Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Travel Journal#10.20: New York City Harinam

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol.1 10, No. 20
By Krishna-kripa das
(October 2014, part two
New York City Harinam
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on December 9, 2014)

Where I Went and What I Did

I continued chanting with the New York City Harinam party organized by Rama Raya Prabhu in Union Square Park, from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. every day. Prahladananda Swami, who plays leadership roles in the Sannyasa Ministry and the Health Ministry, came and chanted on harinama with us one day as well lecturing at our ashram. He also engaged me in proofreading his book, Hope This Meets You in Good Health, about health and spiritual life, which took almost all my extra time. We celebrated Govardhan Puja both at the Harinam Ashram in the morning and Radha Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn in the afternoon. Mijal, a student at New York Film Academy, attended both festivals, filming for a final project, a documentary on Mathura-prana Krishna Das, a New York Harinam Party devotee, and his transition from being an average American youth to a Hare Krishna monk. We also attended a festival at 26 Second Avenue on Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day. Finally, ending the month, on Halloween a few costumed onlookers participated with us by dancing.

I share just a few Prabhupada quotes as I was busy proofreading this month and just a few quotes from the journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I share interesting points made by Prahladananda Swami in his lectures and remembrances from a ceremony on Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. The rest is the usual nectar from the dedicated devotees at the Harinam Ashram.


December 10 to 20: New York City Harinam
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)

Union Square Harinamas

As usual I show photos and videos, and tell stories from our chanting party in Union Square.

Like always, kids played the shakers with us.

 So did young adults.

In fact, once a family of four all played shakers.

Isaiah inspired one lady to dance.

We continued offering lamps to Damodar and inviting people to offer prayers. 

Radha Gopinath dd, who was visiting from the Baltics, chants with great intensity.

She inspired devotees and onlookers to dance and people to stop and watch, as you can see in these videos clips (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGerEnGdI0xKU1H-hZWuLoO30o8cnG6Ou):

Occasionally famous people interact with the devotees. Here Alec Baldwin and his family leave after a brief visit. Previously he got a Krishna book from our table. 

His wife, Hilaria Thomas, waved to us.

Persons famous within the Hare Krishna movement also visit.

Here Prahladananda Swami shares his transcendental bliss with us.

Satyaraj Prabhu, who has written many books and articles on Krishna consciousness, talks with Braja-raja Dasa at our book table. He comes by several times a month for an hour or so.

On Halloween some costumed people danced with us.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the attachment between male and female is said to be a cause of bondage to this material world. There is even a phrase “maithunya-agara,” or the shackles of sex life.

Thus when I saw this Halloween costume, I could not help but ask the couple if I could take a picture of them.

As I walked through Union Square Park, a young man asked if I was a spiritual person. I did not want to be so bold as to say I am a “spiritual person” so I just said I was trying to advance spiritually. He asked for some jewels of wisdom. I quoted “trnad api sunicena . . .”, explaining that one who is more humble than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree can chant the holy name of the Lord always. He said with conviction that amazed me, “That is most certainly true.” I gave him a mantra card and encouraged him to try chanting Hare Krishna and experience the purifying effects on his mind.

Uncommon Encounter on Harinama at Jackson Heights

One man who was 65 years old and had some devotion for and faith in the Christian tradition talked with me while I was distributing Krishna: Reservoir of Pleasure on harinama in Jackson Heights. He was aspiring for conjugal love with a woman at that advanced aged. I explained to him that in our tradition the final quarter of life was simply meant for focusing on reviving our relationship with God and experiencing a higher spiritual pleasure. As he was not interested in changing his religion, I suggested he find some Christian monks that were so absorbed in spiritual pursuits that they could transcend the need for male-female relationships and learn from them how they did it. He thought that made a lot of sense and considered it providential that he met me. I spoke to him in that way, as I could not imagine Srila Prabhupada encouraging such an elderly gentleman in pursuing male-female relationships. When Mukunda Goswami’s wife had left him, Prabhupada discouraged him from marrying again, although he was quite a bit younger than sixty-five. I do not ever recall Srila Prabhupada advising an older man to get married.

Govardhan Puja

At the Harinam Ashram we had an incredibly lively Govardhan Puja festival in the morning. Natabara Gauranga Prabhu encouraged all the devotees to make sweets for the hill. Rama Raya Prabhu’s Govardhan-sila was the center of attention. I got to polish His silver paraphernalia. The chanting and dancing around the hill reached a level of ecstasy far above our normal daily kirtana. Neighboring devotees, like Michael Collins, came and took part. It kept going till almost 11:00 a.m. but the late breakfast was quite a feast.

