Thursday, September 03, 2015

Travel Journal#11.15: Czech Padayatra, Wroclaw Food for Life, Polish Festival Tour

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 15
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2015, part one)
Czech Padayatra, Wroclaw Food for Life, and Festival of India in Poland
(Sent from Sheffield, England, on September 3, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

After leaving the Polish Woodstock, I joined the Czech Padayatra for four days. I then spent an afternoon chanting during Wroclaw Food for Life with some friends. Finally, being invited by Indradyumna Swami, I went to the Baltic coast to join his Festival of India in Poland. Then I took the train to Wroclaw, en route to Czech Republic for a rock concert where the devotees share spiritual food and music, meeting on the way three people who were attracted to Hare Krishna, and who wanted more Krishna opportunities.

I share insights from several lectures by Srila Prabhupada and some quotes from his books. I have some nectar from Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I include an excerpt each from both a book of and the journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I have lots of notes on classes by Indradyumna Swami and Bada Haridas Prabhu, the two main speakers on the Polish festival tour. I also have a realization from Bhagavat Asraya Prabhu, and some wisdom from Muni Priya Prabhu, the leader of the Czech Padayatra and from one Czech brahmacari. I also include a few points I made in a lecture on the Polish tour about how we can attain complete absorption in Krishna.

I would like to thank Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu for giving me his extra Polish and Czech money, and to thank the people who gave me donations on harinama in Wroclaw.

I would like to thank Indradyumna Swami for his pictures of me on harinama at Miedzyzdroje. I would like to thank Vishnu Patni Devi Dasi for her many pictures of Food for Life in Wroclaw. Thanks to the unknown person in Wroclaw, who took pictures of Bartek and myself chanting before the train station.


September 2–3: Sheffield
September 4–7: Ireland
September 8–18: New York City Harinama
September 19–21?: Boston
September 22–25: New York City Harinama
September 26–27: Albany
September 28–November 15: New York City Harinama
November 16–18: Washington, D.C., Harinama
November 18–19: Jacksonville
November 20–December 16: Krishna House (except 5 days in Tallahassee)
December 16–January 3: New York City Harinama

Czech Padayatra

After chanting at the Kostrzyn train station to the Woodstock goers waiting for their trains, I took 11 hours of trains costing just $22, split evenly over two days with the night at our Wroclaw temple, to reach Tynec nad Labem, at that time the location of the Czech padayatra.

Padayatra really captures the spirit of Lord Caitanya's desire that His name be heard in every town and village. Lord Caitanya does not care just to deliver the masses in the cities, but he wants His followers to go out, and make Krishna consciousness available to everyone. That we have a full-size murti [form] of Srila Prabhupada and large Gaura-Nitai deities on the Czech padayatra reminds us even more that we are executing the mission of Lord Caitanya according to the direction of His surrendered devotee, Srila Prabhupada.

I arrived for the last half of the day's walking and singing. I was amazed we passed through two towns with about twenty houses in each, but at our evening program in Tetov I counted at least 80 people and some devotees said there were 120. That is even more amazing when we consider that Tetov, according to the 2015 census has only 158 people. Also striking was that at least 75% of the people stayed for the entire two-hour show of chanting bharat-natyam dance, drama, spiritual food, and devotional prizes.

It was inspiring to see the enthusiasm of a handful of the attendees who really seemed to have some spontaneous appreciation for the chanting.
Kids liked to dance, which is a fairly common phenomenon.
They even danced with the devotees on the stage.

Here two ladies danced with upraised arms.

One guy also delighted in dancing.

He even let a devotee swing him around.

Here is a video clip of the kirtana in Tetov ( 

Tuesday in the town of Řečany nad Labem, CZ, with a population of 1,364, over 110 people (8%) came to our program of spiritual culture.

Here is a video clip of the kirtana in Řečany nad Labem (

After the program, we chanted with the ox cart and our Deities back to the school that was our base.

Three villagers followed us the whole way and talked with the devotees afterwards.

One lady who followed us was a photographer, and she came the next morning to take photos of our procession as we left the town.

Wednesday, in the larger town of Premouc, only 70 people came to the evening program. Perhaps that was because it started at 5:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m., perhaps that was because in larger places the people are more sophisticated, or perhaps that was because there was a musical event in town that night.
One young man was happy to get books.

Here is a video clip of the kirtana in Prelouc ( 

Thursday was another small village, namely Lany na Dulku, population 330, and not surprisingly a small attendance at the evening program. Still each program is special, and the amazing thing there was that twelve villagers, or about half the people who had come, danced in the kirtana near the end, when the devotees give out prizes, such as books and pictures related to Krishna and incense, for the best performance in several categories.

