Gita 18.25 To see our actions disconnected from the past and the future is to see in illusion
→ The Spiritual Scientist

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How can we explain UFOs?
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Should we not do good to others because to get the good reaction we will have to take birth again?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

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Bhagavatam study 101 1.18.31-36 Presuming that we know God’s will and are doing his work is presumptuous and dangerous
→ The Spiritual Scientist

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Festival of India in Ma’alot-Tarshiha, Israel (Album of…
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Festival of India in Ma'alot-Tarshiha, Israel (Album of photos)
Srila Prabhupada: Because we live in the temples of Radha-Krishna and continuously hold hari-nama-sankirtana – the chanting of Hare Krishna – we consequently live in Vrndavana and nowhere else. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 16.281 Purport).
Find them here: https://goo.gl/rKKLkG

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Jagannath Rathayatra 2018 at Wheeling, West Virginia (Album of…
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Jagannath Rathayatra 2018 at Wheeling, West Virginia (Album of photos)
Srila Prabhupada: Chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-ma...

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Stockholm Ratha Yatra – 14 July 2018 (Album of photos) Srila…
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Stockholm Ratha Yatra - 14 July 2018 (Album of photos)
Srila Prabhupada: The chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is so p...

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Arabic Gitas distributed profusely (Album of…
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Arabic Gitas distributed profusely (Album of photos)
Satyanarayana das: Ten (10) more euphoric Arabic Gita photos from Prema Sankirtana Prabhu distributing to universities and tourist places in the Los Angeles area. Through his wonderful service, these transcendental books have been obtained by, among others: a pensive neuroscientist from Egypt; the follower of an old Muslim sect super-enthusiastic to obtain the book; a young Mexican lady excited to purchase it as a wedding present for her Arabian fiance; a tourist from Tunisia; an American girl who was learning Arabic plus two more who purchased them for Arabian friends; a Muslim gentleman from Lebanon teaching physics at an LA middle school; a cheerful family from Oman…more to come..
Find them here: https://goo.gl/2jnA6L

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Iskcon Kolkata Rathayatra 2018 (video)
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Iskcon Kolkata Rathayatra 2018 (video)
A huge festival of the chariots is yearly celebrated at the city of Kolkata with millio...

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Radha Gopinath ji appearance day
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Hare Krishna Radhanath Swami: In the past thirty years Krishna has blessed us with countless gifts. We passed through truly ecstatic times, and times of painful challenges.

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Envious and non-envious behavior
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Hare Krishna The verse and purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.34 describes the envious and non-envious behavior towards seniors, equals and juniors. Srila Prabhupada explains things in simple yet profound terms which are of very practical relevance to us all.

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ISKCON’s Padayatra Worldwide: Last Memorable Days In Karnataka, India
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Hare KrishnaBy Acarya Dasa

The padayatri near me mumbled, “He is a Muslim. Let’s leave, he will fight with us.” Then, very softly, I explained to the man the objective of our padayatra, which quieted him a little. Then I asked him, “Can we have prasad here after our team reaches?” He said, “Ok, sit under the tree; but you have to pay for water”. I agreed with this condition. After a while all the padayatris arrived on the spot where we were waiting. We parked our cart and trolleys in the shade. As we were all set to start honoring our prasadam, this man came again. I assumed that he was going to create some nuisance, but the Lord showered His causeless mercy upon him. As he took darsana of Their Lordships, his heart melted. He just kept looking at them while I was waiting for his reaction. The Lord took away the envy in his heart and filled it with love. With folded palms he came to us and requested, “Please sit inside my house while honoring your food.” Generally ladies in the Muslim community don’t come out of house but he called all of them outside for darsana, and they took photos of Their Lordships and the oxen. We offered them carnamrita, which they readily accepted, and I also explained to them the importance of honoring this carnamrita. The man took prasadam with us and also bought some of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Then, as we were about to depart, he came to me and said, “I am sorry for the offence I committed. Please forgive me. I was very rude to you. I am very fortunate that in this month of Eid (a big Muslim festival) and roza (fasting in Islam) the Lord has come to my house and His cart is standing right outside my house. I am very obliged to all of you.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Sun Love Feast – Jul 15th, 2018 – Vedic discourse by His Grace Radha Gopinath Prabhu
→ ISKCON Brampton


Chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare 

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare 

And Be Happy!!

ayur harati vai pumsam
udyann astam ca yann asau
tasyarte yat-ksano nita
uttama-sloka-vartaya


Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one
who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.
 ~ Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.17





11.00 - 11.15      Tulsi Puja
11.15  - 11.30     Guru Puja              
11:30 - 11:55     Aarti & Kirtan            
11.55  - 12.00    Sri Nrsingadeva Prayers
12.00 - 1:00     Vedic discourse
  1.00 - 1.30      Closing Kirtan
  1.30 - 2.00     Sanctified Free Vegetarian Feast
COMING UP AHEAD

Sayani Ekadasi
Fasting.....................on Mon Jul 23rd, 2018
Breakfast................  on Tue Jul 24th, 2018 b/w 5.58am – 8.57am


Every fortnight, we observe Ekadasi, a day of prayer and meditation. On this day we fast (or
simplify our meals and abstain from grains and beans), and spend extra time reading the scriptures
and chanting the auspicious Hare Krishna mantra.By constantly ‘exercising’ our minds through
regular japa we can train our senses to push the threshold of contentment.
English audio glorification of all Ekadasis is available here 


Festival of India - Sat Jul 28, 2018

ONGOING PROGRAMS

Adult Education At The Temple
ISKCON Brampton offers various courses and Seminars for adults. The courses take a personal approach to learning. It encourages the student not only to study thoroughly the contents of Srila Prabhupada’s books but also to clearly understand the philosophy and practically apply it. The course focuses on behaviour and character, nurturing students in appropriate Vaishnava values.
Professionally designed and presented, it draws on the principles of Krishna consciousness
and the best of progressive education. In this way, it is true to ISKCON’s heritage and at the
same time relevant to its mission in contemporary society.

For further information, please contact HG Prema Gaurangi Devi Dasi @ premagaurangi.jps@hotmail.com


Sunday School

To register,contact us
Email:sundayschool108@gmail.com
Call:647.893.9363

The Sunday School provides fun filled strategies through the medium of music, drama, debates,
quizzes and games that present Vedic Culture to children. However the syllabus is also designed
to simultaneously teach them to always remember Krishna and never forget Him.
The Sunday School follows the curriculum provided by the Bhaktivedanta College of Education and Culture (BCEC).


Monthly sankirtan Festival(MSF)
“One who has life can preach, and one who preaches gets life.”(Previous Acaryas)
Every member of ISKCON should have the opportunity to make advancement in Krishna
consciousness by preaching.We encourage everyone to come out and participate and make
Srila Prabhupada happy.

Please contact:
Dharma Dasa- dharandev58@gmail.com-647.892.0739(Mississauga and Brampton regions)


The Mentorship Program

Please note that registration in the Mentorship System is now a mandatory requirement for all initiation requests at ISKCON Brampton.It

1.Facilitates  and nurtures devotees aspiring for first and second Initiation.
2.One-on-One personal follow up on a regular basis.
3.Systematic training to devotees in matters of Philosophy, Sadhna, Vaishnava behavior, etiquette, Lifestyle and attitudes.

To find details please click here


Gift Shop

Are you looking for some amazing gift items which are less expensive and more beautiful for your
loved ones for festivals or many other occasions??
Our boutique is stocked with an excellent range of products, perfect for gifts or as souvenirs of your
visit. It offers textiles, jewelry, incense, devotional articles, musical instruments, books, and CDs
inspired by Indian culture.We're open on all Sundays and celebrations marked in our annual calendar.

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With our current knowledge of the material world, what can we understand about the spiritual world?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

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Gita 18.24 Disconnection from our Lord leads to the consumption of our consciousness by passion
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If a couple has to divorce, do they keep getting the other’s karma even after divorce?
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Bhagavatam study 100 1.18.24-30 An annoyed response to annoying non-responsiveness is not malevolent
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Vaishnava summer camp at Fruska Gora mountain (Album of…
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Vaishnava summer camp at Fruska Gora mountain (Album of photos)
It takes place every year since 2004. The Serbian Summer Camp ...

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Festival of India: Two Day Celebration in Montreal. Bhaktimarga…
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Festival of India: Two Day Celebration in Montreal.
Bhaktimarga Swami: Montreal puts on a good show of the Festival of India. It starts off with a procession, very religious in spirit and also exotic to some, hip even. To others, I imagine it may come off as appearing a bit strange. The image of Jagannath—translated as ‘Lord of the Universe’—is mystical and captivating. The beat of the drums is what stirs up excitement. The procession draws the very faithful. At Jeanne Mance Park, we have a good crowd—second year in a row—of people culturally oriented to Eastern ways. “The food is great,” said Ajamila, a popular Bengali singer.The administration rented a large marquis to house hundreds in shade and provide protection from rain, should it come. The key to good attendance is largely due to effective marketing. Nrsimha Chaitanya, a Russian-born devotee of Krishna, has got it down. “I’m happy with this first of a two-day event,” he said.I mingled with a few from the crowd. The stage items were attractive. Professional and devotional performers brought the stage to life.I came up from Toronto with the group “Vedic More” to present Indian classical-style sound along with a bass guitar to add some spice. The only major complaint I would have with the festival is a failure to provide a station for hand cleaning after using the portapotty.I should not forget to let all know that we also presented a ten-minute skit of slap-stick called, “First Timers,” as a satire of yoga membership and routine. Of course yoga hails from India and that was our link to Indian exhibition today.
May the Source be with you!4 km
-

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Jay Jagannatha (6 min music video)
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Jay Jagannatha (6 min music video)
The parade of the chariots is yearly celebrated at the home of Lord Jagannatha in India cal...

