Thursday, March 27, 2014

Travel Journal#10.5: Mayapur, Rishikesh, Delhi

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 5
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2014, part one)
Mayapur, Rishikesh, Delhi
(Sent from Kolkata, India, on March 27, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

The first four days of March I stayed in Mayapur participating in Kirtan Mela, harinamas, and the elephant procession. Then I had a very eventful journey to Rishikesh with a lot of unexpected kirtana opportunities. In Rishikesh, Navina Nirada Prabhu had arranged a program of a week or so of up to six hours of harinama, book distribution, and prasadam distribution each day. Next I spent a couple days at ISKCON Punjabi Bagh in Delhi, chanting on the train, the train station, and temple the day I arrived and for three hours in Rohini with a group of devotees the day before Gaura Purnima. I also gave a lecture on Lord Caitanya, which some people really liked, and which you can hear at this link:

I share many, many beautiful quotes from Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures, excerpts from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s journal, notes on lectures given in Mayapur by Lokanath, Niranjana, and Radhanath Swamis and Dravida Prabhu, and notes from lectures given in Rishikesh by Ekalavya, Janardana, Mahabhavi, and Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhus.

Thanks to Navin Shyam Prabhu (Philadelphia) for his kind donations from his federal and state tax refunds. Thanks to Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu (Dublin) for his kind donation and his purchasing of many clothes and other supplies to make up for what I lost by leaving my bag on a train. Thanks to Mohnish Goel (Delhi) for his kind donation and for assisting me at Punjabi Bagh. Thanks to Navin Nirada Prabhu for paying for the Radha-Madhava maha-prasadam I distributed to, from, and at Rishikesh. Thanks to Punjabi Bagh temple commander for the box of maha-prasadam sweets he gave me when I left.


March 28 – March 30 - Kolkata
March 31–April 13 - Mayapur 
April 15–16 - Mumbai 
April 17–24 - Dublin, Belfast, etc.
April 25 - London
April 26 - Kings Day, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
April 27–30: The Netherlands 
May 1–2: Manchester, England 
May 3–5: North UK Retreat  
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
Mayapur Kirtan Mela

To have many enthusiastic devotees from all over the world singing together in front of Panca-tattva is certainly a recipe for a successful event. The organizers did a good job trying to make it comfortable for everyone. For those who found it too crowded in the temple room, video of the event was displayed on TV monitors and projection screens in the courtyard. You could get as much drinking water as you wanted, whenever you wanted. At the end of the evening, there were bags of puffed rice, if you were hungry. I look forward to the new temple which will have more room to dance. Some of my friends wished the Kirtan Mela could go forever. I appreciate their glorious devotional sentiments. I am always physically exhausted by such events, so it is difficult for me to desire they go on forever, until I actually attain a spiritual body, although I like the chanting and dancing and to see others also engaged in it. 

Here devotees delighted in swinging each other.

They even danced while raised above the crowd by their friends.

The Vanipedia devotees displayed a poster listing 64 benefits from chanting Hare Krishna which Srila Prabhupada mentioned in his books. The list is also to be found on their web site, along with the context:

More Harinamas in Mayapur

The regular Mayapur Harinama Party, which I have been involved with many years, has a rickshaw with beautiful Gaura-Nitai deities, a harmonium, and a sound system. During the Mayapur Festival, additional devotees join their party from time to time. 

Here three girls take pleasure in dancing for Gaura-Nitai.

One time Prithu Prabhu sang with the Mayapur Harinama Party. 

Once an elephant passed by us.

My friend Deva Krishna Prabhu, a book distributor in America, brought his college graduate daughter from Florida to Mayapur for first time.

One time they joined the Mayapur Harinama Party. 

The world harinama party, with singer and accordion player, Syama Rasa Prabhu, also did harinama every day.

People would watch from the Chakra Building balcony above. Lots of people danced.

While moving through the Mayapur campus, the world harinama party met the Mayapur Harinama Party, doubling the ecstasy!

After passing them, we encountered the Padayatra harinama party with their oxen and cart with large Gaura-Nitai deities. All kinds of wild dancing ensued between the two parties. Thanks to Bhakta Brandon for taking the picture with me in it.

Mayapur Hati (Elephant) Procession

The festive Mayapur Hati (Elephant) Procession is part of Saturday night life in Mayapur in the winter. 

The small Radha-Madhava deities ride on the elephant.

The big Gaura-Nitai deities are on a cart pulled by two bulls.

This time some Chinese ladies danced in formation in front of the party.

 One beautiful feature of the festival is the colorful mandalas on the pathway made of dyes and flower petals.

My world harinama party friends participated in the kirtana this time, and they kept singing after the deities returned to the temple and the procession had ended. Lots of people danced to the music.

Maha Abhiseka of Panca-tattva

There was a quite a queue to watch the Maha Abhiseka (Great Bathing Ceremony) of the Panca-tattva on the tenth anniversary of their installation. The queue was at least half an hour long, stretching all the way over to Vamsi Bhavan. People in the queue could not view the abhiseka very long. It reminded me of viewing Balaji in Tirupati. Actually, there were some devotees from Tirupati in the queue, and I joked with them that this queue was insignificant compared to the 24-hour queues in Tirupati. Some people stayed inside the temple, once they got in, and they got a longer view. I just caught the bathing of the deities with water and drying off, but still it was satisfying. Then I stood outside the door of the Panca-tattva temple, in a place where you could see the deities and where some devotees were dancing, and I danced in back of them. 

While we were waiting in line to see the maha-abhiseka, several people brought us the tasty water made of dairy products, fruit juices, and sweeteners from the partially completed bathing ceremony to drink – a nice gesture of friendship that eased our waiting. Later also, people offered each other that caranamrita (bathing) water. The most striking thing is that there was a great feeling of purification after the event, as if a burden had been lifted from us, and the feeling continued that day and extended through the next. I shared that final perception with Krishna Ksetra Prabhu, who also agreed.

Bizarre Journey to Rishikesh

I booked a ticket from Bandel to Haridwar, and I made it to Nabadwip Dham station in time to catch the Katwa Bandel local train to Bandel so I thought I was doing really well. I had doubts about the platform for Bandel and asked the person who sold me the ticket, and he told me platform two. I recalled when I had come from Bandel on the same train on the way to Navadvipa that we had come to platform two, so I had a doubt that the train going in the other direction would be on the same track. When the next train came, I said “Bandel?” to the people and they indicated the affirmative, so I got on the train. One couple with Vaishnava tilaka, apparently returning home from pilgrimage helped me find a seat and situate my largest bag. I decided to play the harmonium and sing Hare Krishna for awhile and then the Gaura arati song. The lady especially appreciated both and sang along. Because it was dark and because I was playing the harmonium I was unable to monitor the stations that we passed. The couple got off at the next to last stop, and at the last stop I got off. I was shocked when the people told me were in Katwa, almost an hour in the wrong direction. 