Natabara Gauranga shared this photo of the event with the following caption:

Our Giri Govardan: Orange Cherry Halava mountain (me), Besan Ladoo boulders (Braja-raja Dasa), Mango Sweet Rice Radha and Shyam Kunds (Madhavi), Paneer and Pepper Pakora animals and Green Chutney grass (Bhakta Max), Cookie dirt (Ananta Das Sacasa), Saffron Coconut Burfi (Krishna-kripa Das), Rice, Bean Soup, Mashed Taters, Ginger Mint Tea morning Bhoga offering (Rachel), Gulab Jamun Manasi Ganga kund (me). It’s so nice that in the spirit of Harinam (which means working together to glorify Krsna) the New York Harinam Yatra Dham devotees could all come and work together to put together such a nice offering on this auspicious day.”

During the previous week or so, I invited many people who were attracted to our chanting in Union Square to the Govardhan Puja festival at Radha Govinda Mandir. One hippie couple came and loved the mood and the spiritual food. 

Mijal and her partners on her documentary project also came and got some nice film of the colorful hill of spiritual food and the altar of Radha Govinda, and Their colorfully dressed devotees.

Mijal’s Documentary on the Transition of a Hare Krishna

Seeing the devotees chanting of Union Square, New York Film Academy student, Mijal, enrolled in a course on documentary, decided to make them the topic of two of her projects. 

While interviewing the devotees, Mijal found Mathura-prana Krishna das to have the most fascinating history, and for her final project topic, chose his transition from being a typical American youth to being a Hare Krishna monk. She spent many hours filming and more editing. I hope you enjoy the video (http://youtu.be/oSZvsqUv-jM):

To see the pictures I took but did not include in this blog, click on the link below:


Srila Prabhupada:

Letter to Rayarama Dasa on March 6, 1969:

Keep your health on good condition and work very hard for Krishna. That is our motto of life.“

Conversation in New Vrindaban on June 26, 1976:

You must ask them what they need and provide them. Because they do not say, you’ll also keep silent. That’s not good. Every month they must be asked what they need. Necessities, they must be supplied. We have already discussed this point, the women; they require protection, children, and women.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

If we are submissive to guru and Krishna, the possibilities are unlimited.

I called out to Krishna for His blessing because I am powerless to do japa on my own endeavor.”

I pray that Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna accept me as I am or correct me if I am wrong.”

Prahladananda Swami:

Krishna is very balanced. He says positive things and negative things.

We may have so many material perfections, but we still have to die. We are eternal so we do not have to die just to experience another life of miseries.

The government, instead of protecting people, is putting them into fear.

Comparing our small span of life to that of Lord Brahma, we can see that we are on the verge of death.

All people are serving their dead material bodies, and therefore, they are actually the greatest idol worshipers.

We do not feel we need Krishna or need His protection. We are happy enjoying the material world. People wonder when the iPhone 6 will come instead of when they will attain liberation or attain the spiritual world.

In Kali-yuga there are sudras [working class people] who live for sense gratification and vaisyas [businessmen] who live to exploit them. Our leaders are blind because they are illusioned by sense gratification.

Job security is a top priority among workers. If we seek the eternal that is real security.

Our life is like a horror story. It may seem like a romance or a comedy, but ultimately it is a horror story.

By following the instructions of Krishna’s representatives we can attain real security. Realizing that Krishna is our only shelter and goal leads us to perfection.

Because of refusal to accept Krishna as the proprietor we are put into illusion.

Srila Prabhupada said if you are in the mode of goodness and thinking you are happy in this material world, you are in ignorance.

Ghosts are frustrated because they have no gross body and cannot fulfill their desires. Imagine being hungry for hundreds of years!

The more we understand that Krishna is our only shelter the more we will take shelter of Him.

We think that when we get everything we need, then we will get Krishna, instead of thinking if we get Krishna we will get everything.

Q: Is it possible to be inattentive [when chanting] if we have faith in Krishna.
A: No.

A rich man in Dallas had 16 billion dollars back in the 1970s. An interviewer asked him what he wanted, and he replied, “More money.”