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Grisha asks: Why didn’t Yudhisthira stop playing dice with Shakuni seeing a stable trend in the losing?
→ SivaramaSwami.com

  • Based on the discussion of Dharma and Parīkṣit the cause of everything is Kṛṣna’s will
  • Kṛṣna wanted the unfolding of the Kurukṣetra war
  • Bhīṣma explains that the son of dharma could be placed in such suffering only by the will of Kṛṣṇa
  • „O King, no one can know the plan of the Lord…” (Bhāg. 1.9.16)
  • Being Kṛṣna conscious means to accpet our limitations and bow to the supreme will of the Lord
  • Kṛṣna becomes a pupet in the hands of His devotees
  • Either we accept Kṛṣṇa’s plans voluntarily or they will be imposed upon us

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
→ The Walking Monk

Russell, Ontario

At the Heart of Renunciation

From the book Spirit Matters, a compilation of articles written by Mukunda Goswami.  

Here’s one, an excerpt from, “Love Lies at the Heart of Renunciation,” about two monks:

“One summer I was stuck for an hour on a train at a station between Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata.  With little to do besides gaze out my window I saw two bearded holy men facing each other, each sitting on a torn gumchaand dressed only in a loincloth.  They were engaged in a hearty exchange, but I couldn’t hear a word. They looked so happy and content that I grew a little envious.

Each carried over his shoulder a stick with a cloth bound to it.  Facing one another, they soon opened their cloths, ate some dried chapattis, and then tied their cloths back up.  They smiled broadly, shook hands, and then each walked his separate way.

Now, that’s real happiness, I thought, and real renunciation.  But what about the rest of us?  Who’s prepared, let alone able, to live the life of a mendicant, no matter how happy it may appear?

Well, I’ve read there are two kinds of renouncers, those who detest and avoid the material world and those who live within it but are quite detached from it. Those men I watched certainly looked like the real thing.

But I know that great philanthropists and many great spiritual leaders often live in the world with apparently affluent lifestyles.  Yet they are renounced… Maybe the sadhus on that train platform weren’t the real thing after all.

Renunciation dwells in the heart, and if there is a greater loving dimension elsewhere, I’ll spend my life searching for it.”

May the Source be with you!
3 km

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Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
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Russell, Ontario

The Swami

The following is a poem I wrote today and then read to a crowd at our mini Festival of India last night.

MY DEAR FRIENDS      © BMSJuly 10, 2018

There was a wise old swami from India
Who very much wanted to be in America
He was warned that he was too old
On top of that—America is too cold
But he was determined to go
To the land of milk, honey and snow
With a firm grip on his cane
He took to a ship’s ramp and lane
And sailed across the great sea
With a plan in mind, you’ll see
But a storm made the waves so high
The kind that could cause you to die
The swami was dizzy; problems with the heart
His whole dream looked as if to fall apart
But then the ocean became most calm
The swami could now chant the name Ram
The ship docked at the city of fashion
Which never sleeps in its mode of passion
The swami came to the west with a gift
He was a visitor on a very different shift
Some people were giving him the looks
When he landed with a trunk full of books
India was a place that gave silks, spices, tea
No one knew anything about bhakti
The swami said we all have it within
It goes deeper beyond our very skin
It was lost but it can be found
A treasure not on the surface of the ground
The swami then had many a student
They learned to be sensitive and prudent
The swami then left the world behind
Hoping for a world that would be more kind.

May the Source be with you!
4 km


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Monday, July 9th, 2018
→ The Walking Monk

Toronto, Ontario

Good One

Today was a good one.  Brian Carevana brought his group of just under fifty people over to our temple. The members of the multi-religious group came from mostly the local area, but also included some from Vancouver, Boston, Virginia, plus Lincoln (Nebraska), and I may have missed one or two.  They were a mix of a mature group, with some of a younger batch, but all graduates in religious studies.

They came to see, listen and then feast.  Questions were philosophical, yet most were more introductory.

Q: “Why the saffron colour?”

A: This is reserved for monks, celibate students and teachers.”

Q: “What do you mean by family planning in addition to no meat, alcohol or gambling?”

A: “The most strict have ‘union’ for children.  It’s individual, though, and in general, members have varying degrees of commitment.  On the highway, people drive at different speeds.  The ones who benefit the most are the ones who obey the signage.”

The meal was a highlight and I applaud our group for a smooth operation of cooking and serving.  Chanting was also on the menu.  We also garlanded Brian with fresh flowers.  I think he was blown away.

After a day of cleaning before the group came, and the presentation, Karuna and I took to the ravine for a p.m. stroll.  At one point we sat at a pond to reflect on the good day, and how it was.  But our contemplation of the Thai boys stuck in a flooded cave—OMG!

May the Source be with them!
8 km



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Sunday, July 8th, 2018
→ The Walking Monk

Montreal, Quebec

The Wolf, The People

“I think they need to reintroduce the wolf,” said Dave, as we both ambled along on Yonge toward Bloor.  The topic was about wildlife and what I see on my walks in the countryside.

Dave said he’s from Essex County, from Windsor, and every so often they have a cull of the deer who have over-run Pelee Island and the southwest part of the province of Ontario.

“Coyotes don’t take down deer.  Wolves do,” was his conviction.  I agreed with Dave, who’s a bartender; nice guy actually.

We can’t keep destroying nature’s ways,I thought, but we’re very good at that.

Dave and I parted.  My route was back to the ashram.  As I sauntered back, I contemplated the good day in Montreal, and also on addressing some challenges people have at a personal level.  I offered some counselling, as a service, promoting the themes of: don’t give up, be a warrior, communicate and look at the needs of each other in a relationship.

I had the pleasure of making new friends at the site of the Ratha Fest.  Best of all, I gave the first grains to the toddler of Pradyumna and Tina.  What a cooperative little fellow he is!

On our return journey down the 401 Highway, we veered over at the Thousand Islands, to the new owners of The Gananoque Inn.  Mukesh and Ashvina Patel run this historic facility, with its two restaurants, fifty-three rooms, and conference room.  The Patel clan is working on securing many hotels throughout the country, which would make it more accommodating for travelling Krishna monks like ourselves, since traditionally the Patels don’t eat or prepare cow, pig, chicken or deer.

May the Source be with you!
4 km


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Saturday, July 7th, 2018
→ The Walking Monk

Montreal, Quebec

Mantre-all

These days, Montreal puts on a good show of the Festival of India.  It starts off with a procession, very religious in spirit and also exotic to some, hip even.  To others, I imagine it may come off as appearing a bit strange.

The image of Jagannath—translated as ‘Lord of the Universe’—is mystical and captivating. The beat of the drums is what stirs up excitement.  The procession draws the very faithful.  At Jeanne Mance Park, we have a good crowd—second year in a row—of people culturally oriented to Eastern ways.  “The food is great,” said Ajamila, a popular Bengali singer.

The administration rented a large marquis to house hundreds in shade and provide protection from rain, should it come.  The key to good attendance is largely due to effective marketing. Nrsimha Chaitanya, a Russian-born devotee of Krishna, has got it down.  “I'm happy with this first of a two-day event,” he said.

I mingled with a few from the crowd.  The stage items were attractive.  Professional and devotional performers brought the stage to life.

I came up from Toronto with the group “Vedic More” to present Indian classical-style sound along with a bass guitar to add some spice.

The only major complaint I would have with the festival is a failure to provide a station for hand cleaning after using the portapotty.

I should not forget to let all know that we also presented a ten-minute skit of slap-stick called, “First Timers,” as a satire of yogamembership and routine.  Of course yogahails from India and that was our link to Indian exhibition today.

May the Source be with you!
4 km



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Annual Jagannath Swami Rathayatra at Hyderabad organized by…
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Annual Jagannath Swami Rathayatra at Hyderabad organized by Iskcon Hyderabad (Album of photos)
Jagannath chariot wheels rolled...

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A visit to the beautiful Iskcon Temple in Mombasa, Kenya (Album…
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A visit to the beautiful Iskcon Temple in Mombasa, Kenya (Album of photos)
Srila Prabhupada: The Krishna consciousness movemen...

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Vrndavana Garden in Mayapur
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We are planning a wonderful garden that will capture the mood of Vrndavana. In these gardens we will hold our Mayapur Jhulan Yatra, as well as other festivals, thoughout the year.

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Mukunda Datta Das Translates Classic Works of the Acaryas for…
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Mukunda Datta Das Translates Classic Works of the Acaryas for the BBT.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is filled with extraordinary devotees continuing Srila Prabhupada’s legacy and bringing us the works of the acaryas.
One of these, translator and editor Mukunda Datta Das, got a running start at his life’s work. Growing up in Southern California, he was spiritually inclined from a very early age, becoming vegetarian and practicing yoga at just ten years old.
At thirteen, in a private high school, he began learning Sanskrit, and came across Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He had already read several editions of the Gita, but when he opened Srila Prabhupada’s, he says, “The lights came on.”
To read the complete article please click here: https://goo.gl/9ufTFj

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Gundica-marjana, Part Two
Giriraj Swami

We shall continue our discussion of the cleansing of the heart, “The Cleansing of the Gundica Temple,” Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Twelve. I will read the verse again and then the entire purport. We have already discussed the beginning of the purport, which explains the general process of cleansing the heart. Now we shall discuss the specific types of dirt that can lodge in the heart, and how to deal with them.

 We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Twelve, “The Cleansing of the Gundica Temple”:

TEXT 135

ei-mata puradvara-age patha yata
sakala sodhila, taha ke varnibe kata

SYNONYMS

ei-mata—in this way; pura-dvara—of the gateway of the temple; age—in front; patha yata—as many avenues; sakala—all; sodhila—were cleansed; taha—that; ke varnibe—who can describe; kata—how much.

TRANSLATION

Outside the gateway of the temple, all the roads were also cleansed, and no one could tell exactly how this was done.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

In commenting on the cleansing of the Gundica temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as the world leader, was personally giving instructions on how one should receive Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within one’s cleansed and pacified heart. If one wants to see Krsna seated in his heart, he must first cleanse the heart, as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka: ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc Antya 20.12]. In this age, everyone’s heart is especially unclean, as confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam: hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. To wash away all dirty things accumulated within the heart, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The first result will be that the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17) confirms this statement:

srnvatam sva-kathah krsna
  punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
  vidhunoti suhrt satam

“Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.”

