Thursday, June 04, 2015

Travel Journal#11.9: Simhachalam Festival, Birmingham Kirtan, Sheffield Ratha-yatra, and More

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 9
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2015, part one
Bavaria, Birmingham, and The North of England
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on June 4, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

I attended the Nrsimha Caturdasi festival at Simhachalam, the Bavarian Hare Krishna farm, which has a single, though awesome, deity of Prahlad-Nrsimha. I joined the Harinama Ruci traveling party and some festival attendees for harinama in Passau on Monday after the festival. Tuesday I chanted in Munich with two friends before flying to London. Bhakti Rasa Prabhu really impressed me by picking me up at the Megabus and chanting with me downtown for 45 minutes before our Newcastle Wednesday evening kirtana program. I chanted in Newcastle Thursday and Friday and spoke at the Friday evening program. Saturday and Sunday I joined the Birmingham 24-hour kirtana for the fifth time. Many of my friends from the UK were there, and it was great to see them. Monday I chanted in Sunderland, where Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu and Prema Sankirtana Prabhu joined me, and Tuesday in Newcastle, where in addition to them, Madhuri, Veera, and Priyanka joined me. I spent the next thee days chanting in Sheffield, advertising Sunday's Second Annual Sheffield Ratha-yatra which I later attended. Saturday I chanted with Manchester devotees there, and helped to advertise their Ratha-yatra the following week.

I share great insights from Srila Prabhupada's lectures and books, Sanatana Goswami's Brihad-bhagavatamrita, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami's books and blog, and notes on lectures by Bhakti Vaibhava Swami, Krishna Kshetra Swami, Sacinandana Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami, Jagatatma Prabhu, Manidhara Prabhu, Prithu Prabhu, and more. I also share notes on an interesting seminar about death by Devaki Mataji.

Thanks to Kalki of Newcastle, Ali Krishna Devi Dasi of Oxford, and Haladhara Baladeva Prabhu, Joe, and Mariana, all of Sheffield, for their kind donations. A very special thanks to Hare Krishna Festivals UK for the great pictures of the Sheffield Ratha-yatra. Thanks to Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu for his picture of us chanting in Passau.


June 5: Newcastle
June 6: York
June 7–8: Newcastle
June 9: Chester
June 10–11: Sheffield
June 12–13: Brighton with Janananda Goswami
June 14: London Ratha-yatra
June 15–20: Manchester with Sutapa Prabhu and his party, including Harinama Ruci
June 21: Stonehenge Soltice Festival and Oxford Summer Kirtan
June 22: Newcastle
June 23: Edinburgh
June 24: Newcastle
June 25: Blackpool and Preston
June 26: Southport and Liverpool
June 27: Newcastle
June 28: Paris Ratha-yatra
June 29–July 3: Paris harinamas with Janananda Goswami and Harinama Ruci
July 4: York harinama and Manchester kirtana with Madhava Prabhu

Harinama at Simhachalam

My favorite place to be on Nrsimha Caturdasi is Simhachalam, the farm with Prahlad-Nrsimha deities in Bavaria.

The Harinama Ruci world traveling party is so attached to doing harinama that during the Nrsimha Caturdasi festival at Simhachalam, they decided to do harinama there.

On the day before Nrsimha Caturdasi, they chanted in the Simhachalam barn.

The guys danced.

The ladies danced.
The party even chanted in the kitchen!

Here is a little video of it (

On Nrsimha Caturdasi the small Prahlad-Nrsimha, riding on palanquin, circumambulate their temple three times. 
The Harinama Ruci party led the chanting. 

It was a joyful experience (

At the end of the final parikrama, just before the feast, they have a fireworks show for the pleasure of the deities.

The day after Nrsimha Caturdasi, the harinama devotees chanted through the main building.
Including the hallway.

And the shop.

The shop harinama must have continued at least fifteen minutes, and it became very lively as you can see from this video (

Thanks to Nadia-jivani Dasi for the picture of us chanting in the shop.

Kadamba Kanana Swami led a lively kirtana for those lingering on after the main festival (

Harinama in Passau

The Harinama Ruci world harinama party consisting of Vishnujana Prabhu of Slovakia, Gaura Karuna Prabhu of Czech Republic, Rasika Mangala Prabhu of Lithuania, Syamarasa Prabhu of Croatia, Harinamananda Prabhu of Australia, and their guest from South Africa, Savyasaci Prabhu, along with nine devotees from the Nrsimha festival, chanted for two hours in Passau on Monday, after the weekend festival. From the response of the residents, you could understand they do not see many Hare Krishnas chanting in their town. Still, a few people chanted the mantra with us, and a number of people were curious enough to take invitations. Devotees sold several books.

This video gives you a taste of it (

We chanted in a couple shops.

