Sunday, February 02, 2014

Travel Journal#10.2: Gainesville, Alachua, and Tampa


Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 2
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2014, part two
)
Gainesville, Alachua, Tampa
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on February 2, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the rest of January, I continued chanting at Krishna Lunch and giving lectures at the Gainesville Krishna House, and even one in Alachua, which many people liked. At Krishna House, Paramesvara Prabhu, a leader of American book distributors, gave a seminar on book distribution with an ocean of practical ideas which I share. I continued teaching the mantra meditation class in Gainesville and share peoples realizations from that. Gainesville and Alachua devotees chanted in the Martin Luther King March, where they were well received. Alachua, Gainesville, and Tampa devotees did harinama for the third time at Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa, an event said to be attended by 250,000 people. More people from the crowd participated by dancing and chanting than usual. I ended the month with a enlivening visit to our Krishna Club meeting at University of North Florida in Jacksonville on Thursday, and seeing a play the Krishna House students did in Gainesville for their Friday evening program.

In addition to great quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures and more excerpts from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s journal, I have notes on a class Jayadvaita Swami gave at the Krishna House and notes on many lectures by Prabhupada disciples who regularly give lectures in Gainesville and Alachua. I also have a class by Parmesvara Prabhu.

Chanting at Krishna Lunch

Occasionally some student sits near our blanket of Hare Krishna chanters while eating Krishna Lunch. I have begun asking such students if they like the music. One girl named Hadee said she liked it a lot. I told her how I had been chanting for 6 hours a day with my friends in New York City, and I said there is a lot of joy in the mantra. She can find free downloads of the chanting from Krishna.com on the Internet. She surprised me by saying she would come and sit with us on the blanket the next day. She surprised me even more by actually doing that, and by bringing a friend, Danny, who played the flute. They both chanted the mantra, but mostly Danny played the flute, following the melody and doing some improvisation. I asked Danny if he knew that Krishna played the flute, and he replied, “I do now!” I explained how God is the source of music and the arts, and that He Himself played the flute. They both had a great time participating in the kirtana and said they would sing with us in the future.



Devotees from Alachua sometimes join us, such as Prabhupada disciples, Pancagauda Prabhu (left), temple president of Vrindavan, and Purusartha Prabhu (right), when he is not traveling with Gaura Vani and his band, Hanumen.

We had a cold spell and some days were very difficult. On January 29, we chanted for over two hours although it was 41° F (5° C) with a wind chill of 34° F (1° C). If we were in New York City we would have chanted in the subway stations. I could only play harmonium 20 minutes at a time. The worst day I remember chanting outside in New York City I could last 30 minutes!

Chanting in the Martin Luther King March


The Hare Krishnas joined a number of different organizations such as churches, peace activists, school organizations, politicians, waste disposal companies, and even McDonalds, to participate in the Martin Luther King March in Gainesville, Florida.







Clearly the devotees seemed the happiest people in the march.


Several people danced with us and clapped to our music, during and after the march.




  
Kamala Manjari dd and her kids, her brother, and her mother came from Alachua to join the Krishna House devotees, along with a couple of traveling book distributors, Deva Krishna Prabhu and Brandon, formerly based in Gainesville, to sing and dance in the parade. Thus our party spanned three generations and different racial backgrounds.

 
Bhaktin Alex told us afterward that one lady told her, “You guys made the whole parade!”

As I walked to get the van, one lady seeing me in my robes chanting japa said “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna.”
I replied, “You say that so nicely!”
She responded, “I feel it. I feel it in my heart.”
That lady made the whole parade worthwhile for me.

Damodar Prasada Prabhu would explain to people that although we have different abilities because of our different bodies, on the platform of the soul we are all equal. The people were happy to hear that, and one lady gave him $20, so he was able to distribute several books.

Mantra Meditation Class

I asked new and veteran chanters to share their experiences.

Jaya Sri Vrinda dd: I have been chanting for five years. Not only do you feel more peaceful yourself, but others also notice. When I was in law school, I would say “Hello” to someone, and the person would reply, “How is it you are so calm?” Everyone in law school was in complete anxiety because of all the studying they had to do. I would explain the calmness came from meditation. I had a group of a few people who I taught mantra meditation. They were all very grateful because it freed them from so much stress.

Hladini Dasi: At New Vrindavan, I used to sit in the classes teaching the mantra to the guests. We would chant one round at such a slow rate, I would always leave after it was half over, and chant outside at a higher rate of speed. Tonight, however, I was able to chant the whole round at the slow rate and appreciate it.

Mick: I found because chanting the mantra was a new experience for me, it took all my concentration just to keep saying the words properly, so my mind was not able to focus on anything else.

We had three new people. All took beads, and Mick kindly gave a donation. None of the four who came to the first class returned, will any of these three? God only knows. I am thinking of asking the devotees who come to the class to pray to Him, in His feature of Lord Caitanya, for the new people to take up the chanting and to continue attending the class. They can only benefit by doing so!

Harinama at Gasparilla Pirate Festival


For the third year, Hare Krishna devotees from Gainesville, Alachua, and Tampa chanted Hare Krishna at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa.

As usual there were a lot of people who were really intoxicated, and too many people were dressed in a risque way. But more people danced with us than previously.






I held the mantra sign much of the time.



Some people just appear really happy to have encountered the Hare Krishnas.





Others took pleasure playing the instruments.

  

  
Some tried to chant, reading the mantra from a card.


When Damodar Prasad Prabhu led, some people really got into dancing.


Once Hladini Dasi swang a young lady around


and then offered her some literature.

 
There were some really wonderful comments:

One young man said, “I feel both confused and enlightened.”
I was not sure what he meant, and replied, “This world is a confusing place.” Then I added, “But by hearing the spiritual vibration everything becomes clear.”
He said some words in agreement, and concluded by saying, “You have opened up a whole new world to me. Thank you.” That was the most positive comment I have heard on harinama in some time.

