Friday, April 11, 2014

Travel Journal#10.6: Vrindavan, Bagru, Raya, Kolkata

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 6
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2014, part two)
Vrindavan, Bagru, Raya, Kolkata
(Sent from Mayapur, India, on April 11, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

I decided to spend Gaura Purnima, the appearance day of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the divine incarnation who promoted the congregational chanting of the holy name as the best process for self-realization, in Vrindavan, as it is the holy place of Krishna’s childhood pastimes and is considered by Lord Caitanya to be identical with Krishna Himself. On that day I did harinama in front of Krishna-Balaram temple to avoid being splashed with the dyes of Holi, with my friend, Ananta Nitai Prabhu, who I have chanted with in the UK and Ireland, and with five other devotees, who were attracted by the chanting. Abhirama Prabhu, who participates in and does organizational work for Rama Raya Prabhu’s New York City harinama in Union Square invited me to go on harinama in Bagru, Rajasthan, the day after Gaura Purnima. The procession, with Gaura Nitai Deities, pulled on a camel driven cart, attracted many locals to join and follow along. The rest of my days in Vrindavan, I did harinama with Ananta Nitai in front of the Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi, often being joined by Jagannatha Misra Prabhu, who I did harinama with in Mayapur and in Poland. Once Ananta Nitai chanted with me to the celebrated Radha-Damodar temple, and another time, Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu and I did harinama on a rickshaw to a Mahadeva temple and then walking to the Radha Govinda temple. The last full day of my visit, Caitanya-candrodaya and Ananta Nitai Prabhus, who I had done harinamas with in Dublin and Belfast, decided to go to do a harinama parikrama of Govardhan Hill, which took us almost six hours. One day I went to the Food for Life Hospital on the outskirts of Vrndavana and had my teeth cleaned for $9 and a chipped tooth repaired for $5, a better deal than I could find in the West! After leaving Vrindavan, I did a few harinamas on the train and on the platforms of the longer stops as I returned to Bengal. I spent the rest of March in Kolkata at the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre at the request of Hari Sauri Prabhu, organizing nine boxes of Sadaputa Prabhu’s research materials so future devotee scientists could take advantage of them. One day I visited a Vaishnava Ayurvedic doctor, who said I did not have a hernia, or prostate or heart issues, but just weak digestion and low energy, which he gave me medicine for.

I share wonderful notes from lectures and books by Srila Prabhupada, excerpts from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s journal, and notes on lectures by and conversations with many swamis and Prabhupada disciples in Vrindavan, namely Sivarama Swami, Prahladananda Swami, Danavir Goswami, Bhakti Vijnana Swami, Bhakti Brhad Bhagavatamrita Swami, and Pancagauda and Abhiram Prabhus.

Thanks to Jagannatha Misra Prabhu for his kind donation and his arranging and paying for a place for me to stay in Vrindavan. Thanks to Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu for taking us to Govardhan Hill to do a harinama parikrama, buying me many meals, a wool cadar and a bag to carry my harmonium and my clothes, and taking me to the dentist. Thanks to Abhirama Prabhu for inviting us to participate in his Rajasthani harinama adventure.


April 11–12 - Mayapur
April 13 - Kolkata
April 15–16 - Mumbai
April 17–24 - Dublin, Govindadvipa, Belfast
April 25 - London
April 26 - King’s Day, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
April 27–30: The Netherlands
May 1–2: Manchester, England
May 3–5: North UK Retreat
May 6–9: Newcastle
May 10–11: Birmingham 24-hour kirtana
May 12–13: Newcastle
May 17: Sheffield Ratha-yatra
rest of May–July (first two-thirds) – The North of England, 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

Gaura Purnima in Vrindavan

Arriving in the Krishna-Balarama temple on Gaura Purnima day, I was happy to see my friend, Pancagauda Prabhu, chanting with the twenty-four hour kirtana party.

Because it was Holi many colorful characters were chanting in the kirtana.

Some youthful Hare Krishnas seemed absorbed in the spirit of Holi, and I asked if I could take their picture. They let me take a photo but did not let me get away without throwing at least a little dye on me!

I heard my friend Ananta Nitai Prabhu, who inspired me to do three twelve-hour harinamas in Dublin, was in Vrindavan and doing harinama every day, but I did not know his phone or place of residence, nor could I find anyone who did. I had given up the chance to do harinama in Rohini, Delhi, with hundreds of people on Gaura Purnima to come to Vrindavan and chant with my friend, but I could not understand how I could find him, so I decided to pray to Radharani expressing my plight. Within the hour, I ran into him.

Senior devotees convinced us it would be folly to chant in the streets on Holi, so we chanted in front of the Krishna-Balaram temple. 

A few devotees joined us including Mahabhavi Prabhu from Scandinavia, who had chanted with me in Rishikesh, and who played the one-headed drum.

One older Indian man was happy to dance with us.

Many people watched.

Harinama in Rajasthan

On Gaura Purnima in Vrindavan, I met Abhirama Prabhu, who knew from the New York City harinama. He invited me to a harinama he was organizing about an hour outside Jaipur the next day. I invited my friend, Ananta Nitai Prabhu to come as well, and since he is interested in harinama and adventure, he agreed.

When we started it was still Holi, and many people in the streets were colored with dyes.

Serious people had spray guns to shoot the dye with.

We took a break at a small restaurant owned by Vaishnavas to have a lassi, and we did a little kirtana for them.

