Thursday, February 05, 2015

Travel Journal#11.2: Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 2
By Krishna-kripa das
(January 2015, part two
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on February 5, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

The second half of January I remained in the Gainesville for the first week. That Monday, January 19, devotees from Gainesville and Alachua chanted in the Martin Luther King Parade in Gainesville. The rest of the month I visited Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Tampa, especially to chant at the campuses there and attend the programs we have for students at University of North Florida, Florida State University, and University of South Florida. I also chanted at Lake Ella while in Tallahassee and in Ybor City, a night spot in Tampa on the last Friday of January. The last day of the month devotees from Gainesville, Alachua, and Tampa chanted at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa.

I share quotes and notes from Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures. I also include an excerpt from a poem by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami on the introduction of counter beads in ISKCON. I share notes on classes by senior devotees in Alachua and Gainesville such as Mother Akuti and Kalakantha Prabhu, and the newer devotees at Krishna House. I also have some notes on a Skype class by Prema Sindhu Prabhu which I heard while staying with Vijay, a middle-aged Indian devotee, who is based in Tampa.

Thanks to Lovelesh and Nama Kirtan Prabhu for their kind donations. Thanks to Vijay of Tampa for letting me stay at his place and for giving me rides. Thanks to Krishna Kishor, generally known as Kishor, for driving me around Tampa and joining me on harinama and college outreach.


February 4–5: Gainesville
February 6–10: Tallahassee
February 11–13: Jacksonville
February 14: Gainesville
February 15: Ocala Rainbow Region Gathering
February 16–17: Gainesville
February 18: Orlando
February 19: Tampa
February 20: Orlando
February 21: Jacksonville Monster Truck Rally Harinama
February 22–27: Gainesville
February 28 – March 3: Tallahassee
March 4: Gainesville
March 5 – March 6: Jacksonville
March 7 – April 8: Florida (Gainesville, Alachua, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa)
April 9–11: Washington, D.C.
April 12: Albany
April 13–15: New York City
April 16: Toronto
April 17–23: Ireland
April 24–25: London
April 26: Radhadesh
April 27: Amsterdam (King’s Day)

Martin Luther King Parade

There was a greater Krishna presence than ever at this year’s Martin Luther King Parade. A larger group of devotees from Alachua joined us than usual, and they bought a very powerful sound system so I think everyone in the parade could hear Hare Krishna. We also had ten devotees from Gainesville, more than ever before.

I parked the van in the middle of the parade route as I did not think I had time to park it at the end. As I approached the beginning of the parade, a young man on a bicycle recognized me as a Hare Krishna, and asked if we were going to be in the parade. He was happy to hear we were, and asked if he could join us, and I said yes.

He happily rode his bike alongside the chanting devotees for at least a third of the parade.

While we were getting ready to start the march, an older Unitarian Universalist lady who spoke to me, said a couple of times, “I like your religion.” 

One young Afro-American lady enjoyed clapping to our music.
Here is a little video so you can see what it was like (

A perennial problem in parades is keeping up with the people ahead of us. I saw the gap widening between ourselves (the last group) and the party ahead of us. I thought we should move faster and tighten up the gap, but I really dislike telling people what to do. So I decided to dance in front of our party and thus bridge the gap myself. Some of the male devotees behind me also began dancing in a similar way. 

One University of Florida journalism student took many pictures of the dancing devotees, and Franco and I spoke to her briefly. She said she would submit the photos to the student newspaper, The Alligator. I told her that we understand that all living entities, plants, animals, and human beings, are children of God, and are equal on the spiritual plane. By the congregational glorification of God we can attain that plane of equality. I told her how I had talked to a couple Christian girls at the progressive dinner organized by the U.F. chaplains, and how they sang in the choirs of their churches and that when I explained our tradition teaches the congregational glorification of God is the most powerful spiritual practice, they said “That is what we like most about our church too.” She had never heard of the progressive dinner and thought it would be an interesting event to cover.

After the parade, as I walked back to the van, a middle-aged Afro-American lady said, “You are not going already, are you?”

All the Gainesville devotees were very happy they attended the event, even though we were half an hour late for lunch. 

