Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Travel Journal#9.21: New York City and Beyond

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 21
By Krishna-kripa das
(November 2013, part one
Chanting in New York City and Beyond
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on December 3, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

I continued chanting on harinama six hours a day at Union Square in New York City with Rama Raya Prabhu’s party, and living in Radha Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn, cutting vegetables for their lunch program and Sunday feast. I attended a variety of special events as well. On November 4, I attended a lively Govardhan Puja festival at the Brooklyn temple. On November 6, I heard The Mayapuris play at the Jivamukti Yoga School NYC. The next evening, I traveled to New Brunwick, New Jersey, to Sacred Sounds, a kirtana event sponsored by the Rutgers University Bhakti Yoga Club, with this year’s guests, The Hanumen and The Mayapuris. On November 9, I attended a home program of Bengali-speaking devotees in Queens where we observed Govardhan Puja again. From November 14–17 I took a break to visit my family in and around Albany, and I got to talk with and have lunch with Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, who lives just 25 minutes from my mother, along with some of his other disciples, and I got to clean up afterward. The first half of November was so busy, it makes me exhausted just remembering it all, what to speak of describing it!

There are truly beautiful insights I share from Srila Prabhupada’s books, lectures, and letters, and some valuable points from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s blog, including a beautiful glorification of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Prahladananda Swami made some great points worth sharing in his lectures at the Brooklyn temple. There are also some interesting realizations from a discussion between Yogesvara Prabhu, and Sharon Gannon, of Jivamukti Yoga School, also a devotee of Lord Krishna. I also include some great quotes from the Jan /Feb 2014 issue of Back to Godhead, which I was proofreading.

Thanks to Nam Sankirtan Prabhu, Lila Padma dd, Chandra Mohini dd, and Gabriel for pictures of me on harinama at Union Square and in the subway station.

Harinamas at Union Square

As I mentioned in a previous journal, several people who regularly pass by our Union Square chanting party became regular attenders of it. One French literature major at Hunter College named Alice sat down with the devotee chanters back in June and stayed for the whole rest of the day. As they were packing up Baladeva recalls, “Alice asked if she could play the harmonium, and she did, singing Hare Krishna as she played. The next day she came and stayed the whole time, and then asked if she could play the mrdanga as they were packing up.” Now when she is not too busy with school, she comes by a few days a week for a few hours each day, and when she leads the singing, sometimes she will go on for an hour and a half or more! She has a loud voice, and it is great having her sing the response. One devotee lady told me Alice also goes to the Bhakti Center everyday for mangala-arati. I recorded some video clips of her singing on harinama to share with you (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGerEnGdI0xLKhBtu3AN_O5cbEBNU7vXC):

Often Max would play the drum while I chanted.

One girl named Jill from Connecticut, who studied art and psychology, enjoyed offering a candle to Damodar . . . 

and then watching and listening to the kirtana party, and hearing a few words from me about psychology and the Bhagavad-gita.

Once on harinama, two girls played the instruments.

Motherly Chandra Mohini dd later embraced them.

It was often a bit cold in November, but when the sun was shining on you it was nice.

One couple positioned two chairs in the sunshine in front of the harinama party, right in the middle of the walkway, and closed their eyes and listened to the kirtana, undisturbed by all the people passing by!

Later that day Chandra Mohini and Janette danced very beautifully together for some time.

One Czech couple joined us for an hour or so. They had visited our Krishna camp at the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (the Czech Woodstock) which I have attended for five years. They also knew about one of our Govinda’s restaurants in Prague.

I gave them the Czech mantra card and invitation to the Prague temple which I had in my money belt. At one point, the girl got into dancing.

Sometimes I would distribute pamphlets.

Visvambhar Prabhu of The Mayapuris came and played and sang for a couple hours on Govardhan Puja Day, sharing his enthusiasm for kirtana with us, to our great happiness. He was in town to do programs at local yoga centers and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Experiencing the discomfort of the cold, he later expressed appreciation that we were chanting out there for six hours a day.

One 59-year-old lady who watched our chanting for an hour, said that except for our Union Square chanting, she had not encountered Hare Krishna since the 1970s. She was very happy to see the devotees chanting and to learn of Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch in Brooklyn. She credited Hare Krishna with her becoming vegetarian at 17 years old.

