Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Travel Journal#12.5: Mumbai, Mayapur, Rishikesh

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 5
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2016, part one)
Mumbai, Mayapur, Rishikesh
(Sent from Vrindavan on March 22, 2016)

Where I Went and What I Did

I flew into Mumbai, where I stayed a couple days to arrange my travel, then I took the train to Howrah, and onward to Nabadwip Dham for the Mayapur Kirtan Mela. At Mayapur I went on a tour of the Vedic Temple of the Planetarium the first day, and the remaining days I spent some hours in the Mayapur Kirtan Mela each day and in the late afternoon, I went on harinama with the Harinam Ruci worldwide traveling party for three hours, who I chanted with in Europe in the summer and the United States in the fall. One day while in Mayapur I attended the beginning of a vanaprastha initiation and the end of the marriage ceremony. The day after Kirtan Mela, I traveled with two friends to join Navina Nirada Prabhu and his party of harinama and book distributing devotees in Rishikesh to share Krishna music, food, and literature with the many people, both Western and Indian, who visit for study and pilgrimage.

I share notes on a lecture by Srila Prabhupada and excerpts from the books and journal of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. I share notes on the many classes given by swamis in Mayapur, including Bhakti Charu Swami, who spoke on Tamal Krishna Goswami’s disappearance day, Jayadvaita Swami, who spoke at a vanaprastha initiation, and Lokanath Swami, Niranjana Swami, and Sivaram Swami, who glorified the holy name. I have notes on talks on book distribution by Bhakti Purusottama Swami and Vijaya Prabhu. I share inspirational words about the holy name from Agnidev and Rajendranandana Prabhus. I share notes on the classes we had in Rishikesh by Dharmatma and Mahabhavi Prabhus. I share notes from conversations with Amita Krishna and Hanuman Prabhus, and a quote from Maitreya Prabhu’s autobiography.

I would like to thank Tara Prabhu, who gave me a sizeable donation toward the purchase of his favorite book for distribution, Science of Self-Realization, so I can provide them to interested people I meet on harinama. Thanks to Navina Nirada Prabhu, who kindly paid for my train from Howrah to Haridvar and on to Mathura, so I could attend his wonderful program of distributing Krishna music, food, and literature in Rishikesh. Thanks to my friend, Pancatattva Prabhu, I knew from Alachua, for his contribution to my expenses. Thanks to the nice Indian devotee from Abu Dhabi, who paid for my trip from Howrah to Mayapur and who gave me a donation in addition. Thanks to Jaya Gaurasundar Prabhu and Kaumodaki Devi Dasi for the photos of their vanaprastha ceremony.


March 21–April 9: Vrindavan 24-Hour Kirtan
April 10–13: Mumbai
April 14–20: Ireland
April 21–24: Newcastle, England
April 26: Radhadesh (Kadamba Kanana Swami’s Vyasa Puja)
April 27: King’s Day in Amsterdam
April 28–29: Rotterdam
April 30–May 1: Birmingham 24-hour kirtana
May 2–July 9: The North of England and Scotland
July 10: Prague Ratha-yatra
July 12–16: Polish Woodstock
July 30: Berlin Ratha-yatra
August 5–11: Baltic Summer Festival
August 18–21: Trutnoff (Czech Woodstock)
September 13–: New York City Harinam

Impressions of Mumbai

I found out from the locals you can get to ISKCON Juhu from the international airport by taking a bus for 14 rupees to Vile Parle East Station and walking across the bridge at the station and taking an auto rickshaw for 40 rupees. I later learned from a Juhu devotee who works at the airport you can get to ISKCON Juhu by auto rickshaw from the international airport for 80 or 90 rupees.

The Western Union, not a long walk to the left, on the left side, as you leave ISKCON Juhu Main Gate, gives a good rate for changing money and does not charge commission. If you save enough rupees from your previous trip to reach the temple, you can avoid the exorbitant exchange prices at the airport.

I realized I never really appreciated the beauty of Sri Sri Radha-Rasavihari before. It was so wonderful to meditate Them as I chanted in the Hare Krishna kirtana.

Once a week, the devotees play a tape of Srila Prabhupada giving Srimad-Bhagavatam class, upstairs in Srila Prabhupada’s quarters. They give out the transcript for those who have difficulty with his accent. I found it pleasing to connect with Srila Prabhupada there in his quarters in that way.

