Thursday, May 04, 2017

Travel Journal#13.7: North Florida, NE USA, & Dublin

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 7
By Krishna-kripa das 
(April 2017, part one)
North Florida, D.C., Albany, New York City, Dublin
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne on May 4, 2017)

Where I Went and What I Did

The first week of April I spent my last week in Tallahassee for the spring, beginning with the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra and ending with First Friday. In the middle of the week, I chanted at the campus of Florida State University, and I taught mantra meditation (japa) to a student who bought a Bhagavad-gita from me the previous year. After First Friday I attended the St. Augustine Ratha-yatra festival, and the day after that I flew to Washington, D.C., where I attended the Sunday feast at our Potomac temple and a harinama for over three hours in Silver Spring, Maryland. The next day I chanted with Sankarsana and Sivam Prabhus in front of the National History Museum. I chanted there again the following day with Sankarsana and Gurudas Prabhus, and also during lunch time, at a prasadam distribution event at George Washington University, which is organized by Prabhupada disciple, Sankirtana Yajña Prabhu, once per semester. That afternoon I took a train to Philadelphia and attended Haryasva Prabhu’s Tuesday evening Bhakti Garden program, adding some talk about the holy names to the nice kirtans of Mitra, Ananda-Murari, and Madhuri Pura Prabhus, and having prasadam with my niece, Fern, and her husband, Oliver. The next day I visited my family in Albany, making three instructional videos so my 92-year-old year mother could more effectively use her computer, bringing them doughnuts from the Doughnut Plant, and cooking spaghetti and kofta balls for dinner. The next day I chanted in New York City’s Union Square for four hours with the Yuga Dharma New York City party, seeing many of my friends there, before my evening flight to Dublin, Ireland, via London. I did harinama in Dublin for two days, the second one, on Saturday, for almost eight hours, ending a very busy first half of April!

I have very few lecture notes because in Tallahassee I gave lectures myself or I else heard Prabhupada lectures while cooking or cleaning and thus could not take notes. All my notes came from the classes I heard in Potomac, our Washington, D.C. temple, which were by Srila Prabhupada, from a recording, Garuda Prabhu, who spoke at the Sunday Feast, and Braja Bihari Prabhu, who gave Srimad-Bhagavatam class. All of these classes were full of beautiful insights. I also share excerpts from the books and poems of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, which I read daily as part of my proofreading service for him. I share an amazing story from a friend, who worried that japa would impede his studies, but who by the grace of the Lord, came to realize that japa would make him succeed in his studies, far beyond his expectations.

I would like to thank many generous souls for their kind donations toward my expenses, Sivam Prabhu from Maryland, Haryasva Prabhu from Philadelphia, Victor (my sister’s partner) from Albany, Sankarsana Prabhu from Potomac, Adikarta Prabhu from Alachua, Amrita Keli Devi Dasi from Jacksonville, and Mahotsaha Prabhu from New York City. Thanks to John for the ride from Tallahassee to St. Augustine and to Dhira Prabhu for the ride from St. Augustine to Jacksonville. As the Beatles say, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” 

Thanks to Gurudas Prabhu of Washington, D.C., for the photos of me distributing on harinama in Silver Spring. Thanks to Steve Cameron for the photo of me at the Bhakti Garden. Thanks to Diana Koushyk for the photos of me at Union Square.


May 1–4: Newcastle
May 5: Leeds
May 6: York
May 7: Scarborough and Newcastle
May 8–9: Newcastle
May 10: Sheffield
May 11–: France
June 20–21: Stonehenge?
August 1–6: Polish Woodstock
August 8–16: Ottawa Vaishnava Sanga Retreat / Janmastami and Vyasa-puja
August 17–27: North UK Ratha-yatra Tour
August 28–September 5: UK and Ireland
September 5–November ?: New York City (ex. Sept. 19–23: Philadelphia)
November ?– December 1: Florida
December: New York City

Tallahassee Ratha-yatra

Several devotees from Krishna House joined the party of Alachua youth which Bhadra Prabhu had arranged for the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra, which is the Hare Krishna contribution to the Springtime Tallahassee parade. The devotees chanted enthusiastically, although the synchronicity of the dancers, especially the males, broke down in the course of time. People along the route waved, smiled, and danced, and it was clear the Hare Krishnas have a number of fans in the Florida state capital. We always keep the chanting going well after the parade finished, a testament to the spontaneous love of the devotees for chanting the holy name. Some other groups of musicians were happy to see that and showed it.