In one, the proprietor really welcomed us (

In the drug store, they were not so appreciative (

One family was very much attracted by the chanting (

Harinama in Munich

When I arrived in Munich, I was so happy to encounter my harinama partner from France, Gadadhara Priya Prabhu, who had been living there for three weeks. In Paris we would do Metroyoga on the metro, and in Munich we, along with my godbrother from Ukraine, Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu, did a little U-bahn yoga on the way to and from our chanting site, Marienplatz. It worked well, and at least a couple people gave us donations on the U-bahn, although we made no endeavor to collect. I distributed a couple of books, one on the U-bahn, and could have done more had I been alert to offer one to everyone who gave a donation that day. One lady smilingly gave us three pints of fresh blueberries. She declined the offer of a book, saying she just liked the music. One young couple really enjoyed listening to us. The guy took a video of us, which he said he would send us, and the girl bought Perfection of Yoga for 2½ euros. We chanted to a group of handicapped people who were on a field trip, and many of them were especially happy to interact with us, appreciating our music and attention. One lady on the U-bahn told us we were not allowed to play music and wanted us to stop. We discontinued our chanting, and I announced that anyone who wanted to continue their U-bahn yoga session could join us in the next compartment of the train, where we continued after the next stop.

As usual, lots of children, of all ages, would smile, laugh, and dance upon seeing our chanting party.

It was a very positive experience, and I am very indebted to my two friends for coming out and chanting with me for almost two and a half hours before my flight.

Harinama in Newcastle

I told my friends I would be glad to do harinama for 30 to 60 minutes in downtown Newcastle when they picked me up from my 6½ hour bus ride from London. I was happily surprised when Bhakti Rasa Prabhu came to greet me with a mrdanga around his neck. It was so nice to be chanting on the streets instead of cooped up in a bus. The harinama really does give you energy. We were both happy to be chanting together again after almost a year. Bhakti Rasa Prabhu has a beautiful loud voice that does not need to be amplified, a lot of devotion, and the ability to understand the locals, being from that area himself, and thus he adds a lot to the harinama.

As I sang by myself the next day, my first full day back in Newcastle, a man asked, "Are you collecting for Hare Krishna?" I said yes and he gave me £10. I offered him a Gita, but he already had one. He majored in environmental studies in school and told me he had a theory that the religions that believe in reincarnation are more environmentally friendly. He spent the last 8 months living in a campground a two-hour walk from the city. You never know what kind of people you will meet on harinama.

As I was packing up, a girl who was perhaps ten years old, was moving to my singing, as her friend of the same age watched. I started clapping as it usually inspires others to either clap or get more into dancing. The girl seemed to get more into it, so I gave her our invitation with the words to the song, and she sang it several times. I picked up my harmonium, saying “it is better with the harmonium,” and we continued singing. Turns out she and her friend were going in the same direction as I was for the next ten or fifteen minutes. They walked a bit ahead of me, but periodically they would stop, turn back and gesture to me and say the mantra. Krishna always arranges positive experiences for me on my first day back in Newcastle.

The day before the Birmingham 24-hour kirtana, as I was chanting down the hill past all the bike shops, one bike shop lady came out to greet me. She had not seen me since last year. Previously she bought Prema Sankirtana Prabhu's old motor home and requested he throw in some meditation beads for good luck.

She told me she did not usually wear the beads but that very day she was inspired to put them on.

The last day I was in Newcastle before going to Sheffield, at one point we had six devotees chanting all together. People forget how nice chanting in public is if they do not go out regularly, and it made me happy to see the devotees having a positive experience of harinama.

In Kali-yuga, Lord Caitanya makes love of Krishna very easily available. In that sense, it is like this week's offer of 90% off:

You can get the highest experience of love of Godhead (krishna-prema) simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord.

Madhuri Devi joined Caitanya-candrodaya and Prema Sankirtana Prabhus and I on harinama

Then later Veera and Priyanka joined us. It was Veera's birthday, and I was happy to see Veera and her friend chose to go on harinama on her birthday. What a way to celebrate! What a way to purify one's birth!
Here Veera happily plays mrdanga as Madhuri sings.

You can see a glimpse of how crowded Northumberland Street is.

Here is a video clip so you can see what it was like (

Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtana

I went to the Birmingham Ratha-yatra, featuring Sacinandana Swami and Madhava Prabhu, for the fifth time. It is wonderful to be with so many people committed to chant the holy name for so long, and it was great to see my friends from all over the UK, Ireland, and France. Ali Krishna Devi, who I originally met at a Rainbow Gathering, who served at Krishna House for three years, and who has been living in Japan with her husband, Krishna Sharana Prabhu, surprised me by showing up in Birmingham, being based at Oxford for two months. Our movement is so international. This year ten devotees came from France.

Ananta Nitai and Prema Sankirtana Prabhus, who once did a 24-hour harinama in Dublin, were happy to see each other again.

I slept a couple hours at night, and woke up just a few minutes before mangala-arati, which was attended by about fifteen or twenty people. I tried to stay absorbed in the kirtana as much as possible. Talking with my many friends was the biggest challenge to my absorption in chanting this year.

I figured out that by chanting japa while the leader is singing and counting the one mantra I sing in response, I can gradually complete sixteen rounds of japa by 9:00 a.m., while participating in the kirtana at the same time.