Chanting on the Train from Mumbai to Howrah

Although I could not find a group of devotees to travel with from Mumbai to Howrah en route to the Mayapur Kirtan Mela, on the train I found devotees in my carriage, S2, and also in S10, S12, and S13. A group of devotees in S12 were very hospitable, and gave me prasadam, a seat, and let me charge up my computer (as in S2, we had only 2 outlets for 72 people). We chanted kirtana the second evening for about an hour, with several devotees taking turns. One devotee in this party showed me pictures of me chanting on the same train with his friends last time I came to Kirtan Mela two years ago. What a surprise! On my own, I chanted on the platform at two of the stations where we had a longer stop. I would walk along the length of the train, always careful to notice if it had started moving, so I could hop back on. I chanted on the platforms at Nagpur and Raipur, as those stops were longer than most.

A very nice Indian man from Abu Dhabi paid for my travel from Howrah to Mayapur, and I gave him some clues how to go so we got there before the other devotees. We took the Bardhaman train to Bandel and then the Katwa Local to Nabadwip Dham. We sang in the rickshaw to and from the boat ghats and on the boat as well.

Temple of the Vedic Planetarium Tour

Prishni Devi Dasi arranged for Antardvip Prabhu, who is in charge of the cosmology exhibits for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, to give a few of us a tour of the temple in its partially constructed state. 

It will have a dome with a volume greater than any other dome in the world. 

The view is wonderful of the Prabhupada Samadhi and the Ganges River in the distance. 

Apparently they have to collect 1.5 million dollars a month to finish it at the desired time. All the different levels of planetary systems, spiritual and material, will be depicted.

Vanaprastha Ceremony and Wedding in Mayapur

My friend, Radhika Nagara Prabhu, who assisted me greatly when I visited his native Spain and who I see in Manchester, England, each year invited me to his marriage with Vrajananda Devi Dasi, a disciple of Niranjana Swami and flute player in kirtanas at the Baltic Summer Festival. I was hoping that Niranjana Swami, who initially invited me to live in the 55th Street temple in New York City back in 1979, would give a lecture, but as a sannyasi, he declined the chance, letting others speak instead. I decided I would come at the end for the kirtana and the prasadam, especially because it was at the Jagannath Mandir in Rajapur, and I wanted to see Lord Jagannath.

That morning my friends told me that Jayadvaita Swami would speak at 10:30 a.m. at the old gurukula on the topic of the vanaprastha ashram, and I decided to go hear him first and catch the end of the marriage. 

Turns out I knew the couple celebrating their vanaprastha, two disciples of my Guru Maharaja, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, named Jaya Gaurasundar and Kaumodaki Devi Dasi from Baltimore, so it was especially nice I was able to attend. My notes on his very nice lecture are included in the “Insights” section before. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami wrote a nice letter appreciating these two disciples which Jayadvaita Swami read: 
I want to congratulate you all and praise you for taking part in the first ISKCON vanaprastha ceremony. It is very auspicious, and the participants are all well-qualified. Jayadvaita Maharaja is very committed to giving vanaprastha initiations and has deep realizations on the subject in accordance with Prabhupada’s teachings and the revealed scriptures. Jaya Gaurasundara and his wife have always been ideal devotees and preachers. They have welcomed me at their house on many occasions, and we have a long history of good association. I praise them, and I am proud of them. As they have been ideal grhasthas, I am certain they will be ideal vanaprasthas. I wish them all success in their new lifestyle of detachment, simplicity and increased Krishna consciousness. You are all setting an ideal example for the entire ISKCON. I would like to have been present for the ceremony, but I am not able. I am with you in loving spirit. I offer you my humble obeisances. 
As it turned out, the lecture of Jayadvaita Swami lecture did not happen until 12:20 p.m., and I missed Jagannath’s darsana, but fortunately not the wedding prasadam, which was very nice, and the opportunity to sit with my friend from the UK, Gaura Krishna Prabhu, who was leaving the next day. I also gave the couple a small gift and wished them well. Jayadvaita Swami considered it Krishna’s mercy that I missed all of the wedding but the prasadam.  

