Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Travel Journal#12.15: Polish Tour, Baltic Summer Festival, Ancient Trance Festival

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 15
By Krishna-kripa das
(August 2016, part one)
Polish Festival Tour, Baltic Summer Festival, Ancient Trance Festival  
(Sent from Brooklyn, New York, on September 14, 2016)

Where I Went and What I Did

I spent the last day of July and the first four of August on the Festival of India tour on the Polish coast with Indradyumna Swami and his followers, doing harinama in the towns and on the beaches. Then I spent six days on the Baltic Vaishnava Summer Festival just an hour north of Vilnius in Lithuania and heard lectures by Niranjana Swami, Bhakti Caitanya Swami, B. B. Govinda Swami, Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Swami, Dhirashanta Goswami, and Suresvara Prabhu. After that I chanted in Vilnius for an hour with a Russian couple before a 17-hour bus ride to Berlin. I spent the next day recovering and having pizza with Gadadhara Priya Prabhu and Sara, before taking an afternoon bus to Leipzig, for the three-day Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha, where Sadbhuja Prabhu and his friends set up a yurt and chanted Hare Krishna and told stories related to self-realization for at least six hours every evening. The second day, in addition to our evening chanting, we set up a stage and sang for three and a half  hours in front of downtown Leipzig metro station and advertised the upcoming Leipzig Ratha-yatra. The third day I attended the Leipzig Sunday feast before our evening chanting session. Then I returned to the Polish coast for two more days on the tour before the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (Czech Woodstock).

I share notes from Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and an excerpt from the journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I heard many inspiring ideas from all the wonderful senior devotees speaking at the Baltic Vaishnava Summer Festival in Lithuania. These include Bhakti Caitanya Swami, who talked about Srila Prabhupada, Niranjana Swami, B. B. Govinda Swami, Bhakti Visrambha Madhava Swami, who did a question and answers session, Dhirashanta Goswami, who did a japa workshop, Suresvara Prabhu, who talked about the position of Srila Prabhupada, and Sarvatma Prabhu. I also have notes on a conversation with Indradyumna Swami and on the lectures of Bada Haridas Prabhu from the Festival of India tour in Poland. I feel exceedingly blessed to have heard so many glorious truths from so many sincere and dedicated followers of Srila Prabhupada, and I hope you have time to read my recounting of them and become similarly inspired. 

I would like to thank Haladhara Prabhu of Leipzig for his kind donation. Thanks to book distributor Jayanitai Prabhu of Germany, who gave me in charity the American dollars from his collections. Thanks to Vladimiras Maksimkinas for the picture of Dhirashanta Goswami and me and my bead bag. Thanks to Mathura Lilapriya for the picture of me serving prasadam at the Baltic Summer Festival. Thanks to Nikolai Voltsihhin, who found prasadam plates work as umbrellas and shared his picture of us using them. Thanks to Chandrashekhara Acharya Prabhu for sharing his picture of us on the Polish tour bus.


September 13–20: New York City Harinam
September 21–24: Philadelphia Harinamas and Ratha-yatra
September 25–mid November: New York City Harinama
Three days in mid November: Washington, D.C., Harinama
last two weeks November: North Florida
December: New York City Harinam

Festival of India Tour in Poland

I have had a relationship with the Festival of India in Poland for fifteen years, and it was great to do the daily harinama program with the devotees again and help distribute invitations to the passersby in the towns and on the beaches of Poland’s Baltic Coast. Although there are many distributors, I always find a few people to give invitations to that the others missed and thus make a small contribution. I saw Indradyumna Swami providing all kinds of opportunities for a variety of devotees from a variety of places to engage their talents in a practical way, and it was very inspiring. I couple devotees I know from Krishna House came on the tour this year, and I was so happy to see how much they appreciated the experience.

The first full day I was on the Polish tour was Monday, and for most tour devotees it is a day of rest. Sometimes there is an evening program Monday night, but not the night I was there. Thus I encouraged my friend Chandrashekhar Acharya Prabhu to do a kirtana in the temple room, and he and several other devotees participated (

Chandrashekhar Acharya Prabhu used to come on the tour regularly several years back, and it was nice to see him back this year. The English-speaking devotees on the tour would regularly have lunch together and converse and thus we would all become friends.

Every day during the final kirtana devotees dance with the guests and that has been going on for years, but this year for the first time I saw even during the initial bhajana with Bada Haridas Prabhu, the devotee ladies danced with some girls visiting the festival in Ustronie Morksie (

One day I did questions and answers and linked up some young students from Krakow with details about the local programs in their area so they could follow up on their interest in the spiritual wisdom of Bhagavad-gita.

Niechorze was the main city we did during my brief visit to the tour. I have nice memories of that place. One girl named Ewa (pronounced “Eva”), from a neighboring village, attended our programs there for years. She cultivated a relationship with Indradyumna Swami, and now she is known as Visnhu Patni Devi Dasi, and is happily engaged in doing deity worship and prasadam in Wroclaw. Niechorze is famous for a very conspicuous lighthouse.

We chanted on the beach at Niechorze (

On our way back to the festival site, we passed some apartments, and the residents danced to the sound of the Krishna kirtana (

From one apartment, the residents greeted our party with upraised arms two days in a row.

Because it was raining, our chanting party took shelter of one of our tents at our site. The kirtana continued for over an hour in the tent, and Indradyumna Swami himself led for part of the time.

The faces of the devotees beamed in happiness. 

It was so dynamic that people would come and watch. Some of them would get caught up in the dancing, as you can see in this video ( 

Here are a couple people who enjoyed encountering that chanting party and got caught up in moving with the music. 

One time when it wasn’t raining in Niechorze, we chanted in front of our stage after returning from chanting at the beach (

After five days on the tour, I had to leave to go to the Baltic Vaishnava Summer Festival in Lithuania, but later, after that festival and the Ancient Trance Festival, I joined the tour for two more days.

Baltic Vaishnava Summer Festival in Lithuania

I am very grateful to Anton of Latvia, who kindly drove 13 km to pick me up from the closest public bus stop to our festival site. I met him at the festival in a previous year, when he served as a free taxi, driving devotees between the spread out buildings at another venue.