Here is a video clip of that amazing final kirtana in Lany na Dulku (

In past years, I recall 50 to 60 people was a very good evening, but this year they often had twice that. Devotees say one reason more people may be coming to the evening programs this year is the invitations. They listed the time and place of all twelve of the evening programs throughout the two and a half week long padayatra. They also advertise a contest which involves the chance of winning a prize. They ask the people getting the invitations if our program is for kids, youth, adults, senior citizens, or everybody. The correct answer, of course, is that it is for everybody. They ask the people to send a text message with their answer to the phone numbers of the organizers, and say they must attend the program to win the prize. There are two winners, picked randomly from the contestants, by the youngest of the bharat-natyam dancers. The two prizes are Bhagavad-gita and Krishna book. Another selling point advertised on the flyer is the “flying bananas.” 

At the end of the show, they throw bananas offered to the Deities from the Their cart to an eager audience.

The play is a more dramatic and humorous version of “Liquid Beauty.” Muni Priya Prabhu, the devotee who organizes the padayatra, plays the prince, and his son, decked out with make up and wearing a sari, is the lady he is attracted to. There is no formal lecture but rather a commentary on the drama.

There are a couple of bharat-natyam dancers.
One small.

One larger.

In the middle of the program, a snack of pakoras, raita, and cherry tomatoes is served to the attendees in their seats.

One devotee lady, Ananga Sevika Devi Dasi, does face painting for a donation.

 She has pictures of many styles to choose from.

She also has a variety of Czech chips, referred to as chipsy. that the devotees make themselves and market, and which are very tasty.

And of course, there are Srila Prabhupada's books.

Before the kirtanas, the smaller bharat-natyam girl passes out instruments, which are rattles in the shape of various fruits, from the basket sitting on the harmonium.

Gaura Karuna Prabhu, while riding his small portable bicycle, has distributed books on five continents. When I asked him the best place, he replied, “Czech padayatra.” The oxen, the cart, the Deities, and the happy devotees chanting awaken curiosity in the people, and they are happy to buy books explaining what it is all about.

Friday the program was in the city of Pardubice, a place where I had once done harinama before a home program with Janananda Goswami. I did not go, but left the padayatra, as I was invited by the Food for Life coordinator in Wroclaw to chant at their weekly Food for Life event there, something I had done once before.

Chanting at the Wroclaw Food for Life

I tend to travel through Wroclaw to other places and not contribute much there, so I thought I should help out this time. 
The Food for Life person, Vishnu Patni Devi Dasi, is an initiated disciple of Indradyumna Swami, who grew up on the Baltic Coast and fell in love with the Festival of India, coming when the devotees performed in the towns nearby her home. Gradually she took Krishna consciousness more and more seriously. Now she is one of the main pujaris in Wroclaw, but once a year she takes a break for five days to sell books at the Polish Woodstock festival. Once a week she does Food for Life in Wroclaw as well. I thought I should encourage her by chanting at her program as I have known her for many years from the festivals.

After spending a few weeks on the Polish Tour and Woodstock, Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu, who I chanted harinama with in Bavaria and in Newcastle this year, visited the Prague temple, and then stopped by Wroclaw on his way to Ukraine to see his parents, so he joined our harinama party, along with a local devotee lady. Usually Vishnu Patni has to do Food for Life alone, but she had three helpers that day.
Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu and I chanted for an hour or so where Vishnu Patni and the other devotee lady were serving papadam and halava. 
Vishnu Patni did not want the local restaurants to complain about our chanting, so she sent us to the popular Rynek Square, where the devotees do Ratha-yatra in September or June. 
In Rynek Square we met Peter, who wore neck beads, and had come to our yoga tent at Woodstock every day. He had heard we had a temple in Wroclaw and was intending to visit it, but he never had. I gave him an invitation, and he promised to visit in this coming Sunday. I also told him about our free food on Fridays in Wroclaw and pointed out to him where it was, and he went and got some, also promising Vishnu Patni he would come to the temple on Sunday.

It was a great day.
There were people who liked the food.
Some liked the the music.

Some took books.
One guy even got chanting beads.

Some also gave donations.

I was happy to go and make some contribution.

Chanting in Wroclaw Before My Train

The next day I was planning to chant in another city in Poland, between Wroclaw and the Polish coast, but that plan fell through. Thus I decided to chant alone in Wroclaw at the train station before my train to the coast. I hoped to chant for at least two hours, but breakfast was delayed, and I got a late start. As it was, I had to grab a bowl of prasadam and eat it on the bus, so as not to lose another half hour. I chanted right in front of the train station and did not even make it through the preliminary mantras before the police told me to move. I moved 100 feet away and all was good for forty minutes until a policeman came by again. This time I learned through an interpreter that his complaint was I was collecting money near the train station. I asked if singing alone was OK, and he said it was, so I put my donation plate away and continued singing for twenty more minutes.