Chanting with Harinam Ruci in Mayapur

Last year I chanted with the Harinam Ruci traveling chanting party in Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Germany, London, Prague, New York and Boston, and it was great to be singing with them again in Mayapur. It was nice to see Syama-rasa and Nrsimha Caitanya Prabhus again, as they did not make to New York City in the fall. Gopinatha Prabhu, from Finland but based in Mayapur, joined us and played the bass, which added another dimension. Sometimes, as on the last day I was there, they would join with the daily Mayapur harinama group along with their deities and sound system, and it was very powerful. So many people, old and new, were happy to sing and dance with the Harinam Ruci party. Here is some video I took on March 6 (https://youtu.be/FigstpI58_Y):

On March 9, Nrsimha Caitanya Prabhu, who assists his father, Muni Priya Prabhu, in managing the Czech Padayatra, led the Harinam Ruci worldwide harinama party chanting around the ISKCON property in Mayapur with unbounded enthusiasm and many people reciprocated by lively chanting and dancing (https://youtu.be/nt6Y2IgQ6C4):

On March 10, Syama-rasa Prabhu of Croatia led the Harinam Ruci party around the ISKCON Mayapur compound, and as you can see in this video, lots of people got into the chanting and dancing (https://youtu.be/vAtyyjIsJ0M):

Chanting in Rishikesh with Navina Nirada Prabhu’s Party

Navina Nirada Prabhu (dancing in the above picture), a famous Hare Krishna book distributor, has been coming to Rishikesh for seven years. Janardana Prabhu (distributing a book), based in Denmark, has joined him for several of those years. They and a group of about fifteen devotees chant Hare Krishna in the streets, distribute books, and distribute prasadam for one or two weeks in Rishikesh each March. There we would do harinama and book distribution from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Sometimes we would distribute a bucket of halava during the morning session.

Both devotees who happened to be visiting Rishikesh at the same time and new people just attracted would join our party.

The lady with the child on her lap is a Ukrainian devotee, who joined us a couple of times. The lady next to her is a devotee from Germany, who joined us almost every day, sometimes twice. The guy playing the shakers gave Navina Nirada nice donation and accepted several books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Mahabhavi Prabhu from Norway is leading the chanting and playing the drum. Pavitra Nityanand Prabhu plays the karatalas. I dance and give out mantra cards to interested people, briefly talking to them about their previous contact with Hare Krishna and telling them of Hare Krishna temples, restaurants, and festivals in their countries.

During the first session of the first day, a book distributor took a break for 3 minutes, handing me his books, and I distributed one to a young lady from Manitoba, Canada, who was studying to be a yoga teacher.

During the second session of the first day, so many people participated. One young lady, who met the devotees in Ukraine, played the karatalas and chanted Hare Krishna intently with great joy. A Russian lady with neck beads chanted, smiled, and danced with us for a while. Three students at a college two hours away, who knew the devotees from Chowpatty, sang and danced for what seemed like an hour. They also induced others to dance, and they successfully dealt with vendors who complained about us being there. Many others chanted, danced, and took pictures of us. Janardana Prabhu met one young lady from Denmark, who remembered he had spoken to her before, while distributing books in Copenhagen, his place of residence. On the whole, it was a very enlivening day. The other days were similar.

Here is some video from the event (https://youtu.be/EeuUvttRb1I):

To see photos I did not include in this blog, click on the link below:


Srila Prabhupada:

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.40 in San Francisco on July 21, 1975:

We can gain some material knowledge through our material senses, but spiritual knowledge cannot be acquired through our material senses. Therefore, we must hear from spiritual authority to acquire spiritual knowledge.

No one says, “I want to see knowledge.” No, we want to hear knowledge.

When we are asleep, our other senses are also asleep, but our ears are still alert and can protect us.

Dharma is what is enunciated in the Vedas.

Dharma means constitutional position. We are eternal servants of God.

Our nature is to serve, but because we are serving wrongly, because our service is misplaced, we are not satisfied.

Our only duty is to serve Krishna, and because we are not doing that, we are not happy.

There is no difference between the Vedas and Narayana, or God. There is no difference between God and His instructions.

Now people say, “I can manufacture my religion, and you can manufacture your religion” but that is not real religion.  

If you do not accept Krishna is God, that is your mistake. The authorities say that Krishna is God. If you do not accept Krishna as God, you have to present an alternative. If you have no alternative, why do you not accept Krishna?

The guru distributes knowledge coming from the Lord just as a cloud distributes water coming from the ocean.

Those who are religious, regardless of their religion, know that God created.

Just like one artist. If he wants to paint one picture, one flower, he has to give his attention is so many ways. He has to move the brush in such a way and take this color, different colors. It requires so many artistic sense and so much good sense, so many things. It does not come. One who is not artist, not painter, he cannot paint. So do you think this flower which is coming out daily in your garden in different colors and different smell and flavor, they are being done without any artistic sense? This is nonsense. There is sense. There is Gods potency. But parasya saktih, His senses, His knowledge, is so perfect that it is coming automatically, and we foolish people, we think that nature is producing.

