Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 23
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2016, part one)
(December 2016, part one)
New York City Harinama, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., SDG Vyasa-puja
(Sent from Tallahassee, Florida, on January 16, 2017)
Where I Went and What I Did
I continued doing daily harinama with Rama Raya Prabhu’s Yuga Dharma New York City party, six hours each day, except for one day when Rama Raya Prabhu and I attended Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Vyasa-puja ceremony in Stuyvesant, which I describe below, one evening and one morning I spent in Philadelphia at Haryasva Prabhu’s Bhakti Garden, and two days I spent chanting in Washington, D.C., with Sankarsana Prabhu in front of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
I share several excerpts from the lectures of Srila Prabhupada. I share excerpts from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name and notes on his lectures on his Vyasa-puja day. I share powerful excerpts from Sadaputa Prabhu’s book Parallels. I share notes on lectures by Prabhupada disciples Adi Purusha and Brahmatirtha Prabhus, at The Bhakti Center, as well as lectures by New York City harinama leader, Rama Raya Prabhu, and many newer devotees, who also spoke with impressive inspiration.
I would like to profusely thank Vaishnava-seva Prabhu and the devotees at ISKCON Desire Tree for buying me a HD video camera and a 32 GB micro SD card to take Western kirtana videos for their web site. I would like to thank Atmanivedana Prabhu of the Saturday night Bhagavad-gita class at 26 Second Avenue for his kind donation. I thank once again Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for his donation toward my subway expenses in New York City.
Many, many thanks to Stella for all her photos of the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama party. Thanks to Syama Gopa Rupa for her photos of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Vyasa-puja. Thanks to Isvara Gauranga Prabhu for his picture of the puspanjali at the Satsvarupa dasa Goswami Vyasa-puja. Thanks to the servants of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami for their photo of his Vyasa-puja on his Facebook page.
January 14–24: Tallahassee
January 25: Gainesville
January 26: USF, Tampa
January 27: Gainesville
January 28: Gasparilla Harinama, Tampa
January 29: Alachua
January 30: UNF, Jacksonville
January 31–February 7: Tallahassee
February 8: Gainesville and Alachua
February 9: Sacred Sounds Event, USF, Tampa
February 10–11: Gainesville
February 12: Ocala Regional Rainbow Gathering
February 13–April 8: North and Central Florida campuses
April 9–11: Washington, D.C.
April 12: Albany
April 13: New York City
April 14–September 5: Europe
Yuga Dharma New York City Harinamas
The high point of the first half of December for the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama team was the return of its leader, Rama Raya Prabhu, from pilgrimage in Vrindavan, the land of Lord Krishna’s youthful pastimes. Rama Raya Prabhu was even more fired-up than usual!
Here he sings in the Grand Central subway station the day after he returned (https://youtu.be/vBnVDG7bXYo):
The first Sunday in December Rama Raya Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna at the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/9ailGMI5qcA):
Soon he become so exuberant that several people danced in a very lively way (https://youtu.be/yOdRyIrggx4):
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights toward the end of our six-hour session with his characteristic intensity (https://youtu.be/MrDuDrZSlzc):
The next week, he also led a lively Hare Krishna chant in Jackson Heights, inspiring the devotees and a attracting a good crowd (https://youtu.be/6-0g63d6wBc):
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants in such a fired-up way that Stella, Binky, and Richard all dance at our alternative location in Union Square subway station. (https://youtu.be/ltAyKAmlWGE):
There is one Hare Krishna tune I like best, and here Rama Raya Prabhu sings it in a very lively way also in the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/gh4gms93m6c):
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the Atlantic Avenue / Barclays subway station (https://youtu.be/dG5md9nYmhQ):
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the Grand Central subway station (https://youtu.be/czxjXDyriRE):
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in the Times Square subway station (https://www.youtu.be/j6Y_OFh2GNM):
Here Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna with a good size group of devotees at the Union Square subway station (https://www.youtu.be/MQNLDZvZ014):
Two Oriental ladies watched our chanting party at our alternative Union Square subway station location for some time, and then one of them started to dance with abandon. Kaliya Krishna Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/lp5NcXilcCM):
Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and Kate and Richard dance at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/_AhpFpS0KCc):
In addition to dancing sometimes onlookers perform in other ways:
Here a couple passersby demonstrate their acrobatics while Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Grand Central subway station (https://youtu.be/xfNW4oU_uEc):
We got a new sign for our book table.
This autumn we began distributing YumEarth Organic Hard Candies which we offered to our picture of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. They are the best tasting hard candies I have had this life, especially the cherry ones, and I had to limit myself to three per day.
As usual, different passersby played instruments along with our chanting.
People also took photos and even videos.
I did a variety of services for the harinama party:
I would lead the chanting.
I would chant the response.
Sometimes I would play the drum.
Often I would watch the book table.
Frequently I danced and passed out pamphlets.
Sometimes I talked to people.
I would try to interest people in books.
Sometimes I was successful, as with this NYU student, who gave $10 plus his business card and took four books. Glories to the December Prabhupada marathon!
Rama Raya Prabhu also distributed books during the marathon.