I took some video before and after the parade, as I think it does not look good for a performer in a parade to be filming it.

Here Abhimanyu Prabhu leads the chanting of Hare Krishna before the Tallahassee Ratha-yatra, as the cart is decorated by the Lord’s servants, and devotee girls practice dancing in the background (

Before our procession started we had the opening ceremony with the breaking of the coconuts.

With most groups, the end of the parade means the end of the performance, but that is when the Hare Krishnas are just getting warmed up. Here Jagannath Kirtan Prabhu leads the youthful Alachua County devotees in more lively chanting and dancing for the pleasure of Lord Jagannath after the Springtime Tallahassee parade (

After we took prasadam at our Tallahassee Hare Krishna temple, I suggested the devotees do a ten-minute kirtan for their Gaura-Nitai deities, and almost everyone enthusiastically participated. I think it went beyond ten minutes. Amala Harinama Prabhu chanted wonderfully, and a couple devotees started dancing by the end (

Chanting Hare Krishna in Tallahassee

I chanted at Lake Ella on the weekend, including the day of the Ratha-yatra, and on one weekday when I did not have permission on the campus. One day it rained so I did not chant in public at all, but the other days I chanted at Florida State University, this time in the freedom of speech area, which does not need to be reserved and where permission is not required. I recall having a nice talk with a couple of female Mormon elders, who are more frequently seen these days. I advertised a mantra meditation class, and one young man who had bought Bhagavad-gita the previous year came, and we chanted japa and kirtan for ten minutes each. I inquired from him three weeks later, and he said, “I havent been regular with the practice, but Ive chanted a few times since you taught me. . . . I am actually looking at finding spiritual communities near where my family lives, so help with that would be very welcome.” It is nice to encounter people with some level of spiritual interest.

Nama Kirtan Prabhu decided not to serve prasadam at First Friday, but I decided to go and chant because lots of people get to hear the holy name, and some people actually like us there. Several people interacted with us in a positive way, some giving donations and taking books and prasadam laddus which I had made for my sister’s birthday earlier in the week.

I took this video toward the end of the evening, when it was much quieter. Here Melanie, who has been attending the Hare Krishna temple in Tallahassee for over 30 years and who is one of the few people who is willing to chant in public in Tallahassee, chants Hare Krishna at First Friday, while her son, John, plays the drum, and I play the harmonium (

St. Augustine Ratha-yatra Festival

Unfortunately we left Tallahassee too late, and thus we missed the actual Ratha-yatra in St. Augustine. I was thinking the harinama on St. George Street was at 10:30, and so when we arrived around 12:30, I thought we would still catch most of the Ratha-yatra, but unforunately the Ratha-yatra itself started at the unprecedentedly early hour of 10:30. We did, however, catch the entire harinama which is in a much more crowded area than the Ratha-yatra and better for interacting with the public. The attention of many tourists and locals was attracted by the blissfully chanting devotees as you can see in this video and a few took great pleasure in dancing with the devotees (

I recall three young ladies, who worked in some kind of fast food place, who took pictures of the devotees and watched the harinama for a long time. I wished I had local events to invite them to. Later I learned there is a devotee who has a Sunday feast program in St. Augustine, and some people had invitations for it.

Chanting Hare Krishna Near and in Washington, D.C.

My friend and godbrother, Sankarsana Prabhu, invited me to sing with him at the mall in Washington, D.C., and I promised to come to Washington for three days whenever I travel between Florida and New York City. 

I arrived just in time for the Potomac Sunday feast and to hear Gauravani Prabhu lead kirtan (

For three hours each Saturday and Sunday night, an enthusiastic group of devotees of various ages, races, and nationalities, mostly attenders at our Potomac temple, chant Hare Krishna at a busy street corner in a shopping district of Silver Spring, Maryland, and they distribute prasadam, books, and free "On Chanting Hare Krishna" pamphlets as well (

At Silver Spring I danced and distributed “On Chanting Hare Krishna” as usual. 