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From Poor Man Reads the Bhagavatam, Text 1.5.4, Comment:

“An example of a true scholar of scripture is the South Indian brahmana whom Lord Caitanya embraced. Although the brahmana was illiterate, he had a deep love for Krishna as Partha-sarathi [the chariot driver of Arjuna]. In his appreciation, he became overwhelmed with ecstasy. Lord Caitanya told him that his reading of the Gita was perfect. We are not looking for information or any other kind of learning when we approach scripture, but to understand Krishna as He is and to experience love for Him. To study with any other motive leads ultimately to dissatisfaction.”

From “Poem for February 27” in Viraha Bhavan:

“Thoughts about practical service should not
intrude when you
are chanting japa. That’s
the peak performance
of the day. So it should not be
a discussion of “Things to Do.”
That’s why it’s important
to rise early in the morning after sufficient rest
before the day increases in the modes of passion.”

Normally they [the chanters in the city] sing six hours
a day, which is a strenuous
yajna. But they enjoy
every minute of it,
glorifying the Lord.
The people who pass
by are interested in the phenomenon, and
the regulars have memorized the mantra. What they
don’t know is that they are having
their sinful reactions removed and
seeds of love of Godhead
planted in their hearts
by hearing. It is a secret
revolution going on in
the City. The chanters
are the instruments, and Krishna is in control.

From “Poem for March 3” in Viraha Bhavan:

“The harinama chanters in the City have a great
responsibility. They
are carrying out the
legacy of Lord Caitanya to
deliver congregational chanting
in the Age of Kali.
If they did not
report for duty
the City would be
void of auspiciousness.
If they did not come
out and hold kirtana,
the rogues and thieves
would take over the
square. By singing
in their sacred spot,
they are staving
off maya’s influence.
They owe it to the Lord and the people
to keep themselves fit
and keep going out on sankirtana.

From “Poem for March 6” in Viraha Bhavan:

“They are blissful with Krishna Nama.
Today I read the verse
spoken by the Supreme Lord
to Narada where He says,
‘I am not in My abode
in Vaikuntha, or in the
heart of the mystic yogis.
I am wherever My
pure devotees chant
My names and discuss
My pastimes.’ This is
very encouraging for the
Hare Krishna chanters in the City.
The Lord says He is with His
‘pure devotees,’ and the
kirtaneers are certainly
pure devotees. Their lives
are completely dedicated
to chanting the holy names.
They are compassionate, because
they chant publicly for
the benefit of the conditioned souls.
They can be aware and assured
that Krishna is personally present with them
as they perform kirtana of the Hare Krishna mantra.
The Lord says He is there wherever
devotees gather to chant, so it
is not restricted to the temple.
He is there with them in the city streets all day long.”

From Japa Walks, Japa Talks:

“I can’t think of anything more pleasant and spiritual to do than to take a walk just before dawn and to chant the holy names. I may fail to enter the potential of that rendezvous with the holy names, but I can’t fail to understand the holy name’s mercy. Just because I have a lot of work to do, I’m not going to forget my japa before the altar and – if I’m lucky enough to be in the right time and place – my morning japa walk. We who are workaholics, and who mostly associate with others who are similarly immersed in a vocation, might try to get association with devotees who have made chanting the purpose of their lives. Take a walk with one of them, or sit beside them in the temple room while you chant. Don’t neglect it. That’s my humble advice on a drizzly morning, advice I give to myself and to others.”

From “Poem for March 12” in Viraha Bhavan:

“The City workers pass
by, and the tourists keep coming,
hearing the harinama chanting.
But they should be aware
that time is precious. The
passing away of the great
sankirtana devotee, Jada Bharata,
reminds us that we all must
die one day. So seize the
opportunity while health
is with you, to serve
in the kirtana party
and go out every day to
distribute harinama
to the conditioned souls.
Don’t waste a minute. Time is
passing, and you can’t get a minute
back if you paid a million dollars.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy.”

Bhakti Charu Swami:

A few days before he left his body Tamal Krishna Goswami told me, while I was chanting japa: “Please take of these boys from Calcutta. They are your children.” He was referring to a few bright boys from Calcutta who took initiation from him.