I was so much in anxiety to find the next train to Bandel, I left with just three of my four items, leaving behind the largest, the bag with all my clothes. As I was boarding the train to Bandel realized this, and I went back and looked through the previous train in all the new carriages with the blue seats which I had been sitting in. I do not know why I could not find the bag. I looked twice, but when I returned to the Bandel train platform I found I missed it, and thus all hope of catching my train to Haridwar. I reported my lost bag to the police, and I decided to go to the internet cafe and check the alternative trains. In the process, I distributed maha-prasadam to those led me to the internet cafe and its owner as well. A lot of people said “Hare Krishna” to me when they saw me in Katwa. I found that the train my friends would be taking leaves from Howrah, five hours away. As I am not accustomed to staying in hotels, and I could not find a Hare Krishna temple or Gaudiya Math in Katwa on the internet, so I decided to try for a sleeper train, in hopes of sleeping the five hours to Howrah. It was too late to reserve a seat or bed, so I decided to buy a general ticket and upgrade it. Unfortunately, the train did not arrive until 1:00 a.m., an hour and a half late, and all the beds were allocated. While I was waiting for that train, a guy who was eager to “talk with an American” talked with me. In the course of talking, I explained how Katwa was a special place because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who he had known of, had accepted the renounced order of life, sannyasa. Actually I had never been to Katwa, and by accident I had come to this special city. Although no beds were available on the train, a railway policeman secured a seat for me, and I probably slept at most two of the five hours. After some people woke up and did not need their beds, I got half an hour of sleep in a free upper berth. At Howrah, I arrived just before 6:00 a.m. and found the booking office did not open until 8:00 a.m. I decided to take the bus to Fairlie Place where the international tourist ticket office is because that would give me more chance of getting a seat on the train my friends were traveling on. I arrived about 7:15 a.m. and sat on the steps playing Hare Krishna on the harmonium as others arrived to wait for the opening of the main booking office. I found the international tourist office did not open until 10:00 a.m., after the four-hour period prior to the train’s departure necessary to get a reservation. The Tatkal (emergency seats) were sold out, but there were five seats freed up from canceled reservations available for purchase which were considered guaranteed seats, and so I could buy a ticket for a reserved seat. One man behind the counter saw I was a Hare Krishna devotee, and he gave me special assistance. When I was all done and had the ticket in hand, he invited me behind the counter and explained how I was to find the seat I was assigned on the charts posted at the front of the train platform. Then he asked me to play a Hare Krishna tune on the harmonium. I played a three-part tune, just one mantra for each part, and he and the other rail employees appreciated. I distributed maha-prasadam to about seven of the people behind the counter, a few who had also helped me. In analyzing the unexpected sequence of events beginning with taking the wrong train, I found that people got to hear Hare Krishna, chant Hare Krishna, and take maha-prasadam who otherwise would not, so my difficulty with the trains increased my service to the Lord. Also I got to travel with my friends to Haridwar and Rishikesh, which was better than traveling alone as we could chant together both on the train and the longer stops on our journey and help each other in other ways. It was Krishna’s mercy we ended up in the same carriage out of the seven sleeper carriages and just ten feet (three meters) apart!

There were still over four hours before the train, so I waited across the street from the booking office for the bus to Minto Park, the area where our Kolkata temple is situated. One young man gave up his seat at a cafe, and invited me to sit and play on the harmonium. I did and he appreciated and gave me some tea as a donation, which I could not really accept. Then another man came to get some tea, and seeing me with my harmonium, asked me to play a Hare Krishna tune, and so I got to place again. I also distributed maha-prasadam to those who wanted it.

At the Kolkata temple, I took prasadam. Both the soup and the khichari were wonderful. Then I took a nap and a shower, and bought four books from the temple shop, two each in Bengali and Hindi, to distribute on the train. I was happy to join my friends, Vishnujana, Harinamananda, and Nrsimha Caitanya’s Prabhus at Howrah to wait for our train. 

On the platform, I saw a beautiful sign on a fruit vendor’s cart.

On the train I sat in the upper berth, using my harmonium as a desk for my netbook. In this way, I was a little bit detached from the craziness of the train ride, the only virtues of which are the price, just $9 to go over 1000 km, and the chance to share the holy names through kirtana.

On the train, we chanted for an hour that night. One lady with Vaishnava tilaka, who raised up her arms and said “Radhe Radhe” and “Haribol,” especially appreciated. 

Ten people clapped along with us in three adjacent compartments of the train, and others listened appreciatively.

One man took a book and gave 100 rupees as a donation. That man and a younger one talked to the devotees afterward.

The other devotees shared their compartment with a young couple and their young child. At the beginning of the journey I considered that such a situation could give the young devotees some practical realization about what married life is actually like. During the journey, the kid, who wore a shirt but no pants, ended up passing urine on Harinamananda Prabhu’s orange wool cadar, the bed it was on and the bed below it, and later passing stool, beginning on Harinamananda’s kurta and finishing on the floor of the train. It was completely disgusting. When I praised Harinamananda Prabhu for his tolerance, he said that there was nothing else he could do. It was ironic that I had predicted they might get some realizations of married life. I also better understand why they use diapers in the West, as it keeps such problems more contained.

When the train stopped a longer time at a couple of the larger cities, we chanted on the platform. Both times we were surrounded by an audience. Once I took a few pictures and a video ( 


I was happy traveling with my devotee friends as we got to do a lot of chanting together.

Harinamas in Rishikesh

Navina Nirada Prabhu had arranged a program of a week or so of up to six hours of harinama, book distribution, and prasadam distribution each day. Ekalayva Prabhu, the world harinama party, a group of devotees from Scandinavia, and my friend, Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu comprised the party. Many Westerners and Indians visiting Rishikesh, as well as some of the locals, appreciated the chanting, books and spiritual food.

Mahabhavi Prabhu, who is based in Norway, made and distributed halava prasadam. 

Before going on harinama we would have a morning program at Nigah Tourist Resort, at Laksman Jhula, where we stayed.

The first day alone I had so many nice experiences. 

One smiling young lady from Bristol, happy to see us on harinama in Rishikesh, recalled seeing Hare Krishnas at the Stonehenge Solstice Festival, which I attended the last four years. 