One artist had written “DOG IS LOVE” on the pavement and was coloring in a picture of a dog.

He was complaining to a passerby how he only made $6 a day for all his endeavor. I was thinking that if I sat down and chanted Hare Krishna, people would give me more than $6! I wonder if he had written “GOD IS LOVE” and was coloring in a picture of Krishna how well he would do!

Once it rained, and we had to sit under umbrellas.

One devotee youth I knew from Alachua, Madhvacarya Prabhu, came by on occasion, here playing the gong.,

One time Jai Giridhari Prabhu, in a blissful mood, decided to lead the kirtana while dancing, and other devotees joined him (http://youtu.be/DFTLzE4rhVc):

Once when Michael Collins was leading a lively kirtana in the subway station, one young lady sat down in the middle of the floor against a pillar to take videos and to listen.

Chandra Mohini dd kindly gave her a cushion.

The crowd increased.

Prahladananda Swami came on harinama for over an hour and a half when we were chanting in the Union Square subway station because of the cold outside. 


He seemed so joyful as he chanted, several people were attracted to listen, even during slow time in mid-afternoon. 

One older man with gray hair clapped and smiled, moving with the beat of the music, for at least fifteen minutes. 

I did not get a chance to talk with him, but he seemed very happy to encounter Prahladananda Swami and the chanting of Hare Krishna. Later that day more devotees came by and for the last hour we had fourteen devotees chanting in the subway.

At one point three people were looking at literature!

Murli Krishna Prabhu led a really lively kirtana (http://youtu.be/5H6ml7XgTek):

One girl named Julienne, who joined us chanting at Union Square once before and later attended a single Thursday evening kirtana at the Bhakti Center, saw us chanting in the subway station as she walked toward the L-train platform. 

She stayed and chanted for over an hour, playing the instruments with a joyful expression on her face.

Govardhana Puja in Brooklyn

At Radha Govinda temple in Brooklyn, the hill of sweets celebrating Lord Krishna’s Govardhana Puja festival was awesome!

After the bathing ceremony for Giri Govardhan and circumambulation of the hill, we all got containers with lots of sweets. I was so busy eating the sweets, I devoured all the good looking and tasty sweets before I thought to take a picture of the whole container.

Lots of people, including Visvambhar, danced enthusiastically in kirtana.

The following Saturday I attended a Bengali nama-hatta program in Queens 
at the residence of Pankajanghri Prabhu where they celebrated Govardhana Puja also with great devotion.

Sacred Sounds at Rutgers

For the last six years, the Bhakti Yoga Club at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey at New Brunswick, has hosted a kirtana event called Sacred Sounds. Visvambhar, who has been going for six years, invited me to attend when he read my Facebook post lamenting missing a similar event he did in Tampa in October. After singing in Union Square for five hours on November 7, I took the train to New Brunswick for the evening event.

I ended up sitting next to a Rutgers professor of religion, Dr. Edwin Bryant, known to the Hare Krishna community as Advaita Prabhu. I had heard his name come up in discussions with devotee scholars like Hridayananda Dasa Goswami and Sadaputa Prabhu, and I was happy to finally meet him. I had heard he was famous for writing a book about the Aryan invasion theory, and I asked about it. He explained his strategy in the book was to present the arguments on both sides of the theory so that people could come to their own conclusions, and thus the publication was appreciated by the scholarly community. He also has written about the relationship between bhakti and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I also met a student of his by the name of Chelsea, who I remembered from chanting Hare Krishna in the Times Square subway station during last year’s winter vacation. She mentioned that Advaita taught a course called Krishna, as well as several other interesting courses with topics related to the Hindu tradition. In fact, she decided to minor in religion in order to be permitted to take all the classes taught by Advaita Prabhu that she was interested in. I felt inspired by my contact with both this enthusiastic scholar of bhakti and his enthusiastic follower. Hopefully someday I will find some way to please Krishna with my natural talents.

Although the Sacred Sounds event was not attended by five hundred students as some of the past events, still over two hundred students were there. Many of the students got into singing and dancing with the kirtana.

The Hanumen and The Mayapuris played.

The Hanumen consist of Benjy Wertheimer, John de Kadt, who is a poet, Purushartha Dasa, who plays the bass, and the lead singer, Gaura Vani.