Tamal Krishna Goswami told Visvambhara Prabhu, “I am leaving tomorrow.” Visvambhara replied, “Yes, you are leaving tomorrow morning.” Tamal Krishna Goswami said, “No, I am leaving.” Only later did he understand the significance of it.

The postmortem said Tamal Krishna Goswami left his body before the accident.

Tamal Krishna Goswami was dear to Prabhupada, and Prabhupada was dear to him.

Srila Prabhupada had incredible confidence in him. Prabhupada made him president of the new Los Angeles temple. He helped out in Paris. He started the Radha-Damodara party which ultimately expanded to five buses and spread Krishna consciousness all over America. When Prabhupada started focusing on preaching in India, Prabhupada made him a leader there. He helped Prabhupada by getting the land for Mayapur.

I got Prabhupada’s association doing Bengali translations and answering Bengali letters. Thus I saw Srila Prabhupada’s interactions with Tamal Krishna Goswami. The topic was the court case in New York regarding brainwashing. Srila Prabhupada was practically shouting, “Brain washing? They have no brains. I am giving them brains.” Adi Kesava Maharaja was leading the charge, and Tamal Krishna Goswami was overseeing the battle.

Srila Prabhupada asked me if I could write Hindi. I said yes, but my Hindi handwriting is not very nice. He said not to worry, “No one’s Hindi handwriting is nice.”

Prabhupada shifted the secretary to the room next to the room next his as the manual typewriters made such a racket. Tamal Krishna Goswami invited me to share the room with him. He was extremely regulated, rising at 3:00 a.m., and he would play Srila Prabhupada’s tapes as he used the bathroom. He made it a point to chant his rounds before the day began, and that is one thing I learned from him. When we traveled with Srila Prabhupada, we would continue to share a room.

Srila Prabhupada went to Rishikesh. He was excited to go as he had never been before and looked forward to drinking Ganges water.

Tamal Krishna Goswami gave up all his responsibilities at the end of Srila Prabhupada’s life just to care of Srila Prabhupada, because he felt that was his responsibility.

In Rishikesh, Palika was sick, and the lady who replaced her did not cook so nicely. I volunteered to cook. One day I cooked nicely, but the next day, it was not so nice. Srila Prabhupada exclaimed, “You have no standard.” The next day I cooked, but I was more careful. Srila Prabhupada liked it. I told him, “I was in anxiety the whole time I was cooking.” Srila Prabhupada said, “That is good. You should be in anxiety when you are serving the spiritual master.”

At 3:00 p.m. Srila Prabhupada would dictate the main points in letters to Tamal Krishna Goswami and he would write them.

Tamal Krishna Goswami told me, “You are so fortunate to have taken birth in India.”
I told him, “I may have taken birth in India, but I was brought up with the understanding that the West is best.”
Later I made the point that he and the other Western devotees assisting Srila Prabhupada were not ordinary souls but special people sent to help his mission.

At the time, one of us would be awake at night, in case Srila Prabhupada needed something. My shift was from midnight to 2:00 a.m., and at 1:00 a.m. Srila Prabhupada rang his bell, and said, “Make arrangements for me to go to Vrindavan immediately. It is time for me to leave my body.”

Very intimately Tamal Krishna Goswami and Srila Prabhupada would discuss. Tamal Krishna Goswami always had such penetrating questions. Prabhupada began making his wills, and he would consult Tamal Krishna Goswami about who should be there.

Tamal Krishna Goswami’s sudden departure was a great loss to our society. He was not so active in the society’s leadership at that point, as he was focusing on his academic studies, but he was just about to return when he left.

I feel he is still serving Srila Prabhupada somewhere where Srila Prabhupada needs him.

Jayadvaita Swami:

The stations of varnasrama are external and have nothing to do with our eternal identities. Thus Lord Caitanya said, “I am not a brahmana, I am not a ksatriya, I am not a vaisya or a sudra. Nor am I a brahmacari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna . . . ” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 13.80) Our goal is to be reinstated in our eternal service.

Varnasrama may be used to facilitate our attaining that eternal service.

Krishna consciousness is always the primary thing, and varnasrama is very much secondary.

For entering brahmacarya or vanaprastha no formalities are required.

Srila Prabhupada writes on a book flap he accepted vanaprastha in such and such a year, but as far as I know there was no ceremony.

Changing ashram is mainly a chance of consciousness.

