Sunday, March 22, 2015

Travel Journal#11.4: Ocala Rainbow & More Florida Adventures

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 4
By Krishna-kripa das
(February 2015, part two
Ocala Rainbow Gathering, Gainesville, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on March 22, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

The second half of February started off with an adventure – sharing spiritual food and song at the Ocala Rainbow Gathering. Then I spent a couple of days chanting at Krishna Lunch in Gainesville, and then on to Orlando and Tampa for three days of chanting on campuses and inviting people to evening programs. Then the next weekend was another harinama at a special venue – the Monster Truck Rally at Jacksonville's Everbank Stadium. The final week I was back at Krishna Lunch, with the exception of the final day of February, the first day of spring break, when I went up to Tallahassee.

I share insights from Srila Prabhupada's books, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami's journal, lectures from three Prabhupada disciples in the Gainesville/Alachua area, namely, Brahmatirtha Prabhu (Bob Cohen of Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers), Kalakantha Prabhu (temple president of Krishna House), and Ranjit Prabhu, and a lecture by the manager of Krishna Lunch, Hanan Prabhu. I also share comments and realizations by devotees at Krishna House.

I want to thank Vishnu Priya Devi Dasi of Jacksonville for her very generous donation.

Thanks to Autumn for her pictures of the Ocala Rainbow Gathering, Raju for his pictures of the program at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Dhira Prabhu for his pictures of the chanting party at the Monster Truck Rally in Jacksonville, and Govardhan Isvari Devi Dasi for her picture of chanting at the Farmers Market.

Thanks to Jaya Sri Vrinda Devi Dasi for editing and proofreading.


March 22–25: Gainesville
March 26–27: Tampa
March 28–31: Tallahassee
April 1–3: Jacksonville
April 4–7: Gainesville
April 8–11: Washington, D.C.
April 12: Albany
April 13–15: New York City
April 16: Toronto
April 17–23: Ireland (Dublin and Cork)
April 24–26: Rotterdam
April 27: Amsterdam (King’s Day)
April 28: Radhadesh, Belgium
April 29: Germany
April 30–May 3: Simhachalam, Bavaria, Germany (Nrisimha Festival)
May 4–July 16: United Kingdom

Ocala Regional Rainbow Gathering

Devotees had saved up 27 buckets of Krishna food for me to distribute at the Ocala Regional Rainbow Gathering, although I asked them to save just 8 buckets. Devotees from Alachua County have been attending this event for many years. I originally had a party of four devotees, and I decided 16 buckets was all we could handle. Fortunately Vaishnava Prabhu of New Vrindaban, who had cooked much of the prasadam, and Tessa, who loves to distribute prasadam, decided to also come at the last minute, so we had six devotees altogether, the others being Dorian, Autumn, and Chelsea, who drove her car.

We chanted over 5 hours as we walked through the Ocala National Forest with a trolley of prasadam (Krishna food), feeding people on the way. 

We stopped as we met people, and some of us served them while the rest of us sang.

Some people played their instruments along with our music.

 Some people danced.

One lady said of the coconut raisin halava, “This is the best food you guys have ever given me.”

This guy said of it, “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience this.” 

Another guy said of the prasadam, “Truly excellent.” Another said, “It is amongst the best food I've had since coming to these woods.” The people were so grateful we came.
Some had an odd assortment of eating vessels.
Some used coconut bowls.
One used chopsticks made from leaves to eat off a leaf plate.

Each day after we serve the Krishna Lunch to the students in Gainesville, the extra prasadam goes to a student cooperative living facility and to homeless shelters. What is left after all that, we sent to a pig farm for some time because we did not want to just it throw away. One young lady who was eating our food at the Rainbow Gathering told me she worked at that pig farm, and her service was to feed the old Krishna Lunch to the pigs. The pigs were so excited when she opened the buckets to pour the old prasadam down the chute. About the pigs chasing after the prasadam, she said, “They really went to town!”

One guy followed our chanting party for two hours, and Tessa really impressed me by giving him her own beads and bead bag and teaching him how to chant the Hare Krishna mantra using them.

We gave our extra prasadam to different kitchens at the gathering before we left.

At the end, we chanted and distributed prasadam near the path to the trading circle and one of the prominent kitchens.

We ended by giving a box of halava and a cooler of spaghetti to those at the main gate.

We did not return home till 8:30 p.m. Although it was a long and tiring day, the devotees were all glad they went and look forward to next year. The people we saw there were among the most grateful we have ever meet.

