Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 24
By Krishna-kripa das
(December 2016, part two)
(December 2016, part two)
New York City Harinama, Albany, Niranjana Swami Vyasa-puja
(Sent from Tallahassee, Florida, on January 24, 2017)
Where I Went and What I Did
I continued doing daily harinama with Rama Raya Prabhu’s Yuga Dharma New York City party, usually six hours each day, except for Christmas Eve, when I visited my relatives in Albany and New Year’s Eve, when I attended Niranjana Swami’s Vyasa-puja in Hartford.
I share excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s books and notes on one of his lectures. I share notes on the Vyasa-puja lecture that Niranjana Swami gave in Hartford. I share notes on The Bhakti Center lectures given by senior devotees, like Prabhupada disciples, Adi Purusha Prabhu and Sukhavaha Devi Dasi, and Bhakti Rasayana Sagar Swami and Rama Raya Prabhu, as well as newer devotees, such as myself, Sundarnath Prabhu, and a new Indian brahmacari, whose name I did not know. I share a inspiring story from aspiring devotee, Rick, who I met in Dublin on harinama in the summer.
I would like to thank my mother for her very helpful Christmas donation. I would also like to thank Atmanivedana Prabhu of the Saturday night Bhagavad-gita class at 26 Second Avenue for his kind donation. I thank Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for his final donation toward my subway expenses in New York City for this year. Many thanks to Dhruva Prabhu for raising funds for my expenses through taking advantage of credit card and bank offers throughout the year. Thanks to Mayapur Chandra Prabhu for driving me from Beacon to Hartford to see Niranjana Swami.
Many, many thanks to Stella for all her photos of the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama party.
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: 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
New York City Harinama
On our New York City harinama, sometimes we have had whites, blacks, Indians, Hispanics, and Orientals all together at once on harinama. We also have men and women, children, teenagers, and even a lady in her eighties. Once in the Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station an onlooker saw the variety of people on harinama there, and said to me, “I can see it is something that is for everybody.”
Prabhu (sitting on the far right), a jovial gray-haired gentlemen who used to attend harinama much more when he lived in the Bronx, often drives his car to New York City and rarely uses the subway. When he came to chant with us in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station, he told the attendant that he just wanted to chant in the station with the Hare Krishnas and not to use the subway. Then he showed the attendant a video on his phone of the devotees chanting in Times Square, and the attendant let him in for free. Thanks to Stella for the photo. When I posted that story on Facebook, Sara Sheikh commented, “Sincerity of heart opens doors!”
This man told me he was walking down Second Avenue in 1966, and he heard some music coming out of a building in the distance. He went to check it out. When he looked in the storefront next to the Mobil gas station, he saw the swami who was the leader of our movement along with Allen Ginsberg. Stories of people meeting Srila Prabhupada are not uncommon in New York City.
Gaurangi, daughter of Ananda Bihari and Cinmayi Radha Prabhus, comes on harinama several days a week with her mother and almost always has a good time. For her, harinama is part of life. As Srila Prabhupada said, “Even a child can take part in the chanting.”
December 27 was a special day as it was the only day in the second half of December that was warm enough to chant outside, and extra devotees came out that day.
Sally (front right), aged 81, a regular attender who finds the subway stations too noisy, was very happy to be chanting with the devotees again. When we are outside in the Union Square Park, she comes almost every day for an hour or so, and she throws a dollar in our box when she leaves. That day, extra happy to have the association of devotees again, she threw in two dollars.
