Thursday, December 04, 2014

Travel Journal#10.19: More New York City Harinam

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 10, No. 19
By Krishna-kripa das
(October 2014, part one
New York City
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on December 4, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

I continued chanting with the New York Harinama party organized by Rama Raya Prabhu in Union Square Park, from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. every day. The month of Karttika began, and we engaged passersby in offering candles to a picture of Krishna in His childhood feature of Damodar, just as we do in our temples. On rainy days, we chant in different subway stations. There we were not allowed to light candles. I also spoke at evening programs of Atmanivedana Prabhu at 26 Second Avenue one Saturday.

And one of Charu Gopika Devi at her place in Queens one Friday.

I have some extremely inspiring quotes from Srila Prabhupada's books, even more inspiring than usual. I include a quote from Shack Notes by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I also share great quotes from Candrasekhara Swami and the senior devotees at the Harinama Ashram, namely Abhiram Prabhu, Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu, and Rama Raya Prabhu.

Thanks to Dorian of Jacksonville for donating to me his extra Smartphone, which is so useful in my harinama service, providing weather forecasts, subway schedules, and access to Srila Prabhupada's books while riding the subway. Thanks to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for his kind donation to cover my subway expenses for the 9 weeks I spent on harinama in New York City. Thanks to Atma-nivedana Prabhu and Charu Gopika Devi for their kind donations.


December 3 to 20: New York City Harinama [except December 6 for SDG Vyasa-puja]
December 21: Albany, New York, with family
December 22 to 30: San Juan, Puerto Rico
December 31 to April 2015: Florida (Gainesville, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Tampa)
Harinama in Union Square

We had different positive interactions with the people in general at Union Square, and I show and tell about them. First I show the pictures, then the videos, and finally I tell some stories.
A mom and two daughters all played instruments with us.

One female photographer delighted in dancing.

This girl liked playing the shakers.

This young lady listened to us and read Chant and Be Happy.

Then she sat down with us and began chanting.

Later she danced with Madhavi Devi.
Now she comes by and chants a few times week.

This girl had a tough day and was so happy to listen to the chanting for an hour and chill out.

Two girls joined us for some time.

Then a guy joined us.

Jim, often formally dressed, loves to stop by periodically and listen, and he does what he can to help the devotees on the party.

Madhvacarya Prabhu, who I know from when he helped Rtadhvaja Swami take care of the boys ashram in Alachua, now helps out Adi Purusa Prabhu with his spiritual food distribution program at Tompkins Square Park three days a week. When he has time, he comes and plays the drum as in this picture above.

These two adventurous young ladies chanted the mantra which they read from our cards, and played shakers to the beat.

Clarissa, a young teenager from Brooklyn, leads the chanting with intensity and a strong voice.

 Nikunjabihari Prabhu danced attractively.


Seeing me as she passed by Union Square, one friend of my mother’s remembered me from the Albany Quaker meeting earlier in the year.

Our table with the picture of Damodar has signs on two sides inviting passersby to “offer a candle, and make a prayer.” From the number of candles, you can see many people did.
This young boy offers a prayer as he holds a candle to the picture of Krishna as Damodar.

A whole group of kids enjoyed playing shakers to the music.

Here a new lady offers a candle while Rachel explains to a guy behind her what is happening.

The lady in red, a frequent attender, takes pleasure in offering a candle.

Here a young man offers a candle.
My service was to offer the pamphlet, Krishna: Reservoir of Pleasure, to everyone who offered a candle, unless they gave a donation, when I would give them a book.
One boy celebrated his birthday with the devotees for some time.
Although very small, he was eager to try to play the mrdanga!
Sometimes in the evening, we had quite a large party.