For one new girl named Mary (in the pants above), who works at Krishna Lunch, that harinama was her first, and she was glad she went. We shared out realizations in the van after the event.

Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu (holding the drum above) said, “I like to chant in public a lot more than I like to chant in private. Because when you can get people to participate it is just that much more fun and dynamic. It just opens up the energy more, rather than it being a social thing.” 

Syamala Kishori Dasi (wearing the purple sari above) said, “It was fun when they were all dancing with us.”

Franco (in the yellow cadar above) said, “It being Martin Luther King Day the people who would come us to ask up questions I would tell, ‘God is seated in the body of everyone whether they are black or white, so God consciousness means to be respectful of all races because God does not discriminate with race. God will reside in the body of black man, a white man, an Indian, an Asian, a whatever. Racial equality goes hand in hand with God consciousness. That is why we are here honoring Martin Luther King.’ I really liked to be able to connect with people in a meaningful way and relate it back to Krishna consciousness. That was my favorite part.”

The Alachua devotees stayed and chanted for a half hour at the end of the parade. Krishna Keshava Prabhu said that everyone appreciated our presence there. There was no negativity.

Chanting at the Farmers Market

We continued chanting at the Farmers Market on Wednesdays.

One lady (on the left above) danced with us.

Mother Caitanya is always reaching out to others.

Evening Kirtan at Krishna House

Chanting at the University of North Florida

As we were unloading our instruments and books to chant at the University of North Florida campus in Jacksonville, a police lady asked if I was a Hare Krishna. I said yes and asked how she knew about Hare Krishna. She explained she grew up in the neighborhood of our Miami temple in the late 1970s, the property with a lot of fruit trees on it. She remembers that the Krishnas had the same tropical fruits other people had, but they had star fruit in addition. The devotees would give the the kids food and be friendly toward them. The parents warned their children to be cautious dealing with the devotees, but she saw the Hare Krishnas were good people, and she credited her visits to the devotees with making her more trusting of people of different backgrounds, so much so that she married a Jamaican. She told us that at University of North Florida one police officer who was a friend of hers, was given the service of interfacing with the student clubs, and she said she would give our invitation card to her. She further said that new officer is trying to live without red meat and is moving in the direction of being vegetarian.

A new lady named Laura, who has only been coming to the nama-hatta programs for a week, joined Amrita Keli and I chanting on the campus for two hours. Dorian and Youssef, who plays the guitar, joined us midway.

Amrita took a picture of our growing party with Laura’s camera.

Alex, Chad, and Matt also joined us.

Matt, who has been coming to the University of North Florida Krishna Club for over two years, went to the Sacred Sounds event at that campus and liked a tune sung by Kish of the Mayapuris so much he figured out how to play it on the guitar. Matt sang the tune with four other attenders of Krishna Club on the green (

I like that school so much because the students are always willing to sing with us.

At the meeting, Laura sang a tune from Mitra Sena’s CD that she learned how to play on the guitar.

I was stressing in my lecture how there is higher taste from devotional activities and on the strength of that one can renounce material activities. I asked the students if they had experiences showing performing devotional activities had a positive effect on their lives.

One girl mentioned how she was in track in school, and they had to run, but she was not in the mood. Their instructor told her to do nine more laps. She decided to pray to Jesus. She found she gained such strength she was passing some of the other girls although previously she did not feel like running.

Mit told how he used to travel an hour and a half each way from Jacksonville to the Alachua Hare Krishna temple for the free feast on Sunday. His friends thought he was crazy. One Sunday, as he was finishing his feast, one devotee serving the drink was asking for volunteers to help clean up. Mit did not want to do it so he said he had to go in 15 minutes. The devotee, Kaliyaphani Prabhu, replied, “Whatever you can do will be sufficient.” Mit realized he was tricked into doing 15 minutes of service, thus he went to the kitchen. He kept his eye on the clock, and but when fifteen minutes passed, he decided to stay just a few minutes more. When he would finish the pots in the sink, the devotees would bring more pots. He ended up staying two hours, and he experienced great happiness from doing the service, which for him, was completely unexpected.