Guys danced.

 Ladies danced.

Newer people danced.

Even Nitai Charan Prabhu, the temple president, danced.

On the final day, toward the end, many devotees danced, including Sacinandana Swami, and you can see some of it in these video clips (

Harinama in Sunderland

After Birmingham 24-hour kirtana, I took the Megabus seven hours to Newcastle, and then I took the metro to Sunderland with Caitanya-candrodaya Prabhu, and we chanted kirtana for most of the trip. Prema Sankirtana Prabhu later joined us in Sunderland. We chanted for three hours there, before going to the home of Ramai and Vrinda for more kirtana and prasadam. That was a long day for me!

Sheffield Harinama and Ratha-yatra

In addition to having their weekly Wednesday program with chanting, a talk, and spiritual food at the Broomhall Center, I was inspired to see the devotees have a new weekly program in Sheffield.

It at the Burngreave Ashram, a multifaith chapel and library near city center. 

Every Thursday, they have lunch at 12:30 p.m. followed by a chanting session scheduled from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., which in reality goes for two or more hours.

I saw at least two new people sing for the whole two hours, which really impressed me.

The Sheffield Ratha-yatra was a wonderful experience.

This year it was in a park and not the city center, but there were many park goers there who were exposed to it. 
I danced a lot as usual.

Mariana, a follower of Indradyumna Swami, who I stay with in Sheffield, got to both make and put on the garlands for Lord Jagannath.
She and her husband, Kanwar, helped pull the Jagannath cart.

Several devotees distributed books.

The local Sheffield TV station did a story on our 2nd annual Ratha-yatra there:

I ran into at least a couple people from Sheffield, who are not part of our regular congregation, but who came to the Ratha-yatra for its second year having liked last year's experience. I told them both about our Wednesday and Thursday programs in Sheffield and gave them both my card so they could correspond with me.
These included a mother and son who enjoyed dancing to our kirtana.
One older man who had been to India and studied Buddhism attended, along with his daughter, who appeared attracted to different aspects of the festival.
One lady enjoyed chanting the mantra, which she read from a card, along with the devotees.
One couple watched the stage show for awhile. I waved to them as they were leaving, and the lady seeing me waving, raised her hands like a devotee dancing

The devotee girl dancing in the kirtana, seeing the lady with her hands raised, invited her to dance, and thus she stayed a little while longer, dancing with the devotees. 
One enthusiastic devotee lady taught people in the crowd watching the stage show how to chant on japa beads, giving them beads and a sheet with instructions.

The Hare Krishna Festivals team added a lot to the event.

Dayananda Maharaj, who was born just a few miles away in Rotherham, was a special guest.

You could see there were many people encountering Hare Krishna in Sheffield for the first time and having a positive experience.

Harinama in Manchester
On the Saturday between my harinamas promoting the Sheffield Ratha-yatra and the Ratha-yatra itself, I joined with Manchester congregational devotees in doing harinama and promoting the Manchester Ratha-yatra the following week. 

As we had plenty of singers, I distributed a lot of flyers. 

Thanks to Agi Holland for her pictures.

Humorous Pictures

Rupa Goswami in his Upadesamrita (The Nectar of Instruction) warns of the dangers of atyahara, overeating or over collecting. I have to worry that I do not collect so much that my possessions do not fit in my suitcase and thus impede my travels. Householders have greater issues with over collecting.

Can you guess from this shoe rack how many people live in this household?

Just two, a couple, and married just two or three years at that.

When I expressed my surprise at the number of shoes, they said that was not the full extent of it. They opened the closet door and said, “There are more shoes on the racks in there, and the two big blue containers are full of shoes!”

I asked the husband if he had difficulty choosing which shoes to wear each day, and he replied that he always wears the same ones. Now that is over collecting!

Cleanliness is one of the pillars of religion, and thus this advice found in a devotee's bathroom is appropriate:

Keeping all kinds of trash from being stuffed in the public toilets is always a problem. One British train company addressed this in a detailed sign affixed to the toilet:

To see photos of the same events not included in the blog, click on the link below:


Srila Prabhupada:

From a lecture in Durban, South Africa, at the City Hall, on October 7, 1975:

I say, “This is my hand,” but if Krishna withdraws the hand’s power, I cannot act. We should understand in this way, that none of our senses belong to us. They are given to us for proper use. Therefore, because they are given to us by the Supreme Lord, Krishna, the master of the senses, they should be used for Krishna. This is bhakti-yoga. We should know that although we have these senses, they have been given to us to use but they do not belong to us.”

