Saturday, January 16, 2016

Travel Journal#11.23: North Florida and Atlanta


Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 23
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2015, part one)
North Florida and Atlanta
(Sent from Orlando, Florida, on January 16, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the first half of December I was based at our Krishna House in Gainesville, where I sang with their chanting party for 2½ hours each weekday while the devotees served about a thousand plates of Krishna food to the students, faculty, staff, and visitors at the University of Florida. The end of the first week we attended three outreach events where we shared the chanting of Hare Krishna with many people: the Jacksonville Art Walk, the Tallahassee First Friday, and the St. Augustine Christmas parade. At the Art Walk devotees also distributed many books. The second week I chanted at the Gainesville Farmers Market with just one other devotee. At Krishna House we had an end of the semester party with appreciations of the devotees and some humorous entertainment, and I share some of the parts most striking to me. I was part of our kirtana team at inspiring deity welcoming ceremony in Tallahassee that brought a lot of people together chanting Hare Krishna. I returned to the New York City Harinam for the winter break, traveling by bus, and doing harinama in Atlanta on the way.

I share notes on a Prabhupada lecture and quotes from his books. I share excerpts from the journal of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. I share notes on classes by Prahladananda Swami, Radhanath Swami, and Bhakti Prabhupada Vrata Damodar Swami. I share insights from many Prabhupada disciples, including Adi Karta Prabhu, Ananta Devi, Garuda Prabhu, Kalakantha Prabhu, Ramiya Prabhu, Satyaraja Prabhu, Sesa Prabhu, and Tamohara Prabhu. I have an excerpt on Prabhupada’s padayatra by Gaurangi Devi from a Back to Godhead magazine article. I also have nice realizations from other devotees who speak at Krishna House such as Madhava Prabhu [from New Raman Reti], Mother Caitanya, Tulasirani Devi, Abhimanya Prabhu, Gauranga Prasada Prabhu, Dhamesvara Mahaprabhu Prabhu, Hanan Prabhu, and Ricardo.

Itinerary

January 16–17: Orlando
January 18: Gainesville
January 19–20: Orlando
January 21: Tampa
January 22: Orlando
January 23–26: Tallahassee
January 27–February 24: Gainesville area (and Florida campuses)
February 25: New York City
February 26–29: Dublin, Ireland
March 1­–April 14: India
April 14–: Dublin, Ireland

Jacksonville Art Walk



The Jacksonville Art Walk started slowly with Gauranga Prasad Prabhu singing a mellow tune and Alex teaching a couple guys the mantra and a simple dance, but as the devotees become more fired-up and the streets filled with people, many delighted in chanting and dancing with the Krishna House devotees, who also distributed books, cookies, and incense in addition to the holy name. 


The very enthusiastic chanters, musicians, and dancers in our party inspired people to take part. I encountered many students from the local community college, but very few from University of North Florida, where we have programs. People took pictures of the devotees chanting and themselves and their friends with the devotees.

You can see how passersby were attracted by our chanting in this video (https://youtu.be/cu6qF5cO-HA):


First Friday in Tallahassee

Remembering previous good experiences chanting at First Friday, I encouraged my friends from Krishna House to go, and six of them did. Nama Kirtan Prabhu had not served prasadam at First Friday for a few months, but he decided to do so at the First Friday in December. We chanted near the prasadam serve out until there was a slow period, when I suggested we do a walking hariama around the circular Railroad Square. Christiana, who led the singing, offered shakers to people who were attracted, gave them mantra cards, and encouraged them to dance. Audrey and others assisted. It was incredible to see the openness of the people to take part and their joy in doing so. Audrey said it was the best harinama she ever went on, and she was so glad she came. Special thanks to Carlos for playing the harmonium, Bali and Vaishnava for playing the drum, and Ricardo for playing the karatalas.

In this series of video clips, you can get a taste for what it was like (https://youtu.be/mda6aQ84dLs):


St. Augustine Christmas Parade

I remembered the rain, the speed of the procession and the good reception by the public from previous years at the St. Augustine Christmas Parade, but this year the rain and the speed surpassed my memories. I was happy that twelve of us came in the Krishna House van to join with the Alachua devotees, who arranged for our participation in the event. Christiana did such a good job dancing enthusiastically in the front of the procession that Mother Mukhya, Alachua temple president, mentioned her in the Sunday feast program announcements the next day. Audrey also did a good job dancing. I let the two young ladies go in front until I was disturbed by the great gap between our party and the float ahead of us, and then I went to the front of our party, hoping to inspire the devotees to reduce the gap. Although I moved as fast as I could, dancing and proceeding forward at the same time, it was very difficult to bridge the gap. I was amazed that the other devotees did not make much endeavor to reduce the gap very much, even the ladies half my age, for whom walking quickly was not difficult. When we got to the center of town, fortunately for us, the procession slowed down, and everyone was able to catch up. Mother Akuti got some of the onlookers who seemed a little favorable to play the tambourine, and Christiana got a few people to dance. We were definitely the most lively and interactive group in the parade. Our float was a Ratha-yatra cart, but it was pulled by a vehicle instead of by the devotees, which lost some of the charm of the experience. Also the vehicle blocked our vision of the deities, a frustration. Apparently the city officials prefer we use a cart pulled by a vehicle rather than people so as it keep the parade moving at a brisk pace. Ironically, even with the vehicle pulling the cart, we could not keep up. Still it was a great event with many devotees participating, and lots of people were happy to see the devotees in the parade.