One Czech couple remembered Hare Krishna from the Trutnov (Czech Woodstock) festival I attended the last five years, and I gave them a card I still had for the Prague temple and restaurant. A middle-aged lady was happy to see us, recalling Hare Krishna from many places, especially her home town of Gastonbury, where we have a booth at a mammoth music festival and have a Ratha-yatra which she has sometimes attended. She told us to go on with our wonderful chanting and said, “Haribol!” as we left. A Brazilian couple who danced with us said that Hare Krishna is big in Brazil and thanked us for sharing our joy in Rishikesh. Roon, a young book distributor, told me everyone he spoke to in Rishikesh was favorable. I showed people the mantra on the cards and had them say each word. I said they could keep the card if they promised to chant the mantra once a day and many did. All these wonderful experiences and more happened my first day in Rishikesh, situated at the foot of the Himalayas, along the Ganges River, where it is against the law to sell meat and where yoga ashrams of all descriptions abound.

Some people who were involved with Hare Krishna in other parts of the world and who were visiting Rishikesh came out with us almost every day. 

These included a very enthusiastic girl from Saint Peterburg, Russia, (left), and a Slovakian guy with a beard and dredlocks (center) and his Spanish girlfriend (right). One Italian devotee lady was very happy to join us one day to distribute books. An Indian man from Rishikesh played a one-headed drum with us several times. 

 A man from the Italian part of Switzerland, who knew the devotees there, played his small accordion with us a few times. 

A Prabhupada disciple from Montreal took pleasure in playing the flute with us at least a couple times.

Many people clapped to our music, some watching from above. 

 One lady named Aneta from Germany rode up on her motorcycle and stopped in front of the harinama party, She looked at the joyous chanting for ten minutes or so with a smile on her face. She recalled seeing the devotees in Cologne. I told her how I had passed through our temple in Cologne three times and had chanted in front of the large cathedral in the city which she said is called the Dom. She was pleased I gave her the address to our temple and restaurant there so she can connect with the devotees again.

Other motorcyclists were also entranced by the devotees’ chanting.

So were people in cars.

People often watched our chanting party from a restaurant on the hillside above us and the steps leading up to it.

One lady who was watching the chanting came from a town an hour south of London which she said was the oldest in England. I told her how I spent a lot of time in Newcastle in the summer, and she said that she has a friend who lives in Newcastle and that the people there are very friendly, but their accent is the most difficult you ever will encounter, something I also experienced. I said our temple in Newcastle is very lively, and the devotees sing for eight hours straight the last Saturday of the month. She found it inconceivable that Geordies, the natives of that region of England, who she described as working class people, would ever become Hare Krishna devotees. I smiled and said that one or two of them have become Hare Krishnas, and I added, “That shows how universal Hare Krishna is!” As she lived near London, I asked if she would like an invitation for our center there, and she said she would. I told how the devotees there sing for two hours on Oxford Street every afternoon. I gave her an invitation and explained that we also have an Indian vegetarian restaurant at the same location, which she would probably like, having come to Rishikesh.

All kinds of people were happy to see our party.


 All kinds of people were happy to dance with us.

One scholarly devotee initiated by Srila Prabhupada enjoyed dancing with us.

Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu delighted in getting the Indian guys to dance.

A few people took mantra cards and chanted along.

Once we passed a music shop, and a guy inside played the drum along with us. 

A couple of times our party entered a shop, and chanted through it one time. Usually the owners were pleased with the attention.

Once we chanted under an awning in front of a shop when it rained briefly.

We also chanted by a Shiva fountain.

One day we chanted down by Ram Jhula, where we were based two years ago. More younger Westerners are to be found around our new location of Laksman Jhula.

Navina Nirada Prabhu, Janardana Prabhu from Denmark, and Bhakta Roon, also from Denmark, enthusiastically distributed many books, and the donations paid for all the expenses of the party.

When the world harinama devotees were with us, there was extra intensity, and many people vigorous danced with us as you can see in this video (  

After the world harinama devotees left, it was more mellow (

The last couple of days, since people were leaving our party to their next destinations, we did not have scheduled harinamas, so I would have some of my own, getting one or two people to join me. When I was chanting alone, I had some nice experiences. A swami from another mission chanted several mantras with me on a couple occasions. A group of Gaudiya Vaishnavas from Bulgaria chanted with me for ten minutes. A couple of young Indian men played the shakers and sang vociferously with me for twenty minutes. Their white girlfriends had no interest at all in the kirtana, and were eating and talking with each other as the guys sang. The two guys said they had gone to the Vrindavan gurukula, and their names were Lalita Das and Jagan Mohan Das. I was happy to see their enthusiasm for the chanting, but amazed to see the apathy of their girlfriends. After lunch, I went out chanting with Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu. A man from the Italian part of Switzerland, who had previously played his miniature harmonium with us, played with us again. In the course of our chanting procession we encountered the Indian gurukulis who were happy to see us. This time in addition to the guys chanting, one of the girls chanted Hare Krishna with us and the other took a photo of the whole scene. It was interesting to see the increased interest of the girls in the kirtana. As we continued onward, the Hare Krishna girl from Saint Peterburg joined us.

The last day I went out for 40 minutes before lunch. I did not even make it to Laksman Jhula, the bridge where we usually chant. 

I met the Indian gurukula boys and their girlfriends, who I then learned were from Switzerland, Nandulal, a gurukuli who remembered me from America, a lady and a kid, and a old man from Vrindavan, and they urged me to stay and sing with them. So I stayed there singing, and Jagan Mohan and Lalita Prabhu bought fresh orange juice for everyone in the party. One of the Swiss girls both chanted and danced and the other took pictures. An older man from Rishikesh who had joined us on harinama a few times before played his one-headed drum. Nandulal borrowed a two-headed drum from a vendor to play along with the chanting. It was very lively, and we must have chanted for half an hour. A group of Indian pilgrims came by, and sat with desiring to have their picture taken with us. I encouraged the gurukuli kids to chant Hare Krishna every day during their travels. They were having such a good time, perhaps they will.