On that warm day, Mathuraprana Krishna Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna and Mahotsaha Prabhu engaged a group of tourists in dancing in Union Square Park (https://youtu.be/t0DurjYzCLU):
Later Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna, and after a while, two onlookers danced with two devotee ladies (https://youtu.be/oEu_POvKR0o):
I will first share with you the videos with onlookers playing instruments and dancing to the Hare Krishna chant:
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna intensely and devotees and onlookers dance at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/azul8fX-d40):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and two onlookers dance at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/TfOf2WKnGRA):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna intensely and a saxophonist plays sax and later dances with two devotees (https://youtu.be/OH9bWb6fWxE):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and devotees and an onlooker dance in Grand Central subway station (https://youtu.be/OQ5DcV8xsBs):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and Mahotsaha Prabhu and an onlooker dance at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/ZdJ7k4f1S2M):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and Mahotsaha Prabhu teaches one onlooker to dance to the chanting in the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/rjRjaVC4I3M):
Rama Raya Prabhu leads a rocking Hare Krishna kirtana that attracts the attention and participation of passersby at Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/3CR-7BHmyis):
Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and several onlookers dance with devotees at Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/F_08XvzsS8Y):
Here in Union Square subway station, Kaliya Krishna Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna, and a very small girl dances in ecstasy, oblivious to the rush-hour pedestrian traffic surrounding her. As Srila Prabhupada said, “We have seen it practically that even a child can take part in the chanting . . .” (https://youtu.be/Gx53REKUddw):
Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and a man and two ladies dance at the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/ZZ0nU1OJT4c):
Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and at least two families play the shakers and dance with delight (https://youtu.be/OJpqBmy6cCU):
Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants at Union Square subway station, and Liza and an onlooker dance (https://youtu.be/WBfel8K4hX4):
Mathuraprana Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station, and a man dances (https://youtu.be/UHb1yZFHJyc):
Bhakta Kane, visiting from Germany for at least a year, chants Hare Krishna and a man vigorously plays the shakers at the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/EZrj2pwbnm0):
Dipika chants Hare Krishna and a kid plays the shakers in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/ZN_zdvk5efs):
Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and Liza dances at Times Square subway station (https://youtu.be/O73SHVv-hwQ):
Bhakti Rasayana Sagar Swami, a new swami from Russia, kindly shared his personal enthusiasm for chanting Hare Krishna with the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama party in the Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/oSiBP6K11dY):
Bhakti Rasayana Sagar Swami chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/xpmG-DOTn3w):
Visiting devotee, Nimai Sejpal of the UK, chants at Union Square (https://youtu.be/FFq0Golydyw):
I served the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama party in a variety of ways:
Sometimes I did the book table.
Other times I distributed pamphlets while standing up.
Sometimes I distributed them sitting down.
Often I distributed them while dancing.
I also took videos and photos.
Usually an hour each day I led the singing.
Stella posted her favorite photos of the 10,000 she took in 2016, and a couple were of me singing. I am happy remembering these happy times, chanting with the devotees on harinama in New York:
Anatoliy, who chants on the weekends when he has time and has lots of enthusiasm and talent, chants Hare Krishna at the Times Square subway station (https://youtu.be/R228Gt12d_s):
Bhakta Kane chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/gePc7TIjvO8):
Bhaktin Stella chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station. Kaliya Krishna Prabhu plays harmonium for her (https://youtu.be/sj1dKXMVmP8):
Dipika chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/FP0u5L2CCbA):
Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/5Nm9hg6vztI):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/HbwrAXjEYuU):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/Ac75ip3aj8s):
Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Times Square subway station (https://youtu.be/daiVphC0OiU):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Times Square subway station (https://youtu.be/Ftw90c9pSRk):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/Vw3JBOfDT8A):
Govind chants Hare Krishna at the Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station in Brooklyn (https://youtu.be/DaCeKLRYLzE):
Ananda Bihari Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in the Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/dCACcgLnAvQ)
Govind chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/GvUZBuT-ybw):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square subway station (https://youtu.be/1XCSAonEc5Q):
Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/1Z6mD25M2j0):
As New Year’s Day approaches, Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna to the tune of the New Year’s classic, “Auld Lang Syne.” (https://youtu.be/u6VY1dGpcqc):
Bhaktin Stella chants Hare Krishna at Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/soP8n9JRZ1k):
Dipika chants Hare Krishna at Jackson Heights / Roosevelt Avenue subway station (https://youtu.be/5dOpPnvCgL4):
Christmas Eve with My Relatives and Christmas Day on Harinama
At the Quaker Meeting I attended in the youth they have potluck dinner on Christmas Eve, and I always bring some prasadam to spiritually benefit the congregation. Because it was Ekadasi, I decided to make Gauranga potatoes, so I could also eat it, and I made the coconut burfi I usually bring, which is Ekadasi-friendly by nature, this time flavored with peppermint. I also brought about 20 doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant, and one of the ladies was very happy see the doughnuts and learn of existence that doughnut shop.
I have only made Gauranga potatoes once in my life, perhaps twenty years ago, and I could not judge the timing properly. Thus I had to take some of the half-cooked Gauranga’s with me to Albany and finish them there, leaving the rest to be cooked, offered to Giriraja, and eaten by the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama party I was serving with. Fortunately the recipe in The Higher Taste cookbook is infallible, and the Lord is merciful, so it all worked out. I did, however, have to run in the rain for twelve minutes with my half-cooked Gauranga’s, coconut burfi, a couple boxes of doughnuts, and all my luggage to the Chinese bus station to catch the bus to Albany. I did not even have time to put on my long underwear or my winter boots. Fortunately I made it in time.
After singing Christmas carols at the Christmas Eve celebration at the Albany Friends Meeting, one older Quaker lady said to me, “We do not sing because we are happy, but we are happy because we sing.” I liked it. Because the Lord is pleased by the singing of His glories, those who participate become happy, acting in their constitutional position as souls by serving Him.
