Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Travel Journal#13.8: Ireland, England, Belgium, and Holland

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 13, No. 8 
By Krishna-kripa das 
(April 2017, part two) 
Ireland, England, Belgium, and Holland 
(Sent from Paris on May 23, 2017)

Where I Went and What I Did

The second half of April was also a busy time of travel, and I chanted in ten different cities. On Easter Sunday, I chanted Hare Krishna alone in downtown Belfast and spoke on the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ at the Sunday Feast program. On the holiday the Irish refer to as Easter Monday, I chanted with Bhagavati Devi Dasi in Belfast in the morning and attended a kirtan and prasadam program organized by Kurma Prabhu in Wicklow in the afternoon. Then I chanted on Dublin's O'Connell Street, practically in sight of our restaurant and temple, the next two days. I also attended the Dublin Tuesday evening kirtan program. Then I chanted on Northumberland Street in Newcastle for four days and spoke at the Friday Bhagavad-gita class in our temple there and attended their six-hour kirtan on Sunday. Monday I did harinama in London with the devotees there. Tuesday I chanted briefly at Brussels Nord train station while waiting for a train to Radhadesh. Wednesday I chanted with Harinama Ruci and Radhadesh devotees in Huy, Belgium. Thursday I joined 200 devotees in chanting for about eight hours in the streets of Amsterdam during Holland's King's Day festival there. Friday I chanted with Sivananda Sena and Moksha Laksmi Prabhus and their friends in Rotterdam. I ended the month of April spending the weekend with Sacinandana Swami and Madhava Prabhu and many friends from all over the UK and Ireland chanting at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan.

I share insights from the books and journal of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I share wisdom from Sacinandana Swami. I include notes on two lectures by Kadamba Kanana Swami at Radhadesh, one from an initiation ceremony. I also include nice points made by Manu, Saunaka Rsi, Madhava, and Bipendra Prabhus.

I would like to thank Chandrashekhara Acharya Prabhu for his very liberal donation. Thanks to Sivananda Sena Prabhu for paying for my ticket from Amsterdam to Birmingham. Thanks to the Dublin, Newcastle, and Belfast temples for their kind donations. Thanks to Saranga Thakura Prabhu of Scotland and Krishna-katha Prabhu of Belfast for their kind donations. Thanks to my Polish friend, Pandava Prabhu, for his contribution. Thanks to Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu for picking me up at the Newcastle airport, joining me on harinama and taking photos of our party, and for buying me all kinds of food.


May 12–June 2: Paris
June 2–June 4: Antwerp Ratha-yatra
June 4–July 2: Paris
July 3–July 31: 13 days in UK and the rest in Europe
August 1–6: Polish Woodstock
August 7: Dublin
August 8: Boston 
August 9–16: 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 ?– November 30: Florida
December: New York City

Chanting Hare Krishna in Belfast

I chanted in Belfast’s Victoria Square on Easter Sunday. Although it was a holiday and many shops were closed, if I looked in all directions from my spot, I could see at least twenty people or so at any one time.

A jovial man from South Africa said “Hare Krishna” as he bicycled past me. Later he returned and suggested I sing other songs besides “Hare Krishna.” I explained that the Hare Krishna mantra is a spiritual vibration, and you never get tired of it. He said since the people in general did not have that realization, it would be good to have other songs. I told him that I have been thinking of learning “My Sweet Lord” as sometimes people do ask me to sing other songs. He said he really liked the Beatles, and so I asked him to sing “My Sweet Lord,” and he did, and with a lot of devotion too (https://youtu.be/xKiLOQS7G9s):

He also invited me to play in an event he was organizing where all the buskers in Belfast would be playing, and as he was leaving, he said he felt I was a genuinely religious person.

Easter Lecture on the Resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ

When I asked for a topic for the Sunday Feast lecture in Belfast, Bhakta Alex suggested I speak on the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ.