This is the whole lesson of the Vedic literature, that the human form of life is meant for self-realization: I am not this body. I am spirit soul. My business is different from simply taking care of the body.” This is human civilization.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.16.4, purport:

. . . an atheistic or godless government should never be supported by a king or governmental chief. That is the test of good government. In the name of secular government, the king or governmental head remains neutral and allows people to engage in all sorts of irreligious activities. In such a state, people cannot be happy, despite all economic development. In Kali-yuga, however, in the so-called secular state, the executive branch of government is in the charge of so-called kings and presidents who are all fools and rascals, ignorant of the intricacies of nature’s causes and ignorant of the principles of sacrifice. Such rascals simply make various plans, which always fail, and the people subsequently suffer disturbances. To counteract this situation, the sastras [scriptures] advise:

harer nama harer nama
   harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
   nasty eva gatir anyatha

Thus in order to counteract this unfortunate situation in government, the general populace is advised to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.41–42 in Vrndavana on October 1, 1976:

The Pandavas never said, “Krishna, you are our friend, why are we suffering so many troubles?” Never.

The pure devotee will never try to take anything from Krishna but will try to give everything to Krishna.

Sanatana Goswami:

From Brihad-bhagavatamrita:

Because nama-sankirtana invariably leads to the treasure of pure love for the Lord, true connoisseurs of devotional service consider nama-sankirtana the very fruit of bhakti.

Dearer to the Lord than even His own beautiful form, His easily worshiped holy name benefits the entire world. Indeed, nothing is as full of nectar as the holy name of the Lord.”

Devotees who have material desires first enjoy the material results for which they hanker, and later, on the strength of devotional service, they enjoy the true fruit of devotion. But because that fruit does not at first appear, pure devotees decry what those worshipers first achieve. Pure devotees, after all, think that seeing the Lord constantly, attaining bliss from taking part in His pastimes, and relishing subsequent pleasures are the fruit of devotional service, and its root as well. Those devotees cannot tolerate even a moment’s delay in obtaining that fruit, nor can the Lord neglect such devotees for even a moment. Thus all the other fruits of desires are paltry, even liberation. From the Personality of Godhead they are easily obtained, but His pure devotional service is not.”

Bhakti Vaibhava Swami:

The name Prahlad indicates he is always experiencing transcendental bliss.

The reciprocation of the Lord for those who try to kill Him is that they themselves are killed by Him.

The pastimes are for real. You can go to Ahovalam and see the place where Nrsimha appeared.

For a devotee to be unable to render some service to the Lord is a hellish condition.

Liberation, for a devotee, is to be always engaged in the Lord's service (svarupena vyasvasthitih).

An analogy showing how the devotee enjoys the same opulence as God is that of a servant who enjoys like the king in the sense that he lives in the same palace as the king.

Liberation is not the interest of the devotee but the by-product of his devotional service. Automatically by engaging in devotional service one transcends the three modes of material nature.

Dhruva considered the opulent kingdom he desired to be like broken glass while he considered Krishna Himself to be the most valuable gem.

As long as we are fully engaged in devotional service, Krishna will provide what we need, and sometimes even more.

There is the story of the crane and the peacock, where the peacock is proud of his plumes and speaks in a belittling way of the crane, but the crane responds by flying away toward the sun while the peacock has to stay on the ground on the farm with the pigs.

The materialists think that the devotees are forcing themselves to lead a very restricted life, but as the result is they attain Krishna, who is illuminating like the sun.

Krishna Kshetra Swami:

We are celebrating the sudden appearance of Nrsimhadeva and the disappearance of Hiranyakasipu.

Prahlad had advised his father to leave home for the forest [in Vrindavan] and take shelter of Krishna. One might also go to the Bavarian forest and take shelter of Lord Nrsimha [here at Simhachalam].

People do not like to be considered demons these days, but they do not mind being considered atheists.

There are organizations of atheists who are promoting that vision, and their minds are absorbed in God in a negative way.

For those who do not want to see God, the Lord reciprocates by appearing to be nonexistent.

It is said we should be grateful to Hiranyakasipu, for without him, Nrsimhadeva would not have appeared.

Whatever the atheistic do, however impressive, is a failure. Krishna describes this in Bhagavad-gita 9.12: “Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by demonic and atheistic views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities, and their culture of knowledge are all defeated.”

The result of atheistic activities is destruction. People can see this. Everyone is concerned that we are destroying the planet, but they do not know what to do.

Demons are very much interested in power, but they do not where that power is coming from.

Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu has a lecture series entitled “Defeating Mayavada Philosophy” which you can find on ISKCON Desire Tree (

Platinus is root of Western mayavada philosophy.

The sannyasis of Varanasi were embarrassed by Lord Caitanya, who although presenting himself as a sannyasi like themselves, did not study Vedanta but chanted Hare Krishna and danced.

My dear Lord, O master of the universe, since I have directly seen You, my transcendental bliss has taken the shape of a great ocean. Being situated in that ocean, I now realize all other so-called happiness to be like the water contained in the hoofprint of a calf.” (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 14.36).

In summary the mayavadis say that through bhakti (devotion) you can attain jnana (knowledge), and then you do not need bhakti any more. Narayana is sattva-guna, they say, and above Him is brahman.

The Mimamsakas say that the Vedas are apauruseya which they say means not coming from either an ordinary person or a transcendental person, but the Vaishnavas says that apauruseya means the Vedas are not coming from an ordinary person because in reality they come from the Supreme Lord.