We got to Bagru a little after 3:00 p.m. At Bagru, the son of one thakura (landholder) who saw a previous harinama was attracted and offered the use of his father’s fort and farmhouse for devotional events. 

First we stopped at the fort. 

We saw a little Radha-Krishna temple they have there.

Then we went to the farmhouse and eagerly took some very tasty prasadam after our five-hour trip.

I had been in harinamas with carts bearing deities which were pulled by people, oxen, horses, and also with motorized carts as well. 

This, however, was the first time I experienced a camel driven cart. Actually we had two camel driven carts.

One was for the Gaura-Nitai deities.

The other was for the sound system. Since the sound system cart also transported the harmonium and harmonium player, to free up space the devotees hung the speakers on the sides of the body of the camel, underneath its decorated cover. 

Abhirama Prabhu, our leader, is behind the sound system cart in this picture.

The organizers made turbans for the devotees to wear. 

Here Ananta Nitai Prabhu wears his.

We began at the fort. 

We may have had about twenty people in the start of our harinama.

Toward the end, about two hours later, we had about one hundred since many people of all ages from the village followed the procession.

Once I counted ten groups of people watching our party from the buildings we passed.

People would throw flowers from the buildings.

People would clap along.

Devotees distributed prasada [spiritual food] from the back of the deities cart.

I noticed an amusing sight I do not recall seeing much before.

We passed three different barber shops, in which all the barbers left their customers partially shaved in their chairs as the barbers themselves watched the chanting party from the doors of their shops, and in at least one case, took the prasadam being distributed.

In a jolly mood, Abhirama Prabhu stood up on one of the carts.

It was a wonderful experience to see so many people in the town appreciate the harinama.

After the harinama we did some more kirtana at the fort for the few people who followed us that far.

The next day people invited us to chant at a very small temple nearby.

There I saw even dogs could not escape the effects of Holi!

Harinama in Raya

The Vrindavan devotees organized a harinama program in a small city northwest of Mathura called Raya.

As we waited in the bus to the program in front of Citrakuta temple, just a block from Krishna-Balaram, one bold monkey leaped up, and holding the frame of the bus window, took the glasses off a devotee lady. People tried unsuccessful to barter with the monkey food in exchange for the glasses, but he took the food in one hand and the glasses in the other.

In Raya, there is a temple of Radharani, where we saw the deity, and took some pakoras before the harinama. Another singing group was there at the temple, but we chanted around the town. 

As usual, some people were happy to dance with us.

A person from our group went ahead and gave local vendors flower pedals to throw at the harinama party which they did with great delight.

People watched from the upper floors of buildings.

Devotees distributed sponsored books.

I got to play my harmonium and sing for twenty minutes toward the end which I was happy about. There was prasadam for us in Raya, but our party leaders chose to return to Vrindavan, where B. B. Govinda Swami had sponsored a feast in honor of his mother who had left her body in the beginning of March.

He even served out the feast as well.

Harinamas in Vrindavan

I never really was able to get a regular harinama program together during my previous visits to Vrindavan, so I would chant in the twenty-four hour kirtana, but this time I had at least two harinamas to choose from. 

I could go out with a party of twenty or so Russian-speaking devotees, some I knew from the Polish tour, a lively group as you can see from these pictures.

Or I could go out with my friend, Ananta Nitai Prabhu from the UK, who had inspired me to do three 12-hour harinamas in Dublin and who had come to Newcastle to chant with me last August. I decided to chant with my friend, because I like him, it is good to maintain friendships, and he has helped me so much in Ireland, and because I would make more of a difference to a smaller party.

Although traveling over five hours from Bagru, Rajasthan, and arriving after 6 p.m. Ananta Nitai Prabhu and I still wanted to to do harinama in Vrindavan. We chanted for an hour just inside of the Krishna-Balarama gate, and people really reciprocated with us. Some people listened, some clapped, some chanted, some danced, some took photos, some took videos, some gave us maha-prasadam (sanctified food), and some gave us money. I saw it as Krishna being kind upon us for us taking the trouble to go out despite our being tired.

We chanted in the streets to the Radha-Damodar temple one day. Although we were delayed and got lost, we arrived just in time to see the 12:30 p.m. arati [worship ceremony] for the deities.

Another time, Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu and I chanted in a rickshaw as went to visit a temple of Mahadeva, Lord Shiva, who is worshiped as the protector of the dhama [spiritual place]. There a pujari (priest), seeing my harmonium, asked us to sing for the deity. On the way back we stopped at the abandoned Radha Govinda temple which was formerly seven stories high but had the top four stories demolished by a Muslim emperor. We chanted in the large main floor on the ground floor, and the acoustics were great. I could not help but think it would be a great venue for a 12-hour kirtana. That way it could still serve the Lord’s mission, even in its present condition.

Ananta Nitai Prabhu chanted every evening in front of Prabhupada’s Samadhi, and I joined him every day but one.

Once I was accompanying Ananta Nitai Prabhu on the harmonium, and a young boy came by, and I taught him to play the same tune, which he did very well. An American brahmacari danced.

Jagannatha Misra Prabhu, who I had done harinama with in Mayapur and Poland, came out several days.

He was good at inducing people to dance.

One day Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu also joined us.

Sometimes devotees would come and encourage people to dance.

Young men would dance.

Ladies would dance.

Children would dance.

Even old ladies would dance.

A very enthusiastic group of youths both loudly sang the mantra and danced exuberantly with the devotees. 