The Mayapuris consisted of Visvambhar and Krishna Kishore, and Visvambhar’s sister, Gangi, who was happy to go on tour for a week and dance, and Kumari, a friend from Alachua, now living in New York City.

I took a few notes on what was said and on some of the songs:

Gaura Vani Prabhu:

[Gaura Vani later explained that he created the band, Hanumen, with artists from different spiritual traditions, to show the universality and the reality of sacred sound.]

When we put up our arms, we are asking for grace to enter into our lives.

Sankaracarya saw an old man in Varanasi on the point of death studying Sanskrit grammar, and he advised him “Bhaja Govinda, bhaja Govinda, mudha mate.—Just worship Govinda, you fool.” Life is meant for focusing on God, not improving your
situation in this world, especially at the time of death.

This song is dedicated to those chanters who have gone before us and learned how to turn their tragedy and grief into prayer and transcendence.

Lines from songs:

We all bleed blood, we all breathe air, we all break bread, we’ve all been there.

Home to my Lord and be free.

Krishna Kishore Prabhu: Wouldn’t it be nice to able to love fearlessly? That is possible by chanting the names of Govinda. Let’s give it a try.

Many volunteers helped with the event, including these two who are modeling the festival T-shirt they sold for the low, low price of $5.

The spiritual food was very good, and I fell victim to the jalebis, a tasty Indian sweet that one rarely gets, and which I had thirds on. I talked to Geoff, who remembered me from when he spent sometime volunteering with Back to Godhead magazine in Alachua over ten years before. One devotee lady offered to have me speak on one phone conference call lecture she arranges.

I thought $13 each way on the train to New Brunswick was too much, and so I was happy to get a ride back to Brooklyn with some devotee friends. I arrived at the locked Brooklyn temple at 2:00 a.m. on a cold November night and chanted in the warm subway station until the pujari came to wake the deities at 3:50 a.m. Although I had only slept an hour, I ended up singing the mangala-arati prayers as the person who did it usually did not show up. My visit to Sacred Sounds made for an intense and long day, but it was well worth it, and I hope to go again if I am in New York City when it happens in the future.

My Mother Wins Peace Award

My 89-year old mother, Pat Beetle, won an award for her peace activism in the year 2013, given by a New York State Capital District group called Women Against War. My sister said that our mom has been inviting her to go to these different awards programs from time to time and she had not gone, but she was going to go this time. I decided that as I was going go to Albany to visit my mother at some point I would go then too. My mother has helped me in many ways in addition to taking care of me as a child. She bought me a ticket to see my diksa guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, in Ireland, and to go to the Polish Woodstock, back in 2001. I liked the Woodstock so much I attended it for the last thirteen years. She has also helped contribute to my transatlantic airline tickets. She funded a trip that we took to South India, which culminated in her going to Mayapur. Thus I decided that in reciprocation it would be good to go to the meeting where she was honored.

In this picture, you see my mother on the extreme right, and my sister, Karen, next to her. I am in the back and on the left is Jun-San, a Buddhist monk and peace activist.

Jun-San chants that Buddhist mantra “Nam(u)-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō” at different peace rallies around the world for hours on end, usually with drum accompaniment. When she heard about our chanting Hare Krishna at Union Square for six hours every day of the year, she was impressed. Because Buddhists are famous for meditation, I asked her about meditation, and she replied that she hated meditation. That was the funniest thing I had heard recently—a Buddhist monk who hated meditation. Upon reflection, I took that to mean that she was such an activist that silent meditation was not so important for her.

There were three different posters made showing some of my mother’s activities:

One women named Maureen spoke about my mother’s career as an activist, and that my mother has been for forty years clerk of the peace and service committee in the Albany Friends Meeting, did service for the Capital Area Mediation Group, was founder of Peace Action, worked on the nuclear weapons freeze campaign, reminded people of the horrors of nuclear weapons on the anniversary of Hiroshima each year, and founded a group called Grannies for Peace, which got good publicity. Maureen concluded by appreciating her sisterhood, mentoring, and inspiration.

