Thursday, November 10, 2016

Travel Journal#12.20: New York City Harinam

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 20
By Krishna-kripa das
(October 2016, part two)
New York City Harinam
(Sent from Manhattan, New York, on November 10, 2016)

Where I Went and What I Did

For the whole second half of October I stayed in New York City, participating in New York City Harinam, chanting six hours each afternoon, except when I was sick or had a production deadline and I chanted only four. In addition, I proofread Sadaputa Prabhu’s book, Maya: The World As Virtual Reality, and I began proofreading Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s book, Vaishnava Compassion. I also gave the Bhagavad-gita class at 26 Second Avenue a couple times and attended two Govardhana Puja festivals, one at The Bhakti Center and the other at Radha Govinda Mandir.

I share wisdom from the books and letters of Srila Prabhupada. I include excerpts from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name and Vaishnava Compassion, as well as his online journal. I share inspiration from a lecture by Bhakti Charu Swami. I share many notes on lectures by Hridayananda dasa Goswami at The Bhakti Center. I share quotes from Sadaputa Prabhu’s Maya: The World As Virtual Reality and notes on a class by Yogesvara Prabhu on Bhagavad-gita. I include some realizations from Ramabhadra Prabhu, president of Radha Govinda Mandir. I also share notes on the morning classes at The Bhakti Center given by Adi Purusha, Shyamananda, Karuna Gauranga, Vasudeva, Murali Gopal, Natabara Gauranga, and Mahosaha Prabhus, and also by Bhakta Josh and myself.

I would like to thank Atma-nivedana Prabhu, organizer of the Saturday Bhagavad-gita class at 26 Second Avenue, for his kind donation. Thanks very much to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for sponsoring my New York City subway travel.

Thanks to Stella for her many nice pictures of New York City harinama. Thanks to Nam Sankirtan Prabhu for his pictures of me dancing on harinama.


October 8–November 10: New York City Harinam
November 11: Washington, D.C.
November 12–13: Gainesville, Florida
November 14–December 2: New York City Harinam
December 3: Vyasa-puja of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami in Stuyvesant
December 4–January 2, 2017: New York City Harinam
January 3–April: Gainesville and north and central Florida campuses

New York City Harinam

From 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. each day I chanted with the New York City Harinam party at Union Square Park and different subway stations.

I would lead the singing,

 Play the drum,

Or dance.

Sometimes I would sit at the book table.

This time each year in our chanting spot the Jews erect a hut for Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, a seven-day festival, and we have to shift a few meters south.

In the foreground Cesar distributes a book to a young lady. Behind them, traditionally dressed Jews search for other Jews to engage in celebrating by giving them four plants: hadas (leaves from the myrtle tree), aravah (leaves from the willow tree), etrog (fruit of the citron tree) and lulav (palm frond) to hold.

One guy played his guitar with us for awhile.

Shyamananda Prabhu, although a devotee for decades, humbly sweeps the pavement before our harinama party.

An entire family played the different shakers with us.

Mahotsaha Prabhu here demonstrates the offering of lamps to Damodar at Union Square Park.

Cesar also shows how to offer lamps in Grand Central subway station.

Not so many people dressed up on Halloween, but a few did.

We purchase some organic, gluten-free, kosher candy made with fruit juice, which we offer to Krishna and distribute to those who come by our table.

Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and a group of people and several individuals dance to the transcendental sound in the Union Square subway station (

Srila Prabhupada disciple and scholar, Yogesvara Prabhu, before his weekly Tuesday afternoon Bhagavad-gita class at Jivamukti Yoga School in NYC, chanted Hare Krishna with the New York City Harinam party in Union Square Park (

Why do we get dressed?
 To go on harinama sankirtana!

Stella sang, Kaliya Krishna Prabhu played harmonium, Natabara Gauranga Prabhu played drum, Cesar distributed prasadam, and I danced on Halloween at 42nd St. / Grand Central subway station. Joyce, who donated $20 and accepted a Chant and Be Happy and Higher Taste, took this video on her phone (

I took also my own video of Stella at that time (

Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in the Grand Central subway station (

Karuna Gauranga Prabhu, of The Bhakti Center, chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (

Mathura Prana Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (

Mukunda Prestha Prabhu, of The Bhakti Center, chants Hare Krishna at Union Square Park (

Tota Gopinath Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square Park (

Stella chants Hare Krishna at Union Square Park (

Josh chants Hare Krishna at Union Square Park (

Binky chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (

Binky chants Hare Krishna at Union Square Park (

Stella chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (

Govind, who joins us regularly after work, chants Hare Krishna at Grand Central subway station (

Anastasiia chants Hare Krishna in Union Square Park (

Govardhana Puja

I made peppermint coconut burfi for the Govardhana Puja festival at The Bhakti Center, and by the mercy of Srimati Radharani, it came out better than usual. I could not attend most of the festival itself, as I was speaking at 26 2nd Avenue, but I came for the prasadam at the end, which was very good, especially for quantity preparations.

The decorations there were very creative, with clouds, lightning, and precipitation.

At the Govardhana Puja festival at Radha Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn they always have a nice Govardhana Hill. 

There were lots of sweets, including miniature doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant.

The front of the altar was covered with additional sweets.

Many devotees were there, and it was very festive.

Here Nru Haridas Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Radha Govinda Govardhana Puja Festival in Brooklyn, and the congregation responds enthusiastically. (

Special Pictures

Krishna explains in Bhagavad-gita that deluded people imagine they are doing everything independently (Bg. 3.27), when in reality everything is going on under the control of material nature, which works under His own superintendence (Bg. 9.10).  This girl has some understanding of the truth:

Selfies, photos taken by oneself of oneself, are very popular. This gave rise to the very popular selfie sticks to make such photos easier. All this increases our identification with the body and inflates our false ego, which prompted one New York City street philosopher to display this sign:

One of Srila Prabhupada’s most fundamental teachings is “you are not this body.” Thus our goal is to transcend the body, not to increase our absorption in it. Thus Lane Bryant’s latest ad campaign, “this body”, made me smile.