If a devotee at all wants to cleanse his heart, he must chant and hear the glories of the Lord, Sri Krsna (srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah). This is a simple process. Krsna Himself will help cleanse the heart because He is already seated there. Krsna wants to continue living within the heart, and the Lord wants to give directions, but one has to keep his heart as clean as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu kept the Gundica temple. The devotee therefore has to cleanse his heart just as the Lord cleansed the Gundica temple. In this way one can be pacified and enriched in devotional service. If the heart is filled with straw, grains of sand, weeds, or dust (in other words, anyabhilasa-purna), one cannot enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there. The heart must be cleansed of all material motives brought about through fruitive work, speculative knowledge, the mystic yoga system, and so many other forms of so-called meditation. The heart must be cleansed without ulterior motive. As Srila Rupa Gosvami says, anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam [Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11]. In other words, there should not be any external motive. One should not attempt material upliftment, understanding the Supreme by speculative knowledge, fruitive activity, severe austerity and penance, and so on. All these activities are against the natural growth of spontaneous love of Godhead. As soon as these are present within the heart, the heart should be understood to be unclean and therefore unfit to serve as Krsna’s sitting place. We cannot perceive the Lord’s presence in our hearts unless our hearts are cleansed.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Srila Rupa Gosvami describes pure devotional service as being anyabhilasita-sunyam: without other desires. Other desires constitute the dirt in the heart, and cleaning the heart means cleaning out the material desires, or purifying them so they are no longer material but spiritual—to serve and please Krishna. If the heart is full of other desires, it is called anyabhilasa-purna. What Rupa Gosvami advises is anyabhilasita-sunyam; he has added the suffix ita to anyabhilasa. Anyabhilasa means “no other desire”; anyabhilasita means “no other intent”—we should have no other intent in devotional service than to please Krishna. For the sake of serving Krishna, we want to keep the body and soul together, and so taking care of the body is not outside of the definition of pure devotional service. It may so happen that under certain circumstances a devotee may pray to Krishna for the protection of the body. For example, someone may come to attack us—our life may be in danger—so we may pray to Krishna to save us. But our general motivation in devotional service is not to get protection or any other benefit for the body; it is to please Krishna. Yet in some dangerous situation, we may pray to the Lord for protection—although that is not our basic motive in engaging in devotional service. That impulse for survival does not place us outside of uttama-bhakti; it is not against the principles of uttama-bhakti.

Then Sri Rupa says, jnana-karmady-anavrtam. Our bhakti should not be covered by jnana, karma, or any other process. The suffix adi, “beginning with,” in effect means “et cetera, and others.” Jnana and karma are the main processes, but there are others that also are not part of bhakti and that may cause disturbance in the heart.

 After listing sixty-four items of devotional service in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami discusses other items that one might think could have been included in the list but which he omitted, and he explains why. Two of the items are the cultivation of knowledge and the cultivation of renunciation. He explains that the actual process of bhakti—hearing and chanting about Krishna—makes the heart soft, whereas the cultivation of knowledge or renunciation, although they may be somewhat helpful in the beginning (as the Bhagavatam says), are not really part of the process of devotional service because the cultivation of knowledge or renunciation as separate items can make the heart hard, which goes against the nature of bhakti.

Of course, true knowledge and renunciation follow as a natural consequence of genuine advancement in Krishna consciousness:

vasudeve bhagavati
  bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam
  jnanam ca yad ahaitukam

When we engage in bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Vasudeva (Krishna), the son of Vasudeva, causeless knowledge and detachment follow. But to make a separate endeavor to pursue knowledge or detachment, in an impersonal way, can make the heart hard. Still, the effort can be somewhat helpful in the beginning, because if someone is addicted to sinful activities—smoking, drinking, eating flesh, or whatever—he might have to make a special effort to give them up. But once he is able to follow the basic regulations of bhakti-yoga, then his natural progress in bhakti-yoga itself will take care of everything else, without any independent endeavor.

Someone may ask, “Well, if bhakti doesn’t take support from karma, jnana, yoga, or anything else, then how will bhakti progress?” The answer is that one’s present stage of bhakti becomes the cause of one’s advancement to subsequent stages in bhakti. Bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya: bhakti comes from bhakti. Bhava-bhakti comes from sadhana-bhakti; prema-bhakti comes from bhava-bhakti. We don’t need to add anything to bhakti to make it stronger. To the contrary, adding karma or jnana to bhakti makes it weaker. So we want unalloyed devotional service, unmixed with any other process or any desire other than to serve and please Krishna.

Now we shall proceed to some of the more specific discussions.

PURPORT (continued)

A material desire is explained as a desire to enjoy the material world to its fullest extent. In modern language, this is called economic development. An inordinate desire for economic development is considered to be like straws and grains of sand within the heart. If one is overly engaged in material activity, the heart will always remain disturbed. As stated by Narottama dasa Thakura:

samsara visanale, diva-nisi hiya jvale,
judaite na kainu upaya

In other words, endeavor for material opulence is against the principle of devotional service. Material enjoyment includes activities such as great sacrifices for auspicious activity, charity, austerity, elevation to the higher planetary system, and even living happily within the material world.

COMMENT

Samsara visanale: in the fire of the poison of worldliness. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also prayed, visame bhavambudhau: “in the horrible, poisonous ocean of birth and death.” And Narottama dasa laments, “I have not accepted the means for escape, or relief.”

PURPORT (continued)

Modernized material benefits are like the dust of material contamination. When this dust is agitated by the whirlwind of fruitive activity, it overcomes the heart.

COMMENT

As we have discussed, it is not an offense to have material attachments, but it is an offense to maintain them. What Srila Prabhupada wrote here is significant: the desire may be there, but when we act on the desire—when we act to fulfill the desire—that process acts like a whirlwind that agitates the desire, the dust.

PURPORT (continued)

Thus the mirror of the heart is covered with dust. There are many desires to perform auspicious and inauspicious activities, but people do not know how life after life they are keeping their hearts unclean. One who cannot give up the desire for fruitive activity is understood to be covered by the dust of material contamination. Karmis generally think that the interaction of fruitive activities can be counteracted by another karma, or fruitive activity. This is certainly a mistaken conception. If one is deluded by such a conception, he is cheated by his own activity. Such activities have been compared to an elephant’s bathing. An elephant may bathe very thoroughly, but as soon as it comes out of the river, it immediately takes some sand from the land and throws it all over its body. If one suffers due to his past fruitive activities, he cannot counteract his suffering by performing auspicious activities. The sufferings of human society cannot be counteracted by material plans. The only way suffering can be mitigated is by Krsna consciousness. When one takes to Krsna consciousness and engages himself in the devotional service of the Lord—beginning with chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord—the cleansing of the heart begins. When the heart is actually cleansed, one can clearly see the Lord sitting there without any disturbance. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.4.68) the Lord confirms that He sits within the heart of the pure devotee: sadhavo hrdayam mahyam sadhunam hrdayam tv aham.

COMMENT

Karmis often think that they can counteract the effects of one karma with another, but ultimately they cannot. The Vedas recommend prayascitta, specific atonements for specific sins or mistakes, which are meant to counteract the reactions to the sins. But prayascitta does not remove the desire to commit sin from the heart. Thus, after neutralizing the effects of the sin by some form of atonement, one will commit the same sin again. Thus Srila Prabhupada quoted a saying, “Every day a thousand prostitutes take bath in the Ganges.” They take bath in the holy river and are relieved of their sinful reactions, but they remain prostitutes: when they come out of the water, they engage in the same activity.

We need a process that will cleanse the heart of the desire to sin, the desire to engage in acts against the orders of God, the injunctions of scripture. Prayascitta, or atonement, is compared to burning the leaves of the weed of sinful actions. The roots of the weed remain, and so the plant will sprout up again. To actually be free from the suffering caused by the weed, you have to pull it out from the roots. And the process to uproot the sinful desires themselves is bhakti-yoga, especially chanting the holy names of Krishna. Pure devotional service removes the ignorance that is at the root of the desire for sinful activities; uttama-bhakti destroys material desires from the root.

Srila Rupa Gosvami explains that there are various stages in the development of sinful actions and reactions: aprarabdha (unmanifest), kuta (about to manifest), bija (barely manifesting), and prarabdha (fully manifest). The seeds of sinful desires will sprout and eventually bear the fruits of sinful actions—and reactions. One may try to cut this growth of sin at different places, but bhakti thoroughly destroys all phases of its manifestation. Of course, devotees who surrender to Krishna refrain from further sinful acts. But even the suffering due to devotees for their past sinful acts, and the traces of sinful desires still in their hearts, are destroyed by bhakti.

That is karma. You cannot be freed from karma by karma—you cannot be freed from materially inauspicious activities by materially auspicious activities—because as long as the tendency to engage in karma (material activities) remains, one is bound to engage in sinful acts and then suffer. The only way to really become free from sin is bhakti. As stated in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, suffering is caused by sin, and sin is caused by ignorance. To be freed from sin, we must become free from ignorance. And bhakti illuminates us with the knowledge that will free us from sin—and from all suffering—forever.

So, that is karma. Now, jnana and yoga.

PURPORT (continued)

Impersonal speculation, monism (merging into the existence of the Supreme), speculative knowledge, mystic yoga, and meditation are all compared to grains of sand. They simply cause irritation to the heart. No one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by such activities, nor do we give the Lord a chance to sit in our hearts peacefully. Rather, the Lord is simply disturbed by them. Sometimes yogis and jnanis in the beginning take to the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra as a way to begin their various practices. But when they falsely think that they have attained release from the bondage of material existence, they give up chanting. They do not consider that the ultimate goal is the form of the Lord or the name of the Lord. Such unfortunate creatures are never favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for they do not know what devotional service is. Lord Krsna describes them in the Bhagavad-gita in this way:

tan aham dvisatah kruran
  samsaresu naradhaman
ksipamy ajasram asubhan
  asurisv eva yonisu

“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Bg 16.19)

COMMENT

Here Maya comes into play as a servant of Krishna to protect Him. Srila Prabhupada says that when someone comes to render service to Krishna, Maya will test the person to see whether he is really sincere to serve Krishna or whether he has come to disturb Krishna. So when someone engages in devotional service, Maya may send disturbances to test the person’s determination, to see how serious he or she is. And if the person is sincere and serious to serve Krishna, he or she will think, “Never mind. Let the calamities come. No matter what happens, I will continue to follow the principles and chant Hare Krishna.” But if the person has other motives, he or she will think, “Oh, I thought Krishna consciousness was going to make me happy, to make my life easier, to solve my material problems, but now I am finding just the opposite. So I am not going to chant and follow the process. I am going to try something else.” Because they have material motives, they give up the practices of bhakti-yoga, which means that at least temporarily they have failed the test.

