Passive Income Strategy
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The opportunity to learn the passive income strategy I am about to share with you will close in just a couple of days. After that you will not be able to join until at least late November. So please listen carefully and check this out soon. Contact me if you have any questions As you […]

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ISKCON Scarborough – "The Brahmana’s wives Blessed" – Class by HH Sundar Chaitanya Goswami Maharaj – 26th Sep 2021 from 11 am to 12 noon EST
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Hare Krishna!

Please accept our humble obeisances!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Date: 26th Sep 2021

Day: Sunday

Time:11 am to 12 noon

Speaker: HH Sundar Chaitanya Goswami Maharaj

Topic: "The Brahmana's wives Blessed"

Link to join the class from your desktop or laptop:

HH Sundar Chaitanya Goswami Maharaj

His Holiness Sundara Chaitanya Goswami Maharaj is an international motivational speaker, leadership trainer and a renowned youth preacher. He specializes in spiriting and empowering people to realize their true selves. As a keynote speaker, thousands of people have discovered a new light from his energetic workshops worldwide.

He is basically from Mauritius where he came in contact with ISKCON in 1982. In 1986 Maharaj joined the Brahmachari ashram dedicated his life to the mission. From 1988 - 1992 He served as a sankirtan leader in Mauritius.

Maharaj has  served as temple president in Mauritius and in Nagpur, India for several years.

He travels to many countries and is very active in preaching in Aravade, Noida, Delhi, Europe ( Italy, England, France, Belgium), South Africa, Reunion Island.

Last year we had the opportunity to have his association in Toronto and Scarborough temple.

He has Managed inter- faith events, bringing together the communities of different religious faiths in order to strengthen their faith and belief in God together. He has opened ISKCON preaching centers all over the world

Maharaj Sundara Chaitanya Goswami is popular for his outstanding lectures and seminars about the philosophy of Krishna consciousness with the expert hand in Bhajan & Kirtans.

He has been instrumental in providing the teachings of Vedic scriptures, the Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-Gita. For the past few years and at present - Maharaj is a lecturer at the Vaishnav institute of higher education in Sri Vrindavan dhaam, India.

He has also been an inspirational coordinator to various international level festivals in Mauritius. He has managed the famous 3 days rath yatra festival in Mauritius which is attended by thousands of guests.

ISKCON Scarborough

3500 McNicoll Avenue, Unit #3,

Scarborough, Ontario,

Canada, M1V4C7



Indira Ekadasi and the TOVP 2021

Ekadasi is the 11th day of the lunar phase of the Moon. Indira Ekadasi is celebrated in the Krishna Paksha (waning Moon phase) in the month of Ashwin (September–October). Since this Ekadasi falls on the Pitru Paksha (15 days in the month of Ashwin dedicated to ancestors), it is also known as ‘Ekadasi Shraddh.’ This is widely celebrated in Northern India to pay rituals to ancestors.

It’s recommended to chant extra rounds and stay up all night chanting and hearing the Lord’s glories. It is also auspicious to donate to Vaishnavas and Lord Krishna’s service on Ekadasi and we invite our readers to consider this Indira Ekadasi to donate towards either the new Pankajanghri Das Seva Campaign to complete Lord Nrsimha’s Wing in the TOVP, or sponsor an abhisheka for the Welcome Ceremony of Srila Prabhupada’s new murti to the TOVP in October. You can also make a pledge payment towards your TOVP donation pledge.

  NOTE: Indira Ekadasi is observed on Saturday, October 2nd.

Below are links to both campaign pages and to make a pledge payment on the TOVP website:

Prabhupada Murti Abhisheka and Welcome Ceremony
Pankajanghri Das Seva
Pledge Payments (Pledge Payments for Indian residents)

The Glories of Indira Ekadasi

From Brahma-vaivarta Purana

Yudhishthira Maharaj said, “Oh Madhusudana, killer of the Madhu demon, what is the name of the Ekadasi that occurs during the dark fortnight (krishna paksha) of the month of Ashwin (September-October)? Please describe its glories to me.”

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna then replied, “This holy day is called Indira Ekadasi. If a person fasts on this day, all his sins are eradicated and his forefathers who have fallen into hell are liberated. Oh best of kings, one who simply hears about this sacred Ekadasi achieves the great merit earned by performing a horse sacrifice.

“In the Satya-yuga there lived a king named Indrasena who was so powerful that he destroyed all his enemies. His kingdom was called Mahishmati-puri. The glorious and highly religious King Indrasena took good care of his subjects, and therefore he was rich in gold, grains, sons, and grandsons. He was greatly devoted to Lord Sri Vishnu as well. He especially enjoyed chanting My name, calling out ‘Govinda! Govinda!’. In this way King Indrasena systematically dedicated himself to pure spiritual life and spent much time meditating on the Absolute Truth.

“One day, as King Indrasena happily and peacefully presided over his assembly, the perfect orator, Sri Narada Muni, was seen descending. White as a conch, shining like the moon, like a jasmine flower, like a lightning bolt, Narada Muni descended from the sky. He was decorated with matted locks of reddish hair. The king offered Devarishi Narada, the saint among the devas, great respect by greeting him with joined palms, inviting him into the palace, offering him a comfortable seat, washing his feet, and speaking sweat words of welcome. Then Narada Muni said to Maharaj Indrasena, ‘Oh king, are the seven limbs of your kingdom prospering?’

“The seven limbs of a king’s domain being; the king’s well-being himself, his ministers, his treasury, his military forces, his allies, the brahmanas, the sacrifices performed in his kingdom, and the needs of the king’s subjects. ‘Is your mind absorbed in thinking of how you can properly perform your occupational duty? Are you becoming more and more devoted and dedicated to the service of the Supreme Lord, Sri Vishnu?’

“The king replied, ‘By your kind grace, Oh greatest of sages, everything is quite well. Today, just by your presence all the sacrifices in my kingdom are successful! Please show me mercy and explain the reason for your kind visit here.’

“Sri Narada, the sage among the devas, then said, ‘Oh lion among kings, listen to my astonishing words. When I descended from Brahmaloka to Yamaloka, Lord Yamaraja praised me very graciously and offered me an excellent seat. As I glorified his truthfulness and wonderful service to the Supreme Lord, I noticed your father in Yamaraja’s assembly. Though he had been very religious, because he broke an Ekadasi fast prematurely, he had to go to the Yamaloka. Your father gave me a message for you. He said, “In Mahishmati lives a king named Indrasena. Please tell him about my situation here – that because of my past sinful deeds I have somehow been forced to reside in Yamaraja’s kingdom. Please give him this message from me: ‘Oh son, kindly observe the coming Indira Ekadasi and give much in charity so I can go upward to heaven.’ ”

Philosophically we can understand that every living entity is an individual, and individually everyone has to practice Krishna consciousness to traverse back to home, back to Godhead. As stated in Garuda Purana, someone who is suffering in hell cannot practice Krishna consciousness, because this requires some mental peace, which the reactionary tortures of hell make impossible. If a relative of a sinner suffering in hell gives some charity in the name of the sinner, he can leave hell and enter the heavenly planets. But if the sinner’s relative observes this Ekadasi fast for his suffering kinsman, the kinsman goes directly to the spiritual world, as stated in this narration based on Brahma-vaivarta Purana.

“Narada continued, ‘Just to deliver this message, Oh king, have I come to you. You should help your father by observing the fast of Indira Ekadasi. By the merit you gain, your father will go to heaven.’ “King Indrasena asked, ‘Oh great Naradji, please be merciful and tell me specifically how to observe a fast on Indira Ekadasi, and also tell me during what month and on what day it occurs.’

“Narada Muni replied, ‘Oh king, please listen as I describe to you the full process of observing the Indira Ekadasi.’

  1. This Ekadasi occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin.
  2. On the Dashami tithi, the day before Ekadasi, rise early in the morning, take bath, and then do some service for God with full faith.
  3. At noon, bathe again in running water and then offer oblations to your forefathers with faith and devotion.
  4. Be sure not to eat more than once on this day and at night sleep on the floor.
  5. When you awaken on Ekadasii morning, cleanse your mouth and teeth thoroughly and then with deep devotion for the Lord take this sacred vow: ‘Today I shall fast completely and give up all kinds of sense enjoyment. Oh lotus-eyed Supreme Personality of Godhead, Oh infallible one, please give me shelter at Your lotus feet.’
  6. At noon, stand before the sacred form of the Sri Shaligram Shila and worship Him faithfully, following all the rules and regulations; then offer oblations of ghee into the sacred fire, and tarpana directed to help your forefathers.
  7. Next, feed qualified Brahmins (non-grain prasadam) and offer them some charity according to your means.
  8. Now take the food pindas you offered to your forefathers, smell it, and then offer it to a cow. Next, worship Lord Hrishikesha with incense and flowers, and finally, remain awake all night near the Deity of Lord Sri Keshava.
  9. Early in the morning of the next day, Dvadasi tithi, worship Sri Hari with great devotion and invite Brahmin devotees to a sumptuous feast.
  10. Then feed your relatives, and finally take your meal in silence.
  11. ‘Oh king, if you strictly observe a fast on Indira Ekadasi in this way, with controlled senses, your father will surely be elevated to the abode of Lord Vishnu.’ “After saying this, Devarishi Narada immediately disappeared from the scene to bless someone else with his presence.

    “King Indrasena followed the great saint’s instructions perfectly, observing the fast in the association of his relatives and servants. As he broke his fast on the Dvadasi tithi, flowers fell from the sky. The merit that Indrasena Maharaj earned by observing this fast released his father from the kingdom of Yamaraja and caused him to attain a completely spiritual body. Indeed, Indrasena saw him rising to the abode of Lord Hari on the back of Garuda Vahan. Indrasena himself was able to rule his kingdom without any obstacles, and in time when he handed over the kingdom to his son, he also went to the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha.

    “Oh Yudhishthira, these are the glories of the Indira Ekadasi, which occurs during the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. Whoever hears or reads this narration certainly enjoys life in this world, is freed of all reactions to his past sins, and at the time of death returns home, back to Godhead, where he lives eternally.”

Thus ends the narration of the glories of Ashwin-krishna Ekadasii, or Indira Ekadasi, taken from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.

This article has been used courtesy of ISKCON Desire Tree



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TOVP Book of the Week #21

Life Comes from Life: Morning Walks with A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Morning Walks with A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

In these morning walk conversations along Venice Beach, Los Angeles in the mid-1970’s, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada reveals the Vedic understanding of life, consciousness and evolution.

In fact, both matter and spirit arise from the Supreme Life, Lord Sri Krishna, and evolution is explained in terms of evolution of consciousness, not the physical bodies.

Author: Morning Walks with A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Published: January 1, 1979
Book/File size: 142 pages
Formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Mass Market paperback


  Residents of India will have to search for this book on

  View other books by Ashish Dalela and other authors at the TOVP Book Marketplace.



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My dearmost!
→ KKSBlog

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 14 September 2021, Brisbane, Australia, Online Initiation Ceremony Lecture)

Krsna consciousness should be the first and foremost thing in your life. Krsna is first. A wife can say to her husband, “You are the dearmost person in my life, however, after Krsna”. So let Krsna be number one, let Krsna be the most important, let Krsna be the centre of your life, let Krsna be your everything!

The article " My dearmost! " was published on KKSBlog.

Sunday, September 12, 2021
→ The Walking Monk

Hamilton / Etobicoke

The Richness of Rain and Mantra


I get so much joy from being with the group of Ukrainian/Russian bhakti yogis. Today was about a year ago when Igor opened up his backyard to a host of us for the regular “devotee thing” — chanting, philosophizing, dancing, eating blessed food, etc. This group shows a lot of love and they were most enthusiastic to listen to the topic of “The Ills of Gossip.” It’s subject that resonates with most people. The consensus of people in general is that rumor mongering is one of the worst practices.


What is really terrific about Igor’s backyard is the decent size to accommodate a good number of people. The grass is soft. However, the main highlight is his extraordinary apple trees. These trees stand low, perhaps 8 feet in height but they are yielding monster size fruit. They are a honey crest brand and they are delicious.


Our second visit for the day was Gage Park in Hamilton, another dream space of great grass and fine diverse trees. This is where the annual “Festival of Friends” takes place. People here were also receptive to the sound of the supreme spirit. We had eavesdroppers and they stayed on, getting connected. Mahadeva and Annapurna offered their sweet melodies. Charlotte is also exceptional at leading some of the chanting. Then Billy does this phenomenal job with his own blend of singing.


The rain came and it blessed us as much as it did the park’s green plants. There was a magic about the afternoon. Hamilton has always been a place that’s receptive to the sound of the spirit.


May the Source be with you!