We need to step up our “not this body” campaign.

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


Srila Prabhupada:

From a letter to Kulashekara, written in Los Angeles, on January 21, 1969:

“In this age no one is able to remain aloof from the general human society. Therefore one need not go into the forest in a secluded place to try to make spiritual advancement. Much better idea is that one associate with devotees in the Krishna Consciousness Centres; this will bring better spiritual results than living in the forest. Krishna Consciousness is possible when one is in association of devotees.”

From a letter to Upendra, written in Los Angeles, on January 16, 1969:

“Do not let even one minute go by without doing some sort of service for Krishna. Because as soon as there is a little gap of Krishna Consciousness, immediately maya makes an attack to grab us again. So keep up with your … engagements and always think of Krishna so that maya will not have a second’s opportunity to try to conquer you. And Krishna gives all assurance that the sincere devotee will never know defeat.”

From Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya 1.101, purport:

“The transcendental vibration of the Lord’s holy name is completely spiritual. . . . As far as possible, therefore, the devotees in the Krishna consciousness movement gather to chant the holy names of Krishna in public so that both the chanters and the listeners may benefit.”

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:

“What about my request begging for the nectar of the holy name?  Is that purely motivated?  We have to examine it.  The purest motive was expressed by Lord Caitanya: ‘You may make Me broken-hearted by not being present before Me or handle Me roughly in Your embrace, but I still love You unconditionally.’  This is how we should chant.”

“Italy is not the same as Vrindavana. When you are here, you think Italian countryside thoughts, whereas in Vraja, underneath the Kali-yuga covering, lies the heart of the chanting movement. It is here that Krishna led the gopis in the rasa dance while they chanted His holy names. It is described in the Sri Vishnu Purana, ‘Krishna sang the glories of the autumn moon, the moonshine and the lotus-filled river, while the gopis simply sang His name repeatedly.’ (Quoted in purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.29.44)”

“It is a fact that we don’t want mukti in terms of the so-called merging of the soul into the rays of the impersonal brahmajyoti; we want to go back to Krishnaloka. I am grateful that by the power of the holy name given by Srila Prabhupada, I am free from sinful life and its reactions. Srila Prabhupada writes confidently, ‘. . . We invite everyone to come with us and simply chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, because we know that if one simply chants and hears the topics of Krishna, one’s life will change; he will see a new light, and his life will be successful.’ (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.7.44, purport)

“This is another aspect of harer nama. The faithful chanter lives to spread the holy name around. He is unhappy that others are suffering. He knows by his own experience that chanting Hare Krishna brings relief, that it brings one to pure-hearted, obedient Krishna consciousness. He strives to deliver the holy names and makes novel presentations so that nondevotees can take it up and receive relief from samsara. Where is that prayer in my japa retreat, ‘Please make me strong to spread the holy name’?”

“M. said that lunch would be late and I was on the verge of remarking, ‘I have an even better feast in the chanting. Eating only lasts for about fifteen minutes, but I can chant all day.’”

“Among the benefits that occur to human society just from chanting the holy names, Srila Prabhupada mentions peace, material prosperity, an auspicious political situation, and eradication of crime. Even when we don't notice the development of the good symptoms in a chanter or in society, we should have faith that the holy name is all-powerful and that its influence is growing.”

From Vaishnava Compassion:

 “We can take our cue from Srila Prabhupada. First, we can feel the fortune of our own position, feel grateful that we have prasadam at every meal, that we have the holy name, and that we have the opportunity to hear the Absolute Truth spoken every day. Second, we can try to understand Prabhupada’s kindness and tolerance, and we can let those qualities inspire us to want to share our wealth with others. We may not always be feeling compassionate toward others, but at the very least, we can, inspired by Prabhupada’s example, serve his compassionate cause.”

“There are people who do need to be clothed, fed, and housed, but all people need spiritual emancipation. Krishna gives the human being special facility not to become absorbed in superior standards of sense gratification but to realize himself and his relationship with God and to leave the material world behind. Animals are not given that intelligence. Human beings should not be left to work only for the animal propensities because they lack knowledge. Prabhupada wanted us to teach Krishna consciousness and to free others while we worked to free ourselves.”

 “When we face the truth about ourselves, we realize both that we are utterly helpless and that only Krishna can help us. When we are that dependent upon Him, Krishna will certainly help us.”

“Self-compassion means being prepared to live in the ashram that is most suitable for us, even if we hear that another ashram is ‘higher.’ It means facing our material desires honestly, even if that means abandoning ideals we cannot live up to. Such honest and compassionate self-acceptance can lead us toward accepting others who also do not measure up to our ideals.”

“We know the nondevotees are suffering due to lack of spiritual understanding; actually, we often know that we are suffering from the same disease, although perhaps to a lesser degree. It seems prudent to be kind. Imagine what it’s like for these people who are forced to do the same monotonous jobs each day, and how easy it would be, in our exchanges with them, to lighten their load.”

“By definition, compassion is evoked by perceiving another’s suffering. If we fail to understand the suffering inherent in a life of sense gratification, we will not be able to feel compassion for those who live for the senses. We may even be tempted to live that way ourselves. We need a clear Krishna conscious philosophical understanding before we can know how to apply our compassion.”