A man and his son visiting the campus helped Amrita Keli bring in the prasadam, and she gave them a plate of Krishna food, which was a very good pasta with vegetables.

Dorian is always willing to lead a second kirtana, and a bunch of people stayed for that.

The students at that program also like to talk among themselves after the formal discussion and before and after the final kirtana, so it often goes late. Still it is auspicious that they value the association of fellow spiritual aspirants.

Chanting at Florida State University in Tallahassee

The first day at FSU I only went out for two hours in an area protected from the rain at the front of a building with classrooms in it. I met a young lady who is graduating this year with an undergraduate degree in religion and psychology. She also studied yoga in Boulder, Colorado, during the summer break. I told her that Bhagavad-gita is full of both religion and psychology, and she should definitely get it. I quoted Bg. 2.6263 and 6.57, and she liked what she heard. She did not have money with her for the book, but I told her where I would be on the campus next week also said that the books are available at the lunch program. I talked to a freshman lady majoring in biology who was vegetarian. She was very excited to hear of the Krishna Lunch all you can eat vegetarian meal for just $5. There were other students interested both in the vegetarian lunch and the classes on mantra meditation, and I was very happy I went out, despite the rain, to try to connect people with Krishna.

The second day on the campus two philosophy majors stopped by the Bhakti Yoga Club table where I was chanting Hare Krishna. I think Krishna must be sending people to me, otherwise what are the odds? Often days go by without seeing a philosophy major. Another young man said “Hare Krishna” as he walked by, and I asked him how he knew about Hare Krishna, and he said his name was Cody and he got Bhagavad-gita and some small books from Damodar, now Dhamesvara Mahaprabhu.

He came that very evening to the meeting of the Bhakti Yoga Club on campus, and he came by my book table and talked with me every day I was in Tallahassee. One of the philosophy majors also came to the meeting of the Bhakti Yoga Club on campus. He wanted to buy the Bhagavad-gita, but he had no money with him. I encouraged him to get it at our Krishna Lunch or the next club meeting. In the interim, he could download Gitabase for his Android phone. One person stopped by the table and asked the price of the soft bound Gita, and I said we just needed a donation enough to cover the price of the book, and he asked if $10 was enough, and I said it was, and so he took. A couple girls walked passed my table, and one said she just found $1 on the ground and asked if I wanted it, so I said yes. I recall three girls who stopped by the table had been to our Tallahassee Krishna Lunch. Two said they loved it and the other said, “They have the best food!” I had some other nice conversations, and it was one of my best days on that campus. Perhaps it was because it was Advaita Acarya’s auspicious appearance day. Nama Kirtan Prabhu invited a girl from the Krishna Lunch to come for the club meeting and she came as well. Even though we found out just half an hour before the meeting our room was not booked for this week, we went to the building and found we could have our meeting in the yoga and meditation room of the same building. We put a sign about the new room where people looking for the original room would spot it, and we had a successful meeting with three people we invited that day. The lesson I learned from that is if you do not stop trying and you try to work with the other devotees, Krishna will reciprocate.

While in Tallahassee I attended a yoga program by Garuda Prabhu, who teaches yoga postures along with an interfaith presentation of spiritual wisdom. He had a full crowd. Several persons introduced themselves as followers of Christ, so when I introduced myself I said I was interested in singing devotional songs and universal wisdom rather than stressing Hare Krishna. We did lots of stretching postures. I am sure there are parts of my body the only get stretched the three times a year I go to Garuda’s program. At the closing, we were asked to share a verse or a realization. I contributed by paraphrasing the verse saying that “One should always remember the Supreme Lord and not forget Him at anytime. All other proscriptions and prohibitions are servants of these two principles.” I was thinking that the Christians would feel included by that. The next person stressed forgiving others, later saying he responded in that way to accommodate the persons who were not theistic. I had forgotten that some of the people attending that event might not be accepting of God. I distributed halava to everyone who would accept it, which was almost everyone, and I gave out a couple invitations to the FSU Krishna Lunch program.