Researching that topic I found Srila Prabhupada spoke to some Christians about why he did not think that Christ was actually resurrected. Srila Prabhupada's point was that Christ could not have risen from the dead because he could not have been killed to begin with. He gave the following three reasons:

1. The soul is immortal and cannot be killed.
2. Christ, having descended from the spiritual realm, had a spiritual body that could not be killed.
3. Christ, being the son of God, would be protected by God from being killed, like pure devotees in the Vedic tradition such as Prahlad Maharaj, Haridas Thakura, or Maharaj Ambarish.

I also shared points made by Ramai Swami, which I found online:

“The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian religious belief that, after being put to death, Jesus rose again from the dead. It is the central tenet of Christian Theology and part of the Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.”

“Srila Prabhupada said: ‘Yes, just look at Jesus Christ—crucified. What was his fault? He was simply teaching God consciousness. Of course, he was not killed. Nobody can kill the Lord’s pure devotee.

“‘Such a great personality, the son of God. He wanted to deliver God consciousness. And in return, he was crucified. We don’t take Jesus Christ as insignificant. We give him all honor. He is a pure representative of God.

I uploaded my lecture to my Google Drive, and you can click here to hear it:

Although the attendance in Belfast for the Sunday Feast lecture is much smaller than in Dublin, the people seem more appreciative that I took the trouble to come there and they are more interested in asking questions, and thus I decided to speak there this time.

Easter Monday with Kurma Prabhu

Kurma Prabhu, disciple of Srila Prabhupada and famed cook and writer from Australia, now lives in Ireland, where he organizes monthly gatherings with kirtan and prasadam. Here on Easter Monday at a devotee’s home in Wicklow, he leads the kirtan at one such gathering (https://youtu.be/xKpn4OJ6pG4):

Dublin Harinama and Tuesday Evening Kirtan

On O'Connell Street, just a few shops down and across the street from our temple and restuarant at 83 Middle Abbey Street, I chanted Hare Krishna sometimes alone, sometimes with Alek, and sometimes with Alek and Dina Dayal Prabhu. Here Dina Dayal leads and Alek plays the drum (https://youtu.be/rVLiFNu_CeM):

At our Dublin center, we have kirtan every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. followed by a prasadam snack. Dina Dayal Prabhu led the first kirtan of the evening (https://youtu.be/Z4uOBTg9JL0):

Here Manu Prabhu leads a lively kirtan, and some devotees respond enthusiastically. Unfortunately the room was dark, so the images are not sharp (https://youtu.be/OggUw4OFqlU):

Chanting in Newcastle upon Tyne

After 7 months in the USA, I was back chanting on Newcastle’s Northumberland Street. The first day two high school girls on Easter break enjoyed chanting several Hare Krishna mantras with me. I told them I’d be here three more days, and they should practice the mantra and sing with me the next day, and they liked that. Two children, a Jewish man, a Moslem lady, and an Oriental girl gave donations, besides Indian ladies who knew the temple. The leader of six high school girls learned the karatala beat, and her friends smiled and took photos of her playing with me. I praised her for her work and told the group I needed one singer and one dancer and asked for volunteers. Two volunteered, and I began chanting again. The leader invited some older drunk guys to join the party. I was apprehensive, having dealt with them before. One of them played the karatalas OK but in his drunken stupor, he spilled beer in my donation bowl, on my cadar, and on several books. I told the girls to get me some napkins at the Burger King across the street to dry off the books, and two of them returned with a handful of them. One temple attender came by, whose husband died of heart attack since last year, and I explained that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said that Krishna is so kind that three generations of family members of even a neophyte devotee are liberated. She said she felt he was in a better place. Another man had read Easy Journey to Other Planets and liked it. As a result of the monthly sankirtana festival on Northumberland Street, which has been going on a year, people are somewhat more favorable than before. In the 2½ hours I chanted sitting down in one place, people donated £13.26 ($16.97) and took an Isopanishad, an Easy Journey to Higher Planets, and two Beyond Birth and Deaths. Such is a typical day of harinama in Newcastle, with a little more interaction with the people than average. I experience that Krishna always makes my first day back to Newcastle a special one to inspire me to keep coming.

