambling places and a package of condoms.

Just as in a city there is someone in charge of supplying electricity and someone in charge of supplying water, so in the universe they are personalities responsible for supplying necessities of life. If we do not perform sacrifice to those universal personalities, we are thieves.

In this age, the sacrifice is the congregational chanting of the holy name, which is meant to please the Supreme Lord, the source of the other universal personalities, and which satisfies everyone.

Isvara Prabhu:

To become thoroughly honest is a qualification for understanding Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Attraction to the Lord is the desired goal of our devotional service.

We have to understand, at least theoretically, that our attractions other than Krishna will never satisfy us.

These eight things are satisfying to the Lord:

  1. One should be affectionate to the devotees of the Lord.
  2. One should be happy to worship the Lord.
  3. With a pure heart one should regularly worship the Lord.
  4. In worshiping the Lord one should be free from pride and hypocrisy.
  5. One should be eager to hear about the Lord.
  6. One should engage one’s body in the service of the Lord.
  7. One should always remember the Lord.
  8. One should make the chanting of the holy name of the Lord one’s life and soul.

We can get sidetracked thinking how far we have come and forgetting how far we have to go.

We sleep in Bhagavatam class because we lack eagerness to hear.

When we see we are becoming slack in devotional service, we can become humble and pray to the Lord for strength.

If we are habituated to follow the rules of devotional service, that is good, but we still have to become attracted to Krishna. We have to consider, “How much am I thinking of Krishna’s pleasure?”

Devotional service generally takes time, not because of limitations of the practice, but our lack of enthusiasm to apply it.

Uttamasloka Prabhu:

Bhagavad-gita 2.41 is the inspirational verse prompting Srila Prabhupada to execute his guru’s instructions as his life’s mission.

I teach a course on Bhagavad-gita which focuses on six principles which are based on the first six chapters: Compassion. Confidence. Cooperation. Creativity. Concentration. Contact with the Supersoul.

It is important to engage our body, mind, intelligence, and ego, all in relationship with the soul.

By loving relationships with Vaishnavas we can conquer the mind. You can have everything, but if you do not have good relationships with others, you can be morose.

Wise persons, whether Vedic or otherwise, recommend to remember death.

Imagine you are taking part in your own memorial service. What do you hope that people would say about you? I will give you the beginnings of sentences, and you write the rest.

I always appreciated him because he was happy, optimistic, and enthusiastic about kirtana.
He was very expert in quoting relevant verses from the scripture and encouraging others in devotional service, especially in the congregational chanting.
He derived great joy and satisfaction from harinama, kirtana in general, giving people prasadam and hearing from the saints.
He made great effort to attend temple programs, to invite others to devotional events, and encourage people everywhere in nama-sankirtana.
I will never forget him because he was always dancing in the kirtana, even from the beginning, and he was able to appreciate Krishna’s hand in everything.
His main purpose in life was to be absorbed in some act of devotion, especially the congregational chanting of the holy name.

comment by myself: I started out being realistic, saying things that people say they like about me, and then I thought about how I wished I was and included a bit of that.

comment by Dhirasanta Prabhu: I answered the question in terms of fulfilling the desires of my spiritual master.

It is said that obstructions are what occur when we lose sight of the goal.

If Srila Prabhupada worried about all the possible obstacles that he would have to overcome, he never would have been able to establish the Krishna consciousness movement.

Bhakti Vikasa Swami recalled that after the whole saga of getting the land in Juhu, when Srila Prabhupada gave the first class on the property, he said, “We are very fortunate that we acquired such a beautiful piece of land with such little endeavor.” This indicates that he was completely focused on the goal.

To achieve the qualities I hope for, I would have to focus on the goals and make sure my actions are consistent with reaching them. In particular, I have to take time to tell people things that will benefit them.

How and when will I start doing that. The best answer is to start today.

Failure of people to take responsibility for their own spiritual life is a cause of many people giving up the attempt to practice Krishna consciousness.

You better challenge yourself before Maya challenges you. A really good way of challenging yourself is to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

Nruhari Prabhu:

In the spiritual world we are all eternally youthful. Youth is the time of life when in this world our sensual experience is the most intense. The idea of becoming eternally youthful can motivate us in our spiritual life.

Krishna is seen as the complete Personality of Godhead as compared to His incarnations, because of the greater variety of His relationships with His devotees.

As devotees we love each other because we have a common interest, Krishna.

Jai Nitai Prabhu:

I love the mood that is created when we glorify devotees. The heart becomes soft, we feel uplifted, and we realize the importance of loving relationships between devotees.

Krishna-kripa das:

reflection during japa:

Wednesday I chanted japa on a bus from Newcastle to Sheffield. Thursday I chanted japa in a van from Manchester to Preston and in a Preston parking lot. Friday I chanted japa on a bus from Manchester to London. Saturday I chanted japa on a bus and train to the Manor and a van to Bath. Sunday I chanted japa on a bus from London to Leeds. Today, Monday, I chanted all 16 rounds of japa straight through at a devotee’s apartment in Leeds, looking at a picture of Krishna on his altar the whole time, and it was so very, very, blissful to chant in a focused way for the first time in five days!

from a conversation after a class:

I never thought of choosing a religion based on what the monks wore.


hare krishna hare krishna
krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare

iti sodasakam namnam
natah parataropayah
sarva-vedesu drsyate

The sixteen names of the Hare Krishna maha-mantrahare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare—destroy all the inauspiciousness of the age of Kali. This is the conclusion of all the Vedas.” (Lord Brahma in the Kalisantarana Upanisad 5,6 of the Krishna Yajur Veda)