Bhakti Swarupa Caitanya Swami is from Lithuania, and I have seen him at this festival every year, once traveling with him and some Estonian brahmacaris for a couple days in Poland before he took sannyasa. He greeted me with such affection it was very heart warming.

Bhakti Caitanya Swami is the main leader behind the festival. 

The devotees took pleasure in offering him a cake for his birthday. He enthusiastically cut pieces of cake for all in attendance.

We had mangala-arati in the festival tent. 

In the back of the room, one devotee accompanied the singing with a violin.

B. B. Govinda Swami and Akincana Krishna Prabhu were a kirtana team at the Vaishnava Summer Festival in Lithuania. Here B. B. Govinda Swami, having given the lead to Akincana Krishna Prabhu, leads the devotees in dancing (

The next to last day of the festival Niranjana Swami led the morning kirtana (

Niranjana Swami invited me to live in the New York temple back in 1979, and I owe my opportunity to come to appreciate Krishna consciousness largely to him. He is steady in his service and his following of the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, and he can inspire other people to be faithful. I come to this festival primarily to see and hear from him, and you can find my notes on his and the others’ lectures in the “Insights” section below.

I felt I should offer to do some service, so I offered to serve out lunch prasadam. 

It felt nice to connect with the devotees in this way.

Water splashed down on my computer twice from a leak in the festival tent roof, as I was taking notes on the lectures. The first time I thought it was just rain that had accumulated overnight, and I dried off my computer with the end of my dhoti and kept going, but then it happened again. I probably should have stopped using the computer in its dampened condition, but I was so attached to taking notes, I continued after drying it off again. Later, the next two times I booted up the computer, it worked for a while, and then it crashed. When I plugged the power cable into it, the red light that indicates it is charging did not even come on, and then when I tried to boot it up, it would not even make the sound it usually does, what to speak of actually booting up. The festival was an hour away from any city with a computer repair place, and because the computer is so useful to me, I was in great anxiety. I put it in the sun, I put it near a heater, and I prayed like anything to Krishna that He fix it. I thought of how Krishna is all knowing and all powerful, and that He is all merciful. I considered how it is He who gives computer repair people the intelligence to fix computers from within the heart.  I wanted to make good use of the computer on my 17-hour bus ride to Berlin after the festival, and I needed it fixed. My computer would not boot up for four days! On the final morning of the festival, the day of my Berlin bus, it amazingly booted up, and it was in almost perfect working order. The only damage is the “delete” key does not work, but there are ways around that. I am so grateful that despite my stupidity in using the dampened computer, Krishna arranged that it still works and no data was lost. Only my notes are less detailed as I had to type them into my cell phones while the computer was inactive, and I cannot do that as quickly.

In addition to the computer challenge, my room at the festival site was a twenty-minute walk away, and the path was not illuminated. It rained a lot, and you had to try to avoid the puddles in the dim light. Occasionally devotees would drive by, and almost always mercifully offer a ride.

There was three hours of kirtana every night, and for me the presence of B. B. Govinda Swami made it extra special. I got to love his kirtanas when he came on the Polish Woodstock for several years, but he has not been coming recently there, and I miss his joyous kirtanas greatly.

Despite so many challenges, the lecturers made so many inspiring points, I felt it was all more than worth it.

The Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha (Leipzig)

Traveling preacher Sadbhuja Prabhu does kirtana and Pradyumna Prabhu of Leipzig distributes prasadam at the Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha (Leipzig) each year.

Sadbhuja Prabhu sets up a yurt, has a bon fire, and does at least six hours of kirtana every evening for the three days of the festival.

Lots of alternative people enjoy meditating on the transcendental sound or chanting along.

Here are some video clips from each evening:

I remembered how I would stand at the back of our Mantra Yoga tent at the Polish Woodstock, handing out mantra cards to people who delighted in chanting and dancing with us, and I decided to do the same in our kirtana tent at the Ancient Trance festival, passing out invitations to the upcoming Leipzig Ratha-yatra.

Once Sangita Devi Dasi sang and played harmonium, Sadbhuja  Prabhu played a two-headed drum, and Lotus, just turning five years old, a member of our ISKCON Leipzig congregation, played the djembe (

I never saw such a small girl play the djembe before. 

Saturday afternoon the devotees had got permission to do kirtana in downtown Leipzig, and we set up near a metro station, chanting for 3½ hours.  

We had a book table there.

We also invited passersby to the Leipzig Ratha-yatra, coming up in a couple weeks.

Sunday afternoon I decided to go with Gopati Prabhu, who loves to chant Hare Krishna kirtana, to the Leipzig Sunday feast as our kirtanas at the Ancient Trance festival were mostly after 6 p.m.

I was happy to see Jaya, who is a native of Krishna’s birthplace, Mathura, and who we saw twice on harinama last month, inviting him to the temple and the Ratha-yatra. It is so nice when the people we invite to the temple actually come. Of course, someone from a holy place, like Mathura, one would expect to have the intelligence to grab a spiritual opportunity. He seemed very happy to be at the program, and stayed until most of the devotees had already left.

One of three girls from Greece, who were all friends and spending a year in Leipzig, took great pleasure in dancing to our chanting. She was very happy to accept a Ratha-yatra invitation.

As I returned to our kirtana tent from a prasadam break, I met a couple who had participated in the kirtana. The girl especially loved to chant our mantra. She was from Portugal but living near Antwerp, and I told her we had devotees there who met regularly and had a annual Ratha-yatra festival. I also told her about our castle in Belgium, and the Radhadesh Mellows chanting festival there the last week of January.

One lady, whose face lit up with a continous smile from hearing the kirtana, accepted an invitation to our Hamburg temple, as she is from there, and to our Berlin temple, as she visits there often.

I could see I played an important role in telling people about how they could continue developing their attachment for Hare Krishna kirtana and its spiritual blessings, and I was happy to participate again in the Ancient Trance Festival in Taucha, six kilometers northeast of Leipzig.

