Saturday, August 15, 2015

Travel Journal#11.13: Paris, The North of England, and London

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 13
By Krishna-kripa das
(July 2015, part one
Paris, The North of England, London
(Sent from Siemyśl, Poland, on August 15, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

As July began, I continued doing harinama in Paris, sometimes with Janananda Goswami. Despite threats by the Gatwick UK Border Force on May 5 that if I left the UK I could not get back it, I made it back from Paris on July 4 (Saturday). That afternoon I attended our harinama in York which precedes our monthly program there, and in the evening, I went to the last hour or so of a six-hour kirtana with Madhava Prabhu in Manchester. Then I returned to Newcastle for several days of harinama there and in the neighboring regions of North Shields and Byker, and for a day-trip to Edinburgh. Then on Friday I did harinama in Leeds and went to their weekly evening program. Saturday I chanted and did harinama and a program in Chester. Sunday I joined the Manchester devotees for their monthly harinama. On Monday and Tuesday I went to London to see my niece play in an international Ultimate Frisbee tournament in St. Albans, invited by my sister. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I went on harinama with the London devotees, and on Thursday I flew to Prague for their Ratha-yatra on Sunday.

I share insights from several lectures by Srila Prabhupada and a quote from one of his Srimad-Bhagavatam purports. I share an excerpt from the daily journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and notes on lectures by a couple swamis, Janananda Goswami and Mahavishnu Swami, and Prabhupada disciple, Pitavasa Prabhu, from Paris. I include an excerpt from a essay in Back to Godhead magazine by Nagaraja Prabhu. I also have notes on a lecture by Bhakti-sastri teacher, Radhika Nagara Prabhu, who visits Manchester in the summers. I share a interesting quote from my sister about a study revealing the U.S. lifestyle is detrimental to mental health.

I would like to thank Janananda Goswami, who kindly contributed for my travel expenses to Paris. Thanks to my sister Karen, for her contribution to my travel to St. Albans. Thanks to the Newcastle temple for their donation to my harinama program. Thanks also to Lucas and Malini of Edinburgh for their kind donations. Thanks to Janardana, John, John, and an nice Indian lady for their contributions in Leeds. Thanks to Gopijanavallabha Prabhu for bringing my sister and I prasadam from Bhaktivedanta Manor. Thanks to the people in Paris who gave me a few coins on harinama.

Thanks to Clive Holland for his picture of our Chester harinama.


August 9–19: Festival of India on Poland's Baltic Coast
August 20–23: Trutnov (Czech Woodstock)
August 24: Prague / London
August 25–26: Newcastle
August 27: Preston
August 28: Liverpool
August 29: Manchester
August 30: Leeds
August 31–September 1: Newcastle
September 2–3: Sheffield
September 4–7: Ireland
September 8: New York City
September ?: Boston
September ?: Albany
September ?–November 15: New York City Harinama
November 16–18: Washington, D.C., Harinama
November 19: Jacksonville
November 20–December 16: Krishna House, Gainesville
December 17: Jacksonville?
December 18–January 3: New York City Harinama

Paris Harinama

We did a beautiful day of harinama in Paris with Janananda Goswami and Harinama Ruci the end of June (

After the Harinama Ruci party left Paris, we continued to do harinama there. One day we planned to chant downtown, but when we got to the train station we found that because of people on the tracks, they could not guarantee that the trains would make it all the way to Paris. We chanted at the St. Brice train station for a while, and because it was rush hour, many people heard us. Then we chanted in the local village for a while on the way back to the temple.  

The next day I could find no one to go out with, so I played my little harmonium and chanted in downtown Paris myself. I did a sitting harinama in two different places, totaling three hours. People donated a total of only 31 euro cents, and thus I could not distribute any books. It was very humbling. While walking to the place where I chanted I met people from Indian backgrounds who did not know there was a Hare Krishna temple in Paris, and who were very happy to receive invitations. That was the high point of the experience.  