Here Dipika of Bangladesh, who attends Bengali Hare Krishna programs in Queens and is blessed with a powerful yet sweet voice, leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/nKCDI6sAlGo):
Here Murali Krishna Prabhu, who lives in Queens and who did harinama with Aindra Prabhu in New York City in the 1980s, chants at the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/Yoh_P9rNHm0):
Here Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/ePMhlvlNjYg):
Here Bhakta Kane, visiting from Germany for at least a year, chants Hare Krishna at the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/YxryJtvNTb0):
Once other musicians were playing in our usual spot in Union Square subway station, so we chanted in another place until we got our spot back. Here Bhakta Kane leads the chanting, and Ananda Sankirtana Prabhu, Richard, and Kate dance (https://youtu.be/yaO_3oezmLQ):
Here is a video of Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chanting Hare Krishna at the Grand Central subway station (https://youtu.be/BrqZKbAbrAA):
Here is another video of Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chanting Hare Krishna at the Grand Central subway station the next week, this time with Kaliya Krishna Prabhu playing harmonium for him (https://youtu.be/uKl0E1lq80U):
Here Natabara Gauranga Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna at Atlantic Avenue / Barclays and Liza, who comes several times a week, dances (https://youtu.be/LFbjkar4hyc):
Here Natabara Gauranga Prabhu leads a very lively Hare Krishna chant at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/syw04ldjCcU):
Here Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/B1hD5Z-WQ3Y):
Here Bhagavata Purana Prabhu, godbrother of Rama Raya Prabhu, visiting for three days, enthusiastically chants a dynamic Hare Krishna tune at the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://www.youtu.be/67PX8PHZTbs):
Here Bhagavata Purana Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the Grand Central subway station (https://www.youtu.be/EJwUENlumy0):
Here Ananda Bihari Prabhu, who has been a supporter of the New York City harinama party for many years, chants Hare Krishna at the Union Square subway station (https://www.youtu.be/4aNKyR1XTqU):
Here Tota Gopinath Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/JUvk7c_B07k):
Twice a week, after six hours on harinama, we would get the leftover doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant for dinner. Each one on this plate is a different flavor!
Visiting Philly’s Bhakti Garden
When I visited Philadelphia in September to promote the Ratha-yatra there, I was impressed with the array of youthful devotees attending the programs at Haryasva Prabhu’s Bhakti Garden, just next door to his Govinda’s Gourmet to Go. I decided to stop there for their weekly Tuesday night program on my way from New York City to Washington, D.C., and I also offered to do an additional Thursday night and Friday morning program there on my return, if there was interest.
We must have had about seven attendees at the Tuesday program, and I spoke about the glories of the holy name, quoting many, many verses from our revealed literature.
Later some of us had dinner at Govinda’s.
The girl on the left, named Emerson, was very new, but she appeared very enthusiastic having encountered Krishna consciousness, and she was eager to volunteer to help Haryasva Prabhu prepare prasadam for everyone for after future Tuesday programs.
On the Chinese bus from Philadelphia to New York City I met one Bangladeshi named Harishcandra who saw Srila Prabhupada in Calcutta in 1971. He was present when Srila Prabhupada’s family tried to get Prabhupada to return home. Srila Prabhupada was determined not to go. He remained adamant despite their attempts, saying that he had some work to do. Harishcandra said it was a pathetic scene. The devotees later visited Harishcandra’s home in Bangladesh, and they invited him to join ISKCON, but he did not, and now he regrets it. He is seventy-one and thinks he will live to be eighty or ninety, as his father lived to be over a hundred. When his son takes over the family, he aspires to dedicate the rest of his life to ISKCON. I gave him cards for our Philly temple in Mt. Airy, for Haryasva Prabhu’s downtown Bhakti Garden at Govinda’s, and for The Bhakti Center in New York City, as he visits Manhattan regularly. I told him that on that very day we were singing in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m., and I invited him to visit. Amazing enough, he actually came by the harinama, although he did not stay long.
Chanting Hare Krishna in Washington, D.C.
I like to encourage Sankarsana Prabhu of Potomac in his harinama program on the mall in Washington, D.C., in front of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, so I spend three days with him when traveling between New York City and Florida in the autumn and in April. This year, I had to stay in New York City because Rama Raya Prabhu was on pilgrimage in Vrindavan, so I could only chant there one day. Thus when Rama returned from India, I spent a couple more days with Sankarsana Prabhu in Washington, D.C., in December. December is not a crowded time, but still there were a few tour groups that would pass our chanting party, in addition to a few families and individuals.
Gurudas Prabhu, also a disciple of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, joined us the first day, and Sankarsana Prabhu took this video of our party while playing the drum at the same time (https://youtu.be/UVDuDtErGqc):
The guy I talked to in this video wondered if we were Buddhist, and I said we were more in the Hindu tradition than Buddhist and mentioned that Hinduism included ideas about karma and reincarnation also found in Buddhism, but also had information about the soul and his personal relationship with God, so in that sense had some similarity to Christianity. He was happy that we were presenting alternative religious ideas to those he usually encountered, and he concluded by saying that freedom of religion is what America is founded on. He took “On Chanting Hare Krishna” and has the chance to hear Srila Prabhupada’s wise words about spiritual truth.
I also took a video of the two other devotees singing (https://youtu.be/bb5C1eXnq34):
After Gurudas Prabhu sang a lively Hare Krishna tune, two young ladies, who were sitting at a nearby outdoor snack bar, applauded, which was a pleasant surprise. I approached them, and they both took “On Chanting Hare Krishna.” One was an airline stewardess for American Airlines and had been in Boston and Philadelphia that morning. I told her I was just in Philadelphia that morning too but had taken the bus. She told me she was actually relocating to Philadelphia, and I told her about my friend Haryasva Prabhu and his vegetarian restaurant, Govinda’s, at the corner of Broad and South Streets in Philly, and she was happy to hear about it.
The second day was colder, but we saw more people, although you would not guess that from the video below, which Sankarsana Prabhu took as I was singing (https://youtu.be/uK4fgRY1fv4
Vyasa-puja of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, my initiating guru, was born 77 years ago on December 6, 1939, and we celebrated the traditional Vyasa-puja ceremony for him in Stuyvesant Falls, New York, on Saturday, December 3.