In this two video playlist Nikunjabihari Prabhu is leading. Isaiah dances in the beginning. Then Richard dances and hands a girl some shakers, and she delights in playing them. In the second clip, Madhavi and Alice join in the dancing, going around the fountain, and the girl delights in dancing too (

Vrajananda dd, who I saw playing flute at the Baltic Summer festival, sings, Babhru Prabhu, the book distributor, dances, and Isaiah dances, and then Madhavi and Alice. Vrajananda’s second tune was a very pretty Hare Krishna tune that also attracted devotees to dance and a crowd to watch (

Murli Krishna Prabhu sings and devotees dance ( 


Arjuna leads a lively tune getting devotees to dance (

Radha Gopinath dd, an intense kirtana lady from the Baltics, also attracts a crowd and gets devotees dancing. Jai Giridhari Prabhu joins Babhru Prabhu in dancing, and Clarissa joins the other lady dancers (

The two young daughters of Kirtan dd also get their chance to sing (

Two girls were very happy to come upon the chanting party, smiling and moving with the music. I gave them shakers, and they happily played them. I then gave them mantra cards, and they both chanted the response for some of the time after that, one chanting almost every mantra.

A young lady named Mijal, who was studying documentary at New York Film Academy, decided to do a couple projects on the Hare Krishnas at Union Square. She came to our ashram with a friend who recorded audio while she recorded video. They made lots of recordings, especially of Arjuna, a youth from a Hare Krishna family, who lives in our ashram.

One young lady vacationing from the Middle East looked with interest at our party at Union Square. When she saw the picture of Srila Prabhupada on the Krishna: Reservoir of Pleasure, she said she had many books of his and that she liked them. Before leaving she began dancing to the kirtana.

I asked one girl who liked to chant with us her name, and she replied, “Karma.”

A young lady from Long Island came up to the NYC Harinam book table and told how she had been a ordained Buddhist monk in Thailand. She was a singer, and after a week she was kicked out of the ashram for humming, among other things. Rama Raya Prabhu and I explained that positive spiritual engagement was more practical and enjoyable than escaping material desire through meditation on nothingness, and she was very receptive. Turns out she went to the same high school as Rama Raya, a few decades later. I told her, “If you have enough enthusiasm to get ordained as a Buddhist monk, you definitely would be able to get into reading Bhagavad-gita, and she ended up buying one.

A group of young people who get together and read Plato’s Republic chose Union Square because of the good weather. When they passed our harinama party, a devotee lady invited them to offer candles to Damodar, and they all did, holding their Republics in their hands. I talked to their leader about Plato’s analogy of the cave and how this world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world, where we love God in different relationships. He asked what the relationships were, and I described them. He asked if they were in a hierarchy, and I explained their order of intimacy. I considered if they liked philosophy enough to read the Republic every week, they would be able to handle Bhagavad-gita, so I showed the book to their leader. He was impressed with the Sanskrit and the word by word translation, and he bought the book.

Harinama Ashram

The New York Harinama devotees have their own ashram in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, about 35 minutes from Union Square on the subway. The temple room is in the basement, and there are three residential floors, and an fixed up area on the roof. They have a regular morning program beginning at 5:00 a.m. Abhiram Prabhu, Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu, and Rama Raya Prabhu lead lively kirtanas and give inspiring classes. Many of the younger devotees also lead nice kirtanas. It is very inspiring to be in the association of people with such faith in the holy name. They cook enough in the morning for breakfast and lunch, and a few meals for the hungry in Union Square. They are looking for more musicians, singers, book distributors and dancers to expand the program more and more. Visit their web page and consider how your can support them ( 

In the fall, during the times we had many devotees visiting, we sometimes had two parties. Once we did Union Square Park and Washington Square Park, and on a bad weather day, we did Times Square subway station and Herald Square subway station. Another time we sent an additional group to Jackson Heights, where we are always well received, especially by the many Indians and Mexicans there. Rama Raya Prabhu thinks that some day we should have 10,000 devotees, and 200 parties of fifty devotees each, all around the City. Why just 10,000, why not 20,000? 