The next day Janananda Goswami was able to join us on harinama. We went to the village of Sarcelles, a short bus ride from the temple. The place was largely populated by Muslims, and at least two devotees discouraged us from going there. We found the Muslims were very receptive and many watched happily and took pictures. One Indian vendor donated bottles of water to each devotee in our party. It was refreshing to be chanting with Janananda Goswami, who has such faith in the universality of the chant that he is willing to go everywhere, and it was wonderful to see how the people appreciated. It was a nice ending for my trip to Paris.

Attaining the UK

They took so long at UK immigration with their paperwork, because of my previous issues, that the bus driver had to send someone in looking for me. The UK officials really harassed that young man for coming in the wrong door and were unnecessarily abusive. The bus driver went on anyway, and a UK border official had to give me a ride to the bus, which had not yet boarded the ferry, having missed the previous one. I thanked the guy who came in to look for me and who had to take such abuse. He said he was used to it. I said my spiritual teacher likened the immigration people to barking dogs. He smiled, and said, “I like that.”

The UK Border people like to see travelers have proof of health insurance, enough money, and a ticket home. From now on, I will have to be very careful to make sure I have all these things.

York Harinama

My eight Newcastle friends did not come to York this month, so and our kirtana was not quite as lively. We were fortunate to have Smara Hari Prabhu, a Prabhupada disciple from Bhaktivedanta Manor, who came to speak at the monthly evening program, and Rupa Manjari, who I have chanted on harinama with in New York City, Gainesville, and London.

At one point an onlooker felt inspired to hold our mantra sign, which he did with great pleasure.

Harinama in North Shields

Prema Sankirtana, Radhe Shyama, and Madhuri Prabhus joined me to chant in North Shields and later Byker. It was Madhuri's first time in both places. In North Shields a number of people listened for a while, and a few gave donations and took books. In the beginning, it was a little austere because you could see our chanting party was a completely different thing for so many of the people there, but after you chant for a while it does not bother you anymore.
We set up outside a mall, and there were always people coming and going.

One boy covered his ears, trying to avoid the holy name. This sometimes happens, but it was too late! The holy name already purified him before he could cover his ears, the rascal!

Harinama in Byker
In Byker, a region within Newcastle, we did a walking harinama for an hour. Radhe Shyam Prabhu played harmonium and sang, Prema Sankirtana Prabhu played drum, Madhuri Devi Dasi played karatalas, and I took pictures and videos. 

Some people danced.

Some played with the drum.

One lady offered pranams.

The barbers were the best of all.

See how these two Byker barbers delighted in dancing to our Hare Krishna chanting (

When we left, they invited us to come whenever we want for a free haircut.

When I posted this on Facebook, Anna Rozario commented, “Wow! You made a Muslim chant and dance! Amazing! The dance he was doing is a traditional Arab dance in Palestine and also Lebanon. It is preformed mainly on big occasions. All glories to Lord Gauranga!!”

A day on harinama is not complete without prasadam. The Newcastle devotees make great sweets!

Harinama in Edinburgh

I was happy we had three devotees singing this time, instead of just two. Malini and Rima joined me for half of the three hours. We found a good spot to chant, where we were protected from the rain that greeted us toward the end and which is not uncommon in Scotland.

Harinama in Newcastle

One day I chanted by myself, except for the walk up the hill back to the temple when Madhuri joined me. One young man with an Eastern European accent listened to the chanting for a while, and then later came by and gave a £5 donation. I offered him a book, and he took King of Knowledge as he had Bhagavad-gita.

On my last day singing in Newcastle for this trip, we had seven devotees at least for some of the time. These included (from left to right) Prema Sankirtana Prabhu, Radhe Shyama Prabhu, Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu, Madhuri dd, Veera, and Priyanka.

Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu, in suit and tie, used his hour lunch break from work to join us. Here is a video clip of him singing (

The young man to the left of the bicycle in the video listened to our harinama for over half an hour. Seeing his interest, I explained how we Hare Krishnas promote unmotivated, uninterrupted service to God as the ultimate truth. I said the chant had the effect of awakening our dormant love, and he said he could see that. That was impressive to me. Because he seemed genuinely interested, I suggested he get a book and he gave £2.50 for Krishna Consciousness, the Topmost Yoga System. He listened a while longer and then offered £5 more to get all the rest of the books, so I gave him two more small books plus a small softbound Bhagavad-gita that someone had given me . We gave him an invitation to the temple, and I hope he comes by sometime.

