Friday, October 03, 2014

Travel Journal#10.16: France, Holland, Belgium, and The North of England

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 16
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2014, part two
France, Holland, Belgium, and The North of England
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on October 3, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

I chanted harinama in Paris for four days on the metros, at Les Halles, at Notre Dame, and the at Eiffel Tower with some friends. Then I chanted in Rotterdam with their Saturday harinama devotees and spoke the program that evening. Sunday was my first Amsterdam Ratha-yatra. I met up with some bad fortune, missing my boat across the English Channel and then being denied entry in the the UK by the Home Office Border people. I spent a night couch surfing in Lille, and chanted at the piano in the train station there the next morning. Then I spent a couple days with my friend, Janmastami Prabhu, in Brussels doing harinama. I lost my camera card and card reader along with all my pictures while in Brussels, so I have fewer illustrations than usual. Then I lost a day of engagements delayed by the UK Border officials although I successfully made it to London and then Manchester. Then I did harinama and an evening program in Liverpool, did harinama and attended a wedding of two friends in Newcastle, and finally ended the month with a harinama in Leeds. All in all, the end of August was a lesson in being equipoised in loss.

I share insights from Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures, a quote from Narottama Dasa Thakura from Prema-bhakti-candrika, and excerpts from the books and online journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I also share insights from Bhakti Caitanya Swami, who was visiting Newcastle to attend the marriage of a disciple. There are also notes on classes by Prabhupada disciple, Pitavasa Prabhu, in Paris, along with Adi Purusa Prabhu, the Bhakti-sastri teacher, who was visiting there, and Kusha Prabhu, who was distributing books there for the summer. I also include wisdom from Madhavananda Prabhu from his Ratha-yatra lecture in Amsterdam. I share notes on wedding addresses by Prabhupada Pran Prabhu, Kirtida dd, and Rama Rao.

I want to thank Sivananda Sena Prabhu for kindly purchasing my ticket from Paris to Rotterdam, thus saving me considerable inconvenience. Thanks also to Dr. Karuna Rasa Prabhu of the Manor for his generous examination and donation. I also want to thank Gaura Krishna Prabhu for kindly driving me to and from the Manor and to the doctor. I also thank the Liverpool nama-hatta, and John and Preitie from Leeds for their kind donations. As I recall my benefactors, I am remembering the Beatles’ lyric, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Harinama in Paris

I chanted harinama for four days on the metros, at Les Halles, at Notre Dame, and at the Eiffel Tower. I was grateful to Gadadhara Priya Prabhu who came out all four days on harinama, and for Sara who came out at least three. Despite being tired from Janmastami and traveling from England, Chandrasekhara Prabhu came out one day. Adi Purusa Prabhu, the Bhakti-sastri teacher, and Kusha Prabhu, who I knew when he was leading harinama in Mayapur inspired me by joining us chanting at Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower the last day of my visit. One couple from America who loved harinama came to visit Paris, and they also came out with us for a couple of days. Thus by the grace of the Lord and His devotees I always had devotees to chant with in Paris.

Gadadhara Priya Prabhu tells the people on the metro that yoga helps to connect with “the divine.” In France he finds many people do not believe in “the divine.” When he asked one woman, she said, “the question of the existence of the divine has never occurred to me.” He then explained to her that the divine exists both outside and within, and then he resumed the chanting. He said the combination of his words and the chanting seemed to transform her.

At Notre Dame, especially many people danced with us, and it was beautiful to see.

The Eiffel Tower was such a good venue, we went there two days.

Sara talked to one man at the Eiffel Tower who watched us for some time. She could see tears coming from his eyes behind his dark glasses. She sold him a book. Although from the meat eating country of Argentina, he was trying to become vegetarian.

Harinama in Rotterdam

Sivananda Sena Prabhu told me one devotee called him at 10:00 a.m. and said he could not come on the 3 p.m. harinama because it was raining. Sivananda Sena Prabhu told him not to worry, and that he would talk to Indra about it. The weather for the harinama was the sunniest it had been in several days. I was happy to have a few people to chant with there.

Amsterdam Ratha-yatra

It was the first time I went to Ratha yatra in Amsterdam. The weather was perfect, with lots of sun.

Sivananda Sena Prabhu and I got the special mercy of carrying Srila Prabhupada from his car to the Ratha yatra cart.