The scholars date Sankara to the eighth century, and at least then, the Vedas were considered as a final authority.

Sankara considered that Vedanta, the Upanisads, and the Bhagavad-gita were Vedic sources supportive of his philosophy, although devotees wonder how such an apparently personalist text as Bhagavad-gita could be interpreted in a impersonal way.

Lord Caitanya says that those who listen to Sankara's indirect explanations of the Vedic literature are ruined.

Some scholars consider that Sankara was responsible for Buddhism leaving India.

The Buddhists say the ultimate truth has no varieties and is void while Sankara presented that the ultimate truth has no varieties and is one. Thus there was not so much difference between them. Sankara, however, accepted the Vedas as the source of his knowledge, whereas Buddha did not.

We also ascribe to nondualism, but that is half the story.

Mayavada is making the living entity and the Lord one singularity.

There are 550 sutrus or verses in the Vedanta-sutra.

Brahman is unchangeable. How has everything come about if brahman is unchangeable? Sankaracarya says that Vyasadeva was mistaken, but the Vaishnavas say it is the energies of the Lord that transform and not the Lord Himself.

Q: How can the Mayavadis say everything is one if there are both brahma and illusion.
A: They say maya does not exist nor not exist. Sankaracarya says that it is avacaniya or indescribable.

Ramanujacarya taught what was called visistadvaita, or qualified monism, in which the one is composed of cit and acit, conscious beings and unconscious matter. He considered brahman to be the soul of the universe.

Madhvacarya was not happy with visistadvaita, and taught dvaita, or dualism.

Baladeva Vidyabhusana, who is the Vedanta scholar in our Gaudiya Vaishnava line and taught acintya-bheda-abheda-vada, considered that we come in the line following Madhvacarya, but there are definite differences.

The followers of Sankara consider this world to be illusion, and interestingly enough, some of the verses in Bhagavatam make it clear that this world is illusion.

The rope-snake analogy is from the Upanisads.

Our understanding is there is God. He has a name, form, and activities, and these are all spiritual. By connecting with Him through service, we come to realize these. The chanting of Hare Krishna is important among these services.

Gopala Bhatta Goswami had a salagrama-sila while Rupa Goswami had the deity of Govinda. There are limited services you can offer as far as dressing the sila, and so Gopala Bhatta Goswami was feeling some lacking in his worship. On one Nrsimha Caturdasi, Gopala Bhatta Goswami was meditating on the activities of Prahlad Maharaj and also feeling this lacking. He went to sleep in that state of mind, and found in the morning the deity of Radha-Ramana self-manifested in place of his sila. Thus His appearance is celebrated on the day after Nrsimha Caturdasi. You could say the Lord appreciated Gopala Bhatta Goswami's devotion for Prahlad Maharaj and showed that by manifesting as Radha-Ramana.

Srinivas Acarya is a disciple of Gopala Bhatta Goswami.

King Bir Hambir in southwest Bengal became a great Vaishnava by the influence of Srinivasa Acarya and established many Radha-Krishna temples in his kingdom.

Sacinandana Swami:

Of all the devotional processes, kirtana is the best, but better than kirtana of the holy name is sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names.

Sankirtana is special because it can evoke devotional feelings and change the heart.

One study showed that twelve minutes of kirtana calms the mind as much as three hours of meditation.

As ginger purifies the body, kirtana purifies the mind and soul.

Kirtana does not just give good psychological results, but it gives the ultimate spiritual result.

If you have a pure life, you can chant the holy name purely. When you sit down to chant, your whole life sits down with you.

May my singing give pleasure to Krishna's ears and heart” is the spirit of purity.

Be real priests and put Krishna in the center, at least for the 24 hours of the kirtana.

You and your ego should move out of the way, and then you can enter the world where Krishna is in the center.

Sing for the pleasure of Krishna. When you do that, we will not need these lights, as your bright faces will illuminate the room.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says to pray to Krishna with tears in your eyes, “Krishna, please accept me, please engage me in your service.”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

From “Poem for May 5” in Viraha Bhavan:

I experienced a couple of minutes
of chanting as boring and mundane.
I turned to Lord Caitanya and
prayed for relief. It worked. I returned, realizing the mantras
were holy and potent.

From “Poem for May 6” in Viraha Bhavan:

. . . Sometimes you
have to prod yourself to become aware of the
great gift of the
and overcome your lack
of taste. In
Lord Caitanya says that comes by
committing the offenses against the chanting of the Name.
When it happens, you
can desperately call for help from guru
and Radha and Krishna and Gaura-Nitai. They will be generous.