We do not see philanthropists dancing in the street. Altruism does not satisfy our loving propensity like loving Krishna. Krishna can perfectly reciprocate our love.

The main austerity to focus our attention on Krishna. If you do that you will experience Krishna’s reciprocation. If we focus our attention on Krishna and sacrifice for Him, His reciprocation will satisfy our loving propensity.

Remembering Krishna means to remember who Krishna actually is, the supreme controller, and not thinking of him like a cartoon character.

Bhagavad-gita 10.9 speaks of (1) tusyanti and (2) ramanti. The first is liberation.

First we come to the level of Brahman, but we do that through the process of devotional service.

Because we are infinitesimal spiritual souls we tend to take shelter of something, and conditioned souls take shelter of the body. We must be convinced that we have to take shelter of Krishna. Although it is a bad shelter, people take shelter of the material energy because they know of no other shelter. By knowing Krishna’s glories, we can be inspired to take shelter of Him.

Yasoda has no need to take shelter and thus she does not need to know His glories.

We take shelter of Krishna by surrendering our activities unto Krishna and becoming instruments in His sankirtana movement.

When Srila Prabhupada visited Boston, he said in the presence of his disciple Purusottama, “I pray to Krishna every day to protect me from maya.

Our little love for Krishna is our endeavor.

At asakti we have no other shelter than Krishna.

It is not a matter of binding Krishna or churning butter, but it is an intensity of love that is significant about Mother Yasoda.

There is no faster way than doing your sadhana and preaching to others.

When Krishna sees that we are sincere, He will enlighten us from within.

Other paths are not possible in this age because the material energy is very powerful and we are very susceptible to it.

If we take our spiritual practice seriously, Krishna will help us take it more seriously.

If we desire mercy, Krishna will give us mercy. That anxiousness to get Krishna’s mercy is essential to advancement.

All our acaryas [previous spiritual masters in the lineage] took up the practice of preaching.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura talks of steadiness of mind, body, and speech, that is, how easy it is to remember Krishna, how easy is avoid engaging the senses in their objects, and how easy it is to avoid talking nonsense.

Abhiram Prabhu:

Jaipur is the most exalted city in the world. There the aristocratic people walk 3 or 4 miles barefoot to the Govindaji temple on their way to work and bow down to Govindaji. Then after work, they stop at the temple and offer obeisances to Govindaji on the way home.

Vishnujana Swami and Tamal Krishna Goswami loved each other like brothers, but they were completely different. Vishnujana was very ecstatic – “Krishna Krishna!”, and Tamal Krishna Goswami was very practical. To see the beauty of their relationship would inspire people to become devotees.

We are proud thinking that we can destroy the earth, but at the end of the age when Kalki kills the degraded rulers and their followers, the planet is restored and in just a few hundred years the golden age is fully manifest.

Our materialistic enjoyment is like the excitement a cockroach feels when he finds a crumb in the darkness, and yet we glorify it and write books about it. This is because we are unaware of the beautiful pastimes of Krishna.

Krishna’s creation of the universe is just like a dream for Him. His pastimes in Vrindavan are what actually absorb Krishna.

If a child leaves home the parents may engage another child in encouraging the wayward
child to return. The guru is like the child sent to bring his wayward brother home.

Sadhana is like an all day prayer.

Mastering is sleep is more difficult than mastering sex as we can see from our ashram life.

The pastimes are not performed to impress us but are the actual activities of the spiritual world where the Lord enjoys these relationships with His devotees.

Krishna creates a situation whereby Mother Yasoda is fully engaged in serving Him in a variety of ways.

Krishna feeds the monkeys who are mischievous like Himself and who He feels camaraderie with.

We would be fortunate to be cursed to be born in the courtyard of Nanda and be liberated by Krishna.

Dipavali is the day Yasoda bound Krishna in addition to being the day Rama returned to Ayodhya.

There is American Indian creation story in which a tortoise carried the world on its back. Perhaps they heard from sages the story of Kurma.

Myth” just means a story that is passed down, not a story that is fictional.

In Kerala the carpenters sing songs that describe procedures and measurements in their construction.

Scientists can gather very little knowledge about the world from their sense perception, even when it is extended through microscopes or telescopes. Then when they get a new piece of information in this way, they have to rework all their theories based on the old information.

The real meaning of darsana is to report to the Deity. “This is what little I could do for you. Please accept it.”