“It may be that our willingness to preach is simply based on Prabhupada’s edict rather than on a personal conviction that we have something important to offer others. It may be that we have been convinced by Prabhupada’s presentation of the philosophy; we may never have heard anything like it before. It satisfies our intellect. We don’t mind sharing it. It is good to recognize the real reason for our interest in preaching, even if we feel embarrassed by its lack of profundity, and then work from there.”

“There are as many kinds of preachers as there are people in this movement. There are conservative preachers and their followers, and liberal preachers and their followers, and without both of these types of preachers, our movement would not have been able to grow as rapidly as it did.”

From a Facebook post on October 20, 2016:

“Prabhupada said,
‘Book distribution is
important and health
is important, but health
comes first.’”

From a Facebook post on October 27, 2016:


Namabhasa chanting (at the clearing stage)
brings liberation, and
I assume it’s not
so important;
I’m already at that stage.
But wait a
minute, do I even
know what liberation
is?  Have I actually
conquered all the namaparadhas?
This fallen soul
had better be
humble and think himself
lower than a blade of grass.”

Bhakti Charu Swami:

From a seminar on Lord Krishna’s Pastimes Outside of Vrindavana on June 2, 2016 at European Retreat on Island of Iz (Croatia):

“I am very thankful to Srila Prabhupada for giving me sannyasa, because after Srila Prabhupada left it was actually a very difficult phase because ISKCON had gone through lots of crises. And at the time of such crises one may lose faith, but fortunately that did not happen to me, and I think my sannyasa order played a very important role in that. There are three instructions I consider to be the most important instructions of Srila Prabhupada and those three instructions have actually saved me. The first instruction is: No matter whatever happens, don’t leave ISKCON. That’s why when I give you all initiation I ask you to promise that, because that’s what Srila Prabhupada wanted. No matter whatever happens, don’t leave ISKCON. Because where else can we go? Leaving ISKCON where else can we go? On the other hand, what ISKCON is giving, can we find that anywhere else? The second instruction: Your love for me will be shown by how you cooperate with each other. So if we love Srila Prabhupada, then we have to cooperate with each other in this community of devotees. And the third one is: The GBC is the ultimate managing authority. That automatically brings up another point: In this society Srila Prabhupada is the founder-acharya. This position of Srila Prabhupada will always be there. Not only will he always remain the founder of ISKCON, but as the acharya of ISKCON, he is the guru of all the devotees of ISKCON, for all time. And the GBC is there to hold this institution together.”

Hridayananda Goswami:

Krishna says that even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature (Bg. 3.33).

Krishna stresses moderation (Bg. 6.16). Extremes are not sustainable, either in politics or yoga.

From the Sanskrit “yauvana” comes the English word “youth.”

From the Sanskrit “jara” come the English words “geriatrics” and “Getritol.”

Descartes decided to doubt everything that he knew, and then through his meditations, to decide on what he could actually be sure of. In the way Descartes realized that his consciousness should be the first object of study. Thus he concluded that all he could be sure of was that he existed, and in fact, that knowledge is more certain than anything else, and is the basis of knowing everything else.

As much as we may want to be our body, we have to admit that our body is always changing, and thus we are actually not the body.

Although we must maintain our individual integrity, self-realization is a team sport.

At every moment we have to choose between helping people or exploiting them.

We may philosophically believe in God, but psychologically deny Him by not making Him prominent in our lives.

There is a need for a spiritual institution, but if you have an institution there is always the foolishness associated with institutions.

At times we may ask ourselves, “Would the world be better without this institution or would it be better if I were not a part of this institution?” I have decided to remain working in the ISKCON institution because:
1.    I owe it to Srila Prabhupada. I have no doubt he would want me to continue working within the institution he set up to make it better.
2.    History shows that religious institutions are needed to benefit the world.

Religious institutions have boom-bust cycles, not only economies.

Studies show the more people get power, the more their empathy tends to decline, unless they are truly elevated spiritually.

We can do well spiritually. People can honor us. And we can become proud and end up endeavoring not to develop spiritually but to increase our false prestige. We have to guard against that.

In school I heard a story about a young Japanese Buddhist who went to China to see a famous Buddhist master. That master had amassed many followers and wealth, and thieves broke in to steal it. The master was so attached, he screamed, and his screams could be heard for miles. The young Japanese was disillusioned, returned to Japan, and created Zen Buddhism.

I am speaking out, I am writing papers, and thousands of people are responding.

I am pro-choice when it comes to spiritual styles.

People all over the world express their devotion through music, food, and dress. The problem arises if we conclude that devotion can only be offered through a particular music, food, or dress, because it was offered in that way at some time in history.

I will dress up in saffron for a certain amount of money. [Laughter.]

We should ask, “What is the minimum one must do to get all the spiritual benefits?”

I studied the Monsanto case. Some developers produced a drug that they knew would kill a certain number of people, and they calculated the fines they would have to pay, and decided to go with it anyway. Because a corporation is considered a person, only the corporation could be sued, not the demoniac people who made the decision to produce the deadly drug.

Q: How do we determine whether something is spiritual or cultural?
A: Of course, things can be both spiritual and cultural. The spiritual principles are listed in The Nectar of Devotion. If it is not listed, it did not make the cut.

I dress this way because I grew up in that culture.

I do not see that I should dress in such a way that only few people can relate to me and most people cannot.

Srila Prabhupada came at a time when America was wild about Eastern mysticism. So his presentation with its Indian aspects worked for a lot of the young people, who were those most open to Krishna consciousness. Now India is not regarded in the same way.

Q (By young devotee who said he was the son of Jaya Kirtan Prabhu): When did this Krishna West idea develop within you to the extent you wanted to share it with others?
A: I began to reintegrate more with society as I began to go to college, and then it became more and more clear.

If we cannot identify with people out there, how can we expect them to identify with us?