On Saturday, Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu chanted with me and took a few photos:

One lady who was on a spiritual search talked with me briefly.

I showed her a verse from Bhagavad-gita I thought she might like.

On Sunday, my friend, Bhakti Rasa Prabhu, a godbrother and native of Newcastle, chanted with me. He was so enthusiastic we stayed out over three hours.

Newcastle Six-Hour Kirtan

As there had been a lapse in the eight-hour kirtan on the last Saturday of the month in Newcastle, Dhananjaya Prabhu decided to have a six-hour kirtan in place of the standard Sunday feast program from time to time to keep the spirit of kirtan alive, and I was happy to be there for the first one. In addition to organizing the event and playing bass for a number of the kirtans, he cooked a great feast. A minibus filled with devotees from Karuna Bhavan in Scotland came, as well as devotees from York. You can see there was a lot of enthusiasm for chanting and dancing for Krishna at the Newcastle Six-Hour Kirtan (https://youtu.be/u37mvMuuRNA):

Chanting Hare Krishna on the Streets of London

On the way from Newcastle to Radhadesh, I spent an afternoon and evening in London and gave class the next morning. Here the Soho Street devotees chant Hare Krishna in London on a rainy Monday. Gopinath Prabhu of Finland, who lives in Mayapur, plays the accordion. The coordinated dancing of the girls with their tassles is a recent increase (https://youtu.be/UOkmfBIbrRE):

Chanting Hare Krishna in Belgium

I chanted Hare Krishna with Harinama Ruci and the Radhadesh devotees in Huy, Belgium (https://youtu.be/0YL1dvDQ9po):

Here Bhagavata Purana Prabhu chants Hare Krishna after an initiation ceremony by Kadamba Kanana Swami at Radhadesh (https://youtu.be/hsL26h4glZ8):

Ananta Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Radhadesh for the late evening arati (https://youtu.be/eYPKsWHYz6w):

Kadamba Kanana Swami chants Hare Krishna in Radhadesh at his Vyasa Puja festival and devotees dance (https://youtu.be/JwoznN-S3rU):

Chanting Hare Krishna at Kings Day in Amsterdam

Kadamba Kanana Swami and two hundred friends and followers chant Hare Krishna for 8 hours on King’s Day (April 27) in Amsterdam each year, giving many hundreds of people, young and old alike, both locals and tourists from all over the world, the chance to hear and chant the holy name of Krishna, who is pure joy, and to dance with His devotees, often for the first time in this life.

The smiles of the people tell of their happiness at the transcendental encounter.

All glories to the Sri Krishna sankirtana, which enables us to more fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious (https://youtu.be/3IP99ftSRgU):

I recall talking with a guy from Columbia who enjoyed dancing with the male devotees. He told me he had not encountered Hare Krishna in his country. A young lady from Turkey also told me she had not experienced Hare Krishna before. She felt so happy dancing with the devotee ladies her words were full of gratitude. I can see Krishna is sending people from other parts of the world to come to Amsterdam to meet His devotees and experience the joy of His nama-sankirtana, congregational chanting of the holy name.

This year more than previous years I talked to many young people who were attracted by our chanting and who lived in Holland and often in Amsterdam. I would give them invitations to the temple and tell them that we did this chanting in Amsterdam every Sunday and had a free vegetarian meal after. People often would say, “I am vegetarian” or “I am vegan.”

Chanting Hare Krishna in Rotterdam

I joined Sivananda Sena Prabhu and a party of devotees chanting Hare Krishna in Rotterdam (https://youtu.be/VwIJiNQa3qo):

Chanting Hare Krishna at New Street in Birmingham Before the 24-Hour Kirtan

I joined some weekly harinama devotees from Birmingham and some other devotees, who had come for the 24-hour kirtan, to chant Hare Krishna on New Street in Birmingham beforehand (https://youtu.be/xLcv0w4j268):

Those devotees left after an hour and twenty minutes, but another group from Leicester came as they were leaving, and they stayed for an hour and forty minutes. Thus by Krishna's mercy I got my quota of three hours of harinama in that day, although I did miss a little of the beginning of the 24-hour kirtan.

Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan 2017

Several hundred people attend the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan now in its 18th year. Sacinandana Swami and Madhava Prabhu have been coming almost since the beginning.

In addition to the kirtan, we had an abhiseka (bathing ceremony) for Sri Sri Gaura Nitai:

I share many video clips from the event:

Sacinandana Swami chants Hare Krishna at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan (https://youtu.be/w4paKIDe3Yw):

Madhava Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan (https://youtu.be/Chn0-omeaRg):

Manu Prabhu of Ireland leads the chanting of Hare Krishna, Parasurama Prabhu plays ukulele, and devotees delight in dancing at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan (https://youtu.be/bKTRHCMExAM):

In case you did not watch the above video, I share here one of my favorite parts of it. Youthful temple presidents of London and Newcastle, Jai Nitai and Caitanya Vallabha Prabhus, dance to Manu's lively chanting (https://youtu.be/E7rnhcuFFYk):

Newcastle devotees, Jagannathesvari Devi Dasi (leader singer), Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu and Madhuri Dasi (responding singers), along with Dhananjaya Prabhu (on the bass), perform at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan, inspiring devotees to dance (https://youtu.be/Jh1iWgEUHtg):

Earlier on in the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan many of my Newcastle friends danced with awesome enthusiasm to the lively sacred sound of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra (https://youtu.be/bjEfUPSa7HM):

Early Sunday morning, because of devotees staying up late Saturday night, the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan is not well attended. Still different devotees chanted Hare Krishna sweetly during these "off peak" hours (https://youtu.be/ZX5QSSt0dT4):

Bhagavata Purana Prabhu, who has chanted Hare Krishna for many years with the Krishna Balarama 24-Hour Kirtan in Vrindavan, chanted for the first time at Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan, sharing his joy with those remaining as the event came to an end (https://youtu.be/ZsWX484eeZQ):


Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

From Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name:

“Srila Prabhupada initiated me and thus freed me from all sinful life. But the subtle mind still clings to the past. I am not puzzled by what I have to do. I have already discussed how I have to bring the mind out of distraction and refocus it again and again on the Hare Krishna mantra. Even if that hearing doesn't appear to take me into the further stages of spontaneously thinking of Krishna's pastimes, it will save me. That hearing is the work at hand—stay awake, don't think of the past, avoid all mental and visual distractions, just chant, and stay hopeful.

“Sat on bed, kept awake one and a half hours by open window, very pleasant air outside. Long rounds, nine minutes, but I didn't try to rush them or judge them just on that account.

“I could see before me the two areas of mental choice—distraction or attentiveness. I decided to keep trying to hear. The involuntary distractions were more or less constant, but when I found myself in some protracted train of thought, I had sufficient mental awareness to regard my reverie as bizarre—after all, I am supposed to be chanting Hare Krishna, not reminiscing! So I went back to hearing. That moment of admittance and discovery of deliberate distraction is often a good time to switch to better attention than usual. And attention has come to mean thinking of Krishna, whose name I chant.”

From Soul Eyes:

“Radha and Krishna are unique
in world religion. There is
nothing like Them in the other 'isms.'
A boy and girl in love
as the pinnacle of theology,
you won’t find in Islam
or Christianity or Buddhism
or so on. Gaudiya
Vaisnavas know the secret given
in Bhagavatam and by Lord Caitanya’s men.
Prabhupada gave us the jewel
and immediately warned us
of sahajiya. We are careful and sober and grave
about the dance on the autumn night.

“It’s an offense to
tell the faithless
of the glories of the holy name.
But sometimes the
preacher takes the
risk and chants
in an unholy place
just to increase
the number of devotees,
and Krishna protects him.