The route starts out in a section of the city that is not so busy.

Parividha Prabhu lead the chanting near the beginning. He danced in a nice pattern, and other devotees followed him.

Still, people watched from their apartment buildings.

Some people appeared very happy to witness the event.

But by the time we got near Dam Square, people were lining the streets, looking at and taking pictures of the parade.

Parasurama Prabhu and his crew cooked the feast, and everything was nice. My plan was to go with them back to the UK, and so I had to miss the rest of the kirtanas, alas.

One of the Craziest Days in My Life

After the Amsterdam Ratha-yatra, I traveled with Parasurama Prabhu and a van of his helpers, planning return to the UK, but I never made it. While waiting for the ferry at Calais, I tried to get the wireless internet working at a rest area so I could proofread my guru’s blog and be free to sleep on the boat. The internet did not work at the closest rest area to our van, so I tried another one. It also did not work at the other one, but I found good seating and light for working on my blog on the computer. I confused the time the boat left for the time to board the boat, and returned to the van to find it was nowhere in sight. It must be on the boat! I went to look for the boat, and I saw it had just left the dock. All my luggage was in the van on its way to the Manor, and I just had my computer and the clothes I was wearing! I tried to hitch a ride with cars going on the next boat, but because the number of passengers is written on the ticket, no one was willing to risk taking me. I tried to negotiate a free pass on the next boat, but because I was not listed on Parasurama Prabhu’s ticket, they said I had to go on the next ferry that accepted passengers, some five hours later, and I had to buy a new ticket for 40 euros. If I took a bus, I knew I could get all the way to London for 40 euros, so 40 euros only to go to Dover, on the other side of the channel, was truly a bad deal. While I trying to figure out what to do, a Eurolines bus enroute to London pulled up in front of the passenger ferry office where I was waiting. I asked the driver if he could take me to London. He said the bus was completely booked, and he was just picking up one passenger in Calais. I asked if that passenger did not show up, if he would be willing to take me, and he agreed. The passenger did not show, and he said he would take me for £30, and I gave him the money and he took down my passport details for immigration. Everything looked auspicious, but the UK Border people detained me for further questioning. After talking to me several times and taking my fingerprints in the course of eight or nine hours, from 2:30 or 3:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. they decided they would not let me into the UK. I could not believe it! That was the first time I had been denied entrance into any country, what to speak of the UK, where I had my summer base and I had spent several months the past few years. 

Their reasons you can see on the form they gave me: 

I was angry that the officer who made the decision did not believe my statements, and that the lady I showed my onward ticket to Dublin to, did not tell the officer, so he thought I had no ticket out of the UK. Thus I was stuck in France with my computer but no harmonium, and no clothes but those I was wearing. I walked to the town of Calais, perhaps twenty minutes in a light rain to save money. At the welcome center, using the 20 minutes of free wireless internet I was given, I learned that there were no cheap buses from Calais, and my best bet was to take the train to Lille for 18.50 euros. That I would reach 20 minutes before a Megabus which departed for Amsterdam, where my friends had invited me to stay, and even offered to pay my way to the UK if I did. Unfortunately my free internet expired and they would not sell me or give me time to book the Megabus online. The internet cafe was closed, although it was supposed to be opened at that time, so I took a chance and went to Lille, hoping I could pay cash for the Megabus. I made it in time for the bus, but the driver would not take cash, so now I was stuck in Lille. I found a Eurolines bus going to either Brussels or Amsterdam, I cannot remember which, but they also would not accept cash. What frustration! Finally I found I could take a cheap bus run by the train company SNCF and known as iDBUS, to Brussels the next morning, where my friend Janmastami Prabhu said he would be happy to have me visit, and so I booked the bus online at a cafe where I bought a milkshake in order to use the wireless internet for the rest of the evening. Now my only problem was my bus was not till the next morning. I had gotten so little sleep while detained by the UK border guards, the idea of staying up all night at the train station was intolerable. Spending money on a hotel or hostel was also not an attractive idea. What to do?