0 km


Saturday, September 11, 2021
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Brampton / High Park

Getting About


“It’s been 20 years since that incident,” remarked Meghan. Of course, she was referring to 9/11 and the Twin Towers of New York. Yes, it was tragic and the mystery behind it is now the more recent JFK conspiracy. We’ve seen enough of these unresolved calamities. Remember Y2K? Covid is also on the list. Was it the wet market or laboratory, or both which are the culprits behind the pandemic?


Enough of that for right now.


Saturdays have, for me, been the time to counteract all the intrigue with mantra power. At Mitra’s home in Brampton, R. Gopinatha and S. Seva assumed priestly duties to a Havan, in honor of her initiation. I gave her the name “Madhumati”. Congrats. She is energetic, artistic and devotional.


After the initiation I was driven to High Park by a nice Bichar (is his name) who is also aspiring for initiation. As most of you know High Park is the venue for chanting to the public. Our ideal Location is at the major entrance and at a Jack Pine tree where, today, we saw two hawks soaring together hunting for squirrels. They just missed one scurrying along the tree’s trunk.


Like last week, people are finding out about our group. They are joining and loving it. It was here that we reminded ourselves of the ill-fated day, 9-11.


Two more visits crowned my day. First, a Bengali family who are all patient in regard to mom’s cancer. Chemotherapy apparently was given to Madurya Lila and she’s doing quite well. Then to Karnala’s Home we had more of the same; lively kirtan.


May the Source be with you!

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Friday, September 10, 2021
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Yorkville, Toronto

Rich In


My Friday was rich in devotional activities. First of all I passed through the whole morning sadhana, a spiritual work-out including chanting, studying, writing, hearing, worship as well as dancing and swaying, without leaning on anything. I delivered a class to our community in Buenos Aires on the importance of the arts as a medium for sharing higher consciousness.


Next, Krishna Chandra recorded my message to our Halifax community for their festival to praise Radha, Krishna’s consort. I hopped onto a conference call with some of our western Canadian communities. I even went to the bank with Hara Kumar to add an additional signing offering to our list. Apparently our donations are doing all right despite the Covid pandemic.


Later I sent emails and dictated letters. I secured a young man, V. Hari, to be our costumes director for our upcoming short film “The Embassy,” a segmental story from the epic Mahabharata. This is a victory.


Chanting at the stairway was sweet. Dwarkanath played his ukulele and did it so fine. I conducted a Gita class by Zoom on the topic of the three different happinesses. The day terminated after signing marriage papers for a couple we married (That was happy).


But my all time, all day favorite activity for my wakeful hours was video recording the boys of the ashram sitting around looking at the book Memories; anecdotes of our guru, Prabhupada. That I relished, capturing them listening to guru pastimes.


May the Source be with you!

1 km


The TOVP Prabhupada Murti

In almost every ISKCON temple and center worldwide, a large or small murti of ISKCON Founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada can be found. The murti is worshiped daily no different from any deity of the Lord, and Srila Prabhupada is thus considered to be personally present to accept our service and bless his devotees and followers. This is in accordance with all guru, sadhu and shastra.

Lord Siva says in the Padma Purana:

aradhananam sarvesam
vishnor aradhanam param
tasmat parataram devi
tadiyanam samarcanam

“Lord Shiva told the goddess Durga, ‘My dear Devi, although the Vedas recommend worship of demigods, the worship of Lord Vishnu is topmost. However, above the worship of Lord Vishnu is the rendering of service to Vaishnavas, who are related to Lord Vishnu.”

It is especially fitting that the Founder-Acharya of our branch of the Gaudiya Vaishnava disciplic succession from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and siksha guru to all its members, be worshiped in such a way. In the Guruvastakam by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the seventh verse is chanted by devotees daily:

saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

“The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. Therefore, I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bona fide representative of Sri Hari (Krsna).”

What many devotees don’t know is, who made most of these marvelous, lifelike deities of Srila Prabhupada that look so real and inspire us daily? The answer is His Grace Sriman Locana das, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who has been making these murtis since even prior to Prabhupada’s disappearance in 1977. Srila Prabhupada himself was highly pleased when he saw his own murti, the first of its kind, made by Locana for the FATE museum in Los Angeles. This unique murti depicting Srila Prabhupada sitting and writing at his Vrindaban Radha Damodar temple desk has a head that moves up and down.

Over the years Locan has continued this dedicated service to all ISKCON temples under all circumstances and challenges in his personal life, making innumerable murtis of His Divine Grace for temples worldwide. And shortly, commemorating Srila Prabhupada’s 125th Appearance Anniversary Year, the TOVP will be unveiling his magnum opus, greatest achievement, in the form of a one-of-a-kind, worship-pose murti of Srila Prabhupada. This murti will sit before his beloved Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Pancha Tattva with eternally folded hands, personifying his statement, “Mayapur is my place of worship”.

On October 14 and 15 Srila Prabhupada will be welcomed to the TOVP in a grand ceremony: Srila Prabhupada Vaibhava Darshan Utsava. His personal presence will inspire and guide us to continue with construction and complete the TOVP as soon as possible as his personal offering to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and our acharyas.

Every ISKCON devotee can participate in this historic and most important occasion by sponsoring one or more of five kinds of abhishekas. This is a befitting gesture and service for one and all as guru dakshina to the jagat guru and Founder-Acharya of ISKCON.

We are grateful to Sriman Locana das for his service to ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada’s mission, and for rendering this remarkable murti of His Divine Grace for the TOVP. Please watch the video produced by Sriman Dayavira das (ACBSP) about the history of the making of Prabhupada murtis in general, and the TOVP Prabhupada murti specifically, by this dedicated disciple and Vaishnava.

Sponsor an abhisheka TODAY at the Welcome Ceremony Abhisheka page of the TOVP website.



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NASN August 2021 – North American Sankirtan Newsletter
→ Dandavats

By Mayapur Sasi dasa

For the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada this report contains the following North American results of book distribution for the month of August 2021. North American Totals, Monthly Temples, Monthly Weekend Warriors. Monthly Top 100 Individuals, Monthly Top 5, Cumulative Countries, Cumulative Temples, Cumulative Top 100 Individuals, Cumulative Top 5 Continue reading "NASN August 2021 – North American Sankirtan Newsletter
→ Dandavats"

Sri Visvarupa-mahotsava
Giriraj Swami

Visvarupa-mahotsava marks the occasion on which Lord Chaitanya’s older brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. And on the same date some four hundred and fifty years later, our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, also accepted sannyasa.

According to Vedic literatures, Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, come in the present age in the role of a devotee. In the previous age, Lord Krishna came in His original feature and spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and at the conclusion He instructed, sarva-dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all other duties and surrender unto Me. But people could not understand or appreciate Lord Krishna’s instruction. So later, about five hundred years ago, Krishna came again, not in His original form but in His devotional form as Lord Chaitanya. And Lord Chaitanya taught us how to serve Krishna, how to worship God in the present age.

Lord Chaitanya taught various methods of worship, but He especially emphasized the chanting of the holy names of God, or Krishna. In particular, He quoted a verse from the Brhan-Naradiya Purana (38.126):

harer nama harer nama
  harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
  nasty eva gatir anyatha

“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krishna. In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual realization.”

He acted like a teacher who shows students how to write the alphabet. The teacher stands in front of the class and writes on the board, “A, B, C, D.” The teacher has no need to practice writing, but he shows by his own example how to form the letters properly. In the same way, God, Krishna, had no need to worship, but to set the example for us, so that we could learn how to worship Him in the best way in the present age, He came as Lord Chaitanya and taught and demonstrated the chanting of the holy names of Krishna.

When Lord Chaitanya appeared, the social and spiritual system called varnashrama-dharma was still prevalent in India. In this system there are four social and four spiritual divisions, all necessary for society to function properly. Although we may not refer to them by the same terms, and although the system has not been developed as systematically and scientifically as in Vedic culture, still, by the arrangement of nature, the divisions still exist. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah: “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me.” (Gita 4.13) So, the four social orders, or broad divisions of occupational duties, are created by Krishna.

The four divisions include, first, the intelligent class, who are teachers and priests, but mainly teachers. Then there is the martial, or administrative, class, who are rulers and warriors; they govern and protect the citizens. There is the vaishya, or productive class, who engage in agriculture—farming and cow protection—and, with any surplus, in trade. And there is the service class, or workers, who perform services to support the other three classes.

When a person hears the description of the different social orders and duties, he or she may be alerted to the possibilities for exploitation and domination of the “lower” classes by the “higher.” But in Vedic society the different members work cooperatively for the common good, ultimately for the pleasure of God. In the physical body there are natural divisions—the head, the arms, the stomach, the legs—and they all have different functions. But they all cooperate for the benefit of the whole. In the social body, the brahmans are compared to the head—they give guidance. The kshatriyas are compared to the arms—they protect the body. The vaishyas are compared to the stomach—they provide food for the body. And the sudras, or workers, are compared to the legs—they carry the rest of the body where it wants to go. There is no question of competition among the different parts of the body—or of exploitation. They all work for the good of the whole.

Apart from the social divisions, there are four spiritual divisions. These are also natural, especially in a culture meant for self-realization and God realization, which Vedic culture is. The first order is the brahmacharis, celibate students. In the traditional system, the brahmachari would study in the ashram of the guru, in the gurukula. He would be trained mainly in principles of good character. And because the main emphasis was on good character and spiritual development, the teachers had to be spiritually qualified.

Here we can see the defect in modern education, where emphasis is given to material knowledge without much consideration of personal character. Now practically no spiritual or moral qualification is required of teachers. They may drink, they may smoke, they may gamble, they may do all sorts of nonsense in their “private” lives, but if they know the subject in a material way, they are considered qualified to teach. But in the Vedic system, because the emphasis was on moral character and spiritual development, the teachers, the brahmans, had to be exemplary. And in addition, they had to know the content of the subjects they taught. The exemplar in the Vedic system was called acharya. Acharya means “one who teaches by example”— not that in the classroom the teacher says, “You should not smoke” but then outside the classroom he or she smokes, or that the teacher says, “You shouldn’t drink” but then outside he or she drinks.

A friend of ours in Bombay was attending an international conference on drug abuse in Delhi. She is a devotee, and she works with a lot of underprivileged people in the slum areas of Bombay. And in her own way, she tries to introduce Krishna consciousness, seeing how, by God’s grace, it can transform people’s lives, how people who were addicted to drugs can give them up with the spiritual strength gained by chanting and other practices. So, she went to the conference, and during the evenings her colleagues would get together and have parties and drink and smoke and take drugs. Then, during the day, they would meet to discuss what to do about the problem of substance abuse. Socially, she would be with them. After all, they were her friends and colleagues, but when she would attend their parties, they would insist, “Why don’t you have a drink? Have a smoke. Have this, have that.” And she would always refuse.

One night, their party was busted by the police. The only one of them of good character, of spotless character, was our friend, the devotee. Her colleagues knew that her word would be accepted, because she was strict in her habits, so they appealed to her to make up a story that they were conducting an experiment, doing research, on taking drugs. Whatever happened in the end, the point I am making is that in Vedic culture the teachers were supposed to be exemplary. Their character was considered one of their main qualifications as teachers.

So, the first order is brahmachari—celibate students living in the ashram of the guru, the spiritual preceptor. The second order is grihastha—married, or household, life. At the age of twenty or twenty-five, the young man could choose to enter the grihastha-ashrama. At such a time he would take permission from the guru to leave the gurukula, and there would be a ceremony comparable to today’s graduation. The young man would leave and go out into the world, bringing with him all the principles of moral character and spiritual development that he had learned in the ashram of the guru.

Then, after living in the grihastha-ashrama, having children and providing for their future, the husband and wife would enter the vanaprastha-ashrama, retired life. They would retire, not to while away their time in idle pursuits and reminiscences, but to realize God. Of course, there is no harm in reminiscing sometimes, but they had a positive engagement, and their positive engagement was spiritual perfection.

The first instruction of the Bhagavad-gita is:

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
  kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
  dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” (Gita 2.13) In other words, the soul is distinct from the body.

Later in the Gita Krishna says that He has two energies: the superior energy, or para-prakrti, which is spiritual, and the inferior energy, or apara-prakrti, which is material.

bhumir apo ’nalo vayuh
  kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
  bhinna prakrtir astadha

apareyam itas tv anyam
  prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho
  yayedam dharyate jagat

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies. Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.” (Gita 7.4–5) The spiritual energy is conscious and eternal, whereas the material energy is unconscious and temporary. This physical body is made of the eight material elements, inferior energy, but the soul within the body is made of the superior, spiritual energy.