“The sahajiyas do exist.
They make a mockery
of the sacred love
of the Divine Couple,
and even imitate Them
in their camp. They say,
You be Radha and I’ll
be Krishna,’ and ruin a sacred thing.
They should be avoided. You
shouldn’t hear from them.
Don’t think,
It’s all right,
after all, it’s
Krishna and the
because milk
touched by the lips
of a serpent causes
poisonous effects.”

From a “Japa Poem”:

All glories to Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Prabhupada
whose photos are before me,
both chanting japa with
their hands in bead bags.
Rupa Gosvami sits under the
kadamba tree, which
blossoms when Radha and Krishna
are in union, and shrivels
when They are apart.
Srila Prabhupada is in a room
in Calcutta, chanting
and conducting the
Hare Krishna movement.
Both gosvamis are very
dear to Lord Krishna, and
they are spreading the
message of Lord Caitanya
all over the world.”

Sacinandana Swami:

From an introduction to one of his kirtans
at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan:

We can give the Lord abhiseka [a bath] with water or with our mind.

My dear devotees, imagine that this next mantra is the last mantra you will chant in this life. Hopefully it is not, but chant like it is.

Kadamba Kanana Swami:

In the heavenly planets, everything goes on according to prescribed duties, whereas in human society people act according to how they feel and occasionally encounter nagging reminders of prescribed duties.

Whether one is in goodness, passion, or ignorance, everyone is covered by a degree of ignorance.

If you chant the holy name for a hundred life times, then you can come to level of being able to chant constantly. But by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, we can attain success in one life.

It takes time to become humble and appreciate pure devotional service.

Although as an Gandharva, certainly Narada Muni had opportunties for devotional service, when cursed by the prajapatis to become a sudra, he had greater opportunties for devotional service.

I read the ants are so into sugar because they make alcohol out of it.

Every Rama Navami, I spend a week reading Ramayana. When Ravana got his powers by austerities, he tried them out by going around defeating people. It got boring because it was too easy. Narada told him that human beings are so powerless, so short-lived, and so miserable, that he should not waste his time with them. He suggested Ravana try to defeat Yamaraja, the lord of death, who had never been defeated.

Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter saying that his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had returned to the spiritual world and resumed his etermal form as a manjari, an assistant of Radharani. Not long after that, he wrote another letter saying although his guru had returned to the spiritual world, he was still watching over his activities.

Everything we know about Srila Prabhupada is a blessing.

We need blessings.

At the end of the battle, Krishna told Arjuna to take his bow and weapons and get off the chariot. As soon as he did so, the chariot burst into flames. Imagine the surprise of Arjuna, seeing his car suddenly in flames! He was doubtful. How has my chariot, which which survived the attacks of so many weapons, caught fire? Krishna explained, “I was protecting your chariot throughout the entire war, but now as you no longer need it, I withdrew my protection.”

Lord Caitanya is blocking all the arrows of Cupid. Otherwise we would fall in love ten times a day.

I tried to enter Vrindavan for many years, but I could not enter. But Narottama Das Thakura says if one dives into the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, he can ultimately enter Vrindavan. We are all engaged in these pastimes of Lord Caitanya.

Why do people leave the temple? After a while, they want to be in the center again. If you are humble, you can remain in the temple, but not if you are proud.

Janaloka has a few married sages. Tapoloka is the abode of the brahmacaris, Satyaloka is the abode of the sannyasis. One important theme in Brhad-Bhagavatamrita is we are placed higher or lower in this universe according our involvement with sex life.

By the added mercy of Lord Caitanya, we can make it back to Godhead in one life.

We should preach vigorously with purity to be successful. Whether we have material desires or not, we should take shelter of the process of pure devotional service to be pure. If we take on the mission of delivering the world, we will attract Krishna's mercy, and He will do it, for we cannot.

From an initiation lecture:

With the stick of the mercy of the Vaishnavas, we can progress on the path.