Hladini Dasi overheard a girl saying to her friends about the devotees, “They are here every year, every year! Awesome! They are the best part!”

We sang as we returned to our cars, and one young man said to us, “Thank you for playing.”

The Tampa nama hatta devotees made a terrific lunch for all the devotees, and we were so happy because it was 4:30 p.m., and we were all hungry from all the singing and dancing.

Except for a few devotees who found the degradation too much of a distraction, many of us rejoiced in seeing so many people happy to hear the holy name and happy to dance with the devotees, some even expressing words of appreciation. We look forward to representing Lord Caitanya and His sankirtana mission in Tampa for Gasparilla again next year. 

Thanks to Hladini Dasi, who took photos while I was holding the mantra sign.

Krishna Club at University of North Florida

As I have chanted Hare Krishna on the campus of the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville several times a year for several years, I try to go to their Krishna Club meetings at least once a month. Tulasi-priya dd, who along with Ekendra Prabhu, now live in Jacksonville and regular contribute to the program, suggested I speak on the univeral nature of bhakti. Many regulars came to the program along with three new students, all friends from Tallahassee who began going to UNF this semester. I was happy to see all three new students were adventurous enough to chant in the lively kirtana led by Ekendra Prabhu on guitar. Kayla, one of the regular attenders, has the bells that the belly dancers use, which she puts on to dance in the kirtana. She also brings instruments and bells for others. Amrita Keli dd encourages the regular attenders to introduce the chanting and the prasadam, spiritual food, to the newcomers. She also plans to engage them in doing the fifteen minutes of yoga at the beginning of the program.

While giving examples of bhakti in different traditions I mentioned I was brought up as a Quaker. During the prasadam after the lecture and chanting, Hannah, one of the new students, mentioned she was a Quaker. Outside New York State, I have only attended one Quaker meeting in the world, and that was the one Hannah attended in Tallahassee, and I knew a couple of Hannah’s Quaker friends, one who would come to the Tallahassee temple on occasion and another I would see on the campus at Florida State University. Hannah as a vegetarian could appreciate that vegetarianism is an important part of pacifism, and it is really not possible to live in peace as long as we commit the violence of killing animals, a truth that not all the Quakers appreciate. She and her friends liked the program and said they would be back. Hannah also expressed interested in buying some books.

Laura, who lives at Krishna House and who was the first president of our Krishna Club, before graduating from a masters program at UNF, came with us and was happy to catch up with all her old friends who are still involved with the club. I arranged to chant with some students on the campus next Tuesday and Wednesday when I return to Jacksonville for a couple days. So on the whole it was a wonderful program and a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.

Jagai and Madhai Play

For three years, Arjuna Prabhu has been desiring to do a play for the Friday night program at Krishna House. Now by the assistance of Kaliyaphani Prabhu from the UK, it actually happened. Krishna House devotees did a play called the “Deliverance of Jagai and Madhai.The students took their parts seriously and practiced a lot, and the result was powerful. That pastime in which the drunken brothers are delivered by tolerant and merciful Lord Nityananda Prabhu is especially captivating when presented as a drama, and everyone felt in a good mood as a result. Arjuna Prabhu and his friend who played the two drunks did a great job. Vaishnava, born of Hare Krishna parents from New Vrindavan, did very well as Lord Nityananda. There were a couple of guests coming to our program for the first time, and they were clearly impressed and attracted.

The whole play is on YouTube (http://youtu.be/bk44nuzjEf0):



Here are photos from a few scenes:

Haridas Thakur and Lord Nityananda spread the holy name.


They encounter the drunken Jagai and Madhai.


The drunks are reveling in madness.

 

Madhai hurts Lord Nityananda, thus enraging Lord Caitanya, but
Lord Nityananda begs Lord Caitanya to be merciful.                  


 

He agrees, if Madhai surrenders to
Lord Nityananda, and so he does.

 

The play ends with everyone chanting Hare Krishna.


And after the play, we continued chanting Hare Krishna.

Devotees would swing other devotees around as we chanted.

 
One new girl asked me if there were any more pastimes of these divine avatars, and I told her about Lord Caitanya bringing His devotee’s dead son back to life to discourse on transmigration of the soul and planting a mango seed, which immediately grew to a mature tree, producing fruits for the refreshment of His chanting party. I also told how Lord Caitanya would use His omniscience to tell the servers which type of food each devotee wanted more of. In general, the Lord uses His omnipotence and omniscience to please His devotees. She stayed talking to Hladini Dasi till after most people had left.

Parmesvara Prabhu on Book Distribution


Some important principles:

1. Leaving everyone with a favorable expression.

Often someone I treated pleasantly who did not take a book, did take a book in the future, because I had originally treated them in a very nice way.

2. Tolerance.

A really important part of book distribution is to understand it is for our purification. If we have another motive than our purification, then we will not get the full experience. If we consider that no matter what happens to us, it is Krishna’s doing and therefore perfect, and we actually say, “Perfect,” when confronted with a challenge, then we will find we remain in a much more positive consciousness.

Comment by Satyahit Prabhu: On traveling book distribution, we used to go to different peoples’ homes. We would cook a feast in their kitchens and stay over night. That is how Bhakti Marga Swami became a devotee.

Srila Prabhupada said to flatter people like anything. I myself try to say three positive things to them in the thirty seconds or so I talk to them.

Our desire is to be instruments in the hands of the previous teachers. Our desire is to attain Krishna prema, love for Krishna.
We can always try to please God, in all circumstances. You do not have control of the results, of the weather, or of the people you meet.