The soul continues to live after the death of the body. In one sense there is no death of the body, because the body is always dead. It is just a machine, and the soul is the driver of the machine who makes the machine work. When the soul is in the body, the body appears to be alive. When the soul leaves the body, we declare that the body is dead, because the soul has left. Now, someone might argue that the soul, or life, is created by a particular chemical combination, that when the chemicals or atoms and molecules combine in a certain way, life is produced. But if that were the case, death would merely be a breakdown in the chemical combination. If life were created by a certain combination of chemicals, then death would mean that the combination had broken down, and the implication would be that if we restored the combination, the person would come back to life. A car is a combination of material elements. The car may break down, but if you keep replacing the material elements, the car will work again. Even if the car is from 1900, if you replace the engine, replace the carburetor, replace the steering wheel—whatever the parts are—if you keep replacing them, it will work again. Yet although people have tried to become immortal since the beginning of time, they have never succeeded in bringing a dead person back to life, because life is not a combination of material elements. Life is the quality of the spiritual soul, the superior energy of the Lord. Once the spiritual soul leaves the body, we can do nothing to bring the body back to life, because the living force has left.

So the question is, “What happens to the living force when it leaves the body? What happens to the soul?” According to the Bhagavad-gita, the soul, depending on its activities, or karma, will enter a particular type of body. If the car breaks down and is not worth fixing, the driver will get another car. What kind of car he gets will depend on how much he can afford. If the person has been earning and saving, he can get a luxury car. If the person has been working but not earning so much, or has not been saving, or not that much, he might get an ordinary car. If the person has been irresponsible or is unemployed, he might not be able to afford a car at all. He might have to get a motorcycle or a scooter or a bicycle, or he may just have to walk. In the same way, the body we get in the next life will depend on how we conduct ourselves in the present life. If we are responsible and follow a disciplined, moral, spiritual life, we will get a better body. In fact, if we are fully self-realized, or God-realized, fully surrendered to God, we can get a spiritual body and go to the spiritual world and live with God in the spiritual kingdom. Otherwise, if we are not perfect but are good, we will get a good material body in the material world; we will take birth on a higher planet—on a heavenly planet—or on earth in a better situation, with better opportunities for education; we may be born with more intelligence, with more opulence, with better looks, and so on. And if we have been negligent in our duties toward God, if we have been immoral or irreligious, we will be born in an unfortunate situation on earth in a human body or even in a lower species of life. Or we may have to take birth on a hellish planet and suffer there for some time.

In the Vedic system, by the time a person reaches the age of fifty or so, he or she should have fulfilled his or her family responsibilities and be free to leave the work and assets to the next generation, to concentrate on spiritual development. Old age is a warning, or a reminder, that one will have to leave the body, and so one will consider, “How can I use my time to reach the best destination?” It is as if you are living in a house and you get notice that you have to vacate. Of course, you will continue to take care of the house to some degree, but you will not put all your energy into taking care of a house that you must soon vacate. Rather, you will consider, “Where am I going to move?” That is the guiding principle in Vedic civilization: “Where am I going to go after I leave the present body, this present habitat?”

The best destination one can achieve is the spiritual kingdom of God, and for that one must engage in spiritual practices, especially chanting the holy names of God, by which one will develop love for God. Such practices are common to different religious traditions. Although here we speak on the basis of the Bhagavad-gita, the basis of Vedic knowledge, the principle of chanting God’s name is in practically every tradition, and the principle of praying to God, glorifying God, learning about God from scriptures and teachers, and serving God and His creatures—ultimately to develop love for God—is part of every bona fide religious tradition. As the Bible says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shalt be in thine heart. Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. . . . Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him.” This passage from Deuteronomy (6.5–9, 7.9) pretty well describes the life of devotees. While standing up or lying down or walking on a path—whatever they do and wherever they are—they are conscious of God, and they teach their children the same principle: to be God conscious.

Again, the ideal of singing the name of the Lord or praising the name of the Lord is common to almost every tradition. The Bible, for instance, enjoins us, “Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk yet of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His holy name; let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.” (I Chronicles 16.7–11) But the actual process of chanting, especially chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, is elaborated most scientifically in the Vedic literatures. Srimad-Bhagavatam in particular gives precise and detailed information about God and the process to reach Him. Otherwise, one could question, “If the principles are the same, why did you have to take to Krishna consciousness? Why could you not have just been a good Christian or Jew or whatever?” The answer is that this method, which is called bhakti-yoga, is scientific and practical, and that the knowledge of God given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam is most detailed. To love someone, you must know the person: “To know him is to love him.” To know God is to love Him. Otherwise, we may talk theoretically about loving God, but if we don’t know Him, how can we really love Him?

God in the most complete conception is both male and female: Radha and Krishna. Still, for simplicity’s sake, we often use the masculine pronoun. In any case, we learn about God in detail from the Vedic literatures, especially Srimad-Bhagavatam. As our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, used to say, “Every religion will teach that you should love God, but who is God? The Vedic scriptures tell you His name, His address, His telephone number—all the details—about His family, His friends, His habits, His hobbies, His pastimes.” That is why we have taken to Krishna consciousness: to learn about God and how to reach Him—in detail. Even then, as Srila Prabhupada said, “You don’t have to give up being a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim or whatever; you can add Krishna consciousness and become a better Hindu or a better Christian or a better Jew.” It is not a religion in the sense that you have to convert, like one gives up one faith and accepts another. You can remain whatever you are and add bhakti-yoga. With the physical practices of yoga, hatha-yoga, people don’t mind—they may be Christian or Jewish or Muslim and still practice yoga. So too you can practice bhakti-yoga whatever your faith may be. But this yoga will help you to come closer to God and have direct realization of God.

In varnashrama-dharma, the last stage, after retired life, is called sannyasa, renounced life. Although in retired life the husband and wife may stay together, their aim is God consciousness. They often retire to a holy place to worship and serve God, associating with learned scholars and saintly persons, so that they can come closer to God and be with God in their next life. But in the fourth stage, which is not meant for everyone and is not generally recommended in the present age, the husband and wife do not remain together. Also, although the brahmachari will usually marry and have children, in exceptional cases he may not; he may remain in the brahmachari-ashrama for his entire life, or at some point proceed directly from the brahmachari- to the sannyasa-ashrama. In the renounced order too there are different stages, four stages, but in the present age the recommended process for the renounced order is to spread the message of Godhead—to travel and preach the message of Godhead, and to write articles and books on the science of God.

So, these are the four social and spiritual orders, and from that background we come to today’s occasion: Visvarupa-mahotsava. As mentioned earlier, Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself, and He appeared on earth, as did Krishna, like an ordinary person. Yet although He seemed to take birth like an ordinary person, His birth was not ordinary; it was divine. Just as a dramatic actor might play the part of a family member on stage, so Lord Chaitanya appeared in a particular family on earth. And in the family in which He chose to appear, He had an older brother named Visvarupa (who Himself was an incarnation of Lord Balarama, Krishna’s first expansion).

From the very beginning, Visvarupa was attracted to devotional service to Lord Krishna. As soon as He was old enough, He would go daily to bathe in the Ganges and then proceed to the home of Advaita Acharya to engage in topics of Krishna. He had no interest whatsoever in material life. And so, when He heard that arrangements were being made for His marriage, Visvarupa left home and took sannyasa. At that time, Lord Chaitanya tried to console His aggrieved parents: “My dear mother and father, it is very good that Visvarupa has accepted the sannyasa order, for thus He has delivered both His father’s and His mother’s family.”

As a sannyasi, Visvarupa’s name was Sankararanya Svami. He traveled from one place of pilgrimage to another, throughout the country. Finally, He attained perfection—entered the spiritual world after giving up His mortal body—in Pandarapura, a holy place in Maharashtra. As cited by Srila Prabhupada, the Gaura-candrodaya states that after His departure, Visvarupa remained mixed within Sri Nityananda Prabhu. The date on which Visvarupa took sannyasa is celebrated today as Visvarupa-mahotsava.

Now we come to our spiritual teacher and founder-acharya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He was born in Calcutta in 1896 in a very pious family. He was well educated and attended Scottish Churches’ College, one of the most prestigious colleges in Calcutta. As a young man, he married and had a child, but soon he met a very saintly person, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, and was impressed by him. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta requested that Srila Prabhupada take up the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and spread His message all over the world, specifically in English. From their very first meeting in 1922, Srila Prabhupada accepted Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in his heart as his spiritual master, and eleven years later, in Allahabad, he was formally initiated as Abhay Caranaravinda dasa. Abhay means “fearless” and caranaravinda means “the lotus feet” of Krishna. By taking shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, one becomes fearless—even of death, the most fearful situation in the material world.

Srila Prabhupada always remembered the order of his guru maharaja, and in his household life he began the fortnightly magazine Back to Godhead.  He personally wrote all the articles, got the issues printed, and distributed them. He would go on foot to the teashops in Delhi and approach the customers with his magazine. Later, a friend suggested that magazines might be thrown away but that books would remain forever. And so Srila Prabhupada turned his attention to translating the Bhagavad-gita, and later Srimad-Bhagavatam.

In 1950 Srila Prabhupada retired from family life as a vanaprastha. He traveled to Jhansi and tried to start his guru maharaja’s mission there. He was on the verge of acquiring an ideal property to use as a center, but in the end there was some politics with the governor’s wife and the deal fell through. So he left Jhansi and came to Mathura, a holy place associated with Lord Krishna’s pastimes, to the Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha, where he served in cooperation with one of his godbrothers, His Holiness Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja.

Even in his household life, Srila Prabhupada had dreams in which his guru maharaja was calling him to leave his family and follow him. Srila Prabhupada would wake up and feel horrified: “How can I take sannyasa?” He continued to have the dream, and in Mathura, Kesava Maharaja advised him, “To really preach the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and fulfill Guru Maharaja’s order, you must take sannyasa.” So, on September 17, 1959, on Visvarupa-mahotsava, the same date that Visvarupa, the older brother of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, took sannyasa, Srila Prabhupada accepted the renounced order of life at the Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura. At the end of the ceremony Kesava Maharaja asked him to speak. Although the common language was Hindi, Srila Prabhupada thought of his mission and the order of his guru maharaja, and he spoke in English. Now he was Bhaktivedanta Swami and “completely ready to discharge the order of his spiritual master.”

It is most fortunate for all of us today that Srila Prabhupada did take sannyasa. After he translated Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, in three volumes, he felt ready to travel. Later he would remark, “When I decided to go to foreign countries, I thought of New York. Generally they go to London, but I thought, ‘No, I will go to New York.’ ” He managed to procure free passage in the passenger cabin of a cargo carrier of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, and so he crossed the Atlantic on board the Jaladuta, suffering two heart attacks on the way. Then, in New York, for almost a year, he struggled alone. No one took up his message seriously. He stayed at different people’s places, but he had no place of his own—and almost no money. He felt so discouraged that from time to time he would go to the Scindia office to see when the next boat was departing for India. But—again fortunately for us—he never left.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Visvarupa-mahotsava, September 17, 2005, Carpinteria, California]

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur Appearance
→ Ramai Swami

Sri Sacidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura appeared in 1838 in a wealthy family in the Nadia district, West Bengal. He revealed that he is an eternal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by his extraordinary preaching activities and prolific writing.

Living as a, mahabhagavata Vaisnava, he stayed in the grhasta ashram until the last few years of his life. Then he renounced everything, accepted babaji, and entered samadhi, totally absorbed in the loving service of Gaura-Gadadhara and Radha-Madhava.
 “He had a responsible government position as the District Magistrate (high court judge), maintained a Krishna conscious family, and wrote almost one hundred books on Krishna consciousness. At the same time, he served the Supreme Lord in so many ways. That is the beauty of his life. After a full day of government service he would sleep four hours, get up at midnight and write until morning. That was his daily program.” (Srila Prabhupada)

Biographers list three major preaching achievements of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:
(1) Wrote 100 authorized spiritual books. (2) Discovered appearance place of Lord Caitanya. (3) Introduced preaching innovations. Besides books (in Bengali, Oriya, English) reviving and explaining Mahaprabhu’s message, he wrote hundreds of poems and songs full of spiritual sentiments and sastrie siddhanta (philosophical conclusions). 

Fulfilling a quota
→ KKSBlog

(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 3 May 2021, Simhachalam, Germany, Srimad Bhagavatam 3.19.27)

Sometimes we see that on the ocean there is a big disaster. There is an oil tank that has had a big spill, and then the whole water surface becomes covered by oil. What happens then is that all the animals that are on the surface of the water, like birds, are getting a very bad reaction. But the animals that are deep in the water remain largely unaffected.  It is on the surface that the reaction from the oil spill is happening. Similarly, in the process of bhakti, the kanistha adhikari (the neophyte devotee) stays only on the surface of bhakti and does not go very deep. It is mostly external whereby he is not deeply involved with the process. He chants Hare Krsna but more mechanically for the sake of just fulfilling a quota. And he is reading the books but falling asleep and if at all remembering more in the sense of learning but not in the sense of life changing experience. But for the madhyam-adhikari, reading the books is a life changing experience. At each moment there, his faith is growing. Each moment, he reflects how wonderful this is!

