Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Travel Journal#9.23: North Florida and New York City

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 23
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2013, part one
Gainesville, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, New York City
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on December 31, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

I chanted at Krishna Lunch in Gainesville for the first week of December. Also during that week, several Krishna House devotees and I went to do harinama and book distribution on Wednesday in Jacksonville at the Art Walk and on Friday in Tallahassee at First Friday. Thursday was the interfaith progressive dinner, so it was a packed week. I stayed in Tallahassee and chanted the next four days there, attending the Sunday feast program and Garuda Prabhu’s Monday yoga class, and having a Bhagavad-gita class of my own. Then I was off to Jacksonville for two days of chanting at the University of North Florida and speaking at the final meeting of their Krishna Club on spiritual pleasure. Then I traveled to New York City to join Rama Raya Prabhu’s harinama party and chant for nearly six hours each day.

In this particular issue I have many great realizations from a variety of senior devotees I met in my travels. In addition to quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books and Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s blog, I have notes from classes in Gainesville by visiting guests Dravida Prabhu and Malati Devi, and notes from classes in New York by Jayadvaita Swami and Krishna Kshetra Prabhu. I also have realizations from the Krishna House devotees in Gainesville from our leader, Kalakantha Prabhu, down to some of the newest devotees. Also there are some quotes from articles in the March / April 2014 Back to Godhead magazine. 

Thanks to Lauren Stewart for the photos of me and her dog.


December 31–January 5 - New York City
January 6 - Tampa
January 7–9 - Gainesville, Florida
January 10–12 - Houston
January 13–February 7 - Gainesville, Florida
February 8–11 - Tallahassee
February 12–13 - Jacksonville, Florida
February 14–February 19 - Gainesville, Florida
February 20 - Orlando and Philadelphia
February 21–24 - Dublin, Ireland
February 25 - Mumbai
February 26 - on a train between Mumbai and Howrah
February 27–April 14 - Mayapur
April 16 - Mumbai
April 17 - Dublin, Ireland
April 27 - Kings Day, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
May–July (first two-thirds) – The North of England, Birmingham 24-hour kirtana, London Ratha-yatra, Stonehenge Solstice Festival
July (last third)–August (first two-thirds) – Baltic Summer Festival, Polish Woodstock, Czech Woodstock
August (last third)–September (first half) – The North of England
September (rest) – New York

Chanting at Krishna Lunch

Amala Harinama and his wife, Nadiya, who came for the Festival of the Holy Name, kindly chanted at Krishna Lunch on the next Monday, and lots of others joined them.

Classes at University of Florida ended Wednesday, and the Catholics did a mass on the green, so we had to chant quietly for fifteen minutes. They had a sign to inform people of their event:

The part about the blessings for exams reminded me of Indians students who show up at our temples in increased numbers at finals time. Krishna acknowledges such devotion in the Gita, and praises those people having it as magnanimous, though not on the level of pure devotees.

I love having so many people to do devotional service with as at Krishna House. Just see how many come for the evening kirtana! And that is just a third of those at the morning one.

Jacksonsville Art Walk Harinama

Devotees from Krishna House in Gainesville joined locals, Tulasirani dd and Bhakta Dorian, and chanted and distributed books at the Jacksonville Art Walk on the first Wednesday of the month, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. Many people took books and many people danced with us, often holding their books. 

In fact, I had never in my life seen so many people dancing with books in their hands.

There were even people who danced with a book in one hand and a tambourine in the other! 

Also in addition to getting the books, many were curious enough to read a few pages on the spot. In this picture below, three people are reading books. One has her drink and her book resting on her skateboard as a table.

I had just one invitation for our programs at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, and I gave it to three friends who spent half an hour dancing with us.

They were very happy to learn of the local programs.

Natalie, one young lady, who had Srila Prabhupada’s books from before and who danced with us at least twice, and who plays the tambourine in the photo below, was also happy to learn of the local programs. 

She also said she was going to New York City for part of the winter break, and I gave her my email and promised to tell her of our programs there. 

The guy on the right played the drum for quite some time.

 Strange Sights: Things You Don’t See Every Day

I have never heard of a connection between bowling and the Jewish holiday, Chanukah, have you?

French toast, because it traditionally has eggs in it, is not something I encountered in my thirty years as a Krishna devotee, but Bhakta Jon made it for the Krishna House breakfast, and it was great.

On the way back from Jacksonville for the Art Walk, we passed a guy shaving as he drove his car. Shaving is understood to be a dirty operation, and strict Hare Krishnas take a shower afterward so it was funny for me to see this guy shaving on the way to work. It is also an illustration of how passionate we have become, being so busy we have no other time to shave!

I also have a couple more dog conscious photos.

Often you see someone walking a dog, and occasionally two, but more than two is rare. In Gainesville there is this guy who walks six dogs at once. It is said he gets paid to do it, and that the City of Gainesville once tried to close him down, but apparently without success.

In Best Buy at Union Square I encountered this pup in boots.

I was worried that pet pampering had reached a new level till the owner explained the boots protect the dogs feet from the salt used to melt the winter ice.

The Third Annual Interfaith Progressive Dinner

The Interfaith Progressive Dinner is an event organized by the University of Florida chaplains to promote the same kind of friendship between followers of the different religions on campus that the chaplains have among themselves.