I wanted to ask where they came from but I was leading and playing the harmonium, so I could not.

All in all, lots of people increased their devotional service by encountering our little harinama party in Vrindavan.

Harinama Parikrama of Govardhan Hill

I like to go Radha Kund during each visit to Vrindavan because it is such a sacred place, but I did not have the determination plan a trip there. 

Fortunately Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu came up with the idea of doing a harinama parikrama around Govardhan Hill, which begins and ends with Radha Kund so I got my wish fulfilled. The entire path around the Hill is said to be about 15 miles (24 km), and it took us almost six hours. 

I was happy that Ananta Nitai Prabhu was also interested to come so there were three of us. We had chanted together before in both Belfast and Dublin.

Some people go around the entire hill bowing down by laying their entire body on the ground, and getting up and placing their feet where there head was and bowing down again, thus going one body length each time they bow down. 

I saw a parent and a son doing this.

I also saw husband and a wife.

There were also many individuals doing it.

Some people were chanting on their japa or meditation beads as they walked around Govardhan.

Others were very happy to join in and sing along with us, and a few danced.

Unfortunately I was too busy singing and playing the instruments because we only had three people in our party to take many pictures of this.

Even after chanting for almost six hours at Govardhan, Ananta Nitai Prabhu was so enthusiastic he chanted another two hours in front of Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi and I chanted an hour there with him. Chanting so much harinama in one day was not unusual for us because we had down three twelve-hour harinamas in Dublin in the past. It was just extra special to be chanting in the holy land of Vrindavan, where the residents and pilgrims are happy to hear and make others hear the holy names.

Reflections on My Visit to Vrindavan

Ideally, if we are progressive on the spiritual path, each visit to a holy place should be better than the last. I hope that was true of this visit to Vrindavan. When I arrived in Mathura on the morning of Gaura Purnima on an overcrowded train that I fortunately had a reserved seat on, I thought of how Vrindavan is always harder for me than Mayapur. Great souls like Hare Krishna founder Srila Prabhupada and the famed ISKCON kirtana leader, Aindra Prabhu, consider Vrndavana to be home, but I always felt more at home in Mayapur, and Vrindavan always felt extra austere. In Vrindavan, the temperatures were more extreme, I got my shoes stolen (even though they had holes in them), it was more like a bustling city, and I was less insulated from the challenges of living in India. Anticipating the first challenge, the initial haggling with a rickshaw driver for a decent price to Vrindavan, as I stood on the train platform at Mathura Junction, I decided to pray to Radharani, the Queen of Vrindavan, “please make it easy for me this time!” And so She did.

One day during Srila Prabhupada’s guru puja ceremony, as I was bowing down after offering flower petals to him, I said in my mind, “Thank you for bringing me to your home in Vrindavan.” As I arose, I continued thinking, “Please show me how it is my home too.” Then one brahmacari, who was distributing, as prasadam, the extra garlands Srila Prabhupada received, put one of Srila Prabhupada’s garlands around my neck. Later in the morning someone gave me a garland from Radharani. That day we decided to do harinama to the Radha-Damodar temple, where Srila Prabhupada lived before coming to America. With the samadhis (tombs) of some of our greatest saints like Rupa, Sanatana, and Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswamis, it is considered one of the most sacred places in Vrindavan. During our harinama procession to Radha-Damodar, we met a Prabhupada disciple who was returning from that very temple in a rickshaw. As he passed he removed a beautiful garland of roses from his neck, and gave it to me, saying, “This is Radharani’s garland.”

While at Radha Damodar, at the rooms where Srila Prabhupada lived before coming to America, which are worshiped and maintained by ISKCON devotees, we were able to get prasadam from both Srila Prabhupada’s breakfast and his lunch, something that does not happen every visit.

I see all these experiences as different ways Radharani and Her confidential devotee, Srila Prabhupada, tried to make me feel at home in Vrindavan this time.

Rupa Goswami’s samadhi is at the Radha-Damodar temple, and since our whole line of spiritual teachers comes from that intimate associate of Lord Caitanya and Srimati Radharani and because I heard that Srila Prabhupada asked for his blessings to advance his mission, I decided to pray to him. I chanted 108 times the mantra from the Bhagavad-gita which glorifies him:

sthapitam yena bhu-tale
svayam rupah kada mahyam
dadati sva-padantikam

When will Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, who has established within this material world the mission to fulfill the desire of Lord Caitanya, give me shelter under his lotus feet?”

And then I prayed to him for three things, (1) to chant purely the holy name of Krishna, (2) to attain Krishna-prema (love for God), and (3) to be able to inspire others to take up the path of Krishna bhakti. I also put a small donation in the donation box at his samadhi.

At our Radha-Balaram temple, I would spend the end of each kirtana dancing in the courtyard before Radha-Shyamasundar, thinking that to serve Radha and Krishna by singing and dancing for them in Vrindavan was perfection.

On the last day, I thanked Srimati Radharani for making my visit to Vrindavan easier this time.

I think of Vrindavan now as a place where people like to be reminded of Radha and Krishna and a place where they like to remind others of Radha and Krishna.

And as I waited for my train in Mathura, I felt a little sad I was leaving that holy land.

Chanting Enroute from Mathura to Howrah

There is only one train from Mathura Junction that goes to Howrah, the Toofan Express. The train, which has a negative reputation, is express in name only, as it stops about 80 places and takes 32 hours. Amazing enough, it arrived 3 minutes early in Mathura, but by the time it reached Howrah, it was over 10 hours late!