The next day one of the Christian girls who came to Garuda’s program stopped by my book table. She said she had a good time. I praised Garuda for his wisdom, gained from different traditions, and his sincere desire to benefit others. I asked her about her interest in Christianity. She explained the history of her developing faith in Christ. In the course of talking with her I explained I liked the teaching of Christ to love the Lord with body, mind, and soul, and to love thy neighbor as thyself, but in the Bhagavad-gita I learned that in addition to human beings, the animals and plants, are also are children of God and thus neighbors who are meant to be loved. I mentioned how in the Bible, in the beginning in Genesis, the diet given by the Lord for humans is vegetarian, and that the kingdom of God, where the lion will lay down with the lamb, is a place of nonviolence. I mentioned there are some people who say that Jesus was a vegetarian, and in any case, I doubted he would be happy about the millions of animals slaughter in Christian-owned slaughterhouses, a point that she agreed with. At the end I gave her my card and asked her to tell me of her continuing spiritual journey.

I also encountered another person who had gotten Bhagavad-gita from Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu and who was also interested in our programs.

At the campus I encountered two people who had seen me at Lake Ella, one coming to my table to get the cookie she promised to get from me that weekend at the lake but never did.

All together I got thirteen names for the Bhakti Yoga Club mailing list. I was very happy to meet a lot of interested students on the campus, and I look forward to returning in February.

Chanting at Lake Ella

Just as we just began chanting at Lake Ella in Tallahassee, an eccentric old man came by, singing the nursery rhyme “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and collecting donations for his presidential campaign. As he had a purple “jesus is lord” sticker on his guitar, I doubted I could get him to chant “Hare Krishna,” so I asked him if he knew the Christian spiritual “Amazing Grace.” He smiled, and said, “Yes. It is one of my favorite songs!” And so he played it on his guitar and sang, and Nama Kirtan Prabhu played the mrdanga, I played the karatalas, and Carl, the didgeridoo. A young Afro-American couple took pictures, and I stopped playing the karatalas to take this video (

He was very happy and felt that God had directed him to come to Lake Ella that day, as he usually sings elsewhere. I felt victorious as I got him to go from singing nursery rhymes to praising the Lord. You never know what will happen on harinama.

The next day I went out by myself. Hardly anyone stopped to talk, and I distributed one cookie in the first two hours. During the last half hour I met some interesting people. One was a double major in psychology and criminal justice. He had a class on leadership in the same building in which we serve lunch, and he was happy to learn of the lunch program. The other amazing enough was a double major in philosophy and criminal justice. He came to Lake Ella to meditate, and he chose a place near me because he thought it would be good for meditation. He had gotten Bhagavad-gita As It Is at a concert in Tampa on the Warp tour, and he also had Journey of Self-Discovery. He gave his email for our Bhakti-yoga Club mailing list and was happy to hear of our Bhagavad-gita class. When I left I took my extra cookies to people seating nearby. Four students relaxing on a blanket all took cookies and were happy to learn of the vegetarian lunch program.

Almost all the students I talked to had not heard of the vegetarian lunch program, and many were happy to learn of it.

I was very happy I took the trouble to go out, and I was happy Krishna sent me some nice people in the end.

Chanting at University of South Florida in Tampa

My friend, Kishor, although often preoccupied with his used car business, likes to share Krishna consciousness. He kindly canceled his afternoon of appointments to pick me up at the bus and chant with me and later Raju at the University of South Florida in Tampa. We chanted in front of the Marshall Student Center. Kishor proved himself very enthusiastic in distributing invitations to our program. One exchange student from England who got an invitation came to the program and asked many relevant questions. One girl who is into health sciences found out about the program on the internet while searching for a program of self-improvement. She really applied herself to the kirtana, and you could see she was so happy. I encouraged her by telling her, “The more you apply yourself the more realizations you will get. It is really unlimited.” Everyone who came to the program participated in the kirtana, and it was beautiful to see.

For the second kirtana, one new innovation was giving people the option of either standing up and dancing or sitting down and meditating on the sound.

About three people sat down and the rest danced. I think it was good that people had the choice to take the kirtana as a dance or a meditation according to their natural inclination. Raju was happy that everyone who came to the program accepted his friend request on Facebook.