It is not our duty to make sure they become Krishna consciousness, but we are responsible to try. Trying is the perfection. It is not proficiency or results, but simply to try is the perfection. Sometimes we find when we feel most unqualified, we do the best. And conversely, when we feel most qualified we do worse.

The final of Lord Caitanya’s eight prayers is good to remember: “I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly in His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.”

Sometimes I have had one of the best days when I was completely exhausted. I prayed to Krishna and did not expect anything, and I had one of my best days.

I know some people who read Srila Prabhupada’s arrival address in America in Science of Self-Realization before they distribute books. There are four key points.
D – Desire that the people be delivered.
U – Feel yourself the most unqualified.
T – Beg Krishna, “Make me your tool.
Y – Tell Krishna, “I have full faith in Your holy name.”

All our anarthas are like a virus in our computer, and remembering the above four points, resets our system.

Read an hour a day and be steady with your service, and if you have difficulty, remember trying is the perfection.

By giving Krishna, you will get Krishna.

If you have the real thing, devotion to God, by doing sadhana [your spiritual practice], then you will be hard to resist.

The difference between a fighter and a prize fighter is that a prize fighter gets back up.

Realizing 70% of your fears are unfounded by seeing someone doing book distribution and having a good recipe, makes it possible for you overcome resistance to wanting to go out on book distribution.

comment by Caitanya: I use a line from Vaisesika Prabhu regarding dealing with Christians. Tell them, “Great. We need more people of faith like you out here.” Then send them on their way.

Self realization is a great word. Everyone can relate to that. “Transcendental” is also a good word.

Having a good morning and evening program, and serving during the day, as Srila Prabhupada recommended, will fulfill all your desires.

I had a dream in which I went to touch Srila Prabhupada to get his blessings, and he talked to me. He wanted me to stop someone to preach to. I went to a place where people were moving more slowly. A guy came up to me, asking for a Science of Self-Realization. I sold him one. He gave three dollars. I said, “My spiritual teacher wants to talk to you.” He gave a strange expression, and I turned and saw Srila Prabhupada had gone. From that dream I came to understand that by distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, I am giving him people to preach to.

It is alright to go out there in bad consciousness. I do it all the time. But after some time of doing distribution, that loving feeling returns.

Say to Muslims: “Allah Akbar. This book will tell you how to love Allah.”
Say to Christians: “Stay Christian. That’s what the book says. That is alright. Learn how to love God more. Christ said he had more to teach you.”

It is not a religion. It is a science. The science of self-realization.

Hardly anyone says those little nice things at the end of the conversation so that can really leave a good impression.

comment by Caitanya: Vallabha Prabhu would always tell me to approach everyone because you do not know who may be interested.

Their negativity is their problem.

You can accept gift cards. 25% of my income is from gift cards. If you cannot use them, there is a company that buys them and gives you 70% of their value.

If you learn to have a grip on the book, they will not walk off with it.

If you ask for $20, they may give you $10. If you ask for $10, they may give you $5.

If they say, “I am a Christian,” “I am an atheist,” “I am Satanist,” or whatever, just say, “I respect that.”

Just say, “People just take one and give a donation.”

Praise them for what they have invested their time in.

With a group, stand in the middle of them, and try to approach the leader unless he does not appear interested, and in that case, approach the most interested person.

If you have a temple in the town, you should be especially nice to the people who you distribute books to.

People are inclined not to take books, so do not give them an opportunity to say “no” in talking with them.

Krishna House Scenes

On January 19, Alex made a nice cake for Caitanya’s birthday. After we sang the birthday song, Caitanya bowed down to the devotees.


She also took great pleasure serving the cake.


We continue to have plenty of devotees for the evening kirtana. One day Tony sang a lively tune, and everyone went wild as you can see in this video (http://youtu.be/DEPio_MYBek):


Another day, Prabhupada disciple, Lilananda Prabhu, joined us and led the Nrsimhadeva prayers. 


 To see the photos I did not include in this blog, click the link below:


Remember the photos I did not use appear after the ones that I used.

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture given on April 20, 1975, in Vrindavana:

Everyone has got love for Krishna within the heart. That is natural. But that love is distributed in different ways. How? Yasyatma-buddhih kunape dhatuke tri-sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih [Srimad-Bhagavtam 10.84.13]. This love has been distributed familywise, communitywise, nationwise, countrywise, like that. So this love has to be concentrated, converted to be love of Krishna. That is required. Then everything is perfect. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 3:

Because the impersonalists cannot appreciate the spiritual happiness of association and the exchange of loving affairs with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, their ultimate goal is to become one with the Lord.”

. . . anyone who has any desire or aspiration for satisfying his senses by becoming more and more important, either in the material sense or in the spiritual sense, cannot actually relish the really sweet taste of devotional service. Srila Rupa Gosvami has therefore compared possessing these bhukti (material) and mukti (liberation) desires with being influenced by the black art of a witch: in both cases one is in trouble. Bhukti means material enjoyment, and mukti means to become freed from material anxiety and to become one with the Lord. These desires are compared to being haunted by ghosts and witches, because while these aspirations for material enjoyment or spiritual oneness with the Supreme remain, no one can relish the actual transcendental taste of devotional service.”

. . . in the Third Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Chapter Twenty-five, verse 36, Kapiladeva has advised His mother, Devahuti, as follows: ‘My dear mother, My pure devotees are charmed by seeing My different forms, the beauty of My face, the structure of My body so enchanting. My laughing, My pastimes and My glance appear to them so beautiful that their minds are always absorbed in thoughts of Me and their lives are dedicated fully unto Me. Although such people do not desire any kind of liberation or any kind of material happiness, still I give them a place among My associates in the supreme abode.’”

from Bhagavad-gita 10.12–13, purport:

Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and one should always meditate upon Him and enjoy one’s transcendental relationship with Him.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23–24, purport:

The Lord has unlimited transcendental qualities and opulences, and one who feels influenced by the Lord’s qualities in various activities offers prayers to the Lord. In this way he becomes successful.”