I was to exhausted to chant at Agra Cantt, a twenty-minute stop just over an hour from Mathura, but I felt bad about it and decided to chant at all the the other stops 10 minutes or longer. Before the next long stop, in Kanpur, a couple young men inquired about what I was doing on my laptop for four or five hours. I explained I was working on my blog, a travel journal, and because I was a computer science major, it was not unnatural for me to spend so long on the computer. I lost most of my business cards when I lost my bag, so I had one of them take a picture of my business card with my email and my blog address so he could look at it. They said they were also travelers. They were from Lucknow, but were just coming back from visiting Puskar, which I recently learned is a popular place for Westerners to visit, those not so interested in gross sense gratification as those who go to Goa. One young man was a professor of finance and the other had his own business. There was nearly half an hour left till Kanpur, and I got out my harmonium and began chanting. The two guys had gone to the door of the carriage as they thought Kanpur was one stop sooner, but when I began singing the young finance professor came back. He sat next to me and sang along with me as I sang Hare Krishna to the three-part evening melody, since it was just after sundown. He did surprising well grasping the tune. After a little while, he encouraged his friend to join us, since there was still time before reaching Kanpur and it would add to the adventure of their trip. 

His friend, Rahul R. Mishra, director of Supreme Infradevelopers Pvt. Ltd., came, and took the above picture of us singing, and then also sang along. When we got to Kanpur, I gave them some maha-prasada from Radha-Madhava and told them to them to keep in touch. Perhaps we could meet again sometime. The young finance professor bought me a bottle of water before I left, and I chanted at the Kanpur platform for the 15 minutes or so we stopped there.

I thought I would not be able to chant at Mughal Sarai Junction, as we were scheduled to stop there from 1:05 to 1:20 a.m., but it turned out we were six hours late at that point so I was able to chant at that platform too.

I missed chanting at Danapur for ten minutes because the train mysteriously made up 20 minutes, but I was able to chant at Patna Junction for at least ten minutes. One guy who liked the chanting there on the platform sat in the same compartment with me. As he boarded the train he continued singing the melody, although I had stopped. After fifteen minutes or so, the people in my compartment asked me to play the harmonium, and so I chanted for them for fifteen minutes, distributed maha-prasada, and asked if anyone spoke Bangla (Bengali) since I had a couple Bengali books. One man did. He asked if the books were for sale. Through a interpreter, I said, “There is no fixed price. I do not need any money, but it is good to give a donation.” He took a book and gave ten rupees, and I gave him and his friend maha-prasada and thanked him for the donation. I would have done better if I had Hindi books, but because my trains were going to and from Bengal, I had got two copies in each language. One the way to Rishikesh, I had distributed the two Hindi books so I just had the Bengali ones left.

On the bus from Howrah, as I approached the place where the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre, I saw a sign on a church “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” (Psalm 23)
I smiled. I had a sense that Krishna was taking care of me and making the journey easier. I found the bus to the Research Center also passes by the Kolkata temple and only cost 7 rupees, and my 32:30-hour train journey that had become 43:05 hours, due to delays, was behind me.

The Bhaktivedanta Research Centre

When my friend, Sthita-dhi Muni Prabhu shipped Sadaputa Prabhu’s research materials to Hari Sauri Prabhu for the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre in Kolkata, I never dreamed I would ever see them again, but I was wrong. Hari Sauri Prabhu saw me in Mayapur and asked if I could help go through the stuff. I allocated two days to do it, but I did not realize it was nine big boxes. 

Even by eliminating harinama and the evening program from my life and reducing reading, it still took seven days to do. I meditated on it as being service to the Vaishnavas, a highly recommended devotional activity, although not as immediately enjoyable to me as what I sacrificed, doing harinama in Mayapur.

It was odd seeing articles I had copied at libraries ten or twenty years before, with my handwriting documenting where they were obtained and how. There were also notes to Sadaputa Prabhu in my handwriting beginning with “Dear Prabhu,” and signed “kkd.” There was a file of articles I copied on multiple witness apparition cases, more evidence consistent with the Vedic world view, with its 400,000 human like species, including varieties of ghosts. There was an eight-inch stack of articles on biological transmutation, a phenomena where plants and animals produce chemical elements they do not ingest, effectively doing fusion reactions at low temperatures, combining sodium and oxygen to produce potassium, and the like. This phenomena occurs in the Vedic literature where the yogis combine bell metal and mercury to produce gold. Most physicists generally consider biological transmutation impossible but some have studied it. Srila Prabhupada would say that matter does not produce life, but life produces matter, and so it does, in ways only the most revolutionary scientists are discovering.

Acyuta Prabhu, the librarian at the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre library, who I worked with in organizing Sadaputa Prabhu’s materials, contributed to the library a large collection of books related to India which he had personally acquired over the years. Now he is happily situated doing as devotional service something he always loved, dealing with books. I thank him for the pictures of me at work.

I went to the morning program in Gita Bhavan, which shares the building with the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre. 