Rama Raya Prabhu got to lead one of the introductory kirtanas for him.
So did Bhagavata Purana Prabhu.
His disciples offered flowers (puspanjali).
They also offered a cake.
I took a few notes on some of the homages offered to Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, my initiating spiritual master, on the occasion of his Vyasa-puja Day. In the offerings below the word “you” refers to my guru. He asked the disciples to recall their initiation days and the circumstances around their initiations. He did not go in any special order but called on people individually. Almost everyone who wanted to got to speak.
I did not attempt to write down everything that was said or even something from every offering. Just some things that were striking in some way to me, I recorded.
Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu:
I joined in Berkeley. I was one of the first to break the zonal acarya system by flying to Washington, D.C., for initiation on Nrsimha Caturdasi. The Prabhupada murti there was also installed on that day. I traveled with you for two weeks. You asked what I wanted out of the relationship. I said I am attracted to you and would like to be your eternal friend. You made the point that it is better to be a disciple and serve because a friend does not always listen to good instruction.
Satya Dasi [wife of Ramabhadra Prabhu, temple president of Radha-Govinda Mandir in Brooklyn]:
I was initiated by you on January 4, 1982, in Gitanagari Farm at age 12. That was just part of growing up then. I took brahmana initiation at age 13, which was my goal. I just wanted to go on the altar, and I have been on the altar every day since. Thank you for connecting me with Srila Prabhupada.
Kirtan Rasa Prabhu:
On January 28, 1979, I was initiated. You had told me, “You should stop hanging around and take initiation.” Aksobhya told me after Prabhupada left I should take shelter of you. I was attracted to you because you were patient and gentle, and I learned that from Aksobhya, who was also patient and gentle.
Hema Gaura Prabhu:
Haridasa advised me to see a sannyasi who was a beautiful artist. I visited on a couple of Vyasa-pujas. We corresponded. I was 65 years old when I came to the temple the first time. I came very close to wasting my entire life. I can see Krishna was protecting me as many times I was driving when I should not have been, and I somehow survived.
Isvara Gauranga Prabhu:
I am a siksa disciple. I have been working on the SDG Legacy project. I have learned by working on this project that without cooperating with the devotees I cannot grow spiritually, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
Haridasa dasa Prabhu:
I was initiated by Srila Prabhupada on Gaura Purnima 1976 in Mayapur. I came to your association in Dallas when I need help.
Thank you for taking this path and living it.
I was in Mauritius and was attracted to you and wondered how I would have your association. Finally I made it to Gitanagari, along with my sister. When I was initiated was the first time I saw snow. I was initiated as Sudevi and my sister as Rangadevi, and you said these were two devotee sisters.
Rama Raya Prabhu:
When I left Vrindavan, I saw the letter on Prabhupada’s desk. It was one he wrote to you about your library work, “This is the most important work. Know it for certain.” My eclectic search brought me to find Prabhupada’s books in a State University of New York library. Later I considered you placed it there and thus brought me to Krishna consciousness.
Niranjana Swami said, “This is your spiritual master, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami.”
You have always been tolerant and loyal with your disciples, encouraging them to make whatever contribution they can according to their natures.
I remember you came to Boston just after Prabhupada left. I saw you seemed very humble just sitting there on the vyasasana and not seeking honor.
I remember you came to Boston just after Prabhupada left. I saw you seemed very humble just sitting there on the vyasasana and not seeking honor.
When I was invited to stay over night in the Boston temple. I replied, “I have no money.” They said, “Then you are a devotee.” I stayed over. The next day my car was gone. It had been towed. I parked in the wrong place.
I joined in 1976 when I was still in high school.
The first time we met you, you said, “Spiritual life is not a plateau. It is not that you come to a level and you can just coast, otherwise you will go up and then you will go down.” After the first darshana, Nam Sankarsana said, “What do you think?” I said, “I think I will keep him.”
When I took initiation, I promised myself that no matter how many times I fell, I would keep trying.
Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but I have never lost my respect or love for you because I know you care about me.
Saci Suta Prabhu:
On the day of my initiation, a cold day in Ireland, I saw you bathing your Prabhupada murti, and that made a deep impression on me.
I was just following others in taking initiation. Now I see it is eternal. I am not worried. I understand wherever I go, you will come and get me.
A year before I joined the 55th St. temple. I prayed to God, not Krishna, to send me a guru. When I joined, I assumed I would take initiation from Prabhupada as everyone did, but he left.
I met you the day before my initiation. You quoted the Prahlada verse saying he was personally happy but concerned for those making elaborate arrangements for sensual happiness in this world.
I was given the service of putting the garland on you. That felt very enlivening.
When you initiated me, you advised me to put energy into the celebration of Janmastami sometime in my life.
I was in Hawaii when Srila Prabhupada left. You had an energy of strength and truthfulness, inspiring me to take initiation from you.
Bhakti Yoga dd:
I was age 15 in 1982 and got initiated. I continue to chant, and I raise my kids in Krishna consciousness. I read your books every day and your Facebook posts.
I was initiated at Gitanagari. I was from Surat where they also have Radha Damodar deities, so you named me Damodar Dasi.
I visited ISKCON in 1970 but missed seeing Srila Prabhupada.
I came in 1974 to Baltimore. Prabhupada visited in 1976, but my wife and I were working, so we missed seeing him again.
Later in 1979 I read Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita and decided I wanted to take initiation from its author, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami.
I came to the temple in 1975. Prabhupada came to Philly in 1975.
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu advised me to move in the temple. I liked my karmi [nondevotional] life and wanted to keep both that and Krishna consciousness. Ravindra Svarupa said that was not possible. It was like having the sun and the moon together. I would suffer if I tried. I replied, “What you are saying may be true, and then I will suffer.” And I did suffer.