If one simply continues to think that he is an eternal servant of Krishna, even without performing any other process of devotional service, he can attain full success, for simply by this feeling one can perform all nine processes of devotional service.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 7:

In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana it is said that one who observes fasting on the Ekadasi day is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in pious life. The basic principle is not just to fast, but to increase one’s faith and love for, Govinda or Krishna. The real reason for observing fasting on Ekadasi is to minimize the demands of the body and to engage our time in the service of the Lord by chanting or performing similar service. The best thing to do on fasting days is to remember the pastimes of Govinda and to hear His holy name constantly.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9:

Even if one does not accept all the Vaishnava principles, but still takes the remnants of foodstuff offered to Krishna, or krishna-prasada, he will gradually become qualified to rise to the platform of a Vaishnava [devotee of the Supreme Lord].”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.4, given in Vrindavana on September 8, 1975:

If you become benefited by neglectfully chanting Hare Krishna, then how much you will be benefited if you carefully chant Hare Krishna. That should be the ideal.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.8.11, purport:

Civilized men who follow the system of varnashrama, especially those of the vaishya class, who engage in agriculture and trade, must give protection to the cows. Unfortunately, because people in Kali-yuga are mandah, all bad,and sumanda-matayah, misled by false conceptions of life, they are killing cows in the thousands. Therefore they are unfortunate in spiritual consciousness, and nature disturbs them in so many ways,especially through incurable diseases like cancer and through frequent wars and among nations. As long as human society continues to allow cows to be regularly killed in slaughterhouses, there cannot be any question of peace and prosperity.”

from a letter to Satsvarupa:

The police and the war resisters appear to be on different sides, but because both are in favor of meat eating and slaughterhouses, they are actually on the same side. Until people give up sinful activities like meat eating, there will always be war.

from a lecture on a Brahma-samhita verse:

Why the cow? Why not some other animal? Cow protection benefits the whole human society. If brahminical culture and cow protection is there, there will peace in human society.

from a conversation with Mr. C. Hennis of the United Nations’ International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 31, 1974:

Wherever I go, when I ask any gentleman, ‘What is the purpose of life?’ he cannot explain, That means there is no truly intelligent class. Nobody knows life’s real, spiritual purpose – realizing the self and realizing God.”

from Bhagavad-gita 1.1, purport:

One will find in the Bhagavad-gita all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gita.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:


Today’s drawing shows three bhaktas dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are merry and prancing.
The image of the early ISKCON
devotees was that they were
the “Happy Haris.” They
were always photographed
in the act of bliss with bright
faces and smiling. But
as time went by we admitted
we weren’t constantly happy.
We were neophytes, and we
struggled with
maya.
So a more relative picture
of a devotee has evolved.
But still
whenever one takes
part in congregational chanting
the blues are chased away.
The singing of the
Hare Krishna mantra works wonders
on the mind. Krishna
is the name and in the heart.
The harinama prevails in happiness.”


The harinama movement brings
out the spontaneous spirit
of a person. It
is the original nature
and is evoked by
chanting. It breaks
up the material modes
of nature and brings
one to the transcendental platform.
While these men are
chanting Hare Krishna
they forget their material problems
and come directly
in touch with Krishna consciousness.
They even forget
their material bodies
and live as spirit souls.”


Today’s drawing shows four 
bhaktas dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
One has a brown face
and wears white clothing,
and the rest wear bright
multicolored sport clothes.
They are all good friends.
They share the activities
of
harinama and
this bonds them
as soul mates. They
may have different
personalities and
social backgrounds,
but the fact that they
come together
and chant Hare Krishna
makes them dear to
one another.
This is the basis for real intimacy:
chanting
harinama
in public for the
benefit of the fallen souls.”


Once Prabhupada was asked
‘What do your devotees do
for recreation?” He
replied, ‘We are chanting
and dancing. We
are taking nice
prasadam.
Practically all our activities
are recreation. Can you
name something that
is not recreation?’”

Jayadvaita Swami:

The universal form is seen by many to be the most important part of the Bhagavad gita, but actually the message of Chapter Eleven is that the two-handed form of Krishna is supreme.

Our hands are actually Krishna’s hands because they all belong to Krishna, so how many hands does Krishna have!

Modern experiments in remote viewing by the CIA and others show that it is possible to view things at a distance as Sanjaya was doing by viewing the battle at Kuruksetra from Hastinapura, the site of the modern Delhi.

Mystic power means “power that you do not have.” Srila Prabhupada said that. A dog can hear sounds that we cannot. Trees can eat through their feet, which we cannot do.
The whole Bhagavad gita depends on the mystic power of Sanjaya.

Q: Do we see differently according to our position?
A: Yes. A layman sees only barren land; a geologist sees oil is likely to be underneath.

As the form of death is included in the universal form, everyone on the battlefield meets the universal form, but not in the same way as Arjuna.

If something is in one place, it is not spread out, and if it is spread out, it is not in one place. Thus the universal form is inconceivable.

Q (by a devotee to Srila Prabhupada): Was Arjuna shown just one universe?
A (by Srila Prabhupada): One universe is enough for you.

Prabhupada gave the example that a son may be terrified seeing his father, who is a policeman, firing guns in the line of duty. Here his fear temporarily covers his affection.

Q: Can you give me an example of ghastliness?
A: Two brahmacaris talking about the disgusting nature of the human body might be appear ghastly, but it is conducive to detachment. That, of course, would be incompatible with a conjugal relationship: “Oh my love, your body is composed of skin, blood, muscle, etc.”

Service is open to everyone.