My mother spoke and told some other details about her life. “I thought more about peace when I became involved with the Albany Friends Meeting and joined the vigil protesting the Vietnam War. In 1976, I, along with my two teenage kids, joined the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice on the part from Albany to New York. I was involved with alternatives to violence programs in prisons which made me more concerned about criminal justice. I worked with an International Center women’s group, helping visiting and immigrant ladies from around the world, and also spent time helping refugees from Central America, and participating in the Women Peace Encampment of 1983. I visited Israel and Palestine to better understand the situation there, and I visited Cuba as well.

After they honored my mother at the Women Against War meeting, climate change activist Rachel Smolker spoke, and I learned more about that issue.

Those who accept the Vedic wisdom know about the predictions of government corruption in this age, and Ms. Smolker gave some examples of that in her talk:

The military is exempt from both the reporting of and the regulations on carbon emissions and green house gasses.
The military is aware of the climate change issue and is investigating it, while at the same time contributing greatly to it. For example:
A B-52 bomber burns 86 barrels of oil per hour.
A F-4 Phantom fighter/bomber devours 40 barrels per hour.

One year for each $94 spent for the military just $1 was spent for climate change preparation. The next year for each $41 for spent for military $1 was spent for climate change preparation, a slight improvement.

The Vedic wisdom describes our disease as conditioned souls is that we want to imitate God. Ms. Smolker also discussed a whole new field of study dedicated to just that, synthetic biology.

In synthetic biology, they do things like create a genetic code for a yeast cell so it will digest cellulose and create a new energy source. In this field, the military is also trying to produce through genetic manipulation organisms that excrete explosive substances.

Other interesting points Ms. Smolker made in her talk included:

It is a myth that bioenergy has lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels.

Albert Einstein once said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

When asked, “Do you have any reason to be optimistic about the health the planet?”
She replied, “I do not feel optimistic, but our best chance is compassion and making a spiritual connection between ourselves and the earth.”

It is interesting that her only hope was in compassion and making spiritual connections.

Regarding the ecology and the military, she shared a humorous web page touching on those topics, a web page that no longer exists:

Green War?

War and violence have always caused major destruction and loss, but it does not have to be this way anymore. The sustainable military development company GreenWar can help make environmentally-friendly, energy-conserving, carbon-neutral, ecological conflicts. Go green with GreenWar and give ‘war’ a chance. A chance to do good. Good for Mother Nature, good for you!”

Prasadam Distribution in Albany

My main Krishna outreach in Albany is distribution of Krishna prasadam. I was fortunate to have the chance to cook for two potluck events in Albany in the three days I was there, the Women Against War meeting attended by about sixty people and the Friends Meeting lunch which my mother and I attended along with fifteen or twenty others. I made a beautiful carrot-coconut rice from Yamuna’s cookbook and mint coconut burfi for the Women Against War meeting. The rice was eaten almost entirely, and about half the coconut sweet, primarily due to competition with a variety of cakes and pies. Some of the people who remembered my coconut sweets from my previous visits to Albany made sure to take some despite the other desserts. For the Friends Meeting I made baked yams and laddus. The yams were completely finished, and half the laddus, only because I made enough for thirty-two people. I felt very successful because of the appreciation of the prasadam. I am thankful to my mother and sister for the raw ingredients and the kitchen facilities that were essential to my success.

For dinner at my sister’s place, I made kotfa balls following a recipe in Yamuna’s cookbook, and amazing they came out better than ever before. I prayed to Radharani and played a Badahari das Prabhu CD as usual while cooking in Albany. It was a real cooperative adventure with my mom buying the ingredients, my sister, Karen, grating the carrots for the kofta and making the spaghetti and the sauce, her boyfriend, Victor, grating the cabbages for the kofta, and myself making the batter for the koftas and cooking them.

Once day I brought a pot of soup for lunch to my guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and his helpers, and after the meal, his longtime servant, Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, filled the same pot with all the ingredients for palak paneer as he knows my family likes it. 

All I had to do was cook it and offer it to Krishna.It was great. They all loved it.

You can try his recipe. (That is 8 lbs. of spinach.)

Another day I brought a pot of soup for my friend, Peter Howard, and his family. Peter got to meet the devotees when Romapada Swami asked me if I knew where his sankirtana party could stay in the Albany area, and I suggested the farm belonging to Burt Howard, Peter’s father. Now Peter chants Hare Krishna on beads and attends the big Hare Krishna festival called Ratha-yatra in New York City each year. While visiting Peter, I played harmonium, and he and his girlfriend chanted the Damodarastakam in celebration of Karttika and some Hare Krishna mantras as well.