Mostly I was dancing, but I took a little video of our participation in the parade (https://youtu.be/39JH6BkBlfM):


Chanting Hare Krishna at Krishna Lunch



Prahladananda Swami is almost always willing to go on at least one harinama wherever he goes. He chanted with us at Krishna Lunch one day during his visit (https://youtu.be/RCoOaQfRg30):


Saci, who has played in the Vrindavan 24-hour Kirtana and who now travels and plays drum for B. B. Govinda Swami, came twice to Krishna Lunch, leading the chanting of Hare Krishna on December 9 and 11 (https://youtu.be/vDnkIyadNms):


Yadubara Prabhu, the photographer and movie maker, whose daughter Hari Priya is a regular singer at Krishna Lunch, led the chanting of Hare Krishna on December 10 (https://youtu.be/s4oPhoxSfT8):


Purusartha Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna several times a month, when he is in the area. He also brings good musicians and good instruments. Here he sings on December 11 (https://youtu.be/q-lRImk3ajM):


Sometimes during the Christmas season, devotees chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to the tune of “Jingle Bells”, a popular Christmas carole, as Dhamesvara Mahaprabhu das Prabhu does here (https://youtu.be/4_sLhsmtCbw):


As the semester came to an end, we stopped serving Krishna Lunch at the campus, but we continued at Krishna House for another few days.


I encouraged the devotees to go out and sing on the campus and remind passersby that we would still be serving Krishna Lunch at our place, and some of them did.


We had a book table with free cookies along with the chanting party.


Some Appreciations of the Devotees at the End of Semester Party

These are not complete but just some that I found striking in some way. I left them in the order I heard them.

Salvador:

To Hanan:

You are always asking people at Krishna Lunch how they are doing today, and how their weekend went. I am impressed with your selflessness.

Srestha:

To Naomi:

I see you really focus on your service, even though it is tiresome.

Kalki Prabhu:

Because I associate with Srila Prabhupada and people who associate with Srila Prabhupada, that is my success.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

To Madhava Prabhu [of New Raman Reti]:

I see you have expertly balanced your life, having a successful career, maintaining your Krishna consciousness at a high level, and having a wife and kids that are nice devotees.

Bali [of LA]:

To Carlos:

Some people, if they instruct you, you turn away from it, but when you speak, I take it seriously.

To Ricardo:

Although I have only known you recently, I already look up to you. You inspire me by your honesty.

Tessa:

To Diane, Mother Caitanya’s mom:

I never have seen anyone hand out plates with such love.

Vaninatha Vasu Prabhu:

I observe Kalakantha Prabhu to be always a gentleman in Krishna consciousness, someone who is gentle, and someone with a vision to share Krishna consciousness. These qualities are the cause of the wonderful things going on here, and I am excited to see the future.

Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu Das Prabhu:

To Anthony:

I appreciate that although you have so much success in business, you have a drive for something deeper in life, and that is very rare.

Abhinav [student in both statistics and pharmaceutics]:

I appreciate that Kalakantha Prabhu, Dhameshvar, and Mother Caitanya have encouraged me in attending the morning program. I feel that has also benefited my studies.

Bhakta Tony:

Krishna House is like kirtana-sagara, an ocean of kirtana.

Entertainment at Krishna House End of Semester Party

Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu:

I’m notorious for my sense of humor at Krishna House. Many people don’t appreciate my jokes, but I enjoy them. At least they’re based on scripture, it could be verse. 

How do I come up with these bad jokes you may wonder. I’m a pundit. 

Impersonalists like my jokes. They merge into the punness. 

Renunciates like my jokes. They consider it a form of punance. 

You know what you call that when people are proud of their caste? Varnity. 

People takes sides on the debate about the origin of the jiva. But personally, I’m marginal. 

One day I was thinking about the origin of the jiva, and I tripped. I couldn’t figure out how I fell down. 

The Christians say that we’re idol worshippers, but we’re actually quite active. 

I realized something special about the words, ‘the Supreme Personality of Godhead’: it’s the clause of all clauses. 

I was trying to figure out when the brahma-muhurta ends. And then it dawned on me. 

Every time I try to sound the conch shell, I blow it.

Yama-Niyama Brahmacari:

You have used you human life for sense gratification not self-realization. You will have fun, fun, until the Yamadutas take you away.

You may sense gratify.
But I don’t know why,
You are going to die.

I am very positive:
I am positive we are going to die.
I am positive this world is a miserable place.

Krishna is always seeing us. We are the ones with the vision problems.

Some lyrics from “Karmi Grains”:

Prabhupada did not want
you to eat in a restaurant.

If you want to go nuts,
there is always Krispy Kreme donuts.

I would not risk it,
not even one biscuit.

Chanting Hare Krishna in Atlanta

I decided travel by bus back to New York City to save money when I found there was a $20 Chinese bus there from Atlanta. I chanted Hare Krishna by myself in Atlanta after arriving by Greyhound bus from Gainesville and before going to Doraville to catch the Chinese bus to New York. I thought I would chant outside the Garnett Transit station, where I would catch the train to Doraville, because there were no transit personnel to be seen, whereas security policed the Greyhound station. I hadn’t chanted five minutes when a transit police car rolled up and two policemen told me I had to relocate. I wandered around to check out the scene and decided to chant at the corner of Peacetree and Trinity for half an hour. There were not many people who came by. In the back of my mind, I  considered that if Krishna really wanted someone to run into me, He could direct them in my direction. The people who did come by pretty much ignored me or else looked but didn’t say anything. Then one lady come up to me and asked how Acaryadeva [Hridayananda Goswami] was doing. I mentioned his recent book on Bhagavad-gita. She also asked about Vaninatha Vasu Prabhu and Mother Duhsala, from the Gainesville / Alachua area. I had just talked to Vaninatha under a week ago. She said she had met the devotees both in Miami and Gainesville. I gave her the Bhakti book and wrote in it the address of the Atlanta temple, telling her about the 12-hour kirtana there on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. I was happy that my chanting in Atlanta made a difference in someone’s life.