My family, because of a tradition they started after I moved into the temple, do not stay for the potluck dinner after the Christmas Eve service at the Quaker Meeting, but instead go to an Indian restaurant, this year one called Maharaja. There I had two mango lassis, which were some of the best I have ever tasted. I asked their secret, and they said they just use yogurt and mango and do not dilute it. They made me a subji without grains, beans, garlic, or onions, and although I requested mild, it was a bit on the spicy side. Still because I once lived in Mayapur for seven and a half months, it was not unbearable. I felt sorry for the others who also found the food a bit too hot. Although we did not order a dessert, they insisted we have one, as they did last year, because of me a being Hare Krishna monk. Thus we were given rasa malai and gulabjamuns, and I took the rasa malai because it was better for Ekadasi.
I had inquired from my relatives as to their favorite doughnuts and gave them doughnuts from Doughnut Plant, along with the peppermint coconut burfi as their Christmas gifts from me. My sister gave me figs and a flannel shirt, and my mother a nice donation, which practically covered all my Christmas expenses.
Midday on Christmas I took the Chinese bus back to New York City. It was an odd time and the bus was not crowded. I lay across the three seats in the back, and caught up on my sleep. I arrived at our harinama venue at Times Square subway station in time to chant four hours.
Thus I spent Christmas Eve with the family of my birth, and
Christmas Day with my Yuga Dharma New York City family on harinama.
Our leader was worried about my absence on Christmas Eve, but as it turned out, there were about fifteen devotees on harinama both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What better way to celebrate a holy day!
Niranjana Swami Vyasa-puja
Because Niranjana Swami is my vartma-pradarsaka-guru [the person who introduced me to the path] and an important siksa-guru [instructing spiritual master] and because I rarely get to see him, I took the trouble to travel to Hartford to attend his Vyasa-puja ceremony on New Year’s Eve. I also stayed there for his Sunday feast lecture on New Year’s Day.
I took Metro North from Grand Central station in New York City to Beacon and caught a ride from Mayapur Chandra Prabhu and his family, whose restaurant catered the prasadam. I was worried that because we arrived late I would miss Niranjana Swami’s kirtana and lecture, but thankfully they were after the homages rather than before, as they often are at such ceremonies.
I was worried I would not get to go on harinama on New Year’s Eve, which is one of my favorite days to chant in public. I almost left the Vyasa-puja early to chant with the Boston devotees who left to chant there but who were returning to Hartford for Niranjana Swami’s lecture the next day. Because Pyari Mohan Prabhu said we could have a harinama in Hartford after the ceremony that Niranjana Swami agreed to attend, I stayed. Unfortunately, it rained making that impractical.
Here are some notes on some of the Vyasa-puja offerings that resonated with me. My offering is complete, and the poem of Jivausadhi dd is complete, but I have just a few notes on some of the rest. Because I did not know some of the people, I described what they were wearing, in hopes of later identifying them. In some cases, I did not get around to finding out their names. My apologies. If anyone can identify them, please let me know.
Just so you know, most of the offerings refer to Niranjana Swami as “you” but a few others use “he.”
Devotee lady with a red sari and a greenish piece covering her head and who spoke with an accent:
I asked how could I serve you. You replied, “Rise as early as possible and chant the holy name as attentively as possible.”
Srila Prabhupada corrected one female disciple for interrupting her japa to chant gayatri. She understood that she that she should chant all her japa before gayatri time, and rose at 1:30 a.m. and chanted japa very early the rest of her life.
Malati Priya dd:
Lowell, Mass., your birthplace, is a now a sacred place.
Ukraine is a tirtha [place of pilgrimage] because you preached there.
Because of your teaching by your example, we know how to take care of Krishna’s devotees.
After your 24-hour visit to our home, I felt my material desires vanished and the dust on my heart was cleansed. After three or four days at work, I unfortunately returned to my former state. Thus I am eager for you to visit again.
Lalita Visakha dd:
You give me the chance to change my destiny.
Your lectures give me so much hope.
I pray for your mercy and forgiveness.
I am indebted to you for your instructions to my godbrothers and godsisters as well as those given to myself.
Bhakti Swarupa Caitanya Swami said to me, “You want to make it [back to Godhead] in one life?”
I said, “Yes. It would be unfortunate to miss this chance.”
He replied, “It is a marathon. It is a rollercoaster.” He shared his excitement about following that path.
Bhakti Swarupa Caitanya Swami said that some devotees have one question which they ask all the devotees, waiting until they get the answer they want, “How do I attain the maximum advancement with the minimum effort?” But that is not possible.
Krishna Bhakti Prabhu:
Gratitude and praise arise spontaneously in my heart on this day.
If we are looking for a good example, you are the best example we can look up to.