The next day I chanted alone on in front of the library where we had signed up for a table. After our scheduled time for the table ended, I chanted on the lawn in front of the library. As it was Ekadasi, a day extra devotional activities are recommended, I decided to chant until my ride came in 4 hours. I had only 5 hours sleep, so after 2½ hours, I was wondering how I would continue. I decided to pray to Lord Caitanya. After that more people came by and stopped to talk, some quite interested, and one who bought a book. One girl in particular was very attracted to hear the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra and wondered what it was all about. I got several names for the mailing list and passed out invitation to the club. In the end I lost track of the time and was surprised when Vijay came to get me.

At one point a Christian came by, who was glorifying Christ for curing the sick and bringing the dead back to life. I mentioned that Lord Caitanya, who appeared in Bengal in the late 1400s, also cured the sick and brought the dead back to life. In fact, in one case the dead child who was revived spoke to the gathered family members about how he had taken birth in that family according to his karma, and now by the arrangement of the Lord it was time to leave that situation. My ride came at that time, and I gave the Christian my card offering to document what I said about Lord Caitanya, if he desired. The Christians are so proud of Lord Jesus Christ but they do not know in the Vedic literature many powerful incarnations and representatives of God are described with the abilities of curing the sick, raising the dead, freeing people of sins, and awakening love of God.

Chanting in Ybor City

I was grateful to Kishor that he organized a harinama on Ekadasi evening in the section of Ybor City with an active night life. Four devotees chanted almost two hours, distributed some Krishna: Reservoir of Pleasures, and encountered people happy to see Hare Krishnas. Some older ladies surprised me by dancing to our music. I wondered if they remembered Hare Krishnas from the 1970s.

We had a couple interesting encounters.

One young lady was happy to see us and said she used to attend the Krishna Lunch at the University of Florida. I explained we were going to chant at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival the next day, and I asked if she were going. She replied, “No, it is too degraded.” That really struck me and caught me off guard. Here the Hare Krishna devotees, who have much higher standards of renunciation than the people in general, were going to an event a former UF student felt was to degraded. I said to explain our attendance at that degraded venue, “We are just going there because there are so many people to share the chanting with.”

Three ladies at a table were so talkative with one devotee, the rest of stayed there and chanted while he talked. One of the ladies was from Wheeling, West Virginia, and had visited Srila Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, which is a tourist attraction. She had a very positive experience there.

Gasparilla Harinama

The last Saturday in January is the day of the Gasparilla Pirate Parade at Tampa Bay which is attended by 300,000 people each year.

Devotees from Gainesville, Alachua, and Tampa chanted before and during the parade this year on January 31. Everyone was in a partying mood and many danced with us. We met people who recognized us from Gainesville and Jacksonville.

Some people who knew us from the Krishna Lunch took pleasure in dancing with us, and I gave them invitations to our Krishna House program which they happily received.

As you can see in the video below, there were three young Afro-American ladies who took great pleasure in dancing with the devotee ladies for some time. Afterwards the devotees gave them “On Chanting Hare Krishna.” I gave them oatmeal cookies and invitations to our Bhakti Yoga Club programs at their school. They were happy to receive all the gifts.

Gasparilla video (

One lady delighted in the playing the whompers (large karatalas) with the devotees.

Abhimanyu Prabhu really got into dancing.

Guru Vagmi Prabhu distributed pamphlets as usual.

You could see people were really happy to encounter the devotees.

At least three devotees dressed as pirates:

One lady, who danced with the devotees at Gasparilla, sported a shirt with “GOOD KARMA” printed on it. Of course, it is more than just good karma to dance with the Hare Krishnas. It is transcendental karma.

You can see she really got into it.

Chelsea and Autumn of Krishna House led our procession by dancing on the way back.

Some people who passed us would also dance.

It was awesome see the number of people advancing spiritually by hearing the holy name and dancing in the kirtana.

Abhimanyu Prabhu commented that it was appropriate that the Gasparilla harinama was on the appearance of Lord Varaha, the boar incarnation, who raised the earth from the dark depths of the ocean, as at Gasparilla, the Lord in the form of His holy name was saving the people of the earth from the depths of ignorance.

Tampa devotees provided plenty of spiritual food for all the devotees after the parade, and we were very, very, grateful.