One guy wanted me to give him some money. I declined but offered him a cookie which he was happy about. One older lady give me a zlote (about a quarter), and when I gave her a cookie and a mantra card, she gave me another.

A young guy named Bartek, with long hair and a guitar came by, and said he knew the Hare Krishnas from the Woodstock, even some individual devotees. He mentioned Gatida Prabhu, who is in charge of questions and answers. He expressed an interest in playing his guitar with me, and he did his best to tune it to my funky harmonium.

We sang the popular melody that Srila Prabhupada used on harinama in the beginning, which almost everyone can sing, and which is one of the few tunes I know the chords to. 
He looked very blissful playing the guitar and singing Hare Krishna.

We also chanted a lively Village of Peace tune, and he helped me transpose it into a key which does not use the defective note on my harmonium. Someone wanted us to take pictures of him and his friends, and in exchange, we got him to take pictures of us playing the harmonium and guitar. I told Bartek how he could find out the schedule for our festivals on the coast on the web, gave him the invitation for our Wroclaw Sunday feast, and gave him details about our Friday Food for Life in Wroclaw, as he really loved our food at Woodstock.

Thus I felt very victorious that in Wroclaw both days I was able to give an interested person information by which he could increase his Krishna-related activities there.

Festival of India in Poland

After a nine-hour train ride I very happy to be greeted at Trzebiatow by Jananivasa and Mandakini, who both translated for me when I did questions and answers years ago, along with their child. It was so nice to see them again.

The Festival of India in Poland, organized by Indradyumna Swami and his followers, gives many opportunities to hear Krishna sound. The festivals are advertised by three hours of harinama six days a week. Then each evening festival begins and ends with half an hour of chanting, includes a lecture on Bhagavad-gita, a main drama depicting a transcendental pastime and also puppet shows bringing to life other Krishna pastimes. Thus thousands of people every day benefit spiritually from the transcendental sound vibration, making it a very important program. Beyond this, hundreds of people daily take Krishna prasadam.

This year they had a new drama about Usha and Aniruddha with lots of colorful costumes and beautiful dances. There was also a new version of Ramayana, and the martial artists performed one show together, instead of all individually as before.

On the Festival of India on Poland's Baltic coast, my service was to attend the morning program, give a couple morning classes, and distribute invitations on our daily three-hour harinamas.

Doing harinama on the beach, where we do it the most, was a severe challenge this time as I had a popped blister and had to keep the wound dry so it would heal. Thus I could not walk on the moist sand but had to walk in the dry sand which is much more difficult. It was hard to keep up with the party, and because I was distributing flyers, I would sometimes get behind, and it was very difficult to catch up. I like to be where I can hear the kirtana and sing the response, so I was really suffering.

Fortunately my wound healed after four days, and the situation improved.

There is a saying “the body is a temple.” That's why we mark it with tilaka. Of course, some people do not act like their body is a temple. Some of them admit it.

When we did harinama in the city of Miedzyzdroje, sometimes people participated (

These girls delighted in dancing with the devotee ladies

Another time, after our harinama, a family danced with the devotee ladies.

Srila Prabhupada said, “A young man cannot eat too much, and an old man cannot eat too little.”
Seeing fifteen-year-old Vikram's plate of prasadam brings to mind this quote.

Speaking of prasadam, once we had an incredible potato salad with curd in it.

Although the evening festival has many attractive features, because I love the chanting and dancing, that is what I always take videos of. It is wonderful for me to see the onlookers getting caught up in the ecstasy of the kirtana.

Here is some video from the first evening kirtana I attended, the last day of our festival in Rewal (

I gave mantra cards to the most enthusiastic dancers, and when the kirtana was over, I told them that Tuesday through Thursday we would be in Pobierowo, if they wanted to join us.

The three evenings we were in Pobierowo many people chanted at the final kirtana led by Indradyumna Swami.

You can see from their faces how happy some of the people were to dance with the devotees.

This last girl came every day, and each day she was more enthusiastic. She told me she loves to dance. She was from Stargard Szczecinek, and I encouraged her to leave her email with the devotees at the book tent, so she can learn of our programs in her area.

Here are video clips from two of the evenings in Pobierowo (

Here is some video from the larger city of Miedzyzdroje (

I lived in Alachua the same time Bada Haridas Prabhu was living there, but we would only hear him lead kirtana once or twice a week and maybe give class once a month. On the tour he was singing mangala-arati and Jaya Radha Madhava every day and also singing on the stage in the evening. He would also give class almost every day. Thus ironically I was getting more of his association away from our home in Alachua.