A spiritual community cannot be successful if it just rejects the world and seeks to get other people who also reject the world to join it.

Sat literally means “being,” and thus “sattva” means “being-ness,” or “state of being.”

There is a link between what we do and our state of being.

By choosing our action, we are choosing what we will be.

Literally this verse [Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.7.7] means, “His elevated devotion, which was accelerating, and directed toward Krishna, arose for Bharata in his soul, which was shining with the presence of the form of the Lord.”

Akasa means space and sky. So “hridaya akasa” means the heart space. Like when we say “deep within my heart,” we do not mean the heart organ.

Krishna says He is in the heart place (hrid-desa) (Bg. 18.61). Everything is situated within Krishna. Thus your heart is a portal.

Upa means “near” or not quite. This has come into English through Greek as “hypo-”.

Upasana” which means worship, is from “upa” meaning near plus “asana,” meaning sitting or remaining. To serve the Lord, we must remain near Him.

Srivatsa and Kaustubha distinguish Krishna from other persons.

Q (by me): It seems Bharata was just performing his kingly duties of performing sacrifice as an offering to Krishna, not the nine items of devotional service, but still he become highly elevated.
A: He was remembering Krishna, he was chanting the Vedic mantras, which glorify Krishna, and he was performing the sacrifices recommended for his age.

Krishna says as they surrender to Me I reward them accordingly.

Sam means “together” and came through Greek into English as “syn,” and thus we have English words like “synthesis” and “synergy.”

Sankirtana means glorifying Krishna together. Although we retain our individuality, we glorify Krishna together.

Saving the world is a team sport. The sign of cooperation is we are real team players.

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Krishna does not want us to lose ourselves in our surrender to Him.

Atma-nivedana, self-surrender implies knowing ourselves so we can offer ourselves to Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Krishna Consciousness Movement is for training men to be independently thoughtful.” (Letter to Karandhara, written in Bombay, on December 22, 1972). And then we have to cooperate.

The best relationships are between people who are strong individually and who agree to work together.

In 1974 at the first Mayapur festival, Srila Prabhupada was looking for a GBC for South America. The GBC submitted a list of proposals to Prabhupada, and then when Prabhupada looked it over and got to my name, he said, “He can convince them.” He called me in, and asked me. I said, “If that is your desire.” As I walked away, I felt a wave of empowerment.

I had such a good wife, I knew the grhastha ashram was the wrong ashram for me.

When I took sannyasa, I saw the whole country opening up for me. Similarly when I was made GBC of South America, I saw the whole continent opening up for me.

I got a map of South America, and put pins in it in all the important places, and it happened that way by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy.

I have a rational mind and am not mystical, but Krishna gave me a vision of Brazil with temples and sankirtana vans everywhere, and it actually happened that way.

I was never looking for followers but for leaders, and I would engage them. I was constantly trying to find people to take responsibility and open up temples.

They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

We started Spanish BBT in Mexico, but because of government harassment we moved it to Los Angeles.

We teach the public by our example to chant Krishna’s names.

Vit in Sanskrit is like wit in English.

We have to make a distinction between entertaining people and presenting the chanting in a way that people feel like participating it in.

In the 70s, only young people joined because they were the only people who could relate to it.

Srila Prabhupada had his heart set on this movement being a mainstream philosophy.

What inspired me is that this is a spiritual science. Presenting it that way is how we will get the most people interested.

I think that The Bhakti Center and Gainesville [Krishna House] are our best programs in America.

It is good to reach out to different groups. They are important, but they are embassies. But ultimately we have to attract all kinds of people.

The disparity in wealth creates instability in society.

Equality comes from the soul. From the bodily perspective, we are different in every way. Equality makes sense if we are souls and not bodies. So we have a lot to offer people in all kinds of communities who are fighting for equality.

For people to follow us, people have to be able to identify with us.

Conservative religions understand the ashram system.

We cannot establish the varna system [Vedic system of class divisions] because it is based on an agrarian economy.

Our economy is based on killing cows, so the price of feed, veterinary services, fencing, etc., is all based on that. Thus it is difficult to do cow protection in this atmosphere.

Srila Prabhupada writes, “One has to consider the particular time, country and conveniences. What is convenient in India may not be convenient in the Western countries. Those who are not actually in the line of acaryas [spiritual teachers], or who personally have no knowledge of how to act in the role of acarya, unnecessarily criticize the activities of the ISKCON movement in countries outside of India. The fact is that such critics cannot do anything personally to spread Krishna consciousness. If someone does go and preach, taking all risks and allowing all considerations for time and place, it might be that there are changes in the manner of worship, but that is not at all faulty according to sastra [the revealed literature].” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.54, purport)

Ramabhadra Prabhu:

When we sing and dance during the arati, when we offer the lamps to Damodara, that is all love and devotion for Krishna.

Krishna says, “Govardhana Hill is to be worshiped as I am.”

If you cannot take it with you at the death, is it that important?

To help others get Krishna consciousness is the duty of every devotee. It is what the mission of Srila Prabhupada is all about. It is why he suffered multiple heart attacks on the boat to America.

Srila Prabhupada would say, “Save yourself first.” Do not use that fact some of your other family members are not Krishna consciousness to keep from becoming Krishna conscious yourself.

We have to become the greatest example of Krishna consciousness in our sphere of association. We must stay in the association of devotees who are fixed in the practice.

In New York City the schools are closed on all the Jewish, the major Christian, and the Islamic holidays, but not on the Hindu holidays. It is not my business to deal with civil and political things, but some of you should do something about this.

Sadaputa Prabhu:

From Maya: The World as Virtual Reality:

“The problem here is that anything that we can fully describe in words is something of which we are aware, and thus it is not awareness itself. But if awareness is not fully describable by words, then is it anything at all? One person will say, “Of course it is something; I am aware of being aware all the time.” But someone else may say, “If you can’t define it, then what is it? It doesn’t exist in the domain of rational discourse.”