The article " Fulfilling a quota " was published on KKSBlog.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Appearance Day
Giriraj Swami

Today we have gathered for the most auspicious celebration of the appearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was one of the most prominent acharyas in the disciplic succession after Lord Chaitanya, and his contribution to Gaudiya Vaishnavism and to the world is so great that one devotee called him the Seventh Gosvami. Much of the present Krishna consciousness movement founded by Srila Prabhupada is being conducted under the guidance of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and today I will focus on some of the areas in which the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is continuing his work and mission.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was born in an aristocratic, devotional family, but throughout his life he was afflicted by various illnesses. So we shouldn’t think that he had an easy life or that everything just came to him; the tremendous contribution he made was in the face of physically trying conditions. Of course, in a way it did all come naturally, but he really had to face many obstacles, even in terms of his physical health. In this year’s Vyasa-puja book His Grace Kalakantha dasa wrote an offering in which he listed different trials that Srila Prabhupada had faced, and he suggested that Prabhupada had actually suffered. It wasn’t just an appearance of difficulties; he actually suffered. But in spite of the difficulties, he continued. And that is a lesson for all of us. We shouldn’t expect that things will always come easily or go smoothly, and in spite of the difficulties and miseries we should persevere in our efforts in Krishna consciousness.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was appointed to a government position—assistant magistrate—that was practically the highest position that any Indian held during the British rule. The British had the idea to inculcate in the Indians the idea that Indian culture was inferior to the British or Western or Christian culture. So in general they kept the Indians down, but Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was so qualified and so popular that they were obliged to appoint him to a high position.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a grihastha with ten children. But even with all his heavy responsibilities in his government service and as a family man, he still did so much direct service to the cause of Krishna consciousness. He utilized his time expertly. After coming home from work, he would have a light meal and take rest at about eight o’clock, and then he would get up at midnight and write books. He wrote over one hundred books and songs. He made so many contributions. From this we can learn how we can also engage in direct service to the cause of Krishna consciousness even with our many responsibilities of family and work, by efficiently and enthusiastically using our time—every moment possible—for devotional service.

As a magistrate, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was very efficient and would dispose of many cases in short order. Judges are also judged—by how many cases they dispose of and how many of their cases are appealed and how many of their cases are overturned. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had the most outstanding record of any judge or magistrate. He disposed of so many cases so quickly, and people were satisfied with his judgments, and so his decisions were not appealed or overturned.

One famous case involved a yogi who falsely claimed to be an incarnation of Vishnu, or Krishna. He would have an imitation rasa-lila every night, and foolish people were sending their wives and daughters to dance with him. But some more intelligent or sober persons complained to the British government, and the administration, knowing Kedarnath Datta, as Bhaktivinoda Thakura was known then, to be a religious man and also the deputy magistrate, assigned the case to him.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in plain dress and accompanied by some police constables, went to the village where the yogi was engaging in his nefarious activities. “You are a great yogi,” he told the man. “Why are you in this remote rural area? Why don’t you go to Jagannatha Puri and see Lord Jagannatha and be happy?” Upon hearing these words, the yogi’s offensive mentality came out and he said, “Oh, Jagannatha? That is just wood. I myself am the Supreme Lord, Vishnu!”

Bhaktivinoda Thakura could conclude beyond any doubt that the yogi was a pretender, and so he had him arrested and brought to trial. Srila Prabhupada remarked, not specifically in relation to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura but in a more general sense, that the government should oversee the activities of sadhus and people who take the position of guru—that the government should license them. Just like nowadays you can’t just call yourself a doctor and begin to practice medicine; you have to take a course of study and be licensed to practice. If you are going to entrust your body, your medical care, to a doctor, you want to go to a doctor who is licensed. And the body is not as important as the soul. So Srila Prabhupada said that if people entrust their whole lives, their spiritual lives, to some spiritual teacher, the teacher should be tested according to certain standards, which are given in scripture. And if he doesn’t meet the qualifications, he should be declared disqualified.

So, this yogi, Bishkishan, was creating a disturbance with his immoral, illicit activities, and thus Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered him arrested. This is also interesting, because Indian culture is so advanced and evolved that even the demons and rascals can be cultured and knowledgeable. In diplomatic behavior, one first tries reason and logic, good argument, and if that fails, one tries bribery. So, the yogi told Bhaktivinoda Thakura, “If you cooperate with me, I will give you great powers and you will become the king of India.” But that didn’t work; Bhaktivinoda Thakura had him apprehended and taken to Puri.

The yogi threatened Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and all the people associated with him: “If you do this, I will cause you all to become sick, and you will all die.” And the yogi actually did have powers, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his family members all became deathly ill. They had very high fevers, and it looked like they could die. Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s wife appealed to him, “Please let the yogi go. It is not worth the cost of our lives to bring the yogi to justice.” But Bhaktivinoda Thakura replied, “No, let us all die, but this rascal must be punished.”

Eventually the day of the trial came, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura understood that the yogi had conserved his mystic powers in his hair, which Srila Prabhupada said was not entirely uncommon. There is the biblical story of Samson and Delilah: Samson was very powerful, but when his hair was cut he lost his power. Some of the modern yogis also have power in their hair. So, when the trial began, Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered, “Bring a barber to cut his hair.” But no barber dared. The yogi did have mystic powers, and he made threats, and sparks actually came out of his hair, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura personally took the scissors and cut it, and he sentenced the yogi to six months in jail. There, the yogi wrote a note admitting that he had been an imposter, and he managed to get some poison and took his own life. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was so fearless, so courageous, so determined.

Although Bhaktivinoda Thakura was posted in Orissa and was also the superintendent of the Jagannatha temple, his heart hankered to be closer to the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He wanted to be posted in Nadia, but he was rendering such valuable service in the government that they didn’t want to let him go; they didn’t want to grant him a transfer. But his desire was so strong that even though he did have such a responsible and prestigious position and a big family to maintain, eventually he said, “If you don’t transfer me, I am going to give up government service and retire and just go.” So then they posted him in Krishna Nagar, which is near Navadvipa.

From there, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sought to ascertain the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Over time, the Ganges River had changed its course and the landscape, the terrain, had changed, so there was a question as to the birthplace’s location. So he studied maps and consulted local people, and eventually he had a vision of a mound of earth out of which tulasis were growing. And when he went to the place that he believed was the birthplace, the local people confirmed that it was, as did his siksa-guru, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura built a bhajana-kutira in Godrumadvipa at Surabhi-kunja, where four hundred years earlier Lord Nityananda had established the nama-hatta. And he revived the nama-hatta and turned it into a powerful preaching movement in Bengal especially. It was also later revived by Srila Prabhupada and his followers, notably Sripada Jayapataka Swami Maharaja, who spread the nama-hatta in Bengal and Orissa and all over the world.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura built a house near Surabhi-kunja, overlooking the Jalangi River. Devotees go there on parikrama when they go to Navadvipa. You can see his bedroom—his chair, his table, his bed. Next to it is another room, where his son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would sometimes stay. And there is the bhajana-kutira of his disciple, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. It is a very sacred place.

There’s a balcony where he would chant japa, and one day he was looking across the river from the balcony and had a vision of a wonderful temple and a whole community of devotees engaged in the service of Lord Chaitanya—a whole township, a whole city. This temple, adbhuta mandira, was mentioned by Locana dasa Thakura in one of his books, that Lord Nityananda had predicted that there would be an astounding temple rising up in Mayapur, with a whole community of devotees engaged in the service of the Lord.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura wanted to build a temple at the birthplace, and he personally took up a collection. He was such a prestigious person, but he went door-to-door begging people to contribute whatever they could for the construction of the temple. And one of the main newspapers in Calcutta, the Amrita Bazar Patrika, appealed to the citizens that the noble Bhaktivinoda Thakura would be coming and everyone should contribute to the worthy cause. Prabhupada knew Tarun Kanti Gosh and his father, Tushar Kanti Gosh, a prominent Bengali intellectual who published the paper. And Tushar’s father, Shishir Kumar Ghosh, called Bhaktivinoda Thakura the Seventh Gosvami.

So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was so humble that he went door-to-door, and he raised a collection and built the original temple of Lord Chaitanya at His birthplace in Mayapur. As for a whole community of devotees, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s son and, in a way, disciple, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, took up that project. He made a beginning, and you can see some cottages in Mayapur; a few of his disciples built cottages. He himself established the Gaudiya Matha there with brahmacharis and sannyasis.

This project also came through disciplic succession to Srila Prabhupada, and he really wanted to develop the Mayapur city. Certainly more has been done to establish the city than ever before, and it is growing, taking shape. Srila Prabhupada also wanted to build a magnificent temple to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to the Pancha-tattva, in Mayapur.

One year, I was serving in the Calcutta temple and Srila Prabhupada arrived from London and was so enthusiastic about the Mayapur project, the big temple, that in London he had actually drawn a design for what the temple—the first building—would look like. When he arrived in Calcutta he was so enthusiastic that he pulled out the blueprints and was showing everyone. He had worked on them with our dear godbrother Nara Narayan Prabhu. He was so enthusiastic, so excited, and that enthusiasm spread to us.

But then he did something very interesting and instructive. He called a meeting with the senior devotees, and right when everyone was at the peak of their enthusiasm for the project, he raised the question of the flooding in Mayapur, because quite frequently during the rainy season the Ganges floods and the area is submerged under water. So, he was saying that if we built the city there, built the temple there, they could be flooded, and the whole thing could be lost. He questioned whether we should even build the temple and try to establish the city there. Of course, he was Srila Prabhupada—he had so much authority—and on top of that, his logic and his intelligence were so powerful. So, he took that position, and he suggested that we consider alternative locations. He suggested Birnagar, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s birthplace and one of his residences, a very nice place in Bengal, with a very nice atmosphere. So we were convinced, swayed—and then he brought up Mayapur again, and in the end he concluded that we should go ahead and do it in Mayapur. Even though there was a risk, we should go ahead.

The whole exercise illustrated an important principle that Srila Prabhupada often mentioned, that in whatever we do we should be careful and cautious and use our intelligence. He defined intelligence as seeing the same thing from different angles of vision, different points of view. He didn’t want us to just blindly rush forward like, “Now we are going to fulfill Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s prophecy; we are going to fulfill Nityananda Prabhu’s desire.” We are in the material world, and in the material world there are many dangers—padam padam, there is danger at every step—and Prabhupada wanted us to be cautious and careful and to see things from different angles of vision, not just rush ahead based on blind faith or enthusiasm.

Then, at the end of the discussion he had with the devotees, Srila Prabhupada said, “If you all build this temple for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura will personally come and take you all back to Godhead.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura has that power. In fact, before we end we will sing a song by him, Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura, in which he prays to the Vaishnava, “Krishna is yours, and you can give Him to me, for such is your power. So I am running behind you, crying out, ‘Krishna! Krishna!’ ” That is the truth: The Vaishnava possesses Krishna. Krishna comes under the control of the love of the pure devotee, and if the pure devotee is pleased with our service, he can deliver Krishna to us. And that is really how we progress. Yes, we have to make our effort, but ultimately our success depends on the mercy of higher authorities. If we please them by our sincere efforts to serve and follow their instructions, if they are satisfied, they can deliver Krishna to us. So we should submit ourselves at their lotus feet, roll in the dust of their lotus feet, and beg them for their mercy. We have no other hope. Our effort isn’t really what brings success. Our effort is there because we have to make our effort; it is our duty.

I read in His Holiness Radhanath Swami’s memoir The Journey Home that Maharaja was once spending the night with Ramesh Baba in Varsana when there was news that a man-eating leopard was on the prowl and that it had already massacred some cows and villagers. In those days, Varsana—the whole area of Vraja—was much less built up than it is now. Srila Prabhupada’s friend Bhagatji, who had a house near the Krishna-Balarama temple, said that when he had moved to Vrindavan, in the 1930s or so, the forest was so thick that he could walk from Raman Reti to Govardhana Hill in the middle of the day and never see the light of the sun. That was just forty years before Prabhupada began the Krishna-Balarama temple.

So, Ramesh Baba was taking rest outside Mana-ghata and with the leopard nearby, Radhanath Swami thought, “If he is going to stay there, I will stay there with him.” So he lay down, and Ramesh Baba had a wooden stick by his side. When Radhanath Swami asked about it, Ramesh Baba said, “Yes, there is a leopard on the prowl.” Radhanath Swami asked, “What will that small stick do to protect us from a wild leopard?” “Nothing,” Ramesh Babaji replied. “Only the Lord can protect us. Our duty, however, is to show Krishna that we are doing our part.”