The amorous relationship is an extreme manifestation with Krishna. The gopis are not trying to enjoy sense gratification but to serve.

The cowherd boyfriends are not just buddies who want to have a good time joking and hanging out in a field. They are trying to serve Krishna.

The nondevotees use Krishna’s energy to have a happy life. The devotees use Krishna’s energy to please Krishna.

The devotee gets the happiness the servant is entitled to. And when the master is unlimited, that enjoyment of the servant is unlimited.

A ten-year-old boy cannot understand what sex is like, but after puberty he can understand it completely. Similarly we cannot understand our relationship with Krishna at present, but after liberation it will be clear to us.

comment by Kalakantha: My chaplain friends, when fired up, make plans for welfare activities. We are so fortunate to know about service to Krishna.
response by Jayadvaita Swami: They want to serve, but their target of service is the wrapper [the body of the spirit soul and not the soul itself].

I am tiny, and even when perfect, my knowledge will be tiny compared to that of Krishna. We are full of knowledge and Krishna is full of knowledge, but we are small and He is great.

Q: How to take Srila Prabhupada’s views on social and political events?
A: Understand the point he is making, and do not be distracted by his differing in inconsequential details.

I was convinced of Srila Prabhupada’s political philosophy after a few years, but after 9/11 I was fully convinced of it. Seeing the role of the U.S. Government in that, I could not see democracy in the same way again.

There is an Indian man in charge of the building the Lagos metro. Previously he had done one in Dubai. There the king said he wanted three years hence on his birthday to get into a train and to go, and all government and business enterprises cooperated, and so the project was done on time. But in Lagos, after three years, 3% of the project was finished. The money was misappropriated for other things. When the man in charge expressed frustration, the governor said, “You are getting paid. Why are you worried?”

Prabhupada reads the Gita according to the message of the whole book. He is criticized by scholars for that, but that is his glory. Now in academic circles, Barbara Stoler Miller’s translation has become more popular than others, and she concludes that the Gita is a bhakti text, and now the scholars are agreeing, “Yes, it is primarily a bhakti text.” Previously they considered Srila Prabhupada’s stress on bhakti to be a sectarian interpretation.

The scholars are aspiring to be impartial observers, but they do not know they themselves are being impartially observed.

Caturatma Prabhu:

You are very fortunate to have Kalakantha Prabhu very attentively looking after you all. It has not always been like that.

The Third Canto was written in the prime of Srila Prabhupada’s life, and he covers many important and interesting topics in it.

How we progress though difficulties and complications determines how we progress in devotional service.

If we are surrendered, our distresses will be reduced.

I would always tell my children when they went through their teenage challenges, “The only thing that can hold the material energy at bay is Krishna.”

Usually wealth is a source of pride, but although Ambarisa Prabhu is incredibly wealthy, there are few devotees who are more humble.

Bhumi devi, Mother Earth, feels the weight of those appearing on the planet who do not behave properly.

Madhumangala considered Krishna held up the hill by his brahminical power.

Sudarsana [the effulgent disc weapon of Lord Vishnu] wanted to play a role in Krishna’s sweet Vrindavan pastimes and so with his effulgence he dried up the torrents of rain as soon as they hit Govardhan Hill.

Srila Prabhupada told us that this Krishna consciousness is going to spread, and the question is, “What are you going to do to help it?”

We have to feel that Krishna is going to protect us to remain engaged in devotional service.

By our sadhana we are invoking Krishna, who protects us from the material energy.

When Vidura was inquiring about the devotees of the Lord from Uddhava, he would remember one of their good qualities.

Srila Prabhupada requested that the devotees come to Mayapur each year to recharge their batteries so they could preach in the West.

I lived in a commune before I became a devotee. There were eleven members in the commune, nine became devotees, seven still are, and five live in Alachua. I have to be on guard not to offend them thinking of them familiarly because of our previous relationship.

Duryodhana was known to be offense personified. We must avoid following in his footsteps.

Anyone who has been a parent knows that you cannot raise children without consequences for misbehavior. In this way, we can see calamities as God-given for our rectification.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

In the Vietnam War, 50,000 Americans were killed, and every year on the road, 50,000 American are killed in automobile accidents.

If our family engages us in maya’s service, they are maya. But if we can engage them in Krishna’s service, then they are not. The devotee is supposed to love everyone, so why not our family members? To ignore them is a neophyte mentality.

It is valuable to accept ourselves and understand that Krishna accepts ourselves too.

If we are too determined to serve Krishna is a certain way, we may not be able to surrender to Krishna’s plan which may be different than ours. Thus we must be open-minded to surrender to Krishna.

If you resolve the problems of your life, people will be attracted to you and ask you how you did it.

Life is a series of decisions, and how we make those decisions determines what kind of people we are. As devotees, we have to factor Krishna into all our decisions.

We must come to the conviction that Krishna is real and it is a gradual series of steps by which one comes to that conviction.

The strategy of dealing with distress is:
1. accept it is our karma
2. remember the Lord
3. expect the Lord’s mercy.

We can accept Bhagavad-gita 5.29 in a personal way. We should offer our activities, whatever they are, to Krishna. We should understand that Krishna owns everything. We should understand Krishna is our friend.

It is the dharma of the grhastha to make money. If we are always worried about that, then we should be in that ashram.

Comment (by Valentina): I always believed that God would never give you more than you can handle until today, from hearing your class. Now I see Krishna will give us more than we can handle just so we will turn to Him.

Srila Prabhupada liked the United States motto which appears on the currency “E pluribus unum,” or “From many, one,” or as Srila Prabhupada would say, “Unity in diversity.” In fact, Srila Prabhupada said the agenda of the Mayapur meetings of the GBC should be to discuss this “unity in diversity.”

If we say, “I am not so sure about this Krishna,” Krishna says about us, “I am not so sure about them.”