Srila Prabhupada:

from the Preface of The Nectar of Instruction:

In all spiritual affairs, one’s first duty is to control his mind and senses. Unless one controls his mind and senses, one cannot make any advancement in spiritual life. 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 a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.6 on April 18, 1975, in Vrindavan, India:

Knowledge means to understand the original source of everything.

When your anarthas [unwanted desires] will be finished and you will see every living entity as part and parcel of Krishna, that is called real Brahman realization. Part and parcel of Krishna every one of us. So we shall not only engage ourself as part and parcel of Krishna in His service, but also we shall try to engage others because they are also part and parcel of Krishna. Why should we eliminate them? That is Vaisnavism. That is Krishna consciousness. And that is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission.”

Although we are riding in this motor car, we do not think it is essential. Those who are captured by this materialistic civilization are thinking it is essential.

Don’t forget Krishna simply for the matter of material advancement.

from a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.7 on April 24, 1975, in Vrindavan, India:

The dog cannot question that ‘Why I have got this dog’s body, and my master has got the human body?’”

So Caitanya Mahaprabhu has prescribed a very easy method to become pious. That is the chanting of Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

Our heart disease of lusty desires can be cured simply by chanting and hearing the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

We are opening centers all over the world to give people the chance to hear about Krishna.

Pure consciousness is to understand I am very intimately connected with Krishna.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

from “Poem for January 26”:

I remember when I
first received my big
red beads and chanted
on them, I felt an
incompleteness in not
knowing how many rounds
I had chanted.
I confided
this to Swamiji, and he
advised me to buy small
counter-beads and tie
them on a string to
my bead bag. For every
round I should
move one counter-bead
separate from the rest.
This was especially useful on Ekadasi
when I chanted sixty-four rounds.
I was perhaps the first
disciple to inquire about
the counter-beads.
It gives a ‘muscle’
and a sense of accomplishment
to know how many
rounds we have chanted
rather than just ‘chanting them to the air.’
And it prevents us from
stopping prematurely.”

Mother Akuti:

Time is the most valuable thing, precious to all. It is subtle but has a profound effect.

Srila Prabhupada would often say, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

Men talk of killing time while time quietly kills them.

Time makes a fool of us because each life we always think that we will be successful in satisfying our desires, but yet again we die unfulfilled.

Death can be an embrace by Krishna for one who reaches out to Him.

Srila Prabhupada emphasized the chanting so much, especially in the beginning, and then he gave us deity worship.

If we think at each moment, “Would Srila Prabhupada be pleased with what I am doing at this moment?” then we will not waste time.

Faith, conviction, and enthusiasm are essential.

I visited my 93-year-old mother who is suffering because she fell out of bed. She just wants to sleep so she will not suffer because she does not have anything else to occupy her mind. I told her I can tell you thousands of things about God, but there was no interest.

Lord Caitanya would have kirtanas that would go on all night. When he talked with Ramananda Raya, they stayed up all night talking about Krishna.

Not only do we waste our time physically but we can waste our time mentally.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises in his poem “The Jiva Soul”:
Forget the past that sleeps, ne’er of
The future dream at all
But act in times that are with thee
And progress thee shall call. . . .
Let never matter push thee down
O stand heroic man!”

We have to take shelter of Krishna. By serving we develop our love. Fear exists when there is a gap in our devotional service, so we have to try to eliminate all the gaps.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

I have heard thousands of Prabhupada lectures, and still every once in a while I hear something I have not heard before.

Prabhupada said Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.8 should be the motto for every devotee: “My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.” It is not that the devotee is exempt from suffering, but his suffering is for a purpose while the suffering of a materialistic is simply a distraction from his enjoyment.

Sridhar Swami explains that just as one receives an inheritance if he simply remains alive, one will receive the Lord’s mercy simply by remaining alive in devotional service. The difference is that remaining alive in spiritual life is a very active thing while remaining physically alive is relatively passive.

If we even just follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions experimentally we begin to experience the six results mentioned by Rupa Goswami:
(1) Pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress. (2) Pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness.
(3) Pure devotional service automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure.
(4) Pure devotional service is rarely achieved.
(5) Those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation.
(6) Pure devotional service is the only means to attract Krishna.