Prema Sankirtana Prabhu later led a very lively kirtana (

I am greatly fortunate to have such nice friends to sing with in Newcastle.

Harinama in Leeds

Janardana Prabhu, now based in Leeds, chanted with me for an hour and a half or so, with John joining us midway. It was mostly sunny and the hottest weather I ever experienced in Leeds. One man, who could recall the Hare Krishna mantra from memory and who previously had a copy of Bhagavad-gita which he was separated from in the course of time, considered it providential that he met us, and purchased a new hardbound Gita for £10, promising to spend the evening reading it. He mentioned that it contained the truth. One African lady stood in front of us for a while, really delighting in moving with the music.

Chanting in Chester on Racing Day

There were many more people than usual in Chester because it was horse racing day. Seeing their attire, you would think an award were being given for the best outfit. Apparently the Chester races are famous for overindulgence in alcohol. Thus our audience was not of candidates likely to consciously take up bhakti-yoga, but degraded people of the age needing special mercy. Sakhya Prema Prabhu and his wife, and Barbara of Liverpool, joined Clive, Agi, and Mark, and Chand's family on harinama. We ended up chanting a full three hours.

Sakhya Prema Prabhu sang at the program in Chester, and I spoke. There were several new people there. One middle-aged lady thanked me for explaining everything so clearly that a new person could understand it. That made me feel victorious. There were not many people, but everyone had a good time, and many, perhaps even all, took books.

Harinama in Manchester

After the harinama the devotees do in Manchester on the second Sunday of the month for an hour and a half or two hours, I decided to stay out and complete my personal quota of three hours on harinama. I can see Krishna really reciprocated with my decision as in the first fifteen minutes a young man who was interested in kundalini yoga came by and bought Bhagavad-gita and The King of Knowledge. In the hour and fifteen minutes I was out, I distributed five books and collected £13.99 (almost $22), just by singing and talking to the people who came by. It was all Krishna's mercy.

International Ultimate Frisbee Tournament for 23 Years Old and Under

I am not a very sociable person, but I keep in touch with my closest relatives, my mother, my sister, Karen, and my niece, Fern. Karen suggested I watch Fern play in the Ultimate Frisbee tournament she was playing in as it was in UK during the time I would be there. While studying abroad in South Africa, Fern got involved in playing Ultimate Frisbee there and was a valuable enough person to make the South African team at the event along with Oliver, a South African boy, she met there. I was planning to fly to Prague from London for the Prague Ratha-yatra in mid-July anyway, so I came to London a little earlier so I could see the games. Turns out they played just 6 miles from Bhaktivedanta Manor. I hoped Fern or Karen would have enough free time to visit the Manor, at least for prasadam, but the schedule was very tight. 
I arranged for an old friend of mine from San Diego, Gopijanavallabha Prabhu (previously known as Jagannatha Krishna), who had since moved to near the Manor to bring some prasadam for my sister and I. 
It turns out that day there was not a vegetarian option at the event, and Karen, and another vegetarian fan she was friends with, were very happy to get the prasadam. 

The prasadam came from the Manor gurukula, as it was before their regular lunch time.

It was interesting that Ultimate Frisbee is one of the least competitive sports in that they appreciate the best players on opposite team after the game is over. Oliver was appreciated by the Japanese team in this way.
Here are the Japanese and South African teams, who had just played, with the favored Japanese team winning, just barely, in overtime. Oliver is the one holding the frisbee.

This is my niece Fern, in her Republic of South Africa Wild Dogs uniform. Apparently the team is named after a type of dog that achieves victory over its prey by running it to the point of exhaustion.

Over two days I saw the end of one game, a full game, and the beginning of another. In the first two games, South Africa was defeated by Japan anad Canada, teams who were expected to win, but they did score many goals against their opponents, showing their abilities. Fern and Oliver both made some nice plays. The most amazing for me is when they caught the Frisbee with outstretched arms and fell to the ground still clutching the Frisbee so the catch would still count. I do not think I could do that.