His sweet kirtanas bring joy to my soul. I remember when he chanted at his 50th birthday party in Alachua, I thought, “I wish I could travel all over the world with Bada Hari and dance to his kirtanas.” Krishna fulfilled that desire in part those ten days I was on the Festival of India tour in Poland. The last Monday I was there he led a wonderful kirtana that got all the tour devotees dancing beginning with me (

Encounters on the Way to Back to Wroclaw

When I travel I love meeting people who had positive experiences encountering Krishna music, Krishna food, and Krishna philosophy. I like to find out where they are from and suggest how they can have more Krishna experiences. The day I left the Festival of India in Poland I met three such people.
On the first train enroute to Wroclaw, after leaving the Polish Festival tour, I met a girl who went to our festival the night before in Niechorze. 
She was delighted to show me the henna she received there.

She was from Trzebiatow and was happy to learn from me that when she returns home in two days, we will be having our festival in nearby Mrzezyno.
On the second train, the girl across from me named Alicja loved our Krishna food at Woodstock and ate it every single day. She was happy to learn of our Friday Food for Life and Sunday feast in her home town of Wroclaw, and she enjoyed a spiced potato patty I had packed for my lunch. The friends she sings with in Miedzyzdroje told her they had enjoyed our festival there last week. Originally I was not inclined to talk to her, but I saw she was reading a book by Kafka and thought that she might be interested in philosophy. Turns out she read the book because it was required for school but had no special interest in philosophy. In the course of our discussion, she mentioned she had gone to Woodstock, and I asked if she went to Krishna's Village of Peace there. In this way, I learned of her love for Krishna food.
When I got to Wroclaw's main station, a lady named Margarita (on the right), greeted me with “Hare Krishna.” She attends our farm in Czarow and nama-hatta in Lodz. She is going to the coast, and wanted to know the schedule of the festivals. I told her the next two are in Mrzezyno, and I gave her the flyer with the web page with the whole schedule. 

Krishna is amazing! Although I left the festival, I was still engaged in promoting it and our other programs in Poland.


Srila Prabhupada:

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17 on October 28, 1972, in Vrndavana:

The Krishna consciousness movement means we are giving people a chance to hear about Krishna.

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.16 on August 19, 1972, in Los Angeles:

One may know or not know but if he just appreciates, that is a touch of spiritual life. It is so nice.

This movement is spreading simply by hearing. I gave a chance for people to hear.

By hearing one acquires a taste, but one who is too materialistic will not have such a taste.

Taste means you like to do it, not that you have to be forced. If you have such a taste you can very easily go on chanting Hare Krishna.

We have no taste because there is lacking in the previous processes, sraddha [initial faith], sadhu-sanga [association with devotees of the Lord], bhajana-kriya [spiritual practice under the guidance of a guru], and anartha-nivritti [freedom from unwanted desires].

In the beginning no one was interested in Krishna consciousness. We have created the taste.

Hearing about Krishna is natural because Krishna bhakti is in everyone's heart.

If you associate with people addicted to sex life, you fall down.

It is easy if we are determined that, “in this life I will go back to Godhead.”

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17 on August 20, 1972, in Los Angeles:
If we become purified by hearing about Krishna, how much we can become purified by dancing with Krishna?

Brahma is unhappy, Indra is unhappy, what to speak of an insignificant creature, because they have accepted what can never make one happy, sense gratification.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.11.24 verse and purport:

O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?

“Purport: This verse gives the sum and substance of devotional life. One must first become a servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord (dasanudasa). Śri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised, and He also showed by His own example, that a living entity should always desire to be a servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis (gopi-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah). This means that one must accept a spiritual master who comes in the disciplic succession and is a servant of the servant of the Lord. Under his direction, one must then engage one's three properties, namely his body, mind and words. The body should be engaged in physical activity under the order of the master, the mind should think of Krishna incessantly, and one's words should be engaged in preaching the glories of the Lord. If one is thus engaged in the loving service of the Lord, one's life is successful.”
From Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.38–39:

Krishna says, 'If one engages in My transcendental loving service but at the same time wants the opulence of material enjoyment, he is very, very foolish. Indeed, he is just like a person who gives up ambrosia to drink poison. Since I am very intelligent, why should I give this fool material prosperity? Instead I shall induce him to take the nectar of the shelter of My lotus feet and make him forget illusory material enjoyment.'”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

From Sri-Sri Kalyana-kalpataru (The Desire-Tree of Auspiciousness), translated by Dasaratha-suta dasa:

Statements like 'tat tvam asi'
(you belong to Krishna)
are fully permeated with tangible love
for Krishna, and meditating
on such Vedic statements
helps the aspiring
devotee to ultimately attain
the shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet.
Then one will gain residence
in Krishna’s transcendental abode of Vrndavana,
which is completely pervaded
with supreme, undivided bliss.
Thus one will come to know
the original personal form of Parabrahman,
Who is situated far beyond
the impersonal Brahman effulgence.”