Gita Bhavan is a small ashram of enthusiastic young men most having jobs and some studying, but all hoping to become full time residents of the Kolkata temple after their training is complete. Once Ananda Vardhana Prabhu from the Kolkata temple asked me to speak the morning class at Gita Bhavan. The topic was Indra and demigods being defeated because they had failed to respect their spiritual master, Brhaspati, while their demoniac enemies were victorious because they pleased their guru, Sukracarya. In the course of the discussion I emphasized how much Krishna is pleased simply by the endeavor to satisfy one’s guru, and I glorified Srila Prabhupada for satisfying his guru by his attempts to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, which were a grand success. The devotees asked me about my guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and I spoke of his exemplary dedication to chanting japa, his affection for Srila Prabhupada, and his using his natural talent of writing in the Lord’s service in a big way, writing well over a hundred books.

Ayurveda and Bhagavad-gita

Hari Sauri Prabhu recommended one Vaishnava Ayurvedic doctor to me, Dr. Pradyumna, and I spent part of one of my days in Kolkata visiting him. As I glanced at the prescription Dr. Pradyumna gave me, the name of his clinic, Prasida, caught my attention. 

I smiled and exclaimed, “The word prasida is in Bhagavad-gita, in Chapter Eleven! It’s verse 25, I believe.” Struck with awe, seeing the universal form of his friend, Lord Krishna, Arjuna offers prayers and asks that the Lord be pleased with him. There Srila Prabhupada translates the word prasida as “be pleased.” Dr. Pradyumna’s face lit up with happiness, and he explained, “No cure is possible unless the Lord is pleased with us. We get a disease because of our karma, and until our karma is nullified, we cannot be cured. But who has the power to nullify our karma? Only the Supreme Lord can do that! I can give people with the same disease the same medicine, and one will be cured and one will not. Thus only if the Lord is pleased with us, a cure can come. Therefore, to remember this important point, I named my clinic, Prasida.” I thanked him for his consultation and association and left. I saw in the waiting room, a beautiful murti (statue) of Krishna playing the flute, wearing a fresh flower garland. Overwhelmed by the two-hour Kolkata bus ride, I had missed it when I entered. As I left to fill my prescription, I heard the Hare Krishna mantra playing on the sound system. 

To see the photos I did not include in this blog, click on the link below or copy it to your web browser (the unused photos follow the used ones):


Srila Prabhupada:

from Sri Caitanya-caritmrita, Adi-lila 13.39, purport:

A person who is advanced in Krishna consciousness always feels separation from Krishna because such a feeling of separation excels the feeling of meeting Krishna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in His last twelve years of existence within this world at Jagannatha Puri, taught the people of the world how, with a feeling of separation, one can develop His dormant love of Krishna. Such feelings of separation or meeting with Krishna are different stages of love of Godhead. These feelings develop in time when a person seriously engages in devotional service. The highest stage is called prema-bhakti, but this stage is attained by executing sadhana-bhakti. One should not try to elevate himself artificially to the stage of prema-bhakti without seriously following the regulative principles of sadhana-bhakti.

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 17.1, purport:

Even Christian priests are greatly surprised that all these boys from Jewish and Christian families have joined this Krishna consciousness movement; before joining, they never regarded any principles of religion seriously, but now they have become sincere devotees of the Lord. Everywhere people express this astonishment, and we take great pride in the transcendental behavior of our students. Such wonders are possible, however, only by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They are not ordinary or mundane.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 14.16, purport:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s special mission is the deliverance of all fallen souls in Kali-yuga. Devotees of Krishna must persistently seek the favor and mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to become fit to return home, back to Godhead.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 14.18, purport:

The conclusion is that being the servant of the servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the highest benediction one can desire.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 14.45, purport:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore advised the beggars to chant ‘Haribol!’ while taking prasadam. Chanting means accepting one’s self as the eternal servant of Krishna. This is the only solution, regardless of social position. Everyone is suffering under the spell of maya; therefore the best course is to learn how to get out of the clutches of maya. . . . Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised the beggars to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra for elevation to the transcendental position. On the transcendental platform, there is no distinction between the rich, the middle class and the poor.”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.19 given on August 22, 1972, in Los Angeles:

If one is Krishna conscious, he will be free from lust and greed. That is the test.

If we engage in the four sinful acts we will remain in darkness. By chanting 16 rounds we will be fixed in goodness.

You have to come the spiritual platform then there is the question of love for all beings. Otherwise it is all bogus propaganda.

Inactivity and sleep is ignorance. Activity for material gain is passion. Seeing things as they are, “I am the eternal servant of the Lord, I should serve the Lord” is goodness. And being fixed in the service of the Lord is transcendental.

from a lecture given on Brahma-samhita 5.35 in New York on July 31, 1971:

That is the Vedic way of understanding. We take knowledge from the authority and do not bother unnecessarily speculating. We don’t waste our time in that way. Our time is very valuable. Instead of researching how Govinda enters into the atom, we chant Hare Krishna and utilize our time in that way.”

In the beginning, if one is not fortunate enough to see Krishna although He is sitting in this temple, let him see Krishna in these other ways. If he’s not fortunate to come here and to see Krishna, take prasada, and dance in ecstasy, then let his unfortunate condition be diminished by seeing Krishna in water, in sunshine, in moonshine, in this and that.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

Today’s drawing shows three
devotees dancing and
chanting with upraised arms.
There are only three of
them, but they are enthusiastic
and brave. Sometimes it
is hard to convince devotees
to go out on harinama.
They are disinterested or
the authorities think there
are higher priorities.
In Trinidad Agnideva is the temple president,
and he personally takes
the devotees on harinama
for three hours. The people
love it so much they come
forward and give donations without being asked.
In the early days of the Movement
all the temples would go out
every day. Now it has
become mostly a weekly affair.
I think Agnideva has got
his priorities right. Prabhupada said
if we are always preaching,
management will be at our fingertips.”