From Japa Transformations:

“Chanting is the most important thing for keeping focused on your Krishna consciousness, especially early in the morning. Repetition of the mantras is like a heartbeat to keep you in touch with Radha and Krishna. I like to do it, and I don’t find it boring. I like the climb in numerical strength. It requires awareness that you don’t drift off into “la-la” land. It’s so easy to lose concentration, but it’s also easy to keep it if you just keep your wits about you and remember the important
yajna [sacrifice] you’re performing. Being aware of the importance of the Hare Krishna mantra keeps you on the track. You easily utter the mantras and hear each syllable clearly. It’s not a difficult thing when executed properly. It has to be taken seriously, and preferably with love. Routine love. You have come again another morning to be with the holy names. In your remaining lifespan, no time should be wasted. It should not be done with dull mechanism but by taking a fresh opportunity on a bright new day. Take shelter at Krishna’s lotus feet. The wonderful opportunity of another day, another chance offered by Krishna to come close to Him and build up your devotion. Each day you can either do it successfully or blow it.”

The whole twenty-four hour day has to be arranged so that japa is chanted under the best conditions. You have to go to sleep early so that you’re not tired in the morning. Alert, awake chanting is very important. Drowsy chanting is no good. A round should not take nine minutes, as one of mine did today. Chanting should reach meditation or calling out, like a child calling for the mother. It should be a real emotional confrontation, not a mechanical act. We’re calling to the persons Radha and Krishna from our needful position. We need Them; we need the holy names. We’re up early to call on Them. It’s the most personal devotion of the day. Attentiveness is key; inattention is madness (pramada). Your lifestyle, your daily duties, your health and mental state should all be contributing so that you are in top condition for this period of a few hours. That’s how the priority should be arranged. Not that the chanting gets neglected because of other considerations. Chant as many rounds as possible in good time. Your life is molded so that it’s the life of a Hare Krishna chanter.”

From “Poem for May 15” in Virana Bhavan:

I once
asked Srila Prabhupada, “The workers
in the welfare office are
always talking nonsense; is
it all right if I chant
Hare Krishna in my mind?” He replied,
“The workers are talking
nonsense? The greatest
philosophers are talking
nonsense! – Yes, you may
chant Hare Krishna in your mind.”
who are going out
harinama every day
are giving utmost
pleasure to Lord Caitanya.
He is blessing their lives and transforming
them into pure devotees.
He very much appreciates
their compassion in
to the conditioned souls. Thus they
live charmed lives and their
future is brilliant.”

Jagadatma Prabhu:

Whenever I lose something I always chant “jaya sri-krishna-caitanya prabhu nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda,” and I immediately find what I am looking for. It has happened many times. Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami has said, “For one who remembers Lord Caitanya, even difficult things become easy.” [Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 14.1] That is also my experience.

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

Because Prahlad Maharaj is a devotee, and we are aspiring devotees, his prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva are very relevant.

The demigods were afraid to approach Lord Nrsimhadeva because of His angry mood. Lakshmi did not approach Him as a matter of chastity as she had never seen this form of the Lord before and had some doubt that He really was her Lord.

When we offer glorification to the Lord, we ourselves become glorified.

Although all animals are afraid of the lion, the lion cubs are not afraid but feel protection. Similarly although Lord Nrsimhadeva seems very fearful to all, Prahlad Maharaj was not afraid of Him but felt His protection.

When our bhakti falls short, if we have cultured the mode of goodness, we will still perform our prescribed duties.

Oh Prahlad, What about the pit of snakes your were thrown in?”
“But my father, Narayana, rests on a bed of snakes. A son is comfortable on his father's bed.”
What about that poison you drank?”
“But Lord Shiva drank an ocean of poison, and my father Narayana, is superior to Him. Why should I be afraid of poison?”

A disciple of mine said, “When I go back to my parents I see a museum of my old habits.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura reminds us that we have to give up all our old attachments to progress spiritually.

In the West we are willing to spend millions of dollars to save a life. In India it is not like that.

In the Netherlands, you never see a body in the street. When I first went to India, I saw a dead body on the street in Benares. Then I recognized it. It was a beggar I had seen the day before. I saw people were throwing money on the body. Soon it was covered with coins. I inquired why. A person said when the soul leaves the body he hovers over the body wanting to reenter it but he cannot, thus they burn the body so the soul can continue on his journey. But the beggar had no money for the firewood to burn the body, so we are all giving something to help him out. To save his soul, they are willing to spend, but to save his body, they were not willing to give anything. In the West it is just the opposite. They just spend for the body, but for the soul they give nothing.

I saw in the beginning in Czech Republic the devotees were cooperating together on a bakery. But in Western Europe, they were not. They would get money from the government and live on their own. So material advancement is not necessarily favorable.

The more we can focus on Lord Nrsimhadeva on this day of Nrsimha Caturdasi, the more we will feel by the end of the day a real connection with Lord Nrsimhadeva.

Prahlad Maharaj considered how he was indebted to his guru, Narada Muni, and he did not want any other benediction than to be engaged in his service.

The guru is more than an official representative of the parampara (spiritual lineage).

Brahmananda Prabhu was glorifying Srila Prabhupada again and again. One devotee said, “I see for you that Srila Prabhupada is God.”
Brahmananda Prabhu replied, “No, no. I made that mistake in 1970. He is not God, but he is as good as God. Actually now I am thinking he is better than God because he came to the Lower East Side and saved me.”
Then tears came to his eyes.