We increased this year by doing harinama on the way to Hillel where the interfaith progressive dinner started. We did not want to do it between the different churches because that might be seen as too dominating. At Hillel I talked to a rabbi named Gail about psalms praising the name of the Lord. She suggested in different psalms, different words may be used to indicate the holy name, something to research. I also met the rabbi who told me two years ago that there are seventy-two names for God in the Jewish Kabbalah. I made a sweet for the event, carob coconut almond burfi, so we would have an eggless dessert, because the first year of the event we had to go without. 

When I went around the hall at the end of the evening to distribute the extra sweets, many people took more, and a couple people from other traditions showed me they already had a stash of them to take home! The sweet always had a lot of sugar in it, and this time when I doubled the recipe I accidentally quadrupled the sugar, so it was even sweeter than usual!

Kalakantha Prabhu and the rabbi who told me about the holy names in the Kabbalah did a musical piece for entertainment that was sung to the tune from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, called “If I Were a Rich Man.” It was very humorous. I do not know if anyone took a video of it. Here are the lyrics, but of course, it was much better to see it live:

Rabbi: If I was a Krishna, Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Bol!
All day long I’d shake a tambourine, never feel a bit of guilt.
I’d study from the Gita, Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Hari Bol!
I would live as simply as can be, gobbling my vegetables and milk. 

“Krishna: If I was a rabbi, yada yada yada yada yada yada oy vey, 
All day long I’d bless my fellow Jews, telling them how to behave. 
I’d study from the Torah, yada yada yada yada yada yada oy vey 
Everyone would give me some respect. Best of all I wouldn’t have to shave. 

“Rabbi: I’d have a comfy mattress up in the ashram, perfect for standing on my head. Reincarnation is fine if your mom’s a Jew.
Krishna: I’d have a great big building down by the campus, a budget that’s never in the red; 
Instead of selling lunches I’d get dues! 

“Rabbi: If you were a rabbi, yada yada yada yada yada yada oy vey, 
You would have to eat gefilte fish. 
Krishna: But I’m a vegetarian! 
Rabbi: Tough! 

“Krishna: Well, if you were a Krishna, hari hari hari hari hari hari hari om. 
Every day you’d get up before dawn. 
Rabbi: Thank you, but I think I’m sleeping in. 

There are many paths to the Divine, 
Yours is good, but not as good as mine. 
Though you’re part of God’s eternal plan, 
Thank you, I will stay right where I am.”

Ekendra Prabhu also did a very entertaining musical contribution.

A Mormon choir was supposed to sing, but they did not show up, and Tulasi-priya dd sang some very nice kirtana, accompanied by her husband, Ekendra Prabhu, and I passed out my business card which has the mantra on the back so people could sing along. Afterward I noticed the people did not leave the cards behind. I am glad I got to participate again in the dinner this year, after missing it last year.

Tallahassee Harinamas

First Friday was slower than usual. Perhaps it was because of the end of the semester. The weather was terrific. Even at 10 p.m., although it was December, we did not need to wear a sweater over our short-sleeved shirts. Still there were some nice people and several enthusiastic dancers.

I gave my card to three or four people and asked them to email me about our programs in Tallahassee.

I chanted by myself for three hours to, from, and at the Tallahassee Winter Festival. People became purified by hearing the holy name, and I became purified by chanting. I chanted for three hours, which is my usual daily commitment. There were a few positive responses and just one negative criticism. The several policemen who I saw did not try to restrict me, although I was in a market area.

I chanted at Lake Ella on a beautiful Sunday with the temperature in the mid 70s (low 20s C). None of the three people who I had hoped to come were there to join me, but Danny, who had come to Gita class sometimes, sang with me for about forty-five minutes, intently meditating on the mantra. Several people took cookies and invitations to the restaurant and college lunch program. I met Chris and Randy, who remembered me from Garuda Prabhu’s yoga classes.

One very shaggy Old English Sheepdog came up and sat at my feet for ten minutes as I chanted Hare Krishna at my book table behind the main library at Florida State University. 

I generally do not pet or talk to the dogs, so they usually are not very interested in me, but this one appeared just to like the kirtana. Lauren, the owner of the dog, who she affectionately called Rascal, sat down nearby and got out her computer and began studying while the dog relished the kirtana. Lauren studied for an hour or so as the dog investigated other features of the grassy area in back of the library before returning to listen to some more kirtana

I gave Lauren my card and suggested that she chant Hare Krishna to the dog or download some kirtanas from Krishna.com and play them. Although the dog was named Rascal, in reality, he was one of the most favorable dogs I have encountered this life. When I thanked Lauren for the photos, I sent her a link of some Bada Haridas Prabhu’s kirtanas, and she promised to play them for her dog. Lauren just completed her degree in math, and hopes to study to become a yoga teacher in the beginning of the new year.

I was happy to hear of a bhajana [devotional song] evening on the first Sunday feast of the month in Tallahassee, and to witness the attendance of new westerners as well, some who are friends of Garuda.

Danny came to our Tuesday Gita class after his exam, and one boy I met on the campus that very day also came and chanted in the half-hour kirtanas before and after the class.

It was surprising to me that Danny, although committed to the path of Buddhism to the extent of accepting the vow of Bodhisattva, was the person who participated more than any other in my harinamas and Gita class in Tallahassee.

Jacksonville Krishna Outreach

I was happy that Tulasirani dd and Bhakta Dorian joined me to chant on the campus at University of North Florida on Wednesday, and Ekendra and Tulasi-priya Prabhus and Bhakta Dorian chanted with me there on Thursday.

Krishna Club was lively, with Tulasi-priya dd singing, Ekendra Prabhu drumming, lots of people singing the response, and a few dancing. 