Couch Surfing Adventure

I decided to couch surf in Lille, although I had never done it before. Looking through the profiles of those offering accommodation in Lille, I saw a couple of young Indian men who looked promising, including one who mentioned Hare Krishna in his profile, and so I sent them messages saying I was a Hare Krishna monk, explaining my predicament and including my phone number. I ended up staying with an Indian student, Vinay Kumar, who attended our temple in Hyderabad, and who, amazingly enough, had just gone to the Janmastami festival the previous week in our castle in Belgium, known as Radhadesh. He told me he rented an apartment just five minutes walk from the train station just so he could facilitate couch surfers. That evening he already had another couch surfer, Flower, who it turned out had danced in our mantra yoga tent at the Polish Woodstock. After we got to know each other briefly, I suggested we chant Hare Krishna. Flower was a guitar player, and I had her play the chords to the simple Prabhupada tune that everyone knows and is easy to sing, and the three of us chanted together for five minutes. I gave them both a coconut cookie made by the Czech devotees on their farm. It was so amazing to end up staying with two people in Lille who had Hare Krishna connections! For the first time since I missed the boat in Calais, I had a sense that Krishna was really taking care of me!

Harinamas in Lille and Brussels

The French railway company, SNCF, puts pianos in many of the train stations, so I spent half an hour playing four Hare Krishna tunes on the piano in Lille during the morning rush hour the day after I was refused entry into England.

Janmastami Prabhu played the accordion even before meeting the devotees, and he has great faith in the holy name. I usually go out on harinama for three hours, but once in Leuven, Belgium, because of Janmastami’s enthusiasm, we chanted four hours. I usually see Janmastami every year when I go to Europe and often we do harinama together, but I had not seen him at all in Europe this year, and the good side of being detained at the UK border was that I got to do harinama with Janmastami this year in Brussels.

That the evening of the day I arrived in Brussels, Janmastami Prabhu, Ben, Indira, and I sang Hare Krishna in the Brussels Central station for an hour and a half. Indira chanted beautifully with such an expression of joy on her face it was awesome, and her partner Ben, did a great job of playing the mridanga. Many people appreciated. I was so elated by the lovely kirtana and the joy of chanting with other devotees, including my friend, Janmastami, that all the hassles resulting from being detained by the UK Border guards were forgotten. There was only transcendental bliss.

The next day the other devotees were busy, and I chanted by myself at a fairly crowded bus and tram stop much closer to the temple.

Successful Entry into the UK

I borrowed some money and booked a ticket to America, and I printed that and my bank statement so the British officers’ main complaints against me would be nullified. I traveled by bus through the Channel Tunnel which begins not at Calais, but the small French city of Coquelles, as I did not want to encounter the same UK border officials who had rejected me before. Still I was detained for three hours because they noticed I was refused entry three days before. They finally let me in, saying they only did so because I printed my airline ticket to America and my bank statement. Once they decided to let me in, they gave me a free travel voucher to London, and everybody in the whole office, about four or five people, were very concerned that I knew which bus to get on and that the driver honored the free voucher. Still I missed the harinama and Sacred Sounds program I hoped to attend in Preston due to the entire delay of six hours. Fortunately the Megabus people charged me only £5 for traveling at a later time, although I had to ask two different officials to get that deal.

Altogether I lost four days of programs in England and well over $100 in extra travel expenses. I think next year I will get another kind of visa for the UK so I do not have to lie about accepting donations as some border officials consider accepting donations violates a tourist visa. I may also have to borrow money and book tickets in advance to be safe.

Harinama in Newcastle

All the devotees in Newcastle were getting ready for the marriage of two devotees in the mid afternoon, so I knew I had little chance of finding anyone to sing with in the streets of Newcastle before the wedding. Fortunately my friend, Radha Londonisvara Das Prabhu, who I had traveled with to the Polish Woodstock and who loves harinama, was scheduled to chant at the wedding ceremony and so was visiting Newcastle. There was a soccer game that day, what they call football in the UK, and we chanted to, at, and from the stadium, and thus many hundreds of people heard our brief forty-minute harinama.

The Wedding of Caitanya Vallabha Dasa and Jagannathesvari Devi Dasi

Kirtida Devi Dasi did a very good job of explaining all the elements of the marriage ceremony so that persons not acquainted with Hare Krishna could understand the meaning behind it. In that respect, this was best wedding I had ever witnessed.