For pictures not included, click on the link below:


Srila Prabhupada:

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6 on October 5, 1975, in Mauritius:

Suprasidati means not just satisfied but completely satisfied. Atma means the body, the mind, the soul, and the Supersoul. So this verse explains that pure devotional service will completely satisfy the body, mind, soul, and Supersoul.

From a lecture in New York City on November 26, 1966, on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-līlā 20.124:

If you learn how to obey the Personality of Godhead, Krishna, you will be happy.

“My relationship with the Supreme is eternal, but I have forgotten it. Now, that relationship is that He is the original father of everything and we are all sons. For so long we have been disobedient. Now we have to become obedient. That’s all. 'Obedience is the first law of discipline.' As soon as the people of this so-called advanced world become obedient to God, then there will be discipline and there will be peace.  There is no discipline now. They are not agreeable to follow any rules and regulations. Everyone is acting as if he is God. But everyone is a dog, thinking he can do anything, whatever he likes. There is no discipline.”     

“You are after peace and prosperity. What is the basis of peace? The basis of peace is love. Do you think that without loving anyone you can become peaceful? No. How it is possible? Therefore, if you love God, then you can love everyone. And if you don’t love God, then you cannot love anyone. ”

“The central point must be there.  So if you can love God, then you can love everything in relationship with God. You can love every man, you can love your country, you can love your society, you can love your friend. Everyone. That is the point.”

“If you follow the rules and regulations systematically, then all these qualities will develop. You’ll see it practically. And as soon as these qualities are there, then you actually become a lover of your country; you become a lover of your fellow man.  It is not expected that everyone will become like that. But if at least ten percent of the population become Krishna consciousness, then peace in the world is guaranteed.”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.16.19, purport:

We should remember that the embodiment of the conditioned soul is considered to be like a dress. One may dress in different ways, but a really learned man does not take dresses into consideration.”

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.23 in Los Angeles on April 15, 1973:

In this material world, even if you become Krishna's mother you will suffer, what to speak of others.

If I think, 'I am American. Why shall I take Krishna consciousness? It is Hindu God,' that is foolishness. . . . But if we purify the senses that 'I am spirit soul. The Supreme Spirit Soul is Krishna. I am part and parcel of Krishna; therefore it is my duty to serve Krishna,' then you become free immediately. Immediately.

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.24 in Mayapur on October 4, 1974:

As I soon as I think I am comfortably situated, I am in maya [illusion].

A Vaishnava is so tolerant that although he suffers himself, he does not want others to suffer.

We should expect always danger, but if we expect help from Krishna, He will save us.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

When I wrote Japa Reform Notebook I chanted
thirty-two rounds for three months.
With the increase in numerical
strength came quality and
reverence for the holy names.
I honestly told of my
struggles. Some ISKCON leaders
objected to the book and banned
it in their zones. They did not think
it was appropriate for a guru
to admit that he was challenged
japa. They misunderstood me.
I was celebrating
despite the obstacles.”

Today’s drawing shows four
devotees dancing and chanting
with upraised arms.
They are a mixed group
but in union by
harinama parties
are made up of devotees
of different races, sexes
nationalities, ages, and even attitudes.
But when they go
out in public and
perform congregational chanting
they form a tight
and cooperative team
to present
to the conditioned souls.
Putting disagreements aside
they rise to the occasion
of preaching Lord Caitanya’s
mission. The bliss
they feel and the seriousness of their
purpose creates
a sublime harmony. This is not
insignificant cooperation but a deep
linking of like-minded souls.”

Janananda Goswami:

When Jayapataka Maharaja was learning Bengali, he was practicing by conversing with a farmer. He asked the farmer if he had ever been to Calcutta. The farmer replied that he had been to Calcutta once, but he would never go again. Jayapataka inquired why, and the farmer explained that in Calcutta he had seen a man holding hands with a woman, and therefore, he would never go to that sinful city again.

With sex attraction, the problem is not the woman or the man, but the problem is in one's own mind.