When you came to Philly and spoke, you kept saying, “Srila Prabhupada said.” I was impressed. I prayed to my picture of Srila Prabhupada. I said, “I do not know him, but he says Srila Prabhupada a lot. Help me sort this out.”
Having you as my spiritual master is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I just love the relationship and the books.
I got my first book from the U. Mass library. Probably you and your party put it there. I heard about you from Srinath and other devotees there. I was first initiated by Srila Prabhupada. Agrani Prabhu said, “I do not know why I am doing this, but I am recommending you for 2nd initiation.” I was sweating and my tilaka came off. Brahmananda Swami said, “You came to the initiation without tilaka?” Then I got tilaka, but I had no cadara. Brahmananda Swami got on my case. Later, you told me you remembered that, and you leaned over and said to Brahmananda, “Take it easy on him.”
Baladeva from Trinidad:
Trinidad was considered beyond God’s back. We never saw a picture of him [Guru Maharaja].
Tarksa, the temple president told us, “There are eleven initiating gurus. You are going to take initiation from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami because he is the most honest one.” The immigration authorities would not let him into the country, so we were initiated by phone.
I was challenged on my decision to take initiation from Guru Maharaja because I had not met him but just read his books. I responded, “Rukmini did not meet Krishna but she heard about Him.”
He was a cutting edge guru, on the forefront of all issues, like japa reform.
One lifetime you have one birthday, and another lifetime you have another birthday. Initiation is different.
Bhagavata Purana Prabhu:
I was initiated in 1984, and Purusharta Prabhu performed the fire sacrifice.
I had not had enough sleep before one Vyasa-puja, and I was standing in the doorway, and swaying slowing back and forth.
You said, “Are you in or are you out?”
Within a month after meeting the devotees, I visited you in Philadelphia. You asked questions, and I gave general answers, and you wanted specific answers and that impressed me.
I was initiated on Nrisimha’s Appearance day in 1983 in Gitanagari. Nine of us got initiated then. There was a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new ox barn at the same time, and the deities were brought out into the field for the ceremony. When you named me, you said, “As Guru-kripa means the mercy of the guru, Krishna-kripa means the mercy of Krishna. Actually we should always think, ‘It is only by Krishna’s mercy I am here.’” I took it that I should not think proudly that I became a devotee because I was a highly advanced spiritual personality, but rather because Krishna was bestowing mercy upon me. In the lecture you spoke on a verse where the Lord is praising the Precatas for their mutual cooperation in devotional service and offering them any benediction they want. Thus you stressed cooperation in devotional service. You also said not only were we becoming your disciples, but we were joining the ISKCON family. It was very inspiring.
In addition to this impromptu spoken offering I summarized above, I sent my guru another offering by email, which after the initial offering of obeisance reads:
“There are so many qualities of yours I can and have glorified on your Vyasa-puja Day. This year I want to praise your “Japa Report,” which is full of important transcendental knowledge and realizations.
“You began Japa Reform Notebook by quoting Srila Prabhupada as writing in a Sri Caitanya-caritamrita purport about how chanting sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra each day on beads is the most important instruction of the spiritual master. In your daily practice, you start your day very early at midnight to complete this most important activity and to share your experience and realizations with others to inspire them.
“You tell of the following suggestions Srila Prabhupada gave on the practice itself, such as hearing attentively, chanting carefully, and chanting with feeling:
‘I practiced “just hear.” This is the excellent method recommended by Srila Prabhupada, the pre-eminent siksa guru and founder-acarya for all devotees in ISKCON.’
‘I heard the Names clearly, with attention and concern to pronounce the words properly.’
‘I avoided mechanical chanting by being thoughtful and cultivating devotional feelings.’
“You share your realizations from chanting in this way, which serve to inspire us:
‘Although it is “simply” absorbing oneself in the Names, reciting the Hare Krishna mantra attentively is so empowered that it brings one to a state of prayer, and when done deeper, it becomes calling out to Krishna from the heart.’
“You impart essential and important wisdom about the theology of the holy name:
‘Anyone who understands that the Name is non-different from Krishna Himself, that the sound form is more merciful than the personal form of the Lord, and absorbs himself in the transcendental sound vibration, is achieving a rare quality of japa.’
“This understanding of the identity of Krishna and His name is so valuable that Srila Prabhupada wrote in a Sri Caitanya-caritamrita purport that a devotee who accepts that there is no difference between the Lord and His holy name is pure, even though he may be in a neophyte stage, and hearing his chanting will purify others.
“You also remind us of the important news that even if our relationship with Krishna Himself is defective, His name will still show us mercy and help us get beyond our offensiveness.
‘I acknowledged Radha-Krishna as the heart of the maha-mantra uttered as a prayer for engagement in Their service.’
“The [above] gem reminds us that there is no difference between Hare Krishna and Radha-Krishna, and also of Srila Prabhupada’s meaning of the mantra, ‘O energy of the Lord, O Lord, please engage us in your service.’
‘The maha-mantra is so merciful and powerful that it vanquishes sinful reactions, ushers in liberation and brings one gradually to love of God, even when chanted with imperfections as I was doing.’
“Here you remind us the holy name is so powerful that even before we reach the pure stage, there are many positive side effects.
“You remind us that perfect chanting comes through grace, and we can and should pray for the mercy:
‘I called to Krishna for blessings because I am powerless to do japa on my own endeavor.’