Chanting at the University of Central Florida in Orlando

Within fifteen minutes of my setting up my table and beginning chanting, one young lady asked if she could listen to my singing while she ate her lunch. She sat in a sunny patch of grass across the sidewalk from me, and ate lunch and listened. Because it was market day and we did not reserve space for our local Bhakti Yoga Club, I was relocated by a student union official. I told my listener I was sorry, but I had to move. She gave me a dollar donation, and I gave her a Bhakti Yoga book after verifying she did not already have it. She was happy to take the book. I asked if she did some kind of meditation, and she said she did and that if she had no other engagement she might come to our program on Friday.

Ultimately we chanted by the library, which had more traffic than the free speech area given us by the student union representative. There one young lady said “Haribol” to us as she passed. Turned out her mother was a Hare Krishna devotee in Brazil. We invited her to our program and gave her a card for the local temple, in case she wants to connect with Krishna again in Orlando.

Chanting at the University of South Florida in Tampa

I chanted with Raju Manthena at the University of South Florida by the library and the student center for 3½ hours, passing out invitations to our Bhakti Yoga Club program that evening.

Seven people came to the Bhakti Yoga Club meeting after seeing us earlier that day. Such a large number of newcomers coming from our chanting and passing out invitations is exceedingly rare. One regular from last semester came, saying she was too busy to come this semester. She danced like anything, and said she would return the next week. Two ladies who came for the first time when I visited several weeks ago were still coming.

There was a lot of participation in the chanting as you can see in this video (

Chanting at Valencia College in Orlando

As two devotees and I were chanting at Valencia College in Orlando, an older man with hair that was mostly gray passed us twice, the second time asking if he could record us in his studio. Kishor asked if he was a professor. And he replied, “Yes.” “Of what?” Kishor asked. “Of sound,” he said. He explained he had read our book and knew all about us. He got Kishor's phone number. Later I looked up Valencia on the Internet and found they have a major called “Sound and Music Technology.” After a couple of weeks, the professor called Kishor to schedule a recording session.

Chanting at the Monster Truck Rally

One little girl loved dancing with the devotee ladies, and her father loved to take pictures of it.

One blond lady enjoyed dancing with the devotee ladies.

Guru Vagmi Prabhu always distributes pamphlets.

So does Mother Nitai.

In the beginning people were less receptive in general than usual, but at the end we met many people happy to encounter the devotees and their chanting.

This video shows what it was like at a not very busy time (

Chanting at Krishna Lunch

Chanting at the Farmers Market

Innovations in Outreach

Bada Hari Prabhu, the maintenance man at Krishna House, not to be confused with the musician, thought of a novel tool for education – a Bhagavad-gita video built into the lunch table. 


Srila Prabhupada:

From Beyond Birth and Death:

We are all seeking enjoyment through these bodies, but bodily enjoyment is not our actual enjoyment. It is artificial. We have to understand that if we want to continue in this artificial enjoyment, we will not be able to attain our position of eternal enjoyment.”

Our enjoyment can be perfected when we participate in the enjoyment of God.”

If we keep displeasing our supreme father, we shall never be happy within this material world, in either the upper or lower planetary systems.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

From “Poem for February 15” in Viraha Bhavan:

The Hare Krishna chanters in
the City have found
the secret source of joy –
the nectar for which
we are always anxious.
It is lamentable that
only a relatively few people chant
the holy names
and that people think of it as sectarian religion
or mythology or brainwashing.
The devotees are trying their best
to chant the Names
but they are a minimum
amount of people in the world.
When, O when, will the people of the world
take to the chanting of the Names
and taste the nectar of holy love?”

Brahma-tirtha Prabhu:

How is it that Srila Prabhupada gave us in the beginning of our spiritual lives books like The Nectar of Devotion and Krishna which deal with such advanced topics?

Srila Prabhupada made the highest knowledge of devotional service available and then taught the process by which we can attain it.

Srila Prabhupada writes in a letter about a disciple who rendered a lot of service to him but who thought that Srila Prabhupada was existing only because of his service. Because of thinking of Srila Prabhupada in this way, as if he were a common man who was dependent on others, he lost the chance to serve him.

Krishna gives a taste of his association and then removes that opportunity. He did that with the gopis. Why did He leave them? Because of their pride.

It may look like the lamentation of the gopis losing Krishna is the same as that of a materialist, but they are completely different.

Even Srila Prabhupada said “I am going to need some help in figuring this out” to Hridayananda Goswami, Jayapataka Goswami, and Harikesa Prabhu, regarding the cosmology of the Fifth Canto.

The Fifth Canto is to create awe about the Lord's creation.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

The scientists admit that they do not know it all, but because they know more than we do, they are our authorities.

People have fanatic blind faith in science.

Science and the Bhagavatam agree that the universe is beyond our understanding, but science thinks that someday they will understand it, while the Bhagavatam states it is so inconceivable we will never understand it.