For photos I did not include in this journal, click on the link below: 


Srila Prabhupada:

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.25, purport:

The Krishna consciousness movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is so powerful that it can inundate the entire world and interest all classes of men in the subject of love of Godhead.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 48:

It is to be understood that any person who is constantly engaged in chanting the holy names of the Lord—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare— has attained a transcendental affection for Krishna, and as such, in any condition of life, he remains satisfied simply by remembering the Lord’s name in full affection and ecstatic love.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.16:

One who is content and satisfied and who links his activities with the Supreme Personality of Godhead residing in everyone’s heart enjoys transcendental happiness without endeavoring for his livelihood. Where is such happiness for a materialistic man who is impelled by lust and greed and who therefore wanders in all directions with a desire to accumulate wealth?”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.18, purport:

. . . a devotee is always satisfied because he feels the presence of the Supersoul within his heart and thinks of Him twenty-four hours a day. That is real satisfaction. A devotee is never driven by the dictations of the tongue and genitals, and thus he is never victimized by the laws of material nature.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 16.64, purport:

Preaching Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s cult throughout the world is more important than staying in Vrindavan or Jagannath Puri for one’s own personal satisfaction. Spreading Krishna consciousness is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission; therefore His sincere devotees must carry out His desire.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 16.70, purport:

The Lord replied, ‘You should engage yourself in the service of the servants of Krishna and always chant the holy name of Krishna. If you do these two things, you will very soon attain shelter at Krishna lotus feet.’”

from Nectar of Instruction, Preface:

Everyone within this material world is engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance. One must promote himself to the platform of goodness, sattva-guna, by following the instructions of Rupa Gosvami, and then everything concerning how to make further progress will be revealed.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.21, purport:

For a devotee to be satisfied with the bare necessities is therefore the best advice for spiritual advancement.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.24, purport:

Any country where people indulge in unnecessary killing of animals will have to suffer from wars and pestilence imposed by material nature.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.25:

One must conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by developing the mode of goodness, and then one must become detached from the mode of goodness by promoting oneself to the platform of suddha-sattva. All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. In this way one can conquer the influence of the modes of nature.”

from Srimad Bhagavatam 4.29.46, purport:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, influenced by the merciful devotees’ attempt to deliver fallen souls, enlightens the people in general from within by His causeless mercy.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.27, purport:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead gives real knowledge to the entire world, and the spiritual master, as the representative of the Supreme Godhead, carries the message throughout the world. Therefore, on the absolute platform, there is no difference between the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

"There is no one as merciful as Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu within all three worlds. Simply by seeing Him from a distance, one is overwhelmed with love of Godhead." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 16.121)

The meaning of controlled speech conveyed by Srila Rupa Gosvami advocates the positive process of krishna-katha, engaging the speaking process in glorifying the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. The tongue can thus glorify the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord. The preacher of krishna-katha is always beyond the clutches of death.” (Nectar of Instruction, verse 1, purport)

When one’s consciousness is uncontaminated by material lusty desires, it becomes calm and peaceful in all activities, for one is situated in eternal blissful life. Once situated on that platform, one does not return to materialistic activities.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.35)

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.36, purport

In our Krishna consciousness movement it is advised, therefore, that the sannyasis and brahmacaris keep strictly aloof from the association of women so that there will be no chance of their falling down again as victims of lusty desires.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.41, purport

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, personally gives instructions on how one can return home, back to Godhead, but if one does not care to listen to His instructions, the result will be that one will never go back to Godhead, but will continue life in this miserable condition of repeated birth and death in material existence (mrityu-samsara-vartmani).” 

from Nectar of Instruction, verse 10:
The gopis are exalted above all the advanced devotees because they are always totally dependent upon Sri Krishna, the transcendental cowherd boy.”

from Nectar of Instruction, verse 10, purport:
Of all these devotees, the gopis are recognized as superior because they do not know anything other than satisfying Krishna. Nor do the gopis expect any return from Krishna. Indeed, sometimes Krishna puts them into extreme suffering by separating Himself from them. Nonetheless, they cannot forget Krishna.”

from Nectar of Instruction, verse 2, purport:

Human life is meant for God realization, and the human being is given higher intelligence for this purpose. Those who believe that this higher intelligence is meant to attain a higher state should follow the instructions of the Vedic literatures. By taking such instructions from higher authorities, one can actually become situated in perfect knowledge and give real meaning to life.”

