Saturday, April 02, 2016

Travel Journal#12.6: Rishikesh and Vrindavan

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 6
By Krishna-kripa das
(March 2016, part two)
Rishikesh and Vrindavan
(Sent from Vrindavan on April 2, 2016)

Where I Went and What I Did

I continued participating with Navina Nirada Prabhu and his friends in daily harinama sankirtana and transcendental literature distribution in Rishikesh. The Harinam Ruci worldwide traveling harinama party joined us the last five days, and it was incredibly lively. I took 34 video clips, totaling 39 minutes, of Harinam Ruci chanting and dancing with Indians and Westerners, young and old. Then with three other devotees, after a night at Haridvar’s Goloka Dhama, I traveled by train to Mathura. At Vrindavan, I joined the 24-hour kirtana party, and I sang from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the evening and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Realizing I did not get enough sleep to chant japa properly, I changed my daytime hours to 1–4 p.m. after about eight days. I also chanted daily with my friend from Dublin harinamas, Ananta Nitai Prabhu, who would chant from 5 to 7 p.m near the front gate to Krishna Balaram Mandir, near the Prabhupada Samadhi. People would chant, dance, and have their photos taken with us.

While residing in Vrindavan, two points I had heard in class and in conversation would repeatedly come to mind: We are not here to enjoy Krishna Balaram Mandir, but to serve Krishna and Balaram, and Vrindavan uproots our weaknesses.

I share nectar from Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and conversations. Next is a powerful interfaith quote by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Then I include excerpts from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s online journal and his book, Japa Walks, Japa Talks. I share insights from many Prabhupada disciples and sannyasis speaking at Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan, including Subhaga Swami, Hanumatpresaka Swami, Dhirashanta Goswami, Mukunda Datta Prabhu, Guru-kripa Prabhu, Prabodhananda Sarasvati Swami, B. A. Vaishnava Swami, and Bhakti Carudeshna Swami. I also share insights from Atmarama Prabhu, who has resided in Vrindavan for many years. I share insights from Janardana Prabhu from Denmark and Harinamananda Prabhu from Australia, who were part of our harinama sankirtana team in Rishikesh.

Thanks to Navina Nirada Prabhu for his donation of foreign coins not useful to him but useful to me, and to Ananta Nitai Prabhu, who shared his harinama donations with me.


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–May 9: Newcastle
May 10: Edinburgh Harinama and Evening Program
May 11–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

Chanting with Harinam Ruci in Rishikesh

The Harinam Ruci worldwide traveling party joined us in Rishikesh, and it was so much livelier having the additional devotees and musicians. You could not but help take notice of us.

Syama-rasa Prabhu of Croatia, playing the accordion, was the chief singer. Many people danced with us, like this lady in the white blouse.

I talked to many people attracted by our chanting and told them about opportunities to connect with Krishna when they return home from their visit to Rishikesh.

One young Western lady was chanting the mantra with us, and I asked her where she learned it. She heard it at an ashram upstream from Laxman Jhula several kilometers. I explained that the mantra is mentioned in the ancient revealed literature as counteracting the degradation of the age, and so many groups chant it. I asked her where she was from, and she said Southern Germany. I mentioned that we have places in Bavaria, a temple in Munich and a farm near Passau. She said Munich was near her, and she would look up our place when she returns.

Another young lady seemed happy to see the devotees. I asked where she was from and she replied Blackburn, in the North of England. I mentioned places in the North of England where we have programs. She said although she is from Blackburn she lives in Rishikesh and she does channeling. I asked who she channels and she said the Pleiadeans. I asked what their message to humanity is. Her boyfriend broke in and said the general message is the truth is to be found within ourselves, but beyond our ego. I explained that we agree, and that the chanting is to purify our consciousness so we can perceive the truth within.

One young lady did not want a book nor a mantra card. She just smiled continuously and moved with the music of our chanting party but did not chant. She stayed over half and hour. I asked where she was from, and she said London. I mentioned how we had a place in Soho and chanted on Oxford Street every day. She smiled and said, “When you come down Oxford Street, it changes the whole street scene into one of joy and it brings tears to my eyes.” I told her about the London Ratha-yatra on July 17, with its carnival [parade] from Hyde Park Corner to Trafalgar Square from noon to 2 p.m. and stage show at Trafalgar Square with amazing free vegetarian food from 2 to 5 p.m. She sounded interested and when she left, I asked if she wanted me to write down the date for her. She said, “No, July 17 is just two days before my sister’s birthday. I will not forget it. Maybe I will see you there.”

One Russian girl was spontaneously attracted and danced so naturally in the kirtana, yet she had never met the Hare Krishnas before in Russia. In the video, she embraces Mangalavati Devi Dasi after dancing with her. She was with a young man from Western Canada who took lots of pictures of her dancing with us. I mentioned our farm in Ashcroft, British Columbia, to him. “I know Ashcroft,” he replied. “There is a very spiritual valley there, much like here,” he added, glancing at the mountains and the Ganges. I was amazed. I never met anyone from British Columbia who had heard of Ashcroft before. I also told him about our temple in Vancouver, and he said he would look up both places when he returns to Canada.

One lady from Argentina had so much fun dancing with Mangalavati Devi Dasi and the ladies dancing with her, and her friend took lots of video of it. I figured she had some contact with Hare Krishna before, and she said that she liked to attend our temple in Buenos Aires.

One young lady was happily listening for some time. She mentioned she played the flute, and I invited her to play with us, but she had a broken arm so she said that would not be possible. She explained that Krishna was the reason she had chosen to learn the flute, and that her mother used to read Krishna book her when she was a kid.

Once Harinam Ruci did kirtana into a café and many of the people were happy to encounter the chanting. One young lady appeared to already know the mantra, and as we were leaving, I asked her where she learned it. She told me her name was Shivani, and she was from USA, and that she performed kirtana in different cities. Her husband had a contract for two years in Rishikesh, and so they were staying here. She was playing Sunday at Parmarth in an eleven-hour electric kirtana program, and she gave me the phone number of the organizer, in case we wanted to also perform there. She also said she was very excited to be attending the Kirtan Course in Radhadesh this summer so she could develop her skills.