“This is ironic, since the very feature of consciousness that disqualifies it for many modern philosophers is the starting point for meditative disciplines that try to realize the self by discriminating it from nonself.”

“Whether we use quantum theory or classical Newtonian physics, it is clear that no known computer or process of computation will enable us to predict what billions and billions of molecules will do. Physicists have taken it as a matter of faith that all of the molecules in nature move according to their equations, and in this sense, physics can be viewed as a branch of theology.”

“The phenomena studied by parapsychologists seem to radically violate the known laws of physics. If they are real, then physics will have to undergo fundamental modifications, and this is a daunting prospect for many scientists. Nonetheless, the laws of physics have been modified in unexpected ways many times in the past, and it will not be surprising if this also happens many times in the future.”

“I should also observe that although the virtual reality model does describe the physical world as illusion, it does not dismiss that illusion as a mere nothing, as the term maya may sometimes be thought to imply. As both magicians and computer artists know, it takes hard work to make a good illusion.”

“Physicists in recent years have sometimes lamented that they are approaching the end of fundamental discoveries in physics, but it appears that this worry is unnecessary.”

“The laws of physics are based on mathematical concepts that can be fully expounded in a few textbooks. But, in principle, these laws could be formidably complex. They could easily require hundreds or millions of textbooks to define. They might even be an indigestible morass of special cases and exceptions that could not be reduced to a rational system. There are many more ways to be complex than there are to be simple. The fact that the laws of physics are so simple and mathematically elegant has led many prominent scientists to conclude that God must be a mathematician.”

“Carbon nuclei are made in stars by a special nuclear reaction involving the simultaneous collision of three helium nuclei. The astrophysicist Fred Hoyle noticed that this reaction depends on a certain quantum mechanical effect (called a “resonance”) that occurs at the energy level of helium nuclei in large stars. Without this effect, carbon would be a very rare element in the universe. After a detailed study, Hoyle found several other “coincidences” that were necessary for the production and preservation of carbon within stars. Observations such as these led Hoyle to finally adopt a theistic position, and he remarked that, ‘A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question’ (Hoyle, 1982).”

“To account for one universe with life, this [multiverse] scheme requires us to posit a vast number of universes without life, as well as an underlying process that endlessly spawns universes. One could ask which theory carries more metaphysical baggage, this one, or the traditional idea of a cosmic designer.”

“Today, of course, scientists explain the succession of life forms in the fossil record by the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. In this theory, evolutionary developments are attributed to random variation sifted by natural selection. This theory can create plausible explanations of many observed features of the biological world, and it is reasonable to suppose that the Darwinian mechanism of evolution does function in nature. However, it is far from clear that this mechanism is the last word. Organs of high perfection and complexity, such as the eagle’s eye or the human speech center, are notoriously difficult to explain by mutation and natural selection. In addition, many features of the fossil record can be placed in the Darwinian framework only by an act of faith.”

“By seeing the meaninglessness of material nature, we can be freed from attachment to it, and this opens the gateway to a realization of our true nature.”

Yogesvara Prabhu:

Spiritual philosophies can be described in terms of zero, one, and two.

Buddhism is the world of zero. It explains that at the point of nirvana, consciousness dissolves away.

Advaita is the world of one. Our individual personality is illusion, and when it dissolves we are all one.

Bhakti is the world of two. You are already one. You are not to lose your identity but to lose your false identity.

I asked Srila Prabhupada why people favor the different philosophies.
Srila Prabhupada replied, “At the end of the day, it is personal choice.”

Krishna’s message in chapter 12 of Bhagavad-gita is: Just do something. If you cannot do this, do that, but at least do something. If you start on the path by doing something, you will ultimately reach Me.

Many people are involved in yoga, but they do not know the philosophy beyond it. Someday I hope no one will be issued a yoga training certification without taking a course in yoga philosophy.

Because spirit is unchangeable, if we are a part now, we have always been a part.

“Just leave me alone” is the idea of Advaita Vedanta.

Srila Prabhupada told a story that he and his father were looking at artwork where artists were told to depict a mother witnessing her child mercilessly massacred. The winning photo was one with a mother whose eyes were closed. That is like Advaita Vedanta.

Western civilization is so averse to idols. They remind people of the original idol, the golden calf.

When I left the temple after 13 years, my mom commented, “The music is great, the food is great, but what is it with the dressing of the dolls?”

As by understanding the philosophy behind art and music you can come to appreciate them better, so you can appreciate yoga better by knowing the philosophy behind it.

As you advance in yoga, who you are eternally comes to the surface, and your temporary identity begins to abate.

Nirodha is often translated as controlling when managing is more accurate.

The entire Bhagavad-gita was spoken because Arjuna was not angry when he should have been angry.

To understanding Krishna’s teachings, you have to know Krishna’s heart. Arjuna was not a Sanskrit scholar.

There were some mistakes in different printings of the Bible historically:
Thou shalt commit adultery.
Blessed are the placemakers.
Blessed are the unrighteous for they will inherit the kingdom of God.

One who is realized in love of Krishna can present His teachings.

I asked my teacher, Srila Prabhupada, how does a follower of Bhagavad-gita see art.
He replied, “Placing an object in the best environment for highest utility.”
He picked up a rose, twirled it, and, asked, “How did this flower know how to take this, of the many fragrances existing in the earth, as its own?”

Comment by student: George Harrison said, “Art is man’s attempt to imitate what God does at every moment.”

Creation is easy. Vishnu does it in His sleep.

I do not think it is possible to have a mentality of self-loathing and completely connect with Krishna.