So Maya is also Krishna’s servant, and she tests devotees and aspiring devotees to see how fixed they are, because she doesn’t want them to come and disturb Krishna with their material motives.

PURPORT (continued)

By His practical example, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has shown us that all the grains of sand must be picked up thoroughly and thrown outside. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also cleansed the outside of the temple, fearing that the grains of sand would again come within. In this connection, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explains that even though one may become free from the desire for fruitive activity, sometimes the subtle desire for fruitive activity again comes into being within the heart. One often thinks of conducting business to improve devotional activity.

COMMENT

This is a little different from the desires that exist within the heart before devotional service, because those material desires have no connection with Krishna consciousness. Even after we become free from those gross materialistic desires, subtle desires related to Krishna consciousness may appear, but if we are not careful, they can deviate us from Krishna consciousness. Prabhupada mentions conducting business to get money for Krishna consciousness, that one can become so overwhelmed in the process of making money that economic development becomes more prominent than Krishna consciousness. It can happen. We have seen it.

PURPORT (continued)

One often thinks of conducting business to improve devotional activity. But the contamination is so strong that it may later develop into misunderstanding, described as kuti-nati (faultfinding) and pratisthasa (the desire for name and fame and for high position), jiva-himsa (envy of other living entities), nisiddhacara (accepting things forbidden in the sastra), kama (desire for material gain), and puja (hankering for popularity).

COMMENT

These are some of the specific anomalies. We have seen them too.

PURPORT (continued)

The word kuti-nati means “duplicity.” As an example of pratisthasa, one may attempt to imitate Srila Haridasa Thakura by living in a solitary place. One’s real desire may be for name and fame—in other words, one thinks that fools will accept one to be as good as Haridasa Thakura just because one lives in a solitary place. These are all material desires. A neophyte devotee is certain to be attacked by other material desires as well, namely desires for women and money. In this way the heart is again filled with dirty things and becomes harder and harder, like that of a materialist. Gradually one desires to become a reputed devotee or an avatara (incarnation).

The word jiva-himsa (envy of other living entities) actually means stopping the preaching of Krsna consciousness.

COMMENT

Jiva means “the living entity” and also “life.” And himsa means “violence,” which also translates as “envy.” Generally we think that violence means harming or killing people, or killing animals and eating their flesh. That is certainly jiva-himsa, but the real life of the living entity is bhakti. There is a series of verses in the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam to the effect that one may appear to be alive but if he is devoid of devotional service he is as good as dead. For example:

jivan chavo bhagavatanghri-renum
  na jatu martyo ’bhilabheta yas tu
sri-visnu-padya manujas tulasyah
  svasan chavo yas tu na veda gandham

“The person who has not at any time received the dust of the feet of the Lord’s pure devotee upon his head is certainly a dead body. And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasi leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.” (SB 2.3.23)

So the real life of the living entity is devotional service. And if we deprive people of devotional service, in effect we are killing them.

Now, one may argue, “Well, that is pretty strong language. I am not killing them. I am just not giving them devotional service.” But the Fifth Canto says that if a blind man is walking down a wrong path heading to danger, how can a gentleman allow him to continue? It is our duty to stop him. We can’t just let him proceed to his own death.

kas tam svayam tad-abhijno vipascid
  avidyayam antare vartamanam
drstva punas tam saghrnah kubuddhim
  prayojayed utpathagam yathandham

“If someone is ignorant and addicted to the path of samsara, how can one who is actually learned, merciful, and advanced in spiritual knowledge engage him in fruitive activity and thus further entangle him in material existence? If a blind man is walking down the wrong path, how can a gentleman allow him to continue on his way to danger? How can he approve this method? No wise or kind man can allow this.” (SB 5.5.17)

If someone is starving to death and if by giving him a little food you can save his life, it is your duty to give him some prasada. Prasada means “mercy.” You can’t just let him die of starvation. As devotees, we know that Krishna consciousness is the sustenance of life, real food for the spirit soul, and that if we don’t give people Krishna consciousness they are going to die, spiritually. So it is our duty to feed them, to give them Krishna consciousness. It is our duty to save them, and if we don’t, that is jiva-himsa, envy. If someone is starving at your doorstep and you could give him a little food and save his life but instead you think, “Let him die; it is not my problem,” you are envious. You are not thinking, “Everything belongs to Krishna. Whatever Krishna has given me I will share with my brothers and sisters, who are also Krishna’s children.” You are thinking, “It is mine.” You are envious. You are not giving him the same chance to live that you have. “Let him die. It is not my problem.” That is jiva-himsa. That is against devotional service. Devotional service means the heart is becoming softer.

Opposed to jiva-himsa is jiva-daya, being merciful to all living entities. That is one of the qualifications of a devotee—jiva-daya. And that is the result of proper chanting of the holy name. One develops the mood of jiva-daya.

PURPORT (continued)

Preaching work is described as paropakara, welfare activity for others. Those who are ignorant of the benefits of devotional service must be educated by preaching. If one stops preaching and simply sits down in a solitary place, he is engaging in material activity. If one desires to make a compromise with the Mayavadis, he is also engaged in material activity. A devotee should never make compromises with nondevotees.

COMMENT

I won’t tell the whole story here, but when I was preaching in Madras, some well-meaning friends suggested that I change my approach and stop criticizing others. So I wrote to Srila Prabhupada, and he kindly replied, “The fact is that I am the only one in India who is openly criticizing not only demigod worship and impersonalism but everything that falls short of complete surrender to Krishna. My guru maharaja never compromised in his preaching, nor will I, nor should any of my students. We are firmly convinced that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all others are His part and parcel servants. This we must declare boldly to the whole world, that they should not foolishly dream of world peace unless they are prepared to surrender fully to Krishna as Supreme Lord.” So, no compromise.

PURPORT (continued)

If one desires to make a compromise with the Mayavadis, he is also engaged in material activity. A devotee should never make compromises with nondevotees. By acting as a professional guru, mystic yogi, or miracle man, one may cheat and bluff the general public and gain fame as a wonderful mystic, but all this is considered to be dust, straw, and grains of sand within the heart. In addition, one should follow the regulative principles and not desire illicit sex, gambling, intoxicants, or meat.

COMMENT

Srila Prabhupada is describing the manifestation of these contaminations in the activities of nondevotees or mixed devotees. Superficially, the examples may seem applicable to them, not to us. But if we are introspective, we may see that we have the same tendencies. They may be disguised in different ways or subdued to varying extents, but we also have desires to become popular, to be worshiped, to be honored, to be rewarded—even materially, financially. We have to be aware of these desires so that we can purge ourselves of them. We must make efforts to purge ourselves of them, and at the same time pray for the mercy of the Lord, depend on the mercy of the Lord.

PURPORT (continued)

To give us practical instructions, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cleansed the temple twice. His second cleansing was more thorough. The idea was to throw away all the stumbling blocks on the path of devotional service. He cleansed the temple with firm conviction, as is evident from His using His own personal garments for cleaning. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to see personally that the temple was thoroughly cleansed to the standard of clean marble. Clean marble gives a cooling effect. Devotional service means attaining peace from all disturbances caused by material contamination. In other words, it is the process by which the mind is cooled.

COMMENT

In other words, we shouldn’t become overheated in our endeavors in devotional service, because overendeavor (prayasah) is unfavorable to bhakti and may indicate mixed motives. We should act only with the motive of pleasing Krishna, under the guidance of Krishna’s representatives, who know what pleases Krishna. And we should know that it is not exactly the external features of the service that please Him, but it is the loving desire and faithful effort to please Him that pleases Him.

In the Adi-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta we have the story of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. His spiritual master instructed Him, “You are a fool. You are not fit to study Vedanta. Just always chant the holy name of Krishna.” And Lord Chaitanya followed the order of His spiritual master and always chanted the holy name. After some time, He found that he was laughing, crying, and dancing like a madman. He thought that by chanting He had become mad. So He presented His situation to His spiritual master, who then replied, “My dear child, I am very pleased with You. You have developed ecstatic love for God, the supreme goal of life. So I am much obliged to you.” And he instructed Him, “Continue chanting and dancing and performing sankirtana with devotees. Further, go out and preach the value of chanting to others, and thus deliver all fallen souls.”

In the purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The spiritual master is not actually pleased if the disciple brings him money, but when he sees that the disciple is actually advancing in spiritual life, he is very glad.” Of course, what is important is the consciousness. Offering money can also be done in the mood of pure devotion, to please Krishna, to please Krishna and make advancement by serving a devotee. But it can also be done in another consciousness—wanting recognition, praise, prestige, or prominence. Someone could even think that by giving money he can buy the spiritual master or buy the organization. Such desires are opposed to pure devotional service.

The basic motive of the devotee should be to please Krishna, and if one’s brain is not too heated, one can consider, “What does Krishna actually want? Does Krishna really want me to kill myself collecting money for Him day and night? Or does He want me to spend time with Him in the temple, joining in the worship, chanting the holy names, and listening to the class?” And if you consider with a cool brain, you will conclude, “Of course, Krishna wants me to chant Hare Krishna and be happy.” Still, if someone wants to work hard for Krishna, that is welcome. That is also Krishna’s mercy, but one should not work to the extent that one neglects to chant one’s sixteen rounds, to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, and to attend the temple programs. Our regular practices must be maintained.

A lady reporter came to meet Srila Prabhupada at Bhaktivedanta Manor in England. She had a material edge to her, and straight away she challenged him, “Why do you shave your head?” Prabhupada never missed a beat. Smart as reporters were, he was always smarter. Quick as they were, he was always quicker. She asked, “Why do you shave your head?” And Srila Prabhupada responded, “Why do you shave your legs? It is better to have hot legs and a cool brain than cool legs and a hot brain. One must have a cool brain to understand this Krishna consciousness.”