“You encourage us that although we have not achieved the goal of spontaneous love of God, that chanting out of duty to please the guru is noble and that is the way to ultimately achieve spontaneous love:
‘I was not chanting with spontaneous love, but at least I was carrying out the process of doing a prescribed number of rounds in obedience to the order of the spiritual master, a sacred vow.’
“The dharma for this age is the chanting of the holy name, and you have dedicated your life to taking it seriously yourself and inspiring others to take it seriously. Thank you for protecting the dharma and for protecting your followers, including me in this way.
“As you are fixed in your determination to please Srila Prabhupada by acting according to his instructions, I pray that I may be similarly determined to act according to your direction.
“Thank you for inspiring me so much in my spiritual practice and my appreciation of Srila Prabhupada.
“Your aspiring servant,
Signs of Note
In temples you see some signs unique to that temple, but which may also be useful in other temples to encourage attendees to come to a higher level of practice. Here are two signs I saw in our ISKCON DC (Potomac temple):
The Temple Room is a Quiet Place
for prayer and meditation.
Cell Phones Off
To see other photos I took but did not include, click on the link below:
From a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 3.17–20 in New York, on May 27, 1966:
“One has to come to that very point, understanding of Krishna, atma-rati, because He is Paramatma. He is the Supreme Soul, and I am atma. I am individual soul. I am part and parcel of Krishna. That relationship is there, eternal. And that is congenial, and that is my real happiness. We have forgotten that. We have, by chance, fallen into this material contamination and we have made our relationship with so many material things, so that we have forgotten Krishna. Now, the whole process is to revive our consciousness to Krishna. For that purpose, Krishna comes Himself or Krishna keeps this Bhagavad-gita for you or Krishna sends His confidential devotees to you, to canvass you, ‘Come to the point and be happy.’ That is the whole process.”
“They [the Goswamis] were always absorbed in thoughts of Krishna, how Krishna is, I mean to say, having His pastimes, His activities. By thinking, by thinking, thinking . . . they could forget their material prosperity in exchange of [for] thinking [of] Krishna.”
“If this movement is spread, then people will be self-satisfied. He’ll be no more hankering for any artificial thing. As soon as he goes on realizing the transcendental nature of ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.’ Oh, he will feel himself fully satisfied. Nothing can enchant him, nothing can drag him from this platform.”
“Do your duty, as duty, as you are duty bound. But don’t be attached to that work. Because you should always know that your real work is self-realization.”
“So you haven’t got to give up your work, your duty. Go on doing your duty, but make your point that ‘My life’s main business is self-realization.’ You give more importance to that point of life. Not to the point of, that ‘I shall earn more and enjoy life.’ No. That should be given up. That is called nonattachment. So if we go on working in non-attachment and culture our self-realization, then gradually we shall come to the perfectional point.”
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.39 on October 19, 1974 in Mayapur:
Krishna is already present, but His presence will be more and more appreciated by this kirtana.
If we are sincere devotee of Krishna, Krishna becomes present when we glorify Him.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu becomes present when there is real, offenseless kirtana.
We are spirit soul so our desires should be spiritual.
If you simply peacefully chant the Hare Krishna mantra, everything is there.
Formerly the Vedic culture was such that no gentleman, no member of the higher classes, brahmana, ksatriya, or vaisya, would become a drunkard, women-hunter, or meat-eater.
The process is the same by the parampara system as five thousand years ago. Now thousands of Jagais and Madhais are coming forward to be purified.
From a class on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.40 in Los Angeles on May 2, 1973:
“This is Vedic civilization. There is mention of so many things, that ‘The grains are in abundance and the trees are full of fruits. The rivers are flowing nicely. The hills are full of minerals and the ocean full of wealth.’ So where is the scarcity? There is no mention that slaughterhouse is flourishing, industry is flourishing. No such mention. These are all nonsense things they have created. Therefore problems are there. If you depend on God’s creation, then there is no scarcity; simply ananda [pleasure].”
“The living entity does not take birth, neither he dies. [Bg. 2.20] Anything which does not take birth does not die also. Death is for such thing which is created. Which is not created, it has no death.”
“Direct perception has no value because our senses are all imperfect. So what is the value of direct perception? . . . There are so many senses [through which] we can experience knowledge. But because the senses are imperfect, whatever knowledge you are getting by exercising your senses, they’re [it’s] all imperfect.”
“You have to eat the grains and the fruits and the vegetables, along with a slice of meat you take. Still, for that slice of meat, you are killing so many poor animals. How much sinful it is. So it is not to be done. It is not to be done. Therefore people are not happy. They are committing simply sinful activities. How they can become happy? But if you become Krishna conscious, simply depend on Krishna’s glancing, tava viksitaih, if you depend on Krishna, Krishna will supply you everything. There is no question of scarcity.”
Lecture by Srila Prabhupada, Mayapura 1977:
“This is the easiest way to please Krishna. You don’t need much money, much education, nothing of the sort. Simply requires your heart. ‘Krishna, You are my Lord, You are my master eternally. I am Your servant eternally. Let me be engaged in Your service.’ That is Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. This is the meaning of the Hare Krishna mantra: O Krishna, O energy of Krishna, I am Your servant, somehow or other I am now fallen in this material condition. Please pick me up and engage me in Your service.”
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:
From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:
“How do we manifest remorse at not being a good devotee or a good chanter? It doesn’t have to be an overt display. Better it be no display at all. Just feel an inner mourning and as we fail to chant, go on trying to do better. Take little measures—wash your face to stay awake, walk if you feel tired sitting down. Always be alive to another chance; the beads go endlessly around in circles as long as you have life and breath.
“Time passes but is not important. We don’t pay attention to food or rest. The body forces us to acknowledge it, but we keep moving on with our harer nama like a fighter claiming back territory from the inattentive mind.”