The Sacred Ganges

This year I first crossed the Ganges River on my way from Navadvipa to Mayapur coming to Mayapur. I played my harmonium and chanted Hare Krishna during the boat ride. One devotee sprinkled auspicious Ganges water on us as we waited for the boat to get underway. Then on the way to Rishikesh, I crossed the Ganges from Mayapur to Navadvipa to catch the train. This time it was approaching dusk, and I played harmonium and sang the Gaura Arati song, our evening prayer, in addition to Hare Krishna. When I missed my connecting train, I had to go all the way into the city of Kolkata to buy a ticket for the train my friends were taking the next day. As I crossed the bridge from Howrah to Kolkata, I saw an old man place his palms together. At first I did not understand why he was doing that. Then it occurred to me that it might be out of respect for the river. I thought it was a little quaint, and then I remembered that it was not any ordinary river, it was the same Ganges, just a little downstream and more polluted than in Mayapur. Thus I also put my palms together in respect, and another man followed me. However, when I returned from the Kolkata temple to Howrah to catch the train, I crossed the Ganges River in ignorance, not being reminded by anyone of her glory. After our train reached Haridwar, some twenty-seven hours later, and we were riding by motor rickshaw to Rishikesh, I was happy to see the Ganges River again both near the beginning and end of our journey. It was quite a bit narrower and faster flowing. At the Nigah Tourist Resort, one of the better of budget guest houses at Laksman Jhula, the Ganges was both visible to our eyes and audible to our ears because of being near its rapids. When I would chant Hare Krishna on beads looking and listening to the Ganges I found it to be a most wonderful experience.

I chanted extra japa on Ekadasi looking at and hearing the rapids of the Ganges River. . . . I thought how Queen Kunti, the mother of Krishna’s friend, Arjuna, prayed for constant attraction to Krishna without diversion as the Ganges inexorably flows to the sea. . . . King Pariksit desired to leave his body on the bank of the Ganges. . . . For thousands of years, sages have been meditating on its banks here at Rishikesh. . . . There is a feeling of peace and timelessness. It is one of my favorite places to chant.

Almost everyone likes to swim and the devotional practice of bathing in the Ganges is one of the easier ones for most people to follow. Somehow I have never developed a taste for swimming or bathing in natural bodies of water. I know some of it has to do with the sand, the feel of which I do not like on my feet. In 1988 I lost my glass bathing in the Ganges in Mayapur, and subconscious impressions of that inconvenience may play a role. I was planning to bath in the Ganges at least once, and by the influence of Navina Nirada Prabhu I finally did, two hours before leaving Rishikesh. It was very cold, which is not surprising as its source is a glacier not so far away, and I just quickly dunked my head in the water. It was refreshing, although I did not find it as refreshing as my friend, Caitanya-candradoya Prabhu, who said bathing in the Ganges is as refreshing as a five-hour nap! While discussing the Ganges with friends, Nanda Kumar Prabhu, who takes tours to Rishikesh, told about one lady tourist who was very bossy and was never satisfied with any situation. Her occupation is to be in charge of two hundred nurses. After she bathed in the Ganges, she developed a positive attitude, and when the tour continued to Vrindavan, she became attracted to donate to help one project there. Nanda Kumar Prabhu was surprised to see such a marked change for the better in her personality. From the books of revealed knowledge, we understand that bathing in the Ganges frees one from sinful reactions, and thus it is reasonable to consider one might advance in good qualities by such a bath. I wonder what other stories exists offering evidence of this. If you know any, please write me. I love to collect stories that offer evidence consistent with the truths of the Vedic literature. As Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu and I took a taxi to Rishikesh to catch our train, we sang the Gaura Arati song while passing the Ganges on our left. The song tells of arati ceremony performed by great souls in worship of Lord Caitanya. The setting of the beautiful ceremony which attracted the minds of the whole universe is the bank of the Ganges River. It was wonderful to connect with the Ganges many times in the last couple of weeks, and I have a sense that it increased my devotion, especially while chanting Hare Krishna on beads in Rishikesh while seeing and hearing her.

Chanting on the Train from Haridwar to Delhi

On the night train from Haridwar to Delhi, I arose and started chanting at 5:00 a.m. At 5:15 a.m. an older Indian man arose, put away his bedding, and sat staring out the window. See him wasting his time, I gave him a mantra card and said, “Best use of time: Chant Hare Krishna.” He moved his head in equivocal Indian way, and read the words from the card. He sang it softly to himself for a whole hour. As he left, I gave him and his wife Radha-Madhava maha-prasad, which they gratefully accepted, and I told him to chant the mantra every day, prati-din. In my experience, it is rare a few words of spiritual instruction go so far as my first words to him. I hope he follows my final instruction with the same enthusiasm.

Punjabi Bagh Delhi Temple

For the third time, I went to the Punjabi Bagh temple in Delhi. It was wonderful to see many congregational people at the temple throughout the day. There were twenty or thirty singing in the late morning just before the raj bhoga [lunch offering] that swelled to fifty for the noon arati. There must have been eighty for the evening arati, and they do a full hour of kirtana in the temple after that arati. It is wonderful to see such enthusiasm for the chanting, which is the yuga-dharma, the spiritual practice of the age.

Some of the guys got into dancing in the evening kirtana.

They were so enthusiastic they continued dancing outside during the Nrsimha prayers!

Rohini Harinama

Devotees tell me that Srila Prabhupada wanted to have twelve temples in Delhi. We have eight, and four are under construction, one of these being in Rohini. Rohini is an expansion of the nearby Punjabi Bagh West temple. Kesava Murari Prabhu, a leader at Punjabi Bagh, plays a role in the development of the Rohini project. 

He has an awesome bas relief of Radha-Krishna in his office.  

He invited me to go on harinama with him in Rohini. In two weeks, on March 30, they plan for Ratha-yatra in Rohini, an event I attended two years ago as I happened to be traveling through Delhi that day. This year they decided to do harinama on Gaura Purnima and the day before and follow the exact route of the Ratha-yatra distributing invitations to it. That sounds like such a practical way to advertise a Ratha-yatra, I am surprised I never heard of doing it before.

They have three harinama carts. 

They have small Gaura-Nitai deities who ride the carts.

They are equipped with one of the loudest sound systems of that size I have ever heard. The back of cart has a diesel generator just to power it.

 We went through the busy streets of Rohini.

Briefly a brahmacari played djembe on the back of a motorcycle.
We ended and were served a feast of puris, sabji, and halava.

There was also to be another three-hour harinama in Punjabi Bagh later in the day, but because the Rohini one got a late start and I had to go to the New Delhi International Tourist Bureau to book a train to Mathura for the Gaura Purnima, I had to skip it.

Scenes You Don’t See in America 

On the Delhi Metro so the ladies can be free of harassment by men, they have their own carriage at the front of the trains. The platforms are marked to make that clear.

Lays potato chips are also a favorite of the monkeys of Laksman Jhula bridge at Rishikesh.