For more photos, which I took but did not include, click on this link below:

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.7.44:

“There are different kinds of welfare activities in this material world, but the supreme welfare activity is the spreading of Krishna consciousness. Other welfare activities cannot be effective, for the laws of nature and the results of karma cannot be checked. It is by destiny, or the laws of karma, that one must suffer or enjoy.”

From a lecture in New Vrindaban on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6:

In your country, you have got sufficient material opulence compared to other countries but still there is no satisfaction. So in spite of all good arrangement for material enjoyment, enough food, nice apartments, motor cars, roads, and very good arrangements for freedom in sex, and good arrangements for defense also—everything is complete—but still, people are dissatisfied, confused, and the younger generation, they are turning into hippies or protesting, because they are not happy.

Ayur means span of life, and Veda means knowledge.”

“Formerly every brahmana used to learn these two sciences, Ayur-veda and Jyotir-veda.

I am not this body. This is a vehicle. Just like we ride in a car, or drive a car, but we are not this car. Similarly, this is a yantra, car, mechanical car. Krishna or God has given me this car, I wanted it.”

“Actually the job is to go to such pilgrimages, holy places, to find out experience spiritual advancement. Because many spiritually advanced men, they live there. Therefore one should go such places and find out the experienced transcendentalist, and take lessons from him. That is really going to pilgrimage. Not that simply going and take bath and business finished.”

“What kind of devotional service? Priti-purvakam, with love and affection. One who is engaged in devotional service of the Lord in love and devotion. What is the symptom of love? The symptom, the prime symptom, most important symptom of love is that the devotee wants to see that his Lord’s name, fame, etc., become widespread. He wants to see that ‘My Lord’s name be known everywhere.’ This is love. If I love somebody, I want to see that his glories are spread all over the world. And Krishna also says in the Bhagavad-gita [18.69], na ca tasman manusyesu kascit me priya-krttamah, anyone who preaches His glory, nobody is dearer to Him than that person.”

“If one knows Krishna, he knows everything. He knows politics, he knows economics, he knows science, he knows philosophy, he knows religion, he knows sociology, everything. Tasmin vijñate sarvam etam vijñatam bhavanti, that is the Vedic injunction. If you simply understand God, Krishna, then everything will be revealed to you because Krishna says, buddhim dadami tam. If Krishna gives you intelligence from within, who can excel Him? Nobody can excel Him. But Krishna can give you intelligence provided you become a devotee, or lover of Krishna.” 

“We should accept a leader who is not blind. We therefore accept Krishna, the Supreme Person, who knows everything, past, present, and future. We take His leadership or we take the leadership of His representative. That is our process.”

First of all, dharma is meant for the human society. The animal society has nothing to do with religion. Neither they know what is religion, what is this body, what is soul. It is not their business. Dharma is the business of the human society. Therefore in any human society, there is a kind of dharma, religion. It doesn’t matter whether it is Christian religion, or Hindu religion, or Buddha religion, or Muhammadan religion, some sort of religious propensities are there. Because without this propensity,  dharmareligious, he is not a man, he is animal, because animal has no sense of religion. Dharmena hina pasubhih samana, anyone who has no religion, it doesn't matter what kind of religion he has got, but he must have some religion. Without religion he is animal. 

Traveling all over the world, the only scarcity is sense of God, Krishna consciousness, God consciousness. They have practically rejected God consciousness. So that will not make him happy because he cannot become happy imitating the animals. Now they are imitating animals, becoming naked. That is they, that is their advancement of civilization, to become naked, nudist. 

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:


“The Hare Krishna chanters in the City
are starting to experience cold weather.
Eventually they will have to
go down into the subway.
Either place, topside
or subterranean, their service
is the same – to sing
sacred kirtana. And in
either place there are plenty
of passersby. Their singing is heard
by the passionate urbanites,
and because it is the Hare Krishna mantra
it purifies the hearts of
the hearers. The people
may be thinking of something
else, but when Hare Krishna
penetrates their brains
and minds it works
like a broom
to clean away the dust. Lord Caitanya says
it polishes the mirror of the
mind so one can see the Self in truth.
These transformations take place just by
casual contact with the Names.
The steady appearance of the kirtana party
is changing people’s lives more than
they are aware of, and unconsciously
they are grateful for the gift.”


Some devotees are introverted
and some are extroverted,
but when they go on harinama.
they all perform to
catch the attention
of the forgetful
fallen souls. They
put on an exhibition
in the service of
Lord Caitanya as welfare
work for the nondevotees.
It comes naturally because it is such
a pleasure to chant
and dance for the Lord.”

Prahladananda Swami:

We have two choices (1) to orient our desires to the misconception of identifying ourselves with the mind and body or (2) to orient our desires to serving Krishna through the instructions the disciplic succession.

Our disease is we want to have our cake, but we do not want to offer it too.

Our attempt to become free from miseries without taking shelter of Krishna is not realistic.

Srila Prabhupada said the problem with the devotees in the Krishna consciousness movement is that they do not believe in Krishna. Once in the garden in Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada asked me three times, “Are you convinced about Krishna?” with a few minutes between each query. Each time I said, “Yes.” But by the third time, I wondered how convinced I was about Krishna.

Krishna recommends we give up our anxiety, but we are so attached to our anxiety, we cannot give it up.

In the course of our practice, because our taste (ruci) from Krishna consciousness is higher, we become attached to it (asakti).

Lord Caitanya came with His associates who are either nitya-siddha [eternally perfect] or sadhana-siddha [perfect by practice] devotees.

Q: How to avoid becoming proud?
A: Lord Caitanya advised Vasudeva Datta to keep chanting Hare Krishna to avoid pride. Also we can examine our situation: for many lives we have neither progressed materially or spiritually, and thus we have nothing to be proud of.