Today’s drawing shows four
devotees dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are smiling and having
fun. In the early years of the Movement,
Prabhupada was challenged
by a critic, ‘What do your
devotees do for recreation?’
Prabhupada replied, ‘We are chanting
and dancing. We are taking

prasadam. Practically everything
we do is recreation. Can you name
something that is not recreation?’
He saw going out on
as a great pleasure for devotees.
Early leaders like Vishnujana
Swami would take the
devotees out for many hours
a day. He tirelessly sang and
played the
We should remember Prabhupada’s
definition of Krishna consciousness as recreation
and participate in it in that spirit.”

This morning’s drawing shows three
bhaktas dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are smiling and happily moving.
Going on
harinama is a
delightful experience. At first
a devotee may be reluctant,
thinking he is tired, or
he or she may be afraid they
will be mocked by the public.
But once they get out there
and sing with the group
the spiritual energy
takes over. The pleasure-
giving potency infuses one with
bliss, and Krishna gives courage
to endure any unfriendly
reception from the nondevotees.
The more regularly one goes
out one gains confidence
and wants to do it every day.”

Sri Stavamala by Rupa Goswami
Ballavendra, The King of the Gopas

May Lord Murari, who with all propriety
made the young
gopis mad with happiness
and who gave His intimate friendship
to one very fortunate
kill all your desires for anything but Him.”

Aindra Prabhu
wrote in his book that
harinama sankirtana
is the highest priority.
His conclusion is correct.
Lord Caitanya quoted the harer nama
verse from the Upanisads
that there is no other way,
no other way, no other way
to attain God-consciousness in the
Age of Kali, but the chanting of
the holy names, chanting the
holy names, chanting the holy names.
It is repeated three times
for emphasis. Those who
take this order submissively
on their heads and chant
Hare Krishna in the temple and
in public are obedient
servants of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
They please Him, and
their lives will become successful.”

Devotees who go out on
harinama wash away all
their maya and anxieties.
Some of them may be
hesitant to join at first,
but once they start
singing with the groups
their hearts are bathed
in bliss. The veterans are
more confident and know
that it will work every time.
They feel increased energy
each time they go out
and never want to
stop this sacred yajna.
They pray to the Lord
to give them strength,
health and facility to continue their steady service.
Krishna reciprocates and gives them
assurance: “Declare it boldly, Arjuna,
My devotee will never be vanquished.”

Sri Stavamala by Rupa Goswami
Ballavendra, The King of the Gopas, Verse 14

O Lord Mukunda, who has the power
to demand pure love for You,
the smallest sprout of a fragment
of which makes the sages’ hearts
that taste it at once dislike
the happiness of impersonal liberation,
my only prayer is that my desire
to attain that love may increase, birth after birth.”

Harinama brings happiness
to the heart. The holy name
is nondifferent from Krishna,
and He is
sad-cid-ananda vigraha,
the eternal form of bliss and
knowledge. When you chant
Hare Krishna, Krishna is dancing
on your tongue. It is
no wonder the devotees
love to go on
They are associating with
Krishna through the transcendental
sound vibration. It
is said that between the personal form of Krishna
and His presence in His name,
the name form is more merciful.
Therefore everyone should take
shelter in chanting Hare Krishna.”

Sivarama Swami:

Srila Prabhupada extensively quoted the verse “krishna-varnam . . .” in his books. The acaryas also quoted it, and Lord Caitanya’s personal associates quoted it. It is the most authoritative verse on Lord Caitanya. The principle characteristic is He is “akrishna” (golden) in complexion. And the secondary characteristic is that He engages in sankirtana, congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord.

Uddhava-gita” glorifies devotional service even more than Bhagavad-gita.

Srila Prabhupada would always quote from Garga Muni’s statement in Krishna’s name giving ceremony that Krishna had come in white and red forms, and will soon come in a yellow form.

Although He was akrishna (nonblackish) in complexion, when Lord Caitanya as a child played with the cooking pots, he again became blackish from the soot.

Srila Prabhupada explained the members of the Krishna consciousness movement as astras (weapons) of Lord Caitanya. By their service, they also become His associates.

Danavir Goswami:

Brahmanas have all good qualities, such as truthfulness, self-control, austerity, etc., and therefore, they should be followed.

Modern intellectuals who do not have these good qualities are not actually qualified to teach.

If we can speak what we have learned from our spiritual master, that is our perfection.

The Krishna consciousness movement is pointing out that Krishna is Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore, His instructions should be followed by everyone.

People do not know about Krishna, and therefore, they do not accept Him. It is our duty to inform them about Him. If one knows about Him, one will come to love Him.

Because Krishna is great, if one follows Krishna he becomes great, and if one is the follower of a follower of Krishna, he becomes great.

God is not very popular now because spiritual activities are not very popular, and God is always trying to engage people in spiritual activities. Celibacy is one example.

Why is Christ great? He followed God and told others to follow him. Srila Prabhupada is great for the same reason.

You can become a messiah very easily just by following the spiritual instructions you have received and teaching them to others.

The chanting will give us love of God, if we keep ourselves without sin by following the four rules [no meat eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, and no gambling].

Ananta Shanti Prabhu, the first Russia devotee, heard from Srila Prabhupada for a few hours, and he told others what he learned and now there are thousands of devotees in Russia.