Young uninitiated lady in lavender sari from Moscow:
I did nothing to deserve the mercy you have given.
I find that my attachment to Srila Prabhupada and his teachings has increased since I have been chanting your pranama mantra.
I find the most comforting shelter in your lectures.
Like Srila Prabhupada, you give nothing more or less than pure devotional service.
Through your lectures I got the desire to read Srila Prabhupada’s books and also to distribute them.
Thank you for making me aware that what I have is all your mercy.
I have vowed to distribute at least one book every day. I do not personally have the ability, but I pray to you and find I am able.
I did not feel ready to choose a spiritual master. I feel you chose me.
You tell of a godbrother who thanked Krishna for all the difficulties he experienced because they helped focus his mind on Krishna. You said that we should be thankful not for material wealth but whatever helps us to be Krishna conscious.
Without you, so many would be lost, and still searching for Krishna.
You are so caring to your devotees.
om ajnana timirandhasya
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri guruve namah
I am here to thank you for giving me the opportunity to acquire real spiritual knowledge and realization.
When I visited our New York temple on 55th St. when I was twenty back in 1979, you advised me to use the time I had taken off from college to stay in the temple and to see how much spiritual advancement I could make. If I continued on my trip with my friend to the West Coast, you said I would just engage in the same hackneyed, materialistic activities that had not brought me ultimate happiness here. I ended up staying in the temple. Years later you said I was the hardest person you ever convinced to stay, and that you had to pray to Krishna. Thank you for praying to Krishna on my behalf, and for demonstrating the power of the devotee’s prayer.
More recently you advised me to assist Rama Raya Prabhu with his daily harinama program in New York City, and so I go there each year from September through December. Thus I am engaged in doing harinama for six hours every day and learning how to take shelter of the holy name as well to make the holy name available to others. Thank you for this amazing opportunity.
You are a model of devotion to Srila Prabhupada and faith in the holy name. You are steadily fixed in your saintly qualities. When I met you, you were the bhakta leader in New York City, but because of your competence and dedication, you went on to become temple president of Boston, and then a sannyasi, GBC, and guru. I see your steady concern for the spiritual lives of others throughout all these transitions.
As your prayer to Krishna on my behalf was effective in the past, I beg to ask you to pray to Lord Krishna that I might perfect my Krishna consciousness in this very life, and that I might satisfy all His devotees by my service.
All glories to your awesome dedication to Srila Prabhupada and his mission.
Yashoda Dulal RNS, who lives in the greater New York City area and attends The Bhakti Center programs:
You are one of our dearest siksa-gurus.
You are one of the easiest devotees to host. You are so easy to please and so grateful for whatever is done.
Seeing how you deal with different situations, I learn a lot.
You are one of my favorite kirtana singers.
You focus on devotee care, not just through your speech but by your actions.
You are one of the most lovable people in my life.
May you always be surrounded by those who love Krishna, those who love you, and those who you love.
Guru Prasad Prabhu:
I just want to thank you. All the things I wanted to say the others have already said. But one I want to repeat, “You are such a lovable person.”
I visited the Ukraine festival, and the devotees took care of the guests. I could see how well the devotees are trained to appreciate the devotees and to serve them.
You exemplify the 3rd verse of “Siksastakam” [recommending tolerance and humility and promoting continuous chanting]. You relish the maha-mantra. Without following that verse, it is not possible to appreciate the holy name.
Pyari Mohan Prabhu, Hartford ISKCON temple president:
Everyone has said everything I wanted to say, including this.
He genuinely cares for devotees. He is being guru as a service to Srila Prabhupada, and he is doing a very good job.
He is patient. He although he sees his disciples’ faults, he gives them the benefit of the doubt.
His disciples are good devotees that understand Krishna consciousness and are dedicated to ISKCON. That is evidence of a good guru.
Jivanausadhi dd, wife of Pyari Mohan Prabhu:
There was once a venerable Vaisnava, so compassionate, kind and pure.
He traveled far and wide to spread Lord Gauranga’s cure.
Just chant and dance continuously with some feasting now and then.
Follow this simple formula and never take birth again.
Thank you for pleasing our Guru Maharaja in so many wonderful ways.
We’re also hopeful for Prabhupada’s smile, which is the perfection of our days.
Thank you for being that beacon-light whose shining example we see,
helping us to stay on the path which eventually sets us free.
Gratitude resides deep in our heart,
for in our life you are a part.
Sandy, Niranjana Swami’s eldest sister, decked out in a sari:
Ever since he came into my life, he has enriched me in body and soul.
Our mother would cook many wonderful things, but he would not eat any of them. The doctor suggested a special concoction with a drug that increased appetite mixed in a smoothie, and mother made it faithfully every day. He took it, and ran into my room, and said, “Drink this.” It took mom several months to realize he was the same size, but her daughter was getting bigger and bigger.