Back on the Polish Tour Again

Because I was invited by Indradyumna Swami to spend a week on the tour each year, and I had only spent five days, and because I had some free time in my schedule, I returned to the Polish festival tour. One friend doubted the wisdom in this, and I reflected upon that and shared my thoughts with my Facebook friends, “I spent two days on the Polish festival tour. It cost me about an extra $25 and perhaps ten hours of travel, but to go on two 4-hour harinamas with 60 enthusiastic devotees, to distribute dozens of invitations to a festival where thousands will take pleasure in hearing about Krishna, to have lunch with Indradyumna Swami, and hear his wisdom and his kirtanas, as well as those of Bada Haridas Prabhu, and to meet many friends, who are beautiful souls dedicated to sharing the culmination of the Vedic spiritual wisdom with others, it was certainly worth it.

I arrived on Monday, and because it was a rest day for the tour, it was difficult to find a ride from the Kołobrzeg train station to our base in Siemyśl. I was not so worried, as I knew enough Polish to understand if I waited for an hour and a half or so, I could take a bus that ran every weekday except holidays. Only one thing, I did not know August 15 was a holiday in Poland! I did not want to pester the devotees about giving me a ride, so I decided to walk to the end of town, and try hitchhiking for half an hour and see how I did. The first person who stopped was going to Szczecin, and had I known enough Polish, I would have suggested he take me toward Szczecin until the road for Siemyśl turned off, but he decided not to take me at all. The second person to stop was a lady. I do not like to ride with ladies traveling alone as it is not recommended for monks, but I was tired of hitchhiking. She did not know where Siemyśl was, and I could not describe it very well. Moreover she had an appointment she had to keep. She decided to meet up with the rest of her family, and have her husband, who did know where Siemyśl was, direct her. She explained that day was a holiday in connection with Mary, and so I understood why the last bus to Siemyśl had never come. I tried to think of something positive to say about Mary, and so I said that it is progressive that Christianity contains the idea of divine females, which you do not find in every tradition. I am not sure how much she appreciated that. The rest of the family did not know much English, and I did not know enough Polish to have a meaningful conversation with them. I think they thought I was just a part of a strange sect, but they were pious enough to want to help someone in a difficult situation, and I was grateful for that. I offered them a book and some prasadam, but they not interested and were happy just to drop me off perhaps 50 meters from the school that was our base and be on their way. 

Kołobrzeg is the biggest city by far of all those beach resorts where the tour performs. We did four hours of harinama each day to advertise the festival, even when it rained. Many onlookers delighted in joining the dancing devotees as you can see in this video (

We would pass apartment houses, and many people would come out on their verandas to watch.

During the final kirtana each evening on the Festival of India tour in Poland, in which Indradyumna Swami is the leader singer, guests often dance with the devotees as here in Kołobrzeg (

Although the devotees were tired from so many weeks on the tour, there was still some enthusiasm to dance during Bada Haridas Prabhu’s ecstatic Guru Puja kirtana the final morning of my visit ( 

The final day I was on the tour, I had lunch with Indradyumna Swami, and I share some of what he said under “Insights” below.

Funny Photos

As we were waiting to wash our plates outside at the Baltic festival, it rained, and Nikolai Voltsihhin, the person ahead of me in line, used his plate as an umbrella to keep the rain off his head. 

It seemed like a good idea, so I tried it, and he took a picture of both of us with his camera, while balancing his plate on his head.

Progressive people are seeking lower technology that does not threaten the environment. 

At the Ancient Trance Festival, someone had a blender that was powered by a bicycle, a creative idea.

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


Srila Prabhupada:

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.39 in Los Angeles on May 1, 1973:

Why not see God in the way God directs you to see Him?

Even a ordinary man in a big position you cannot see in your own way, what to speak of God.

If your mind is absent, despite having your eyes, you cannot see. Thus the mind is the center of the senses.

From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.40 in Los Angeles on May 2, 1973:

The nonvegetarian tiger may eat once in a week, with great difficulty, while the vegetarian animals get some grass to eat every day.

You cannot live on meat alone. You have one little piece of meat on your plate, along with some vegetables, and for that little piece of meat, you are willing to perform so many sinful activities.

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From a Facebook post the evening of August 16, 2016:

“Radha-Govinda reciprocate with me.
Radha-Govinda, You are perfect
in all respects.  You have perfect
beauty and perfect love for each other.
You have compassion
for all living beings.
Although Your association is very rare,
it is attainable to anyone
who chants ‘Radha’
and ‘Krishna’ with love. 
Anyone who loves
Your personal attendants
gets guaranteed mercy from You.
That person is the most fortunate person
in the world because if a pure devotee
of Radha-Krishna recommends
you to Them, They will appear before you
and offer any benediction. 
All glories to the Divine Couple! 
All glories to Their confidential servants!
All glories to the servants of the servants.
I am grateful Radha-Govinda
reside with me in Viraha Bhavan.”

Bhakti Caitanya Swami:

This is a seminar on remembering Srila Prabhupada. We will not have an exam on this seminar. The exam will be at the time of death. Then we will see how well we remember Srila Prabhupada.

Once they had top-level professional dancers perform at the Los Angeles temple for the Sunday Feast. A devotee showed photos of the event to Srila Prabhupada and was glorifying them. Srila Prabhupada said, “But the dancers had their backs to the deities.” The devotee heard that but continued saying how wonderful the event was. Srila Prabhupada repeated, “But the dancers had their backs to the deities.” The devotee then understood Prabhupada was very concerned about it. He said, “The GBC, Jaya Tirtha, said it was OK.” Srila Prabhupada said, “Rupa Goswami says we must never have our backs to the deities, yet Jaya Tirtha says it is alright. The problem in ISKCON is we have too many big, big authorities.”

Srila Prabhupada was the first devotee I saw. I was walking across the university campus, and I heard the jingling of bells, I turned around, and I saw Srila Prabhupada walking. To either side of him, perhaps just under a meter away, a beautiful young lady in a sari was dancing and offering flowers at his feet. It seemed to me like a scene from heaven. Behind Srila Prabhupada was a group of perhaps six or seven devotees. I knew Hare Krishna because George Harrision made a recording of “Hare Krishna” that made the top of the pops, and thus I recognized the singing.

From that day, my life changed drastically. When I would walk around, I would see people, and I would consider that all of them were wasting their lives.     