I gave a lecture on spiritual pleasure that several people appreciated. It is nice to see we have some real regulars there, some who have been coming for over a year and a half to the weekly meetings.

Harinamas in New York City

Because of the cold weather, we did harinama in the subway stations much of time, either at Delancey Street, Grand Central Station, Times Square, or most commonly Union Square.

At Delancey Street station we were near the uptown “F” train underneath a colorful mural.

A boy played instruments.

So did some girls.

At Times Square, we were just at the top of the steps leading down to the “7” train.

A man and a girl played instruments. 

When we were outside, because of congestion at Union Square with both the Christmas Market and the Green Market, we would go to Washington Square Park instead.

Rama Raya Prabhu likes idea of singing Hare Krishna to popular Christmas tunes like “Jingle Bells.” None of the other kirtana leaders really followed his example, except for the newest one, Alice, who sings Hare Krishna to “Jingle Bells” at the Union Square subway station in the video below:

Not as many people stop when we are in the subway stations as when we were outside at Union Square, but still there were some pleasant interactions.

A man with some luggage smiled as he watched our harinama party at the Times Square Subway Station, taking a few photos. I went to give him a Krishna—Reservoir of Pleasure pamphlet, but he said he already knew about Hare Krishna. I asked him from where, and he replied with a smile, “Everywhere!” and gave me the old high five!

Srila Prabhupada:

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.1.16, purport:

A devotee is always in a renounced temperament because the worldly attractions can never satisfy him.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.2.34, purport:

I have seen the wife of a medical practitioner voluntarily accept death immediately when her husband died. Both the husband and wife were taken in procession in the mourning cart.”

Comment on above: How did she die? Obviously it was not by entering the funeral pyre as some would do in the past. Anyone know?

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.2.38, purport:

The Lord says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saraṇam vraja: [Bg. 18.66] ʻGive up all other duties and simply surrender unto Me.ʼ One who does not abide by the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is given the facility to enjoy this material world. Instead of restricting him, the Lord gives the conditioned soul the opportunity to enjoy so that by mature experience, after many, many births (bahunam janmanam ante [Bg. 7.19]), he will understand that surrender to the lotus feet of Vasudeva is the only duty of all living beings.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.2.41, purport:

We should have firm faith that the Lord is supreme and that if we surrender to Him, He will take charge of us and indicate how we can get out of material life and return home, back to Godhead. Without such surrender, one is obliged to accept a certain type of body according to his karma, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a demigod and so on. Although the body is obtained and lost in due course of time, the spirit soul does not actually mix with the body, but is subjugated by the particular modes of nature with which he is sinfully associated. Spiritual education changes one’s consciousness so that one simply carries out the orders of the Supreme Lord and becomes free from the
influence of the modes of material nature.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.2.56, purport:

Kali-yuga, however, is so degraded that a father and mother even kill their children in the womb on the plea of their scientific knowledge that within the womb the child has no life. Prestigious medical practitioners give this opinion, and therefore the father and mother of this day kill their children within the womb. How degraded human society has become! Their scientific knowledge is so advanced that they think that within the egg and the embryo there is no life. Now these so-called scientists are receiving Nobel Prizes for advancing the theory of chemical evolution. But if chemical combinations are the source of life, why don’t the scientists manufacture something like an egg through chemistry and put it in an incubator so that a chicken will come out? What is their answer? With their scientific knowledge they are unable to create even an egg. Such scientists are described in Bhagavad-gita as mayayapahrita jnanah [Bg. 7.15], fools whose real knowledge has been taken away. They are not men of knowledge, but they pose as scientists and philosophers, although their so-called theoretical knowledge cannot produce practical results.”

from Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 11.89, purport:

A devotee is always thinking of how better to serve Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and how to broadcast His name, fame and qualities throughout the world. One who is nitya-siddha has no business other than broadcasting the glories of the Lord all over the world according to his ability. Such people are already associates of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore Narottama dasa Thakura says, nitya-siddha kari’ mane. One should not think that because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was personally present five hundred years ago, only His associates were liberated. Rather, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says that anyone is a nitya-siddha if he acts on behalf of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by spreading the glories of the holy name of the Lord. We should respect those devotees preaching the glories of the Lord as nitya-siddha and should not consider them conditioned.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.13.28, purport:

. . . in devotional service there are offenses known as seva-aparadha. Those who are engaged in worshiping the Deity, Radha and Krishna, in the temple should avoid such offenses in service. The offenses in service are described in The Nectar of Devotion. If we simply make a show of offering services to the Deity but do not care for the seva-aparadha, certainly the Radha-Krishna Deity will not accept offerings from such nondevotees. Devotees engaged in temple worship should not, therefore, manufacture their own methods, but should strictly follow the regulative principles of cleanliness, and then offerings will be accepted.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.13.35, purport:

According to sacrificial rituals, animals are sometimes sacrificed in the yajña arena. Such animals are sacrificed not to kill them but to give them new life. Such action was an experiment to observe whether the Vedic mantras were being properly pronounced. Sometimes small animals are killed in a medical laboratory to investigate therapeutic effects. In a medical clinic, the animals are not revived, but in the yajña arena, when animals were sacrificed, they were again given life by the potency of Vedic mantras.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

Radha-Govinda are kind to me.
Every morning (and all day)
They grant me full darsana
with Their effulgent forms
and attractive dress.
I don’t know much about it,
but I accept Them as spiritual forms on the authority of
the sastras and the acaryas.
They fill my heart
with love and
banish voidism and impersonalism.