Q: It is said a neophyte should not preach as he will be affected by the people he tries to convert. How do we know if we are ready to preach?
A: We have to monitor, both while preaching and at other times, how we are being affected. Are we becoming more materially affected or are we becoming more spiritually attached? We should be introspective.

If we have no attraction for hearing and chanting about Krishna, we must engage those things we are attracted to in Krishna’s service, and then we will become purified and ultimately become attracted to hearing and chanting about Krishna.

Q: If we experience we have gained something in devotional service, how can avoid being proud?
A: We have been misusing Krishna’s property for lives and have been thrown in this material prison. How can be proud of our prison life? Imagine a prisoner putting pictures of his cell on Facebook! It is pride but pride in madness.

We have some love for Krishna, but we still have some love for material existence. So we keep performing devotional service and increase our love Krishna and decrease our love for material existence.

It is described that in Dvapara-yuga, the Lord is worshiped by service (paricarya). Where do we find that word in Bhagavad-gita? In the description of the activities of the sudras. But this not ordinary service, rather it is the service of the Lord.  

Comment by Abhimanyu: Srila Prabhupada indicated the deity worship of Jagannath Puri is similar to the scale of the deity worship of Dvapara worship.

In Satya-yuga people meditated on Lord Vishnu, but it was not that they sat in meditation all day. They performed all their activities seeing Vishnu’s presence in everything.

Passion means you start becoming attached to the material nature. Instead of seeing things as Krishna’s property, you see them as yours. In Treta-yuga people threw their property in the fire as sacrifice.

One time some devotees decided they wanted to centralize ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada was disturbed by this, and he suspended the GBC. I was temple president and received a letter from Srila Prabhupada saying I should not listen to the GBC but should follow him. I already wasn’t listening to the GBC and was following him.

We should follow Krishna’s instructions, but not just follow them. Follow them as a sacrifice to please Lord Vishnu.  

Tolerance is on the platform of liberation.

People think lust, greed, and anger are the causes of pleasure, but actually they are the cause of misery.

Meat eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex have been made glorious, but we could describe them in such a way that no one would be attracted.

If we chant with the attempt to avoid offenses we are separated an inch from life’s miseries.

By performing sacrifice in Treta-yuga one comes to the level of Satya-yuga where he can always meditate on the Lord.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said when our men become sahajiyas they will be worse than the others because they will have the whole philosophy to support their sahajiya activities. The Gaudiya Matha fell apart because they forgot about the sankirtana mission of Lord Caitanya.

Our movement is so exacting it has relevance to our lives.

Sinful desires still arise in our minds because we have not fully taken shelter of the holy name.

When we see good examples, it occurs to us what we can do to make progress, and when we do that, Krishna sees that and reveals more to us.

Q: How could sahajiya manifest in ISKCON?
A: Just look around. You see some devotees engaged in devotional service and other devotees not engaged in devotional service. The tendency to take everything as very easy is the sahajiya tendency.

Radhanath Swami:

If the Vedic brahmanas could not revive an animal by the power of Vedic mantras, they were subject to the reactions for killing the animals.

Bhakti Prabhupada Vrata Damodar Swami:

In the beginning of Chapter 8 of Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna asked Krishna to define some of the terms He used in the last verse of Chapter 7.

In the purport to the last verse of Chapter 7 is a compendium of Bhagavad-gita philosophy, which is justifiable as it is summarizes the chapter.

Everyone is concerned with the art of living, but unfortunately no one is concerned with the art of dying.

The German philosopher Heidegger made the point that if there is no thought of death, one is not living authentically.

The word “understanding” is not used cheaply by Srila Prabhupada.

This most important point often made by Srila Prabhupada is made here: “This human form of life is an opportunity to regain Krishna consciousness, and it should be fully utilized to attain the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord.”

One who is Krishna conscious can remember Krishna because he is enthralled with the amazing knowledge revealed by Him and about Him in Bhagavad-gita.

Even very learned philosophers are baffled about the identity of the self because they do not accept the knowledge descending from the Supreme Lord.

The problem with Cartesian dualism is that Descartes considered the fundamental duality was of body and mind instead of body and soul.

Q: Could you speak of the origin of bhakti?
A: Bhakti is eternal. Its origin is in the spiritual world.

Sadaputa Prabhu made that point that superstition means standing above.

Adi Karta Prabhu:

Although Harvard is the top university, 50% of students have anxiety issues.

This [Hare Krishna] mantra can give us the understanding we are all equal and can give so much spiritual knowledge.

Not much knowledge is given in the Christian and Islamic traditions about God. Is he just sitting on a throne judging people?

Ananta Devi:

I got Bhagavad-gita during summer vacation from school. I read it continuously for a month in my room. I would just come down and watch TV from time to time so my parents did not suspect anything weird was going on with me.

I was not happy living with my parents. They were not happy with me living with them either. I considered that if I moved into the temple, my parents would not like it, but they did not like me living with them anyway, so that did not matter. And I thought that I may like it or not like it, but that Krishna would definitely like it. Thus I thought if I move in the temple, at least one person, namely Krishna, would like it, and thus I decided to move in the temple.

Once I was feeling very hopeless about advancing in Krishna consciousness because of personal deficiencies. In that state of mind, I heard Srila Prabhupada say in a lecture, “There is no such thing as hopelessness as long as one associates with devotees.”

Garuda Prabhu:

Passion for one’s service to Krishna is different from the mode of passion. Working hard for material gain is the mode of passion.

Human beings are never happy just serving themselves. By pleasing others, we feel good.

One cannot work for the benefit of others without having a place of satisfaction within. You cannot nourish another without nourishing yourself first. Bhakti is to first find nourishment for ourselves.

The best way to give someone Krishna consciousness is to give them an experience of your own experience of Krishna consciousness.

In Chapters 7, 9, and 10 of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna connects the beautiful things of this world to Himself.