In America, hair is styled in a salon, while liquor is sold in a saloon. That understanding is not always present in India. In India, the name of Krishna is everywhere, even at the hair stylist.

I cannot imagine a auxiliary generator in America with a brand name of Bliss!

Part of true yoga is celibacy, so some ashrams advocate dress and behavior that does not stimulate sexual attraction. 

Even bearded, saffron-clad swamis find it difficult to renounce the Internet!

I have heard of different kinds of yoga, but laughter yoga? 

 Why not try cheddar cheese made from the milk of a yak?


Srila Prabhupada:

[Prahlada Maharaja continued:] “An expert geologist can understand where there is gold and by various processes can extract it from the gold ore. Similarly, a spiritually advanced person can understand how the spiritual particle exists within the body, and thus by cultivating spiritual knowledge he can attain perfection in spiritual life. However, as one who is not expert cannot understand where there is gold, a foolish person who has not cultivated spiritual knowledge cannot understand how the spirit exists within the body.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.21)

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 14:

Vedic knowledge means ultimately to understand the Supreme Lord, and the process of entering into His kingdom is devotional service. That is accepted by all authentic scriptures. Mental speculators neglect the process of devotional service, and by simply trying to defeat others in philosophical research they fail to develop the ecstasy of devotion.”

Actually, a person who is developing Krishna consciousness and still has some attachment to material enjoyment will soon be freed from such a tendency by regularly discharging devotional service under the instruction of a bona fide spiritual master. Srila Rüpa Gosvami, then, recommends that oneshould not be attached to material sense enjoyment, but should accept everything enjoyable which is in relationship to the Lord. For example, eating is necessary, and one wants some palatable dishes to satisfy his sense of taste. So in that case, for the satisfaction of Krishna rather than for the satisfaction of the tongue, some palatable dishes may be prepared and offered to Krishna. Then it is renunciation. Let the palatable dishes be prepared, but unless they are offered to Krishna one should not accept them for eating. This vow of rejecting anything which is not offered to Krishna is actually renunciation. And by such renunciation one is able to satisfy the demands of the senses.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 15:

And only when affection comes to the platform of spontaneous love is it counted in the category of pure devotional service.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.39, purport:

The pure souls are eternally in love with Krishna, and this permanent love, either as a servant, a friend, a parent or a conjugal lover, is not at all difficult to revive. Especially in this age, the concession is that simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra (harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam [Cc. Ädi 17.21]) one revives his original relationship with God and thus becomes so happy that he does not want anything material.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 16:

According to the regulative principles, there are nine departmental activities, as described above, and one should specifically engage himself in the type of devotional service for which he has a natural aptitude. For example, one person may have a particular interest in hearing, another may have a particular interest in chanting, and another may have a particular interest in serving in the temple. So these, or any of the other six different types of devotional service (remembering, serving, praying, engaging in some particular service, being in a friendly relationship or offering everything in one’s possession), should be executed in full earnestness. In this way, everyone should act according to his particular taste.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 13.139:

A devotee constantly engaged in Deity worship according to the rules and regulations laid down in the sastras and given by the spiritual master realizes gradually that he is in direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus he loses all interest in so-called meditation, yoga practice and mental speculation.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.45, purport:

Krishna consciousness, devotional service to Krishna, is the ocean of eternal bliss. In comparison to this eternal bliss, the so-called happiness of society, friendship and love is simply useless and insignificant. One should therefore not be attached to temporary things. One should take to Krishna consciousness and become eternally happy.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.46, purport:

Asuras [atheists] generally cannot understand that the objects of sexual pleasure, the so-called pleasure of materialistic life, depend on extremely hard labor.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 18:

In the Nrisimha Purana it is stated, ‘If a person has completely engaged his mind, body and activities in the service of the Supreme Godhead, but externally he is found to be engaged in some abominable activities, these abominable activities will surely be very quickly vanquished by the influence of his staunch devotional force.’”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 19:

In the Narada-pancaratra Lord Shiva therefore tells Parvati, ‘My dear supreme goddess, you may know from me that any person who has developed the ecstasy of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and who is always merged in transcendental bliss on account of this love, cannot even perceive the material distress or happiness coming from the body or mind.’”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.8.10, purport:

One who thinks that he has many enemies is an ignorant man, whereas one who is in Krishna consciousness knows that there are no enemies but those within oneself—the uncontrolled mind and senses.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 20:

Without relishing some sort of mellow, or loving mood, in one’s activities, no one can continue to perform such activities. Similarly, in the transcendental life of Krishna consciousness and devotional service there must be some mellow, or specific taste, from the service. Generally this mellow is experienced by chanting, hearing, worshiping in the temple and being engaged in the service of the Lord. So when a person feels transcendental bliss; that is called ‘relishing the mellow.’ To be more clear, we may understand that the various feelings of happiness derived from discharging devotional service may be termed the ‘mellows’ of devotional service. This relishing of transcendental mellow in discharging devotional service cannot be experienced by all classes of men, because this sweet loving mood is developed only from one’s previous life’s activities or by the association of unalloyed devotees. As explained above, association with pure devotees is the beginning of faith in devotional service. Only by developing such faith in the association of a pure devotee, or by having in one’s previous life executed devotional activities, can one actually relish the mellow of devotional service. In other words, this transcendental bliss is not to be enjoyed by any common man unless he is so extraordinarily fortunate as to be in association with devotees or to be continuing his previous birth’s devotional activities.”

The gradual process of development to the stage of devotional service is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto: ‘The beginning is to hear about Lord Krishna in the association of devotees who have themselves cleansed their hearts by association. Hearing about the transcendental activities of the Lord will result in one’s feeling transcendental bliss always.’”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.22 given in Vrindavan on November 2, 1972:

Those who are grossly in ignorance, they are thinking in terms of bodily concept of life; those who are little more advanced, they are thinking in terms of mental or psychological concept of life; and those who are still more advanced, they are thinking in terms of spiritual concept of life.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service:

Even if Krishna does not appear to us in His holy name, and we cannot seem to overcome our offenses, still we will go on chanting. By surrendering to Krishna, we become satisfied with the service itself. At least we do not become hopeless. We are thankful for the mercy of being able to always do some kind of service for Krishna and guru. This surrendered attitude prevents one from becoming hopeless.”