The same principle applies to all of our devotional practices. We have to show that we are making the effort, but without mercy we have no ability to move forward one inch in devotional service. Of course, the more effort we put in, you could say, the more result we will get, because we are showing how sincere and eager we are, but it is really the mercy of the acharyas and the Supreme Personality of Godhead that enables us to move forward even one iota. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was in that mood. Every acharya is in that mood, because that’s how they get the mercy and strength to practice and preach Krishna consciousness. And that’s how we have this song, Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura.

Srila Prabhupada demonstrated this principle in a unique way in a very special context. When I was in Madras—I was the first devotee from ISKCON to go there to preach—I was meeting various prominent people, and many of them were interested, but one who took very keen interest was the chief justice of the high court, Justice Veeraswami. Toward the end of Prabhupada’s visit to Madras, after a successful five-day program, Justice Veeraswami arranged a pandal program for Srila Prabhupada and the devotees. And he invited all the other high court judges and high court advocates to attend.

In his talk, Srila Prabhupada quoted the verse from Sad-gosvamy-astaka about the Six Gosvamis: tyaktva turnam asesa-mandala-pati-srenim sada tuccha-vat, that although they had been very highly placed people (mandala-pati) they had rejected it all as insignificant (tuccha-vat) and joined the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Prabhupada was appealing to these leaders, these high court judges and advocates, that they too should give up their prestigious positions and join Lord Chaitanya’s mission.

After the program, the chief justice invited Srila Prabhupada and the devotees to his home for prasada, and there he presented Srila Prabhupada a beautiful, small silver statue of Krishna. Amongst all the adult devotees there was one child, Saraswati, the three-year-old daughter of Shyamsundar and Malati, and Srila Prabhupada engaged her in a very dramatic way. He held the little statue of Krishna in front of her and he said, “Saraswati, who is this?” And Saraswati said, “It is Krishna.” Then he held the deity behind his back and said, “Saraswati, where is Krishna?” Saraswati started looking everywhere, and when she couldn’t find the deity, she became filled with anxiety: “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?”

Then Malati said, “Saraswati, who has Krishna?” And Saraswati’s eyes opened wide and her face lit up and she said, “Prabhupada has Krishna!” And then she looked at Prabhupada with such joy and expectation and ran up to him, and Prabhupada brought the deity of Krishna out from behind his back and gave it to her.

I thought, “Wow!” Prabhupada had illustrated such a profound truth. It was like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: “You have Krishna, and you have the power to deliver Him to us.” But to get Krishna from a Vaishnava, to get love of Krishna, we have to be eager like Saraswati. She was so eager to find Krishna and so anxious without Him: “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” Prabhupada quoted that last verse of the Sad-gosvamy-astaka: he radhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-suno kutah, sri-govardhana-kalpa-padapa-tale kalindi-vanye kutah/ ghosantav iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair maha-vihvalau, vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau, that the Six Gosvamis were wandering all over Vrindavan, crying, “O Krishna, O Radharani, O Lalita—where are you? Are you at Govardhana Hill or are you at the banks of the Yamuna?” These were their moods in executing Krishna consciousness. When we have that eagerness and intense longing and desire in separation, Krishna, by the mercy of the devotee or devotees, will gradually manifest Himself to us. But we have to have that eagerness. And that eagerness arises when we become purified, and we become purified by making a concerted effort.

I had a dream a couple of years ago in which Srila Prabhupada told me, “You have to be mad for Krishna.” It was a nice dream. Shortly thereafter, Radhanath Swami came to stay with me and I mentioned the dream to him, and when I said that—“mad for Krishna”—he said, “Oh, that’s a very advanced stage.” So that is not something to be taken lightly, but it should be our goal, and we approach that goal by making strenuous, unstinting effort, not holding anything back, not like, “So much for Krishna and so much for me,” but, “Everything for Krishna and nothing for me”—in that mood. Of course, we have to keep our body and soul together—that’s also one of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s instructions. But yes, our goal is kirtaniyah sada harih, to always chant the holy name of Krishna.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura raises a question: “Well, what about maintaining our body, or our families’ bodies?” He says that taking care of the body, or taking measures necessary to maintain the body, which also includes working, earning money, and spending money, does not violate the principle of kirtaniyah sada harih, always chanting the holy name of Krishna, if we do it just enough to meet our requirements so that we can use all our other time for Krishna kirtan.

So, he was also very practical. So many instructions, so many wonderful books. Hari-nama-cintamani is a small book about chanting the holy name; Jaiva-dharma; Sri Caitanya-siksamrta is so full of valuable instructions.

In Jaiva-dharma Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses kanistha, madhyama, and uttama devotees. Of course, everyone, all of our acharyas, follow the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam; they are the basic authorities. The Bhagavatam says in relation to the madhyama-bhagavata: prema-maitri-krpopeksa, yah karoti sa madhyamah, that he gives his love to Krishna, makes friendship with devotees, is merciful to the innocent, and neglects (upeksa) the envious. Almost everyone in the material world is envious of Krishna. Unless you are a pure devotee, you have some envy of Krishna. But there are people who are really envious. They don’t want to hear about Krishna, and if you are pursuing Krishna consciousness they discourage you. They may try to put up obstacles; they might try to convince you—so many things, sometimes even our own family members.

So, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses this neglect, avoiding the association, of nondevotees: asat-sanga-tyaga,—ei vaisnava-acara, ’stri-sangi’—eka asadhu, ‘krsnabhakta’ ara. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says asat. Sat is a word for “devotee,” so asat means “nondevotees.” Asat-sanga- tyaga: we should give up the association of nondevotees. And who are nondevotees? ’Stri-sangi’—eka asadhu. One is a person who is attached to sense gratification, especially to the opposite sex for sense gratification. And ’Stri-sangi’—eka asadhu, ‘krsnabhakta’ ara: the other is just an abhakta, someone who is not a devotee of Krishna. So, we are supposed to shun the association of nondevotees, but what do we do if we have family members who are nondevotees? What do we do if we are in a place with nondevotees, or work with them? Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura answers that avoiding the association of nondevotees does not mean that we cannot have normal human interaction with them as is expected in the workplace or in family; it means that we should not associate with them in relation to our spiritual advancement. We shouldn’t take their advice in relation to our spiritual progress.

In the Seventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Narada’s instructions on the ideal family life, Narada says the same thing: that if you are a devotee and a family member tells you that you should lead a different kind of life, outwardly you should say, “Yes, what you say is very good,” but inwardly you should continue in your own determination and keep your life simple.

So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that we should not abandon family members who are not devotees. Of course, that would depend on one’s ashrama, but he says that we should not abandon them, but that for our spiritual advancement we should keep the association of only devotees.

In Hari-nama-cintamani Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura first discusses the holy name in general and then discusses the ten offenses. The first offense is sadhu-ninda: blaspheming devotees. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is very analytical and precise, and with each of the ten offenses he begins by defining the terms. So, sadhu-ninda. Ninda is easy. Ninda means “to criticize,” “to blaspheme,” “to find fault.” But sadhu—who is a sadhu? Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses the different qualities of a sadhu mentioned by Krishna in the Eleventh Canto, and one is krsnaika-sarana: he has taken exclusive shelter of Krishna. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami also lists twenty-six qualities of a devotee, based mainly on those mentioned in the Eleventh Canto, and out of the twenty-six qualities, one is krsnaika-sarana, taking exclusive shelter of Krishna, or the holy name of Krishna. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that if one has that primary qualification, he or she is considered a sadhu even if he or she does not have the other twenty-five qualities. And if one has the other twenty-five qualities but does not have the qualification of having taken exclusive shelter of Krishna, the other twenty-five qualities are of little value. So that—taking exclusive shelter of Krishna—is the real qualification for a sadhu, and if someone has that, he or she is a sadhu.

Then Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses possible grounds for criticizing a sadhu. One may say, “Okay, this is a sadhu; this person has taken shelter of Krishna,” but criticize the person because he has taken a low birth or is of a lower caste or had previously engaged in sinful activities or still has vestiges of sinful activities even after coming to the association of devotees. One might think one can criticize like that. But Bhaktivinoda Thakura says no, these are all sadhu-ninda. So we have to be careful about this, because our spiritual advancement depends on the association of sadhus and our practical service to the mission depends on their cooperative effort. So if we blaspheme, find fault, backbite, we will destroy our devotional service.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura then discusses people who could be considered sadhus but who actually are not sadhus, because we don’t want to mistake a sadhu for an asadhu. Sometimes people will say, “You are not a devotee. Devotees are humble. You are not humble, so you are not a devotee.” But Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that if you are surrendered to Krishna, even if you don’t have the other twenty-five qualifications, such as humility, you are still considered a sadhu. Sadhur eva sa mantavyah.

But we also don’t want to mistake an asadhu for a sadhu. Bhaktivinoda Thakura mentions three categories of asadhus who are often mistaken for sadhus. One is the Mayavadi. Although Mayavadis may dress as sadhus and be considered by others as sadhus, they are not actually sadhus. Another category is the atheist. And the third category is dharmadvaji. Dharma means “religion” and dvaja means “flag.” So dharmadvaji means a pretender, someone who is waving the flag of religion but is not really a devotee.

These are three categories of asadhus, nondevotees who are sometimes mistaken as sadhus. Srila Prabhupada regularly criticized people who were revered as spiritual leaders in India. “Perhaps for the first time,” he said, “I am the only one who is exposing them as fools and rascals.” A very heavy statement. Many people became upset with him when he criticized India’s revered, popular, “religious” figures.

There was one man in Juhu who had attended the first Bombay pandal where Prabhupada had criticized Shankaracharya. He was very intelligent and austere and well read, and years later he told me, “I was attending that pandal program, and when Prabhupada criticized Shankaracharya, I thought, ‘Who does this man think he is? Shankaracharya is perhaps the greatest acharya in the history of India. Who does this person think he is to criticize him?’ ” So, he had negative thoughts about Srila Prabhupada, but later he got one of Srila Prabhupada’s books, either Teachings of Lord Caitanya or Caitanya-caritamrta, in which Prabhupada relates the history of Lord Shiva coming as Shankaracharya to bewilder the atheists by preaching Mayavada philosophy. The man read it and came to me and said, “After reading this book, I realized that everything that Prabhupada was saying was true.” And then he surrendered; he became a devotee.

Another incident involved Srila Prabhupada’s regular companion on his morning walks on Juhu Beach, Dr. C. P. Patel. One morning in particular Dr. Patel praised some famous, popular, Indian religious figure. When Srila Prabhupada said, “He is a rascal,” Dr. Patel got upset: “How can you say he is a rascal?” Prabhupada said, “I am not saying. Krishna is saying: na mam duskrtino mudhah, prapadyante naradhamah. It is a simple test. Is he surrendered to Krishna or not? If he is not surrendered to Krishna, he is a rascal, he is a fool, he is a demon. I am not saying. Krishna is saying.”

Dr. Patel got really upset; Prabhupada had picked on someone he cherished. So he raised his voice, and Prabhupada raised his voice, and then he raised his voice more, and Prabhupada raised his voice more, and finally they were literally shouting at each other. It was scary, actually. Dr. Patel’s cronies tried to restrain him, saying, “Swamiji has a heart condition. Don’t upset him so.” They were physically . . . it was like in a boxing ring: the bell rings, signaling that the round is over, but the fighters are still pounding each other, and the referee and their trainers are trying to pull them apart. They wouldn’t stop. Then finally Dr. Patel’s people pulled him away.

After that, for the first time in years, Dr. Patel stopped coming on Srila Prabhupada’s walks. For years he had come to Prabhupada’s room and escorted him in his car or walked with him to the beach or at least met up with him at the beach. But after the argument, he didn’t come. Prabhupada also said, “All right, from now on no discussion. We will only read the Krsna book on morning walks.” So we would read the Krsna book. And Dr. Patel was avoiding us.

Then one morning, Prabhupada was walking in one direction, toward the ocean, and Dr. Patel was walking in the opposite direction, away from the ocean. And the way Dr. Patel described it, something in his heart just made him change direction and walk straight to Srila Prabhupada. He bowed and touched Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet and said, “Prabhupada, I am sorry, but we have been trained to respect all the accredited saints of India.” And Prabhupada replied, “Our business is to point out who is not a saint.” Acharyas have to do that, but it is not ninda. It can be, but it is not ninda if it is done to help people who could be misled by a demon or rascal, to keep them from falling into bad association thinking that they are getting the association of a saintly person.