Here is the 39-minute video of Harinam Ruci chanting in Rishikesh (

Experiences in Vrindavan

In Vrindavan, I was part of the 24-Hour Kirtan at ISKCON’s Krishna Balarama Mandir. I chanted from 10 to 1, both day and night. Later I changed my daytime hours to 1 to 4 p.m. to chant all my rounds before I started.

Once during my 10 to 1 slot in the daytime after Gaura Purnima, I saw a young couple, who had been listening to the chanting for a while, get up to leave. I felt I should talk to them and see where they were coming from. They were not wearing the neck beads that the Hare Krishnas generally wear, so I figured they were new people. The guy was named George and was from Greece, and the girl was Luba from Estonia, and they lived together in the south of Switzerland. I told the guy that I spent three days in Thessaloniki, Greece, visiting some friends who had a yoga center there. The guy was appreciating that the chanting has a powerful effect internally as well as connecting you with something beyond yourself. I explained how a side effect of the powerful chanting is that bad habits you have been struggling to give up go away without any endeavor. He had the English Bhagavad-gita As It Is, but he found it difficult to understand. I explained that if he practiced the chanting, he would find it easier to understand the Gita because the chanting was an application of bhakti, which is what the Gita is talking about, and I also suggested he might get an easier book to read, like Science of Self-Realization. The book stall did not have that book, so I recommended Sri Isopanisad, and I read him two verses from it:

1. Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.

2. One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.

He was attracted and got the book. As we continued our conversation, a devotee delivered a shipment of Science of Self-Realizations, and so he got that book too. Turns out he was going to Rishikesh, and I told him some things about that because I was just there. He was studying economics at school, and I explained how the four classes in the Vedic social system contribute to the ecomony, and gave him a list of Gita verses related to that. He mentioned he was a Christian, and I told him I liked how Christ said he accepted two commandments, to love the Lord with one’s body, mind, and soul and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. I also gave him a list of Gita verses, which are supportive of those two commandments. He asked if we meditated, and I explained how we chant the same Hare Krishna mantra on beads, and I pointed to the beads hanging in the shop. In addition to the books, he also purchased a set of beads. He seemed like someone seriously interested in spiritual truth, and I hope we meet again, or at least correspond about the books via email.

In the Krishna Balaram Mandir, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there was often participation by guests in dancing, and sometimes in chanting, too.

On Holi, some people, like this Indian man dancing, were covered with colored dye.

Some Western girls were also covered with dye.

Here a couple young Indian girls spontaneously danced to the 24-hour kirtana. As Srila Prabhupada said, "Even a child can take part in the chanting."(

There were many livelier moments too, but I was not so much in a filming mood.

Ananta Nitai Prabhu, my harinama partner from Dublin, playing a one-headed drum, chanted every day from 5 to 7 p.m. inside our Krishna Balaram main gate, just across from Prabhupada’s Samadhi, and I would join him for half an hour or so. People chanted, danced, and had their pictures taken with us. 

As in Dublin, if they gave us donations, we would give them books.

With the 24-hour kirtana in the temple and the ladies kirtana in the samadhi, one could question the need for another kirtana. But there are many people coming to the temple, and Ananta Nitai Prabhu’s kirtana was just another chance for us, and them too, to engage in devotional service and to purify our souls. Here is some video I took on March 24 (

The decoration of the Krishna Balaram Mandir on festival days with copious flowers is striking. As I chanted during the 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift at night, I saw a team of fifteen men decorating the walls with flowers for Gaura Purnima the next day.

Here’s a wall decorated for Gaura Purnima.

Similarly, for the book festival a week later, the temple, the boat, and the lake in the temple courtyard were all amazingly decorated with flowers.

The flowers wait on the floor, while workers prepare to affix them to the walls.

Workers position flowers on the walls.

Here you can see a worker placing flower petals in a region demarcated by flower garlands.

Radha Shyamasundar’s names were spelled with the petals.

The swan boat itself was amazingly decorated.

There was a throne on the boat for the deities.

You can see how crowded it was, with everyone trying to see and to take pictures.

I would chant and dance, looking at the small Radha-Krishna deities on the boat when they passed by. When they were out of view, I would chant and dance facing the large Radha-Shyamasundar deities, and as most people faced the boat, I had more room to dance than usual. Still, after one hour out of the two-hour festival, I got tired of people bumping into me as I danced, and I left.

To see photos I did not use in this issue, click on the link below:


Srila Prabhupada:

From a lecture on Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 3.87–88 in New York City on December 27, 1966:

“No material circumstances can check your Krishna consciousness. When you are firmly convinced and situated in that position, that is real bhakti-yoga.  Nothing can disturb you. Nobody can say, ‘Oh, because of this condition, now I am unable to prosecute Krishna consciousness.’ That means he was never in Krishna consciousness. Nothing can check Krishna consciousness.”

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.5 on October 16, 1972 in Vrindavan:

“You have seen Krishna’s picture. He’s embracing the calf also, and He’s embracing Radharani. Not that He’s simply attached to Radharani and the gopis. He’s attached to everyone, every living entity. Therefore Krishna is the best friend of everyone.”

From a conversation in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, on June 24, 1976:

“Disciple: Sometimes people say, ‘We’re enjoying life. Why are you always bothering us about death?’ 
Srila Prabhupada: Why? Because I love you. And I am intelligent enough to understand that when you die, when you leave your body, you may get a degraded body and spend your next life as a dog. I have concern for you: “Please, friend, don’t become a dog.”
Let’s say a child is flying a kite from the roof of some building, and a gentleman sees him – running carelessly this way and that, coming closer and closer to falling over the edge. Naturally the gentleman will say, ‘Hey! You’re going to fall!’ That is his duty.
Now, the child may scream, ‘Leave me alone! Why are you bothering me. [Laughter.] Why are you bothering me?’
‘Because I am a human being,’ the man will say, ‘and you are a foolish child. Therefore, I am bothering you.’”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

From Gitavali, Shreyo-Nirnaya: Ascertainment of Spiritual Welfare, Song 5, Verse 1:

“Why do you continue to hate the way the Lord is worshiped by people of other lands? There exist a number of authentic ways to worship God, according to the customs of various peoples living in different countries.