People are desiring to do good for the world, but if they do not have knowledge, what good will they do?

Kubja was not saintly being a servant of the demoniac Kamsa, but by Krishna’s association she became pure.

When I was drafted into the Israeli Army, I argued, “If I go into the Army I will preach, and all the people will become devotees, and that is not what you want, is it?” They agreed but sent me to the Army anyway to show that even if you are a Hare Krishna leader, you still must spend time in the Army.

I never learned Hebrew so I did not know what the army officer was talking about in his lecture, but it looked like he was showing where you must aim your gun to kill someone. I raised my hand, and they were very happy to see I had a question because I was almost always silent. I said, “You appear to be showing the place to fire a gun to kill someone. Is that true?” The officer responded affirmatively. Then I asked, “When you kill someone, do you kill their body or do you kill their soul?” That question baffled the officer, and he went back and forth on it. After his talk, he came up to me, and we had a nice discussion about the difference between the body and the soul.

Q [by Pancagauda Prabhu]: The preaching in America is not apparently going so nicely as in the past. Why is that?
A: Because you from America have come to other places. That is my answer.

Prahladananda Swami:

Everything should be done to please Krishna.

According to our intelligence, our mind follows.

Everyone is looking for people to love them. No one is looking for people to hate them.

We cannot serve Krishna unless we see how everything is connected with Him.

Our speech must awaken transcendence awareness in those who hear us so it must be truthful, not agitating, pleasing, beneficial, and following the scriptural conclusions.

Our safest situation is when we think that we have no idea what to say and we look toward Krishna, and He advises us what to say. If we are too familiar, we think I know what to say, and often we do not say things that actually benefit others.

My temple president described being in the garden in Los Angeles with Srila Prabhupada, and how he made the atmosphere just like the spiritual world.

We are not here to enjoy the holy name, prasadam, and the devotees, but to appreciate these things in such a way that we are inspired to share the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu with others.

Q by Bhaktisiddhanta Swami: Is there spiritual sense gratification that causes you to not remember Krishna?
A: Krishna in Bhagavad-gita 6.20–23 describes pleasure experienced through transcendental senses. We should fill our senses with Krishna’s form, Krishna’s pastimes, etc.

Q by Bhaktisiddhanta Swami: Suppose I put my tilaka on like this, I hold my danda, like this, but I have lost my taste.
A: Yes. That is because you are thinking in terms of “I” and “my.” It is nice to put your tilaka on like this and hold your danda like this, but not do to it for yourself, but to do it to please your spiritual master and to please Krishna.

For now we are trying to find receptive people and give them Krishna consciousness as we have received it.

Bhakti Vijnana Swami:

Because Bangladesh is a Moslem country and not so influenced by Western culture, the culture is much like during Lord Caitanya’s time. Devaki dd [who preaches in Bangladesh] considers this an arrangement by the Lord to preserve that culture.

Srivasa Thakura did not do anything in his life except read Srimad-Bhagavatam. If someone is as pure as Srivasa Thakura one will find all his needs taken care of by the Lord.

The rich pandits [intellectuals] of Navadvipa did not like Srivasa Pandit because he did not sell knowledge like they did. They even talked about pushing his house into the Ganges.

Simplicity was the most striking quality of Srivasa Thakura. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura considered that simplicity is a principal quality of a Vaishnava. Without having simplicity, we cannot accept Krishna as He is.

Lord Caitanya was worshiped by everyone in Navadvipa because of His knowledge.

Srivasa Pandit addressed Lord Caitanya, “O crest jewel of arrogant people, what is the use of all your scholarship if you do not become a devotee of Krishna?” Lord Caitanya smiled and said, “If you pray that I become a devotee of Krishna, because you are a devotee of Krishna, someday I will also become a devotee of Lord Krishna.” And so it was.

The materialistic pandits of Navadvipa blamed Srivasa Thakura for Lord Caitanya becoming a devotee.

Everyone connected with Srivasa Thakura became a devotee. Lord Caitanya revealed his form as Krishna to Srivasa Thakura’s drunken, meat-eating Muslim tailor who subsequently became a mendicant sannyasi who always chanted “Hare Krishna.”

Srivasa Thakura’s complete faith in the divinity of Lord Caitanya as Krishna Himself made him among the greatest associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Only by the mercy of the Lord or His devotee, can one understand that Lord Caitanya is the Supreme Lord Himself.

Bhakti Brhad Bhagavatamrita Swami:

Srila Prabhupada wanted to travel to the U.S.A. one last time at the very end of his life.

Even at the Manor two or three months before he left this world, he inquired from Balabhadra Prabhu about extending his residency in the U.S.A.

Srila Prabhupada said he wanted to live a little longer to make everything more perfect. When Tamal Krishna Goswami inquired how, Prabhupada expressed he wanted to go to Gitanagari and teach devotees to live according to varnasrama dharma.

When asked if it was a necessity for a sannyasi to go though the previous three ashramas, and Prabhupada replied that it was normal but not necessary.

He explained that brahmanas go through all the four ashramas, the ksatriyas, through the first three, vaishyas, through the first two, and the sudras just the grhastha ashrama.

The ashramas regulate sense enjoyment, especially for those who are not able to chant sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra or give up meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling.

For one who is brahmana, chanting sixteen rounds and giving up sinful activities is required. He would be expected to go to mangala arati, while the ksatriyas, vaishya, and sudras would not. The other divisions would appreciate the brahmanas greater spiritual commitment and would follow their instructions.