My brother is my passport. Wherever I go with him, I see people with amazing spirit.
Thank you for being my moral compass and a wonderful brother to me.
To see photos I took but did not include in this journal, click on the link below:
To see photos I took but did not include in this journal, click on the link below:
From the preface of The Nectar of Devotion:
“Adoption of bhakti-rasa, or Krishna consciousness, will immediately bring one to an auspicious life free from anxieties and will bless one with transcendental existence, thus minimizing the value of liberation. Bhakti-rasa itself is sufficient to produce a feeling of liberation, because it attracts the attention of the Supreme Lord, Krishna.”
“When the purified senses are employed in the service of the Lord, one becomes situated in bhakti-rasa life, and any action performed for the satisfaction of Krishna in this transcendental bhakti-rasa stage of life can be relished perpetually. When one is thus engaged in devotional service, all varieties of rasas, or mellows, turn into eternity.”
“In the beginning one is trained according to the principles of regulation under the guidance of the acarya, or spiritual master, and gradually, when one is elevated, devotional service becomes automatic and spontaneous eagerness to serve Krishna. There are twelve kinds of rasas, as will be explained in this book, and by renovating our relationship with Krishna in five primary rasas we can live eternally in full knowledge and bliss.”
“The basic principle of the living condition is that we have a general propensity to love someone. No one can live without loving someone else. This propensity is present in every living being. Even an animal like a tiger has this loving propensity at least in a dormant stage, and it is certainly present in the human beings. The missing point, however, is where to repose our love so that everyone can become happy. At the present moment the human society teaches one to love his country or family or his personal self, but there is no information where to repose the loving propensity so that everyone can become happy. That missing point is Krishna, and The Nectar of Devotion teaches us how to stimulate our original love for Krishna and how to be situated in that position where we can enjoy our blissful life.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.10.18, purport:
“Sometimes it is very risky to give great philosophical instructions to ordinary people, but Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for the benefit of the fallen souls of Kali-yuga, has given us a very nice instrument, the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. The general mass of people, although sudras and less, can be purified by chanting this Hare Krishna mantra. Then they can understand the exalted philosophical statements of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Our Krishna consciousness movement has therefore adopted the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra for the general masses. When people gradually become purified, they are instructed in the lessons of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.”
From Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 19.132, purport:
“According to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, distributing literature is like playing on a great mridanga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Srila Rupa Gosvami, one can become a rupanuga devotee.”
From Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 19.135, purport:
“To be empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one has to qualify himself. This means that one must engage twenty-four hours daily in the loving devotional service of the Lord. The material position of a devotee doesn’t matter because devotional service is not dependent on material considerations. In his earlier life, Srila Rupa Gosvami was a government officer and a gṛhastha. He was not even a brahmacari or sannyasi. He associated with mlecchas and yavanas, but because he was always eager to serve, he was a qualified recipient for the Lord’s mercy.”
“To keep oneself free from material contamination and attain the Lord’s favor, one must be sincerely eager to render service to the Lord. This is the only qualification necessary. As soon as one is favored by the mercy of the spiritual master and the Lord, one is immediately given all the power necessary to write books and propagate the Krishna consciousness movement without being hampered by material considerations.”
From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.1–8 in Stockholm on September 6, 1973:
“Everyone, we have got experience, that at night we forget this body. We act in a different body in dream. At night we feel there is no existence of this body, and at night, dreaming, we get another body, walking in a different place, creating in a different situation, acting in a different body. . . . This day’s body is also a dream, but we are so foolish that we do not understand it. Mad, we are mad after [sense gratification]. Therefore this subtle body and gross body, and their vanishing at daytime and night’s time, the cats and dogs cannot understand. But a man, if he has got cool brain, he can understand.”
Human life is meant for tapasya. Tapasya means austerity.
“Here also it is said that ‘You undergo tapasya, but not like Hiranyakasipu, for cheating Brahma. Divyam, for understanding God.’”
“Janma karma me divyam [Bg. 4.9]. How Krishna expands Himself, how He appears, what is the nature of His body, these things if you simply understand, then you become immortal. That is Krishna consciousness movement. Just to give the people a chance to understand Krishna then he becomes immortal. That is the mission of life.”
“How to come to that point, tapasya. Why? By that process your existential position will be purified. And if you say, what is the use of purifying? There is use, because you want happiness, but your happiness is disturbed. You cannot have perpetual, uninterrupted happiness in this body. Therefore, if you really want happiness, then you purify your existence and you’ll get continued eternal happiness of bliss and knowledge. This should be the aim of human life.”