The Bhagavatam details the entanglement of family life: “The attraction between male and female is the basic principle of material existence. On the basis of this misconception, which ties together the hearts of the male and female, one becomes attracted to his body, home, property, children, relatives and wealth. In this way one increases life’s illusions and thinks in terms of ‘I and mine.’” (Bhag. 5.5.8) Of course, the devotee can advance in that position as Lord Brahma advises: “Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words and mind offer all respects to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.” (Bhag. 10.14.3)

Grhastha life means building up, and vanaprastha life means winding down. It means winding down the business of family life, because I am not this body, and in any case, this body will be finished. Before this body is finished, we want to be detached from things in relationship to the body.

Srila Prabhupada described vanaprastha life as midway between grhastha life and sannyasa life. It provides the space for gradually detaching people from family affairs.

This change of consciousness is the significant point in the vanaprastha ashram – thinking in terms of winding down one’s family life.

Vanaprastha is the invisible ashram, a rare species, hardly identified.

Grhastha life is not eternal but for some years only. It is not recommended one stay in household life forever. It is enjoyable for a few years only, and sometimes just a few days.

We are having this ceremony to a make an impression in the minds of the candidates that this is the time for winding down family affairs and to remind the society of grhasthas that grhastha life is not eternal.

Because people have no direction, we see people having children when they are forty-five or getting married in their fifties.

Jaya Gourasundara said he entered grhamedi life at 23 and grhashta life at 42.

His guru, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, advised him be an ideal grhastha, and he was.

He and his wife have been vanaprasthas for years. This is just recognition of that.

Lokanath Swami:

namo maha-vadanyaya
   krishna-prema-pradaya te
krishnaya krishna-caitanya-
   namne gaura-tvise namah

This verse glorifying Lord Caitanya by Rupa Goswami mentions His name, form, quality, and pastimes. He is named Krishna Caitanya. His form is golden in complexion. His quality is His magnanimity, and He is giving Krishna-prema, love for Krishna.

The demoniac were conquered by the arrows of his beauty and the power of His holy name. Other weapons include His prasadam, ISKCON bullets.

Srila Prabhupada made his destination New York City, the capital of the age of Kali.

Niranjana Swami:

From a conversation after class in Mayapur:

Once a young man, who was just married, asked for me to bless him that he have a happy marriage. I replied, “I am a sannyasi. I cannot understand what a happy marriage could possibly be. I could bless you that you could have a successful marriage.”

From a vanaprastha seminar:

The important contribution of the vanaprasthas is they can give invaluable instructions on grhastha life based on their personal experience, which the sannyasis and brahmacaris do not have.

Two quotes from Caitanya Siksamrita on service to elders:

“There are three types of service to elders: protection of parents, protection of teachers, and protection of other elders. One must follow the instructions of parents and serve them as much as is possible. A person should serve those who have protected him as a helpless child; he should also service those who have given knowledge, especially those who have given spiritual knowledge and mantra. Those are considered superior who are bigger in body, greater in age or more experienced in knowledge. One must respect and serve them all. One cannot follow incorrect orders of a superior but one should not show hostility towards him, using disrespectful or harsh words. One should put a stop to their improper behavior or instructions by using sweet words, humility, and gentle reasoning at the proper time.”

“Disrespect to elders has three objects: parents, teachers, and other superiors. Even if the superior makes a mistake, he should not be disrespected. A person should be careful to please superiors with polite and gracious conduct. To disobey the orders of superiors is also disrespect.”

From a class on janmaisvarya sruta sribhir:

Those who are materially satisfied or who are aspiring for material improvement cannot call out the holy name of the Lord feelingly.

Lord Shiva explained to Sati that those who are proud of material acquisitions lose all good sense and cannot appreciate spiritually advanced people.

This does not mean that merely not having material acquisitions necessary means that one is spiritually advanced. The qualification is to be satisfied with only devotional service.

Those proud people cannot recognize those who are chanting with pure feeling.

The Six Goswamis did not feel they had found Krishna, but they were always looking for Him.

Lord Caitanya felt he had no love for Krishna. If He had love, how could He live in this world in Krishna’s absence.

Haridas Thakura explained to the assembly of brahmanas that the true glory of holy name is by chanting the holy name one gets love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Liberation and freedom from sinful reactions are secondary results attained by namabhasa, a glimpse of the holy name.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that the devotee only wants Krishna’s pleasure. He thinks, “I will someday get Krishna’s mercy, in one day, in one year, or in millions of years.”

A devotee never thinks, “Just see how ecstatic I am.”

The devotees know there is nothing of value to be attained in this world, and thus they only aspire for devotional service, and relish hearing the glories of devotional service.