Dhruva Maharaja saw the residents 
of Vaikuntha he didn’t 
know what to say. He 
chanted Hare Krishna, and they 
were satisfied. Similarly at the cleaning of the 
Gundica temple the devotees just said, 
ʻKrishna’ to indicate 
what they wanted. The harinama party 
doesn’t have to 
give lectures to the crowd. They 
can just go on 
chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, 
and all communication 
will be satisfied.”

One only need to test it 
for oneself 
and see the result. 
They are happy to be 
performing harinama. 
Their happiness does not 
derive from wealth, 
power or sexual satisfaction. 
They are simply blissful 
to be serving Krishna 
by praising His holy 
names. The material 
joys have a beginning 
and end. At first they 
taste like nectar, but
later they turn to poison. 
But the happiness of harinama sankirtana
is an increasing ocean that knows no bounds.”

Jayadvaita Swami:

Not that I love you, but I will not do a damn thing for you.

In a proper Vedic kingdom, the king is like the father of the citizens and is concerned with the material and spiritual welfare of the citizens.

Asking for three steps of land from a king like Bali Maharaja is like asking Bill Gates for $10.

Bhakti is practical activity in the service of the Lord with the mind fixed on the Lord.

In this age, the two first methods of devotional service, hearing and chanting, are most recommended.

Srila Prabhupada once said, “Chanting means thinking.” [This reminds me of how when Krishna says “think of Me” throughout Chapter 8 of Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport, “Chant Hare Krishna.” In one purport he includes the entire Hare Krishna mantra twice.]

We see that the devotees go to places like Union Square and Times Square to chant, and people hear “Hare Krishna” and they think of Krishna.

If you have no engagement then chant Hare Krishna or read books about Krishna. If you are fully engaged in Krishna consciousness then there are no maya activities.

If you fully surrender to Krishna by always thinking of Him, Krishna will take care of you. It is like the army. If you join the army, the army provides clothes, a place to stay, medical help, education, . . . So it is with Krishna.

People would ask Srila Prabhupada where you get money, and Prabhupada said Krishna is our financier.

In the beginning I was told I needed beads and Brahmananda Prabhu told me they were $10, and I had no money. The next day on the way to the temple I looked down on the ground and there was $10, so I was able to get my beads.

When there is a connection between me and Krishna, that is yoga.

Once Bhakti Charu Swami said to Srila Prabhupada, “I wish I could have been there when you were all alone in New York in the beginning.”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “I was never alone.”

In theory one can be a devotee of Krishna without being in a community, but because in practice it is hard to be in complete seclusion, if we do not associate with devotees, then we will associate nondevotees and thus we will do nondevotional activities.

Just as scientists enjoy discussing their discoveries so the advanced devotees enjoy discussing their realizations.

Now I am a conscious person living in the contraption of the material body. In the spiritual world the body is made of consciousness. Everything is made of consciousness. It is a much better place.

Instead of working eight hours a day, you can live with the devotees and serve Krishna for many hours a day. If you have got yourself in a state where you need to acquire wealth, then offer the work you must do as service to Krishna.

The material world may look stable, but it is risky as hell. I could elaborate, but I see many of you are nodding. If I am going to take a risk, I might as well take a risk for something big, the ultimate objective. Materially the odds are 100% you will lose everything. And spiritually either you attain perfection in this life or you come back in the next life and continue where you left off, and so it is success either way.

Advice to a devotee writing a blog:
Be simple, direct, and clear.
Use Wordpress as it is easy to use.
Share what you have realized.
Use a spell checker.

Arcana siddhi dd:

from “A Retreat for Krishna Couples” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 2:

I see a relationship between the yoga of listening and our connection with Krishna
during japa time: The practice of being present in our everyday exchanges helps us control the mind during japa and thus connect with Krishna. And the more we connect
with Krishna, the source of all relationships, the easier it is to connect with other souls, who are all part of Him.”

Dravida Prabhu:

In New York, in the 1970s, we would go on harinama sankirtana for three hours every day.

Srila Prabhupada felt the seventh chapter of the Adi-lila of the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita was so important that he wanted it published as a separate volume.

Everything begins with sound. Our material existence is an effect of material sound, and our spiritual life begins by vibrating transcendental sound.

We have to see the reality of the miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease, and use that as an impetus to take spiritual life seriously. At the same time, we have to develop our attraction to Krishna. Both go on together.

Krishna has unlimited names because He has unlimited devotees and unlimited activities with them.

The web site iskcondesiretree.com has a section with stories of how people came to Krishna consciousness.

This Festival of the Holy Name with people getting together and singing for hours on end and drumming, is a wonderful manifestation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement.

Every devotee who is sincere becomes a channel to some degree.

How to sustain and how to expand? The strength is in numbers, in coming together.

One of the features of this Festival of the Holy Name is the big harinama during the game between Florida and Florida State. There is a verse that says that just hearing one holy name can free you from all sins. How many thousands of people were purified in that harinama!

The verse that glorifies a moment’s association with sadhus is actually glorifying hearing a moment from the sadhus because that is how we generally associate with them.

If you are always connected with transcendental sound, then when you have a chance to speak, you will be able to present the philosophy nicely.

By nicely hearing, you remember Krishna and steadily proceed.

Remembrance of Krishna destroys everything inauspicious.

When the intelligence is situated in this knowledge, you can control the lower self. The mode of passion tries to cover our knowledge.

Sometimes the clouds clear and you get a taste of the holy name. How to be in that state always? That is sthayi-bhava, an advanced stage.