From a Vyasa-puja lecture:
It has been said the guru is just giving and the disciple is just taking. On this day the guru takes. That is hard to do, but by your including Srila Prabhupada, in your words of praise, you made it more digestible. Actually Srila Prabhupada should be accepting this praise, but he is in the universe elsewhere preaching, so I am accepting it.
Srila Prabhupada gave me whatever I have to give you.
To have a debt you can never repay sounds like a bad thing, but it is not, and as time goes by, I appreciate it more and more.
Krishna always puts these people next to me. At the end of the flight, the man was so excited to introduce his wife to a genuine monk. He was a consultant for teaching executives how to cooperative and have positive relationships. Actually our conversation really took off when we got into Trump bashing. I said I was embarrassed to show my American passport now. Later we got into to deep discussions on relationships. I mentioned I was a Hare Krishna monk, and I travel and lecture. He asked what I speak about. He wondered how I traveled and where I stayed. He was amazed I just have a small room in Kiev and a room I share with others in Hartford. The man admitted he was into consulting for the money. The most attractive thing to him was that I was not hard-selling Krishna consciousness. I was just being me. I had a spiritual master who gave me something without expecting something in return. If you looked at this man I was talking to on the airplane, this Texan body builder, you never would have expected he would be open to deep conversations.
In America, our best preaching is being ourselves. Everyone is looking how to be real as they have such an artificial lifestyle. It reminded me of that advertisement from a while back. “Beef – real food for real people.” All you have to do is be real. They are starving for real life.
We are so fortunate that we have a debt we can never repay and yet such a feeling of gratitude that we cannot stop trying to repay it. It gives you a purpose. If we can pass that on to others in a genuine way, then we can give them that gift.
You do not have to worry about how Krishna will be pleased with you. Tamal Krishna Goswami told me, “When you take care of Krishna’s devotees, Krishna takes care of you.”
Tamal Krishna Goswami told me, “Srila Prabhupada is very pleased with you.” I asked why, and he replied, “Because you like all the simple things that he came to give.”
When we take care of others, we have to remember that we are taking care of them to please guru and Krishna,
I do not expect anything from anyone. There is so much nectar in just sharing what Srila Prabhupada gave, that I do not need anything else.
If I do not accept something that is offered in love, I would be remiss in my responsibility.
Mukunda Maharaja, when he fell, had a heart attack and broke his hip. First they did a triple bypass operation on his heart, and then had to fix his hip. I spent twelve days there in Australia just to be with him.
I stayed with a young couple who were just so happy to host me. I could see that they wanted me to spend some time with them. I told them, “If you want to know what makes everyone tick in this movement, you cannot be clueless about Srila Prabhupada. You have to read Srila Prabhupada’s books.” We read from Yogesvara Prabhu’s book about Srila Prabhupada and had kirtana every night, and also a walk on the beach. They were curious about ISKCON in the 1970s and were amazed by the austerities the devotees performed. They were so grateful I spent time to share with them.
I was corresponding with Yadabara Prabhu about his full-length feature film about Srila Prabhupada. They do not want big donations but many donations. Their promoter said they will place the film prominently if we show much support. As we say at the Bhakti Sangama festival, “Just give from your heart.” Look for Acharya at generosity.com or click on this link: https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/acharya-marketing-and-theatrical-distribution/x/15916542
Srila Prabhupada told Yadubara Prabhu in 1975, “Make Krishna consciousness films the most popular films.”
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to accept your love.
I should do this event in the USA every five years.
On YouTube channel 52NRS there is a link to a 16-minute video about the 2016 Bhakti Sangama festival (https://youtu.be/qoHqOilBYMY):
All the produce cooked at the festival was grown at the devotee retreat center outside Dnepropetrovsk.
A new devotee in the Bhakti Sangama Festival video: “I tried doing services like peeling potatoes and washing floors, but it was when I went to a kirtana I really began to understand.”
Adi Purusha Prabhu (New York City Food for Life):
Q: As a passionate 21-year-old, how can I avoid offenses?
A: For a bank teller not to accept the money is not humility. He puts the money in the drawer. Real humility is to glorify Krishna. Passing the praise on enables us to be bold.
You are never alone until you start complaining. The devotee never hankers or laments. Brahma-bhuta prasannatma [Bhagavad-gita 18.54].
As long as we think we are better than anyone, we can offend even a grossly sinful person. Yudhisthira, when ordered by his martial arts teacher to find someone lower than himself, was unsuccessful.
The soul is not cut or burned. Only the false ego is wounded. We respond but do not react.
We can think, “I am not qualified to speak to this person, but I am doing so on Krishna’s behalf.”