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

“The harinama chanters in
the City are stalwart
preachers of Krishna consciousness.
When they go out in public
they do not attempt
to lecture to the people.
Such proselytizing would not
be effective.
They follow
the commandment of the
Upanisads: “In the Age of Kali
the only means of God-consciousness
is the holy name, the holy
name, the holy name. There
is no other way, no other
way, no other way.” Lord Caitanya
spoke philosophically only
to a handful of learned
scholars. For the masses
His method of preaching
was the whole congregational chanting.
The harinama devotees in the City
are doing the right thing by
holding kirtana for long hours
every day in a spot where
many people pass by.”

“All over the world in
ISKCON, devotees go out
on harinama. Some temples
send devotees out once
a week for an hour, and
a few groups go out every
day for many hours.
It should be taken as
a priority service, as it
used to be in the early 1970s.
In many cases,
the public thinks the
Hare Krishna movement
has ceased to exist when
they don’t see devotees
chanting in the streets.
The harinama chanters
in the City are an
ideal example.
They go out every day
and are making a
big impact on the public.
They are first-class followers
of Lord Caitanya
and are carrying out His legacy.”

From Japa Walks, Japa Talks:

“When one sincerely tries to follow the bona fide spiritual master’s order, following the rules and regulations, giving pre-eminence to the chanting, then he creates a fertile situation in which to receive Krishna’s mercy. When Krishna’s independent and causeless mercy falls on his heart, shoots of good chanting sprout, and early symptoms of love of God soon appear.

“This principle was taught by Lord Krishna when mother Yasoda tried to bind Him with ropes. No matter how many ropes she collected, they always came out two fingers too short. She could not tie baby Krishna. Thus, Krishna taught her, ‘Dear Mother, although I am acting as your dependent son, it is only by My own agreement. If I don’t agree, then you will not be able to tie Me, no matter how many ropes you string together.’

“In this pastime, Krishna eluded the control of His mother, demonstrating His supreme independence. But when Krishna saw His mother perspiring from her exertion, the flowers falling from her hair, and her obvious frustration, He yielded to her desires and allowed her to tie Him, even though He is uncatchable by the most expert mystics and yogis. Both elements are necessary if the pure devotee is going to capture Krishna with love, or chant Hare Krishna in spontaneous devotion. That is, we need to endeavor, and then, independent of that, Krishna has to will freely to dance on our tongues in suddha-nama.

“We have to have faith that Krishna will accept our babyish but sincere efforts as something nice. After all, what is nice to Krishna? Krishna lives on the highest standard of superexcellence; we cannot even imagine His opulence. The nicest thing in this world is an insignificance to Him. But if we can actually cry for Him and beg for the holy name, Krishna thinks that’s nice. That is the instruction of the acaryas. How sweet that Krishna is so unpretentious and sincere, so kind, that He finds something good in our spark of sincerity. And Srila Prabhupada has given us this fortune of sincerity. He came from what he called a comfortable situation at Vrndavana’s Radha-Damodara temple and took the risk to bring us Krishna consciousness. It’s he who has given us the ability to chant sincerely. Let us try to do what he taught us, to chant Hare Krishna and just hear. Krishna will accept it as nice.”

“First we have to pray to have our anarthas removed. Chanting itself will cleanse the dirt accumulated for many lifetimes together (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Therefore, we stress attentive chanting. It’s not that we’re hung up on some technicality called “inattention,” as if it’s just another kind of mental gymnastics. But because we have faith in the holy name, and we know we are fallen, we long to surrender to the yajna of hearing the holy names. If only we could pay attention, then everything would be accomplished.”

“The harinama chanters
in the City are expert kirtana
players. They sing tunes
inspired by Aindra Prabhu
and other sources. Their
performance is at a very
high level. For them
it comes naturally, and
they do not think of
themselves as professional
They are singing
from their
hearts as an act
of devotion to guru
and Krishna. The
passersby are
attracted to the quality
of the singing and are becoming familiar
with the holy name. An active transformation
has taken place in this city
as the atmosphere is thoroughly
spiritualized by the constant
chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.”

“A devotee wrote to
me and asked me
to pray for world peace.
He specifically mentioned
the Islam terrorist
movement ISIS which
are a dangerous threat.
It occurred to me that
the harinama chanters in
the City are praying
for world peace.
By their kirtana they
are performing the
only sacrifice recommended
for the Age of Kali.
The Supreme Lord Krishna is
aware of their yajna
and is responsive to them.
Their chanting is
heard not only
by the passersby in Union Square.
They are making an intercessionary prayer
that is affecting the whole world.
Their daily long hours of harinama
are holding back the worst
influence of the demons worldwide.”

From “Poem for March 22 in Viraha Bhavan:

“The harinama chanters
are carrying out a heavy and
sacred vrata, like Bhisma’s
vow to remain brahmacari.
They pledge to go out every day
in the urban streets
and glorify Radha and Krishna
in the maha-mantra and
distribute Their blessings
in the form of loud kirtana
to the many passersby.
The public likes the devotees’
presence and feels it
is a good moment in
their day when they
come nearby the harinama.
But they do not realize
the deep significance of
the exchange. The holy
name has such power that by regularly exposing
themselves to it, they are being relieved
of the sinful reactions to their impious lives.
The harinama chanters are aware of this,
and they generously give out the mercy.”