Neophytes tend to misunderstand the philosophy and when many neophytes get together they can misunderstand it in big way.

Srila Prabhupada told Tamal Krishna Goswami when he was going to leave this world, “See that Abhiram is not lost. I have spent so much time training him.” So Prabhupada created this siksa relationship with Tamal.

The older devotee who would distribute caranamrita in Vrindavan for years, Vibhu Caitanya Prabhu, when Srila Prabhupada heard him singing in the pujari room said, “that is pure chanting.”

Our formula for Krishna prema [love of God] is trnad api sunicena . . . [to become humble and tolerant, offering all respects to others yet not seeking respect in return].

Jaya Tirtha was a good preacher but never was able to follow the strict discipline of bhakti-yoga. Later he got into other difficulties and eventually went mad before his unfortunate death being decapitated by a disciple. It was this and other incidents in my 45 years as a devotee that inspire to me to follow the path as strictly as I can.

Vishnujana Swami came with a party of seven devotees to my temple in Miami. The next year Tamal Krishna Goswami joined him, and he returned with a party of thirty.

There was wisdom in keeping untrained or unclean people away from the temple worship, but Lord Caitanya through his sankirtana process purified such people, so to not allow Westerners into Hindu temples is an antiquated idea.

Originally the Hare Krishna devotees were not allowed in any temples in India. The Sankaracarya of Srngiri Matha, considered the major center for Hinduism, tested the devotees in their understanding of Hindu philosophy and culture, and he wrote a letter saying they were qualified to perform all Hindu sacrifices.

In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna takes a lot of time to convince Arjuna’s intelligence.

The stone of Govardhan is different from that of the rest of the neighboring areas. The intensely heavy rock which goes deeply into the earth cools the area so it is the hottest region that is continuously inhabited.

Marx’s analysis of the defects of capitalism was correct. You end up with a few people getting rich and many being exploited.

Like a rich man can bring an associate into an exclusive club where he is a member, the spiritual master can bring his disciple to the spiritual world.

The devotees love Krishna and they also love the other devotees, and Krishna loves all the devotees, so that is the spiritual world.

How great Krishna is that He is surrounded by so many great devotees.

Krishna is fully absorbed in interacting with you, and at the same time, He is absorbed in interacting with everyone else.

To understand the Vaishnava is not possible. He is someone who owns Krishna because of his love.

Although Srila Prabhupada was strict about temple standards and would stress them, when someone who had difficulty was at the point of leaving, he felt for them and begged them not do go.

Because the communist Soviet Union tried to oppress the Hare Krishnas more and more, the reaction was that the Hare Krishna movement spread there more and more.

Although the grandfather loves his own children, the grandfather has special affection for his grandchildren. Similarly Srila Prabhupada has special affection for his granddisciples.

Prabhupada made Tamal Krishna Goswami like an extension of his own self. There is no devotee who was able to surrender so much to executing Srila Prabhupada’s will. Whatever he did, he did with full commitment and excellence. One international journal that published Ph.D. theses published three of his papers as an undergraduate.

Time has no meaning to our spirit self because it only effects the atoms in our body.

Yasoda is so pure in heart she can realize who is the most wonderful person in the creation and love Him.

The most powerful force in the world is bhakti because it can bind Krishna. The love the bhakti-yogi has for the Lord drags him past all material obstacles.

Bhakti-yoga harnesses our actual nature which is to love, and the practice and the goal are the same.

Krishna’s pastimes are all within the Hare Krishna mantra.

The devotees naturally get together around their natural interest of serving Krishna.

That many people do not want to join us is evidence that we have a long way to go.

We do not aspire to become Mother Yasoda but to glorify Mother Yasoda’s service.

When you see those old broken people, think that there but for the grace of God there go I.

Lord Caitanya flew in the face of Hindu pride by making Haridas Thakura who exemplified the yuga dharma, the chanting of the holy name, take birth in a Muslim family.

A Srila Prabhupada disciple whose name I did not know:

Srila Prabhupada rushed by me at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. saying, “I made a mistake. I forgot my book.” Thus I learned Srila Prabhupada was human, but it endeared me to him even more.

He would say, “Use your common sense, and if you have none ask someone who does.”

Laksmi Nrsimha Prabhu:

As I approach Srila Prabhupada’s age, I am even more impressed with what he was able to accomplish at such an advanced age.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said in this age the advanced devotees show their spontaneous devotional service by engaging many other people in devotional service.