But otherwise, ninda sunya. Rupa Gosvami says that one should take shelter of a Vaishnava whose heart is completely free from the propensity to criticize others. A pure devotee wants only to chant the holy name and hear about Krishna and preach the message of Krishna. He has no interest in criticizing others, even nondevotees, demons, but for the sake of preaching, for the sake of Krishna’s mission, Mahaprabhu’s mission, the previous acharyas’ mission, they do it to help others, to free them from false attachments so they can take to Krishna consciousness. Or even if they are in Krishna consciousness, to prevent them from unknowingly falling into bad association and being diverted. So, that’s the mercy of the acharya, the sadhu, the preacher, but otherwise they have no interest in criticizing anyone or anything. They are happy just to chant and hear about Krishna.

So, today is a most auspicious day. Our system is parampara. We approach our immediate spiritual master and serve him, and through him the predecessor acharyas, but on special days like today, on appearance days and disappearance days, by the mercy of our spiritual master we can approach the previous acharyas directly, like when we offer them puspanjali. And we can beg them, “Please give me your mercy. Please give me some of what you have, which I want desperately, and even if I don’t have the desire, the desire is not very strong, please give me the desire and make my desire stronger.” Wherever we are on that path of desire, we can pray to get the desire, to increase the desire. Because it all depends on desire—everything depends on desire. Krishna fulfills all desires, and if what we really desire is Krishna and Krishna’s service, that is what He will fulfill.

The way we show our desire is by making the effort, by spending the time. If we spend the time chanting, trying to chant with attention, even if we aren’t even able to pay attention that well and our mind is still unsteady or distracted, if we just take the time to make the effort, Krishna will see, “Oh, this person is taking the time to try to develop his relationship with Me.” Or reading Srila Prabhupada’s books—even if we don’t understand exactly what we are reading, even if we can’t appreciate it or relate to it, if we just spend the time reading, trying to understand, hoping to come to appreciate, then Krishna, the previous acharyas, will say, “Oh, this person is spending the time.” It is association. Chanting means associating with Krishna; reading Srimad-Bhagavatam means associating with Krishna. “This person wants My association. He is taking the time to be with Me.” And Krishna will reciprocate.

We just have to show Krishna that we want to develop a relationship with Him. We are not qualified. By His mercy He will give us the qualification, but our part at first is just to show Him that we want to develop our relationship with Him by spending time with Him. To develop a relationship with someone, you have to spend time with the person. So, chanting with attention, reading Prabhupada’s books, worshipping the Deity, sraddhaya, with faith and veneration, not just mechanically, externally—spending time with Krishna. When Krishna sees that we want to spend time with Him, develop our relationship with Him, He will help us. We just have to spend the time and make the effort.

Srila Prabhupada was holding Krishna for Saraswati. He actually wanted to give Him to her, but he could do so properly only when she was sufficiently anxious, sufficiently eager, when her desire was strong enough that she would really appreciate it. So Srila Prabhupada and our other acharyas have Krishna—they want to give Him to us, and they have the power to give Him to us—but they don’t want to cast pearls before swine. They want us to value what they have to give us, and when we understand what that most valuable treasure is and really want it, and when we take the time to develop our relationship with Krishna and they see that it, and nothing else, is really what we want, they will fulfill our desire—by their mercy. If that’s what we want, if Krishna and Krishna’s service is all we want, we will get it by their mercy.

Hare Krishna.

I’ve requested Mukunda Datta Prabhu to lead that song, Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura, in which Bhaktivinoda Thakura expresses the mood that we all want to develop; and, like offering a drop of Ganges water to the Ganges, we can offer that mood, in his words, to him so that he will give us a drop of faith in the holy name.

Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura
(from Saranagati)

vaisnaba thakura, doyara sagara,
  e dase koruna kori’
diya pada-chaya, sodho he amaya,
  tomara carana dhori

O venerable Vaishnava, O ocean of mercy, be merciful unto your servant. Give me the shade of your lotus feet and purify me. I hold on to your lotus feet.

chaya bega domi’, chaya dosa sodhi’,
  chaya guna deho’ dase
chaya sat-sanga, deho’ he amare,
  boshechi sangera ase

Teach me to control my six urges; rectify my six faults, bestow upon me the six qualities, and offer unto me the six kinds of holy association.*

ekaki amara, nahi paya bala,
tumi krpa kori’, sraddha-bindu diya,
  deho’ krsna-nama-dhane

I do not find the strength to carry on alone the sankirtana of the holy name of Hari. Please bless me by giving me just one drop of faith with which to obtain the great treasure of the holy name of Krishna.

krsna se tomara, krsna dite paro,
  tomara sakati ache
ami to’ kangala, ‘krsna’ ‘krsna’ boli’,
  dhai tava pache pache

Krishna is yours; you have the power to give Him to me. I am simply running behind you shouting, “Krishna! Krishna!”

*The six urges are those of speech, the mind, anger, the tongue, the belly, and the genitals. The six faults are overeating, over­endeavoring for material objectives, talking unnecessarily of mundane affairs, being too attached to or too neglectful of scriptural rules and regulations, associating with worldly-minded persons, and desiring mundane achievements. The six good qualities are enthusiasm, confidence, and patience, and performing the regulated activities of devotional service, giving up the association of nondevotees, and following in the footsteps of the previous acharyas. The six methods of holy association are offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada from devotees, and offering prasada to devotees.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Bhaktivinoda Thakura’a appearance day, September 1, 2009, New Dvaraka, Los Angeles]

Vamana-dvadasi, the Appearance Day of Vamanadeva
Giriraj Swami

We shall read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Eight, Chapter Twenty-two: “Bali Maharaja Surrenders His Life.” We begin with the chapter summary:

“The summary of this twenty-second chapter is as follows. The Supreme Personality of Godhead was pleased by the behavior of Bali Maharaja. Thus the Lord placed him on the planet Sutala, and there, after bestowing benedictions upon him, the Lord agreed to become his doorman.

“Bali Maharaja was extremely truthful. Being unable to keep his promise, he was very much afraid, for he knew that one who has deviated from truthfulness is insignificant in the eyes of society. An exalted person can suffer the consequences of hellish life, but he is very much afraid of being defamed for deviation from the truth. Bali Maharaja agreed with great pleasure to accept the punishment awarded him by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In Bali Maharaja’s dynasty there were many asuras who because of their enmity toward Visnu had achieved a destination more exalted than that of many mystic yogis. Bali Maharaja specifically remembered the determination of Prahlada Maharaja in devotional service. Considering all these points, he decided to give his head in charity as the place for Visnu’s third step. Bali Maharaja also considered how great personalities give up their family relationships and material possessions to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indeed, they sometimes even sacrifice their lives for the satisfaction of the Lord, just to become His personal servants. Accordingly, by following in the footsteps of previous acaryas and devotees, Bali Maharaja perceived himself successful.

“While Bali Maharaja, having been arrested by the ropes of Varuna, was offering prayers to the Lord, his grandfather Prahlada Maharaja appeared there and described how the Supreme Personality of Godhead had delivered Bali Maharaja by taking his possessions in a tricky way. While Prahlada Maharaja was present, Lord Brahma and Bali’s wife, Vindhyavali, described the supremacy of the Supreme Lord. Since Bali Maharaja had given everything to the Lord, they prayed for his release. The Lord then described how a nondevotee’s possession of wealth is a danger whereas a devotee’s opulence is a benediction from the Lord. Then, being pleased with Bali Maharaja, the Supreme Lord offered His disc to protect Bali Maharaja and promised to remain with him.”

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The Lord appears in various incarnations to favor the devotees. Bali Maharaja was also a devotee, and although he was born in a family of demons, Vamanadeva still appeared to favor him, as well as to favor the demigods, who were also devotees.

The Lord reciprocates with the particular mentality of each individual devotee. Bali Maharaja was inclined to give charity. In fact, he had achieved his opulence by the favor of the brahmans to whom he had given so much in charity. Therefore Lord Vishnu, in order to take service from Bali Maharaja, assumed the form of a brahman and begged some charity from him. And because Bali Maharaja was so inclined to give charity to brahmans, he agreed to give Vamanadeva whatever He asked. Vamana replied by saying, “I would like three steps of land.” Bali Maharaja was surprised. He said, “I thought you were more intelligent. You could ask for a whole planet. Why do you ask only for three steps of land?” And Vamana replied, “If I cannot be satisfied by three steps of land, I will not be satisfied by even a whole planet.” Srila Prabhupada enunciated the same principle for devotees, especially for brahmacharis: “All you need is a little service, a little prasada, and a little place to lie down at night”—three steps of land and a little prasada and service. Vamanadeva Himself played the role of a brahmachari, so He set the example.

Now we come to the point at which Prahlada Maharaja appears in the arena where Bali Maharaja had been arrested and bound by the ropes of Varuna because of his failure to keep his promise. After Bali Maharaja agreed to give three steps of land, Vamanadeva expanded Himself into a gigantic form. With one step He covered the entire upper planetary system and His toe actually pierced the coverings of the universe. Spiritual water from the causal ocean entered the universe through the hole made by His toe, and that spiritual water became the Ganges River. Then with His second step He covered the entire lower portion of the universe, and so with two steps He had covered the entire universe. Thus He concluded that Bali Maharaja would be unable to fulfill his promise and should therefore be arrested and punished. Now, in the present chapter Bali Maharaja will find the most intelligent solution to the problem and tell the Lord, “You can place Your third step on my head, and thus I will fulfill my promise.”

So, Prahlada Maharaja came and made a statement that is important for today’s verse:


 sri-prahrada uvaca
tvayaiva dattam padam aindram urjitam
  hrtam tad evadya tathaiva sobhanam
manye mahan asya krto hy anugraho
  vibhramsito yac chriya atma-mohanat


Prahlada Maharaja said: My Lord, it is Your Lordship who gave this Bali the very great opulence of the post of heavenly king, and now, today, it is You who have taken it all away. I think You have acted with equal beauty in both ways. Because his exalted position as king of heaven was putting him in the darkness of ignorance, You have done him a very merciful favor by taking away all his opulence.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

As it is said, yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih (SB 10.88.8). It is by the mercy of the Lord that one gets all material opulence, but if such material opulence causes one to become puffed up and forget the process of self-realization, the Lord certainly takes all the opulence away. The Lord bestows mercy upon His devotee by helping him find out his constitutional position. For that purpose, the Lord is always ready to help the devotee in every way. But material opulence is sometimes dangerous because it diverts one’s attention to false prestige by giving one the impression that he is the owner and master of everything he surveys, although actually this is not the fact. To protect the devotee from such a misunderstanding, the Lord, showing special mercy, sometimes takes away his material possessions. Yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih.


Srila Prabhupada remarked that one astrologer in India had predicted that he would become the wealthiest man in India, and in the beginning he was very successful in business—first as the manager of Dr. Bose’s chemical laboratory in Calcutta and later as the proprietor of his own business. But in time his business began to fail, and he came across the verse he quoted in the purport here (yasyaham anugrhnami), in which Lord Krishna says that the first installment of His special mercy upon a devotee is to take away the devotee’s opulence so that the devotee has no recourse other than surrendering unto Him, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And if the devotee tries to build up his opulence again, the Lord will take it away again—and again, until the devotee gives up the vain attempt to enjoy material opulence without the Lord.

Now, someone may hear about the Lord’s special mercy and become fearful: “I don’t want to lose my opulence. If I become a devotee and have to lose my opulence, then I better not become a devotee.” But actually, the Lord does not always take away the devotee’s opulence; sometimes He gives the devotee more opulence, according to whatever is best for the particular devotee in their particular circumstance. So, we should have faith in the Lord, that He will do whatever is best for us.

In Bombay I have seen cases of devotees who have become extremely opulent by the grace of the Lord. One, Dr. Narendra Desai, who was later initiated as Nathaji dasa, had a father who was a very shrewd businessman and a member of parliament but suddenly passed away and left Dr. Desai, who was still relatively young, with the responsibility of taking over the family’s businesses. I used to meet many of the more affluent people of Bombay, and I heard talk about Dr. Desai, that he was a good person but not as shrewd as his father had been and therefore might not do so well in business. But Dr. Desai increased the business many times over from a business that was already very big into something many times bigger. And he was very strict in his spiritual practices. He would get up early every morning, have mangala-arati at home, and then chant his rounds. He lived in a nice area of Bombay, and in the same compound there were five buildings situated around a large lawn or park, with{ }a driveway running in front of the buildings and encircling the park. So, in the morning, he used to take a japa walk in the garden, and people would come up to him. Especially after he took initiation, people would approach him—people who hardly knew him—and say, “Oh, you have taken initiation. Why didn’t you consult me? I would have advised you differently.” But he opened new companies, and the new businesses flourished, and he became even more opulent.