The members of the British Raj, observing an eclipse in India, noticed that the Indian astronomers, just by moving a few stones, calculated its timings very accurately.

Science tries to explain how the universe works, but the Vedic knowledge can explain why the universe exists and why we are existing in it.

Because of the living entities' desire to enjoy matter, Krishna had to create a material world to fulfill those desires.

The extent and diversity of the universe is explained in the Vedic knowledge to help us appreciate it, but why it exists is more important.

A couple reasons the planetarium is central to the temple in Mayapur are: (1) Srila Prabhupada wanted to demonstrate our faith in the cosmology of the Vedic literature. (2) The atheistic communist government of Bengal at the time would be more supportive of a planetarium than a temple.

Technology can be used in Krishna's service, but it cannot help us find Krishna. So find Krishna first through devotional service, and then use technology in His service.

Comment by Tulasirani Devi Dasi: My sister, who is a plant scientist, was very depressed at how human beings can be so cruel to each other and to the environment. She found no explanation for it. I presented that this universe is created for those who are envious of God. She replied, “That is the most logical explanation I have heard.” But she could not accept it because she did not have proof.

Comments by me:

Sadaputa Prabhu said that mathematicians in 1967 presented to biologists that according to probability theory, evolution was highly unlikely. The biologists replied that the mathematicians must have made some mistake, “because we know evolution happened.” Then the mathematicians left them alone, understanding the kind of people they were dealing with.

In Forbidden Archeology, the authors show many examples of scientists discrediting evidence simply because it does not fit in with the accepted theory. According to the scientific method, if evidence is found that is incompatible with the present theory, the theory should be modified so that it accounts for all the evidence. The scientists are proud of having objective knowledge by following their scientific method and they criticize the blind faith of the religionists, but when they discredit evidence to maintain their theory, they demonstrate blind faith in a theory which has evidence against it, which is an inferior position to the religionists they are criticizing.

Kalakantha Prabhu (continued):

from a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.19:

There was a difficult legal case in our Chicago temple in 1974. Devotees explained both sides to Srila Prabhupada and asked for his advice. He replied, “My advice is that you depend on Krishna.”

There is no greater emotional attachment that I have experienced in this life than attachment to my children.

Loss of a child is the worst thing for a parent, either physically or to a lifestyle they do not agree with.

Why does Krishna neglect people? Because they neglect Him, like the rebellious adolescent who wants to do his own thing without concern for the parents.

When we rebel against Krishna we always have that unsettled freedom, “How will I survive?”

Krishna is controlling everything, and He is my friend, therefore there is no anxiety.

Recognizing our helpless position is the beginning of our freedom.

We should be contrite that we gave up our wonderful relationship with Krishna.

A pure devotee is a person who depends on Krishna.

Pure devotion is expressed by our actions more than merely our words.

A person who is thinking he is successful but who has no connection with Krishna is not actually successful.

Our sadhana evokes the mood of pure devotion in our hearts.

One of my godbrothers was distributing books, and someone came up to him and said he had a donation for him but it was in his car, and told him to come with him and get it. He came to the man's car and the man pulled a gun on him, and demanded all his money. He gave him the money. The man said, “Because you have seen my face, I will have to kill you.” The devotee started chanting “namaste narasimhaya . . .” The man's accomplice came up in a car, and urged his friend to get in, and he did and they drove away.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said to work as if everything depends on you, and to pray like everything depends on Krishna.

If we are trying to do something, and it just does not work out, it may be that it is not Krishna's desire, and that is not a bad thing. However, if we have an order by the spiritual master, we should endeavor to carry it out no matter how difficult it is.

Three reasons people believe in impersonalism:
1. Fear of a personal relationship with the Absolute.
2. Pride in or ambition for the attainment of Godhead.
3. The teachings of Sankaracharya [Advaita Vedanta].

What do Vaishnava texts say about impersonalism?
1. The impersonal, God in the heart, and the Supreme Person are three nondual features of the Absolute Truth. (SB 1.2.11)
2. The impersonal comes from the personal feature of the Absolute Truth. (Bg. 14.27)
3. The impersonal realization is more difficult to achieve and maintain. (SB 10.2.32)

Krishna many times uses the Sanskrit equivalents of "I", "me", and "mine" in Bhagavad-gita so the impersonalists have to do a lot of word jugglery to explain the Absolute to be impersonal.

There is a problem of the conflicting interpretations of the Vaishnava and impersonalist:
aham brahmasmi: I am spirit [Vaishnava] or I am the Supreme Spirit [impersonalist].
tat tvam asi: You (Krishna) are that Supreme [Vaishnava] or You (the individual) are that Supreme. [impersonalist]

There are many examples of impersonalists becoming devotees but no examples of devotees becoming impersonalists.