“Radha-Govinda, You minimize my physical
and mental maladies
just by Your presence.
Contemplating you, I think:
“I am not this body,
I am spirit soul.” You are
beyond the modes of
material nature, and when I
gaze at You, I go there too.
My pains and discomforts
are in this world, but
You are situated in
Goloka where there is no
anxiety. When I take
Your darsana, I throw off
the mortal coil.
I associate with You two,
who are sac-cid-ananda-vigraha,
forms of eternity, knowledge,
and bliss. And I am free,
even of the fear of death.
Please grant me
ability to worship You
and free me from
the duality of this world.”

Subhaga Swami:

Srila Prabhupada wanted all his disciples to become gurus.

To spread Lord Caitanya’s message to every town and village many gurus are needed.

The guru should be an elevated person, beyond material attraction. That is not easy.

We must understand we can never, never, never be happy here [in the material world], despite our dreams.

Srila Prabhupada said this movement is for building character. We should be introspective to see how well we are doing.

We are tested. At every moment, we are tested.

By surrender to Krishna, one develops all the good qualities.

The advanced soul worships everyone, seeing them as all souls, part of God, who are differently situated because of their karma.

Ideally a man should not see his wife as an object of sense gratification.

There is a saying that a brahmacari sleeps like a dog, eats like a bird, meditates like a crane, and bathes like a crow.

Prabhupada gave the ideal thing and wanted us to implement it.

“It is good to have a big temple,” Srila Prabhupada said, “but we have to see what kind of devotees we are making.”

Srila Prabhupada said if the purity is not there, everything is lost.

Without hearing and chanting about Krishna, maintaining our temples will become a burden.

Sometimes we are given so much responsibility in devotional service, and that is so there is no room for maya.

India is fast changing [losing its culture]. ISKCON is to save India.

A brahmana is very truthful and will tell everything. A brahmana is also very pure.

Krishna sees our pure devotion. He does not ask about our social position before admitting us into His spiritual kingdom.

A devotee was reading the verse describing the demoniac qualities, pride, arrogance, anger, etc. One devotee said to Prabhupada, “So many of us have some of these qualities.”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “They will have to go.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura once sat on the floor of the train when there were no seats. He did not say, “Get up. Don’t you know who I am? I am the magistrate.” He was humble.

Hanumatpresaka Swami:

I knew one man who had one wife and who had lived with three women in the course of time. He had found one more, and he was telling me, “I think I have I finally found the right woman.” This is the action of Maya. She has unlimited varieties of temptations, and she is always able to convince us that she has the right one for us.

What Vedic philosophy is most popular nowadays? Today’s world is pervaded by Kannada’s philosophy, paramanu vada, which states that everything is made of atoms. It was expressed in Greece by Democritus, and later by modern scientists.

Tamal Krishna Goswami told me that Srila Prabhupada said several times during his last year with us that the scientific preaching is our most important preaching program.

The chaplain at one American maximum security prison showed me his library which had a complete set of Prabhupada’s books and everything by Yogananda, and the government was encouraging inmates to read them. That is ironic because outside the prison, the government does not encourage the reading of such literature.

Srila Prabhupada said that pujaris and personal servants of the guru are the most likely to fall down because of the possibility of familiarity resulting in neglect and offense. The solution is to follow rules and regulations of etiquette. Canakya Pandit said to not get too close to or too far from a king, brahmana, or fire, because if you are too close, you may offend or get burned, and if you are too far, you will derive no benefit.

Most incarnations do not give even liberation. They just come and set things in order. But Krishna gives liberation and love of God.

I had a friend, an alcoholic, who would drink beer and eat potato chips all week and go to the Hare Krishna Sunday feast in Dallas on the weekend. He felt guilty about just coming for the food, so he would hear the lecture. After a year, his mind said to him, “What are they talking about?” He listened more closely and learned that the devotees were vegetarian and they believed in reincarnation.

Srila Prabhupada said most of those he initiated would attain Indraloka, heaven. This is because of not following strictly.

At bhava you know your relationship with Krishna, but it is not fully manifest.

To attain Goloka Vrindavan, we have to go past all the lesser abodes.

It is easy to enjoy Krishna Balarama Mandir, but we are not here to enjoy Krishna Balaram Mandir, but to serve Krishna and Balarama.

Brahma explains to Indra, in effect, “You demigods are more powerful than the demons and have defeated them many times. It is only because you offended your guru that they defeated you this time.

The same stories that we encounter in the Bhagavatam we see in our lives in ISKCON.

Srila Prabhupada said that sometimes sankirtana parties from the spiritual world pass through the brahmajyoti and the souls there become aware of devotional service to the Lord and advance.

Dhirashanta Goswami:

One devotee had gotten a newspaper, and seeing him, Srila Prabhupada asked, “What are the rascals saying now?”
Prabhupada continued, “We can understand the value of the newspaper because after it is read it is thrown away.” A Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, on the other hand, can be cherished for life.

When I consider the question, “What is the aspect of Srila Prabhupada that made me become a devotee or kept me a devotee?” I always think of the same answer, “Because he always told truth.”

From the carton of juice that says “100% pure” to the moon landing, it is all lies.

When Srila Prabhupada saw the telecast of the moon landing, he said, “They have not landed on the moon.” One disciple said, “But it is on the television. Thousands and millions of people are seeing it.” Srila Prabhupada repeated, “They have not landed on the moon.” Now if you Google “moon landing”, you will see there are many hoax theories about the moon landing. Srila Prabhupada’s words were prophetic to say the least.

When devotee advocated that the devotees become government leaders, Srila Prabhupada replied, “Even if a devotee became a political leader, what could he do? Until you change the masses to be Krishna conscious, he would not be able to do anything.” So that was Srila Prabhupada desire and focus.

If we do not use our human life to cross over the ocean of material miseries, that is the greatest loss.

We are in Lord Caitanya’s personal boat.

The prisoners in jail are thinking about getting free. They do not realize when they get free from jail, they will remain in the prison of the material world.

We work as if our spiritual perfection depends on us, but we pray to the Lord, for it ultimately depends on Him.