Krishna speaks of coming in touch with Brahman (brahma-samsparsa) not becoming one with Brahman (Bg. 6.28).

Adi Purusha Prabhu [NYC Food for Life]:

By hearing of the benefits of devotional service, we are inclined to endeavor for it.

We chant our rounds with the burning desire to be in the center of Krishna’s will.

Our challenge is to not mix in our desires and preferences with our choice of devotional service to perform for Krishna.

Love means ‘I love you for you’ not ‘I love you for me.’

Vision Quest tells the story of a man who failed materially and was considering committing suicide, but then decided not to and volunteered for a suicide help line, and from that he realized many other people were in the same situation, and he decided to do something about it. Krishna sent him a Native American teacher who engaged him in what he called a vision quest, where you are dropped off in a forest setting with some water, and you fast for three days, and pray for a vision.

Two thousand high school students kill themselves in the America each year.

New Zealand, despite its idyllic situation, has one of the highest suicide rates in this world.

There is no material solution, but there is a spiritual solution: devotional service to Krishna.

One college student started attending a program Radhanath Swami had, but after a while, she could not accept the practice and she argued with Maharaja. Later she hid herself in a closet, poured gasoline on her body, and burned herself to death. The material energy is no joke, and if we do not take shelter of Krishna by devotional service, we suffer in its hands.

When two people meet, the one first to say, “How are you?” is the one closest to God.

Shyamananda Prabhu:

Some avatars have a whole Purana dedicated to them but not Rsabhadeva.

In India, many people are under the illusion that Lord Vishnu has but ten incarnations, when in reality you cannot count all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. This is because Krishna is always making plans to deliver the conditioned souls.

The advancement of technology is so we can hear Srila Prabhupada’s lectures wherever we go. They had something else in mind, but we can use it in that way.

You can explain avatara as ava coming down and tara to save.

Your body is a manifestation of your past desires.

Getting an animal body is not punishment but what the living entity desires.

Many, many sunset pictures are on the internet, yet not so many sunrise pictures. Why? People do not get up that early!

Vaishnavas have more advanced mystic powers than the greatest mystics.

How did Srila Prabhupada come from India and change the world? By Krishna Shakti, the potency of Krishna.

I talked to one Indian man who goes to a Shiva temple and asked him why. He explained that Shiva fulfills my desires. I suggest he could also visit Radha-Rasabihari. He said no, He [Krishna] is Hari, one who takes everything away.

Karuna Gauranga Prabhu:

One is so happy performing devotional service he does not desire a more comfortable material situation.

It is the duty of the person who does outreach to explain the benefit of devotional service in the language of his audience. Offering the man on the street Krishna-prema is not meaningful because he has no understanding of its value.

Initially Dhruva did not want Krishna, but he engaged in devotional service, and attained Krishna nonetheless.

Management professionals say a person has three zones, (1) the comfort zone, (2) the stretch zone, and (3) the panic zone. They advise to keep your employees in the stretch zone, where they will best develop their abilities.

Role models help us advance. These are of three different levels (1) from the sastra [the revealed literature], (2) from our contemporary devotional society, and (3) from our daily association.

Vrtrasura prays, “O my Lord, source of all opportunities, I do not desire to enjoy in Dhruvaloka, the heavenly planets or the planet where Lord Brahma resides, nor do I want to be the supreme ruler of all the earthly planets or the lower planetary systems. I do not desire to be master of the powers of mystic yoga, nor do I want liberation if I have to give up Your lotus feet.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.11.25)

Srila Prabhupada beautifully defined dharma as being situated in one’s constitutional position of serving Krishna.

You can compare devotional service to Krishna to a master switch, which illuminates all the lights.

Vasudeva Prabhu:

Both the lifting of and the worship of Govardhana Hill are a cause of great joy to the devotees.

“O King Pariksit, when Rama and Krishna saw Vrindavana, Govardhana and the banks of the river Yamuna, They both enjoyed great pleasure.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.11.36)

The Vedic way is to worship Vishnu, along with His part and parcels, the demigods. The more advanced people, such as Bharata Maharaja, understood properly that the demigods are part and parcel of Lord Vishnu.

For the sadhu, there is no private life. There are no secrets.

In karma-mimamsa, understanding the Lord and the demigods are not as important as doing your duty. By properly doing your duty and executing the rituals, you attain svarga, and you come down again, and do it all over again. It is like the cycle of working hard and going on vacation.

Krishna argues in effect, “If it is just about ritual, we might as well do any ritual.”

The cowherd men were not concerned with the philosophy Krishna was speaking. They just wanted to satisfy Krishna.

Govardhana Hill supplies all necessities for Krishna’s pastimes. It does not require Indra’s help in the form of rain.

You do not separate the shakti from its source. Otherwise you become a Shakta.

By proposing the worship of Govardhana Hill, Krishna is making a shift from the stressing the ritualistic sacrifices of the Vedas to direct worship of Himself. This is simultaneously a simplification of worship and an elevation of worship.

When Adi Purusha Prabhu’s mother advises him to get a job, he replies, “I am working for God. He never goes out of business.”

Some argue that Krishna accepts Govardhana Hill as His own body in the same way as the deity or the sila is accepted by Krishna as His own body.

Even up to today, all the residents of Vrindavan love Govardhana Hill.

Krishna spoke in such a way as to make Indra angry to reduce his false pride.

If we have some material opulence, we want to showcase it to feel important, but a Vaishnava is so satisfied serving Krishna, he does not feel the need to showcase anything.

It is said that to accelerate the pastime, Narada informed Indra that Krishna was diverting the Indra sacrifice to Himself.

With all his clouds, thunder, and lightning, Indra could not move one grain of sand from Govardhana Hill.