Comment by Syamala Kishori Devi Dasi: The adolescent rebels against his parents while at the same time being maintained by the parents. In the same way, the conditioned souls rebel against God while they are being maintained by Him.

Ranjit Prabhu:

In Bhagavad-gita 7.10 Krishna explains that He is “the original seed of all existences.” Later in Bhagavad-gita 14.4, Krishna stresses this point by mentioning that He is “the seed-giving father.”

Animal life is characterized by constant fear.

Material life ends in failure because as they say, “You can't take it with you.”

Krishna says that there is no other performer than the three modes of material nature.

Bhagavad-gita 2.55 says one in the transcendental consciousness gives up all desires for sense gratification, not that he gives up all sense gratification. We should direct our desires to hearing and chanting the holy name and service to the spiritual master with the understanding that Krishna is nondifferent from His holy name.

We can pray for the holy name to enlighten us with this understanding of His nature.

Krishna explains to Arjuna that his idea was very limited.

Ted Turner was going to give a billion dollars in charity, and he did so to UNICEF. He also bought up a lot of prairie to protect buffalo which were becoming extinct. Now if he was Krishna consciousness, he would have protected cows.

Seeing the ability of the Vedic literature to give a consistent explanation for what we see in this world, we can have faith that its description of the spiritual world could also be accurate.

Hanan Prabhu:

Prayer is more than just what you generally think of. It is opening your mind and filling up your heart.

Prayers can make miracles in your life. I have experienced this. Prayer is a primary devotional act in my life these days.

My elder brother in Israel said, “During the two-week war in 1973 I prayed like I never prayed in my life and I felt so protected.”

A Sufi poet said, “Every heart will get what it prays for the most.”

Prayer is not easy because our ego gets in the way.

Bhagavad-gita is in one sense a book about transformation.

Arjuna had what psychologists would call a breakdown.

Bhagavad-gita is set on a battlefield because Krishna wanted to show even in the most difficult situation if we have knowledge of yoga we will be victorious.

As the three primary colors produce all varieties of colors, from the three modes of material nature all material varieties are produced.

Prayer in the mode of ignorance is to harm others. Prayer in the mode of passion is for our own benefit. Prayer in the mode of goodness is to benefit others, to transform ourselves, or to just glorify God. Prayers to do the will of God are transcendental.

Prayer is not mere recitation of words although that is part of it. Srila Prabhupada gave the example of the parrot, who can be trained to chant "Hare Krishna" but does not do so when attacked by a cat.

I saw someone running with fear on his face who disappeared into the bushes, and the policemen who followed him and then arrested him. I was a little disturbed, so I decided to pray for him, the policemen, and myself. Several months later, someone I recognized came to do hours for Krishna Lunch as community service. I asked what was his offense, and he said, “running from the police.” Then I remembered how I knew him.

Love without service is not real love. It is still about me.

The taste a devotee gets in the beginning is like a free trial given by a company hoping you get attached to their product.

One businessman told Prithu Prabhu he took Krishna consciousness seriously when he read Bhagavad-gita 2.40 and learned there was no loss in devotional service.

Q: Do you have example of your plans being frustrated by Krishna and it turned out for the better?

Comment by Kalakantha Prabhu: I was on the town council of LaCrosse. A redneck guy ran against me in the next election. I lost by one vote. If my wife voted for me, I would have won. Rtadhvaja Swami then said we need someone in Gainesville, and I was free to go, so I did.

Additional comments on classes:

Comment by Naomi: So God does not do anything in the spiritual world. He just enjoys?

Comment by Nicholas: One devotee explained that everything is easy in the beginning in devotional service because we are coming up to the level we were at in our previous life. Then there is sort of a plateau.

Comment by Mikey: I find when I go on harinama sankirtana I am forced to participate and I get so inspired it fuels me for another week. Therefore, I always go out on Friday and chant on the corner with the devotees from Alachua.

Comment by Nicholas: I decided I would just talk about spiritual things. It annoyed some of my friends. Some of them it still annoys so I do not associate with them. Others, however, who developed a taste for talking about spiritual things, now search me out for such talks.

From an evening discussion including sharing inspiring moments:

Varangi Radha Devi Dasi: I have been noticing that my life is really empty without the devotees.

Michael from New Vrindavan: Krishna has been taking care of us since time immemorial. Why won't He take care of us now?

Haripriya: I have been just trying to hear the holy name, and it has made me very inspired.


ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante
manusyah partha sarvasah

[Lord Sri Krishna said:] “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Bhagavad-gita 4.11)