So, sometimes, to encourage a devotee, Krishna will grant more opulence, but if the devotee becomes bewildered by the opulence, Krishna may take it away so that the devotee becomes free from false prestige and realizes his constitutional position as the eternal servant of Krishna. Whatever Krishna has to do for the benefit of the devotee, He will do. Thus the Lord is like a parent. The father will do whatever is best for the child. Sometimes he will give bitter medicine to the child, and sometimes he will give sweet candies; sometimes he will indulge the child, and sometimes he will discipline the child. But whatever he does is meant for the child’s benefit. So, the Supreme Lord is the Supreme Father, and whatever He does is for the devotee’s benefit. Whether He gives the devotee opulence or takes it away, He acts with equal care.

And the devotee accepts the Lord’s dealings equally. He is completely surrendered to the Lord, with full faith that the Lord will do whatever is best for him. Thus Prthu Maharaja prayed:

tvan-mayayaddha jana isa khandito
  yad anyad asasta rtatmano ’budhah
yatha cared bala-hitam pita svayam
  tatha tvam evarhasi nah samihitum

“My Lord, due to Your illusory energy, all living beings in this material world have forgotten their real constitutional position, and out of ignorance they are always desirous of material happiness in the form of society, friendship, and love. Therefore, please do not ask me to take some material benefits from You, but as a father, not waiting for the son’s demand, does everything for the benefit of the son, please bestow upon me whatever You think best for me.” (SB 4.20.31)

Srila Prabhupada said that in his own case, in the beginning Krishna tested him by taking everything away—his business failed—and in the end Krishna tested him by giving him everything. And Srila Prabhupada, as Krishna’s representative and servant, actually did become the richest man in India—not just spiritually, but even materially. Of course, he did not think anything was his own. He saw everything as Krishna’s, but he did have very nice places to stay, very nice servants, and very nice prasada according to his taste, and he was blessed with all opulence by the grace of the Lord.

Now we come to today’s verse:


yaya hi vidvan api muhyate yatas
  tat ko vicaste gatim atmano yatha
tasmai namas te jagad-isvaraya vai


Material opulence is so bewildering that it makes even a learned, self-controlled man forget to search for the goal of self-realization. But the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, the Lord of the universe, can see everything by His will. Therefore I offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.


The words ko vicaste gatim atmano yatha indicate that when one is puffed up by the false prestige of possessing material opulence, he certainly neglects the goal of self-realization. This is the position of the modern world. Because of so-called scientific improvements in material opulence, people have entirely given up the path of self-realization. Practically no one is interested in God, one’s relationship with God, or how one should act. Modern men have altogether forgotten such questions because they are mad for material possessions. If this kind of civilization continues, the time will soon come when the Supreme Personality of Godhead will take away all the material opulences. Then people will come to their senses.


The same principle that operates in an individual’s life also operates in the evolution of a society’s collective life. Here Srila Prabhupada gives the warning that if modern civilization continues to be mad after material acquisition and neglectful of the real goal of life—to be reinstated in one’s constitutional position as the eternal servant of Krishna and go back home, back to Godhead—then, to show favor to the bewildered souls of the modern age, Krishna may take away their opulence.

Srila Prabhupada often related the story of the yogi and the mouse. Once, a mouse approached a yogi and said, “I am being harassed by a cat.” So, the yogi said, “Then what do you want?” The mouse replied, “I want to become a cat.” “All right,” said the yogi. “Now you become a cat!” And he fulfilled the mouse’s desire. After some time, the cat approached the yogi and said, “I’m being harassed by a dog.” The yogi said, “What do you want?” And the cat replied, “I want to become a dog.” “All right; so be it.” After some time, the dog approached the yogi and said, “I am afraid of a tiger.” “Do you want to become a tiger?” “Yes.” “So be it.” But as soon the dog became a tiger, he started to look at the yogi as if he was going to pounce on him and devour him. And the yogi immediately said, punar musiko bhava—“Again you become a mouse.”

Srila Prabhupada explains that by the grace of the Lord, modern civilization has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger. But if in their opulence now people think they can finish the Lord and enjoy their opulence without Him, then the Lord may say, punar musiko bhava—“Again you become a mouse. No more skyscrapers, no more superhighways, no more mega-computers. Go back to the fields. Go back to the jungles.” Then people may become sober. They may wake up from their dream. They may consider, “Boy, we’ve put all our efforts into material civilization, and look what happened.”

Srila Prabhupada thought that the means for taking away the opulence of the maddened materialistic civilization could be a world war or a nuclear war. When I was in the Western European zone, the GBC for the zone showed the leaders there a movie about a town in England called Sheffield and what would happen there if an atomic bomb were dropped on it—what would happen to the people. It was quite a terrifying look into a possible future of the world. So, Srila Prabhupada has given the hint that if we remain maddened by material opulence and sense gratification, and forget God and the real purpose of life, then God may take away our material opulence to make us sober. And He may do it through devastation. But then again, if by our preaching and distributing books people can realize their actual identities and purpose of life, they may not need to suffer the consequences of atomic warfare to wake up.

One day in 1971, when Srila Prabhupada was staying in a house in Delhi, the father of the boy who was translating Srila Prabhupada’s books from English into Hindi came there to visit him. The father was also sort of a devotee, but he had a bad habit—smoking. So, Srila Prabhupada asked the father, “Have you given up smoking?” And the father answered, “No. But isn’t there some special mercy? Can’t I get some special mercy so that I can give up smoking?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Special mercy? Yes, there is special mercy: yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih. The Lord can give special mercy, and when He gives that special mercy, the first thing He does is He takes away the devotee’s material opulence. And, as the verse continues, then the devotee becomes poverty-stricken, and when he becomes poverty-stricken all of his friends and relatives reject him. So he suffers doubly. He suffers because he has lost his opulence, and he suffers because his so-called friends and family rebuke him and neglect him. So, yes, there is special mercy.” Then Mr. Gupta said, “No, no. That’s all right. I don’t want any special mercy. I’ll make my own efforts.”

That is the basic choice. As long as we are faithful to Krishna, He won’t forsake us. He will give us the chance to come to Him voluntarily, but if He sees that there is an impediment that we are unable to overcome—and one such impediment can be material opulence—He will remove the impediment so that we can come to Him more easily. And if the Lord does choose to take away the obstacle of material opulence, the devotee accepts it. But if the devotee is strong enough to remember his position as the Lord’s eternal servant and use the material opulence to serve Krishna, then the Lord does not have to take it away. As Srila Prabhupada said, “In the beginning the Lord tested me by taking everything away, and in the end He tested me by giving me everything.” So, if Krishna feels we are ready, He can give us any amount of opulence to be used in Krishna’s service.

Sometimes Srila Prabhupada would say, “Krishna is the proprietor of the universe, and He can give you the whole world, but what would you do with it?” When we preach, opulence does come, but as we become more and more pure, Krishna will entrust us with more and more opulence, because He knows that we will use it in His service and won’t become bewildered. As Srila Prabhupada once wrote to me, “If we work sincerely without any material aspirations, Krishna will help in all respects.”

In any case, our mood should be like that of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who prayed, manasa, deho, geho, jo kichu mor: “Whatever I have—my mind, my body, my words, my family, my household paraphernalia—it all belongs to You. In life or in death, in happiness or distress, in opulence or poverty, You are my Lord and I will serve You.”

manasa, deho, geho, jo kichu mor
arpilun tuwa pade, nanda-kisor!

“Mind, body, and family, whatever may be mine, I have surrendered at Your lotus feet, O youthful son of Nanda!”

sampade vipade, jivane-marane
day mama gela, tuwa o-pada barane

“In good fortune or bad, in life or death, all my difficulties have disappeared because I have chosen those lotus feet of Yours as my only shelter.” (Saranagati)

That should be our mood in devotional service. Hare Krishna.

Are there any questions or comments?

Sankara Pandit dasa: Do we have to reach any particular stage to understand that the Lord is reciprocating with our mentality?

Giriraj Swami: I would say that a devotee can perceive the Lord’s reciprocation in any stage. Here I think of the different stages that begin with annamaya, appreciating the Lord’s mercy in the form of food. When we were traveling in India with Srila Prabhupada, one tourist from England joined us, and sometimes he would sit next to me during prasada. And he would say, “I am so degraded. I am so fallen. I am so bad. But still the Lord is giving me prasada. The Lord is very merciful.” He would remark, “Krishna is there. Krishna is there. Otherwise, how could I get nice prasada every day, even though I’m such a fallen soul?” He saw that the Lord was associating with him, or reciprocating with him, by giving him prasada. So, I think that any devotee in any stage can more or less appreciate the Lord’s kindness.

Higher levels of reciprocation will come as we advance—although in principle there is no difference. Krishna says, ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham: “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.” (Gita 4.11) But the higher stages come as one progresses. Then one may realize that he or she wants to serve the form of Lord Narayana, so the Lord will appear as Lord Narayana. Someone will want to serve the Lord in the form of Ramachandra, so He will appear to that devotee in the form of Ramachandra. Someone will want to serve the Lord in the form of Krishna, and the Lord will appear in His original form as Krishna. Then too, if one wants to serve Krishna in vatsalya-rasa, Krishna will appear as baby Krishna in kaumara age. If one wants to serve in sakhya-rasa, Krishna will appear in pauganda age, about five to ten. And if someone wants to serve in madhurya-rasa, Krishna will appear in His attractive feature as Kisora, in kaisora age—Kisora-Kisori. So, in the liberated stage when one actually begins to develop his or her eternal relationship with the Lord in the spiritual world, the Lord will reciprocate by manifesting Himself in the particular form in which the devotee wants to see Him and serve Him.

Candramauli Swami: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Candramauli Swami says that the Lord will favor a devotee by giving him the association of advanced devotees and more and more opportunity for service.

Yes, that is very true, very true.

Devakinandan dasa: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Devakinandan Prabhu says that as the world is becoming more materialistic, we can expect that the situation will become more hellish. But at the same time, we are in the golden age of Lord Chaitanya. So can we expect that the world will become better?

One thing I have heard that makes sense—and Srila Prabhupada was not making predictions based on some mystic power or astrological calculations; he was just explaining the law of action and reaction—is that if you are sinful you will suffer and if you are pious you will enjoy. If the people continue to be sinful, they will suffer more, and, as he said, the ultimate loss is the loss of the body—death. Death is the ultimate calamity. One scenario that Srila Prabhupada mentioned is that if people do not become God conscious, there could be a nuclear devastation that would destroy much of the modern civilization and make people more sober. As Srila Prabhupada says here, “The time will soon come when the Supreme Personality of Godhead will take away all the material opulence. Then people will come to their senses.” So, after people start to come to their senses, there will be more and more devotees. At present the number of devotees is insignificant compared with the number of demons. And the demons are much more powerful than the devotees. But after the devastation there will be many devotees, though there will still be many demons. So, the first war will be between the demons—one group of demons killing another group of demons. Then many devotees will come. And then the next war will be between the devotees and the demons, and the devotees will win. And then the world will become God conscious and happy.

Murari Chaitanya dasa: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Murari Prabhu heard that Srila Prabhupada said that the day will come when we won’t have temples. We will just have the holy name.

Murari Chaitanya dasa: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Well, the way you explained it, yes, it is true. We may not have temples, but we will always have the holy name. That’s more of a principle. As far as a prediction for the future, we do hear that at the end of Kali-yuga the world will be so bad that devotees will not be able to practice Krishna consciousness openly. Then they may have only the holy name. They won’t be able to have temples and deities. We saw during the communist era in Russia that in some places devotees were not allowed to practice Krishna consciousness freely. But even in jail, even in prison camps, even in psychiatric hospitals, they had the holy name.

Question: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: The point is that whatever happens, we will always have the holy name. Here the emphasis is on the importance of the holy name and the mercy of the holy name, not that Prabhupada was predicting that Krishna would take away our temples or any such thing.

Question: Can we determine whether someone is more Krishna conscious or less Krishna conscious by either the presence of or the absence of material opulence?

Giriraj Swami: There is no absolute answer, because anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam: devotional service is beyond karma and jnana. So there is no material qualification or disqualification for devotional service. Some devotees are opulent by destiny or by the will of the Lord, and some are poor by destiny or by the will of the Lord. And all can be pure devotees. For example, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was born in a very opulent position, but gradually he gave up more and more and more, until finally he had nothing—by the grace of the Lord. But Pundarika Vidyanidhi continued to be materially opulent. Once, Mukunda took Gadadhara Pandit to meet Pundarika Vidyanidhi, and Vidyanidhi was sitting like a prince, dressed in fine garments, amidst luxurious furniture and opulent paraphernalia, being fanned with long peacock feathers by two servants. Gadadhara Pandit doubted him: “He is supposed to be a devotee and he is living in such luxury?” Mukunda detected the doubt in Gadadhara Pandit’s mind, so he sang a beautiful verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam. When Pundarika Vidyanidhi heard the verse, he was overwhelmed with transcendental ecstasy. Tears flowed from his eyes, and his body began to tremble and manifest all the symptoms of ecstatic love for Krishna. Then Gadadhara realized that Pundarika was an exalted devotee and that he (Gadadhara Pandit) had committed an offense by questioning how he could be an exalted devotee when he was enjoying an extravagant life. To atone for his offense, Gadadhara Pandit resolved, “I should accept him as my spiritual master. I should become his disciple and take instruction and initiation from him.”