Association with those engaged in a similar line of business is very conducive to advancement in that business. Consequently materialistic persons form various associations and clubs to enhance their endeavors. For example, in the business world we find such institutions as the stock exchange and chamber of commerce. Similarly, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to give people an opportunity to associate with those who have not forgotten Krishna. This spiritual association offered by our ISKCON movement is increasing day by day. Many people from different parts of the world are joining this Society to awaken their dormant Krishna consciousness.”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.10.6, purport:

At the present moment the entire world is in a dangerous position under the spell of a godless civilization. The Krishna consciousness movement needs many exalted, learned persons who will sacrifice their lives to revive God consciousness throughout the world. We therefore invite all men and women advanced in knowledge to join the Krishna consciousness movement and sacrifice their lives for the great cause of reviving the God consciousness of human society.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from Shack Notes:

Artists of the world, especially skilled ones, please become devotees and save yourselves. Then give the world pleasing, edifying work that will live long after you are gone, work that will please the Supreme Lord.”

Candrasekhara Swami:

In the Bible, there is mention of God’s hand, His voice, and His back side. We are said to be created in the image of God. Yet forms are limiting. How could God have a form? Therefore a famous Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides, concluded that idea that God has a form is allegory.

Krishna is the Absolute Truth, but He lies through His teeth. He is all blissful, yet he cries out of fear of His mother.

At age 27, Krishna decides to move to Dvaraka to protect His associates.

Krishna likes it when His superior devotees chastise Him, but that superiority is based on love.

Some perform austerities for years and cannot get a glimpse of Krishna, but Yasoda is tying Him up.

Even Yamaraja, the Lord of Death, is afraid of Krishna, but Krishna is afraid of Mother Yasoda.

Because everything is coming from Krishna, all contradictions are present within Him. Krishna is the source of morality, but He is dancing with the gopis in the dead of night.

When we return to the spiritual world, we return to the position that we left. It is like if you doze off in class, you wake up back where you were.

Abhiram Prabhu:

The neophyte devotee cannot understand the nature of exalted holy places like Sri Radha Kunda, but as we advance, we become purified from envy, and we begin to appreciate them more and more.

When we become humble we can chant the pure holy name and then begin to appreciate the exalted pastimes of Radha-Krishna and the exalted places of those pastimes.

We actually see that people who go to Vrindavan and imagine themselves to participating in Krishna’s pastimes, while their senses are still raging, actually become mad.

Each of the thousand names of Vishnu has a separate pastime of the Lord associated with it.

Namabhasa chanting, chanting in the clearing stage, does not have the power to move others toward Krishna. Thus Srila Prabhupada advised in his speech on the record album that one should hear from the lips of a pure devotee.

Lord Caitanya’s body could not contain the emotions He was feeling in connection with Krishna.

You can measure how free you are from envy by seeing how much spontaneous reverence and appreciation you have for each and every devotee.

Each person you see driving down the street in a limousine is doing so at the expense of many others lives.

I was right next to Srila Prabhupada at the end of his stay in this world, when Brahmananda asked him; “Will we be together in the spiritual world?”
Srila Prabhupada told the devotees; “When the the residents of Vaikuntha [other planets in the spiritual world] fly by Krishnaloka in their flower airplanes, they will say, ‘Oh, look at the nice guru and his disciples.’”

Rama Raya Prabhu:

When we go on harinama we are in the same position as Arjuna and Hanuman and all the great devotees. We just have to realize it.

The acaryas describe that Krishna’s queens in Dvaraka are concerned 50% for Krishna’s pleasure and 50% for their own pleasure whereas the gopis are concerned 100% for Krishna’s pleasure.
By being out there on the streets and witnessing the futility of the materialistic way of life around us. we should become more and more enthusiastic about the positive alternative, the congregational chanting of the holy name

If you just chant in the society of devotees, you may be adored by many people, but if you chant in public, people will not care for you. If you chant in public, you will be successful if the people see that you have genuine love and compassion.