Srila Prabhupada created and maintained a worldwide movement and yet retained the ability to deal personally with all kinds of people in a loving way.

I saw Srila Prabhupada Nov. 1 or Nov. 2 [1977] and he left this world on Nov. 14. He was so weak they had to roll him over to talk to me. I was thinking, “What I am doing here?” He wanted to talk to me because he was interested in loving exchanges and I was managing his temple in Puerto Rico. He asked me about it, and I told him many things. I told him the weather was like Hawaii, and I invited him to come. He said, “I will come to your East Coast Hawaii.” In January of 1978 a crate arrived. We picked it up and brought it to the temple and unpacked it. It was the first Srila Prabhupada murti in ISKCON that Srila Prabhupada had given permission to a weak devotee who loved him very much to have carved and keep with him.

Srila Prabhupada expressed his desire that we distribute books. And we did it out of love. Not that he forced us.

The acaryas say that the two fingers too short mean one karma and one jnana. Unless one’s devotion is free of these we cannot grasp Krishna.

One goswami explains that lila and be broken into two syllables “li” and “la”. “Li” means to accept. “La” means to embrace. Krishna accepts the embrace of the gopis.

The devotee is happy to do his spiritual activities anywhere despite the external situation.

One cannot take to any yoga without realizing this world is full of suffering and real pleasure exists elsewhere.

If you act compassionately you will come to feel compassionate.

Bhumipati Prabhu:

We should not think Srila Prabhupada gave anything different than Lord Caitanya gave.

We should take fully advantage of Krishna consciousness because our human life is so short.

Once a person told Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura he was a servant of Rama. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura asked him under whose direction he was serving Rama. He said he was directly serving Rama. Later Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura mentioned that the person had an improper mentality thinking he could serve Rama directly.

Rama Raya Prabhu:

If we are not into seeing the beautiful pastimes of the Lord in Vrindavan, we will become absorbed in seeing the imperfect imitations of these pastimes in this world in mundane movies, books, dramas, etc.

Krishna said he would wear shoes only if each of His many thousands of cows were also given shoes.

Srila Prabhupada says that Krishna is never described as jnani vatsala or karmi vatsala [having parental affection for the mental speculators or fruitive workers] but only bhakti vatsala [having parental affection for his devotee].

Srila Prabhupada explained that when he had that heart attack in 1967 that it was his time to leave. Krishna wanted him back thought that he had done enough. Srila Prabhupada instituted the chanting of the Nrsimha prayers and had the devotees pray “our master has not finished his work.”

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura tells the story of the wise old monkey. The monkey used to perform for the king and were taken care of almost like princes. They were enjoying life. See at http://www.dandavats.com/?p=3534&paged=7

One devotee, who used to travel the carnival circuit before becoming a devotee, wanted to travel all over to do sankirtana, but when he came to New York, he realized so many people are there he did not need to travel anywhere. Being in New York, we are like the python who waits for food to approach his mouth. People from all over the world come here.

The best way to celebrate these festival days is to do harinama sankirtana.

Harinama sankirtana and book distribution nourish each other. Neither should be considered more important. Harinama creates an interest in reading the books. Reading the books creates an appreciation of the value of harinama.

Srila Prabhupada said distribute as many books as you can all over the world and this Krishna consciousness movement will expand automatically.

We must have Krishna in order to give Him. Thus when the guru orders us to give Krishna to others, he is giving Krishna to ourselves.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says the greatest devotional act is to chant the holy name for the benefit of others.

I dream of having 10,000 or 20,000 devotees, 200 or 400 groups of fifty devotees chanting in different places in New York City.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says Lord Caitanya is like a hammer that smashed the mad dog of Kali-yuga.

Srila Prabhupada credited his success to the fact that he just tried to present what his guru had given.

If we are clear enough and intense enough, people will be able to understand.

When we call out to Krishna together, we are inspired by the others and we all come to a higher level.

A good kirtana leader is a leader in pure devotional service not just a good musician.


naca, gao, bhakta-sange kara sankirtana
krishna-nama upadesi’ tara’ sarva-jana

“‘My dear child, continue dancing, chanting and performing sankirtana in association with devotees. Furthermore, go out and preach the value of chanting krishna-nama, for by this process You will be able to deliver all fallen souls.’” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 7.92)