Bhakti Caitanya Swami quoted a few verses from the brief description of Lord Ramacandra’s pastimes in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, in which the dharma of the householder is described. It had not occurred to me before that they would be so relevant for a marriage ceremony:

When Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the King of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it. Lord Ramacandra took a vow to accept only one wife and have no connection with any other women. He was a saintly king, and everything in His character was good, untinged by qualities like anger. He taught good behavior for everyone, especially for householders, in terms of varnasrama-dharma. Thus He taught the general public by His personal activities. Mother Sita was very submissive, faithful, shy and chaste, always understanding the attitude of her husband. Thus by her character and her love and service she completely attracted the mind of the Lord.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.10.53–55)

Since Jagannathesvari Devi Dasi was of Indian descent and from Mauritius, and Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu was English, it was said the theme of the wedding was “East Meets West.”

Some of the male devotees chose a style of dress in keeping with the theme.

I am tired of hearing the different sides talk about dress and devotional service in ISKCON, so for me to see their costumes was a creative and refreshing change. I shared the picture with my Facebook friends, and fifty liked it.

The wedding feast was nice but slow in coming, but that did facilitate conversations with devotees I had not seen or would not see, including guests like Bhakti Caitanya Swami. The “Royal Rice” had curd, nuts, and vegetables in it and was so much more exciting than the rice you usually get, and so I had some for a midnight snack and for breakfast the next day. The shocking thing about the feast for a prasadam addict like me was there was no serving of seconds on anything, and it was embarrassing to realize how attached I am to having more of those things I like and how it disturbed my mind when I did not. Many of my friends just went to the kitchen door and asked the servers to get them more, but somehow I thought that would be a little rude, so I was a little frustrated to go without seconds.

We had some nice kirtana during the marriage ceremony and after the feast, and lots of the devotees who participated in the monthly eight-hour kirtanas were there. It was very fulfilling to sing and dance with them again this year before leaving for America for seven months.

Leeds Harinama

The main Hare Krishna leaders in Leeds decided to do their monthly Sunday program on the next to last Sunday of the month instead of the last one as it is usually done. As I already had booked a ticket to Leeds for the last Sunday, I went and did harinama anyway. Preitie and John, a book distributor from the Manor who developed an interest in Preitie, chanted for an hour, and the time went by so much faster when there were three of us chanting. John has a good voice and musical ability, and it will be nice if he can join us for more harinamas in The North of England in the coming years. Another John, the one who became a regular attender from getting a flyer and a pamphlet from me the previous year on harinama, happened to walk by while shopping. He kindly gave a donation and stayed for almost half an hour and played the karatalas for me. It was nice that Krishna arranged I connect with him again before returning to America.


Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.28–29 on November 8, 1972 in Vrndavana:

This modern civilization is in darkness because they do not know the actual aim of life.

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.24 on September 29, 1972 in Los Angeles:

You cannot expect to live very nicely in the prison house. It is meant to give tribulations. [And so it is with the material world which is compared to a prison.]

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14 Chapter Summary:

Whatever money a grihastha accumulates by the grace of God he should spend in five activities, namely worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, receiving Vaishnavas and saintly persons, distributing prasada to the general public and to all living entities, offering prasada to his forefathers, and also offering prasada to his own self.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.3–4, purport:

Simply by joining the kirtana—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and by hearing about Krishna from Bhagavad-gita, one must be purified, especially if he also takes prasada. This is all going on in the Krishna consciousness movement.”

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.29 on October 4, 1972, in Los Angeles:

We remind the scientists that their research work should be for God.

If you do not attain Krishna by your philosophical and scientific knowledge, then all your work is lost.

At least twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, we must glorify God. These are the recommendations of the sastra (the revealed literature). If we do not follow them, we just fall down.

Without bhakti [pure devotional service], God cannot be captured.

Krishna has not come here to eat your puri and rasagulla. Do not think like that.

Krishna says, “I eat.” [Bhagavad-gita 9.26] Who are you to say that Krishna does not eat?

Srila Narottama dasa Thakura:

from Prema-bhakti-candrika, Chapter Four: Yugala-bhajana-nistha (“Undivided Service to the Divine Couple”), Verse 6:

Sri Radhika and Sri Shyama are the topmost dancers and entrance one another by Their jewel-like qualities.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from Calling Out to Srila Prabhupada:

Prabhupada, who dressed always in saffron, who wrote affectionate letters to his disciples signed ‘Your ever well-wisher,’ who wrote to his leaders, ‘Never be a moment without thinking how to improve ISKCON,’ who encouraged each department of workers without discouraging another, who gave all of his life’s energy for spreading Krishna consciousness, who was empowered with success never achieved by previous acaryas, and who opened the door for the entire world to appreciate Gaudiya Vaisnavism as the eternal teachings of topmost love of God, we pray to always retain utmost respect for you and your teachings.”