Today’s drawing shows four
bhaktas dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are smiling and
moving with grace.
They are modern-day
representatives of Lord Caitanya’s
associates for whom congregational
chanting was their heart
and soul. They are the
fulfillment of the
Lord’s prediction that
one day His names would
be heard in every town
and village in the world.
They are performing in
your town today.
In their multicolored
sport clothes, they
are appearing before
your eyes. Wake up
and take note of the harinamas!
It is your rare chance
to stop the bondage of material suffering.
Look up and receive them favorably.”

Today’s drawing shows three
devotees dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are ecstatic and moving gracefully.
The ecstasy comes from
chanting the Hare Krishna mantra
which cleanses the mirror
of the mind and increases
the ocean of transcendental bliss.
It helps one to get a taste of the nectar
for which we are always anxious.
By chanting in public
these devotees are doing
the greatest welfare work
for humanity.
The casual passersby may
not appreciate at first,
but if the devotees are determined
and go out every day, the people’s minds
will be changed. They will find themselves
singing Hare Krishna to themselves
and opening to the Lord who gives them bliss.”

Today’s drawing shows three
devotees dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are happy and moving gracefully.
People who don’t sing or recite
the holy names of God are
missing out on the great benediction.
In former ages it used to
be that you had to perform
prolonged meditation or
pay for costly sacrifices
with expert priests or
worship in the temples.
Now it has been made
easy because we are so
short-lived, poverty-stricken
and impure. By the grace
of Lord Caitanya all we have to do
is chant the Hare Krishna mantra. But
most people are so unfortunate
they don’t take it. By the kindness
of the harinama party the
devotees give them the chance to hear.”

Lokanath Swami:

Good times are here. Take advantage of these good times.

In Mahabharata, King Yudhisthira was asked many questions. One was, “What is the news?” His response was that all the living entities in the material world are attacked by three kinds of fire or miseries and are becoming fried as if in a pot of oil.

We cannot be free from sanga or association – this one or that one, take your pick!

Here we learn that simply by chanting Hare Krishna one can achieve all perfection.

We are born to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world.

Therefore this [Navadvipa] is the best among all the places in the universe. The Krishna consciousness movement has established its center in Mayapur, the birthsite of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to give men the great opportunity to go there and perform a constant festival of sankirtana-yajna, as recommended herein (yajnesa-makha mahotsavah).” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.19.24)

Niranjana Swami:

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura lists many material reasons not to chant the holy name and concludes that to attain the Lord’s service is the only reason to chant, other reasons being useless. To ask anything for ourselves is an offense.

The goal of chanting is to attain love for God.

Devahuti says, “Anyone whose work is not meant to elevate him to religious life, anyone whose religious ritualistic performances do not raise him to renunciation, and anyone situated in renunciation that does not lead him to devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, must be considered dead, although he is breathing.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.23.56)

Not asking anyone for anything maintains one’s devotional service.

The Lord cannot neglect a devotee who tolerates all insults without seeking revenge.

The Lord explained to Durvasa Muni that he could not consider the Muni’s suffering for He had given His heart to His devotee. Therefore Durvasa should approach Ambarisa for the Lord’s heart.

Although the devotee does not want anything from the Lord, the Lord feels He must give the devotee something that the devotee will appreciate, and so He gives the devotee His heart.

Lord Nityananda gives one the strength to chant the holy name without material motivations.

Koloveca Sridhar is an example of one who chanted without material motivations and pleased Lord Caitanya so much.

Lord Nityananda was simply desiring to increase faith in the holy name in the people in general. His meditation was to do this to serve Lord Caitanya. He did not even begin to do his outreach work, although traveling for 20 years on pilgrimage, until He came to Navadvipa and received Lord Caitanya’s order.

Here in the Kirtan Mela we are collectively praying to the Lord for opportunity to serve Him.

It is said that Lord Nityananda is the guru for the masses, and Radharani is the guru for the inner circle.

Radhanath Swami:

Finding the birthplace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu was part of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s master plan to bring everyone there to glorify Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

We are eternal servants of Krishna. We have love for Krishna in our hearts. By chanting the holy names, especially the Hare Krishna mantra, that love will become manifest.

The first temple in San Francisco was a storefront. That was the standard of the time.

Tamal Krishna Goswami would go from temple to temple organizing the street harinama parties.

Many people tried to help Srila Prabhupada get the land in Mayapur and failed, but Tamal Krishna Goswami was actually able to do it.

On Tamal Krishna Goswami’s last visit to Mayapur, after the GBC meetings, when the GBC are usually exhausted, he started congregational chanting in his room each night. They kirtanas were deep, devotional, and connected, and each evening more and more people came, and they had to move the kirtanas to the temple. This continued for about a week, and it can be seen as a forerunners of Kirtan Mela.

Bhakti comes when you become the servant of the servant of the Vaishnavas, and Lord Caitanya performed the pastime of transforming from an argumentative scholar to the ultimate devotee after meeting Isvara Puri.

Lord Caitanya considered, “Time is so precious. Why do we waste our nights sleeping? We should have kirtana all night.”

The pious residents of Navadvipa, who where not permitted to join the nocturnal kirtanas, would bring Nimai gifts every morning. He would accept them and teach the people the maha-mantra and tell them to chant a fixed number of times each day on beads, and to have kirtana in their homes. They did this, and seeing the residents of Navadvipa all chanting Hare Krishna made him very happy.

Everyone ran out to chant and dance with the Lord in his massive chanting party, forgetting their material identities and relationships. The thieves were overjoyed that everyone left home with their doors wide open. But when the thieves ran to plunder them, they heard the chanting, and the thieves forgot that they were thieves, and they joined the chanting party.

Some had two torches, and yet chanted and clapped their hands. How is that? They had become four-handed residents of Vaikuntha, and yet they did not recognize they had become four handed.

The demigods had not seen so much joy in the history of Brahma’s creation, and they came disguised as humans to join.

The Kazi accepted everything Lord Caitanya said, after some argument.

from a class at Sivananda Asrama in Rishikesh:

Once I was asked to give a class at this very place. I was asked to speak by Swami Citananda on a very specific verse by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Siksastaka 3. In memory of that I will speak on that verse again.

Caitanya is Krishna coming with the bhava (emotions) of Radha and distributing that love through the chanting of the holy names.

If our mirror is covered with dirt, and if we try to see ourselves in it we will see the dirt.

We are the sad-cid-ananda [eternal, blissful, and cognizant] soul in the body.

We will see that we are meant to love God in every condition.

Lord Caitanya prayed to Krishna, “You have invested your beauty, power, and sweetness in all Your names.”

Tolerance and humility make fertile soil for the creeper of devotion to grow.

We do not even consider the grass when we step on it. It bends over and back up for the next person to step on it.