In the community of Vaishnavas we are strengthed in our vows. Blessings are wishes for success.

In the sannyasa ceremony, I was sweating, and that was before they lit the fire.

It is Krishna who is there every step of the way, and it is He who helps us keep our promises.

The Supersoul is guiding us from within, and the spiritual master is guiding us from without, so the guru plays a key role.

We live by these vows.

Although the elephant is stronger than a crocodile, because the elephant was not in its element, it became weak. We must be in a natural environment.

Even the most determined person can become weak in time.

These vows become our companions who are with us all the time.

Here at Radhadesh, with Radha Gopinath and the nice spiritual programs, it seems easy, but elsewhere it may be difficult.

If we make time to chant Hare Krishna, during the brahma-muhurta, if we read Srimad-Bhagavatam every day without fail, if we attend the temple and offer service, if we invite the Vaishnavas and feed them and hear from the them, then we could always be strong. They may not always be there, but Krishna and the guru will be there.

The essence is the chanting of the holy name, to chant attentively, hear yourself, to avoid offenses, be respectful to Vaishnavas, to appreciate the holy name of Krishna is unique and can bring unlimited benefit. The happiness from chanting the holy name will increase and increase and increase. If we apply ourselves very seriously, very quickly we can make progress.

We may think we know what the spiritual master is doing, but we do not know what the spiritual master is doing. We may know part of what he is doing.

Krishna consciousness means to become attracted to Krishna, to become absorbed. The gayatri mantra is to increase our attraction to Krishna.

We will automatically become attracted to Krishna. We just have to allow it to happen.

I wish that the Vaishnavas bless you with friendship, respect, and mercy. Each Vaishnava has some special mercy to give.

At first initiation we say, “This life is yours. I will adjust my activities according to your desires.”

At second initiation we try to become a different person by endeavoring to develop saintly qualities.

The devotees are trying to serve Krishna, and because of that they develop the saintly qualities.

The guru is heavy not because of his demeanor but because he cannot be moved from the lotus feet of Krishna.

The spiritual master is there. The temple is there. We can count on them. We can always turn to our spiritual master because he is turning to Krishna.

Manu Prabhu from Ireland:

Hearing from a devotee gives us faith.

Saunaka Rsi Prabhu of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies:

When you get down to it, it is the experience that keeps us in Krishna consciousness not the philosophy. In the middle of those kirtans where you forget everything else, you experience that bhakti brings you to a place that philosophy can't reach.

Madhava Naidoo:

From a conversation during prasadam at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan:

Keep aside politics and chant Hare Krishna.

When I lead kirtan I just want to get everyone to chant Hare Krishna. Srila Prabhupada wanted everyone to chant. The more people chant, the more powerful it is.

From an introduction to one of his kirtans at the Birmingham 24-Hour Kirtan:

Keep your mind as simple as possible.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
reminds us that kirtan is meant for Krishna's pleasure and not even slightly for our pleasure.

The Hare Krishna mantra is not just some mantra to make our minds peaceful and make us feel good, but it is Krishna Himself. We get to love Krishna simply by hearing it.


Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very merciful. Krishna said to first surrender, but Lord Caitanya just advises people to chant japa and kirtan of the holy name and to accept the association of the devotees. If they do that, everything else will come automatically.


We learn as we become Hare Krishna devotees that Hari is one of the names of the Lord. The Lord is often referred to as Hari in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita. We learn that haribol means to chant the name of the Lord, Hari. What the meaning of this name of Hari is we do not learn immediately, and so I share this authoritative verse from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita where Lord Caitanya tells us two important meanings of Hari:

harih’-sabde nanartha, dui mukhyatama
sarva amangala hare, prema diya hare mana

Although the word ‘hari’ has many different meanings, two of them are foremost. One meaning is that the Lord takes away all inauspicious things from His devotee, and the second meaning is that He attracts the mind by ecstatic love for God.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 24.59)