To see the pictures which I took but did not include in this journal, click on the link below or copy it to your web browser:

The unused pictures appear after the used ones in the folder of pictures.


Srila Prabhupada:

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 9.362, purport:

One who strictly follows the Vedic literature and chants the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will actually be situated in the transcendental disciplic succession. Those who want to attain life’s ultimate goal must follow this principle.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.19.4, purport:

. . . a pure devotee will not ask anything from the Lord. He simply offers the Lord his respectful obeisances, and the Lord is prepared to accept whatever the devotee can secure to worship Him, even patram puspam phalam toyam [Bg. 9.26]—a leaf, flower, fruit or water. There is no need to artificially exert oneself. It is better to be plain and simple and with respectful obeisances offer to the Lord whatever one can secure. The Lord is completely able to bless the devotee with all opulences.”

from Sri Isopanisad, verse 13:

Here also in Sri Isopanisad it is verified that one achieves different results by different modes of worship. If we worship the Supreme Lord, we will certainly reach Him in His eternal abode, and if we worship demigods like the sun-god or moon-god, we can reach their respective planets without a doubt. And if we wish to remain on this wretched planet with our planning commissions and our stopgap political adjustments, we can certainly do that also.”

One who is in passion cannot become detached from material hankering, and one who is in ignorance cannot know what he is or what the Lord is. Thus when one is in passion or ignorance, there is no chance for self-realization, however much one may play the part of a religionist. For a devotee, the modes of passion and ignorance are removed by the grace of the Lord. In this way the devotee becomes situated in the quality of goodness, the sign of a perfect brahmana. Anyone can qualify as a brahmana if he follows the path of devotional service under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master.”

from Sri Isopanisad, verse 14:

Material scientists and politicians are trying to make this place deathless because they have no information of the deathless spiritual nature. This is due to their ignorance of the Vedic literature, which contains full knowledge confirmed by mature transcendental experience. Unfortunately, modern man is averse to receiving knowledge from the Vedas, Puranas and other scriptures.”

from a lecture on The Nectar of Devotion:

If your mind is too agitated, it is better to sit in the temple and chant Hare Krishna until it becomes peaceful again, not that we unnecessarily remain in a state of lamentation.

Just by developing Krishna consciousness every member of society will become happy.

Some people say, “If everyone became Krishna conscious, how will the world go on?” But do we need the world to go on as it is, with the stealing of others property, etc.? Realistically there is not a danger of everyone becoming Krishna conscious.

Whether one acts according to Vedic direction or his own imagination, if he acts for the pleasure Krishna, he is rightly situated.

Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra cannot be checked. If you are poor, you can still chant Hare Krishna.

from lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.20 given on June 17, 1972 in Los Angeles:

Just as a chaste woman is meant for her husband, a chaste tongue is meant for chanting Hare Krishna and tasting Krishna prasada. If you can simply engage your tongue in chanting Hare Krishna and tasting Krishna prasada, you become perfect. Simple thing. There is no difficulty. Whenever there is time, chant Hare Krishna. And when you feel hungry, take Krishna prasada. And live here peacefully. . . . By talking nonsense we allow our span of life to be diminished by the sunrise and sunset. But if we talk about Urugaya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then our life cannot be taken away. It cannot be decreased. It will be eternal–simply by doing these two things. If we engage the tongue in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, then we can see God eye to eye.”

from a letter to Satsvarupa Dasa, January 11, 1971:

I want all our students to write articles for our transcendental magazine [Back to Godhead].”

from a letter to Hayagriva Dasa, July 12, 1969:

Regarding articles for BTG, I have already issued instructions to all centers requesting my disciples to send articles every month, and I am going to repeat it again for the second time.”

Prahladananda Swami:

The more we hanker, the more we lament. When we are free from hankering and lamenting we are liberated. On the platform of Krishna consciousness, we hanker for Krishna and lament that we have not achieved Krishna.

If I want to be someone’s friend, I should think of how to give them Krishna. Krishna is what they are actually looking for. They are looking for a situation of eternal happiness, but that can only be achieved by attaining Krishna.