The mango tree has not got a drop of water for 7 or 8 months, and yet it gives dozens of juicy ripe mangoes.

When we take pleasure in respecting others, we can always be happy.

Everyday Nimai Pandit would walk to Simantadvipa and stop by a fruit seller named Sridhara, who did not even have any bananas, just banana leaves and banana tree bark. He spent half his income on worshiping the Ganges. He was so respectful that he would calculate his price so he would just barely survive and not inconvenience his customers. Nimai would ask for the price of bananas, Nimai would say he would give half, and then end up taking them for free. Once Nimai asked him why he was serving Krishna when the atheists and the demigod worshipers are often more well off. Sridhar said he was very happy serving Krishna, and he did not have any needs unmet. He explained both a king and a bird are situated similarly. They are both sometimes happy and sometimes distressed, and they both get what they need. Although Sridhar did not recognize Lord Caitanya was Krishna, he loved Him like Krishna, and would always look in the direction of the path Nimai would come from. Nimai once told His mother I will never eat food that was not on a leaf plate made by Sridhar.

Sridhar did not want any benediction, but Lord Caitanya insisted. Sridhar did not want anything.
Please be peaceful my Lord,” Sridhar said.
I will be peaceful, you just accept one gift,” the Lord replied.
Sridhar asked to always remember Nimai in His form as a child stealing bananas. Lord Caitanya blessed him, “Anyone who hears the story of your love will get love of Krishna.”

In the British House of Lords I spoke and included the line, “You can understand how rich you are by counting the number of things you have that money cannot by.” That line is what they most appreciated.

Yoga is for attaining the treasure that money cannot by. We can be an instrument of God’s love for giving that love to others.

We must go from indifference to compassion, from darkness to light.

Dravida Prabhu:

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.22 given in Mayapur on March 3, 2014:

We should understand and preach that devotional service begins with the chanting of the holy name.

The purpose of bhagavata-dharma is to develop love for God.

In the U.S.A. people practically worship the constitution, but it is found to be insufficient and needs to be amended. Furthermore it cannot help to achieve the ultimate spiritual abode.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.33, Krishna says He exists before the creation of the universe and after its annihilation. Who else can say that?

Sankirtana [the congregational chanting of the holy name] is a sufficient dharma, but the deity worship is necessary for purity.

In the beginning of the Hare Krishna movement, there was just the chanting at Tompkins Square Park, the Bowery loft, 26 Second Avenue, etc.

Verse 8 of the Nectar of Instruction is the perfection of Krishna consciousness: “The essence of all advice is that one should utilize one’s full time— twenty-four hours a day—in nicely chanting and remembering the Lord’s divine name, transcendental form, qualities and eternal pastimes, thereby gradually engaging one’s tongue and mind. In this way one should reside in Vraja [Goloka Vrindavana dhama] and serve Krishna under the guidance of devotees. One should follow in the footsteps of the Lord’s beloved devotees, who are deeply attached to His devotional service.” But before that there are so many verses and instructions bringing us to that point.

Why is it said that we must always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna? Because we must accept things that help us remember Krishna and avoid things that cause us to forget Krishna.

The verse that talks about running with one’s eyes closed and not falling, according to Sridhar Swami, means acting without understanding other Vedic literature, because by only following the Lord’s personal advice, success is sure.

We say that the holy name is everything. How is that? If the holy name is Krishna, and Krishna is everything, then the holy name is everything.

Q: The holy name makes us wild with ecstasy, but to teach people we have to be presentable.
A: Lord Caitanya had an internal and external mood, and as His representatives we should maintain both. We should relish the holy name and also teach other people the importance of it. If we just try to relish the holy name, sitting at Radha Kunda, it probably will not last.

Ekalavya Prabhu:

The chanting of Hare Krishna is full of bliss which minimizes our material miseries.

The holy name is not different from Krishna. Krishna is full of bliss, and we are all looking for bliss, and the most easy way we can associate with Krishna is the holy name.

The experience of the Lord in our lives nourishes our bhakti.

We have to chant Hare Krishna in the mood of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead not just to neutralize sinful reactions. A sincere devotee will try to avoid sinful activity.

Sense control is a special ability of humans.

A serious devotee does not want to be distracted by sense gratification.

We have to get a higher taste. Srila Prabhupada has given us this opportunity to get a higher taste.

I arrived in NYC two years ago on the appearance day of Aindra Prabhu and was asked to speak about him. Rama Raya Prabhu came from Boston for the event. The next day we decided to do harinama in Tompkins Square Park. We took blessings at the sacred place where Srila Prabhupada began public kirtana in the West. Adi Purusa Prabhu asked us to sing as he served out prasadam there in Tompkins Square Park. We chanted at different parks each day at different times, but we decided on a single place at a fixed time, Union Square.

A policeman came up to me and asked if we were singing a religious songs. I was afraid of policemen so I said no we are just singing for love and peace. He pressed me again. He said, “If you said it is religious, I can let you stay. Otherwise you must stop.”

It was a high crime place, but by the chanting it became more mellow.

Some hooligans who did not want us to chant there poured liquor on our place. Then suddenly a fight broke out among themselves, and the police took them away, and we continued our harinama.

We could not use amplifiers so I took opera singing lessons, and now my voice has improved.

Although in his mid fifties Rama Raya would bring a cart with the blankets, instruments, books. He would sent SMS text messages to people pleading them to come out. He is considered a hero in New York City for his service.

comments by me:

Regarding chanting to get free from sinful activity, it is said that chanting the holy names nullifies the effects of seva aparadhas [offenses in deity service], but if we do our deity service in a sloppy way, thinking it is not so important as our chanting will nullify the reactions, that is also a similar offense.

Regarding sense control as being the special gift of the human being, Srila Prabhupada once said that a dog never asks, “How do I give up this barking habit?”

Janardana Prabhu:

It is obvious what is missing here in Rishikesh – the association of genuine devotees of the Lord. Yet there are many people here who are attracted to the real thing, as we can see on harinama.

In our harinama there is no competition. There is no one leader. Everyone can express themselves in their own way. That is attractive to people.

I like to explain that love requires three, the lover, the beloved, and the acts of love.

We can engage in the six exchanges of love between devotees.

Taste comes from association with devotees.

In this world we cannot fix our mind on one thing because nothing gives us that taste.