I was a member of the surfing community. Russell Hughes gave Spider, a prominent surfer, a massive “Simply Wonderful” and told him to have all the surfers in Sydney take a bite. When that “Simply Wonderful” reached me, it had hundreds of bites out of it, I had doubts about taking a bite, but I felt obliged, so I did.

Later I moved to England, and I went to an occult bookstore, and was looking at the different books, and was reminded of the Hare Krishnas, and I asked the bookstore owner if he knew where to find the Hare Krishnas, and he said , “They are right around the corner.” I went to the temple and met the temple president, Dhananjaya Prabhu, who it turns out that I was related to. He invited me to live in the temple as a guest, saying that I did not have to make a commitment, and so I did.

Later Prabhupada came to visit Bhaktivedanta Manor. We were down offering obeisances to Srila Prabhupada. The devotee next to me reached out and touched Srila Prabhupada’s feet. He turned to me and encouraged me to do the same. I was a little further away, but I tried. Srila Prabhupada was surrounded by a big sannyasi, Brahmananda Swami, who had a big stick, and lowered the stick on my hand, and I pulled it back. The devotee next to me encouraged me again, and this time I was successful. Perhaps that is why this guest is still around today.

A devotee asked Srila Prabhupada, “Is there a difference if we make a mistake in the temple or when we are out preaching?” Srila Prabhupada said if you are preaching and distributing books, Krishna will immediately take away the reaction.

One devotee asked Srila Prabhupada what to say in distributing his books. Srila Prabhupada picked up a book, walked over to the devotee, and put the book in his hand, and said, “My dear sir, you look very intelligent. You are the most intelligent person I have met all day. I just have one request to you. ‘Give up all your nonsense, and read this book.’”

One devotee read from The Nectar of Devotion how chanting the holy name frees one from other offenses, but if you commit the ten offenses against the holy name you cannot be delivered. The devotee asked if there was some way someone could be free from these offenses. Srila Prabhupada said, “You are planning to make offenses and want some easy way to get free from offenses.”

In Bury Place, regarding Radha-Londonisvara, Srila Prabhupada said, “I have captured Krishna, and I am holding Him here for you. Please come take Him.”

Tribhuvananatha Prabhu said sometimes we feel some difficulty in devotional service. Srila Prabhupada replied that it was an expression of Krishna’s love. Just like sometimes in a couple having strong feelings for each other, one may actually bite the other.

One of the devotees excitedly told Srila Prabhupada that a guard from Buckingham Palace had become a devotee, and Srila Prabhupada replied, “And what about the queen?”

Srila Prabhupada told me that reciting the obeisances to the Vaishnavas daily, from the heart, relieves one from accidental offenses to the devotees.

Malati said to Srila Prabhupada, “You say that if we simply chant 16 rounds and follow the four rules we will go back to Godhead, but that seems too easy. Is it true?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Do you think I would cheat you?”

In the 1970s I was distributing books in Birmingham, and by 4 p.m. I had not distributed one book. I decided to pray to Srila Prabhupada, “I am trying to distribute your books for your pleasure without concern for myself. Please help me.” Then using the same lines I had used all day, I sold one book and then another. I decided that Krishna must be pleased with my mentality so I decided to become more fixed in it. In half an hour, I distributed ten books in a row. From then on we would distribute 100 books a day, or on a bad day, at least 80 books. We had a saying, “A hundred books a day keeps maya away.”

If we grasp the importance of Srila Prabhupada’s mission, we can make a contribution for the betterment of the world.

Prahlada Maharaja asks Lord Nrsimha how his extremely materialistic mind which is never satisfied by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord can actually come to the point of having a taste for it. Srila Prabhupada emphatically declares in the purport that by chanting the holy name one’s mind will become purified and come to that point.

Different misconceptions sometimes arise among devotees, such as, “If I become psychologically balanced then I can chant Hare Krishna.” By astrological analysis, by palm reading, by reading tea leaves, etc., one will not bring his mind under control.

In this connection, Prabhupada quotes the “harer nama” verse which stresses three times that only by chanting the holy name can one attain success.

Even varnasrama when it is not connected to Krishna can lead one to hell.

Lord Caitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has come to give us the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra.

Visvanatha Cakravati Thakura says in his Madhurya-kadambini that certain mode of goodness activities, like vegetarianism, although they cannot awaken Krishna consciousness on their own, can act as doors through which Krishna consciousness can come. One has to be very careful, however, that such activities do not deviate ourselves from our focus on Krishna.

One South Africa artist who was a staunch vegan for twelve years was encouraged by a devotee to come to the Sunday feast. After tolerating the lecture, when the feast came, she found everything that was not deep fried was covered with cream and sour cream, and she did not eat a thing. Somehow the devotee was able to inspire her to come again, and she ultimately became a nice devotee.

Chanting the holy names is the first step in getting a taste for relishing the pastimes of the Lord.

Jiva Goswami says the mind of the conditioned souls is absorbed in thinking how much they enjoyed sense gratification in the past and how much they will enjoy sense gratification in the future, and thus they have no opportunity to act in the present for their ultimate self-interest. Actually the sense gratification was not so great, but maya makes it seem as if it was, and thus they continue to aspire for it.

There was a certain wildness in the early days of the Hare Krishna movement. Tribhuvanatha Prabhu joined when he was just eighteen years old. We had few devotees, and one year most of them decided to go to India, including the temple president. Tribhuvanatha Prabhu, in alarm, asked the temple president who was going to be in charge while he was gone, and the temple president told him that he could be in charge. During that time, the BBC decided to interview the Hare Krishna leaders in England for national TV. Tribhuvanatha’s family did not know he had become a Hare Krishna, and there he was, shaven-headed, on national TV, as the leader of the Hare Krishnas in England.

Niranjana Swami:

Could I have half a glass of water? No, that is full cup. If I drink that, I will pour it all over myself.

If we try by restraint alone to control the senses, it will be easy for them to become attracted to sense pleasure.

Our process is simultaneously restraining and purifying the senses.

The senses require some taste because the senses exist to taste. The different senses taste different sense objects.

Unless an attempt is made to purify the senses they can never be controlled.

Commenting on the famous verse “smartayah satatam vishnor vismartayah na jatucit . . . Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura suggests that “satatam” does not mean “at every moment” but rather “every day.” He considers it a verse for one practicing devotional service, and for one in the practicing stage, continuous remembrance is not possible and attempting it would be frustrating.