In Srutakirti Prabhu’s book What is the Difficulty? he quotes Srila Prabhupada as saying to him that it takes some time to wake up and that after twelve years his words and acts in Krishna consciousness would have more effect.

There may be some rocking of the boat. You may feel seasick, but do not jump off the boat.

Tamal Krishna Goswami once asked Srila Prabhupada if his many disciples who preach in so many inauspicious places die without being fully absorbed in Krishna, what will be their destination. Srila Prabhupada said, “You take that chance for Krishna and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai will enter into the recesses of your heart and drag you back to Godhead.”

B. A. Vaishnava Swami:

Lord Brahma says that one should respect properly Govinda, the cows, and the brahmanas, and if one does so, and receives their mercy, that person will not meet defeat in life.

The demons were so powerful simply by taking shelter of the brahmana Sukracarya, but the demigods, if they take shelter of Govinda, the brahmanas, and the cows, will be able to surpass them.

Anyone who favors the cows and brahmanas pleases Govinda.

Krishna is the founder of the Govardhan worship. Govardhan Hill was there for years but was not worshipped.

Because Govardhan sustains the cows in so many ways, He is dear to Krishna.

Knowing brahman is not sufficient. You can know that prasadam will cure your hunger, but knowing is not sufficient. You actually have to eat. Similarly, just knowing you are brahman is not sufficient. You have to act as brahman by serving the Supreme Brahman.

Just having a human body itself is a great opulence. And in ISKCON we are having the shelter of Srila Prabhupada, and now we are here in Vrindavan dhama. If we do not utilize the opportunity for self-realization and instead endeavor for insignificant sense enjoyment, we are misers.

Without the devotee and the cow, Krishna is not complete.

Jarasandha’s admirers encouraged him to again attack Krishna although he was defeated every time, up to seventeen.

After being defeated seventeen times, Jarasandha inquired from his advisors how it would be possible to defeat Krishna. He was advised that Krishna loves the cows and brahmanas, and so if you can get the cows and brahmanas to help you, you can defeat Krishna. Jarasandha gathered up many cows and brahmanas and engaged them in praying to Krishna that Jarasandha might defeat Him. One measure of defeat for a ksatriya is to turn his back on the battlefield and abandon the fight, and thus to satisfy the cows and brahmanas, Krishna and Balarama left the battle, so Jarasandha could consider himself victorious.

If we can please Govinda, the cows, and brahmanas, there will not be defeat or inauspiciousness.

To fulfill your material desires you can worship a jati brahmana, but you have to worship a spiritually advanced brahmana to get spiritual benefit.

Q: Why did the cows and residents of Vrindavan have to suffer so much from Indra?
A: When Krishna lifted the hill to protect them from Indra’s torrential rains, the residents of Vrindavan all got to see and be with Krishna for seven days straight. They did not care for material convenience and simply wanted Krishna’s association, and because they attained it without interruption, they were happy with the incident.  

Prabodhananda Sarasvati Swami:

Indra was proud being the son of Kasyapa and Aditi, being a demigod with great bodily beauty, and being worshiped as the king of demigods and the king of heaven.

Being neglected by Indra, leaving the assembly, Brhaspati thus rejected the demigods as his disciples.

The demigods and demons are brothers, having the same father. The common father is Kasyapa. Aditi is the mother of the demigods, while Diti and Danu are mothers of the demons. Both groups are vying for control of the valuable heavenly planets.

Brahma advises Indra, temporarily, while Brhaspati is dissatisfied, you can accept Visvarupa, the son of Tvasta, as a spiritual master, and by pleasing him, you will be victorious.

Tolerance is the best of the Vaishnava qualities. We are advised to be more tolerant than a tree and humble like the grass. Sometimes we see after a person steps on the grass, the grass again springs back and becomes upright.

The Radha-Krishna boat festival is performed both in the Yamuna River and in Manasi Ganga, at the foot of Govardhan Hill. In our boat festival at Krishna Balaram, it is as if Manasi Ganga is appearing the temple.

When the gopis needed to cross Manasi Ganga, Krishna appeared in disguise with a very old, damaged boat, that He covered with leaves to make it look presentable. He begged a fee for his boatman services, first in coins, and then in yogurt. He begged something to eat. He felt tired and wanted to rest, and asked the gopis to massage His feet. The gopis were outraged by his unusual requests. A storm arose, and Krishna advised them to throw their goods over. At one point Radha realized the boatman was Krishna in disguise, and She embraced Him. The storm cleared up, and an island appeared in Manasi Ganga, arranged by yogamaya and decorated by Vrinda, for Radha and Krishna and Their pastimes.

Bhakti-ratnakara and another book describe the Radha-Krishna boat pastime.

To visit Gauradasa Pandit in Ambika Kalna, Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda had to cross the Ganges. They found a boat on the Ganges shore, and They crossed the river. Lord Caitanya told Gauradasa to keep the boat and gave him a Gita in His own handwriting, and told him to use the boat and book to preach Krishna consciousness.

By our clapping, dancing, and chanting, we can please Radha Krishna while They enjoy Their boat festival. We must be in the mood of serving and not in enjoying the boat festival.

If by pious activities you attain heaven, you will fall down after some time. But if you attain heaven by doing devotional service, you can continue to rise higher.

Mukunda Datta Prabhu:

From a Gaura Purnima lecture:

All the acaryas appeared in South India and all the avatars appeared in North India.

Sridhar Swami in his Bhagavatam commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.32 does not mention Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu because he appeared before Lord Caitanya.

In the other Kali-yugas the incarnation who teaches the chanting of the holy name is blackish in color, but it is described in this Kali-yuga Lord Caitanya is not blackish but golden.

These Goswamis are gopis and know secret of the Lord’s appearance and reveal it to us.

There is no restriction in time, place, or person, in the chanting of the holy name.

We are defeated by our senses. At least some of the time, we are overcome by our senses. Why else would most of us be in the grhastha ashram?