We should pray to always advance in devotional service.

We should avoid offending the devotees, because if we offend them, we will lose their association, and with it, the opportunities to hear and chant about Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada said the best way to control the mind is to think of ways to spread Krishna consciousness.

With advances in technology, we have no excuse for not hearing about Krishna.

How do we spend our mornings and evenings, those times we have the choice of what to do? If we have an intensive spiritual practice in the morning, that will set the tone for the whole day.

When you are using everything in Krishna’s service, then you can more easily see Krishna everywhere.

comment by Adi Karta Prabhu: Sivarama Swami likens a strong spiritual practice to insulation, protecting us from material influences.

Nitya-siddhas (eternally perfect beings) come to this world just to teach the service of the Lord.

Other Upanisads also begin with the same invocation as Sri Isopanisad.

You can make a Deity of mud or paint, and now I guess you would have pixels [the components of a computer image] too.

The deity may appear inanimate and be strange to relate to as being a person, but when you think about it, it is not so strange as we are already relating to inanimate objects as being people because the material body of the living soul is actually inanimate.

We want to see the person behind the energy at every moment.

One of the threefold miseries is those caused by other living beings. Sartre had a book called The Exit with one memorable line, “Hell is other people.”

Maya has a trident to give us impetus from behind, and we have Krishna’s beauty to attract from in front.

We are burning in a forest fire, and someone comes with a helicopter and pours water on it and puts it out. Therefore we should be grateful to our spiritual master for that favor of extinguishing the forest fire of our material existence.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

The human being is meant to use his intelligence for spiritual realization. The head of the human child is so big and heavy, he cannot lift it for six weeks.

One of the biggest gangsters in the U.S. was finally cornered by the police, and rather than surrendering, he fought it out with them. When he was killed, a notebook was found in which he had written, “I am the most misunderstood person. I never meant harm for anyone.” Everyone thinks like that.

If we want people to not criticize us, first we should stop criticizing others.

We should only instruct people who accept us as an instructor, and only for their benefit, and if it becomes clear our instructions are not having a positive effect, we should stop giving them.

If people instruct us, and it stirs up our tendency to defend ourselves, then although they may be trying to benefit us, they have not understood the best way to give instruction. If we say, “When you do this, it makes me feel like that.” in a neutral way, it informs them of the effect of their actions without starting an argument. Any reasonable person will not want to give pain to others. If the person continues to speak in a way to agitate our mind, we know they are a jerk, and we can politely excuse ourselves from their presence.

If we are in a critical mood, that will only hurt ourselves.

Citraketu did not fear Parvati’s curse even slightly because he knew he could perform his service to the Lord in any condition of life.

We should not allow insults to remain in our consciousness and continue disturb us. We should forgive the person or try to understand their motivation, and get beyond it.

Krishna Kshetra Prabhu:

from a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 5.4 at Atmanivedana Prabhu’s Friday program on Long Island on December 13, 2013:

Some describe Bhagavad-gita as a synthetic text, one that brings many traditions together.

What is usually meant by sankhya is the Sankhya karika of Isvara Krishna which is what Srila Prabhupada would call atheistic sankhya.

It is interesting the Krishna considers that sankhya and yoga are nondifferent because they have the same result.

It is ironic that Krishna says that one enjoys the same result from either practice because the result is to act without enjoying the result!

It is striking to see how little Patanjali talks in his Yoga Sutras about the asanas, or sitting postures, which are what are thought of as yoga nowadays.

Some examples from the Yoga-sutras:
sthira sukham asanam: Asana is steadiness and easy.
From it arises relaxation of effort and endless unity.
Thus there is not the assault of the dualities.

Usually we do not think about our breathing unless there is some obstruction to breathing, but pranayama means to make it a focus of attention.

Pratyahara is anti-consumption.

Yoga is about going where you need to go, it is not about kaivalyam or singularity.

Sankhya and yoga have difference emphases, analysis and practice, respectively.

Why not take advantage all that is available to achieve perfection, and in particular, both sankhya and yoga?

Srila Prabhupada follows Baladeva Vidyabhusana in explaining that the Bhagavad-gita is all about bhakti.

We can use sankhya to analyze our situation in terms of transcendental knowledge. Like if we are angry, we can separate ourselves from the anger.

Astanga is cumulative. You are still doing yama and niyama when you are at samadhi. So also is bhakti-yoga. You are still having sraddha and doing sadhu-sanga at the stage of prema.

The Buddhists stress that it the duty of the monks to accept what ever is offered to them in charity for the benefit of the giver. Thus they end up eating meat that is offered to them as well.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura did not wear tilaka before he took initiation.

Q (by me): Sometimes it seems that Srila Prabhupada uses karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga interchangeably, and sometimes there is a difference. What is your understanding?
A: Karma can be taken to mean any action or the actions that are mentioned in the karma-kanda section to give a certain result. In either case, we must offer the result to Krishna.

[Later I asked him to elaborate and he did:]

As I understand, the term ‘karma’ can be taken in various ways, the relevant ones here being the broadest sense of ‘action’ and the narrow sense of ‘ritual action.’ As ‘action,’ if we speak of ‘action-yoga,’ can by implication translate into ‘bhakti-yoga’ if we put emphasis on active engagement, whereby the ‘yoga’ element can be taken as ‘linking’ (and thereby canceling out karma-as-reaction). The narrow sense, karma-as-Vedic-ritual, implies engagement following prescribed procedures that are meant to bring about appropriate ‘cosmic alignments’ or harmonious arrangements that facilitate maximization of worldly goods. In this case, the ‘yoga’ component, still suggesting ‘linking,’ puts an emphasis on giving up of ‘results’ (positive results—‘karma-phala’) of ritual actions to the enjoyer of sacrifice, the yajna-purusa, Vishnu. The common issue in both situations would be motivation (a big theme in Buddhism), and of course motivation is a difficult thing to measure or assess.”

from a lecture given at Atmanivedana Prabhu’s Saturday program at 26 2nd Avenue:

I hope you are not averse to memorizing a verse.