The body is not dying; it is already dead. As spiritual souls we leave the body. As souls we do not have to worry about dying but accepting many bodies and then leaving them.

As a baby all he can say is “googoo googoo.” His parents are impressed. They do not know in his last life he was a chemistry professor and he won the Nobel Prize, and now all he can say is “googoo googoo.”

As we hanker for the holy name and lament we do not have it, Krishna gradually reveals more and more to us about our spiritual situation and our relationship with Him.

My relationship with my husband, my wife, my children, my dog, my cat, my parakeet, can all be spiritual if we see them as souls and engage them in Krishna’s service. Help them all to be Krishna conscious as Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised.

Having a taste for hearing and chanting about Krishna means we like Krishna, and not having a taste for hearing and chanting about Krishna means we do not like Krishna, at least as much as we like other things. By engaging our propensities in the Lord’s service, we become purified and get a taste for hearing and chanting about Krishna, but if we are unwilling to engage our propensities in Krishna’s service, then we will not become purified and we will not get a taste for hearing and chanting about Krishna.

The great souls talk about how we can direct our energy so that we can experience Krishna.

One becomes satisfied when he is not exploiting others for his sense gratification nor disturbed by others attempting to exploit him for their sense gratification.

We cannot expect to have prema or love for Krishna if we still have lust, greed, and anger in our heart.

We can have taste for Krishna consciousness if our material desires are so minimized that they do not disturb our devotional service.

The symptom that we are still revolting against Krishna is that when Krishna says to do something, we do just the opposite.

From taste (ruci) we develop attachment for Krishna (asakti), feelings for Krishna (bhava), and finally love for Krishna (prema).

For the neophyte devotees, who are not liberated, hearing about how souls are suffering in illusion due to the external energy of the Lord is the topics of the Lord they need to hear.

Without experiencing transcendental pleasure within, it is not possible to renounce sense gratification without.

They did a study with rats on a box of shredded wheat to understand its nutritional value, but the rats ate the box and left the shredded wheat.

Because Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was absorbed in transcendental feelings of separation from Krishna he was detached from so many material things.

The soul has no real problem. His body has so many problems, and the problem of the soul is that he thinks he is the body, and therefore, he thinks he has so many problems.

Gaurakisora dasa Babaji was a perfect example of how we can solve all problems by completely dedicating ourselves to the activities of the soul.

Hong Kong is so expensive there are people who live in the sewer.

Our body is always changing, and so we can legitimately ask which body we are actually serving.

We should ask what is the purpose of having a material body. For one with a human body, our mission is to understand our relationship with God.

Our body is just the part that we are playing for this one life. We like to imagine that we are playing a very important role in the drama, but in actuality, we are simply struggling to survive.

Real progress in life to realize our spiritual identity.

Focus on our spiritual identity does not do much for the Gross National Product, and therefore, we are not trained in our educational systems to understand how to realize our spiritual identity.

People are in anxiety about what has happened to them so far, and in even more anxiety about what will happen to them in the future.

Everything is Krishna’s and when we forget that, we become covered by maya, or illusion. Krishna’s property should be used in Krishna’s service, and to understand how to do that we consult Bhagavad-gita and the spiritual master.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

Krishnahnika Kaumudi: The White Lotus of Radha-Krishna’s Daily Pastimes
by Kavi-karnapura Gosvami
Third Ray of Light
Forenoon Pastimes
Purvahna-lila 8:36–10:48 A.M.
Going to the Forest (continued)

Whether close by or far away, all the cows
and boys receive the same affection from Krishna as they offer to Him.”

As soon as they hear Govinda’s flute, the inert entities
start singing and the vocal entities fall silent.
River waves freeze and cease their movement;
immobile objects begin moving and solid objects turn to liquid.
Thus Krishna’s flute song reverses
the functions of nature. The world dances in wonderful ways when Sri Krishna presses His flute to His
bimba-fruit lips.
The leaves of all the trees stand on
end. The birds tremble as tears glide down their wings.
Their jaws locked in paralysis, the animals stop chewing and stare
in astonishment. The mountains are covered with perspiration.”