We are defeated by our families. If all of our family members acted in accordance with our desires, what impetus would we have for detachment?

If we take shelter of Lord Caitanya, we will not defeated by the senses or our families.

The Madhva brahmanas I saw were so fixed in the mode of goodness they were not suffering, and thus I could see there was very little impetus among them for going back to Godhead.

There are subtle contaminants associated with places. When I used to work in the World Trade Center, I would remember songs from many years before I become a devotee. This would not happen at home, at the temple, or anywhere else.

Brahma as Haridas Thakura and Shiva in the form of Sadashiva or Advaita Acarya are both worshiping the Lord as Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

At least once, some time today, bow down to Lord Caitanya in humility and say, “I love You. I want to dedicate my life to Your service. Please empower me to chant Your holy names offenselessly.” There is no doubt He will give you full protection.

Even just identifying oneself as a devotee inspires Lord Caitanya to grant one mercy.

Those of you who were in the kirtana half an hour ago, was there any worry of becoming free from material contamination? No it was already done. So stay in the kirtana. Here we have kirtana 24 hours a day.

Thakura and Bhagavan can refer to either the Lord or His great devotees.

Lord Caitanya was thinking of us, everyone in this room. We are all sitting here because of His pastimes.

O Lord Caitanya, You are the supreme physician. I dive into the ocean humility and take shelter of You to escape the oppression of material existence.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.17.16–21:

Brahma and Indra are sometimes addressed as Bhagavan because generally they are fixed in their position of representing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Even though Indra occasionally makes mistakes, sometimes serious ones, we still have to respect him because he is representing the Supreme Lord in his position as the king of heaven and king of the demigods.

To attain perfection takes time. One has to remain enthusiastic all the time.

We begin the spiritual practice with faith, which increases by the association of devotees.

Indra is fixed in the service of the Lord, but because of anarthas, he makes mistakes, so what to speak of us. We must be very respectful of people engaged in the Lord’s service, even if they make mistakes.

Who can remember Krishna 24 hours a day? Who can remember Krishna 12 hours a day? Who can remember Krishna 6 hours a day?

By performing devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master we can advance.

Even among the devotees, we should avoid those who are too materialistic and those who are offensive to others.

When Krishna cries in fear of Mother Yashoda, who is chasing him to punish Him for His mischief, His crying is a manifestation of His internal energy.

Maya is very subtle, and so Indra becomes bewildered many times, what to speak of us.

Our problem is our mind. We are thinking that the problem is this person or that person or the weather, but in reality, our problem is our own mind.

The spiritual master is the best friend, the father, the mother . . . the spiritual master is everything for the disciple.

Because the spiritual master is fully surrendered to Krishna he is honored as much as Krishna.

The diksa guru represents the form of Krishna, and the siksa guru represents the mood of Krishna.

Indra’s offense to his spiritual master was a mental offense. He did not say or do anything against his spiritual master. He just failed to honor him when he appeared in the assembly.

Brhaspati left the assembly to teach Indra a lesson, not so much that he was personally offended.

If we chant suddha nama, the pure holy name, we do not need to do anything else. Until that point, it is helpful to worship the deity and study the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Q: We heard we should respect superior people, but suppose that a temple president is physically or morally abusive?
A: It is natural in that case to take shelter of someone else. You can go to the GBC and humbly present the situation. You can see about going to another temple.

Q: Offenses in the dhama are magnified. That creates of fearful situation.
A: Yes, offenses are magnified in the dhama one thousand times. You do not need to be fearful. Be humble. And every day, at the end of the day, we should pray to the Lord, “O Lord, if I have offended You, Your holy name, Your devotees, or any residents of the dhama, please forgive me.”

Guru Kripa Prabhu:

In 1972 we had the first Mayapur festival. There were just rice fields with no electricity except a light for Srila Prabhupada to translate. They made a tent for us to stay. Prabhupada invited his godbrothers to come and just of few of them did as the others were bickering about Prabhupada accepting that title.

As Prabhupada left to return to Calcutta, I put my head on his lotus feet. He said to me, “There is a man in Navadvipa who claims to be Lord Caitanya. Go there and defeat him.” There was an assembly in which that man was speaking, and when we got the chance to talk, I said, “Lord Caitanya is described to be seven feet tall and you are a little short fellow,” and everyone laughed. We quoted some scripture and did our job.

When I served in India in the 1970s, Indians were embarrassed to eat meat. If meat was served in a restaurant, there would be a special side entrance that people went in so they could not be seen. There were not eggs for sale on the train or [the choice of] veg or non-veg. In the last fifty years, the degradation has progressed. But Krishna consciousness has also progressed. Formerly in Puri, everyone would chant “Nitai Gaura Radhe Shyam” but now people chant “Hare Krishna” and “Jaya Jagannatha.” Now you see many people with japa (chanting) beads.

Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya has a beautiful song with the refrain “tvam namami ca sri-sacisutanayam.

Lord Caitanya’s decoration was not jewels but his sattvika-bhava [ecstatic emotions of love of God].

Lord Caitanya used to dance until He would drop. Because of His bhava [ecstatic emotions] everyone would dance.

If you loudly chant the holy name wholeheartedly, your hair will stand on end. If that has not happened to you, you had better join the Krishna consciousness movement.

In Tompkins Square Park, the devotees spontaneously got up to dance to Srila Prabhupada’s powerful kirtana. Srila Prabhupada did not have to tell them.

The mood must be there. If you change things, the potency will be lost.

Once I told Srila Prabhupada, “There are some devotees who cannot follow the regulative principles and they have stopped chanting.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Never stop chanting. Chant in whatever your condition.”

Srila Prabhupada loved the dancing of the devotees.

Srila Prabhupada said, “Chanting, dancing, and taking prasadam. He never said, “Chanting, sitting, and taking prasadam.