This is a traditional way of memorizing a verse. You can turn off your brain and just hear and repeat. Hear a little bit more each time and then repeat. Start repeating twice. Then try repeating five times.

Krishna’s statement that everyone follows his path can be explained in this way. You can go on the path toward Krishna or you can go away from Krishna, but it is all Krishna’s path.

The problem with consequentialism or choosing an action based on its consequences is that you never really know what the consequences of an action will be.

Krishna gives different arguments why Arjuna should fight:
Because he will be defamed if he does not.
Because it is his duty.
Because it is virtuous.

Q (by me): It is interesting that Krishna argues that Arjuna should fight otherwise he will be defamed but later Krishna says one who is dear to Him does not care for fame or infamy.
A: Yes. That is why that is not His final argument. Sometimes when you are trying to convince someone of something, you just use any argument you think might work.

Astanga yoga is a self-help method.

Of course, if you follow a self-help book, you are not really helping yourself but depending on the author of the self-help book to help you.

Patanjali was a compiler and not an originator.

Marx said we are alienated in four ways.
  1. We are alienated from what we produce.
  2. We are alienated from the work because it is an artificial routine.
  3. We are alienated from our humanity.
  4. We are alienated from other people.

Ford did not invent the assembly line but got the idea from the Chicago slaughterhouses.

Yoga means connection and is the solution to alienation.

There is too much discipline in yoga so we do not see people streaming in the doors to take part in it. They would rather get intoxicated and enjoy a temporary feeling of well being. And then comes the hangover.

Krishna admits it is difficult to control the mind, but not that it is impossible. It is possible by suitable practice and detachment.

Sometimes we ask, “What if someone . . . ?” when we mean “What if I . . . ?”

Sociologists talk about rational choice theory. Plato and Aristotle considered man rational while Hume considered man driven by emotions. And the debate goes back and forth.

Arjuna represents our calculating mentality when he inquires about the fate of the unsuccessful transcendentalist.

Our reason and sense perception cannot help us understand the truth of the next life, but who does not want to know? One who knows the truth can supply that knowledge.

Tat-tva literally means that-ness and therefore truth.

Sometimes we deprecate anyone who does not do pure bhakti-yoga, but in the Gita Krishna encourages everyone to do whatever good they can do.

There have been great Catholic mystics who were highly advanced in God consciousness because they followed the practice that was available to them at the time.

One can take Bhagavad-gita in a strict way or in a broad way, and both ways have value.

The pure devotees of Krishna like the Lord’s feature of Krishna so much they can’t see why anyone would want anything less, but they don’t think in a bigoted way. It is just a manifestation of their affection for Krishna.

from an interview by Yogesvara Prabhu at Jivamukti Yoga School NYC:

Q: What about yoga and Vedanta?
A: Sat darsana means six darsanas or philosophies.
In English we speak of point of view, and similarly in Sanskrit darsana, which means vision, also means a philosophy or point of view.

Vedanta teaches liberation of ourselves from preoccupation with what is not ourselves.

What is that Brahman, the essence of all essences, is the topic of the Upanisads.

Within Vedanta there is the idea that we are one with our source and the idea that we are fundamentally different from our source, and everything in between. Srila Prabhupada in Bhagavad-gita As Is It goes right down the middle, arguing that we are simultaneously one with and different from our source.

Patanjali may or may not have actually existed. He or she is credited with the yoga sutras.

Yoga philosophy is not so much into ontology as Vedanta is.

Bhagavad-gita is a blending of yoga, Vedanta, and sankhya, and may be the reason that Vedanta and yoga are still around. Once one understands these three, one can come to the culmination of knowledge which is bhakti.

Bhakti comes from bhaj which means “to share.”

Q: Is there something about our philosophy that affects our living of our life?
A: I should hope so. The definition of yoga is it is about controlling the mind.
According the Gita, the mind can be our enemy, that is, it can make things difficult for us.
Yoga teaches responsibility for our life begins with ourselves.

To have the ability to respond fully is yoga.

Patanjali sutras (1.12?) stresses practice and detachment just as Krishna does in Bhagavad-gita 6.35.

Q: What are your students [at Radhadesh] like?
A: They come from 35 countries, and are of a variety of ages, now more college age. Why do they come? For some their parents practice bhakti yoga, and the kids what to learn more about it and get academic credit for it. Ultimately students from our Krishna Avanti schools will want to continue their education. [A little off the subject . . . Cambridge University has recognized that our Krishna Avanti schools are doing very well in educating the kids.]

Q: How does deity worship relate to Vedanta?
A: There is an idea of the supreme as possessing all opulence in Vedanta, Bhagavan.
Bhagavan has all the shares. Form is one of the qualities possessed by Bhagavan.

Comment by Yogesvara Prabhu: Bhagavan then has the ultimate portfolio.

Bhagavan can reciprocate with us through bhakti.

Arcana teaches ways one can use his own faculties to please the senses of this supreme person.

We are purusa and nature.