The voluntary suffering that we endure helps us to suffer less when we encounter the involuntary sufferings of life.

As I age, I see my facilities diminishing. When you are young, you think that won’t happen. That is part of being young. You may theoretically understand, but you do not really believe it.

In revealing our mind to Krishna we must not have a too inflated or deflated opinion of ourself but rather be honest with ourselves.

We must keep ourselves in a position where we are eligible for Krishna’s mercy.

Comment by Syamala Kishori Dasi: The prayers of Bhaktivinoda Thakura in Saranagati are how he speaks about himself when he is speaking to Krishna. When he speaking to others he does not speak of himself in the same way.

My godbrother, Hasyagrami Prabhu, who was on the Radha Damodar party and who played in the Murari Band, recently on his first trip to India, left his body in Mayapur after a heart attack on a motorcycle within our compound there. He was in charge of maintenance for the buses. The fuel pump broke on one, but because the bus was obsolete, despite much endeavor he found it impossible to find the part anywhere. It was Radhastami, and decided to observe the half-day fast, but stored some maha-prasadam in his locker to break the fast midday. When he returned to his locker at noon, he found a new fuel pump crushing the plate of maha-prasadam, and no one could ever explain how it got there.

In this present materialistic society, it is said if you want your children to pay attention to you when you are old, make sure you have money.

Getting older as devotees, we practically experience what the Bhagavatam says, that sense gratification does not make us happy.

Comment by Caitanya: In Eastern societies we see that when parents encourage children in spiritual life, the children are more likely to take care of them when they are old.

Comment by Franco: I am very happy to sit in on these classes as I am seeing the impermanence of the things I was formerly taking shelter of.

Comment by Dennis: The Bhagavatam is a user guide for the material world.

Comment by Tulasirani Devi Dasi: The philosophy makes sense but when we get in a difficulty we can realize the truth. When I got in a car accident, by Krishna’s grace, I was very clear. I was thinking, “We got in a car accident. My friend is dying. I have to help her remember Krishna.” Previously in the car, I was dozing off, putting off chanting Hare Krishna on my beads, but with the accident, by Krishna’s grace everything became in focus.

In New Zealand at a university in Victoria the devotees have a Krishna Food program serving 200 or 300 people a day. Their price was half that of the competition, and thus all the other food vendors shut down.

Devamrita Swami has a seminar called “How to Crack a Western City” describing his successful yoga loft programs in New Zealand.

The mood of Krishna House is that is alright to mistakes. God will not strike you down if you make mistakes. We want everyone to have a chance to give a class, cook an offering, lead a kirtana, etc.

B. B. Govinda Maharaja says regarding kirtana, “I dig a groove until everyone falls into it.”

comment by Brahmatirtha Prabhu: B. B. Govinda Swami’s father was Elvis Presley’s manager.
Response by Kalakantha Prabhu: Elvis would sometimes take B. B. Govinda Swami to the circus as a kid.

Yoga really means to connect with a person, Krishna, but until one comes to the point of bhakti there is selfishness.

Jnana, the path of knowledge, is a way of approaching God without being committed to the relationship.

The beautiful thing about Krishna consciousness that there is both knowledge and emotion.

The danger of the mode of goodness is that one becomes attached to a happy life in this world and does not endeavor to attain the spiritual world.

Bhakti is the love of the soul for its creator.

Comment by Ananda Seva Prabhu: Although the Lord’s Prayer does submit a list of requests to be fulfilled by God, the beginning is just glorification of God: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Prema Sindhu Prabhu:

Radhanath Swami made a couple important points in a lecture. One was that as Sugriva was later able to use the knowledge of different places, which he learned while running from Vali, to engage in Rama’s service, we should use the skills we have acquired in life in the Lord’s service. Another point was that just as Sita rejected countless proposals by Ravana to marry her, we have to reject so many materialistic proposals and remain faithful to the Lord.

No matter what tribulations one experiences, one should not give up the shelter of the Krishna and His holy name.