Bhakti-yoga begins with faith in bhakti.

The aspiring devotee knows that material desires lead to suffering, although he cannot give them up immediately, but he does not use material means to free himself from the suffering they cause, because he is engaged in something higher, the path of devotional service, which frees one from such suffering.

A devotee does not have the inclination to unfavorable things to the extent that he has for bhakti, which he has just started, and he will not give up his faith in bhakti for anything.

The devotee does not try to feel good about his materialistic activities because he knows there is no real happiness there. Thus he hears about Krishna with faith, aspiring to come to the point of experiencing the higher taste.

There are three categories of faith in bhakti:
1.    Those opposed to bhakti.
2.    Those without faith in bhakti.
3.    Those who have faith in bhakti.

Vidura laments for those opposed to bhakti and joyously glorifies those with faith in bhakti.

The threshold of bhakti is when one develops exclusive faith in hearing about bhakti. Without regulated hearing about bhakti, it is very difficult to purify the senses.

On this 50th anniversary of ISKCON, let us celebrate what Srila Prabhupada gave us, this process of purifying the senses by hearing and chanting about Krishna, and not something Prabhupada that did not give us.

If we do not purify our senses by hearing and chanting of Krishna every day, it will not be possible to bring our senses under control. But even if we cannot hear and chant about Krishna every day, and our senses do go out of control, the devotee knows his only hope in controlling his senses is bhakti, and so he never abandons the path.

My disciples know that the friendship of my godbrothers means more than anything to me.

Prabhupada says in a Sri Caitanya-caritamrita purport that an awakening of taste for devotional service is synonymous with receiving the bhakti lata bija (the seed of the creeper of devotion).

I first got a book, then I met the devotees, but I was both first and second initiated before I actually met Srila Prabhupada. Thus my first experience of Krishna consciousness was of Srila Prabhupada’s books and temples.

Srila Prabhupada created the temples so people could live in the association of devotees and so people could come and hear about Krishna.

There is famous letter from Prabhupada to Karandhara in 1972 where he stressed inviting people to regularly come to the temples and hear about Krishna rather than making devotees because by regularly hearing one will voluntarily take up the practice of devotional service.

I got Bhagavad-gita at bookstore in Washington D.C. I worked as carpenter and would read it every day after work. When I finished it I ordered the Bhagavatam and The Nectar of Devotion and read them every day after work. I moved to New England and decided to visit the Boston temple. I traveled 100 miles from Cape Cod.  I could not find it. I tried again some weeks later. That time I found it, and I waited outside the building for some time, looking at the sign, but I was too apprehensive to go in, and I returned home. Then next time I had the courage to go in. The devotees greeted me, talked to me, and gave me prasadam whenever I would visit.
Srila Prabhupada told a female reporter the dress was not required but that the devotees dress in that way so others will remember Krishna.

One of Srila Prabhupada’s wonderful qualities is his complete consciousness of all detail in his service to his guru's mission, and that is something we can learn from.

[Adding to an answer given by another devotee:] “Domestic violence should never be tolerated in the name of submission to one’s husband.”

Cooperation is difficult in Kali-yuga. This is because of anarthas and the false ego. False ego is hard to get past as it is the largest covering. We must try to restrain ourselves before the purifying result of Krishna consciousness is attained.

Devotional service begins when we have faith in the process of purification.

The trouble arises when people who have not yet begun imagine they have progressed beyond the beginning.

If everyone admits he is a beginner, then they can begin to cooperate under the leadership of one among them who is more solidly situated.

Srila Prabhupada explained it is duty of the servant to relieve the anxiety of the master.

Because we are conditioned we tend not to take pleasure in the success of others. Until we become purified, at least we can restrain ourselves from criticizing them.

We cannot become pure by intellectual adjustment or by restraint but by association with the pure.

One should hear the glories of the holy name in the revealed scriptures from the mouths of pure devotees.

If we experience some ecstatic emotion, it may or not be genuine. Even it is genuine, we should not think it indicates our advancement but rather the mercy of the devotees.

B. B. Govinda Swami:

By following the instructions of the Six Goswamis all conceivable impediments to devotional service can be destroyed.

We are constantly fearful because of bodily identification.

My brother, who is ten years younger than me, became very wealthy. Yet in his mid fifties he got a massive stroke and now he is paralyzed.

In 1965 Srila Prabhupada offered to his godbrothers that they could be in charge of the preaching in America and he would serve them, but they were not interested.

After Niranjana Swami and I had read Sri Caitanya-caritmrita for several hours and were swimming in bliss, he asked me what the greatest contribution of Srila Prabhupada was. I said he spread the holy name all over the world and gave people the chance to take to bhakti. He listened and added, “Not only did he give the holy name, but he created a net composed of festivals, books, deity worship, restaurants, self-sufficient farm communities, etc.”

I was a cook, and I learned to make the preps that Prabhupada told us Krishna liked. We wanted to preserve the culture that Srila Prabhupada gave us because we were convinced it was the best culture.

In the Gaudiya Matha the title Bhaktivedanta was like Ph.D. and was given to those who really know the sastra (revealed literature). Prabhupada got that title as a householder.

To preserve Srila Prabhupada’s legacy read his books and follow his instructions.

We are at the stage of life where we are in the departure lounge, waiting for them to call our flight.

In 1967 when Srila Prabhupada was in the hospital he wrote a friend in Delhi, asking him to procure some Ayurvedic medicine. In the letter he said he was not afraid of death, but he did not want to die as he had not yet executed the mission of his spiritual master.

Bhakti Caitanya Swami is very scholarly and a great speaker. He has a great love for Vrindavan.

Indradyumna Swami:

From a conversation over lunch:

[The day I left the Polish festival tour, Indradyumna Swami kindly sat down on the bench I was sitting on to take lunch with me. I was telling him I was going to the Czech Woodstock, and he told me the story of his visiting Czechoslovakia before the revolution ending communist rule there, and I share it with you here.]