“Japa is my hope. Japa is my frustration. It is my embarrassment. It is my distracted performance and my lack of realization. I have been chanting japa for thirty years. I’m still a beginner. Japa humbles me and fills me with enthusiasm at the challenge. It is hopelessly beyond me; I cannot master it. I want to learn how to surrender to the name and let the name teach me how to chant. I love it. I appreciate the theistic brilliance of the Lord for introducing harer nama as the yuga-dharma for this sinful age.”
“Yes, you have millions and trillions of ‘miles’ to go before reaching the goal of direct service in Vraja. Life after life you can increase your greed. Chanting. So why not learn to chant as well as you can right now so that you will do better with it in the next life? It doesn’t get lost from one life to the next. It’s not like your bodily organs that finally break down until the soul has to move out of the body. Chanting can go with you to the next life. Learn how to cry for Krishna. You will be needing that ability for the next life.”
From Vyasa-puja 2016 morning lecture:
I gave you the Hare Krishna mantra on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, and that binds us together permanently as guru and disciple.
You are followers of both Srila Prabhupada and me.
Reading my books, following the four vows, and chanting 16 rounds are ways you can serve me.
It does not matter that you took initiation when you were much younger. You should still keep the vows.
You may have an accidental falldown, and that is rectified by resolute practice, but you cannot make advancement in Krishna consciousness if you permanently abandon your vows.
There are 100 books on sdglegacy.com for free download.
You do not have be a computer wiz to read ebooks.
Nitai is now publishing Prabhupada Meditations [formerly four volumes] in two volumes in India.
Read my books. Correspond with me. Visit me. Keep it alive, a loving relationship.
You may have vague memories of your initiation, but it was the most important day of your life.
Srila Prabhupada personally wrote me in a letter in response to a question I had that initiation is like pulling out a plug on an electric fan. The suffering we later experience is not karma but the winding down of reactions.
At initiation I gave you the maha-mantra in sampradaya and the freeing of karma, and you promised to follow the vows.
Some of the siksa disciples read my books more than the diksa disciples.
All disciples should render service to the guru.
Srila Prabhupada very much emphasized service for the disciples from the very beginning. He was very practical. I did typing and gave money from my job. Brahmananda was temple president. Gargamuni sold incense.
From Vyasa-puja afternoon lecture:
The heart of everything is right there, even now, in the kirtanas of 1966. There is exciting ecstasy of getting together for kirtana.
At the end of his 26 Second Ave. programs Srila Prabhupada would say, “Alright.” It was like, “Alright, I have tried my best.” “Alright,” he said, almost with disgust at the foolishness and the challenging nature of the questions.
There will be nothing like it, although we have so many accomplished mrdanga players, Srila Prabhupada playing on the bongo drum, neither like a mrdanga nor unlike mrdanga.
I write down the essence of his lecture. I do it for myself more than for him. I do not try to memorize the lecture. But I just write the essence as I can remember it.
I think you have to get a special revelation by Krishna to understand Swamiji. He said it comes through service.
Adi Purusha Prabhu (Food for Life in New York City):
Let us pray that what we speak today is what we need to hear.
This conversation between Jada Bharata and Maharaja Rahugana is relevant to us today.
Some people are not ready to hear, just as a person in a dark room may not be ready for a bright light to be suddenly turned on.
When I was first assigned to the task of distributing knowledge and I saw devotees engaged in that way, I thought they were disturbing people. Then after some time, I saw some devotees who could do it without disturbing people.
I have seen devotees who disturb one person after another all day, and I have seen devotees who have one wonderful exchange after another.
When we see the people from a distance, by a glance or a gesture we can get a sense if they are interested in an exchange with us. If we get a clue that they are not interested, when they come close, if we approach them again, we may get a severe negative reaction because they have already indicated they were not interested.
Comment by Cesar: When my Guru Maharaja meets a friendly Christian, he says, “This world could use more people like you.”
Jada Bharata did not preach to his parents or other family members because they were not ready to hear.
When we are distributing books, we can say, “May I speak to you for a moment?”
Krishna is training us to come to the point of giving love to everyone we meet.
If they appear to be afraid, then say, “Do not worry. We are the good guys.”
Brahmatirtha Prabhu (Bob Cohen in Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers):
Have you ever misunderstood an exalted person as an ordinary one and criticized him, thinking, “He is not as good as I am in so many ways.”?
We have our transcendental position, and yet we have our dharma. We have to keep these in balance.
When Yogesvara was beginning to associate with the devotees, he was studying keyboard in the leading music school in the world, the Sorbonne in Paris. He visited the devotees in London. The devotees asked him what he did, and he said he played the keyboards. The devotees were happy to hear that, and almost immediately he found himself in a van with the devotees going to Apple Studios to record a Hare Krishna album.
Yamuna was most influential with me in meeting Srila Prabhupada.
Cardinal Danielou was actually a liberal cardinal and was a leading member of a group in the Vatican in trying to make the Catholic Church more relevant. Having the mass in the local language rather than Latin was one of their changes. The Catholics tended to think they were the only religion. Cardinal Danielou was opposed to this and was open to other religions. In his conversation with Srila Prabhupada, Srila Prabhupada chose to speak on “thou shalt not kill” and expose the cardinal’s misunderstanding that animals have no souls.
Srila Prabhupada stressed not changing things, and he also stressed time, place, and circumstance.
One man’s essential principle is another man’s detail.
I was brought up as a Jew, and I learned we were the chosen people. Then I became a Hare Krishna, and I learned we have the absolute truth. We have to watch out for the “chosen people” syndrome.
Q: How do we know if we are actually following time, place, and circumstance?