A sannyasi in Srngeri Matha told Bhakti Vikasa Swami, “If we had to preach in the places you do, I do not know if we would be able to do it.”

The danger with attraction to sense objects is that they distract one from devotional service to the Lord.

Full engagement in devotional service with no time to do anything else is the path of success – making our service, whatever it is, our life and soul.

I was wearing Western clothes and distributing Back to Godhead magazines in Newcastle. At one point I was looking in a electronics shop at the latest tape recorder. I did not have money, I was just looking. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Maya,” and then disappeared. I never found out who it was.

Only the Lord's mercy can protect us from the temptations.

We need a teacher to inform us about which instructions of the scriptures to follow.

In 1977, Srila Prabhupada said we have enough temples in West, we need preaching centers.

Brahmanananda Prabhu told me in Vrindavan, when I visited him two months ago, Srila Prabhupada said to him when he was in Africa, “Do not invite the Indian people to the temple. They will come anyway.”

We did a survey about the Sunday feast in Newcastle. People liked the chanting, the class depended on who gave it, but the arati they could not relate to.

Devamrita Swami has a very successful program in Australia where they have centers where they do not introduce have all kinds of aspects of temple worship that would be hard for new people to relate to.

In the beginning of the Hare Krishna movement, we would all chant japa for an hour and a half before the deities, and then they would spend 30 minutes dressing the deities.

In England, for at least six months, we were worshiping a basil plant, instead of a tulasi, by accident.

Young people are not so much into revolution these days, but rather they are looking for a lifestyle they feel comfortable with.

Paris is the biggest tourist city in the world, and many of tourists are young people.

A woman's eyes have the power to enter into a man's heart and capture him. The only hope is that we may be attracted to the beautiful eyes of Lord Krishna. Unknowingly, practically speaking, the living entity in the female body is meant to capture the living entities in the male body, by providing many varieties of sensual enjoyment.

In this age, it is very hard because the woman are dressed, or undressed as the case may be, to attract the men.

Consider the nature of the material body. You put a nice samosa in it, and stool comes out.

It is the clever arrangement of maya that the material body seems attractive.

The prostitute sent to tempt Haridas Thakura was called Lakha Hira because she was a very expensive prostitute, costing 100,000 rupees.

Sometimes people renounce the world and go to the holy dhama, but then they again become attached to sensual relationships there.

A seed may be there, but if you do not cultivate it, it will not grow. Similarly we may have a tendency for sensual enjoyment, but if we do not contemplate it, we will not become victimized by it.

If we find ourselves becoming captivated, we can pray to Krishna, chant his names, focus on Bhagavad-gita, etc.

Q (by a older brahmacari): What about older men getting married?
A: It is not recommended. It is not unusual, but it is not the end of the world. You may be criticized for it, but that criticism is good for your spiritual life. There are various reasons for it, such as weak association. Krishna allows it to happen as He is concerned that we do what we have to do to go back to Godhead, not that we look respectable from the material point of view.

Living in the temples is meant for those serious about spiritual life. Similarly the gurukula was originally meant for people who were 100% submissive to the education.

Children become disturbed if they are forced by the parents or the society to learn something that is not their nature. They should be given facility to learn according to their natural inclination.

Comment by a devotee: There is one Jayapataka Swami disciple who teaches music and his students live with him and help him out in different ways, cooking for him, cleaning, etc.
Response: That is the culture there. It is very natural.

Mahavishnu Swami:

In Radha-Londonisvara Mandir, all we are doing is serving a pure devotee [Srila Prabhupada] and therefore there is hope for our attaining spiritual perfection.

This is a festival movement. Everyone is attracted by a festival, especially the Chinese people in Scandinavia.

We seek the highest standard of living. That is to be found in the spiritual world. In this material world, we have the highest standard of dying.

Any place a thirsty cow drinks is not different from the Ganges River according to the scripture.

Tulasi is called puspa-sara, the essence of all flowers.

In a purport, Srila Prabhupada says the bhakti-lata-bija [the seed of the creeper of devotion] is the instructions of the spiritual master.