Indradyumna Swami said in 1989 he was traveling with B. B. Govinda Swami in Czechoslovakia. They noticed that five secret policemen were following them wherever they went. On the trains the secret policemen would sit together, two or three rows away. Indradyumna Swami decided to visit the farm the devotees had there. Soon after they arrived, the five secret policemen also arrived, pretending they were interested in Krishna consciousness. They listened to Indradyumna Swami give class, and Maharaja mentioned that he was in the U.S. Marines, but that he got an honorable discharge because he did not want to kill the communist Viet Cong, all of which was true. The secret policeman wanted to stay overnight. The temple president did not want to upset them by saying no, so he said they had a condition that anyone who wanted to stay had to do some work. Thus he engaged them in digging trenches in the garden from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then they had lunch. Indradyumna Swami made sure they got some maha-prasadam. The temple president explained the purpose of the work was to teach them humility, and that because they were not yet sufficiently humble, they would have to do more work in the afternoon. They did end up staying overnight, but they left before mangala-arati. Apparently they had had enough. Indradyumna Swami and B. B. Govinda Swami stayed there for a week, and they did not see the secret policeman anymore on the farm. When they continued on their journey through Czechoslovakia to either Yugoslavia or Bulgaria, they again would see those five men following them all the way to the Czechoslovakian border.

Indradyumna Swami also spontaneously told me that he has no objection to Krishna West. As long as they wear respectable clothing it is alright. He mentioned he has a couple of nice suits.

Bhakti Virambha Madhava Swami:

Q: Tell me about the Radha Damodara Party . . . and Vishnujana Maharaja.
A: He was cool. The party was called Vijaya’s Raiders in the beginning. Everyone kept their belongings in BTG boxes.

On Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami’s appearance day in Atlanta three busloads, 80 brahmacaris, took darsana of Srila Prabhupada. He said, “My guru liked brahmacaris. If you get married you will have to get an apartment and so much trouble. You preach, and you can pray to Krishna, and Krishna can make the itching sensation [sex life] go away. There was 10 seconds of silence. You could hear a pin drop. Then he repeated that. And then he said, but if it does not go away, you can get married like them and he pointed to two householders who did not have a particularly happy experience in married life.

But in 1972, he said, “I am not sanctioning anymore marriages.” He had such a bad experience of the husband and wife splitting up instead of living peacefully together as devotees.

Q (by me): How did you get captivated by Deity service?
A: I started deity worship in 1974. Some people are pujaris by nature, and they cannot help but do that service because that is how they establish their relationship with the Lord.

Q: How do you establish a relationship with Gaura-Nitai?
A: Vamsidas Babaji was asked that, and he just said, “Call out.”
When the person asked him further, he said, “Call out more.”
When we call out to the deities, They reciprocate.

Our business is to love and serve all the devotees, because even the best devotees start out small.

Seva aparadhas, offenses in service, are natural for one engaged in service, but if one serves caranamrita and prasadam to the devotees, the Lord will tolerate his offenses.

A devotee cross references whatever knowledge he receives from others from within the heart, with the sastra [the revealed scriptures], guru, and sadhus [community of saints], and if you cannot do that with some knowledge, then assume it is mental speculation. If it is for real, then Paramatma [the Lord in the heart] will give it to you again.

To serve Krishna in your spiritual form is immortality.

There is spiritual liberation and material liberation. Material liberation is when the children are asleep. [Laughter.]

What is your attitude toward politics? One guru told his disciple, “When you see politics, run the other away.”

What do you think about Christ’s statement that He is the only way? It was meant for his forum and is fine for that, but that is not for our forum.

Sometimes we worked so hard during the book distribution marathon we fell asleep while taking prasadam.

Srila Prabhupada hated it when people fell asleep in his classes.

Bhakti Tirtha Swami told me two ways of studying: Topicwise and bookwise.

According to Hari-bhakti-vilasa, you can fast on behalf of others but you cannot eat or sleep on their behalf.

Is it better to chant the holy name and study the sastra or to work on becoming free from egoism? Do both, but do not let your anarthas stop you from chanting the holy name.

You should open your heart to senior devotees who you love and trust and who are local.

We are made of the mercy of the devotees. By the mercy of the devotees we are here.

You should glorify people in public and find fault with devotees behind closed doors with people competent to deal with it.

Even if your constructive criticism is correct, if the person does not follow it, what is the benefit?

If you want a nice Govardhan parikrama, do not do it between Ekadasi and the following Purnima.
The devotee prays to the Lord, “Do what you want with me. Just bring me to Your lotus feet.”

One sannyasi said, “There is no utility in negativity.”

Narottama Das Thakura says in his Prema-bhakti candrika all he wants in his mind is the instructions of guru, sadhu, and sastra and nothing else.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.43 is a great verse for book distributors for it expresses the devotee’s attitude of mercy:
“O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities. My concern is only for the fools and rascals who are making elaborate plans for material happiness and maintaining their families, societies and countries. I am simply concerned with love for them.”

There are prayers by Sani, the Lord of the Saturn planet, to Lord Nrsimha, which are powerful to counteract negativity.

Prasada is very powerful. Who argues with a samosa? Who fights with a sweet ball?

The joke about marriage compatibility is that just because he loves Krishna and she loves Krishna does not mean he loves her [or she loves him].

Dhirashanta Goswami:

Niranjana Swami once told me to be careful of my translators. I asked him why I should be careful of my translators. He said because you do not know what they are saying.

When I do japa workshops I put my chair at the level of the audience because the workshop is also for me.

In the 1980s some devotees came out with a reggae song about chanting the holy name. [He repeated the lines. Two that struck me were:
 “You do not have to care what other people think.
 For they don’t care if you swim or sink.”]

Japa is the activity that brings us up from the modes of nature and allows us to become transcendental.

[Dhirashanta Goswami has an exercise whereby he claims he can prove that chanting Hare Krishna is very easy. He has the ladies stand on their toes and put their arms in the air, and he has the guys stand on one leg, bring their other leg up to their knee, and put their hands above their heads. He says that is an austerity done in Satya-yuga. But Kali-yuga we can get the same benefit by chanting Hare Krishna. After a few minutes of having the audience stand in those positions, he asks again, “Is chanting Hare Krishna easy?” Everyone agrees it is.]