At the mall in Washington, D.C., Sankarsana Prabhu has an incredible setup with a generator, amplifier, mixer, three microphones, a synthesizer, two large speakers, a book table, and free pamphlets and lollipops, and he plays the synthesizer and chants Hare Krishna there whenever he gets a chance. He is very devoted and has a sweet voice that is pleasant to listen to.

Sivam Prabhu, who I did harinama with when he lived in Tallahassee and who spent time with Aindra Prabhu in Vrindavan and was inspired by him, joined Sankarsana Prabhu and I chanting in front of the National History Museum the first day. April is a great time in Washington, with the blooming cherry blossoms and many school groups visiting from all over the country (

Once each semester, Prabhupada disciple, Sankirtan Yajña Prabhu, cooks and distributes a free lunch of Krishna prasadam at different campuses such as here at George Washington University. On this occasion, I joined Sankarsana and Gurudas Prabhus in chanting Hare Krishna for the students (

Devotees talk to interested students.

Students sign up for their email list.

Students receive packets of literature and meditation (japa) beads.

We continued singing while devotees packed up.

After chanting in front of the George Washington University library, during the lunch serveout, our kirtan party continued in front of the National History Museum (

Chanting Hare Krishna at the Bhakti Garden in Philadelphia

Mitra, Murari-Krishna, and Madhuri Pura Prabhus, who are traveling around the USA doing kirtan at different venues chanted Hare Krishna at Haryasva Prabhu’s Bhakti Garden in Philadelphia (

After the kirtan I spoke about the holy name, focusing on three important verses:

nama cintamanih krishnas
purnah suddho nitya-mukto 
’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh

“The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya [illusion]. Krishna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical.” (Padma Purana)

And then there is a nice verse by Srila Rupa Gosvami quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 1.99:

tunde tandavini ratim vitanute tundavali-labdhaye
karna-kroda-kadambini ghatayate karnarbudebhyah sprham 
cetah-prangana-sangini vijayate sarvendriyanam krtim 
no jane janita kiyadbhir amrtaih krishneti varna-dvayi

“I do not know how much nectar the two syllables ‘Krish-na’ have produced. When the holy name of Krishna is chanted, it appears to dance within the mouth. We then desire many, many mouths. When that name enters the holes of the ears, we desire many millions of ears. And when the holy name dances in the courtyard of the heart, it conquers the activities of the mind, and therefore all the senses become inert.”

etavan eva loke ’smin
pumsam dharmah parah smrtah
bhakti-yogo bhagavati 

“Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society.” (SB 6.3.22)

My niece, Fern, has been a vegetarian since birth, and because she has been living in Philadelphia during college and after graduation, I have invited her to Govinda’s Restaurant for prasadam. This time I invited her and her husband, Oliver, to the dinner at the end of the Bhakti Garden program. They liked it, and they enjoyed talking to Ananda-Murari Prabhu, who is from Denver, as she is planning to get her masters degree at the Colorado School of Mines near there. He promised to show her the Govinda’s Restaurant there when she relocates.

A Visit Home to Albany

My family likes the Doughnut Plant doughnuts. The original Doughnut Plant is in Chinatown, and after arriving on the Chinese bus from Philadelphia, I had 8 minutes before the Chinese bus to Albany. I decided to stash my bags, except for my computer, in the Chinese bus station and run to the Doughnut Plant and get some doughnuts for my relatives. I arrived back at the Chinese bus station just two minutes late, and the Chinese bus lady was telling the bus driver to go and he was beginning to pull out, when she saw me, who had previous inquired from her about the Albany bus, running toward her. Thus by Krishna’s grace I got the doughnuts and caught the bus. I have a tendency to gamble like this, and because I usually win, I keep doing it.

I decided to make instructional videos for my 92-year-old mother to print documents, to print selected text from an email, and to scan documents as it is difficult for her to remember when I show her things, even if she takes notes on them.

Then I made spaghetti and koftas for my sister, as spaghetti is a favorite of hers and her birthday was the previous week.

It was nice to get together briefly before my summer in Europe, and there is always the thought in the back of my mind, that perhaps it is the last time I will see some of them. I recall when I last saw Sadaputa Prabhu in June 2007, I did not understand I would never see him again, as he left his body before I returned to Florida the end of September 2008.