PURPORT (continued)

In other words, it is the process by which the mind is cooled. The mind can be peaceful and thoroughly cleansed when one no longer desires anything but devotional service.

Even though all dirty things may be cleansed away, sometimes subtle desires remain in the mind for impersonalism, monism, success, and the four principles of religious activity (dharma, artha, kama, and moksa). All these are like spots on clean cloth. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also wanted to cleanse all these away.

By His practical activity, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu informed us how to cleanse our hearts. Once the heart is cleansed, we should invite Lord Sri Krsna to sit down, and we should observe the festival by distributing prasadam and chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.

COMMENT

Whenever Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu celebrated a festival in Jagannatha Puri, it culminated in chanting and dancing and taking prasada. And we can expect the same to take place after our cleaning of the temple. When we clean our hearts of all dirt and can actually receive the Lord in a proper place, we can celebrate the occasion by distributing prasada and chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Again, devotional service is absolute. To cleanse the heart, we chant Hare Krishna, and to celebrate the completion of the cleansing, we chant Hare Krishna more.

PURPORT (continued)

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to teach every devotee by His personal behavior. Everyone who spreads the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepts a similar responsibility. The Lord was personally chastising and praising individuals in the course of the cleaning, and those who are engaged as acaryas must learn from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu how to train devotees by personal example.

COMMENT

If one is surrendered to the spiritual master, he or she will accept praise and chastisement equally. Once, Srila Prabhupada chastised me very severely. Well, when I look back, maybe he didn’t chastise me so severely, but I was such a new devotee then, I took it hard; it had a devastating effect on me. I was the temple president and very new in Juhu. And the Deities then were living under a small shamiana tent outdoors. Anyway, one of the devotees wrote to Srila Prabhupada, saying that the Deities were being neglected, and Prabhupada in turn wrote me, “I have received some reports that the Deities are being neglected. This is most abominable.” His words had a devastating effect on me.

I wrote back saying that I accepted his instructions and was executing them but that I was really struggling, trying to maintain my focus and enthusiasm. Srila Prabhupada replied, “Actually, it is the duty of the spiritual master to find fault with his students so that they may make progress, not that he should always be praising them.” He often quoted Chanakya Pandita, lalane bahavo dosas tadane bahavo gunah: “If you chastise your son or disciple, he’ll improve, and if you say, ‘Oh, you are all right,’ he’ll degrade.” Tasmat putram ca sisyam ca tadayet na tu lalayet: “Therefore you always chastise your son or disciple. Never flatter.” Srila Prabhupada concluded his instruction to me, “So if you find some criticism, kindly accept it in that spirit. I am interested only that you, along with all my other students, should become Krishna conscious.”

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, seeing how the devotees were cleaning, praised some and chastised some. And He Himself showed by example how to clean. He was the best. He collected the most dust and threw out the most dust. So the spiritual master should set the example in cleansing his own heart. Otherwise, as Srila Prabhupada said, “If you are smoking a cigarette and you tell others, ‘Don’t smoke,’ who will listen?” To teach, we must also show by example.

PURPORT (concluded)

The Lord was very pleased with those who could cleanse the temple by taking out undesirable things accumulated within. This is called anartha-nivrtti, cleansing the heart of all unwanted things. Thus the cleansing of the Gundica-mandira was conducted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to let us know how the heart should be cleansed and soothed to receive Lord Sri Krsna and enable Him to sit within the heart without disturbance.

COMMENT

We are talking about the temple of the heart. We have to cleanse the temple of the heart and install the Deity on the throne of the heart and worship the Lord within the heart. As Thakura Bhaktivinoda sings,

mama mana mandire raha nisi-din
krsna murari sri krsna murari

“Please abide in the temple of my heart both day and night, O Krsna Murari, O Sri Krsna Murari!”

eso nanda-kumar ar nanda-kumar
habe prema-pradipe arati tomar

“Come, Son of Nanda, and then, O Son of Nanda, I will offer Your arati ceremony with the lamplight of my love.”

That is real worship. That is the best worship. Of course, the external worship helps to clean the heart, but the real worship comes when we can enthrone the Lord within our hearts and serve Him in a clean, pacified, cool mandir within the heart. That is achieved by a combination of our efforts and the Lord’s mercy—that combination brings all success.

Hare Krishna.

Are there any questions or comments?

Siddhi-lalasa dasi: How is it possible to have material desires and yet not act upon them?

Giriraj Swami: The Bhagavad-gita explains that just as rivers flow into the ocean but the ocean is not disturbed, in the same way the yogi or the devotee is not disturbed by desires.

apuryamanam acala-pratistham
  samudram apah pravisanti yadvat
tadvat kama yam pravisanti sarve
  sa santim apnoti na kama-kami

“A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Gita 2.70)

It is a matter of determination. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives the example that a devotee who vows not to eat on a fast day can conquer the desire to eat, even if he feels hungry, because he is determined. Because he has vowed, “I shall not take food today,” he does not act on that desire to eat. In the same way, if we are determined, we can refrain from sex. That is Sri Visvanatha’s comment on a verse in the Seventh Canto.

asankalpaj jayet kamam
  krodham kama-vivarjanat
arthanartheksaya lobham
  bhayam tattvavamarsanat

“By making plans with determination, one should give up lusty desires for sense gratification. Similarly, by giving up envy one should conquer anger, by discussing the disadvantages of accumulating wealth one should give up greed, and by discussing the truth one should give up fear.” (SB 7.15.22)

The Seventh Canto lists different disturbances and how to overcome each. For example, one can conquer envy by giving up sense gratification. One can become free from pride by serving great devotees. One can counteract miseries by being merciful to all living entities. And by serving the spiritual master, one can completely transcend the material nature.

Service to the spiritual master means following the orders of the spiritual master, which include, first and foremost, the instruction to chant and hear about Krishna. Chant sixteen rounds, follow the regulative principles, hear the transcendental discussions, and serve in any way that the spiritual master orders. That will counteract all material miseries and overcome all material desires.

Bhakta Ross: Maharaja, does everyone have an equal amount of material desires? Everyone is not acting on them equally. Does chanting destroy those material desires?

Giriraj Swami: Devotional service is a continuous process that may span more than one lifetime. And because devotional service, chanting, does free one from material desires, someone may come into the present life more purified, from the past life, than someone else. Still, however many material desires we have or however strong they may seem—whatever our condition—if we tolerate them and don’t act on them, and instead focus on hearing and chanting, engaging in bhakti-yoga, whatever we bring with us from our past life, in one sense, doesn’t matter, because bhakti-yoga is so powerful that it can completely purify us now. Still, it may be easier for someone in the present life if he has made more advancement in his previous life.

 

Srila Prabhupada writes in The Nectar of Devotion, based on Rupa Gosvami’s statements in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, that devotional service is generally a continuation from one’s past life and that therefore some people are naturally inclined toward Krishna consciousness. Yet although they made advancement in the past life, somehow they were not completely successful—most likely because of an offense to a Vaishnava—and now they are being given a good opportunity in the present life to completely finish their course of service in this world.

 

He writes, “Devotional service is a continual process from one’s previous life. No one can take to devotional service unless he has had some previous connection with it. . . . For some reason or another it had been temporarily stopped, most probably by an offense committed at the lotus feet of a devotee. Now, with a good second chance, it has again begun to develop. . . . But even if there is no continuity, if only by chance a person takes interest in a pure devotee’s instruction, he can be accepted and can advance in devotional service. Anyway, for persons who have a natural taste for understanding books like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, devotional service is easier than for those who are simply accustomed to mental speculation and argumentative processes.” (NOD Chapters 2 and 18)

In any case, we need not feel, “Oh, I am born with so many material desires.” Whatever it is, we can be completely successful in the present lifetime.

Look at Jagai and Madhai: they were the most sinful of sinful creatures, but they were delivered by the mercy of Lord Nityananda and Lord Chaitanya. Such is the mercy of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai—and the potency of the holy name. Narottama dasa Thakura sings, dina-hina jata chilo, hari-name uddharilo, tara saksi jagai madhai: “The holy name delivers all who are lowly and wretched. The two sinners Jagai and Madhai are evidence of this.” However sinful we are, we are not as sinful as they were, and they were delivered by the mercy of Nitai and Gaura, by the mercy of the holy name. So why not us? Anyone can be purified.

Otherwise, it can become an excuse: “Oh, they were advanced from their last life. That is why they are able to follow. But I can’t follow. I am not as advanced from my last life.” Anyone can follow. If you have a sincere desire, you can follow. It doesn’t matter what your conditioning is—what your past life was, or your previous experience in your present life. If you have a sincere desire, that is sufficient. “Devotional service is dependent on nothing other than the sentiment or desire for such service. It requires nothing more than sincerity.” (NOD Chapter 12)

Pure devotional service is beyond karma (jnana-karmady-anavrtam). It doesn’t matter what your past karma was, or how much knowledge you have. The only thing required is the sincere desire. That is all you need. There is no other qualification or disqualification. And once you begin the process, you will be dragged to success—as if against your will—if you just keep following. “Devotional service is so pure and perfect that once having begun, one is forcibly dragged to ultimate success.” (NOI 3 purport)

That is why we have our sikhas. Prabhupada said we keep sikhas so Krishna can lift us up and pull us back to Godhead. So keep your sikha on, and you will be successful. There is no reason to lament or feel hopeless or envious.

Sri Radhika dasi: What hinders our determination?

Giriraj Swami: One could say the desires for sense gratification and mental speculation, or one could say past habit. We have the habit, and as Srila Prabhupada said, habit is second nature. Even if we try to overcome it, habit is so strong that at first we might fail. So, as Prabhupada said, that is not a fault. But you should repent, “Oh, I have done this,” and try your best not to repeat the mistake. But if because of some past habit you commit a mistake and then you sincerely repent and try your best to improve, Krishna will forgive you. And, as in almost every other case, associating with pure devotees will help us.

Bhakta David: In relation to Bhakta Ross’s question, you said if one had a sincere desire, things will fall into place. How does one gain the desire?

Giriraj Swami: Yes, if one has a sincere desire to engage in devotional service and begins the process, the potency of the process itself will carry him to the conclusion. So, how does one develop the desire?

Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that best is to fix one’s mind on Him, which is possible when we have love for Him, but that if one is unable to do so—to be fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness—one should follow the rules and regulations of bhakti-yoga and thus develop the desire to reach Him.

atha cittam samadhatum
  na saknosi mayi sthiram
abhyasa-yogena tato
  mam icchaptum dhananjaya

“If you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.” (Gita 12.9)

Once, a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada, “How do we become sincere?” And Prabhupada replied, “By following all of my instructions, however big or small.” By following, we develop the desire.

In the earliest days of the movement, one student told Srila Prabhupada, “I see the other devotees bowing down, but it is not really in my heart to bow down. I don’t really feel like it. Should I still do it?” And Prabhupada replied, “Yes.  By bowing down, the feeling will come.” Much of sadhana-bhakti, devotional service in practice, is like that. You don’t feel like dancing in the kirtan, but you force yourself to dance, and then you feel like dancing, once you have started. So we follow, and that makes us more sincere; our desire for Krishna becomes stronger. And Krishna will fulfill our desire.

Thank you very much.

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Nitai-gaura-premanande hari haribol!

[A Talk by Giriraj Swami on May 1, 2007, in Dallas]

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Bhagavatam study 99 1.18.18-23 The unlimited has unlimited potency to purify us of our unlimited sins
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How is atheism self-refuting?
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Gita 18.23 To gain knowledge, we need basic knowledge about where to seek knowledge
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Might we have been created by some higher civilization instead of God?
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Gundica-marjana, Part One
Giriraj Swami

The observance of Gundica-marjana, the washing and cleansing of the Gundica temple, takes place on the day before Ratha-yatra, in preparation for the arrival of the Lord.

The history of Ratha-yatra goes back thousands of years, to a previous age, but for us the specific significance of the Ratha-yatra and the cleaning of the Gundica temple was shown by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when He was residing in Jagannatha Puri five hundred years ago. In the transcendental mind of Sri Chaitanya, the temple of Lord Jagannatha in Nilacala represented Dvaraka, or sometimes Kurukshetra, and the Gundica temple in Sundaracala represented Vrindavan. And for Him, the Ratha-yatra was the process of the residents of Vrindavan meeting Krishna at Kurukshetra and bringing Him back to Vrindavan after a long separation.

Gundica is the name of the wife of King Indradyumna, the great devotee who wanted to have darshan of Nila-Madhava and who, in separation from Nila-Madhava, arranged to have a deity carved—ultimately resulting in the appearance of Lord Jagannatha, along with Baladeva and Subhadra. Marjana means “cleaning,” as we sing daily in the Gurvastakam: mandira-marjanadau. The spiritual master engages the disciples in cleaning the Lord’s temple (tan-mandira-marjanadau yuktasya bhaktams ca niyunjato ’pi).

In Jagannatha Puri, eight days after the Ratha-yatra is the return Ratha-yatra. Thus, for eight days Lord Jagannatha (Krishna), along with His brother, Baladeva, and sister, Subhadra, stay in the Gundica temple.

Four days after the first journey (yatra), Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, the eternal consort of Lord Jagannatha, comes to see the Lord. Srila Prabhupada explains, “Lord Jagannatha has left His wife, the goddess of fortune, and gone to Vrndavana, which is the Gundica temple. Due to separation from the Lord, the goddess of fortune decides to come to see the Lord at Gundica. The coming of the goddess of fortune to Gundica is celebrated as Hera-pancami.” (Cc Madhya 14.107 purport) Hera means “to see” and refers to the goddess of fortune going to see Lord Jagannatha. Pancami means “the fifth day,” referring to this pastime taking place on the fifth day of the lunar cycle.

The goddess of fortune, jealous and angry because her husband has been away for so long and thus has neglected her, comes with her maidservants to the Gundica temple to force the servants of Lord Jagannatha to bring Him back to Nilacala. “When Lord Jagannatha starts His car festival, He gives assurance to the goddess of fortune that He will return the next day. When He does not return, the goddess of fortune, after waiting two or three days, begins to feel that her husband has neglected her. She naturally becomes quite angry. Gorgeously decorating herself and her associates, she comes out of the temple and stands before the main gate. All the principal servants of Lord Jagannatha are then arrested by her maidservants, brought before her, and forced to fall down at her lotus feet.” (Cc Madhya 14.133 purport) Finally, they promise to bring their master, Lord Jagannatha, back to Nilacala.

Once, on the day of the Hera-pancami festival, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, and Srivasa Thakura had a deep and intricate discussion about different types of mana—transcendental egoistic pride and jealous anger manifested in different consorts of the Lord—because the mana exhibited by the goddess of fortune in bringing her maidservants to subjugate her husband’s servants and oblige them to bring Him back was unprecedented.

Other than the eight days between the first procession and the return procession, the Gundica temple remains empty, and as you can imagine, during the rest of the year it accumulates all sorts of dust and dirt. Especially with the open style of architecture in India, in which the temples are exposed to the outdoors, they can become very dusty and dirty. So, in preparation for the Lord’s arrival at the Gundica temple, Lord Chaitanya asked permission from the authorities for Him and His devotees to clean the temple. The authorities were most respectful to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers, most obedient, and they replied, “Yes, whatever You like we will arrange. Cleaning the temple is not a fit service for You, but if it is Your desire, we shall supply whatever You require—waterpots and brooms.”

The superintendent of the temple delivered a hundred waterpots and a hundred brooms, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu engaged hundreds of devotees in cleaning, and He personally took part Himself. He swept straw, dust, and sand into one place, gathered it all in His cloth, and threw it outside the temple. Following His example, all the devotees also gathered piles of dust and straw and sand and threw them outside. Thus He and His associates removed all the debris that had accumulated in the temple complex over the past year.

During the process, Lord Chaitanya would observe each devotee—how well each was cleaning—and if someone was cleaning well, He would praise him, and if someone wasn’t cleaning so well, He would correct him. Srila Prabhupada remarks that Lord Chaitanya was showing how an acharya must train devotees, correcting and encouraging them as appropriate. Mahaprabhu also instructed the devotees by example. He collected so much debris from the temple that His pile was larger than all of theirs put together.

After throwing out all the debris, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates cleaned the temple a second time, looking for finer grains of sand and dust that they might have missed. Then they thoroughly washed the temple. With hundreds of devotees throwing hundreds of pots of water, they cleansed the ceiling, the walls, the floor, and everything else. Sri Chaitanya Himself personally washed the sitting place of Lord Jagannatha with His own two hands.

 Even then, Lord Chaitanya was concerned that dust would again come into the temple, and so He had His devotees clean the area outside the temple as well—throw water outside the temple, so no new dust would come in.

In the course of cleaning, Lord Chaitanya took off His own garment, the top piece of His sannyasa dress, to clean the temple with it. Srila Prabhupada remarks that this shows how serious He was to clean—that He even used His own cloth to mop the rooms and polish the Lord’s throne. And Sri Caitanya-caritamrta says that in the end the temple was so clean and pure and cool and pleasing that it was just like the pure mind of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself—and the minds of the devotees were similarly purified.

Srila Prabhupada has commented that if you clean the temple, you clean your heart; if you polish the Deity’s paraphernalia, you polish your heart. And the activity of cleansing the Gundica temple is taken as not only a process for cleaning a temple complex, but also as a metaphor for how we should go about cleaning our own hearts. The temple was cleansed to make it a fit place for the Lord to reside. Similarly, each of us has to clean his or her heart to make it a fit place for the Lord. Of course, the Lord always resides in the hearts of the living entities (isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati), but we want our hearts to be worthy places for Him to stay and enjoy His pastimes.

Srila Prabhupada has discussed elaborately, with reference to his own spiritual master’s comments, how the cleansing of the Gundica temple is a metaphor for cleaning the heart. We read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Twelve, “The Cleansing of the Gundica Temple”:

TEXT 135

ei-mata puradvara-age patha yata
sakala sodhila, taha ke varnibe kata

TRANSLATION

Outside the gateway of the temple, all the roads were also cleansed, and no one could tell exactly how this was done.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

In commenting on the cleansing of the Gundica temple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as the world leader, was personally giving instructions on how one should receive Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, within one’s cleansed and pacified heart. If one wants to see Krsna seated in his heart, he must first cleanse the heart, as prescribed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastaka: ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc Antya 20.12]. In this age, everyone’s heart is especially unclean, as confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam: hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani. To wash away all dirty things accumulated within the heart, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. The first result will be that the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17) confirms this statement:

srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
  punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
  vidhunoti suhrt satam

 “Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.”

“If a devotee at all wants to cleanse his heart, he must chant and hear the glories of the Lord, Sri Krsna (srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah). This is a simple process. Krsna Himself will help cleanse the heart, because He is already seated there. Krsna wants to continue living within the heart, and the Lord wants to give directions, but one has to keep his heart as clean as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu kept the Gundica temple. The devotee therefore has to cleanse his heart just as the Lord cleansed the Gundica temple. In this way one can be pacified and enriched in devotional service. If the heart is filled with straw, grains of sand, weeds, or dust (in other words, anyabhilasa-purna), one cannot enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there. The heart must be cleansed of all material motives brought about through fruitive work, speculative knowledge, the mystic yoga system, and so many other forms of so-called meditation. The heart must be cleansed without ulterior motive. As Srila Rupa Gosvami says, anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam [Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11]. In other words, there should not be any external motive. One should not attempt material upliftment, understanding the Supreme by speculative knowledge, fruitive activity, severe austerity and penance, and so on. All these activities are against the natural growth of spontaneous love of Godhead. As soon as these are present within the heart, the heart should be understood to be unclean and therefore unfit to serve as Krsna’s sitting place. We cannot perceive the Lord’s presence in our hearts unless our hearts are cleansed.”