A: Srila Prabhupada kept himself pure by following his spiritual practice, and then he experimented. Prabhupada had a mission, but he did not have a plan. He experimented. Sometimes we are unaware how much Srila Prabhupada experimented, and thus we do not know how much we can experiment. I was with Srila Prabhupada. He definitely had a mission, but as far as a plan, it was Krishna magic.
One friend expressed that “Srila Prabhupada said” is his greatest fear for the future of ISKCON. Why? Because Srila Prabhupada said so many different things at different times.
If we say “Srila Prabhupada said” is everything and we ignore sadhu and sastra, then we are not actually following what Srila Prabhupada taught which was to follow guru, sadhu, and sastra.
There were 70 devotees at the Mayapur festival, and I was the only guest. Prabhupada kept me with him for three days. Devotees were giving me piles of “should.” I was bewildered. I asked Srila Prabhupada what I should do, and he simply told me to keep good association. When you think about it, everything else comes from good association.
Srila Prabhupada said one hundred and fifty times that Krishna consciousness is a gradual process.
Srila Prabhupada told George Harrison not to get initiated. He could see George was doing good service, and with his lifestyle, it would be difficult to keep vows.
The secret of asking questions is to ask people you can trust.
If we do not reveal our doubts, they become anchors, but when we reveal them, they can open up a whole new way of looking at things.
From Parallels: Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena:
“Perhaps the best way to overcome misunderstandings based on ethnic and religious differences is to openly discuss all aspects of the world views of different peoples. To do this effectively would require a massive cross-cultural study. My own conviction is that such a study would result in a unified picture of human cultures that attributes much greater reality to each culture’s world view than modern science allows.”
“There is more to Indian philosophy than just the school of Advaita Vedanta. According to Vaishnava philosophy, Brahman is the effulgence of the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord, and it forms the atmosphere of the spiritual world. Brahman realization is simply the starting point of higher spiritual experience, and the idea that it is the ultimate goal is an impediment to spiritual progress.”
“Since the soul emanates from the Supreme Being, there is a natural relationship of love between the soul and the Supreme. This natural love is obscured when the soul is in a state of material consciousness. When the soul attains to Brahman, it reaches a neutral state, and its natural loving tendency is manifest without an object. But going beyond this neutral state, this love becomes expressed in the form of service to the transcendental Supreme Lord. It is also expressed in the form of compassion towards souls in material bondage, who are all parts and parcels of the Lord but are lost in forgetfulness.
“This idea of love in relation to the Supreme Person can be compared with the ‘universal love’ mentioned in many UFO communications. These communications often define the ultimate One as an impersonal energy or force. Yet love is something having to do with persons. If the One is impersonal in nature, then how can love have a truly universal role? Note that this problem does not come up in modern scientific theories. According to modern science, love is simply a recent outgrowth of hominid evolution in Africa, and it has nothing to do with ultimate causes. But if the personal quality of love is a fundamental feature of nature, then it is natural to ask how this could be. If there is a Transcendental Person behind the universe, then the answer is that the universe was crafted according to the loving intentions of that person.”
“The inhabitants in a virtual reality actually exist outside of the false, computer-generated world, but they experience the illusion that they are within that world. If they were to forget their actual existence, then the illusion would become complete, and they would identify themselves fully with their computer-generated virtual bodies. According to the Vedas, this is the position of conditioned souls within the material universe.
“Within the overall illusion of maya, there are many subillusions. The overall illusion causes one to forget the omnipotence of the Supreme, and the subillusions cause one to forget the cosmic managerial hierarchy set up by the Supreme within the material universe. All of these illusions allow the individual soul to act by free will, even though he is actually under higher control.
“At the same time, the illusions are not so strong that an individual who wants to seek out the truth is unable to do so. If maya were so strong as to stop any effort to find the truth, then this too would block people’s free will. According to the Vedic system, the Supreme Being arranges for teachers to descend into the material world to give transcendental knowledge to the conditioned souls. By the arrangement of maya, people will always have plentiful excuses for rejecting these teachers if they so desire. But if they desire higher knowledge, they will also be provided with adequate evidence to distinguish that knowledge from illusion.”
Rama Raya Prabhu:
Srila Prabhupada was the perfect servant of the perfect spiritual master. That was his qualification to be spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada has given everything. All that is required is application and realization.
Dependence on Krishna and surrender to Krishna are prominent symptoms in a highly advanced devotee.
When people say, “why don’t you get a real job?” you can respond by asking them the same question.
Our surrender to Krishna is following the order of the spiritual master. So our giving up of bad association is done by giving our superior association to such people.
Comment by Arjuna Prabhu: Those who had Srila Prabhupada’s association practically experienced how from him ecstatic prema emanates and by him ignorance is completely destroyed.
When one is devoid of all material desires, one can appreciate the spiritual nature of all living beings. This state can be attained by serving the great souls.
Bhavananda Prabhu said at Srila Prabhupada’s 39th disappearance day anniversary in Vrindavan that Srila Prabhupada was expert in noticing any discrepancy to bring his disciples up to the level of first-class service.
In many places devotees are considered musicians, and authorities demand they have permits to play, but in New York City we are understood to be religious persons who have a right to present their religion under the protection of the First Amendment. Perhaps this protection of religion is why America is still maintained despite so many inglorious plans and activities of world domination.
One of the qualities of a devotee is that he is quiet in nonsense.
A sadhu cuts away one’s material attachments, just as a surgeon cuts out diseased tissue.
The grhastha ashram is meant to cure people permanently from attachment to male-female relationships so they can progress spiritually.
Srila Prabhupada came to America from living in seva-kunja, the hub of all of Krishna’s activities in Vrindavan.