From Sri-Sri Kalyana-kalpataru (The Desire-Tree of Auspiciousness),
Verse 3

Only in the following sequence
does pure love for Krishna awaken:
First one develops
sraddha (faith) in the process
of Krishna Consciousness;
then, due to that faith one becomes enthusiastic for
(the association of devotees);
then, by performance of
bhajana-kriya (devotional worship)
in the company of the devotees
there awakens
nishta (steadiness in service),
ruci (taste),
asakti (attachment to the Lord);
this attachment then gives rise
bhava (genuine ecstatic emotions),
from which
prema (pure love for Krishna)
manifests its re-awakening. Only in this sequence does
prema come into being.

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From Shack Notes:

What makes the work acceptable to Krishna is the bhakti. It is not our arrogant self-confidence that forces Krishna to accept the offering. The devotee puts all he can into the offering, tears well up in his eyes, and he humbly places himself before the Lord, begging to be accepted, 'Don't kick me away.'”

“In Boston, in the late 1960s
and early 1970s, we would go
to chant
harinama on Sunday
in Cambridge Square Park.
Hundreds of people gathered there
listening to various speakers
like Timothy Leary.
Our planned program
was to sing for half an hour and
then give a five minute sermon.
We had strong chanters like
Baradraja and Nanda-kisora,
and I sometimes led the chanting.
We attracted a crowd.
When we stopped chanting to
lecture, the crowd got out
of control. They would yell
verbal abuse at us
and sometimes throw things.
I thought the little
sermons were important,
so I wrote to Prabhupada
to ask what to do. He wrote me back:
If the people are too
disturbing, don’t give
lectures, but just go on chanting.
So we held
for an hour and then
took a little break
to change singers and change
mridanga players.
The people started
to harass us, but
we didn’t give them
a chance.
We stopped them by launching
into another
kirtana. We felt secure
in the protection
of vigorous chanting which
kept the young lions quiet,
interested, and even
mesmerized. If we
had attempted to lecture them,
we would be committing
the offense of revealing the
confidential nature of the holy name
to the faithless.
We chanted through the long afternoon
without disturbance from the crowd,
which gave us great pleasure.”

Indradyumna Swami:

Human beings' distinguishing quality is intelligence.

In the last three hundred years, we have advanced greatly using our intelligence materially but we know practically nothing about our spiritual self, without which the body is just dead matter.

The first item in self-realization is to understand the soul is not the body.

Your body, the doctors say, is 72% water, but are you 72% water?

If you do not know who you are, you do not know how to live in such a way as to find the happiness you are looking for.

Bhagavad-gita is meant to fill our present void of spiritual knowledge.

This knowledge should not be rejected because it is not Polish. You accept pizza and have pizza parlors in even the smallest towns, but pizza was not invented in Szczecin, Wroclaw, or Warsaw. It is from Italy.

These are not sectarian truths but universal truths. These truths are not only valuable; they are essential.

We learn from Bhagavad-gita, that the soul is 1/10000 the tip of a hair in size and situated in the region of the heart. We intuitively understand the soul is in the heart, and if we are asked to point to ourself we point to our chest or if we point to someone else, we point to their chest not their foot.

We are in fear of death because we are in ignorance. Bhagavad-gita can free us from fear of death. Krishna explains that as the soul passes from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul enters into another body at death.

Reincarnation is a subtle law of nature.

Something is changing, and something is staying the same. The body is changing, and the soul is staying the same.

We should not make the mistake of overidentifying with our present body and its surroundings, as we have had many bodies.

We should be very inquisitive about our eternal souls.

We are not meant to live in the material world. We are strangers in a strange land.

We search for happiness because it is the intrinsic nature of the soul to be happy.

You may not expect to hear a philosophical lecture at a cultural festival, but knowledge is very important in Indian culture, and thus a presentation on Indian culture would not be complete without it.

If I invite you on the stage, you could talk for hours about your body, but how long could you talk about your spiritual self. This is because in our Western culture, we are lacking this knowledge. Bhagavad-gita can fill this void.

It is human nature to prepare for the important moments in life. Death is such a moment. Bhagavad-gita gives insight into what happens at death: “As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” (2.13)

The spiritual world is not an hallucination. Real people coming from the spiritual world have described it.

Love of God is our visa to attain the spiritual world.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura sent a disciple to Oxford to get a Ph.D. in Theology. He was so smart the college gave him a full scholarship. When it came time to write the thesis, he asked Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura what should be the topic of the thesis. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura replied, “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His philosophy and His teachings. And I will help you write it.” It was lost in a Gaudiya Math for years, but just a few weeks ago it was found, and Hari Sauri Prabhu scanned it and send it to me. It is over 600 pages. He also sent me Sarasvati Jaya Sri, a compilation of remembrances of those who had personal association with Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, compiled after he left this world.