Our attitude is a problem we can have in japa, that we have to do it alone, that we have to do it at all. It can be a struggle. If we can change our attitude alone, that can really transform our japa.

We are not our bodies but spirit souls, and our soul is just waiting for us to take shelter of the holy name. The soul says, “It has been so many lifetimes since I have chanted the holy name of the Lord, and now I have this great opportunity. I cannot wait for tomorrow’s japa session.”

The mind is such a rascal it will not allow us to chant.

I have many japa affirmations. Here are three:
1.    Lord Caitanya is allowing me to chant Hare Krishna.
2.    I want to chant Hare Krishna.
3.    I love to chant Hare Krishna.

Even in two weeks of chanting, your life becomes transformed. You have seen it yourself. Imagine after twenty or thirty years!

Q: Why does the mind object to the chanting of the holy name?
A: The mind is very familiar with our service to it. It does not appreciate our changing our object of service to Krishna.
In the boxing championship, they have twelve rounds, and we have sixteen. We are in one side of the boxing ring, and our mind is in the other. Every time we say Krishna with sincerity, it is a left hook to the mind.

Q: What should we do on Ekadasi?
A: We are all individuals. It is not that I can say what we should all do on Ekadasi. For you, who have been a devotee for two years, chant sixteen rounds, fast till noon, and eat as much as you want. Can I chant a little more japa? Sure.

Q: How to get strong faith in the holy name and not lose it?
A: It develops gradually as we chant Hare Krishna. It has become a fashion to do the impossible before one does the simple.
One disciple asked Srila Prabhupada for his blessings to go to Radha Kund and chant sixty-four rounds there. Srila Prabhupada said no, there are already so many monkeys there.
We want to chant Hare Krishna happily and be ourselves. Maybe later we will be able to do something miraculous.

Usually when asked about overpopulation, Srila Prabhupada would say that from his travels by plane it did not seem to him the earth was overpopulated. Once, however, he said, “Yes, the world is overpopulated. No one is going back to Godhead. There is no upward mobility.”

Once Srila Prabhupada said that Mayapur is our home, and there are only two reasons to live in the west, to preach and to engage in sense gratification.

The best time to sleep is between 9 p.m and 3 a.m.  If one gets no sleep from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., he gets no deep sleep. If one gets no sleep between 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. he will have no energy. If one gets no sleep between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. he will be emotionally unbalanced. Any doctor will say that the rest one gets before midnight counts double.


“I easily chant my 16 rounds with focus and attention.”

“I chant from my heart.”

“I chant to repair my broken relationship with Krishna.”

“I organize my life to make japa the most important activity of my day.”

We must prepare to chant japa with a clean japa bag and a sacred space to chant in.

[Dhirashanta Goswami asked all the devotees to put their bead bags on the table in front of him, and he inspected them, one by one, giving them a grade, mostly based on cleanliness. 

Some ladies, I recall, got 10 out of 10. I was apprehensive as I knew I had not washed my bead bag for over two weeks. I had gone on the Czech Woodstock, done harinamas in Berlin and Leipzig, and gone on the Polish tour since I had washed my bead bag in Berlin. 

He gave me an embarrassing 4 out of 10, and had me come up and claim my bead bag, as he had with the others. I am going to try to be much more diligent in washing my bead bag from now on.]

If your parents object to your altar get a portable altar.

We let the mind wander because of our inattention.

To improve japa, first we must be conscious that our mind has wandered. Then we have the chance to bring it back. If we do, that is our victory. Harinama Prabhu is very conscious of our japa, and He rewards us.

Once guests were served dry khichri cooked by a hired cook. Srila Prabhupada accused the devotees of trying to undo what he had begun. He said he was just trying to represent Lord Caitanya. He said the next day they should have five opulent preparations. If they did not enough money he would give them some from his book fund.

When I first came to the Sunday Feast, I found the chanting too loud and philosophy over my head, but the food was great, and I came every week. After awhile, seeing I liked the food, the temple president invited me for lunch as well, and I happily accepted his invitation. After some weeks, one evening my tongue spontaneously chanted Hare Krishna for several hours. I mentioned to the devotees I unexpectedly found myself chanting their mantra and I wondered why. They explained the food was prasadam and because it was nondifferent from Krishna it had purified my tongue, and so I was able to chant Hare Krishna.

Suresvara Prabhu:

One should not easily reject one’s guru. Just like one’s parents are always one’s parents no matter what happens. Still sometimes it is better if we are separated from our parents or if they are separated from us. But if we are separated from our guru, we still need shelter. Thus we should consult with senior devotees we have faith in about what to do in our specific case. The phenomenon of reinitiation has become prominent because of too much emphasis on the diksa-guru. That has to come to be more in balance.

If you have some difficulty with your guru, then give it time, consult with other gurus, and decide how to proceed.

There are no more than a hundred gurus in ISKCON, but Srila Prabhupada indicated we need many, many more.

Q: Some people think if they just follow the instructions, they do not have to take initiation.
A: One of the instructions is that one should take initiation. In The Nectar of Devotion, Srila Rupa Goswami says that one must accept a guru and many of the first ten instructions he gives deal with how to act in relationship with the guru. An important part of initiation is accepting vows, and if one is not willing to accept vows, that indicates his faith has not developed. As AA has a 12-step process for becoming sober, Rupa Goswami has a nine-step process for attain love of God [sraddha, sadhu-sanga, . . . , prema]. Step three is bhajana-kriya, which involves accepting the guru.

Once in response to a question as to which bhagavata is more important, the book or the person, Srila Prabhupada explained the person is more important because the person bhagavata can pull your ear. He can make you hear.

At a Vyasa-puja lecture, in talking to reporters and guests, Srila Prabhupada presented that the guru is like the dog of God. He ended, “It is very hard to please Krishna directly, but it is very easy to please me.” One devotee asked, “How can we please you?” and Srila Prabhupada replied, “Chant Hare Krishna.” Then there was a big kirtana, which ended the meeting.

In 1965 Srila Prabhupada wrote several godbrothers asking them to work conjointly to spread Lord Caitanya's message in the west, but no one was willing. Thus he realized he had to start his own institution.