Harvey Cox is perhaps the most famous modern theologian. He wanted to go to the Ratha-yatra one time. He stayed with me, and we spent the day together. While he was visiting, before going to the Ratha-yatra, he suggested we visit one of his favorite churches. It was one of those black churches, and there was so much energy. We both found ourselves moving with the music and came out of there very much enlivened.

Harvey Cox would have the students in his class go to mangala arati at the temple. The students could not get up that early, so they would stay up that late.

Our presentation of bhakti is more sharing a positive experience. Our preaching is teaching and sharing.

Homiletics is the art of preaching.

Comment by Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu:

In Christianity, you have to be saved, and the only way you can be saved, is to accept Lord Jesus Christ as your only Lord and savior. Whereas in bhakti, you do not have to believe. Whether you believe or not, if you take prasadam you can begin your spiritual journey.

Sharing begins with hearing from another person. By hearing from the people we get the sense of how the Lord is in their hearts, and how He can speak to us through them.

Sages disagree, but the behavior of the devotee is more powerful as a demonstration of religious principles.

In sharing bhakti we can say, “These books, or this teaching, changed my life.” Or even, if it is more honest, “These books, or this teaching, is beginning to change my life.”

A symptom is a sign of a disease [or a diseased condition], but in ISKCON we tend to erroneously use it to mean a sign of anything, for example, “consciousness is the symptom of the soul.”

Q: We learn we should hear from more elevated persons and if we hear materialistic persons we will be become contaminated. How can we listen to the materialistic people we are preaching to?
A: If we feel are being degraded, then we might stop hearing, but when we can hear and share and both be inspired spiritually, it can be very positive.

Q: What about telling the people about accepting the authority of guru, sadhu, sastra?
A: Better tell how you have benefited personally by guru, by sadhu, and by sastra. That will be more convincing.

Srila Prabhupada said that all true religion has bhakti.

For sixteen years I made my students buy Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, read it, and write about. Then I wrote my version of Bhagavad-gita based on my experience of teaching it.

We have to consider with great care how to present Krishna bhakti. The more you personalize your presentation of Krishna bhakti, the more powerful it is.

Sadaputa Prabhu and I spent 7 hours distributing books in Washington, D.C. We each distributed two Bhagavad-gitas. Sadaputa talked to one interested man for an hour, and I talked to a very interested person for two hours. We were both very excited. When the sankirtana leader asked how many books we did and learned we did only four between us, he wasn’t happy. I made the point that these books were going to be read, valued, and contemplated! But he was not impressed. That was the last time we were sent out on books.

First we have to do mad-citta mad-gata-prana [think of Krishna and devote our life to Krishna] then we can bodhayanta parasparam [enlighten each other].

Because I am a professor, I give grades to ISKCON. We get an A for deity worship, and B for prasadam, because it tastes good but it is not always healthy. Education gets a C in terms of gurukula. Bhagavatam class gets D, because the speakers do not always ground the classes in the essential part of the purport. I would give kirtana a D. Why? Srila Prabhupada started kirtana in the West, but we missed our opportunity to share it. Now Krishna Das, who is not a Krishna bhakta, is famous as introducing the genre of kirtana, in the West.

A cultured devotee protects bhakti.

The temporary things matter because they can be engaged in the permanent things that matter.

Bhaj is the root of the word bhakti, which means (1) to divide and (2) to share. Thus the idea is that God is present and absent at the same time.

Bhakta means one who is offering love to God and one who is loved by God.

Women are less intelligent in the ways that men are intelligent, and men are less intelligent in the ways that women are intelligent.

Medha is more practical emotional intelligence, whereas buddhi is more analytical.

Can you connect with Krishna through and with someone? That is the question. Everyone is valuable as a unique infinitesimal portion of Krishna.

Comments by me:

I had some experience of your statement, “The best way to give someone Krishna consciousness to give them an experience of your own experience of Krishna consciousness.” I told a nominal Christian college student I liked the idea that souls are present in animals and plants, in addition to humans, and the idea we had previous lives, which explains why we are differently situated at birth, two ideas I found in the Gita. Considering my explanation, she replied, “OK, I will take one.” I was surprised. Just by sharing what I liked about the philosophy, I sold a book.

The Christians are preaching, “Christ is the only way.” Coming from this background, when we become devotees, sometimes we preach “Srila Prabhupada is the only way” or “Narayana Maharaj is the only way.” Srila Prabhupada did not preach, “Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is the only way.” He explained there are four Vaishnava samprayadas [spiritual lineages] that teach Krishna bhakti, and one must accept a guru from a current representative of one of them.

Prabhupada is seen often as very exclusive, but actually many of his statements are very inclusive.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

The compassion of Prahlada is the ornament on the crown of this pastime. He asked the Lord deliver his father, although his father tried to kill him in many different ways.

When one is self-controlled, he has no enemies, and he can really be compassionate.

Subreligious principles, like giving charity, can still be done with a selfish motive.

Life is said to be an ocean of ills. As a baby, there are so many spills. So many things are coming up. As child in school there are so many drills. In puberty there are so many thrills. In household life there are so many bills. In old age there are so many ills for which you have to take so many pills. At the end, we write our wills.

When there is no consciousness of enjoying this world, there is no sense of proprietorship.

When people are invested in the material world, it is very difficult for them to appreciate Krishna consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada said when some people see devotees, they see death personified. These people are challenged by people who are strongly convinced about something.

To be satisfied chanting Hare Krishna, taking prasadam, and associating with devotees, we are acting on the highest platform of yoga.

Q (by Amy): What if you want to be devotee but you do not want to be polarizing presence?
A: It difficult not to be. People are dissatisfied because they have not gotten the sense gratification they are aspiring for or they have and it has not satisfied them, and then a devotee comes in and says, or shows by his very life, that you do not need sense gratification. That cannot help but polarize people.