Q: What about China and yoga? Are the Chinese receptive?
A: Yes. very much. The government is now more interested in rediscovering their own tradition, and the government has published 60 volumes of Chinese classics, in Chinese and English, Chinese and Spanish, Chinese and Arabic, and a couple more.

My teaching assistant said that Taoism has no conception of love. How can they get from there to bhakti? Yet there is interest.

Q: What are the main parallels and differences in Hinduism and Buddhism?
A: Buddhism is anatmavada, the doctrine of no self. To think there is an “I” that suffers is the cause of suffering, and thus they try to deconstruct the self. Krishna says that the self is misidentifying with the body, and that is the cause of suffering.

Malati Devi:

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the guide for human life.

Sanatana Goswami first encountered Srimad-Bhagavatam in a dream when a brahmana presented it to him. When he awoke, he was perplexed, and then in his waking state, a brahmana actually presented Srimad-Bhagavatam to him.

Transcendental ecstasy is increasing pleasure unlike the mixed happiness and distress of the material world.

O Srimad-Bhagvatam, O friend, O companion, O teacher, O deliverer . . .”—Sri Krishnalila stava from Sanatana Gosvami

Having the gifts of past piety such as education, beauty, social position, and wealth does not guarantee success in transcendental life.

Srila Prabhupada said if you want something it is better to ask Lord Krishna for it. When you get it, then you will be thankful to the Lord.

Diplomacy has its place, but in material life it is just a kind of manipulation.

The Rock and; Roll Hall of fame in Cleveland is a place of pilgrimage for the rock and roll enthusiasts.

The scriptures describe a holy place as being a place where chanting and hearing of the Lord goes on and where saintly persons gather.

Srila Prabhupada did not parachute down from an unknown place and spout out some teaching. Rather he came as a representative of the Gaudiya Vaishnava parampara (spiritual lineage) and presented it in that way.

There is no lack of spiritual guidance from senior devotees here at Krishna House, and thus there will be no lack of success.

By remembering the names of the saints, we remember their activities and qualities, and become filled with devotional inspiration.

Q (by Rasaraja Prabhu): When I hear people glorify Krishna House, I become grateful for having the opportunity to live here. How to keep this mood?
A: By increasing the mood of service. Sometimes gratitude is all about us. By service we can get beyond that. Just do some service, even anonymously, to benefit the devotees. The GBCs did one exercise. Each would get a name on a piece of paper and have to do some service for that person. It was called the “anonymous friend” exercise. Make Krishna House your anonymous friend.

Nagaraja Prabhu:

from “Krishna is Coming” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 2:

We conditioned souls in the early stages of Krishna consciousness struggle against the power of the material energy. But the struggle gets much easier when one is inspired. So, whether we’re entering the temple or the sacred space we’ve created in our home, we can remind ourselves that the same fountain of inspiration Prabhupada brought to his disciples around the world is still available to us in the abundant spiritual resources he left behind.”

Satyaraja Prabhu:

from “Ramananda Samvada: The Perfect Conversation” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 2:

In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna hears from Lord Krishna, but here [in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, Chapter 8] Krishna (Sri Caitanya) hears from His devotee Arjuna (Ramananda Raya).”

Vaisesika Prabhu:

recalled by Caitanya of Krishna House:

Many people doing a little book distribution is better than one person doing a lot.

Yogesvara Prabhu:

Deity worship is one of the most contentious subjects in Vaishnavism. The deities are referred to by the British as idols and by my mother as “the dolls.”

Caitanya Carana Prabhu:

from “Why Is the Bhagavad-gita So Pessimistic?” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 2:

Even when distresses don’t overwhelm us, our life gets so boring that more patients visit psychiatrists because of boredom than because of distress.”

Tulasi-priya dd:

Srila Prabhupada said we should be 90% strict with ourselves, but 90% lenient with others. Yama Niyama Das Brahmacari teaches how to be with oneself but how not to be with others.


One brahmana said, “I have committed grievous sins by criticizing a Vaishnava. What should do?”
Lord Caitanya, “If you take poison, you can protect yourself from its effect by taking a nectar that will neutralize it. Glorifying the Vaishnavas and the pastimes of the Supreme Lord can free one the offense of offending a Vaishnava.”

I want to glorify all the devotees here today:

Arjuna, you started coming on Fridays to the evening program, and now you are managing it, and I know how difficult that is.
Alex, I like it that you come and greet everyone at Krishna Lunch and do kirtana before you go back to Krishna House and do your own service of serving lunch there.
Badahari Prabhu [maintenance in charge], I like how you rescued me many times.
Amy, you managed the Krishna Lunch when I was gone better than I did.
Krishna-kripa das, you opened a new department, the dancing department. Some people after years ask me where is the dancer at Krishna Lunch?
Valentina, you were not here this semester, but people were always asking about you.
Vaishnava [the youth from New Vrindavan], you made a point to remember people and their names and what they like, and you went there to Krishna Lunch every single day.
Tessa, you started coming to Krishna Lunch on Sunday, and asked so many amazing questions, and now you take your sadhana seriously despite long hours working as a nurse.
Ananta, I appreciate you met your goal of having bhajanas on the blanket every day, and I appreciate your aspiration to share the mood of Vrindavan with others.
Tulasi-priya dd, I appreciate when we lived nearby, and your concern, and your creativity and your living with another creative person.
Micah, you were very intense in the beginning which was scary, but now I see you have become intense about Krishna. You talk with all the Chinese people.
Rasaraja, you did so many different services, and I never had to change the way you had done them.
Hladini, I am glad you are back. You are a very caring person.
Rupachandra, you are simultaneously learned and humble.
Lacey, I am impressed with your determination to do service, although very busy.
Damodar Prasada, I remember you for many years, serving Krishna Lunch, doing kirtana, and now doing book distribution, not wasting a moment without Krishna.
Daniel, always sincere, you are always trying to do the best you can.
Tsurit, you have to live with me for 24 hours. You will do special tasks, like come help when we need, and do the difficult service of taking care of me.
Diwakar, your service and kirtana are wonderful, but most wonderful of all is your simplicity. I asked, “How do you say 'crazy' in Hindi?”
You replied, “We would not call them anything but just tolerate.”
Sankalpa Devi, you are so appreciative of serving Krishna Lunch.
Mike [from West Virginia], you always have a smile and a care for others. Two days after a car accident, you came with a smile and explained what happened. The girl who hit you was worried. You promised her you would not sue her, and you would call her to make sure she was okay.
Vaishnava Prabhu and his wife, Dvijamani Devi, you are hidden jewels of Krishna Lunch, being most consistent of all with making the Krishna Lunch salad dressing, even now having a child.
Marlon, you manage the second line and want us to pay you less than you work.
Jita dd, you take care of Kalakantha Prabhu.
Ed, you did all the dishes before the truck came back.
Jaya Sri Vrinda dd, you seemed so competent at so many things I thought serving Krishna Lunch would be too easy for you, but you handle it nicely.
Gopala Prabhu, you are the most steady person I have met or will meet, chopping vegetables for almost 20 years.
Clayton, you once left your service at the drink cart to correct the karatala player.
Prahlad, you are always trying find new ways to serve better.
Tony, thank you for your kirtana.
Rukmini, you use all you have learned to serve, despite school.
Caitanya, I think you are especially empowered because of your enthusiasm and sincerity.
Kalakantha Prabhu, you will do anything to make something funny. You do lots for Krishna Lunch behind the scenes. Before you came to Krishna House sometimes there was just one person at mangala arati and now there are over thirty.
Sesa Prabhu, you have done so many wonderful things, but you are so incredibly humble.
Jagannatha Puri Dhama, the precision and number you cook for is impressive.
Srila Prabhupada, all glories to you. We are all here because of you!


I like this phrase “the secret of all secrets” in Bhagavad-gita 9.2 because I was coming to Krishna House twice a week for lunch for a long time and I had no idea about all the kirtanas and lectures, and the depth of knowledge that was available here.

I always try to jump up and down at least once in the morning and evening kirtanas, to go past my limits and show Krishna I am serious about advancing.

People who regularly come to eat on the Krishna House porch say things like, “I get good vibes from this place.” Some do not say anything, but they come every day.

Comment by Padmavati dd: Mother Indrani was in the kirtana all day on Saturday to the very end, although many of us had to take breaks. Despite being 87 years old and having so many health problems, at the end of the evening she began dancing. It was amazing to see how she transcended so many difficulties by her great devotion!

Comment by me: I was amazed after the whole kirtana weekend at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, when most of us Krishna House people had gone home, to see that Malati Devi and several other senior Prabhupada disciples were dancing ecstatically in Madhava Prabhu’s kirtana.

Comment by Krishnaa: I find myself praying all the time, but often I forget to listen for the answer.

Comment by me: And if Krishna gives you good advice from within, you can thank Him, if you are really sincere.

Krishna-kripa das:

from a conversation with two girls about karma:

As I walked diagonally across the plaza to stop by the ATM on the way to Krishna House, I overheard two girls talking who mentioned the word “karma” in their conversation. I stopped immediately, and turned around saying to them with surprise, “Did you say ‘karma’? Almost nobody talks about karma!” They were discussing about bad karma, and I briefly explained how all acts have reactions. Good and bad actions cause us to enjoy or suffer in the future, but acts of devotion to God have no reactions and not only that, they uproot our previous reactions to other deeds. These acts of devotion accumulate life after life and mature into love for God which alone can satisfy our soul. Worried that they would find the explanation too sectarian. I explained that our spiritual teacher, although representing one particular tradition explained, “You may do this business or that business, but if you make money you are successful. Similarly you may follow this religion or that religion, but if you end up with love for God, you are successful.” They happily smiled and appreciated the explanation.


from a conversation about the Festival of the Holy Name:

I wasn’t planning on going to the Festival of the Holy Name in Alachua, but Mike from West Virginia practically dragged me. I sat down listening for hours. Then Arjuna pulled me into the group of dancing devotees. Something overcame me, and I could not stop dancing. That was when I realized the event was something really special.


comments on a class:

I had lived with a devotee family and liked everything about it, the food and the kirtana, and all, but I thought I would never become a devotee. Then I got an email from Hridayananda Goswami, and that changed everything. It was not even a personal contact, just an email. It made me cry tears. I told my fiance, “I got the best guru.” He replied, “Everyone says that!” The only thing I could compare it to is falling in love.

Imagine a billboard, “Come and be a servant!” No one would be attracted. [But spiritual service is a different thing.]


yatha taror mula-nisecanena
trpyanti tat-skandha-bhujopasakhah
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam acyutejya

By giving water to the root of a tree one satisfies its branches, twigs and leaves, and by supplying food to the stomach one satisfies all the senses of the body. Similarly, by engaging in the transcendental service of the Supreme Lord one automatically satisfies all the demigods and all other living entities.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.31.14, as quoted in Bhagavad-gita 9.3, purport)