By hearing the glories of pure devotional service, the devotee becomes inspired to pursue it.

Narada says that by hearing the glories of pure devotional service, by chanting the glories of pure devotional service, or by even accepting the existence of pure devotional service, even one who hates the demigods and all living beings, can progress.

In conclusion, our aspiration in kirtana with others, should be to chant with feeling.

Sivarama Swami:

From a class Brhad-bhagavamrita 2.3.184

Brhad-Bhagavatamrita is highly recommended for one who wants to advance in bhakti. If you do not have it, get it. If you have not read it, read it.
Gopa Kumara represents the seeker who attains the path of perfection, or in other words, ourselves. He advances spiritually and passes though different levels of attainment by practicing chanting the mantra that his guru has given him.

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

This is the first of sixty or seventy verses glorifying the holy name.

Although it takes time, the holy name of the Lord forgives offenses to both the name and form of the Lord.

The Vaikuntha-dutas tell Gopa Kumara that his chanting of his mantra out of duty can only bring him to the platform of liberation. He must give up everything and engage in the nine items of devotional service. The Gopal mantra he has been given must be chanted not only out of duty, but with ecstatic devotion to please Madan Gopal, the deity of the mantra, as an act of devotional service. They also explain that understanding the sambhanda-jnana from books like the Bhagavatam is necessary to accelerate his progress.

Sanatana Goswami gives nine meanings for “sa-rasa:

Sa-rasa can mean ‘very gentle,’ since the holy names consist of sweet-sounding syllables. It can also mean ‘composed of pure spiritual substance, sac-cid-ananda.’ Or it can mean that the holy names are accompanied by all the various devotional relationships, the nine rasas, headed by srngara (madhurya-rasa). In the pure chanting of the holy names, all these varieties of prema-rasa are manifest, in the moods of both separation (viraha) and meeting (sanga). Rasa also means ‘attraction to Krishna’ (raga), which devotees performing sankirtana unavoidably experience as their krishna-prema is rapidly evoked by the holy names. In other words, the Lord’s sankirtana inspires His servants and everyone else to become attracted to the Lord.

Rasa also means ‘special potency’ (virya-visesa); the chanting of the holy names is extremely powerful. And rasa can mean ‘exceptional quality’ (guna-visesa), indicating in the present context that nama-sankirtana has the power to deliver the most fallen persons in the world. Rasa also means ‘exceptional happiness’ (sukha-visesa); hari-nama is the most concentrated essence of happiness. And it also means ‘exceptional sweetness’ (madhurya-visesa). Nama-sankirtana is often glorified for its sweetness, as in this famous verse from the Prabhasa-khanda of the Skanda Purana:

‘O best of the Bhrigu dynasty, the holy name of Krishna is the sweetest of the sweet, the most auspicious of the auspicious. This transcendental fruit of all the Vedas is purely spiritual. Whoever chants it but once, whether with faith or with contempt, is liberated.’”

Chanting aloud and serving the Lord with one’s senses, according to the residents of Vaikuntha, are superior to meditation, and of all devotional acts, nama-sankirtana is the best. They said seeing Krishna is the result of chanting the names of Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada gave so much emphasis on chanting Hare Krishna, and thus we are all here in Mayapur chanting Hare Krishna.

The result of sadhana is bhava for Krishna, which develops into prema, and seeing Krishna in person.

Nama-sankirtana, as opposed to other kinds of glorification of the Lord, is best because it can evoke at once the treasure of pure love for the Lord. The holy name brings sweetness to all our senses, although appearing originally through the sense of speech.

One who has attained perfection has the symptom of not wanting to stop chanting.

Nama-sankirtana is also described as the fruit of bhakti.

Prataparuda Maharaja was astonished to hear the sankirtana of Lord’s associates. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya explained that was prema sankirtana, sankirtana of those endowed with love of God.

The holy name is a mantra that can draw Krishna near.

To get love of God, it is not enough to be without bad qualities and to chant out of duty.

If all you had to do is chant Hare Krishna, Srila Prabhupada would not have to write so many books. By reading these books, we will be able to chant with the proper mentality to achieve pure devotion and actually attain Krishna.

Agnidev Prabhu:

In “Gay Gora Madhu Svare”, Lord Caitanya sings the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”

The sannyasis, those in the renounced order, and the grhasthas, those in household life have the same duty, to chant the holy name.

Dharmatma Prabhu:

There was one mentally challenged man who really absorbed himself in our Mayapur harinama. You could see he had no real qualification except being willing to receive the mercy.