Now that we have come to this temple of Lord Nrsimhadeva we should take advantage and pray for Him to remove all obstacles on our spiritual path, and who does not have obstacles?

Prithu Prabhu:

In the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem traditions the soul is not defined very precisely.

Recently the Pope was asked if animals had souls, and he replied they have an immaterial, nonspiritual soul. For us this does not make sense because if something is immaterial it is spiritual.

Tamal Krishna Goswami organized a week-long seminar on the nature of the soul at Harvard University. After three days, the scholars of the other traditions gave up and admitted that they did not have a defined conception of the soul.

The Vedic knowledge comes directly from Krishna and thus its conception of the soul is not the product of mental speculation.

Lord Caitanya describes the soul as qualitatively one with God but always situated as a servant.

The explanations of theologians cover the truth. In the Vedic tradition Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya is an example. After he explained Advaita Vedanta for seven days he asked Lord Caitanya if he had he understood it. Lord Caitanya replied He understood Vedanta quite clearly, but that Sarvabhauma was covering it by his explanation.

The Catholics say you are doomed if you accept the soul had preexistence.

I became an atheist at age twelve because the priest could not explain why my brother suffered and died at such an early age.

Mundane religiosity is better than no religion at all, but it is not as advanced as sanatana dharma, which is revealed by God.

Krishna is facilitating the complete operation of our body at every moment. Supplying bread is peanuts for Him.

If we want knowledge, we must approach the Vedas.

If you are king, you can just let all prisoners go. You do not have to sacrifice your own son in order to free them.

Chanting helps us to overcome our stubbornness.

Every single material thing will be taken away at death.

Even when we are chanting, we are looking for solutions outside the chanting.

Q: How to treat Christians, Jews, or Moslems?
A: Engage them.

I was on the train from Dublin to Cork, and I was chanting. A man across from me said, “That chanting will not help you. You must drink the blood Lord Jesus Christ.” I replied, “How do you know?” Then I challenged him, doubting he was a real Christian. I said, “How much money do you have in your pocket?”
He protested, “What does that have to do with anything?” I persisted and he said, “100 dollars.”
I said, “Give $50 to me.”
Why?” he inquired.
I said, “Christ said, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' So give me half. Love me.”
So he gave me $50, and I gave it all to the temple.

We are doing two things (1) collecting those who have sukrti (pious credit) and (2) creating piety in others.

Q: Why is it so hard to get out of the material world?
A: Krishna does not want us to go to the spiritual world until we are qualified.

We are buried in the material world under layers of universal coverings, but if you turn to Krishna at any time you can go back to the spiritual world.

Manidhara Prabhu:

When I was a new devotee in the beginning of the movement, I slept on the stairs. It is not something that comes naturally. You have to learn it. Otherwise you roll over on the guy on the stair below you.

We had some taste that was so powerful from preaching.

I had no emotional problems as a brahmacari because my emotions were not accepted. I learned what is worth feeling and what is not worth feeling.

While doing book distribution. I felt in the right place doing the right thing. Krishna is here. Prabhupada is here. It was very liberating. We felt even if we died, it would be OK.

Even people with extreme behavior became angels in front of Srila Prabhupada.

The first challenge in preaching is to convince people they are suffering. The second is to convince them that they are serving anyway, so they might as well serve Krishna.

How to shape truth so they like it, when they like to be cheated. It is a challenge.

Krishna is the greatest painter. He can paint a brilliant creation so convincingly people consider it real.

We were young and naïve, but we took the real thing, and we did it full time. Now people treat Krishna consciousness as a spice that they add to what they are cooking.

Srila Prabhupada's dealings were multicolored, sometimes soft and sometimes fiery, but all of them inspired followers to greater devotion.

Selling books is simple. You have to be convinced. You have to approach people.

The mood of Krishna consciousness is challenge. We are challenging the material world. And there is the war with our false ego. Boldness should be with introspection. The public will notice if you are arrogant.

All passion is taken out of the body, piece by piece. Old age is nice from the spiritual point of view.

We just have to stay. There is nothing to get out there. I tell people if you can show me something better I will do it, but no one has anything significant to offer.

Where people are accustomed to follow authority, distributing Krishna consciousness is easier, like in Russia or in India. But following should be with conscious understanding, not blindly. But still, following is better than not following.

Devaki Mataji:

In the course of pursuing Krishna consciousness, if we are not introspective, we can end up feeding the false ego, instead of reducing it.

Srila Prabhupada says in The Nectar of Devotion, as long as we desire to become more and more important, either materially or spiritually, we cannot really taste the really sweet taste of devotional service. When I read that, that really struck me.

Intense absorption in remembering Krishna and never forgetting Him are the main way we delete our material conditioning. Festivals and visits to the holy dhama are useful for this.

I flood my mind making plans for service to Krishna, and even if they do not manifest, they are accepted by Krishna and keep me from making material plans.

Acting according to our nature makes it easier to fully absorb ourselves in our service, for in the beginning, our service is our main connection to Krishna. After we have a taste for hearing and chanting about Krishna, what we actually do for Krishna is secondary.