There is a story that one king asked his court pundit, “What is the work of God?” The pundit said he would answer in three days, but he could not think of a good answer, so he decided to leave the kingdom. On his way out, he passed one of his disciples, and explained what had happened. The disciple was a simple cowherd man, but he said he knew the answer to that question and that he would tell the king. So the pundit and disciple approached the king, and the disciple said he would answer the question. The king was incredulous. How would the disciple answer the question when it was even a challenge for the pundit? The disciple affirmed that he could answer, and the king listened. First the disciple asked the king to get off the throne. The king was at first reluctant, but then he agreed. Then the disciple got on the throne, and said, “This is the work of God: that the proud be reduced and the humble raised up.”

Murali Gopal Prabhu:

The atheists enjoy bashing God and religion as much as the devotees enjoy glorifying Krishna, sometimes even more.

Jains do not eat potatoes or other root vegetables, because uprooting the vegetables is considered by them to be violent.

The goal of the Jains is moksha or liberation, and one symptom of this omniscience.

To understand whether a religion is bona fide, one must understand its goal and its path to attain that goal.

The Jains say the creation is always existing, and therefore, there is no need of a creator.

Comment by Arjuna: The Jains have great knowledge of the intricacies of karma, but it is a great foolishness that think that such a complicated arrangement could come into existence without a creator.

Comment by me: In a Caitanya-caritamrita purport, Srila Prabhupada discusses the Buddhist idea that the creation is always existing and thus a creator is unnecessary. What I understood from that is that we can see around us how everything is breaking down as time goes by, and thus it does not make sense the creation is eternal, as it would have completely broken down in the course of eternity.

Actually a cardinal who studied Einstein’s theories originally suggested the Big Bang model, but at first scientists did not accept it because it sounded too much like religion. Later as the steady state models appeared to have different faults, they adopted it.

People will spend hundreds of dollars on Halloween to dress exactly as the character they pretend to be.

The psychology of imitation is “I cannot be that, but let me at least look like I am that.”

Our transmigration through different species is like dressing up on successive Halloweens.

How happy can you be if you are always pretending?

Comment Ananda Bihari Prabhu: Once we did harinama at a Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. People wondered if we were really Hare Krishnas or just pretending to be.

People desire to be self-sufficient. They imagine if they get a car they can go anywhere and do anything. Srila Prabhupada defines real self-sufficiency by quoting Bhagavad-gita 18.54, “One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything.”

To achieve satisfaction, we change our jobs, our partners, our ashram, our guru, but with all this change, we do not achieve ultimate satisfaction.

Before I met the devotees, I hoped to find success in life through finding a beautiful girlfriend. Unfortunately, I was neither good-looking or rich, so I was always unsuccessful. My philosophy was I wanted a lasting relationship, so if I got the most beautiful girl, I would not have to look for another one.

In that state of frustration, I came upon the philosophy of “I am the beautiful person I am looking for.” Unknowingly I was following the people who are frustrated in material life and then become Mayavadis, people who think themselves God, as a reaction to their frustration. 

Benares wanted to remain the seat of learning in India, so the teachers there would not allow the students to have the books. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya decided to memorize them, and after he completed his studies, he moved to Navadvipa and excelled all the other teachers of logic there, having the complete knowledge. His amazing abilities were not surprising as he was an incarnation of Brhaspati, the guru of the demigods.

Imagine the beauty of Radha and Krishna combined. That is the beauty of Lord Caitanya.

Natabara Gauranga Prabhu:

No religion promotes eating as much meat as possible. There is always some restriction, kosher, halal, etc.

The Mayavadis reject the world and everything in relationship to it out of fear, but that is difficult to maintain.

One who knows that everything is Krishna’s property is always situated in renunciation.” (Bg. 5.2, purport)

The Goswamis were so elevated when they would chant the holy name they would be transported to the spiritual world.

Jayapataka Swami tells that Bhaktivinoda Thakura had a vision with Lord Caitanya dancing around tulasi in an ecstatic kirtana. Then Lord Caitanya transformed into Radha and Krishna, and tulasi assumed her sakhi form, and the devotees became gopis, and the scene transformed into the rasa dance.

In Portland Srila Prabhupada said, “If you follow the four regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds, you will go back to Godhead. I guarantee it. I guarantee it. I guarantee it.”

Mahotsaha Prabhu:

We have the transcendental remedy for all the sufferings of the conditioned souls.

We go everywhere and spend so much money on false gurus, but actually everything we need is in these beautiful books.

When Vrindavana dasa Thakura wrote “Gurvastakam” at that time Narottama Dasa Thakura was like the founder-acarya, and so that song is about him.

Lord Caitanya told Lord Nityananda, “There will come a devotee named Narottama who will continue spreading this Krishna prema in my absence.” Then Lord Caitanya deposited his personal Krishna prema in the river Padma, for Narottama to later collect.

Narottama had a dark complexion, but when he bathed in river Padma, he became golden like Lord Gauranga. Even his parents could not recognize him.

When Narottama traveled to Vrindavan, he was greatly fatigued. A golden brahmana brought him a pot of milk to give him energy. Then he rested, and Rupa and Sanatana Goswami appeared in a dream, and revealed to Narottama that Lord Caitanya was that brahmana.

Narottama cleansed his future guru’s latrine with such love and devotion, it was as if he was cleansing the altar of Radha-Krishna.

Narottama dasa Thakura had the attitude of the perfect disciple, and thus he was qualified to become an acarya, an elevated spiritual master.

Gaurikisora dasa Babaji Maharaja was asked, “How do I attain Krishna prema?”
He replied, “You can attain Krishna prema for just a few annas. Go to the marketplace and get the two books by Narottama dasa Thakura, Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-candrika. [An anna is less than a paisa, which itself is just a hundredth of a rupee].