Comment by Tess: From my experience at work I see that what you say about a devotee polarizing people is spot on. I felt there was always tension. When I forgot to take off my tilaka one day before work, everyone looked at me strange. They did not say anything, there were just the strange looks. When I started bringing prasadam it really changed things. Even just one bite. One person, who had never spoken to me, after taking one bite of maha-prasadam from Alachua, said, “Tess, did you bring this? It is really good.”

The Srimad-Bhagavatam is critical for understanding Vaishnavism in this age. To meditate on the pastimes of the Lord is easier than other kinds of meditation.

The Bhagavatam says that it itself is an incarnation of the Lord for the age of Kali.

Something that promises ultimate happiness in a place where we do not belong cannot be the ultimate religious principle.

If we do not understand the difference between the soul and the body, our service to the Lord will not be unmotivated or uninterrupted. We will simply worship the Lord for material benefits.

By hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, we attain a taste for Krishna, and then we achieve detachment. This is easier than forcing ourselves to be detached. We simply have to attend Srimad-Bhagavatam class daily.

We tend to focus on the all-pervading aspect of God because of disappointment in relationships in this world.

Without a relationship of service there is no sustainable realization.

Comment by Krishna-kripa das: At first I had difficulty appreciating Srila Prabhupada saying that our disease is that we want to become God. Then I considered that we do want to be able to do anything we want without there being any negative reaction as God can do. We do want to live forever like God. In this way, I could see the truth in what Srila Prabhupada was saying.

Verses 4 through 22 of the Second Chapter of the First Canto summarize bhakti-yoga.

Comment by Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu: I think it is wonderful that Krishna is so kind to us that He comes with us as the Supersoul to guide us. We focus though, on Krishna Himself, because that is where the most happiness is.

At Krishna House, I find if everyone can do the service that they really love to do for Krishna, then they will be very inspired.

From a breakfast conversation:

From the preaching perspective, to keep women from being diksa [initiating] gurus would not be effective. It would only be appreciated by people like Mormons and evangelical Christians, who are not likely to become Hare Krishnas anyway, and it would alienate the liberal people who tend to be more receptive to Krishna consciousness. 

Ramiya Prabhu:

From a conversation:

When I became a Hare Krishna devotee, I thought my friends would be really into it because I was really into it, but they were not interested, so I had to make new friends. But my new friends were better. They were always willing to help me, and they were interested in what I was interested; not that I had to pretend to be interested in what they were interested in.

Satyaraja Prabhu:

From “Does Yoga Equal Asana?” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 50, No. 2:

“In this way a clear picture emerges about the methods and goals of yoga practice: One begins by controlling the body and mind, making it a finely tuned instrument. But this is just a beginning step. After that, one uses this instrument in the Lord’s service. This is the perfection of yoga, technically called bhakti-yoga.  In the end, then, to use a poorly tuned instrument (a body not tuned by hatha-yoga) in Krishna’s service is better than using a perfectly tuned instrument (a yogi’s body) for other things.”

“Comfortable in their conceptions of spirituality, yogis may feel they already have knowledge and don’t need further progress. If they deem themselves happy, they have a hard time believing they could be happier still. But higher realms exist. Ancient yoga texts describe the happiness derived from ordinary yoga practice as being like the water in a calf’s footprint when compared to the ocean of bliss found in the practice of bhakti-yoga.” 

“This chanting [of Hare Krishna] is the essence of bhakti-yoga, which is the essence of yoga in general. Thus chanting is the essence of the essence. This is so because by chanting one learns to give one’s heart to Krishna, the soul of all souls. One learns how to truly unite with the divine. Patañjali [the author of the Yoga-sutras], too, recommends isvara-pranidhana, or giving one’s life to God with a mood of full devotion. Although most yogis today don’t know it, this is what yoga is really all about.”

Sesa Prabhu:

From a Sunday feast lecture on Bhagavad-gita 18.63 in Alachua:

This verse shows how much Krishna respects the will of the individual in choosing how to act in his relationship with the Lord.

Because we are part of God, we have the same characteristics, and thus as the Lord has the quality of independence, so do we, and Krishna respects that independence. Not only does He respect it, but He encourages it. That is a way He shows His love for us.

In Mahabharata, at least three times Krishna did things that were against His interest to facilitate the independence of a living being:
(1) He gave Duryodhana, who He had come to chastise, the choice of Himself or His army in the Battle of Kurukshetra.
(2) He gave Duryodhana the choice of accepting a peace proposal, and thus avoiding the war. Duryodhana misused that attempt by trying to arrest Krishna.
(3) Here, in verse 18.63, after explaining to Arjuna the entire Bhagavad-gita, he gave him the option to fight or not.

Srila Prabhupada explains that unless one has an opportunity to misuse it, there cannot be true independence.

Krishna respects the independence of the living being because if there is no choice there can be no love.

Now that we have the human form of life, we have the option to make the good choice of loving God, by making a commitment to the words of Krishna in Bhagavad-gita now.

We each have a relationship with Krishna which is unique to us. Because He is unlimited, He can maintain relationships with everyone at once.

It is important in our dealings that we also respect the choice of others.

How we present Krishna consciousness largely determines how people accept it.

Srila Prabhupada said in a letter to Karandhar, in December 1972, “Our leaders shall be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary.”

Do something special for the 50th anniversary of ISKCON to spread Krishna consciousness.

The lesson of Mahabharata is that if you choose dharma at every step, you will be successful, even if by material calculation everything is against you.

Q: It is difficult, when given the choice, to make the right choice.
A: Therefore we have to educate people.