We are fortunate to be able to share this tradition of 500 years of wisdom.

I am sometimes amazed by the amount of energy you have to do this work. This is Gaura-sakti [the energy of Lord Caitanya], not muscle power.

Just as karmis [the people in general] like parties, demigods like yajnas [sacrifices].

Prabhupada would say that anything can happen at every moment. Recent a lady went to Yosemite for a picnic with her family. After three days her hands and feet started turning black and began to fall off. Turns out she was bitten by a tick and got the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and they had to cut off her hands and feet to save her body.

They had a festival in Kolkota for the 50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's leaving Calcutta on a voyage for America. Radhanath Swami spoke to a crowd of perhaps 10,000 people including the president of India and the governor of West Bengal.

When I was young I read All's Well on the Western Front, about the victory of the Allied Forces in World War II. I lamented I missed out on being part of it, but I see I am involved now in a more important movement for the emancipation of humanity.

In Miedzyzdroje, one young man with a box of 15 cups of beer for his friends strapped to his body, stopped by our program. He began dancing in the kirtana, and the strap broke and they all spilled on the ground. He looked at the sky crediting providence for the occurrence, and he continued dancing.

One man who has come to the festival for 15 years admitted he was listening to the lecture and something clicked, and he bought a book for the first time.

One seventy-eight-year- old engineer came back to our restaurant five times to get a samosa, and those samosas are like a meal in themselves. His company was based in India, and he spent many years there. He said, “I like your samosas because they are better than the Indian samosas.”

One man after the final kirtana said, “When you people sing the combined effect is like touching the feet of the gods.”

If you give to someone engaged in the Lord's service, you get back many, many times what you gave, and if you take from a devotee, you will suffer many, many times the suffering you caused the devotee.

I thought I recognized one man from a previous festival, and I asked him about it. He said that he was on the Baltic coast on vacation and his family went to the festival. He explained, “Afterward for a whole week, my daughter was always singing 'Gopal Nandalal, Gopal Nandalal, Gopal Nandalal, Gopal Nandalal,' and talking about the festival, and she wanted to go back. I said I would drive her back to the coast on the weekend if she stopped singing, “Gopal Nandalal,” and she agreed, and so I drove her 10 hours up here again. I had spent my vacation money and had to take from my pension fund.”

The more knowledge we have about God and our relationship, the stronger our faith will be.

We are so attached to everything, but at death we have to leave it all in a moment.

From a conversation with me:

It is a sign of maturity that some of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami's disciples have been able to stick with him, despite his difficulties, as all he has done for Srila Prabhupada has certainly outweighed whatever his problems were.

It is too bad that Sadaputa Prabhu, who was a real genius, was not supported to do his scientific work. It is one of ISKCON's serious mistakes. He could really present our message in the language of the scientists.

Keep doing harinama. In the beginning we did more harinama and there were few problems. As a brahmacari you have the facility, and it will also keep you pure.

Come for a week of the tour after the Woodstock each year.

Bada Haridas Prabhu:

Vrtrasura is telling Indra that he will get his heavenly enjoyment because that is what he wants, but Vrtrasura himself is more interested in going back to Godhead.

We can get anything from Krishna, but the important thing is what we want.

If we want to be satisfied in the heart, we have to develop pure devotion.

Going to the heavenly planets and returning to this earthly planet of death (martya-loka) is like working all year to go on a two-week vacation. At the end of the vacation, it is all over, and you have to go back to work again.

Bhagavatam is trying to give a vision of eternality. There is more than our experience of a little enjoyment in a spot life.

Vrtrasura recalled being Citraketu and being cursed and having to attain this horrible demoniac body. Indra was destined to kill that body and thus release him from the curse. Thus Vrtrasura was very eager to be killed by Indra and return back to Godhead.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, “When our hearts become free from all material desires, we will see all the impediments in our life as Krishna's mercy.” Thus if we were are not seeing all impediments as Krishna's mercy, then we still have material desire in our hearts.

Do you ever wonder what Krishna is trying to teach us by the difficulties in our life?

Does a day go by without anxiety? That is the material world, a place of anxiety.

The difficulties are Krishna's mercy on us to get us to go back to Godhead.

The Christians used to challenge, “If you die today, would you go to heaven?” So based on Bhagavad-gita we would respond, “We do not want to go to heaven. Heaven is for losers. We just want to love Krishna.”

That is the beauty of devotional service. As long as we can serve Krishna, it does not matter where we go.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura said, “One of the realizations a developing devotee gains is the faith that Krishna will take care of him.” That comes from sadhana and hearing.