We cannot give up lust and greed. We must become exceedingly lusty to fulfill the desires of the Lord and greedy to increase this more and more.

There is a story of a fisher lady who found a beautiful black stone on the beach. She needed a stone to weigh her fish, so she took it. Somehow although her life of poverty had not changed, she felt happy and attributed it to the stone. She knew half a verse from Gita Govinda about Radha and Krishna and she would sing it as she did her fishing business. One time a brahmana noticed the stone in the fisher lady’s bucket, and recognized it to be a salagram-sila, a stone that is a direct manifestation of Krishna Himself. He was outraged to see the salagram-sila in a fish bucket and requested the fisher lady to give it to him. Because of the happiness the sila gave her, the lady refused to part with the salagram. Finally the brahmana offered a sum of money she could not refuse and took the salagram. The Lord appeared in dream and told the brahmana he was attracted by the lady’s chanting of Gita Govinda and wanted him to return Him to her. He did not comply and the next night the Lord appeared in another dream and threatened to kill the brahmana and his family.

Without the mercy of Lord Nityananda one cannot break free from one’s material life and attain Krishna.

How is it that we took birth in all different places and circumstances? So Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement can be distributed all over the world.

The act of preaching automatically puts one in the spiritual energy. To become a messenger of light one has to be in the light oneself.

We should pray that nothing in the material world appears to us to be a cause of enjoyment.

Q: How can we keep our enthusiasm to share Krishna consciousness when a particular person we are dealing with is completely obnoxious?
A: Go on to the next person. If we are completely convinced ourselves, we will always be optimistic because there are many people to attempt to give Krishna’s mercy to. That is our business as long as we are in this world.

On the material plane, attachment leads to aversion and aversion leads to attachment.

Krishna is the owner of everything. He is the ultimate real estate broker.

As a devotee advances he realize how foolish it is to aspire for wealth, fame, and association with the opposite sex and to miss out on enjoying our wonderful relationship with Krishna and His eternal associates in the spiritual world.

The devotee aspires to serve the Lord life after life in this world because out of humility he does not feel qualified to enter the kingdom of God.

Our service does not end until every living entity, at least in the human form, attains love of God.

At the book table, we can tell people, “Learn how to become free from the miseries of material existence by reading Bhagavad-gita.

It is said that if you perform your sadhana [spiritual practice] during an eclipse, it
becomes sadhya [spiritual perfection].

comments by Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu:

When we look at our situation objectively we are very fortunate. By the grace of Srila Prabhupada, we have Radha and Krishna, service to Their holy names, Vraja dhama, Srimad-Bhagavatam, the association of devotees, prasadam. We do not deserve these gifts but we have them, and we have the chance to share them with others.

Even a fallen devotee is better association that a moralist, because he can remind people of Krishna.

One Prabhupada disciple became a devotee by reading a Bhagavad-gita someone left in the bathroom while looking for something to read on the toilet.

By giving out Srila Prabhupada’s books, we are giving people good fortune.

In the Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s list of anarthas represented by different demons, pride is most common.

One Christian saint said if you eliminate lust, greed, etc., pride will expand to fill the vacancy.

Karuna Sindhu Prabhu:

When Prahlada is speaking about serving the Lord without asking a material benediction, he is preaching to the demigods.

The Lord loves his devotees so much He does not want them to leave His presence without getting a benediction from Him. Thus Prahlada Maharaja asks to be free from material desires and that his father might delivered.

We can understand that if we are considering the Lord our order supplier, we are going backwards.

Srila Prabhupada said that when we are catering to the desires of the servant, we are no longer a real master.

comment by Atma-nivedana Prabhu:

In the 1990s, one devotee was sent to Boston to fire-up the book distribution and unexpectedly our temple became the number one small temple in book distribution.


prema-dhana vina vyartha daridra jivana
‘dāsa’ kari’ vetana more deha prema-dhana

[Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu prayed to Krishna:] “Without love of Godhead, My life is useless. Therefore I pray that You accept Me as Your servant and give Me the salary of ecstatic love of God.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya 20.37)