We can see that the false ego is very subtle because we find ourselves constantly identifying with it.

Death gives us insight into eternal reality because we see that so many things that are so important to us have absolutely no significance at the point of death. All we have is our relationship with Krishna.

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with cancer, and I got more realizations from that than anything else.

Srila Prabhupada compares our life in this material world to a nonsensical stage performance. We are thinking it is important, but it is completely meaningless.

One dying man wrote on a paper to share with his relatives, “It is all illusion.”

The only wealth of a person who is about to leave this world is religion. Thus an intelligent person, especially one who is dying, will invest in religion.

When we understand what is going on at the moment of death, that will create a sense of urgency for us to take our spiritual life seriously.

What about fear of pain at death? Because pain is on the level of the mind, if we can fix our mind something, we can get past pain.

In my youth, I was so absorbed in trying to win a hand ball match, I continued to play for half an hour after seriously breaking my finger, without feeling any pain at all.

When Bhakti Tirtha Swami was dying of cancer, Radhanath Swami helped him become completely absorbed by reading Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. Bhakti Tirtha Swami attained such a high level of absorption, at one point he exclaimed, “Life cannot become any better than this.”

Pain causes a Vaishnava to take more shelter of Krishna, and then Krishna reveals Himself more, and that is a joy for the Vaishnava.

Sickness is an opportunity to prepare for death. For that reason, we should try to take shelter of Krishna, by continuing to chant japa, even when we are sick.

Visvanath Cakravarti Thakura says that for a pure devotee who is intensely absorbed in devotional service in relationship with Krishna, the devotee's loving feelings are so powerful they afford him all protection.

What saves us is our relationship with Krishna, and the main tool for developing that is the holy name. But we must chant the holy name while turning toward Krishna, longing for our relationship with Him.

With our guru, we are practicing to serve Krishna. The same dedication that is meant for Krishna, we are to serve the guru with, as he is His representative. Thus we say our relationship with our guru is as good as our relationship with Krishna.

How can we give our life to our guru if he may fall down?” we may worry. But we should not worry, because the principle of surrender to guru is an eternal principle. Even if the guru has to step back, Krishna accepts our surrender. Krishna sends the right person at the right time to bring us further.

Once we realize what death is all about, it will really shake us up, and we can really move forward with determination in our spiritual life.

I have helped several devotees at the time of death, and people can connect on a very deep level at that time.

Once we have had some experiences of people dying in a good consciousness, we will be less fearful of death.

One devotee from Ukraine, who was just thirty-five years, was very determined to live although he had leukemia and his body was completely emaciated. I brought the Krishna Art book to get him to focus on the spiritual world, but it did not work. At one point, I said you must have something very important that you are staying here to do. He said, “Yes. I am the bhakta leader in Kiev.” I could see from this how powerful false designations are. I said, “Perhaps they already have someone else to do the service. Krishna may have something special for you.” One doctor appeared on the scene saying, “I can cure you.” He had a treatment with all kinds of bark applied to the body. At first I was annoyed, thinking the doctor should just let him die. The sick devotee appeared to improve for two days but then went down. Then I could see Krishna had made that arrangement to destroy his last hope. Then he said to me he understood that Krishna wanted him to leave, and that night he left this world.

Near the end of Bhakti Tirtha Swami's life, he said, “Do not call me Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj or Guru Maharaj anymore. They are all false designations. I do not want them in my mind.”

If all we want to do is serve, then the transition is easier.

When we chant longing to serve, that frees the heart.

If we really are begging Krishna for two hours every day just to serve the Lord and His devotees and nothing else, we will assimilate the idea that “I am a servant.”

It is actually good that the teenagers do the opposite of what their parents want, because at that point in the relationship, it is time for the parents to begin to let go. Just as Krishna always keeps the door open for us, the parents have to do the same for the children.

In the grhastha asrama there are so many purifying tests if one actually applies himself correctly. Only if one acts only for sense enjoyment does it become the blind well of the grhamedhi.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “Faith is the currency by which we purchase Krishna.”

Bhakti Tirtha Swami says in his book Die Before Dying that to accept that we will actually have to leave is the most difficult thing.

Losing fear of death is evidence that our relationship with Krishna is well established.

I visited Nepal with my mother. We happened to see the places where they burn the bodies. Several bodies were burning. It did not smell very good. There was a little area encircled by a curtain, and I asked about it. People said there is someone there who is dying, and when he dies, his body will be burned like the others. I found this to be amazing, so I looked behind the curtain. There was a dying man, and there were relatives chanting prayers. So I saw it was true.

Krishna sends calamities so people feel helpless and turn toward Him. A devotee knows this and welcomes and embraces difficulties.


This strikes me as an ideal prayer of a pure devotee:

svasty astu visvasya khalah prasidatam
dhyayantu bhutani sivam mitho dhiya
manas ca bhadram bhajatad adhokshaje
avesyatam no matir apy ahaituki

[Sri Prahlad said:] “May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other's welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.18.9)