Mahapurna, one of the gurus of Ramanujacarya, was ostracized because, although a brahmana, he performed a funeral ceremony for a sudra. Ramanujacarya asked him why he did something that would so disrupt his life in such a way. He explained he was just following the mahajanas, the great souls. That sudra had very nicely served his guru, Yamunacarya. Even once that sudra accepted a disease that Yamunacarya had, so that Yamunacarya would be freed from it. When the sudra was asked why he did not pursue treatment for that disease, and he said because he considered it the maha-prasadam of his guru. Mahapurna explained he was following Lord Rama who performed the funeral ceremony for Jatayu, a bird who had rendered service to Him. So we must be like Mahapurna, following the great souls and being willing to tolerate adverse public opinion.

We must be strict with ourselves and lenient with others. Usually we are lenient with ourselves and strict with others.

Mother Caitanya:

I see at the Wellness Center people making material adjustment after material adjustment to their terminally diseased condition. The doctor advises them to take shelter of a high power. We are so fortunate because every day we practice to take shelter of Krishna. When devotees die they are free from anxiety compared to the people in general. I bought some prasadam chili there, and there was not a bean left. They said the next time we have a party, we want you cater it. Because my mom is well enough to leave there soon, I gave pocket Gitas to everyone there.

Gopala Prabhu:

One sannyasi said the meaning of “Krishna protects one” is “Krishna does what is best for the person.”

Syamala Kishori Dasi:

I was going to the beach or someplace fun with my sister, and I got in a car accident and got a broken leg. It changed my summer. I had to take shelter of Krishna in a way that I never did before.

Recently I had a health crisis. I was not able to focus on Krishna and worried how I would at the time of death. Kalakantha Prabhu said, “The wonderful mercy of Krishna is that He arranges that everything is taken away at the time of death and Krishna is the only opportunity for shelter.”

Ananda Seva Prabhu:

We only have one child at ISKCON Gainesville, but if we can protect one child by doing background checks, it is worth it.

Hanan Prabhu:

Tolstoy has a story of two men going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. One leaves to get water but gets entangled in taking care of sick people at the place he went to get water and never reaches Jerusalem. His partner continues on his journey and reaches Jerusalem. He think he sees his friend in Jerusalem but cannot approach him. He returns home and sees his friend still taking care of the sick people. He says I saw you in Jerusalem, but he says I never made it to Jerusalem. Tolstoy asks the reader, “Which man really went to Jerusalem?”

Comment by Franco: I am happy for the bad things that happened to me this year because they facilitated me moving into Krishna House.

Comment by Autumn: I went to New Vrindavan and had a nice taste from living in there.

Comment by Haripriya: My connection to kirtana has really deepened last year, and I am thankful because it makes life worthwhile.

A sadhu in Varsana annoyed at Muslims from Mathura killing cows that the poor Vrajavasis could not maintain started a goshala. The devotee who was working for him asked how big it should be. The sadhu said if you do not take anything for yourself, you will be able to take care of any number of cows. Now they have 25,000 cows, and the person running it does not even take a cup of milk for himself.

One poor ‘sadhu’ in Vrindavan threatened to curse me if I did not give him a donation. We settled on that I would buy him a Sprite.

Vaishnava Dasa (from New Vrindavan):

At the Farmers Market, just as we were about to set up to sing, one vendor said to us, “You really aren’t that good.” We did not respond to that, and twenty minutes later he came up and apologized to everyone in the party for his unkind words.

Greyhound bus driver:

Smoking is not permitted on the bus, even in the bathroom. And if you do smoke, you should stop.


As in the U.S.A, January 26, 2015, was the appearance day of Sri Advaita Acarya, I offer following verse in His glorification. Each of the first three lines tells some truth about Him, and in the final line, the author, Krishnadas Kaviraja, takes shelter of Him. Last year I gave a class on this verse and encouraged all my students to memorize it and many of them did.

advaitam harinadvaitad
acaryam bhakti-shamsanat
bhaktavataram isham tam
advaitacaryam ashraye

[1] Because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, [2] and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Acarya. [3] He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. [4] Therefore I take shelter of Him [Advaita Acarya].” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi 1.13)