[I dance because Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami Maharaj told me I should dance more in kirtana back in the mid-1980s. The scripture confirms the importance of it. In The Nectar of Devotion it is one of the 64 items of devotional service for the sadhaka [practitioner] and an expression of ecstatic love for the advanced. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura mentions the guru is dancing in the kirtana of Mahaprabhu, and Lord Caitanya would appoint dancers in His kirtana parties. Gaura and Nitai both remind us of the dancing even in Their deity pose.]

Lord Caitanya will answer your prayers. At one point in my Krishna consciousness, I was a little loose in my behavior. I would chant but not always the full amount. I was making good money, but I would have one girlfriend after another and I knew it was not right. I went to the birthplace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and I prayed, “I think you are not happy with me having one girlfriend after another, but until you send me a wife, I will continue doing this.” On my way back from India, I stopped in Thailand, and I met a girl, and married her within an hour, and that was twenty-six years ago.

O.B.L. Kapoor was the only one of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers who would regularly visit Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada knew him from Allahabad. He would come to visit ISKCON for the festivals. He chanted that Nitai Gaura Radhe Shyam mantra that Bhaktivinoda Thakura had defeated the propagator of years before. I asked him about it and he said that Lord Caitanya did not chant the Hare Krishna out loud. I quoted from “Gay Gora Madhu Svare” by Bhaktivinoda Thakura which describes that Lord Caitanya chanted in a sweet voice, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare . . .” He had nothing to say.

Lord Caitanya showed how to surrender to Krishna by chanting the holy names of Krishna.

Suresvara Prabhu:

From “Finding Our Mission in His Mission” in Back to Godhead, Vol. 50, No. 4 (July / August 2016):

The answer to any one of these questions may give us a hint of our mission:
1. To what service am I most drawn?
2. If I had all the money I needed, what would I do?
3. If I had all the time I needed, what would I do?
4. If I knew I only had one year to live, what would I do?
5. Doing what service do I most forget time?

Bhakti Carudeshna Swami:

From a conversation:

Q (by me): What is the most important thing to tell the people when presenting Krishna consciousness?
A: We have to know to play the game of life. We may think we are enjoying but we may be creating a difficult situation for ourselves in the future. Actually we are imagining ourselves to be free to do anything, but we can all see we are forced by a superior power to get sick, get old, and die, all of which we do not want. What is the solution? Only Krishna Himself can deliver us because He is the supreme controller. Thus we should seek His mercy by chanting Hare Krishna.

From on a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.7.23:

When Bali offered to give Lord Vamana three steps of land, his guru Sukracarya did not want him to, knowing that Vamana would take everything. Before fulfilling a promise one is supposed to purify himself with drops of water from a kamandalu, so Sukracarya decided to personally block the tip of the vessel so no water could flow. Lord Vamana noticed there was some problem, and poked the tip with a straw to clear it, thus poking Sukracarya in the eye.

It is important to analyze the guru before initiation because when you take initiation you have to follow the guru with body, words, and mind.

We may think in the beginning that the guru will give us this and that, and later, if he does not do so, we may doubt that he is our real guru, instead of serving him without reservation as is required.

The ideal disciple does not see the material body of the guru but always sees the guru as the via medium of Krishna.

Because Saci had mental reservations about Advaita Acarya, fearing He would convince Lord Caitanya to take sannyasa as He had with her elder son, Visvarupa, Lord Caitanya refused to give her Krishna prema until she begged forgiveness from Advaita Acarya.

Although I had been in Mayapur for a while, I had not bathed in the sacred Ganges, which someone told me was not exemplary for a senior devotee. Thus that very day I went to bathe in the Ganges. When I got there I saw a dead dog and a dead cow floating by and people passing stool on the bank. It was so overwhelming, I could not actually bathe in the Ganges. I went back to our Mayapur compound, and went to the Prabhupada Samadhi, and prayed to him, and went to the Vaishnava samadhis and prayed to my Guru Maharaja. After a week of psychological preparation, I was easily able to bathe in the Ganges.

Offending a devotee has a powerfully detrimental effect and is compared to an elephant entering a garden. Even if a baby elephant enters a garden, so much destruction is there.

By actually practicing tolerance and humility is the only way we can avoid offenses.

The devotee always sees Krishna in the heart of everyone. That vision will also protect us from committing offenses.

As Laksman created a protected area that he warned Sita not to step outside of, we are in a protected area in ISKCON if we follow the four regulative principles, chant Hare Krishna, study Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc.

Janardana Swami:

Lord Caitanya appeared on Friday, February 18, 1486.

It is said at that time there were one million people living in the Navadvipa area. I wonder where they all are.

It was so degraded in Navadvipa with the materialistic activities of the people in general that Advaita Acarya prayed the Lord to descend as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

At the Annaprasana ceremony the child is given its first grains. Usually this is sweet rice maha-prasadam.

At Lord Caitanya’s ceremony as items for for the child to choose there were a variety of books, a copper coin, a silver coin, a gold coin, and pen and paper. Lord Caitanya chose the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The panditas all thought this meant He would become a great scholar, but the devotees knew He would become a great devotee.

Neem (nima) is antiseptic, and in the villages, 90% of the people use neem twigs to brush their teeth.

The ladies wanted call Lord Caitanya Nimai as a child, while the astrologer named Him Visvambhara. It was settled that His official name would be Visvambhara, but He would be called Nimai.

When his mother Saci fell unconscious, the ladies told Nimai that if He got two coconuts that would help bring her back to consciousness. He left and immediately returned with two coconuts. The ladies were amazed that he found the coconuts so fast as there were no coconut trees around.

Nimai was attracted to certain puppy, which He brought home. His mother, Saci Devi, did not think it was proper for a brahmana boy to have a puppy because puppies are not clean. When He went to play in the Ganga, He told His mother to look after the puppy, and she promised she would. When Nimai was gone, the mother dog came by looking for her lost puppy, and Saci let the puppy go with its mother. Later the puppy was seen in Navadvipa, raising its forepaws in the air and chanting, “Hari! Hari!” Then it was seen that an airplane from the spiritual world, Vaikuntha, appeared, and the soul of the puppy, assuming a human form, boarded that plane.