We have sung many songs, but when we chanted Hare Krishna we experienced something different, some purification of the heart, some reciprocation from Krishna.

The original love of God has become love of money, love of nation, love of so many things.

Q: How do I love Krishna like you?
A: I could ask you the same question. Actually we want to love Krishna like Srila Prabhupada does, and we can do that by following his instructions.

Nagaraja Prabhu:

From “Village Talk” in Back to Godhead, Nov / Dec 2015, Vol. 49, No. 6:

Life is too valuable to waste in succumbing to the allure of village talk packaged by masters at grabbing our attention. We don’t have to accept maya’s soul-killing propaganda in its current forms. By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and his predecessors, we can turn off the village talk of this world and turn on the village talk of Goloka Vrindavana, Lord Krishna’s eternal home.”

Pitavasa Prabhu:

In Srila Prabhupada's purports we see his compassion and his desire to help others.

To fight maya, we have to understand what maya it.

I was talking to someone who asserted Krishna is not God. I then asked him what is God. He repeated that Krishna is not God. I said OK, then could you tell me what is God. He did not have any answer other than to say that he was sure Krishna was not God.

We study the books not to just to become jnanis [intellectuals] but to realize Vishnu.

If there is some doubt about the knowledge, then we cannot act on the knowledge.

The saying “if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem” is true for us as devotees.

By our preaching we attract Krishna's mercy.

The name of Govinda is beyond pious activities. It is transcendental.

Abraham sacrificing his son, that which was most dear to him, at God's request, is pure bhakti yoga. Now they sacrifice sheep to commemorate this, but that is not God's desire. The Lord is not satisfied by this great sacrifice of sheep, but He was satisfied by Abraham's willingness to sacrifice what was most dear, his son.

Radhika Nagara Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada explains that the ticket to back to Godhead is one's intense desire for it. The purpose of human life is cultivate this desire.

That relationship which is eternal and in which we are completely understood is our relationship with Krishna.

By reconnecting with God we fill the vacuum in our lives.

The sister of the Queen of Spain engaged in corruption to accumulate more wealth because she was not satisfied by her situation.

They say life is tough and then you die. You spent your whole life chasing the end of the rainbow.

You do not have to give up your friends and family. Do things in Krishna consciousness with your friends and your family.

The trick of maya is to think that happiness is found in something other than devotional service to the Lord.

Our counseling is to assist us in our chanting of the whole name.

Narada Muni told Narayana, “You can liberate anyone you want. Why do you not take them back to Godhead?” Narayana said to Narada, “You go and find someone who wants to go back to Godhead.” Narada approached one person and offered to take him back to Godhead, and the man offered some excuse, “My children are not grown.” Narada came back later, and the man offered another excuse, “I must help take care of the grandchildren,” and it went on and on like that. Then Narada could understand what Narayana meant.

When I was a new devotee they engaged me in washing pots. The pots kept coming. I was washing pots for three and a half hours, but I felt more blissful than I ever had been. I thought, “I am so blissful, and I am just doing the pots, what to speak of the singers and those who study the scripture!”

The second time I was distributing books, I was in Chorley (in The North of England), and it was at Christmas time and it was snowing. I am from Spain and there it is just the opposite. I had a donation bucket and every few minutes someone would give me a donation, and I would give them a book. Yet I was amazed by how blissful I was.

Q: I fall asleep while reading Bhagavad-gita. What can I do?
A: Stand up. Read it aloud at a good volume.

When the mind proposes sense gratification, just tell it, “Later, just as soon I finish this devotional service.”

Enjoyment is from relationships.

My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 12.9)

Karen Beetle, counselor and mindfulness teacher:

From a conversation:

One study shows that in the U.S. the most effective treatment for a major mental illness is to get the patient out of the U.S. to a less developed country. Neither meditation nor counseling is as effective as that.”


Here is a favorite quote about the spiritual world and spiritual consciousness:

yatra naisarga-durvairah
sahasan nr-mrgadayah

Vrindavana is the transcendental abode of the Lord, where there is no hunger, anger or thirst. Though naturally inimical, both human beings and fierce animals live there together in transcendental friendship.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.13.60)