I have to work and do some things, but ultimately I am maintained by Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada said that Krishna like a wealthy man who wants to give you everything. But if you disagree to surrender, you remain poor. That is our situation, but if we chant Hare Krishna we will come to the point of agreeing.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, “When you begin to chant the holy name without offense, you will be convinced that all perfection comes from chanting the holy name.”

Spiritual knowledge is not sectarian. It does not matter your nationality or religion. Just like with technical knowledge, if there is a technological breakthrough, everyone is interested in utilizing it, no matter the source.

Why are we not finding the happiness we desire within despite so many endeavors?

Bhagavad-gita explains how we can experience spiritual happiness from within.

This vibration of Hare Krishna is spiritual and thus we never get tired of it.

God has many different names, but there are not many different Gods. Just like the sun is called by different names in different countries, but there is only one sun.

People who get more and more become less and less satisfied. By material means, satisfaction cannot come because we are not the body. We must satisfy the need of the soul.

Some of the people who put on this festival come from nations that are at war with each other, but we are satisfied working together because we are spiritual beings. This is a practical demonstration of spiritual truth.

Those who are advanced in devotional service always think of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. Because they always think of Krishna, Krishna always thinks of them.

Krishna already loves us, but we will never experience that unless we love Him.

The Christians say, "God loves you" or "Jesus loves you." That is good information, but that is not the issue. The issue is why we do not love God.

If we love Krishna, He will accept us as His own. But we have to accept Him as our own.

Srila Prabhupada explained he had a plan to become successful in business, but at one point, he could see that was not Krishna's plan. Krishna has a better plan. We are all thankful for Krishna's plan.

When we want a material thing, it may seem like just a simple thing, but it comes with a price.

Indra is the king of the demigods, but he has to deal with the same issues we do (envy, quarrel, excessive endeavor, pride) because of having material desires.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises us to live in a house, not thinking ourselves the proprietor, but rather the servant.

In the pastime of Vrtrasura and Indra we see the contrast between the pure devotee and the devotee with material desires. In particular we see the problems created by maintaining material desires.

The defect is not the material things but the conception that they belong to us.

As it is foolish if a man enters a bank and proclaims that he renounces all the money in the bank because it does not belong to him, it is foolish for a person to renounce anything in this world, because it all belongs to Krishna.

To understand everything is Krishna's and should be used for Krishna, according to Rupa Goswami, is real renunciation.

Srila Prabhupada saw a man carrying a half-burned piece of firewood with him on a train in India. What is the value of a half-burned piece of firewood? Yet the man was taking care of it very carefully, thinking of it as valuable property.

Encountering Srila Prabhupada's devotees, we get the chance to experience the nectar of Krishna's lotus feet, which makes us forget material desires, although we originally had no desire for it.

Jayapataka Swami used to say Lord Caitanya is so kind he gives us the dessert first.

Q: Although Rupa Goswami preaches to engage opulence in devotional service, the Goswamis example was to give it up. Why is that?
A: There were different Goswamis, and they had different lessons to teach. Raghunatha dasa Goswami, in particular, taught extreme personal renunciation. He showed it was practically possible to live with almost nothing, and yet, he was in transcendental ecstasy. Srila Prabhupada advised us not to imitate Raghunatha dasa Goswami or we would fall down. Some of the other Goswamis did accept material opulence for the service of the Lord, building great temples like Govindaji. Because they were Goswamis and not householders, it was their duty to live simply, but when given opulence, they would use it for Krishna.

This knowledge of Bhagavad-gita was originally spoken, not to a monk or priest, but to a military man, an administrator. This indicates that is meant for the people in general.

Usually we are not interested in spiritual knowledge, but at some time in our lives, when we encounter difficulties, we wonder, “Is there more to life than this?”

Although we have made elaborate plans for happiness for our bodies and minds, we are perhaps more dissatisfied than at any other time in history.

We may have a connection with different people, such a business relationship or a family relationship, but the strongest connection is through a relationship of love. Similarly bhakti-yoga is the most powerful because it is based on love.

As we may not see the sun in the sky because of clouds, but we can tell it is there from its light, we can tell the soul is present because of consciousness.

Here we have Vrtrasura, who appears to be a demon, without material desire and prepared to go back to Godhead, and Indra, who is going to use the Lord's blessings to kill Vrtrasura, so he can enjoy his heavenly kingdom.

I would think, as a new devotee, since Krishna fulfills our desires as a result of engaging in devotional service, suppose we do not desire to go back to Godhead but rather just to enjoy in heaven. That is a real problem. This verse gives the solution, to pray as Vrtrasura did: “O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be; able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?”