We have just read the general part of the purport; the rest contains a detailed analysis of the specific types of dirt that may sully the heart and which we must detect and remove. But the main process by which the heart is cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam) is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord (sri-krsna-sankirtanam). And the chanting should be done in a proper mood, in the mood to cleanse the heart and purify it of material desires. A material desire is a desire for anything other than to serve and please Krsna. Any other desire should be thrown out. But to throw out these other desires, we require a process, and the process is hearing and chanting about Krsna. Although material desires are there, we should have the intention to remove them. In other words, it is not an offense to have material attachments; it is an offense to maintain them. Although attachments are there, as devotees we have the intent to free ourselves from them, and we adopt the method by which we can be freed: hearing and chanting about Krishna (srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah).

If we are sincere in our intention, the Lord within the heart will help us. He is suhrt satam, the well-wishing friend of, as Srila Prabhupada says, “the truthful devotee.” Sat means “truth,” and the truthful devotee is without duplicity. He chants and hears with a sincere intention to cleanse the heart and make it fit for the Lord. He has no duplicity. He does not make a show of being a devotee in order to achieve some selfish purpose—to get money or followers or adoration or anything else for himself. He does not make a show of being a devotee for some material profit, but he sincerely tries to cleanse the heart, and he works hard at it. We read in the description of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees just how hard they worked. They did a lot of cleaning—a lot of sweeping out dust and dirt and sand and straw and of carrying and throwing water.

When we first come to associate with devotees and hear their instructions and read Srila Prabhupada’s books and develop faith in the process of pure devotional service to Krishna (uttama-bhakti), we may have many bad habits. Nowadays almost everyone has bad habits—even in India. And the main sinful activities, the pillars of sinful life, are eating meat, fish, and eggs, taking intoxicants, engaging in illicit sex, and gambling. So we have to give those up. And we do.

But even after following the standard practices of devotional service, there may be subtle contaminations in the heart that we also have to cleanse. And so, in the pastime of cleaning the Gundica temple, Lord Chaitanya cleaned it a second time so that the finer pieces of dust and sand missed the first time were finally removed. In the same way, we may have bad habits, attachments to gross sinful activities, that we have to work hard to overcome; and we may actually become free from them. But even then, there may be more subtle bad habits with which we must contend.

Let us take the case of a new person who first begins to associate with the temple activities. He will come to the Sunday feast, to various festivals, and take prasada, hear, chant, and start to work on his bad habits. He will want to become like the other devotees, a serious practitioner. He will work on his gross bad habits, and he will give up smoking, drinking, eating meat, and associating with women in an irreligious way. Eventually he will be ready to move into the temple and live with the devotees, chanting sixteen rounds, following the regulative principles, and attending the temple programs. But then his authority will say, “It is very nice that you are staying with us and engaging in the practices of Krishna consciousness, but you should also develop a healthy service attitude. I notice that at the Sunday feast you are very eager to sit and take prasada but that after the feast, when it is time to clean up, you are nowhere to be found. You must also develop a proper service attitude.” The devotee will take the instructions to heart, and then after the Sunday feasts he will always be there, ready to clean. And he will be very energetic and enthusiastic in his work.

But then his authority may notice something else—that he is cleaning but making a big show of it. He wants others to see him so he will get recognition and honor and praise. So the authority will say, “Prabhuji, it is very good that now you are staying after the feast to clean up, but we see that you do it in such a way as to call attention to yourself, so that people will see that you are working hard and give you recognition and praise for being such a good devotee. You have to work on that.”

As we progress in devotional service, we find more and more subtle contamination, and we have to keep cleaning. Lord Chaitanya, after that tremendous effort in cleaning the temple the first time, cleaned the temple a second time, to take out the finer dirt. So we have to constantly be cleaning, because until we are completely liberated there is always some contamination that we must purify. We progress through the different stages—sraddha, sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya—but there are taints that remain all the way up to the stage of bhava. Of course, the disturbance is much less after anartha-nivrtti—much less— but still it is there, and we have to keep chanting and hearing.

In His instructions to Srila Rupa Gosvami, Lord Chaitanya used the metaphor of the seed of devotional service, the bhakti-lata-bija. He said that after you receive the seed you must become a gardener and plant the seed and water it by hearing and chanting, and you have to make sure that no weeds grow up alongside the creeper, because if weeds come they will drink the water meant for the plant, and they may become so strong that they can actually choke the creeper of devotion. Sri Chaitanya further instructed that you have to surround the creeper with a fence, so that no mad elephant can enter. If a maddened elephant enters a garden, it can trample and uproot all the plants, and then all the effort put into carefully cultivating the garden will be lost.

The weeds are the material desires in the heart. We have to remove the weeds so that the creeper of devotion can flourish—and ultimately attain shelter under the lotus feet of the Lord. And the mad elephant is vaisnava-aparadha, offenses against devotees, which destroy everything, all of our spiritual progress. And the fence that we construct around the creeper to protect it is the circle of pure devotees. We have to stay within the circle of pure devotees.

We find the same process in the cleansing of the Gundica temple. Not only did Chaitanya Mahaprabhu clean the temple twice, but He also cleaned the roads outside the temple, so that no new dust would enter. In other words, we must act to keep maya—bad association—at a distance. Otherwise, even though we have received the bhakti-lata-bhija, the seed of pure devotion, and planted it and watered it by hearing and chanting, there is still a chance that weeds will come and grow and make the creeper weak. Then, through bad association in a weakened state, if we commit vaisnava-aparadha, everything will be spoiled.

The weeds are material desires, and there are many varieties. The Caitanya-caritamrta discusses some of the different kinds of weeds, and we have to be able to identify them. Lord Chaitanya states that the weeds may look just like the creeper, and we must recognize them and keep them apart from the creeper. Thus the discussion of the different types of weeds—the different types of dirt—is important. We must be able to distinguish pure devotional service from mixed service and from other processes altogether. And because we are conditioned and our consciousness is not completely cleansed, we may not be able to see things clearly, and we may make mistakes—we may take a weed for the creeper. But actually, the weed is unwanted; we want only pure devotion. Artha means some desirable gain, and anartha means the opposite: something that is undesirable, or unwanted.

Under all circumstances, we must continue the process of hearing and chanting—the process of cleansing the heart—which in Lord Chaitanya’s discussion with Rupa Gosvami is compared to watering. Lord Chaitanya informs us that if we water the seed it will sprout and become a creeper that grows stronger and stronger and taller and taller, until it pierces the coverings of the universe, penetrates the impersonal Brahman effulgence, and ultimately attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna—because every creeper needs shelter, and the shelter for the creeper of pure devotion is the lotus feet of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructs that even after the creeper attains ultimate shelter in the spiritual world, Goloka Vrindavan, still one must continue the process of watering, the process of hearing and chanting. Thus we learn that even while living in the material world, by one’s consciousness, by one’s devotion, one can be in the spiritual world. That is a very advanced stage, but it is possible that even while living in the material world one can reach the lotus feet of Krishna in Vrindavan. And we further learn that even after attaining that exalted position, one continues the process of hearing and chanting. One never stops. Therefore Srila Prabhupada often said that in Krishna consciousness the means and the end are the same. The means is hearing and chanting about Krishna (sravanam kirtanam visnoh) and serving Him, and the end is also hearing and chanting about Krishna—and serving Him with love. It is not that we adopt the means of hearing and chanting to achieve some end and then when the goal is reached we abandon the process. The whole process is eternal.

The service of the spiritual master is also eternal. It continues even after liberation, even in the spiritual world. Once, Srila Prabhupada was walking with some disciples in Mayapur and they came to an embankment. One of the disciples climbed up on the embankment and then reached out his hand to help Prabhupada climb up and walk over it. But when Prabhupada got to the top he abruptly withdrew his hand from the hand of that disciple and just walked ahead, completely ignoring the disciple. Then Prabhupada said, “That is what the Mayavadis do. They take help from the spiritual master to become liberated, and then when they think they are liberated, they think they don’t need the guru anymore.” One may think that he needs to hear and chant to attain liberation—which is true—and that he needs to serve the instructions of the guru to become liberated—which is also true—but that when he is liberated he will stop hearing and chanting and the entire process of devotional service. But it doesn’t work like that. In fact, the process is such that the devotee wants to hear and chant more and more—and all the more after liberation.

Srila Prabhupada remarked, “When you are completely liberated (paramahamsa), you can do anything and you won’t be affected by it.” So a disciple said to Srila Prabhupada, “Well, then when we are liberated we can have sex and it won’t affect us.” Then Prabhupada told a story. A king liked to ride in a boat along the bank of a river. He liked to stay near the riverbank, and he engaged a servant on the bank who would pull the boat, sometimes dragging it through the reeds and other plants and things that might come in the way. The king became so pleased with this humble, attentive service that he offered, “Now you can ask from me whatever you want.” The servant replied, “I would like to have cushions along the riverbank, so when I pull the boat I will have a soft surface under my feet.” This, of course, was a foolish request, because the man didn’t have to pull the boat anymore. He could have had anything, but he was so used to thinking in terms of pulling the boat that he asked for a facility to pull the boat. So the disciple who said, “Wow, when we are liberated we can have sex,” had such a limited (and base) conception of happiness that he could think of nothing beyond material sense gratification—like the boatman could think of nothing beyond pulling the boat. That disciple hadn’t realized that there is another, higher standard of pleasure in Krishna consciousness. Thus Srila Prabhupada concluded, “When you are liberated, you will relish a spiritual pleasure that far exceeds any pleasure of this material world, and you will no longer care to experience sex life.” In other words, when we are liberated we will relish that pleasure of hearing and chanting about Krishna and remembering and serving Him even more.

Bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya: bhakti comes from bhakti. The means and the end are the same. The means is chanting and the end is chanting. The means is bhakti, sadhana-bhakti, and the end is bhakti, prema-bhakti. It is not that we adopt the means to achieve some end and then when we reach the goal we abandon the means. Bhakti means to serve Krishna, and the whole process of devotional service, the whole process of sadhana-bhakti, is meant to purify the service. We do not want to give up the service. We want to please Krishna, and we want to purify our service so we can please Krishna more. We want to purify it more and more so we can please Krishna more and more, and the desire to serve and please Krishna never ends. It just increases. And so our effort to serve Krishna better ever increases, and it continues even in the spiritual world. There are no anarthas then—only pure bhakti, and pure pleasure.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as the acharya, showed us through the example of cleaning the Gundica temple how to clean the heart and make it a fit place for the Lord to reside. The Lord is already there, but because of the material contamination, we cannot fully appreciate His presence. We can’t see Him, and we have difficulty hearing Him. But He is there, and He wants to reciprocate with us. He wants to give us direction from within. But to be able to receive His direction, we have to cleanse the heart (ceto-darpana-marjanam), to remove the contamination. Then we will see that He is there—and He will speak with us.