Spending lots of time in concentrated japa is never a selfish thing. It will give you the confidence to attract others to the holy names and prevent you from being a hypocrite.”

Bhakti Caitanya Swami:

from an address at Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu’s and Jagannathesvari Devi Dasi’s wedding:

In Krishna consciousness spiritual development is the goal of life because we are spiritual beings, and every step of our life and every aspect of life should reflect this.

In marriages, the partners are meant to assist each other and bring their children up as devotees of the Lord.

If money could buy you happiness, then the richest people would be the most happy but that is not what we see.

Because we are spiritual beings, without cultivating our relationship with God, we cannot attain satisfaction.

I know both partners are both sincere and committed people, so my prediction is that their marriage will be very exemplary and successful and in all senses, and particularly spiritually.

Every one should be liberated by doing their particular thing for the pleasure of the Lord.

The lady is traditionally taking care of the house, and all indications are that Jagannathesvari will be able to handle that very well.

Caitanya Vallabha is dynamism personified. He is really top strata.

Look after him because he is valuable. Look after her because she is valuable.

from the wedding reception:

A grihastha must associate again and again with saintly persons, and with great respect he must hear the nectar of the activities of the Supreme Lord and His incarnations as these activities are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Puranas. Thus one should gradually become detached from affection for his wife and children, exactly like a man awakening from a dream.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.4)

An intelligent man in human society should make his own program of activities very simple. If there are suggestions from his friends, children, parents, brothers or anyone else, he should externally agree, saying, ‘Yes, that is all right,’ but internally he should be determined not to create a cumbersome life in which the purpose of life will not be fulfilled.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.14.6)

The Goswamis would sleep under a different tree every night because they did not want to be become attached to a particular tree, “This is my tree. Go find your own tree.”

[He tells the story of the yogi, his underwear, and the mouse, and tells the couple to bear it in mind.] Do not make life so complicated your spiritual aspirations are not fulfilled.

Russian sayings:

I am not so rich I can afford a cheap car.

Hunger is the best chef.

Pitavasa Prabhu:

Vidharibi wants her husband, the king, to be alive not for her own sense gratification but to do his duty of protecting the citizens.

People do not know what is duty, and there are so many problems. Because Abraham sacrificed a sheep, the Muslims believe it is their religious duty to sacrifice a sheep.

The big teachers endure big tests to show us that we must endure suffering to lead a religious life.

The ladies say after they are pregnant for six months when they are in a kirtana, they can feel the baby moving to the music.

There is a Japanese scientist that showed that sounds or phrases can affect water so that when it is frozen and crystallizes different patterns are formed. The pattern of the crystals varies, with good sayings resulting in more beautiful crystals. Devotees could do research showing the power of the pure sound of the holy names.

Srila Prabhupada gives instructions through his books. One may say he did not get any personal instruction from his spiritual master, but they are there in the books.

Most processes involve just a few hours a week, but we are trying to be twenty-four hours a day engaged, so it may seem our practice is more difficult, but we have so much knowledge from Srila Prabhupada’s books and the association of other devotees, and because of that it possible.

The Indians have different groups in Paris, and they do not agree, but when they come to our temple, they all participate happily in the programs.

Gadadhara-priya Prabhu:

from a comment on a class by me:

Being silent is part of practicing for death.

Madhavanada Prabhu:

from an Amsterdam Ratha-yatra address:

We want to rescue God from mechanical religion and bring Him to the village of our heart.

When the devotee cries for the Lord, the Lord cries for His devotee.

When God spoke to Moses, it is said His speech was music.

The Islamic writers say that God put the souls into bodies with music.

Bharata, the name of India, has three syllables with musical significance, “bha” means “bhava” (emotion), “ra” indicates “raga” (melody), and “ta” means “tala” (beat).
We are not interested in changing one’s religion, but in getting souls to cry for God.

Ratha-yatra is one of the oldest festivals in human society.

It is said that people from hundreds of spiritual lineages come to Jagannath Puri to participate in Ratha-yatra. There are devotees from South India from the Sri sampradaya. There are Saivites. There are some Muslim villages in Odisha where they perform Ratha-yatra because they understand Lord Jagannath is for everyone. Even some Christians come to Ratha-yatra, considering Jagannath to be a form of God.