Q (by me): In order to have love, there must be free will, but giving people free will means a person can do something which will ruin the lives of many people, and so some people find fault with God for allowing that.
A: God gives those people who hurt others reactions to their activities, and He advises people not to act in that way, and therefore, He cannot be blamed for their misuse of free will.

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.23.16:

Not only are the words of the great sages powerful, but as devotees of the Lord, our words are very powerful. We should be careful to use our words to encourage people in the devotional service of the Lord and not just criticize them.

Srila Prabhupada was very proud of his disciple Giriraja, who rejected his wealthy parents offer of millions dollars, if he would give up chanting Hare Krishna.

Faith in the mantra is like the active ingredient.

The blessings of the guru are necessary so that the Vedic mantras will remain fresh in our mind, and we will not lose a taste for them.

Karna told Parasurama that he was a brahmana so Parasurama would teach him. In the course of being instructed, Karna was bit by a scorpion. When Parasurama saw how he tolerated the pain, he realized Karna was actually a ksatriya.

Those drunken people who are chanting with the harinama party cannot conceive of the benefit they receive by the chanting of the holy name, and even we ourselves cannot conceive that great benefit.

Our job is trying to give, give, give as much as possible this transcendental sound vibration.

Tamohara Prabhu:

From a welcoming ceremony for the Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai:

This age of Kali is described as the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, and that is very fitting. All you have to do is read the newspaper to see that is true.

The Lord had to devise a method whereby such unfortunate people could be delivered. Thus He came as Lord Caitanya and taught the chanting of the holy name.

Lord Caitanya does not kill the demons. He kills the demonic mentality, for His mission is to give love of God.

He has given the easiest process of self-realization and also the highest.

He took the essence of all the Vaishnava philosophies, and taught His philosophy of acintya-bheda-abheda-tattva.

If you are out on the street and you are chanting Hare Krishna, you are helping to save the world.

Lord Caitanya’s instruction is to distribute these fruits of love of God. “Distribute this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. Let people eat these fruits and ultimately become free from old age and death.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 9.39)

In Miami in 1973 we would regularly chant down by the Lincoln Mall. There were a lot of retired Jews from New York there, and the people really liked us. When we had stopped for some time, we got a call from the mayor of Miami asking where we were. He said, “Everyone has been asking about you!”

Gaurangi Devi:

From “The 40-Year History of ISKCON Padayatra” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 41–42:

“In 1953, Srila Prabhupada, the Lord’s own senapati-bhakta  (“commander-in-chief devotee”), used padayatra to spread Krishna consciousness in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. His regular sankirtana party around the city would attract up to fifty followers. And once, with his first disciple, Acharya Prabhakar, he went on padayatra to Chirgaon, a small town about 30 km north of Jhansi.”

Madhava Prabhu [from New Raman Reti]:

By accepting Krishna consciousness we are declaring war on the material energy. In other words, we are making a statement that we do not agree with anything that is going on here. Naturally there will be some protest to that, and if we are not strongly situated, we might be disturbed in our determination.

It took a long time in the dull body of an elephant for Gajendra to get the realization that he should surrender completely to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

As we go through many differing circumstances in this life, our devotional service to Lord Krishna continues, and thus it makes sense that after this life, our devotional service to Krishna will continue.

Sukadeva Goswami is inspiring Pariksit Maharaja through the Gajendra pastime to surrender completely to the Lord as his life is rapidly coming to the end.

Even if we do not know we want it, we want the joy of connecting to Krishna, for that is the ultimate joy for the soul.

Attaining spiritual perfection may take more than one life, but a devotee, because he is convinced of Krishna’s promise of protection, is not disturbed.

The recommendation is that we try to attain perfection in this life although we will have another chance. This is discussed in this morning walk conversation from June 3, 1976 with Srila Prabhupada:

Mahendra
:
 Sometimes, although a devotee understands that he must take birth again if he does not, if he is not strict, he thinks, “Oh, it is so difficult to be strict. Maybe I'll just take it easy and remain engaged in devotional service, then I'll take another birth as a devotee and maybe next time I’ll finish up my business.”
Prabhupada: Yes. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. He gets good opportunity of material enjoyment, and then take birth in good family, aristocratic or brahmana. Then where he ended in last life, he begins again. There is a verse: paurva-dehikamPaurva-dehikam means previous birth.
Mahendra: It seems, though, that in that respect, he’s gambling.
Prabhupada: Gambling?
Mahendra: Yes, he’s gambling, that he’s thinking that “Oh, next life I will come back in a better condition,” but his next might be different.
Prabhupada: Why should he desire like that? That means he has not understood what is meant by Krishna consciousness.
Tamala Krishna: Yes. One who understands wants to get out in this lifetime.
Prabhupada: Hm?
Tamala Krishna: One who understands Krishna consciousness should want to finish the business of material life.
Prabhupada: Yes, therefore he’s required to read Bhagavad-gita thoroughly. It is said clearly, “This is a place of misery.” Why do you desire to keep yourself in this.... That means you do not understand what is spiritual life.
Hari-śauri: Still thinking he’s this body.
Prabhupada: Thinking. Thinking, he’s under the influence of mayamaya is dictating, “Why you are trying to go away? Come on, here, Santa Monica.” (laughter) And when you become detestful either this Santa Monica or any Monica, “I am not interested,” then your spiritual life is . . .

Mother Caitanya:

I would like to thank Srila Prabhupada, who came to Gainesville, and who told us to chant Hare Krishna and distribute prasadam here. Because Kalakantha Prabhu has taken this seriously we have so much success here.

Tulasirani Devi:

Krishna, although He knows everything, was curious how Radharani was enjoying serving Him more than He was enjoying accepting Her service, thus He descended as Lord Caitanya in the mood of Srimati Radharani.

Lord Caitanya was here just 500 years ago, which may seem like a long time if we are considering our own life, but a very short time in the history of the earth.