Srila Prabhupada realized his godbrothers would be unable to help his disciples as they were unable to help him, so he warned his disciples not to take shelter of them. He explained to his disciples that his guru had wanted all the godbrothers to cooperate, but they had failed to. Still because they had not given up preaching the message of Krishna, they should be respected.

Srila Prabhupada asked his temple presidents to have temple stationery with "International Society for Krishna Consciousness / Founder-acarya A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada"

Q: What is the future of ISKCON?
A: That depends on us. The Gaudiya Matha had an excellent opportunity to spread Krishna consciousness around the world in the 30s, but they failed because they could not cooperate. Srila Prabhupada is the unifying element in ISKCON, and the more we understand his position, the easier it will be to cooperate.

At my initiation, Srila Prabhupada said Krishna consciousness is just like sweet rice. Sweet rice is very nice, but a little sand will spoil it. He advised us not to mix anything in to our practice of Krishna consciousness.

Without the mood of service it is difficult to be compassionate.

There is such similarity in the mood of Srila Prabhupada and Prahlada Maharaja.

Immediately from their first meeting, Srila Prabhupada’s allegiance went from Gandhi to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.

In 1935 Srila Prabhupada received three blessings from his guru:
1. Whatever you write will be printed.
2. In time you will do everything by yourself.
3. If you get money, print books.

Srila Prabhupada’s definition of realization is described in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.4.1 and can be summarized as faithful and fresh.

Ambarish Prabhu (Alfred Ford) spent one million dollars fixing up the Fisher Mansion as Detroit’s Hare Krishna temple, and he invited many members of auto industry aristocracy to come to the opening. They wanted to see to leader behind the movement, and that was arranged. Srila Prabhupada began speaking to them about cars, how he had a 1920 Buick with lots of problems. Then introduced the analogy of the car and driver to the body and soul. We should speak according to the audience following Srila Prabhupada.

Bada Haridas Prabhu:

Sometimes the activities of the mind are thought to be spiritual because they are subtle.

People claim to get knowledge from subtle beings at Mount Shasta, but when asked about that knowledge, they are unable to express anything of any value.

The subtle element that connects the pure spiritual soul with his temporary material body is the false ego.

How much intelligence does a five-year-old boy have? Yet that was not an impediment in Narada Muni’s spiritual development.

There was an eight-year-old girl in St. Petersberg, who died from a terrible disease. She was preaching to the doctors to not be so much concerned because she had an existence beyond her body. That was not a little girl talking, but a realized soul. 

It is not mentioned that Narada received spiritual initiation by the sages yet their association transformed his life. It is like a light is turned on that cannot be turned off again.

There is a change in our lives because by the grace of the devotees we perceive the actual value of spiritual life.

Sometimes people hear the descriptions of spiritual life or the spiritual world, and they say, “I wish I could believe that.”

The scientists’ speculations never go beyond the mind, and so there is no actual realization. It is not that the scientists become Big Bang realized.

Because spiritual conscious is factual it has such a transformational effect on our lives.

We need to contemplate these spiritual truths, especially when life gets hard.

Despite their rough edges, I could see Srila Prabhupada’s disciples had something genuine, and that attracted me.

When a verse does not have a purport, one way to understand that is to consider the point it makes so obvious and accepted that no comment is required.

Because we forgot Krishna and came to this world, we cannot have anything to be proud of.

Sometimes the child in the womb is seen to be with palms together as in prayer.

My godsister, Ananga Manjari, who was a staunch sankirtana devotee, when she was pregnant, doubted she could really play the role of a mother as she did not have all these motherly feelings, but as soon as her first child was born, all these motherly feelings spontaneously appeared.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura tells how we become absorbed in varieties of material affection and find ourselves to be old men, lamenting another life wasted without cultivating devotional service to Krishna.

One devotee giving a class on the story of Bharata Maharaja said that he should have just let the fawn die instead of rescuing it and becoming so entangled. I was shocked. But that is not the only option. Rather than becoming hardhearted, we can cultivate spiritual affection.

Krishna, who is unconquerable, is conquered by those who hear about Him.

Because of their affection for the Lord, the devotees see difficulties as the Lord’s special arrangement to benefit them.

Krishna is the possession of those who do not possess anything.

Sarvatma Prabhu:

This is a missionary movement. Let us not be selfish.  Let us please Srila Prabhupada by giving Krishna consciousness to others.

Ananda Krishna Prabhu [of Germany]:

The speaker benefits most from the lecture, and the attentive hearer benefits second most.

Keeping abominable activities distant is metaphorical and is not talking about a physical distance.

When the plant is growing we are expecting some fruit, just as when we work we expect so many euros in our bank account.

What is abominable is the egoistic mindset.

Concern for our own interest and lack of concern for others, who are also part of God, is abominable.

You can say that buddhi-yoga is bhakti-yoga because the greatest intelligence is to engage in the service of the Lord.

The word “intelligence” derives from Latin words meaning “between” and “readings.”

We have to be introspective to perceive the enemy of lust in the heart and to deal with it.

Intelligence is the ability to discern, and with it, we can choose to perform bhakti-yoga in a proper way, to accept what is good for our bhakti and to avoid what is bad for it.

In the competition for intelligence among countries Hong Kong is number one, and in general the Asian countries beat out the European ones.

If we engage our whole self in the service of the Lord we are no longer indebted to anyone else. 

By hearing narrations about Krishna we become infected with Krishna bhakti.

One should hear from pure devotees about pure devotees and become inspired to become a pure devotee oneself.

Rupa Goswami says that desire is the only price to attain pure devotional service to Krishna.

The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is in the vocative, meaning that we are calling out to Krishna.

If we find we have no desire attain Krishna, we can pray to Krishna for that desire.

The devotees of Krishna are eager to hear of the different pastimes of Krishna out of love for Him. Indeed, they never tire hearing of Krishna.

Q: Is giving to Krishna like daksina, a donation?
A: When we work and attain a good result, that is Krishna’s gift to us, so we should be willing to give to Him, and do it with some feeling.


In proofreading this issue, I am simply amazed by all the wonderful instructions given by the senior devotees speaking at the Lithuanian festival. It reminded me of this wonderful verse:

‘sadhu-sanga’, ‘sadhu-sanga’—sarva-sastre kaya
lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya

“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.54)