Adi Purusa Prabhu:

In Bg. 2.57, Krishna answers one of Arjuna’s questions in Bg. 2.54, “How does he speak?” His reply is, “In the material world, one who is unaffected by whatever good or evil he may obtain, neither praising it nor despising it, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.”

In Karttika month (October-November), if you make a vow in Vrindavan, Srimati Radharani gives raganuga-bhakti [spontaneous devotional service] to a sadhana-bhakta [a devotee who is practicing devotional service].

In one Purana, Yamaraja says that if you count sins and the sins are correct, you get the same punishment as the sinner, and if they are incorrect you get double punishment, and the sinful person’s sins are reduced by half.

If you can focus for a moment it is prayahara. If you can focus for 12 seconds it is dharana. If you can focus for 144 (12×12) seconds it is dhyana. If you can focus for 1728 (12×12×12) seconds it is samadhi.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that in sattva [goodness] one tolerates offensive behavior, but in visuddha-sattva [pure goodness], one is also concerned about the person who commits the offense.

Duality is always there. Transcendence is to see outside of duality.

Prabhupada Pran Prabhu:

from a wedding address:

Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu is a gentleman in every respect: responsible, productive, and sensitive, and he follows his guru Indradyumna Swami in loving chanting. He has no bad qualities. He is tolerant and compassionate. He has what it takes spiritually and materially to have a successful marriage.

Kirtida dd:

from a fire sacrifice at a wedding:

Although the Lord is situated everywhere, we cannot see Him. In the fire sacrifice, we ask Him to appear in the most subtle of the elements that we can see, fire, and in that form to accept our offerings.

Kusha Prabhu:

Serving the instructions of the guru is more important than serving the body of the guru.

If both the guru and disciple are both bona fide then the disciple can achieve success.

Srila Prabhupada said he saw his guru no more ten times but he served his guru’s instructions for over 30 years.

One cannot separate his life from his guru’s order.

When people ask my guru, Kavicandra Swami, for his blessings, he tells them to distribute books or go on harinama, but they cannot do it because they want some material benediction.

When the guru leaves the body, the disciple laments not because he leaves his body, but because of separation from him.

Q: When Prabhupada told a disciple he should eat meat if he had to, but he should preach in Moscow, what did he mean?
A: Preaching is more important than these regulations. Once Bhurijana was preaching in Hong Kong, and he wrote saying he was lonely. A month later, he wrote with the same complaint. Prabhupada told him not to worry, that he would send him a wife, and so Prabhupada sent a female disciple to Hong Kong to be his wife, and so he was able to continue preaching there. So preaching is more important than celibacy.

A guru may be detained in going back to the spiritual world because of the sinful activities of his disobedient disciples. However, his own guru, if he is powerful enough, he can protect the guru from the sinful activities of his disciples.

There was one devotee Bali Dasa whose father was finance minister of Nigeria for eight years. The father had the police stop Bhakti Tirtha Swami from coming into that country, saying he brainwashed his son. Bali had to say he joined of his own accord, and then the police released Bhakti Tirtha Swami. The father died two weeks later. His father had eliminated Bali from his will because Bali was a devotee, but Bhakti Tirtha Swami told him to visit his father every day while he was ill and bring him prasadam. Bali was the only son who looked after his father, and when his father saw that, he called his lawyer and had his will amended to give him 80% of his wealth, with the rest distributed among the other children. Thus Bali became very wealthy and donated liberally to different Hare Krishna projects.

Rama Rao (congregational member, married 42 years):

from advice about marriage given to newlyweds at a wedding:

Every day pray together, and read together morning and evening.

Remember marriage is forever.

Work together and share even the housework.

When you are wrong, accept it. When you are right, keep quiet.

Be ready to accept differences, for everyone is different.

Listen. Talk. Do not bury feelings.

Marriage is a great tool to develop your personality.


na prahṛṣyet priyam prapya
nodvijet prapya capriyam
sthira-buddhir asammuḍho
brahma-vid brahmaṇi sthitah

A person who neither rejoices upon achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant, who is self-intelligent, who is unbewildered, and who knows the science of God, is already situated in transcendence.” (Bhagavad-gita 5.20)