I talked to a lady from New York City who remembered the devotees chanting from Union Square. She said, “Often it is difficult in New York City and sometimes I take a detour to pass by the chanting party in Union Square because I can count on feeling better afterward.” She had doubts about getting a book at first, but as she recalled more and more her experience in Union Square, she became convinced and bought one.

comment by Ekalavya Prabhu: On the Polish festival tour Indradyumna Swami would remind us that the happiness of the sadhu is seeing other people coming happy. I noticed that yesterday on the harinama. I was so happy seeing people becoming happy by seeing the kirtana.

comments by Navina Nirada Prabhu: We distributed all the extra prasadam last night. There are no beggers in Rishikesh, so we would stop people on the their motorcycles and give them prasadam. There was a whole crowd of people and that would attract others to stop.

We had a few moments when people thought, “What’s going on here?” Then they joined in.

Mahabhavi Prabhu:

Often when I read in Srila Prabhupada’s purports of the psychology of the nondevotee I see that within myself.

We have been conditioned for many millions of years to be happy sleeping on the lap of maya, so it is difficult to change.

When we are together in a group of devotees doing some sacrifice for Krishna, it is easier. Otherwise it is difficult to attentively chant the holy name.

An ascetic may give up sense gratification but the yogi gives up the desire for sense gratification.

The chanting helps us give up our material conceptions like, “Krishna is so strict giving us such heavy laws.”

One should never stop that sankirtana. Why do we stop? We want to be the enjoyer or the center. If we do not stop, our heart will become cleansed.

If we persevere we can get to the point of attaining the state of wanting to serve Krishna and the devotees.

Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu:

The Rg Veda is one of most famous of the Vedas. It contains the Gayatri mantra.

Srimad-Bhagavatam is the most important of the Vedic literature.

The scholars note that the Sanskrit of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is not the Puranic Sanskrit but the Vedic Sanskrit.

Srila Prabhupada said of some of his disciples that they were personal associates of the Lord.

Patanjali describes different levels of samadhi and says that the highest one leads one to the path of bhakti.

Lord Caitanya gives love of God not based not on our qualification but our desire.

Some people describe that our disqualification is our greatest qualification to get the mercy of Lord Caitanya.

The goal of bhakti is not enlightenment but love of God, but that love of God includes enlightenment.

Bhakti is so powerful. Simply by circumambulating the temple you can attain liberation.

The congregational chanting of the holy name does not require a qualification. Kirtana performed by those eager for the Lord’s mercy are especially powerful.

Baladeva Vidyabhusana argues that the devotees can choose to give mercy to a particular person and when they do so Krishna reciprocates by fulfilling that desire.

There are symptoms of a saint, such as never wasting time with engagements other than devotional service and always being eager to glorify the Lord.

To achieve bhakti is rare as only some who have attained the realization that they spiritual beings have actually attained bhakti thus we should be very grateful to Lord Caitanya for making it so easily attainable.

Q: What are the weapons of Lord Caitanya?
A: Prasadam Srila Prabhupada said is our most important weapon. Also the instruments of the kirtana can be considered weapons of Lord Caitanya.

comment by me:

It is also explained that the holy name is weapon of Lord Caitanya, and His beauty is a weapon of Lord Caitanya.

comment by Navina Nirada Prabhu:

You can see that no qualification is necessary to appreciate bhakti. Three French youths who were so intoxicated they could hardly stand up were attracted by the chanting and bought books on harinama. Also the swamis at the Sivananda ashram were appreciating Radhanatha Swami’s story about Kolaveca Sridhara and chanting and prasadam distribution.

Q: Krishna advises in Bhagavad-gita by always remembering Him we will be liberated. But in our busy life in the cities how is that possible?
A: Prabhupada encouraged his followers to live with other devotees for that makes it easier.

comment by Navina Nirada:

If we are not fortunate enough to desire Lord Caitanya’s gift, at least we can be so fortunate that if someone comes to give it to us, we do not reject it.

Mukunda Prabhu (Russia):

Many people come to Rishikesh looking for spiritual experience, but few get the actual spiritual experience. I have mixed feelings about this place because on one hand the people are not just tourists but spiritual seekers but on the other hand they are all lost because they have not gotten the shelter. Because they have not gotten the spiritual experience they are afraid to surrender. When one has 100% faith in the spiritual experience he has had, he is willing to surrender.

I was studying different spiritual traditions for many years, but nothing gave me an experience of holiness. When I got Srila Prabhupada’s books I did get such a experience and became a devotee in two or three days, faster than my mind and intelligence could appreciate.

In our outreach we must give people an experience of spirituality that they can appreciate.

Internally we should be asking Krishna as the Supersoul to give the person we are talking to the spiritual experience we desire they have.

Real religious experience is something that cannot be resisted or counteracted.

Some disciples of Srila Prabhupada came to Sridhara Maharaja, the godbrother of Srila Prabhupada. They asked him some esoteric questions about Radha and Krishna which he refused to answer, saying that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

It is difficult for persons who are solely on the mental platform to be given a spiritual experience.

One person imitated Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja’s dress, his bhajan, his eating, etc. Gaura Kisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja asked him the question, “If a woman who is not pregnant enters a natal ward and imitates a woman in labor, will she give birth to a child?”

It is good you are sharing the holy name so some people may have a spiritual experience that they will take with them and which will ultimately lead them to perfect their lives, even after their leave Rishikesh.

Whatever genuine spiritual experience they get, will stay with them, and ultimately lead them to perfection.

Q by Ekalayva Prabhu: An advanced devotee may feel himself unqualified to engage some material thing in Krishna’s service. Once Raghunath Dasa Goswami thought if he had wealth he could excavate Radha Kund and Shyam Kund, and make them a very attractive holy places. But then he thought, “How terrible? I should not be desiring wealth.” One wealthy man went to visit the deity Badri Vishala desiring to give him some wealth, but the next day, before he was to do so, the Deity came to him in a dream, and told him not to give the wealth to Him but Raghunath Dasa Goswami instead. Raghunath Dasa Goswami was doubtful about accepting the money until he heard the deity had desired it.
A: Different advanced souls are inspired by the Lord to stay away from the world and others are inspired to engage it in devotional service. Some teach how to engage things in devotional service to teach the people in general. By sincerity and spiritual guidance we can understand what can be engaged and what should be avoided.


tasmat sankirtanam vishnor
jagan-mangalam anhasam
mahatam api kauravya
viddhy aikantika-nishkritam

Sukadeva Goswami continued, ‘My dear King, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is able to uproot even the reactions of the greatest sins. Therefore the chanting of the sankirtana movement is the most auspicious activity in the entire universe. Please try to understand this so that others will take it seriously.’” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.31)