Comment by Bhakta Josh: In a Bhagavatam class in Alachua, I heard a story about a book distributor who offered a book to someone. The person knocked the book out of his hand. The devotee picked up the book, and implored him once more, “Please take this book.” The guy knocked the book out of his hand and spit on him. The devotee wiped the spit off his face, picked up the book, and offered the man the book again. This happened three or four times. Finally the cruel man was crying to see the determination and mercy of the devotee, and he ultimately became a devotee.
The way the devotees respond is so unusual in this world people find it remarkable.
We love the people even if what they did was abominable. Krishna wants us to forgive.
Sukhavaha Devi, Prabhupada disciple from New Vrindavan:
The body is a wonderful mechanism created by Krishna. It runs without our even thinking about it. Our problem is our attachment to it.
The pain of my body does not have to cause pain to my soul. We can think in such a way that bodily pain does cause pain to our soul or does not cause pain to our soul.
That we are not our body does not mean that we are not conscious of our body or conscientious to take care of our body.
It is the nature of the soul to want to serve and to make a difference. When we cannot understand how to do that we become frustrated.
As devotees, we have all the answers, at least theoretically.
The mind does not affect us, but we allow ourselves to be affected by the mind.
If we understand what our mind is disturbed about, we can begin to become unaffected by it.
We have to be aware that the mind can use the guru’s order and scriptures to justify our continued engagement in sense gratification.
Comment by Stephanie: When I first started to control my mind, I found it overwhelming, like taking on another fulltime job.
Comment by Adi Purusha Prabhu: Krishna explains that intelligence is higher than the mind. When we use our intelligence to execute our guru’s instructions we rise above the acceptance and rejection of the mind.
Bhakti Rasayana Sagar Swami:
Krishna is just seeing everyone as His beloved child.
In chapter 15 of Bhagavad-gita, Krishna shows how He is taking care of everyone. He becomes the moon and creates a nice taste in the vegetables, He helps with the digestion of those vegetables, and He provides knowledge in the heart [Bhagavad-gita 15.13–15].
It is not if one becomes an atheist that the lights are out for him.
It is not that there is a date at which the Lord promises to cut supplies if one does not surrender to Him. His love is not conditional.
In 1966 at 26 2nd Avenue Srila Prabhupada was speaking on the verse Bhagavad-gita 9.30, saying that one who acts in service to God should not be criticized for his discrepancies, when a bum came in, looked at the scene, saw something spiritual was going on and returned with his gift of paper towels and toilet paper. Krishna set up the whole situation for Srila Prabhupada.
King Rahugana spoke in prose, but the brahmana Jada Bharata spoke in perfect Sanskrit poetry, although appearing dumb.
Pride is the cause of Vaishnava aparadha [offenses to devotees of the Lord], and thus Lord Caitanya stressed humility.
Vaishnava aparadha is worse than any material loss because it results in a spiritual loss. Everything material will ultimately be lost, so material loss is not so significant.
Some present day Christians appear to have the mentality, “Jesus Christ already died for our sins, so let us not disappoint him.”
Q: How do we keep our Krishna consciousness movement from degrading?
A: Be open to feedback. Corporations try to get feedback from seniors, juniors, everyone. We can learn from that.
The Gujaratis are in general very exalted as physical descendants of Lord Krishna [who lived in Dvaraka, Gujarat].
The Gujaratis are surpassing the Jews in material opulence. Indeed, some Jews say, “We cannot afford the cars the Gujaratis are buying.”
Comment by Adi Purusha Prabhu: They are called the Hindjews.
Because of the Gujarati influence, there was a celebration of Janmastami in the House of Parliament in London.
Bhakti Charu Swami says that kings would travel by chariot or by horseback. They would only travel by palanquin when going to perform some spiritual activity.
Association should not be given to those who cannot appreciate it. As Lord Jesus Christ said, “Do not cast pearls before swine.”
Srila Prabhupada was asked how he expected the people in general to understand his books. Srila Prabhupada laughed and said he did not expect them to but that he had inserted in them many names of Krishna and many Hare Krishna mantras, and by hearing these names of Krishna they will become purified and someday understand.
I offered a man a book. And when he understood it was a Hare Krishna book, he said it was dangerous. I asked why. He explained he was on the way to an important business appointment, so important that he went early. He encountered the Hare Krishnas chanting, and because he was early, he decided to listen for a few minutes. When he next looked at his watch, an hour had passed, and he missed the appointment. He remarked, “That was just from watching for a few minutes! What will happen if I read a book?”
There are two letters in which Srila Prabhupada made it clear that he wanted to work with the United Nations, because he wanted to work with the leaders.
Networking with other people is the cause of success. When we have been successful it has been because of that and when we tried on our own, we failed.
By interfacing with the Hindu community in the UK, we have these Krishna Avanti schools, and Hare Krishna devotees can also get paid to teach “personal Hinduism” in schools throughout the UK.