At least we should realize our petty fault finding is not a revelation from God.

If someone does something that annoys us, we should consider whether the person is doing something that is against Srila Prabhupada’s principles, and if not, we should tolerate.

Feelings are realities, although they may not be based on realities.

Do not blame the agent of your karma.

One godbrother, when I ask him how he is doing, always says “Better than I deserve.”

If someone does something that hurts you, it is better to say “I am concerned about . . .” rather than saying “You are wrong for doing . . .”

If you hear criticism about a devotee, it is best to make a positive comment about them, change the subject, or go away in order to protect your devotional mentality.

Nagaraja Prabhu:

from “Since God Was a Boy” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 48, No. 3:

When applied to theology, it [speculation] can provide seemly reasonable ideas about God, but will always be inconclusive. The simple reason: He’s a person, and we can never truly know anyone by guessing based on our observations. Intimate knowledge of people comes when they reveal themselves to us.”

Nanda Devi:

It is not enough to study the scriptures, we have to be able to discriminate between good and bad in practical life.

Becoming free from fault finding is a door we have to pass through to enter the house of bhakti.

How can we give up fault finding? By becoming humble.

How can we increase our humility?
By considering our own shortcomings.
By rendering service.
By hearing from advanced devotees.
By noticing good qualities in others.

Desiring to kill his enemies, the demon Vrkasura asked for the benediction that whoever’s head he would touch would crack. What a troublesome benediction! That means he could never touch his son’s head or his wife’s head.

Urmila Devi gave a seminar on plan making, and the first item was to determine what is in your control.

We are not in control of other people and their qualities, but we can control our own mind. That, however, I found is not easy to do because we are so habituated to acting in a certain way.

But by the mercy of the guru one can become free from the fault finding tendency.

The great acaryas [previous spiritual teachers] bring us from the state of hopelessness to having the highest hope. The hopelessness comes from realizing one’s inability to achieve success on our own, and the highest hope comes from realizing the reality of the Lord’s mercy.

The ways the Lord bestows His mercy on us are sometimes unexpected. Actually His ways are often unexpected.

Sometimes different people get different things out of a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam. This is because Lord wants to teach them different things in the heart. And if they do not hear it in the class, He will tell them again later in the day.

Your homework is: Within the next hour, you have to say something encouraging to someone.

comment by Gopal : Kalakantha Prabhu says it is a great relief to realize that it is not our job to judge everyone.

comment by Krishna-kripa das: For a Kartika vow one year I considered the devotional activities we regularly perform are so powerful, the best vow would to give up criticizing the devotees, a great offense that keeps these regular devotional activities from bearing their fruit of love for God. I tried to avoid criticizing devotees, even in my mind. I found it was a difficult habit to break, but I was able to make progress. By the end of the month, although I had not attained love for God, I felt a lot lighter and less burdened.

Another reason not to criticize is that we can see only externally with our eyes and cannot understand the internal consciousness of a person and may make incorrect assessments of it.

Q (by Nanda Devi) What can we say about Vrtrasura’s examples of the chicks waiting for their moms, the calves waiting for the cows, and the wives waiting for their husbands?
A (by Dvijamani dd): They are helpless.
A (by Camilla): They are hankering.
A (by Rasaraja Prabhu): They are one-pointed.

Wherever we are doing, we should be doing to please Krishna. This is something that is very simple and doable by us.

One acarya advises meditating on grasping the line on the Lord’s lotus feet to be pulled out of the material existence.

Verses 6.11.24–27 in Srimad-Bhagavatam are very powerful prayers of longing for Krishna, the final one being especially wonderful.

comment by Valentina: Bhakti Caru Swami explains that bhakti is to bring us to understand how much Krishna loves us.

In the pastime of Gopa Kumar returning to Goloka Vrindavan, what caused him to faint in ecstasy was realizing how much Krishna loved him.

comment by Caitanya: Indra and the demigods had to suffer so much in this pastime because they offended their spiritual master. That is a lesson for us.

comment by Gopal Prabhu: Indradyumna Swami said, “We cannot look down our nose at anyone because we are just now being pulled out of the muck.”

Ranjit Prabhu:

To know and love of God is the essence of Krishna consciousness.

We are suffering in this world, and we are born in ignorance. By association with family and friends we learn some way of dealing with the suffering we encounter in this world.

Generally people want to advance or enjoy life, mostly in a material way.

Krishna teaches Arjuna that his duty is more important than sentimental attachments to family or friends, and that duty should be done as an offering to God.

When Krishna explains He taught this knowledge of yoga to the deity of the sun millions of years before, Arjuna has a doubt, and Krishna responds by saying they have both had many births, but because His form is transcendental, He can remember all, while Arjuna cannot. He advises that one approach a guru to learn truth about Himself.

Chapter Seven of Bhagavad-gita does not begin with a question by Arjuna. Krishna begins by promising to reveal everything that one needs to know in this chapter. He explains how he is origin and dissolution of everything, and in fact, everything comes from Himself and rests upon Him as pearls are strung on a thread.

Those who want quick results and who worship demigods are like the day traders on the stock market who do not care for the economy as a whole and just want to come out ahead at the end of the day.

Krishna does not say to have no other gods but Him, but rather He facilitates the worship of demigods by making the worshipers’ faith steady and ultimate rewarding them the results of their worship.’

The desire and hate in this world are distortions of the pure emotions in the spiritual world.

We learn that piety will give us a better life, but still we are foolishly attached to the insignificant enjoyment of this world. In the Mahabharata, there is a scene after the battle where Duryodhana is enjoying in heaven after dying in the Battle of Kuruksetra more than he would had he won the earthly kingdom.

Sesa Prabhu:

I would say a transcendentalist dies a purposeful death.