When I was in prison, I saw so many prisoners were saved by Jesus because they had to take shelter of something. But how many remember him when they leave the prison?

Daily I see on harinama with the Harinama Ruci party, so many people, regardless of qualification, have the opportunity to get mercy.

Comment by Navina Nirada Prabhu: Sometimes people cannot chant, but they can clap or they can smile.

Rajendrananda Prabhu:

In chanting Hare Krishna, we are pleading, “Krishna please accept me.”

In Los Angeles once while chanting “Jaya Radha Madhava”, tears shot from Srila Prabhupada’s eyes like a syringe, reaching even the camera man.

Bhakti Purusottama Swami:

Formerly book distribution was our main service, and even the pujaris and temple presidents would distribute books. Now there are so many nama-hatta, bhakti-vrksa, ISKCON Youth Forum programs, but if we do not engage the people coming from these programs in book distribution we will not achieve the perfection.

Vijaya Prabhu:

This is a war on maya. Who likes war? Nobody likes war. But this is a friendly war. Have you ever heard of a friendly war? We gently, in a friendly way, encourage them to take Srila Prabhupada’s books, and the books kill their ignorance.

One person in 1976 encountered a devotee who spoke to him in a very friendly way about Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was not interested in the books but he was impressed with the polite presentation. At a rest area in Florida two years later, the man met another devotee, who also presented the books in a very gentle, friendly way. This time he wanted a book, but he had no money. He asked the distributor if they had a temple nearby. They did it, and he got the address, and went to the temple. He liked the devotees so much, he never left, and he has been a devotee ever since.

By our spiritual practice we develop qualities that attract the people when we present the books.

Amita Krishna Prabhu:

If a sannyasi been practicing to love Krishna and his guru for decades, why can he not speak about marriage? He has great experience keeping commitments in these relationships and keeping commitments in relationships is an important part of marriage.

Maha-bhavi Prabhu [from Norway]:

Sometimes we are struggling in devotional service, and we are thinking that Krishna is not pleased with us. But that is not the case. We are thinking that because Krishna is not fulfilling our material desires, He is displeased with us. But actually, Krishna is pleased that we are trying to perform devotional service.

To please one’s wife is not possible. I speak from experience. Similarly it is not possible to please all our friends or to please society.

Actually our intimate relationship is with Krishna, and that is what people are looking for, but they think that they will find that with the things of the material world.

If we are very attached to the material world, we are afraid of Krishna, because He is called Hari, one who takes away. Thus we tend to see Him as an enemy. By performing devotional service, we can become cured of this faulty vision.

We can be completely happy just chanting Krishna’s name on harinama.

Everyone is attracted to Krishna. We can see this when we are chanting on harinama. Sometimes they pretend to not be attracted as they walk by, and later we see them look with curiosity, “What was that?”

Lord Caitanya’s army is the most amazing army. What are the weapons? The karatalas, the mrdanga. No one is killed.

What is humility? Chanting Hare Krishna. Assisting in Lord Caitanya’s army.

Prahlad Maharaja could have such effect on his classmates because of the purity of his devotion.

Because Prahlada Maharaja was living in demoniac society, it makes sense he attained perfection by smaranam (remembrance), since hearing and chanting about Vishnu, who was considered an enemy, would be restricted.

Hanuman Prabhu:

From a conversation:

Mayapur has all the features I generally hate like cold water only, sleeping on hard floors, and crowds of people, and yet I am in complete bliss.

In the West I struggle to chant 16 rounds, but as an undercover security guard in Mayapur, I chant 32 or 64. I do not even count anymore.

Maitreya Prabhu [from England]:

From his autobiography:

“My aversion [to the Sunday religious service I was expected to attend in my youth] had nothing to do with form and substance but it was the lack of it that made the ordeal so unbearable and made escape the only remedy.”


Sometimes we have difficulty fixing our minds on the sound of the holy name when we chant. If we internalize the understanding expressed in this stanza by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, that there is nothing but the holy name to be found in this material world, then it is easier to keep the mind focused.

krishna-nama-sudha koriya pan,
jurao bhakativinoda-pran,
nama bina kichu nahiko aro,

“Drink the pure nectar of the holy name of Krishna and thus satisfy the soul of Bhaktivinoda. There is nothing but the holy name within all the fourteen worlds.” (“Arunadaya Kirtan”, Song 1, by Bhaktivinoda Thakura)