Sometimes it is said the biggest lesson you can learn from history is that no one learns from history.
Rama Raya Prabhu:
We dress Krishna and Radha so They will be attracted to each other and not so much to please the devotees.
On our New York City harinama, we take advantage of the presence of many people from all over the world and freedom from harassment by the government authorities.
Srila Prabhupada, hearing his green card was renewed, reflected on his experience with America, and said, “America has given me everything, both men and money, thus I want to make the Americans happy, and through them, the world.”
Our japa is our private time with Krishna, and Krishna’s private time with us.
Krishna really enjoys. The enjoyment of people in the material world is a pale reflection of Krishna’s enjoyment with His devotees in the spiritual world.
Q: When we perform our devotional service more carefully we get a better result, and when we put less energy into it we get a lesser result. Seeing this causes me to think I am the doer.
A: Krishna does not like one devotee to think he is better than others. If you are proud, then you lose the rasa. Then you have to become introspective and move forward.
In his next life, Bharata Maharaja became a deer but a saintly deer.
Because Maharaja Rahugana was brought up in the Vedic culture, when he realized that Jada Bharata was a suitable person to hear from about spiritual topics, he bowed down to him and eagerly inquired from him.
Maharaja Rahugana did not say, “I know this already. I learned it as a kid,” but he was eager to inquire.
The age of Kali is an ocean of faults. Just as when you are in the ocean, you get wet, just living in the age of Kali, you become contaminated by fault.
ISKCON is like a ship crossing the material ocean. We must simply stay on the ship by following the vow to chant Hare Krishna sixteen rounds daily and the four rules prohibiting sinful activity.
New Indian brahmacari:
Maharaja Rahugana was initially angry being in the mood of a king, but because he was elevated spiritually, when he realized his fault, he was very enthusiastic to inquire spiritually.
In a spiritual institution, servant leadership is the only kind of leadership there should be.
In management in a spiritual institution, the leader must correct a devotee, but that can create disagreement and Vaishnava aparadha, and yet without management, you cannot run a spiritual institution.
By discussing disagreements we can get beyond them.
We can try to be pure in our intentions. This is important because Krishna is accepting of our intentions.
Comment by Adi Purusha Prabhu: Normally Arjuna’s shooting arrows at such a great devotee as Bhisma would be a great offense but because he was acting under Krishna’s direction, it was not counted as an offense.
In our tradition, there are examples of great tolerance like Haridasa Thakura, who acted benevolently toward the representatives of the king although they had beaten him in 22 marketplaces.
Prabhupada was giving a lecture in Montreal, and one man in the audience stood up and began bad mouthing Srila Prabhupada. Although the devotees were disturbed, later Srila Prabhupada, commenting on the incident, merely indicated the person must have been an enemy in a previous life.
Karma is minimized by devotion. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita (2.50), “A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad reactions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, which is the art of all work.” For example, one may lose a finger instead of an arm.
What about us? How tolerant are we? Over ten years ago, when the Krishna Lunch devotees forgot the musical instruments for the kirtana during lunch, I took the van back to the temple to get them myself. When I slammed the van door shut, I caught the ends of two fingers in it. It hurt lots, and I did not spontaneously feel grateful to Krishna thinking I deserved more. Rather I thought, “Krishna, I have known that the material world is a miserable place ever since I was a kid. You do not need to create such an incident to remind me!”
Pride causes intolerance because it makes us think we deserve more than we are getting.
We have to practice tolerance. We have to practice thinking that we deserve worse and being grateful that Krishna has given us less suffering than we actually deserve. If we practice thinking that way, we will begin to feel that way, and if we feel that way, in due course, we will act that way.
From an email correspondence:
“[In Singapore] I wanted badly to visit a temple. Especially I noted a place called Little India on the subway map. In stopping in Little India, I learned of a Narayana temple that also had Krishna deities installed, so with family in tow, I started to look for it. I could find it nowhere, having even asked the local Indian people – storekeepers and stuff (maybe it was a communication deficit). At any rate, I was just about to abandon my search – I really couldn’t find it. I happened to ask a Muslim taxi driver who was in Little India, and he didn’t really give me a clear answer. The amazing thing is he tracked us down 20 minutes later on the street in Singapore and told us to get in, and actually gave us a free ride to that temple! Never in my life have I gotten a free ride [in a taxi], especially to a Hindu temple by a Muslim.”
We are so lazy in this age, we want to know how we can easily attain the goal of love of God. Here is the secret given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Sanatana Goswami:
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei pañca anga
krishna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
sraddha dure ’stu pancake
yatra sv-alpo ’pi sambandhah
“One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krishna. . . . ‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Krishna simply by being a little connected with them.’” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.128–129,133) [The final verse is also found in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.2.238).]