According to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, even if you have the other 25 qualities of a devotee, if you are not surrendered to the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, you are not a devotee.

Nothing can uproot the creeper of devotion but Vaishnava aparadha.

If one is jealous of someone, he simply wishes to have a superior situation to that person, but if one is envious, one actually wants to deprive someone of his rightful position. We should not be envious of the devotees.

Atmarama Prabhu [from India]:

People are so puffed up with material opulence that they commit offenses like Indra did by ignoring his spiritual master in a public assembly. This is an example everyone can learn from, including ourselves who live in a Vaishnava society. We must be always willing to bow down to the devotees’ lotus feet so we are not overcome by offenses against them.

The kinds of opulence that cause people to be blinded by pride include wealth, beauty, knowledge, and education. Thus Lord Caitanya did not want wealth, popularity, or association with the opposite sex.

Lord Krishna thought, Unless I show the people how to surrender to Me, as I advised in Bhagavad-gita, they will not be able to do it and will continue to pursue material opulence. Thus He appeared as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Sometimes the guru desires to test his disciple to see how his disciple is assimilating his teachings.

Ramanujacarya had a thousand disciples. One was a very poor brahmana disciple named Narayana who lived with his wife named Laksmi. When Ramanuja visited, Narayana was not home and Laksmi did not even have proper clothing so she could not invite him in. Ramanuja could understand this and passed a cloth in to her so she could cover herself. She bowed down to Ramanuja and begged him to give her a little time to properly receive him and his many disciples. Their landlord was propositioning her many times to enjoy her body, but she was chaste and did not succumb to it. But because she was in need of many things to properly receive her guru and many disciples, she approached that landlord and said you can enjoy my body tonight if you kindly arrange all these things I need to receive my guru.  He complied and supplied the many items. Ramanujacarya and all his disciples were very satisfied by the arrangements. And that night, she returned to the landlord, with her husband’s permission, thanking him for the supplies and ready to satisfy his desire. First she gave him some maha-prasadam from Ramanujacarya. When he ate it, he lost the impure intention to exploit her body for his sense enjoyment. Indeed, he wanted to meet her exalted guru. He approached Ramanujacarya and bowed down to his feet, and ultimately became his disciple.

We have to bow down to our guru and cry for his mercy to become free from offense.

When the poor brahmana Sudama came to visit Krishna, Krishna honored Sudama by washing his feet, and putting drops of the water on His own head. Can you imagine a rich person in India receiving a poor brahmana like that today?

Atmarama Prabhu [from Spain]:

From a conversation during Jagannatha Misra’s feast in Vrindavan:

To stay in Vrindavan for a long time, it is not enough just to have good relationships with the devotees. You have to develop friendships with the Vrajavasis, the residents of Vrindavan.

You cannot make plans in Vrindavan, other than to attend scheduled events like mangala-arati or Srimad-Bhagavatam class. If you try to make plans, you will see that Krishna has His own plan. This makes life very spontaneous, and thus every day is an adventure in Vrindavan.

Vrindavan uproots our weaknesses.

The Chinese government was doing a cultural program, and they needed some representatives from India. One of my friends who was doing outreach in China informed me. The Chinese government ended up flying me from India to China and back, dressed in dhoti and tilaka, as a representative of Indian culture.

In Spain, at one point in the history of the Hare Krishna movement there, we would dress up in suits and wear wigs. After some time it felt artificial for me. After all, policeman and firemen are not afraid to wear their uniforms in public. I felt I was cheating Krishna. I decided to wear a dhoti, and I found I did just as well selling books in a dhoti as I had done before. There was no difference.

Comment: That reminds me of a book distributor from Zurich who was distributing books in New York City. He told me he felt it was easier to distribute books in a dhoti because his dress eliminated people straightaway who were less open to new ideas and less likely to be interested in the books.

Janardana from Denmark:

Out of pride people do not want to give up their path of trying to find the truth on their own.

When people see the harinama, they can see the devotees are on another level, and they become inspired.

The truth is very simple. We are spiritual beings and real happiness can be attained by connecting with Krishna, who is the source of our existence.

Comment by Dharmatma Prabhu: When you give, you actually feel happier than the people you are giving to.

There are many people here in Rishikesh who think they are God. To one of these people, I said, “If you are God, You must be all merciful. I am asking for money. Could You give me some?” He said in appreciation, “Very good logic.” But he did not give me a donation.

Harinamananda Prabhu:

It is nothing to do with us that we become purified by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord. It is simply the Lord’s mercy.

A reporter asked Srila Prabhupada, “What do you get from so much chanting?”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “More chanting.”

Just as one can get the benefits of fire without knowledge about what fire actually is so we can feel freedom from material miseries as a side effect of engaging in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord.

One friend, who had no interest in Krishna consciousness, came to visit me in the temple. He was going through a difficult time in this life. In the course of visiting me, he spent two minutes in a kirtana, and told me, “That is the happiest I ever felt.”


Sometimes we like to see a very concise description of our devotional path so we can focus on it. Rupa Goswami supplies one in his Upadeshamrita, translated by Srila Prabhupada as Nectar of Instruction. It is the very verse I was studying in that book when I arrived in Vrindavan, and it is the first verse in the book to mention Vrindavan. Thus I considered it Krishna’s special arrangement it was on my mind when I began my two and a half week stay here:

smṛtyoḥ kramena rasana-manasi niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anuragi-jananugami
kalaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadesa-saram

“The essence of all advice is that one should utilize one’s full time – twenty-four hours a day – in nicely chanting and remembering the Lord’s divine name, transcendental form, qualities and eternal pastimes, thereby gradually engaging one’s tongue and mind. In this way one should reside in Vraja [Goloka Vṛndavana-dhama] and serve Krishna under the guidance of devotees. One should follow in the footsteps of the Lord’s beloved devotees, who are deeply attached to His devotional service.” (Nectar of Instruction, verse 8)