It appeared that Narottama dasa Thakura introduced his own style of kirtana, but as an eternal associate of the Lord, he was just revealing a kirtana style already existing in the spiritual world.

“Sri Krishna Caitanya Prabhu Doya More” [which we sing every day in Mayapur before the Pancatattva] was the last bhajana that he wrote.

Bhakta Josh:

Sometimes I realize that it does not matter what I want to do and do not want to do. I should just be happy to do whatever I can to serve Krishna and the devotees.

Sometimes you go to music concert to distribute books and you meet someone who studied a bit of yoga and you go to sell them a Bhagavad-gita, and they say, “O I don’t need that. I already have my crown chakra open.”

There are subtleties in many departments of knowledge that you cannot really appreciate unless you hear from an expert, and so it is true with the spiritual science.

If we take a step toward God, he will take many steps toward us, but we have to keep taking steps if we want to ultimately reach Him.

Comment by Adi Purusha Prabhu: As you say, it is good if we can engage our natural talents in Krishna service to be situated nicely in devotional service, but then sometimes Krishna makes an arrangement where we have to do something that is completely against our nature. Actually we are still here in this world because in our past life there is something we were not willing to do for Krishna.

Comment by Arjuna Prabhu: It is better to think in terms of what guru wants us to do rather than what Krishna wants us to do. Sometimes Srila Prabhupada would say, “I do not know Krishna I only know my guru.”

Krishna-kripa Das:

Emphasis in the spiritual power of the glorification of the Lord is an important part of Srila Prabhupada’s mission.

It is powerful because the sound of the name, instructions, qualities, and activities of the Lord is not different from the Lord Himself.

Lord Caitanya says in “Siksastakam” verse 2, that the Lord has invested all His energies in His holy name, nija sarva saktih.

Once a yogi asked Srila Prabhupada what his process was and he replied, “Hearing. Whatever changes you see in the lives of my disciples have been brought about by hearing.”

Once when Srila Prabhupada was explaining that only one who is pious can take to devotional service, one disciple said that he had not performed any pious activities in his life and wondered how he was somehow engaged in devotional service. Srila Prabhupada replied, “I have created your pious activities.”

How did Srila Prabhupada create his pious activities [and ours]? By his mere presence and by his vibration of transcendental sound.

Presence: “My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.10)

Transcendental sound: “Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17) This is an important verse explaining the power of transcendental sound. Srila Prabhupada quoted it as first of the five verses from the Bhagavatam in his “Markine Bhagavata Dharma.”

Another important verse and purport about the importance of hearing Krishna-katha is this from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 25.278:

“Men become strong and stout by eating sufficient grains, but the devotee who simply eats ordinary grains but does not taste the transcendental pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Krishna gradually becomes weak and falls down from the transcendental position. However, if one drinks but a drop of the nectar of Krishna’s pastimes, his body and mind begin to bloom, and he begins to laugh, sing and dance.”

Purport: “All the devotees connected with the Krishna consciousness movement must read all the books that have been translated (the Caitanya-caritamrita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and others); otherwise, after some time, they will simply eat, sleep and fall down from their position. Thus they will miss the opportunity to attain an eternal, blissful life of transcendental pleasure.”

My favorite reading program is reading 15 minutes each from Caitanya-caritamrita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and The Nectar of Devotion, each day. Each book has a different flavor, and reading all four is like having a whole meal. When you reach the end of The Nectar of Devotion, you can read Krishna: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Isopanisad, The Nectar of Instruction, and the Brahma-samhita, before returning to it, but read the three other books, which are our main books, each day.

Srila Prabhupada would also often quote this verse in connection with the importance of hearing:

“Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the parampara system, that is, it is conveyed from the spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.1.4)

The celebrated gopis, who are famous for their complete absorption in Krishna, in their ecstasy of separation from Him, spoke this famous verse to Krishna, glorifying the power of narrations concerning Him:

“The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.31.9)

When, in the course of reciting the chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam in which this verse appears for the pleasure of Lord Caitanya, King Prataparuda spoke that verse, Lord Caitanya, who was overjoyed, embraced him, twice exclaiming, “You are the most munificent!”

Before leaving the pastime of Lord Rsabhadeva, I want to recall his first instruction:

“Lord Rsabhadeva told His sons: My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one’s heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.1)

Srila Prabhupada is enlightening humanity, informing people of a kind of superior pleasure that they have never experienced before. We can experience this eternal spiritual pleasure even during this span of life by absorbing ourselves in pure devotional service to Krishna.

Comment by Adi Purusha Prabhu:

“The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.8) If what we are doing does not help us develop our attachment for hearing about Krishna, it is useless.

Comment by a Prabhupada disciple: Srila Prabhupada told me in 1973, “Study my books carefully, follow the four regulative principles, distribute my books profusely, take prasadam sumptuously and prepare yourself to go back to Godhead in this way.”


This final stanza of the song “Narada Muni Bajay Vina” by Bhaktivinoda Thakura reveals the pure desire of the advanced Vaishnava in our Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya and his dependence on Rupa Goswami. Thinking of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, I pray to Rupa Goswami when we do our public chanting of Hare Krishna that we might chant the pure name of the Lord so people get the supreme benefit:

sri-krishna-nama, rasane sphuri’,
pura’lo amar asha
sri-rupa-pade, yacaye iha,

“Thakura Bhaktivinoda, the humble servant of the Lord, says, ‘The holy name of Krishna has fulfilled all my desires by vibrating on everyone’s tongue.’ Bhaktivinoda therefore prays at the feet of Sri Rupa Goswami that the chanting of harinama may continue like this always.”