Q: People ask me about their children, who do not feel inclined to chant japa or come to the temple. What to do?
A: It requires a village or a community to bring up children. If that is not there, it will be difficult, but if you keep your heart open to them, even if they do something wrong, they will understand they can always turn to you for help, and they will progress.

When a mother explained to Srila Prabhupada it was difficult to follow the morning program. He replied, “You must do two things in the morning. Chant your sixteen rounds and hear Srimad-Bhagavatam.

If communities come forward and support financially couples who are vanaprasthas, then these couples can be free to act as brahmanas for their communities.

Whose responsibility to create farm communities? You can say it is everyone’s responsibility, but then who will take responsibility? Actually it is the grhasthas responsibility. The sannyasis can only give guidance.

A grhastha could buy a farm, and demonstrate by his own example how live by farming.

The main point is if people can identify those who are qualified as brahmanas, respect them and follow their instructions, then progress will be there.

Pancagauda Prabhu:

We have to increase our taste for the holy name.

Chanting sixteen rounds is the minimum dosage for chanting the holy name so we do not relapse into materialism.

As in an army, you cannot refuse an order because it comes from a mere commander and not the commander-in-chief, similarly in spiritual life we must also follow the authorized representatives of the spiritual master.

We are thinking the more we can accumulate the happier we will be. One presidential candidate in the U.S.A. had about 12 houses. During an interview, he could not recall the actual number.

We live in a culture where we name our children after names of Krishna, and thus our attachment to them can cause us to remember Krishna.

Repeated chanting of the holy name, the association of devotees, and following the principles of the scriptures will give us the intelligence to not throw the dirt of offenses upon us after we bathe in purifying waters of the holy name.

If we genuinely want help advancing in spiritual life, Krishna will provide help.

If you have faith in your doctor, you just take your medicine, and you become cured.

Abhiram Prabhu:

from a car conversation:

Rajasthan and Gujarat are the best states in India in many ways, culturally, in terms of cow protection, educationally, and spiritually.

In Jaipur people walk barefoot 5 km to see the deity Govindaji, even the rich ones.

from a restaurant conversation:

Tamal Krishna Goswami was half Jewish and half Catholic. It is hard to imagine more different influences. Srila Prabhupada said that Jews became devotees because they were intelligent, and that Catholics became devotees because they were pious.

Q: What happened to Vishnujana Swami?
A: He committed suicide. While preaching at a festival, he was talking with a hippie women who invited him to spend some time with her, and that idea stuck in his mind, although he did not act on it. He was so absorbed in spiritual activities since he had taken sannyasa, thoughts like that had not disturbed his mind before, and he felt he had fallen from the strict standard of sannyasa life. He inquired from Srila Prabhupada if committing suicide, as Chota Haridasa had done, was the proper way of atoning for falling down from sannyasa. Srila Prabhupada answered affirmatively, considering that Chota Haridasa had done the right thing and not anticipating that suicide was on Vishnujana Swami’s mind. Early the next day my godbrother Sridhara Prabhu, who is in Australia now, said he saw Vishnujana Swami intently chanting japa on the roof of the Lotus Building. Vishnujana Swami said to him, “In our spiritual life, we must be real.” That is the last thing anyone heard him say. He was not at mangala-arati. Bhagavata Prabhu saw him at the Krishnanagar train station and called to him across the tracks in a voice he was sure he could hear, but he did not turn back. Some brahmanas, who were shown his picture, said they recognized him, and that he had paid them to wrap his body in chains and throw him in the confluence of the three sacred rivers at Prayag. Srila Prabhupada was sorry when he heard about it, saying that he did not have to do that. The important part of the story to consider is how elevated Vishnujana Swami was, being completely absorbed in Krishna consciousness for so many years, that he considered a little material attachment to be a serious deviation.

Louis Pasteur:

from a quote found in Sadaputa Prabhu’s files:

Posterity will one day laugh at the foolishness of modern materialistic philosophers. The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. I pray while I am engaged in my work at the laboratory.” (The Literary Digest, October 18, 1902)


Because I was in Vrindavan, which is a facsimile of Lord Krishna’s abode in this world, I was inspired to include this verse by Lord Brahma which describes the original abode of Lord Krishna.

sriyah kantah kantah parama-purushah kalpa-taravo
druma bhumis cintamani-gana-mayi toyam amritam
katha ganam natyam gamanam api vamsi priya-sakhi
cid-anandam jyotih param api tad asvadyam api ca
sa yatra kshirabdhih sravati surabhibhyas ca sumahan
nimesardhakhyo va vrajati na hi yatrapi samayah
bhaje svetadvipam tam aham iha golokam iti yam
vidantas te santah kshiti-virala-carah katipaye

I worship that transcendental seat, known as Svetadvipa where as loving consorts the Laksmis in their unalloyed spiritual essence practice the amorous service of the Supreme Lord Krishna as their only lover; where every tree is a transcendental purpose tree; where the soil is the purpose gem, all water is nectar, every word is a song, every gait is a dance, the flute is the favorite attendant, effulgence is full of transcendental bliss and the supreme spiritual entities are all enjoyable and tasty, where numberless milk cows always emit transcendental oceans of milk; where there is eternal existence of transcendental time, who is ever present and without past or future and hence is not subject to the quality of passing away even for the space of half a moment. That realm is known as Goloka only to a very few self-realized souls in this world.” (Brahma-samhita 5.56)