The bad result of envy is jiva-himsa, causing pain to others by stopping the distribution of spiritual knowledge.
The act of book distribution is so deeply blessed by the most exalted pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. By connecting with it, you associate with powerful spiritual energies.
Murali Krishna Prabhu:
From a conversation after the 26 2nd Ave. program:
I lost my job, and I was looking for work. Krishna blessed me with a job I can do from home. I chant 64 rounds a day as that is my vow. I chant 16 rounds, and then I do some work, then I chant 16 more rounds, and do some more work, etc. In this way, I can maintain myself, and I do not even have to leave home.
Vasudeva KKS Prabhu:
By instructing King Rahugana, Jada Bharata is taking a higher position because of his higher knowledge.
As souls we have nothing to do with this material world.
This spiritual knowledge does not appear of its own accord. Someone must interfere with our life as Jada Bharata did with King Rahugana.
Srila Prabhupada tells us that it was Lord Caitanya’s desire that the holy name be chanted in every town and village of this world. Bhaktivinoda Thakura picked up this desire. Lord Jagannatha revealed to him that he had called Bhaktivinoda Thakura to preach His mission, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura appealed to the Lord that he needed help. Lord Jagannatha told Bhaktivinoda Thakura to pray to Bimala Devi for a son. Thus when Bhaktisiddhanta Saravati Thakura appeared, he was named Bimala Prasad.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura wanted his son to go to college, especially so he could preach to the educated class.
The whole agenda of the British was to break the faith of the Indians in their own culture so the British could rule them.
For a time Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was secretary to the king of Tripura.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was morally upright and educated and thus was a success as a youth by material calculation.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that when he heard the Six Goswamis gave up eating and sleeping, being absorbed in Krishna bhajana, it seemed to him impractical until he met Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja, who actually lived in that way, and who inspired him to live in the same way.
Bhaktisiddhanta said, “I had been trying to prepare myself to become a preacher by studying, but I had no idea of the power of the holy dhama and the power of the holy name.”
Bhaktisiddhanta put his own intense practice of pure devotional service into an organized form in his Gaudiya Matha.
Today [on this anniversary of his disappearance] we can connect with that desire of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to make Krishna consciousness available to others.
Karuna Gauranga Prabhu:
In the temples in India, you will see depicted on the wall near the entrance a tortoise with its limbs extended. The meaning of this is the spiritual aspirant, while in the material world, keeps his senses restrained, but when he enters the temple, he engages his senses in devotional service.
When a tortoise is in danger it withdraws its senses, similarly a devotee when he senses danger to his Krishna consciousness, also withdraws his senses.
How much we are spontaneously attracted to hearing about the Lord is the test of our advancement.
Hearing about Krishna out of knowledge, curiosity, etc., are good initial motivations, but we have to come to the point of doing it out of duty.
We can attain namabhasa by our own strength of practice, but prema-nama is a gift from Krishna.
Five stages of developing attraction: Attention, attraction, absorption, affection, and attachment.
From an after breakfast conversation:
King Prataparuda, by the mercy of Lord Jagannatha, was the only king the Moguls were unable to defeat.
Ananda Bihari Prabhu:
Jada Bharata had not spoken in his whole life until he spoke to Maharaja Rahugana so you can understand that what he is going to speak is very important.
My understanding is that he chose to speak to a king because if the king understood properly then he could influence the whole population to understand.
Although we are not our bodies, we do have to take care of our bodies.
People will not respect us if we are too out of touch with society, and then they will not hear from us.
Previously people would pray for troubles to remember Krishna, but we do not have to do that. In this age of Kali-yuga there is no chance of a trouble-free life, and thus its glory is that it motivates us to take shelter of Krishna.
Our mind is always hopeful for material success, even after many false hopes.
If you are attentive, japa is very easy, but if you are inattentive, it is very difficult.
Comment by Adi Purusha Prabhu: If you are not envious or proud and you really want to benefit people then you can joke with the people in bold ways and they will appreciate it.
Jai Giridhari Prabhu:
Although originally King Rahugana spoke very abusively to Jada Bharata, he had the good quality of being willing to hear from Jada Bharata when Jada Bharata began to speak.
Radhanath Swami tells a story about Molly, a dog who rescued a chipmunk that was drowning in the water. After rescuing the chipmunk, she wanted to play with it, but she began to play with it as if she were playing with a puppy, which was not appropriate for a chipmunk. Maharaja used the incident to teach that we have to love Krishna as He desires to be loved and not as we desire to love Him.
Commentary by Adi Purusha Prabhu: Most of Krishna consciousness, perhaps 90%, is knowing when to speak rather than just knowing what to say.
Bhakti Lata Devi Dasi:
We are controlled in so many ways. We did not choose our parents, our place of birth, or where we were brought up. As a kid, you are shuttled from here to there without any say it.
Ghanashyam says they play classical music at Penn Station to drive away the drunks, homeless people, etc.
When the stock market crashed, many people committed suicide because they had invested their identities so much in their material possessions that when they lost them, they thought their lives had no meaning and that they might as well end them.
The more we are under the control of the modes of material nature the more we are dead though alive.
The higher we are in the modes, the more control we seem to have.
King Pariksit is an example of giving up everything as a service, laying down his kingly robes to prepare for death.
Lord Caitanya is an example of one who accepted a new role as a service, accepting sannyasa although He had to give up so many loved ones, realizing that was the best way to spread His message.
Just reading all the realizations above, I am reminded of the potency of the association of those who are advanced spiritually to inspire and guide us on the path of self-realization, and therefore, this beautiful statement of Lord Caitanya, who was instructing Sanatana Goswami, came to mind:
‘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)