Krishnahnika Kaumudi: The White Lotus of Radha-Krishna’s Daily Pastimes
by Kavi-karnapura Gosvami
Third Ray of Light
Forenoon Pastimes
Purvahna-lila 8:36–10:48 A.M.
Going to the Forest (continued)

Syamasundara is that remarkable personality
with a dark complexion who sports
in the garden of love, who attracts
Cupid by His unsurpassed beauty
and who offers His love to all
with a smile from His reservoir of nectar.”

Today’s drawing shows four
bhaktas dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
Their faces are joyful
and their movements are
so graceful that they
attract many onlookers
to their
They are the greatest welfare
workers because they
are distributing love of
God in the form
of the holy names.
The people of the
world are bereft and hungry for
lack of Krishna-
They are looking
for happiness
in illusory places.
But if they will stop
and listen to
the sound vibration
of these men
they will find
the answer to their prayers.”

“Today’s drawing shows four
bhaktas dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They appear blissful
and they are dancing
with one another.
The camaraderie of

harinama is a wonderful
thing. All possible differences
between them dissolve
and they enter the spirit
of brotherly love.
They share affection for
one another without motivation.
They are like the branches
of the tree of love of God
made up of the followers
of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda.
Prabhupada writes that
Caitanya-caritamrta mentions
that devotees in Bengal and Orissa [Odisha],
future accounts will have
to contain the names
of Hare Krishna members
spread all over the world.”

from “Poem for November 5” in Viraha Bhavan:

Prabhupada’s books present 
pure devotional service
on almost every page.
He advocates pure
devotional service
thus he is teaching
the most advanced knowledge,
and one
simply has to apply it
to one’s life,
and he will get the effect.
The charge that his
books are teaching
only the preliminary
instructions is unfounded.
He teaches plenty of
vaidhi-bhakti, which is
necessary for us.
But he cites readings
of ragunaga bhakti
for the stage of loving
transcendental service.

In the Antya-lila of Caitanya-caritamrta
he writes of Lord Caitanya’s intense
feelings of separation,
a most confidential
topic, and in the talks with Ramananda
Raya, the position of gopi-manjari
is explained. In the Krishna book
the five chapters of the rasa dance
are thoroughly discussed. The
Nectar of Devotion discusses deeply esoteric
aspects of devotional service.

In the purports of Srimad-Bhagavatam and
Caitanya-caritamrta all knowledge is
revealed, and in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is
the spirit that
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead
is given on every page.
Srila Prabhupada’s books can be read
again and again, and one will
always see new lights.
There is nothing lacking.”

from Radio Shows:

Somehow or other, introduce Krishna and give these people Krishna consciousness. It’s bound to work because Krishna consciousness is not sectarian. It’s not an artificial imposition on the mind. It’s the original consciousness of the living entity. Just chant and this sound vibration will open the heart. Prabhupada’s daring and conviction still holds the Krishna consciousness movement together. His teachings are the cutting edge.”

Yogesvara Prabhu:

I appreciate Sharon Gannon and Jivamukti Yoga School because they openly say “Without opening your heart to God, your yoga practice is useless.” I cannot think of three yoga centers in the country with such an open attitude toward God.

Bhakti has always been there in yoga texts, even before Patanjali.

Q (by Yogesvara Prabhu): What does it mean to be a yogi?
A (by Sharon Gannon): A yogi is striving to live in harmony with the earth and all living beings on the earth, and to love God better.

[The dialog continues with Yogesvara Prabhu posing questions to Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga School, who practices bhakti following the path of Vallabhacarya.]

Q: How to begin?
A: I do not think yoga should be proselytized. The desire arises in the heart. Association with spiritually minded people is the first step. Association can be in terms of persons, books, movies, etc.

Q: What was it like it for you to first encounter yoga?
A: I grew up as a Catholic. I loved being around the nuns at school. I liked that better than being at my home. I liked hearing of the pastimes of Jesus, mystical and magical and otherworldly things. I was fascinated by visiting a convent. I learned I did not have to do the usual things that a woman did, like get married, and have kids—I could be a bride of God. There is a lot of movement in the Catholic mass like a Surya namaskara, there is prasadam (spiritual food), and seva (spiritual service). So I do not think I changed so much in encountering yoga.

In this Kali-yuga, anyone who has any slightest interest in yoga, they are just continuing from a previous practice in a previous life.

If you have the ticket of compassion you can get abroad a bus to the Lord.