Chanting Hare Krishna with the Yuga Dharma New York City Party

I plan to spend several hours with my old friends on the New York City harinama on the day I flight to Europe each year.

Bhakta Kane, Natabara Gauranga, Martanda, and Kailya Krishna Prabhus led the chanting of Hare Krishna on the Yuga Dharma New York City harinama at Union Square Park (

It was great to see so many of my friends during my day in New York.

Book distributor, Mahotsaha Prabhu, was especially happy to see me.

I would distribute invitations and free literature as well as dance as usual.

One Chinese NYU student was interviewing the harinama devotees about how they came to Krishna consciousness. She interviewed me as well. While talking, she explained that she was attracted by the chanting, and that she found it to be relaxing and energizing at the same time. That was striking to me as 81-year-old clinical psychologist, who has been coming regularly to listen and chant along for three years, said exactly the same thing. I thought about it, and I concluded that the realization made perfect sense as the chanting frees one from the material energy, thus relaxing one, while at the same time it connects one to the spiritual energy, thus energizing one in a spiritual direction.

Chanting Hare Krishna on the Streets of Dublin

On Easter Saturday we chanted over 7½ hours in Dublin. Bhagavati, Manu, and Karunesvari Prabhus led kirtan. Alekananda assisted greatly. One Indian passing by played the whompers, and an Italian guy, who liked the music, played the shakers on two occasions (

We must give a special thanks to Bhagavati Dasi of Belfast, leading the chanting at the beginning of the video, who traveled two hours each way to attend the harinama, and who stayed for six hours, taking but a brief break for lunch.

Karunesvari, who is singing beautifully at the end of the video, lives near the island, but she distributes prasadam in Dublin on the weekends. Her vehicle has awesome pictures of Vrindavan on it:

One of the nice things about visiting Dublin is eating at our Govinda’s restaurant. On Fridays they have this awesome shepherd’s pie which I remember from the previous year. It was so good I just had to take a picture of it:

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


Srila Prabhupada:

From a class in Los Angeles on December 20, 1973:

According to Vedanta-sutra there is one source of everything.

Complete means you go on spending as much as you like, and it remains complete.

They say, “In God we trust.” They do not know God, how can they trust?

We should become brahmama, learn for ourselves, and teach others what is God.

Why should I trust this man if I do not know this man?

Lord Caitanya taught we are simultaneously one and different from God. The rascals simply take that “I am one with God” but do not take “I am different from God.”

You cannot see the sky, you cannot see the mind, and yet you think you can see God. Just see how foolish they are!

You cannot see the mind and the intelligence, so how can you expect to see the soul which is more subtle.

You cannot find out about God by speculation, thus you have to approach an authority.

Human life is needed to understand God. The animals cannot do it. This life should be fully ultilized to understand God.

“Not to become Krsna conscious is animalism.”

We should come to the understanding that our material life is always troublesome.

Ford could not take a single cent with him when he was dying.

Comment by Kiran: Although Srila Prabhupada spoke so strongly, he consistently spoke with so much compassion.

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From his daily poem to Radha Govinda:

“All the Deities are glowing
because They are arca-avatars,
non-different from the original forms
in the spiritual world. As They
are glowing, They make me glow.
This is what happens
in darsana.

From Soul Eyes:

“Come with us and chant.
It’s easy, and the beach
is a good place to do it.
The sky is high, and the
people can hear us, the
boy with the sand pail,
the bare-chested man on a
bike, the older woman jogging—
let them hear harinama.
You do a great service
when you chant to others.
When it’s just for yourself,
it’s also good, but not
as good. Chanting at the beach
today, we kept it to ourselves
because we’re shy. I don’t know why.
Someday we will have to
do it for everyone
to hear. Krishna will come near.
To hear is the dharma
and blessing
on the world, so don’t
be miserly with the

Garuda Prabhu:

Often when yoga is there in the verse, Srila Prabhupada puts devotional service in the translation. Some object to this. As far as I am concerned he has every right to. This is because Srila Prabhupada knows goal of yoga is bhakti. As I scholar, I cannot do that.

Houston Smith, who liked many of my books, said the mystics are the impatient ones. They do not want to wait until the end of life.

Union implies two. That means uniting the individual soul with the Supreme Soul.