In the beginning of His pastimes, even the devotees of the Lord did not recognize Lord Caitanya’s identity as God Himself, but they were still inconceivably attracted to Him and did not know why.

I heard in a class that we are not trying to be great devotees but to be more humble than a blade of grass so we can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.

If our desire to be a pure devotee is to be greater than others then that is not good. If you want to be a pure devotee to serve Krishna without ulterior motives that is ideal.

Comment by Michael: The false ego is the conception that we are other than the authenic self.

Because Isvari Puri took care of his guru at the end of his life and pleased him by reciting the glories of the Lord, he was blessed with pure devotion to Krishna.

When Isvara Puri came to Navadvipa, he was eager to hear about Krishna, and sought out the devotees, and entered their assembly to hear about Krishna. Advaita Acarya Prabhu could understand that he was a very special devotee. The devotees started a kirtana, and Isvara Puri could not repress the signs of love of Godhead, thus everyone could understand he was a highly advanced devotee.

Lord Caitanya wanted to show the transition someone goes thorough on the way to becoming a devotee, thus in his early pastimes, he acted as a proud scholar.

Mukunda was so tired of debating with Lord Caitanya in His mood of a scholar that once when he saw Lord Caitanya, he walked in the opposite direction. Lord Caitanya called after him, “I will become such a great devotee, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva will worship me as a great devotee, and then you will never be able to give up my association.”

Abhimanyu Prabhu:

What is the meaning of life to you?

Comment by Mount: To express the most truth you can.
Comment by John: Find your own truth and your own happiness.

A reporter asked Srila Prabhupada what is the meaning of life, why are we even here? I was struck by Srila Prabhupada’s reply. Srila Prabhupada said the meaning of life is to enjoy. Then he explained life is not meant to enjoy on the material platform, but to enjoy on the spiritual platform.

Looking for happiness is what is underlying our activities.

Srila Prabhupada explains that we have to search for our satifaction of heart beyond dull matter. Why is that? Because we are not dull matter.

I studied psychology in college and studies show that once people have the basic necessities of life, additional wealth does not make for additional happiness.

Every body dies but nobody dies. By this I mean the body dies, but the soul, the person within the body, does not die.

We are hankering for relationships with other people, and if not people, animals, or even plants. It is an integral part of the nature of the soul to seek relationships with other souls. Matter alone cannot satisfy us.

Krishna can give himself fully to each one of us. I can give myself partly at Krishna Lunch and partly to my mother, but I cannot give myself completely to Krishna Lunch and completely to my mother, but Krishna can give Himself completely to everyone.

The fact that we are always striving to live forever indicates we are eternal.

Srila Prabhupada said we can please him by our anxiety to take on responsibility in his mission.

Gauranga Prasada Prabhu:

Even learning to write is a celebration in Vedic culture, and even more so for Lord Caitanya.

Nimai could write the letters of Bengali, seeing them just once.

Lord Caitanya, at the time of beginning his education, manifested his form as Vamana to confidential associates.

Gangadasa Pandit was the teacher Nimai wanted to study under. He was an incarnation of Sandipani Muni.

Lord Caitanya was thinking of eclipsing the vanity of Kesava Kashmiri but not destroying him. Thus he met him in private by the Ganges shore.

After defeating Kesava Kashmiri Lord Caitanya made the point that knowledge is not everything. Devotion to the Lord must be there.

The goddess Sri Ekadasi, asked the Lord, “Please bless those who even fast half a day on Ekadasi with a religious attitude, wealth, and ultimately liberation.”

To Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu:

I think the best times we have had together are singing and dancing in streets.

Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu:

We have never seen atoms, but we have faith in the scientists so we believe in their idea that everything is made of atoms. In the same way, one could have faith in the Bhagavad-gita, and accept the existence of the soul although we cannot see it.

It is actually the soul we love in each other, and it is the soul that makes us happy. When someone dies, even though their body is right in front of us, we lament because their soul has gone.

If there is only oneness, then there is no love, for love requires two. Therefore we put so much energy into defeating the Mayavadi philosophy, because it eliminates the love that we are all looking for.

From a breakfast conversation:

In ISKCON, women are not their bodies, until they want to become gurus.

Garuda Prabhu makes an interesting point. You can say a man is more intelligent because he is a man, and a woman is less intelligent because she is a woman. But we are not our bodies. Does this mean we have no intelligence? [Obviously we all, male or female, have the spiritual intelligence of the soul.]

Hanan:

When our heart is clear, we can see ourselves and we can see Krishna.

In Citrakuta, I was enjoying the beautiful scenery in India as I was chanting Hare Krishna. Then a big monkey came up, the kind that are surrounded by twenty female monkeys. I showed him a stick, and said, “Hut!” He was not impressed, and he came closer. I again showed him the stick, and said, “Hut!” This time he came closer and he showed me his teeth. When a monkey shows you his teeth, it means he wants to fight. I calculated that if I ran then he would catch me and bite me, and I would have to have 20 kinds of shots. And if I fought, it would be worse. So I closed my eyes and chanted, this time with attention, and when I opened my eyes I saw the monkey had run away.

Ricardo:

From a comment in class:

I was thinking that I could deal with maya and not be overwhelmed or carried away, but I was wrong. I got in a relationship with a girl, and after quite some time, she broke up with me, and it was very painful for me and I was all alone. In my depression I ended up taking over 100 pills of a sedative. The doctors said my heart stopped for 3 minutes, and they were all amazed I came back to consciousness and there was no brain damage. When I recovered, I took shelter of Krishna, and I called my devotee friends, who I had not seen in a year and a half, and I got back into practicing Krishna consciousness. I was very humbled by the experience.

-----

patrapatra-vicara nahi, nahi sthanasthana 
yei yanha paya, tanha kare prema-dana


“In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Pañca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 7.23)