Q: What about climate change? Can yoga provide an answer?
A: Yes. We should find other ways to enjoy life than producing children and consuming goods, such as spiritual association.

God will take of everything if we place our faith in the source of love itself.
You have to practice remembering God in all circumstances. You have to make your desire to take His shelter, to always think sri krishna saranam mama.[Krishna is my shelter.]

Q: What about the reaction we get when we start talking about taking complete shelter of God?
A: It does not bother me if people choose not to follow the devotional path or the yoga path. Most people are not ready to strive for joy or for freedom. It seems to me most people are attached to their suffering.

You can call God Krishna or any other name. The important thing is to call Him.
Patanjali just used the word isvara (Lord) rather than a particular name of God.

Yogesvara Prabhu:

We must be confident of our specific truth that we can step out of it and appreciate the realizations of others.

Bhakti is not about defeating other traditions but honoring how other traditions love and honor that same supreme being that we worship.

A Jewish author [the rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik] wrote a book, The Lonely Man of Faith, that explains that ultimately we must walk the path of devotion alone.

Legislation does not change the human heart. We have to change the human heart through yoga and come to understand that as spiritual children of the same supreme father we have to care about others.


We must take the road that will increase bliss.

Gauri Prabhu:

from “The Vaishnava Path in George’s Harrison’s Songs,” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan / Feb 2014:

In the obituaries [of George Harrison], his most often recurring quote was “Everything else can wait, but the search for God …”

Krishnanandani Devi Dasi:

from “Krishna, the Chief Enjoyment Officer (CEO)” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan / Feb 2014:

The nineteenth-century Scottish writer Alexander Chalmers wrote, ‘The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.’ According to the Bhagavad-gita and the Vaishnava preceptors, the ‘someone to love’ is Krishna, the ‘something to do’ is serve Krishna, and the ‘something to hope for’ is pure, unmotivated, uninterrupted devotional service to Krishna.”

“‘God is love.’ My mother and grandparents said this time and time again when I was growing up. In Krishna consciousness we have a refined understanding of that laudable sentiment: Krishna, being absolute, is identical with His quality of infinite love.”

In the Qu’ran we learn, ‘The most beautiful names belong to God, so call upon Him by them.’”

Caitanya Carana Prabhu:

from “Writing for Krishna: The Price and The Prize” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan / Feb 2014:

. . . writing is a way to worship Krishna. When we write, we are decorating with our words the deity of Krishna manifested as His message.”

I know that if I write and submit an article for BTG, I have a guaranteed audience of at least five individuals–and five senior devotees at that. Imagine if we were giving a class with five veteran devotee-scholars in the audience. We would feel honored by their presence and would feel grateful if after the class they gave us some feedback. The same opportunity beckons all of us each time we submit an article to BTG.


Govardhana Hill is mentioned in Ramayana in this connection. Hanuman thought that the construction of the bridge to Lanka was going too slowly with animals throwing pebbles into the water, so he went and asked Govardhana Hill if he would be willing to be part of the bridge. Govardhana was honored to be asked to be engaged in the Lord’s service, but when they returned to the bridge, they found it was complete. Govardhana was heart-broken to lose that chance to serve, but the Lord promised in His next incarnation Govardhana would be useful in His pastimes.


When I was in high school in West Bengal, my mother would offer evening worship to a beautiful picture of Krishna. From meditating on Krishna, I lost my taste for meat and fish, but I was too shy to tell anyone why. I wanted to travel to the Hare Krishna temple in Mayapur, and my mother said she would take me if I again would eat meat and fish because everyone in Bengal eats meat and fish and she would have difficulty finding a husband for me. My mother and sisters went to Mayapur and when they returned they all gave up eating meat and fish, and my father did as well, all by Krishna’s mercy.

Krishna-kripa das:

from a Facebook post:

When I am away from our temples and my public chanting service, the morning chanting of Hare Krishna on beads seems to be my primary spiritual shelter, and remembering its importance is one virtue of being in such a situation.”


atmendriya-priti-vancha—tare bali ‘kama’
krishnendriya-priti-iccha dhare ‘prema’ nama

The desire to gratify one’s own senses is kama [lust], but the desire to please the senses of Lord Krishna is prema [love].” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 4.165)