In the material world, we desire to be the lord of the lords, to move up the ranks, but Srila Prabhupada explains that in spiritual life we aspire to be the servant of the servant of the Lord.

In the Adi Purana, Krishna says those who claim to be His devotees are actually not His devotees, but rather that those who are servants of His devotees are His devotees.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura met many Rama bhaktas in South India, and he would ask them if they were directly the servant of Lord Rama. Most of them would say yes, and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would say they were bogus.

Regarding Krishna's request to always think of Him, Srila Prabhupada would explain “You have have been thinking of so many nonsense things, now just think of Krishna.”

Srila Prabhupada explained that the duty of the guru is to serve his spiritual master and the duty of the disciple is to assist him.

Srila Prabhupada says over and over again that to think of Krishna means to chant Hare Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada said, “If you chant your sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra and hear every syllable, you will remember Krishna perfectly all day.”

Lord Caitanya gave us so much, but he only gave us eight verses, so we can understand these are very important, the essence.

Lord Caitanya said, “In all my births I do not desire woman, wealth, or followers.”

Even if we do not have many material desires, we still desire not to suffer. Thus the desire for liberation is difficult to give up.

Here the Lord is addressed as samañjasa — O source of all opportunities.

Through the Bhagavatam we do not only learn the philosophy, but we imbibe the feelings of the pure devotees.

We may feel bad we did not get the personal association of Srila Prabhupada, but he says his Bhaktivedanta purports are his devotional ecstasies. That is why it is important to read Srila Prabhupada's books – in addition to acquiring knowledge, we come to appreciate his devotional ecstasies.

The Bhagavatam is compared to a ripened fruit. Have you ever have had a ripened fruit? Now they pick them green and ship them 5,000 miles.

Bhagavata Asraya Prabhu:

from a conversation with Trisama Prabhu, a nama-hatta leader in Poland:

To be good leaders, it is important that we regularly hear from Srila Prabhupada's recorded lectures and that we inspire the devotees we are taking care of to do the same. No other religious leader has had so many hours of recorded lectures as Srila Prabhupada, and we should take advantage of it.

Muni Priya Prabhu:

From the Vishnudutas Ajamila got a second chance, the association of devotees, and spiritual instruction.

To surrender we must accept everything favorable and reject everything unfavorable. This we can determine from verses 2 and 3 of the Nectar of Instruction.

Surrender is not so simple, so Lord Caitanya came to demonstrate.

Our surrender is to assist Lord Caitanya in expanding His mission.

One book telling how to become a successful businessman says the first item is to overcome stress.

People are worried about giving to Krishna, but they are in illusion because everything is already belonging to Krishna.

Krishna's plan is the best plan. Our business is to seek out Krishna's plan.

The padayatra is like chutney, sometimes hot and sometimes sweet.

Czech brahmacari:

Everyone is attracted by the devotees, even the demons. The Six Goswami were glorified dhira-adhira . . .

The devotee because he is in the most fortunate position is not envious of anyone.

Srila Prabhupada's books are slowly destroying this materialistic civilization. Vegetarianism, meditation, and yoga are all increasing. People are seeing that this materialistic civilization is defective and does not have answers.

Krishna-kripa das:

There are different things we can do to rise up to the complete absorption in Krishna that Vrtrasura had:

Just by engaging in the devotional service given by our spiritual master, we can attain it, if we are careful to avoid offenses. Devotional service is so purifying, we will be purified if we simply avoid the offenses to it.

Vrtrasura was feeling that Krishna is everything. We can get to this stage by first thinking how Krishna is everything. Thinking, feeling, and willing are the functions of consciousness. If we practice thinking how Krishna is everything, we will come to the stage of feeling that Krishna is everything. Krishna is the source of our very being. Krishna is the source of everything dear to us. Krishna is the fulfiller of all our desires. By thinking like this, we will gradually come to feel that Krishna is everything.

We can offer prayers for pure devotion following in the footsteps of great souls. We can pray as Queen Kunti prayed, “O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto You without being diverted to anyone else.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.42) Or we can offer this prayer from the Padma Purana mentioned in The Nectar of Devotion: “My Lord, I know that young girls have natural affection for young boys, and that young boys have natural affection for young girls. I am praying at Your lotus feet that my mind may become attracted unto You in the same spontaneous way.” Imagine offering that prayer every day for a year. It would definitely boost your affection for Krishna.


Just a reminder of the good fortune to be sharing Krishna's instructions:

ya idam paramam guhyam
mad-bhaktesv abhidhasyati
bhaktim mayi param krtva
mam evaisyaty asamsayah

na ca tasman manusyesu
kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad
anyah priya-taro bhuvi

[Lord Sri Krishna said:] “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.” (Bg. 18.68–69)