Some people think death has no purpose, breaking all their relationship with this material world. Thus death is absurd for them.

Others think in terms of leaving some legacy.

Others hope to go to heaven rather than hell.

A devotee has a plan for success for death.
What might be elements of that plan?
Leaving your body in the association of devotees chanting the holy name.
Leaving your body in Mayapur.

Pundarika Prabhu, who spend some time in Alachua and spent his later years in New Talavan, went to Vrndavana and lived in a hospice. His friends took up a collection to send him there. Radhanath Swami and Indradyumna Swami visited him there, and he left his body there not too long ago.

Plan of life. (Bg. 8.5–8)

Think of Krishna, and then do your study or your work dedicated to him.

Method. (Bg. 8.9–13)

These verses tell how to fix our mind on Krishna. Bg. 8.9 describes Krishna as the maintainer of all. We have to see beyond our immediate situation that Krishna is maintaining us.

Goal. (Bg. 8.14–15)

To remember Krishna at the end and go to Krishna.

One Prabhupada disciple who distributed books for many years left the association of devotees and became an architect and worked for many years, ultimately in Orlando. In later years he got some illness, and decided he had wasted his life, so he returned to the association of devotees and would regular distributely books. He actually left his body while out on sankirtana.

We don’t die. We just go to another place in the association of Krishna.

We can develop relationships with the members of the disciplic succession who have left this world long ago.

We just have to be in the right consciousness, and we can have the association of those we knew before in this life who have since departed.

Bhakti Tirtha Swami said, “If miracles are not happening in our life every day, we are doing something wrong.”

Our experience is that it is more difficult to cross over ocean of material existence than stepping over the puddle created by a calf’s hoofprint.

Contradictions can exist in the Supreme Lord that are bewildering.

Krishna could have lifted a mountain ten times bigger than Govardhan Hill with His spiritual power.

Krishna uses His inconceivable power to increase the love of His devotees. That he exchanged with all the residents of Vrindavan continually for a week is inconceivable.

Krishna danced with billions of gopis, and created a situation so each gopi experienced that she was with Krishna alone. That is inconceivable.

For several hours Yasoda was getting more rope to tie up Krishna, but it was always two fingers two short. That is inconceivable. Then when He allowed Yasoda to bind Him, that was also inconceivable.

Q (by Sesa Prabhu): Have you seen any miracles?
comment by Bhisma: I was with two bhaktas both named Blake, outside the kitchen in New Talavan. One of them said, “See Krishna in the cloud!” I was doubtful about this, but I looked up and there in the sky was a perfect murti [form] of Krishna. Not that you had to imagine, “This is Krishna’s flute, this is Krishna’s head, etc.” It was there for ten minutes and then gradually dissipated.”

Caitanya Carana Prabhu describes that the devotees endeavor and Krishna’s reciprocation create a situation for miracles to happen.

Narada does not tell Mrgari, the hunter, to stop killing animals but just to kill them completely instead of leaving them wounded and writhing in pain. In the way, he empathized with Mrgari’s situation as a hunter.

Narada used his mystic power, not for his own pleasure, but to show the hunter how he would suffer in future lives, in order to inspire him to reform.

In the case of Dhruva, Narada first tested the determination of Dhruva by advising him to go home to his mother.

Narada, out of compassion for Dhruva’s father, told him that Dhruva was performing austerities in the forest to realize God and was nearly perfect.

Dhruva, upon returning home after attaining spiritual perfection, did not criticize his father for his materialistic lifestyle.

When you think about it, Narada Muni’s ecstatic stretching which caused his brahmana thread to break, was very extensive as a brahmana thread is very loose, and even to make it taut by stretching it, what to speak of breaking it, is quite a feat.

comment by Clayton: Do you Narada’s hair color? Blond. See Srimad-Bhagavtam 10.70.32, “Ĺšukadeva Gosvami said: When the kings’ messenger had thus spoken, the sage of the demigods, Narada, suddenly appeared. Bearing a mass of golden matted locks on his head, the supremely effulgent sage entered like the brilliant sun.”

Tamohara Prabhu:

Without cow products we cannot properly worship the deity.

The cow symbolizes the earth, which nourishes us, and the bull symbolizes religion.

Eating sanctified food, and especially milk, plays a key role in being able to take spiritual life seriously.

Srila Prabhupada said the world food shortage was caused by producing nuts and bolts in factories instead of producing food.

For ourselves we can practice devotional service to Krishna in any setting, but those who value the mission of Lord Caitanya must consider how to create settings to make it easier for the people in general to take to the practice of devotional service.

At New Vrindavan they have made the decision to only use milk from protected cows for the devotees and the deities daily needs.

Simple living, protecting cows, and Vedic culture are meant to please Krishna. Otherwise they have no special importance.

comment by Lilananda Prabhu: There was an article in the New York Times a few years back stated that returning to family farms would solve the economic problem.

comment by a devotee who works at the University of Florida: We did a study at University of Florida showing the fat in cow’s milk actually complete protects against colon cancer.

comment by Ajamila Prabhu: There was a farm near me with eight or nine hundred cows. They would milk the cows in batches of fifty by machine, and after they were done all of them had blood on their udders. It was so distressing to see that I stopped drinking milk because of it.

Madhava Prabhu [from Alachua]:

Krishna’s final instructions to Uddhava are like many of final instructions that we hear in devotional service:

Always remembering Me, one should perform all his duties for Me without becoming impetuous. With mind and intelligence offered to Me, one should fix his mind in attraction to My devotional service.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.9.29)

Impetuously means quickly and without thought or care. Actually as the years go by, our chanting of the holy name should be done with more thought and with more care.

Commenting on the verse from the Padma Purana which advises always remembering and never forgetting Krishna, Srila Prabhupada explains we do this by chanting Hare Krishna sixteen times around our beads each day without fail.