Once, a devotee told Srila Prabhupada that some people say that God instructs them from within and that therefore they don’t need a guru. Srila Prabhupada replied, “God will talk with him? What is the condition? That is stated:

 tesam satata-yuktanam
  bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
  yena mam upayanti te

‘To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.’ (Gita 10.10) So first of all see whether he’s twenty-four hours engaged in God’s service with love and faith. Then you can understand, ‘Yes, God is talking with him.’ But if he has no preliminary qualification and if he says, ‘I can talk with God,’ he is a nonsense. God talks with devotees, sincere devotees who are engaged in God’s service.”

Prabhupada continued, “And the person who is constantly engaged in God’s service, unless he’s trained up by a spiritual master, how can he be engaged? Without a spiritual master, one cannot be engaged in devotional service, and without devotional service, nobody is eligible to talk with God.”

So Krishna can talk to us—and He wants to talk to us—but we have to be qualified. We have to cleanse the heart so that He will talk to us, to give us direction and guidance. And so we have to be constantly engaged in His service, beginning with chanting and hearing and remembering. That process will cleanse the heart and make it a fit place for the Lord to reside, and create the condition in which the Lord can guide us—back home, back to Godhead—to the ultimate shelter of His lotus feet in Vrindavan.

Hare Krishna. Are there any questions or comments?

Dharma dasa: When I first started to try to perform devotional service, it seemed easier, and things came easier. It seemed to feel better, or the atmosphere seemed better. Then it seemed that as time went on, it got harder. You would think it would get easier, but instead it seemed to get more difficult. The same level of feeling that I had before doesn’t seem to be there. Is that because the anarthas are coming out? Is it because weeds are growing and we are watering the weeds and that is inhibiting our receptiveness or our feeling?

Giriraj Swami: Dharma Prabhu has asked a very good question, that in the beginning, when we first come to the association of devotees, we seem to relish Krishna consciousness more, and it seems so easy and natural, and then later we don’t relish as much and the process seems more difficult. Is it because of anarthas that were there that are coming to light, or is it because we have cultivated weeds along with the creeper?

The answer could be either—or both. But one thing is that when we first come to the association of devotees, we tend to have great respect for them. When I first joined I thought all the devotees in the temple were very advanced. I took them as pure devotees. That attitude of respect and appreciation for devotees is very congenial for spiritual advancement. But then, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You get to know them better, and you see things in them that you didn’t see before. And you see the things as faults, and you get disturbed. Eventually, you may even think, “If this is what being a devotee means, I don’t know if I want to be a devotee.” Of course, that is common to all traditions and groups. Christians have told me that they say the same thing: “If this is what being a Christian means, I don’t want to be a Christian.”

The process of finding faults in devotees and becoming absorbed in the faults—whether they are real or not—is very harmful for spiritual life. It creates a serious disturbance in the heart. And when we are disturbed, we can’t chant and hear and remember properly—so no relish.

But the other is also possible, that there were anarthas of which we were unaware and that through the process of purification we become conscious of them. Our godbrother His Holiness Sacinandana Swami discussed with me once that we tend to have a linear conception of progress in Krishna consciousness. We think that we start here and go straight there and end up at the lotus feet of Krishna in Vrindavan. He told me that he has a dear friend who is a Christian priest or monk, who said that within their tradition they see progress not as a straight line but as a spiral. You are going forward, but in the process there are ups and downs. And it is not as easy as we might have imagined.

Maharaja gave the example that you are walking on the path back to Godhead, chanting your rounds and enjoying the journey, and suddenly you come to a fork in the road. Now, you didn’t know there would be a fork, and you don’t know which way to go. You have to consider, “Should I go to the left or to the right?” Anyway, you make a decision, and you go on chanting, and then suddenly there is a landslide. Boulders and rocks cascade down the mountain, and suddenly you find yourself buried. “Oh my God! How did I get into this position?” With great diligence and effort and care you have to remove all those rocks and stones, and you have to get out from under them. “Oh boy, thank God!” You walk a little further, and you are chanting, and then suddenly the natives who had been hiding in the bushes come out to attack with arrows and spears. “Oh my God. I didn’t know they were going to be here.” And then you have to retreat. You have to find some shelter. You have to get some weapon. You have to defend yourself from the attacks. So you are making progress, but things happen along the way that you didn’t expect.

In the early days, devotees would chant down the street and call out, “We’re going back home, back to Godhead! Going back home, back to Godhead!” The idea was, “Just join us, chant with us, be happy—and you will go back to Godhead.” And that is true. But there may be obstacles along the way. And depending on our purity, depending on our diligence and vigilance in our practice, it may be more or less difficult to overcome them. But there will be ups and downs, and in the end we will be successful—as long as we remain faithful in our practice of pure devotional service. It is like climbing a mountain: Your goal is to reach the top of Mount Everest, but there are so many peaks and valleys along the way. So you go up, and you come down, and you go up . . . but the general trend is you are going up, and finally you will reach the top—you will reach the goal.

So under all circumstances, we have to keep association with pure devotees. The association of pure devotees will help us in any condition. There is a verse in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta that states that the association of devotees is the root cause of devotional service (mula haya) and that even after one develops love for Krishna, the association of devotees is still essential.

krsna-bhakti-janma-mula haya ‘sadhu-sanga’
krsna-prema janme, tenho punah mukhya anga

“The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees. Even when one’s dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees is still most essential.” (Cc Madhya 22.83)

The association of pure devotees is a constant factor. If we stay in the association of more advanced devotees, we will continue to be associated with the process of hearing and chanting, the process of devotional service, and that will see us through whatever may happen, and we will reach the final goal. And even in the spiritual world, in Goloka Vrindavan, we will be in the association of pure devotees. And we will be hearing and chanting about Krishna.

Hare Krishna.

Nityananda dasa: One thing that I personally feel encouraged by . . .  I feel the way Dharma felt, that there are times when you feel discouraged in your Krishna consciousness. In my case, I have found that when I do preaching and reach out to people and see the excitement in them . . . because when I first joined there was real excitement. There is no doubt about it. I was ecstatic. I could see my hairs were standing on end. I didn’t know anything about the process, but it excited me because I saw an opportunity, a great opportunity that was well beyond me, something that I was going to get that I didn’t deserve. It was going to be really great, and I was ecstatically looking forward to it.

And then engaging in it, you find the difficulties that you have to cross over. And they become distractions, but then when we preach we find that others are getting so much excitement and we realize that it is simply because we are losing sight of the opportunity that we lose our enthusiasm. But when we see the opportunity clearly in front of our eyes every day as we walk . . . Like it is said, the process is ever fresh; every time you should see something new. If I walk into this temple, it is not like I should see the same things I saw the last time I came. I notice something new whenever I see the Deities. I feel They look more beautiful than ever. I have never seen Them so beautiful. Whoever dressed Them this morning must have love, and They are so loving in showing us such wonderful forms. Like that, we feel this ever-freshness in what we are doing. And I notice that in my case it is the preaching that helps me keep that. It is like Srila Prabhupada said: “Preaching is life.” If you feel alive, then you preach. That is our process. And if we do that, we may find that it helps us the most.

Giriraj Swami: Excellent. Nityananda Prabhu says that when he joined he had the same experience as Dharma Prabhu: everything was so full of life; everything was fresh and exciting. As Srila Prabhupada says in a purport to the Bhagavad-gita, “One enjoys life with a thrill at every moment.” And then, after a while, one has difficulties, and you don’t feel the same. But the one thing that Nityananda Prabhu does that really keeps him enlivened and enthusiastic is preach, because when you meet people in the world and you see how they are suffering, how they are looking for something, and then when you give them Krishna consciousness and you see how they respond—that they feel they are getting what they were looking for—in that dynamic there is great encouragement, great enlivenment, and then everything is fresh.

Of course, the experience of preaching is always fresh because there is no stereotyped way to preach. You can’t do it mechanically, because you are dealing with another person, an individual. You might think that you know what to say, but the person may respond in an unexpected way, and then you have to respond. So you have to be alive and alert and conscious. You can’t be like these telephone operators who are scripted to say, “Is there anything else I can do for you today, sir? Well, have a good day.” Rtadhvaja Swami has a joke, just to get them out of their scripted mentality. When they say, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” he may respond, “Well, I need someone to wash my clothes.” When you preach, it can’t be scripted. There can be some basic idea of how to introduce the topic, but once you start to interact with people, you have to be prepared for any reaction, and then you have to respond. So you have to be alive. You have to be alert. You have to be conscious—Krishna conscious.

Once, Srila Prabhupada said in a lecture, “Preaching is the best way to be Krishna conscious, because when you preach, people will ask questions, and to answer, you will have to think of Krishna.” So you have to be Krishna conscious. Nityananda Prabhu has given the best answer: one who has life will preach, and conversely, one who preaches will have life. Thank you, Nityananda Prabhu, for that answer, and thank you, Dharma Prabhu, for your question—perfect question, perfect answer.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on April 28, 2007, in Dallas]

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Mukunda Datta Das Translates Classic Works of the Acaryas for the BBT
→ ISKCON News

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is filled with extraordinary devotees continuing Srila Prabhupada’s legacy and bringing us the works of the acaryas. Translator Mukunda Datta Das is now working on the Sat-Sandarbhas and Bhakti-Rasamrita Sindhu.

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“My memories with Srila Prabhupada”
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“My memories with Srila Prabhupada” by Mahamaya Devi Dasi (15 min video)
Srila Prabhupada’s secretary, one of the first Mayapur western resident, mother, wife of a devotee. Her memories about the life of Srila Prabhupada in Mayapur, her service to him and other devotees here.

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A humble request to my listeners
→ SivaramaSwami.com

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Indradyumna Swami’s 2018 Polish Festival tour begins
→ SivaramaSwami.com

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