Patanjalis Yoga Sutras are the Bible of yoga. In them, there are innumerable references to bhakti, more than I imagined.

In four or five places Patanjali speaks of isvara-pranidhana.
That word has three parts:
pra - moving
ni - deeply
dhana - into the core of our being

Isvara to be means the divine center of all reality. It is Bhagavan and Brahman with us in between.

Yama – ethical disciplines
Niyama – essential practices

Isvara-pranidhana is an essential practice.

Patanjali says samadhi siddhi isvara-pranidhanat. Isvara-pranidhana is the perfection of the perfection. Thus isvara-pranidhana is the beginning and the end.

In the Gita Krishna teaches self-realization and then self-abandonment. We nourish ourselves so we can get ourselves out of the way.

At raganuga every act is part of your service.

Patanjali does not identify isvara but advises one must seek out isvara. The word ista-devata comes from the Yoga Sutras.

Krishna is beautiful, delightful, and playful.

Nirvikalpa samadhi is complete absorption in Krishna.

Bhakti yoga is entering Krishnas world, the big picture. Our little pictures are sometimes distressing but not the big picture.

Srila Prabhupada calls yoga “devotional service” because it is the union of the individual self and the Supreme Self.

Bhagavan-kripa, the mercy of the Lord, is there in the Yoga Sutras, but people do not know it.

In my book, my thesis is that the Yoga Sutras do not make any sense if we do not understand Krishna bhakti.

Yale was started by disgruntled Harvard professors.

Krishna embraces us as much as we want to be embraced.

Krishna does not force, coerce, and manipulate souls to love Him. He waits for an eternity for souls.

We have one great kirtaniya here. Not you, Gauravani, Srila Prabhupada!

The more love we have for Krishna the more desperate we are when we are separated from Him.

Braja Bihara Prabhu:

Jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga parallel each other for a certain distance, and then they diverge. They both involve understanding the soul, understanding that the material world is a miserable place, understanding that material desire as a cause of bondage, etc.

With the impersonal feature of the Lord there is no opportunity to get mercy, so the jnanis are at a disadvantage.

There are different meanings to jnana as there are different meanings to the word knowledge in English. Krishna explains that one with knowledge of His appearance and activities does not return to this world. This knowledge is related to bhakti.

One acarya says that those in distress and those in need of money have to come to the level of inquisitiveness to continue making progress.

In Vrindavan, you have mayavadis who quote Sanatana Goswami but consider that nirguna-brahman [the Lord without qualities] is superior to saguna-brahman [the Lord with qualities].

In almost all other processes you have to put down the material before picking up the spiritual, but in bhakti, by picking up the spiritual, you put down the material. This is because of the higher taste, param drstva nivartate.

The service attitude is our svarupa.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said the siddha-pranali mantra [the mantra for attaining our eternal relationship with Krishna] is trnad api suncena [one should be more humble than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree].

An anonymous friend:

“As you mentioned you sometimes share my experience as a Masters student at UF [of doing two hours of harinama each week] as an inspiration to potential harinama chanters, I feel moved to tell you about a similar subsequent experience. The first year of law school in America is notorious as an eminently challenging and disconcerting experience. Indeed, many books have been written on the subject, and I purchased one myself before starting in Fall 2010. After reading it, I decided I would need to reduce my number of japa rounds temporarily, as how else would I make it? Not only was I starting law school, I also had my first baby scheduled to be born a month before first semester final exams! When I approached Krishna in my mind to explain my decision and set the parameters, I immediately felt a response, even before I began my presentation: No, you will not halve your quota of rounds. You will double it! I was aghast. But the instruction left such a strong impression on me, I surrendered and resolved to follow it. Anyway, long story short, three years later, I ended up graduating number one in my class. The clear moral of the story for me is that if you take care of Krishna’s business, He’ll take care of yours.”


In this age, especially, we are always desirous of attaining success as soon as possible. We want to know the shortest distance or the fastest route. We want same day shipping. Is there a short cut to attaining love of God, Krishna prema? These verses give us a hint:

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

duruhadbhuta-virye ’smin
sraddha dure ’stu pañcake
yatra sv-alpo ’pi sambandhah
sad-dhiyam bhava-janmane

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 quoted from Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.238).