Bhurijana Prabhu’s book, Japa, I find to be one of the most insightful books on chanting. He advises to focus on a single mantra, and even on the first “Hare.”

By taking shelter of Krishna, through the chanting, we will find our daily duties to be not so difficult.

When we go home, we may have to internalize devotional practices that our family would not appreciate. Prahlada Maharaja was in a situation of complete adversity, but he was able to successfully take shelter of Krishna through constant remembrance of Him.

Prana Govinda Prabhu:

from a comment during my lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.31.1–3 in Alachua:

According to Sanatana Goswami’s commentary on the Tenth Canto, Narada encouraged Laksmi to visit Vrndavana. At first she resisted, saying she was just happy serving Narayana, but Narada persisted. She went and she became so attracted by the sweetness, she did not want to leave. Krishna said there is no place for Laksmi in Vrndavana. Thus Laksmi volunteered to reside in Vrndavana as a sweeper, and Krishna accepted her. Often her tears would moisten the dust before she could sweep it.

Parmesvara Prabhu:

Lord Shiva is a personalist and wants everyone to become a devotee of Lord Vishnu,

When we endeavor for sense gratification we are like moths rushing into a fire.

When I decided to do full time book distribution, I stopped in the middle of working on my master thesis. I was worried that my professor, who had invested so much time and money in me, would be upset. I told him that I wanted to become a full time Hare Krishna and distribute books and that was perfectly OK with him. Also my family had no problems with my decision.

Once I distributed two cases of books (400 books) to a group of school children in Mexico for just a few small donations. Later in the day, a lady who looked like an angel, gave me enough money to cover it.

Harinamananda Prabhu was driving back to the temple at 11:30 p.m., and he passed an apartment with a few lights still on. He stopped the car, and distributed books to the last people of the town who were still awake.

We need more pure devotees in this movement.

Radha Kunda Devi Dasi heard devotees say that Prabhupada promised that Lord Caitanya will come to take you back if you distribute books. Nirguna Prabhu, who distributed books in America for decades, was leaving his body in Mayapur, so she decided she wanted to be there and see Lord Caitanya. Near the end of his life, Nirguna asked to go to Govardhan Hill. Because he was in Mayapur, that was not practical, but someone gave him a Govardhan sila which he held to his chest. Once he started talking with someone, and they asked him who it was, and he said, “It is Lord Caitanya, and He is saying it is time to go and to take the Govardhan sila with you.” Then Nirguna left his body, and the Govardhan sila was nowhere to be found in the room.

Sundari Gopi Devi:

Krishna mentions 82 exhibitions of his opulence in Chapter Ten of Bhagavad-gita.

Krishna’s opulence is limitless, and the nectar in hearing of it is also unlimited.

Nanda Kumar Prabhu:

When Gajendra prayed to the Supreme Lord, Lord Vishnu appeared and not the demigods, and Vishnu protected him by killing the crocodile. It seems Lord Vishnu was partial to Gajendra, but the crocodile was liberated by being killed by the Lord, and thus Lord Vishnu benefited them both.

Animals gradually rise life after life, one species at a time, but they can be benefited by hearing the holy name.

Vaishnava Prabhu:

In India most people consider that Krishna emanates from Vishnu rather than that Krishna is the source of all incarnations.:

Q (by Diwakar): What are there so many people in this world who are not Krishna conscious?
A: It is like in a prison, you can expect to find practically all criminals. Perhaps one or two has a change of heart and gets out for good behavior, but it is rare.

If you go to see a 3-D movie, they give you 3-D glasses. Similarly Krishna gave Arjuna divine eyes so he could see His universal form.

Hanan Prabhu:

Psychologists say those who gradually work through their fears in a supportive environment become fearless, but this purport says that only a devotee can be fearless.

Q (by Hanan to the audience): Who is most fearless?
A: (by different devotees in the audience) Srila Prabhupada
The Pandavas
Bhima
Abhimanyu
Prahlada Maharaja
Hanuman
Kunti
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Lord Caitanya
My dad
Ambarisa Maharaja

Stalin exhibited a certain type of fearlessness, refusing anesthesia while undergoing an operation. [But he was not completely fearless because he refused anesthesia fearing he might be killed while under anesthesia!]

What are you afraid of?
Suffering.
The unknown.
A painful death.
Forgetting Krishna.
Time.

We are fearful when are material attachments are threatened.

One commentator says that Arjuna did not have so much difficulty killing his friends and relatives as he did in killing his attachment to them.

The first thing Pariksit Maharaja did was to not retaliate.
The second thing was to renounce everything.

One Ayurvedic doctor told me that formerly when people got cancer they knew the body was temporary, and they would just go a secluded place and fast until death. After you do not eat or drink for a few days, you stop feeling the pain of the body.

Instead of thinking ”“I am in the center” and “the material energy should cooperate with me” and thus becoming frustrated, we must gradually come to the point of seeing I am the eternal servant of Krishna, and we try make choices that help develop that relationship.

Draupadi was the queen and she had five heroic husbands, but in the assembly when Dushasana tried to disrobe her, no one could help her but Krishna. When she completely realized that, she completely surrendered.

When we take shelter of Krishna, sometimes the external situation will not change, but Krishna will change our consciousness so we progress toward Him.

Alex:

[Introducing a kirtana.] This is a very sweet prayer. You believe in the power of prayer right?

Laura:

I think the yoga we have at the beginning really brought a lot of people to our Krishna Club at University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

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jivera ‘svarupa’ haya – krishnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krishnera ‘tatastha-shakti’ ‘bhedabheda-prakasa’
suryamsa-kirana, yaiche agni-jvala-caya
svabhavika krishnera tina-prakara ‘shakti’ haya

“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire. Krishna has three varieties of energy.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 20.108–109)