So, we cannot say definitely that if someone is poor he is more advanced or that if someone is rich he is more advanced. There is also markata-vairagya, the renunciation of monkeys. Srila Prabhupada says that monkeys appear to live like advanced babajis: they have no clothes, they have no house, and they eat only fruits and berries from trees. Yet each monkey has two dozen girlfriends. That is markata-vairagya, the renunciation of monkeys. So, we cannot conclude that just because someone is living without opulence he is Krishna conscious, but neither can we conclude that just because someone has been graced with opulence he is Krishna conscious. He may have opulence by virtue of past pious activities, but right now he could have a hellish mentality—and still be enjoying material opulence because of his karma. But pure devotional service is beyond karma (jnana-karmady-anavrtam). Good karma or bad karma, it does not matter. In any case, one can still serve Krishna.

Candramauli Swami: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Candramauli Swami says that we can judge by how their material position affects their devotional service. In other words, if one is attached to Krishna, he won’t be attached to maya—to the extent that he is attached to Krishna. So, when someone who is poor and attached to Krishna gets opulence, he won’t be disturbed. He will continue to serve Krishna. And if someone is opulent and attached to Krishna and then loses his opulence, he also won’t be disturbed. He will continue in his service to Krishna. So, the real factor is service to Krishna in any condition.

Devakinandan dasa: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Devakinandan Prabhu says that Lord Chaitanya instructed that one should not dress luxuriously or eat opulent food but that sometimes we see that devotees do dress opulently and eat delicious food and still they advance in love of Godhead.

There are some verses:

vairagi bhai gramya-katha na sunibe kane
gramya-varta na kahibe yabe milibe ane

 bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
hrdayete radha-krsna sarvada sevibe

“My dear brother, you are in the renounced order of life and should not listen to talk about ordinary worldly things, nor should you talk about worldly things when you meet with others. Do not eat luxurious dishes or dress in fine garments, but always remain humble and serve Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in your heart of hearts.” (Prema-vivarta, Chapter Seven)

These instructions were given for one in the renounced order of life. But then too, we have the example of Srila Prabhupada. He was in the renounced order of life, but he was also the acharya, the “world preacher of bhakti cult.” He didn’t indulge in different types of new fashion, but he did accept nice clothes and nice quarters and nice prasada. Not excessive, but nice. Sometimes in America he rode in a Rolls Royce, and sometimes in India he rode in a rickshaw, but he was the same. And that is the point: whether he was riding in the rickshaw or riding in the Rolls Royce, he was the same. He was detached and fully absorbed in devotional service, in Krishna consciousness.

Candramauli Swami: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: That’s nice. Candramauli Swami says that in Boston he heard that Srila Prabhupada had said that for himself he would like to go back to the Radha-Damodar temple and live in the simplicity of Vrindavan, but that for him to do so would be sense gratification. Yes, Krishna wanted Srila Prabhupada to spread Krishna consciousness all over the whole world, and to do something opposed to what Krishna wants is sense gratification.

Devakinandan dasa: [inaudible]

Giriraj Swami: Devakinandan Prabhu says that George Harrison at one stage wanted to give up everything—his career—just to serve Krishna. But Srila Prabhupada wanted him to stay in his position and serve Krishna from his position. Yes, I also heard that Srila Prabhupada said, “You remain as a Beatle and you write songs about Krishna.”

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Sri Kisora-Kisori ki jaya!
Nitai-gaura-premanande hari-haribol!


[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Vamana-dvadasi, August 15, 2000, Chicago]

ISKCON Scarborough – "JUST DO IT"- Class by HH Bhaktimarga Swami – Sunday – 19th Sep 2021- 11 am to 12 noon
→ ISKCON Scarborough

Hare Krishna!
Please accept our humble obeisances!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Date: 19th Sep 2021
Day: Sunday
Time: 11 am to 12 noon
Topic: "Just Do It"
Speaker: H.H Bhaktimarga Swami

Link to join the class from your desktop or laptop:

HH Bhaktimarga Swami:
Bhaktimarga Swami, popularly known as "The Walking Monk", took to a monk’s life in 1973 as a youthful 20-year-old. Prior to becoming a monk, he did chores on the family farm in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, and was a college student of Fine Arts. His walks are extensively and internationally featured on radio, television, in the newspaper, and film

ISKCON Scarborough
3500 McNicoll Avenue, Unit #3,
Scarborough, Ontario,
Canada, M1V4C7

Lord Vamanadeva – The Dwarf Incarnation of Supreme Lord
→ Dandavats

By Chandan Yatra Das

amana avatar, an extraordinary astonishing incarnation of Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as the son of Kasyapa Muni and Aditi to regain the universe for His devotees- the demigods from the great King Bali who had ruled over the entire universe. He appeared as Lord Vamana, a brahmana dwarf and tricked Bali Maharaja by asking for three steps of land. Continue reading "Lord Vamanadeva – The Dwarf Incarnation of Supreme Lord
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PRABHUPADA IS COMING TO THE TOVP! – Sponsor a Sacred Water Abhisheka!

On October 14 and 15 ISKCON will combinedly celebrate the Grand Welcome Ceremony of Srila Prabhupada’s new murti to the TOVP – Prabhupada Vaibhava Darshan Utsava. Prabhupada will now be personally present in the TOVP to inspire and direct us for its completion.

Five abhisheka options are available to sponsor, of which the most popular is the Sahasra Jal Abhisheka (Sacred Water Abhisheka). This abhisheka is composed of water from 125 sacred rivers, kundas and sarovaras gathered throughout India. This sponsorship is affordable by every man, woman and child in ISKCON for $25 / ₹1,600 / £20. Your name will be read to Srila Prabhupada as he is being bathed, and at the same time you are helping to support the construction of his most cherished and desired project, the TOVP.

Alternatively, you may wish to sponsor one of the four ‘bathing coins’ also available. You will receive the coin in a beautiful, specially designed card.

Below is a list of all the sacred rivers, kundas and sarovaras that are included in the Sacred Water Abhisheka.



Donors will receive the coin used to ‘bathe’ Srila Prabhupada in these beautiful, specially designed cards.


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Lord Vamana Appearance
→ Ramai Swami

Lord Vamana, the dwarf, is the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is also the first incarnation of Treta Yuga. The Srimad Bhagavatam states that Lord Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the power of Lord Indra in heaven, which was taken by King Bali. The lila is summarised as follows:

Bali Maharaja had conquered the demigods through great religious practice and asceticism. He drove out Lord Indra, the king of heaven. Indra went to Lord Vishnu for help in conquering Bali and taking back his rightful place in heaven. Lord Vishnu agreed and took birth as a Brahmin. He went to King Bali’s sacrificial ceremony. The King honoured Lord Vamana and invited Him to receive charity from him. Sukracarya, Bali’s guru, recognised the Brahmin as Lord Vishnu. He warned the king, but in vain. 

The Brahmin, Lord Vamana, then requested Bali to grant Him as much land as He could cover in three steps. The king did as he promised but when Lord Vamana took His first two steps, He encompassed the earth, the middle world, and the heavens. The Lord then asked where He should put His third step. To complete his promise, Bali offered his own head to Lord Vamana for His final step. Vamana taught King Bali that pride and wealth is transitory and can easily disappear.

TOVP Samstapak Acharya Seva Opportunity

It is with great pleasure that we announce the Samstapak Acharya Seva opportunity as one of our service options for Srila Prabhupada’s new murti Welcome Ceremony on October 14 and 15. It is titled as such because it recognizes ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya as the prominent acharya of Caitanya Gaudiya Vaishnavism for the next 10,000 (samstapak) years.

This particular Seva Opportunity is especially significant and meaningful. Srila Prabhupada said on several occasions that his books, his instructions and his Institution would be the guiding light for humanity for the next 10,000 years of Kali-yuga. We cannot imagine our good fortune in being a part of this historic legacy, and you can again express your gratefulness for Srila Prabhupada’s mercy by sponsoring this seva.

“I have given you instruction, it will never stop; it will go on. At least for ten thousand years it will go on.”

June 21, 1976

“It will increase. That is also stated, that for 10,000 years Krishna consciousness movement will increase. Yes, within 10,000 years, if they become Krishna conscious, then life is successful.”

July 22, 1973, London

“This movement will go for 10,000 years without any impediment….Many fallen souls will be delivered back to home, back to Godhead.”

June 10, 1976, Los Angeles

“My books will be the law books for humanity for the next 10,000 years. That is how I think as I write each word.”

To Ramesvara das, car conversation

Sponsors of this seva opportunity will be blessed to receive a 5# replica of the actual Prabhupada murti being welcomed to the TOVP, a murti specially designed by ISKCON’s most well-known Prabhupada murti-maker, Sriman Locana das. It is carefully designed internally with a reinforcing steel structure to avoid heat related effects, and in a unique worship-pose. This beautiful and highly detailed 5# replica murti is pictured below.

The $10,000 sponsorship cost is payable in three-year installments and will help with our ongoing construction needs. Please visit the Samstapak Acharya Seva Page on the TOVP website to sponsor a murti today while they are still available, as only a limited number have been made.



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Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the TOVP

This article is being presented in honor of the divine appearance day of the original pioneer of the Krishna consciousness movement, His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakur, September 18, 2021.

namo bhaktivinodaya sac-cid-ananda-namine
gaura-shakti-svarupaya rupanuga-varaya te

I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda, who is transcendental energy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvamis, headed by Srila Rupa.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote:

“Alas! When will that day come when all greatly fortunate souls in countries such as England, France, Russia, Prussia and America will take up banners, kettle drums, mrdangas and karatalas and thus cause the ecstatic waves of Hari Nama Kirtan and the singing of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s holy name to rise in the streets of their towns and cities? O when will that day come, when pure and transcendental Krishna prema (love of God) will be the only religion of all souls and all tiny sectarian religions will meet in the unlimited and universal religion of devotional service to Krishna, as rivers merge into the great ocean? O when will that day come?”


This was the heart’s desire of the Thakur, the spreading of the chant of the Holy Names and pure Krishna prema all over the world in fulfillment of Lord Caitanya’s prophecy:

pṛthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama

“In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.”

As an empowered Vaishnava acharya, his life was full of deep sadhana and bhajana, preaching activities through various programs, writing of devotional books, songs and poetry, and teaching actively to the public, all while maintaining a household and working as a Government Magistrate. His life is a perfect example of a householder fully infused with devotional service.

Amongst his innumerable accomplishments was the discovery of the janmasthan (birthplace) of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Nabadvipa and the building of a magnificent temple at this Yogapitha. His vision of preaching worldwide inspired him to write, Caitanya Mahaprabhu – His Life and Precepts, copies of which he personally sent to several Institutions throughout the world.

Because of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s being the pioneer of the Krishna consciousness movement and the force behind its progression into the modern world, Srila Prabhupada took it as his great service to him to build the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Sridhama Mayapur as the fulfillment of the Thakura’s vision. So important was this to Srila Prabhupada that he said to Giriraja Swami, “If you all build this temple, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura will personally come and take you all back to Godhead.”

On this most auspicious occasion we request devotees to consider intensifying their dedication and desire to see the completion of the TOVP for the divine pleasure of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Prabhupada. In particular, the opportunity to sponsor an abhisheka for the historic Grand Welcome Ceremony of Srila Prabhupada’s new murti to the TOVP on October 14 and 15 is being offered.

To read more about the life and accomplishments of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur click the link below to an article by His Grace Sri Nandanandana Das (ACBSP).



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𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗢𝗳 𝗦𝗿𝗶 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗸𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗮 𝗦𝗮𝗸𝗵𝗶 – 15th Sep 2021

🌸🌸𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗢𝗳 𝗦𝗿𝗶 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗸𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗮 𝗦𝗮𝗸𝗵𝗶🌸🌸 Campakalata is the third of the varistha-gopis. Her complexion is the color of a blossoming yellow campaka flower and her garments are the color of a blue jay’s. She is one day younger than Srimati Radharani, and her age is 14 years, 2 months and 13 1/2 days. Her father […]

The post 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗢𝗳 𝗦𝗿𝗶 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗸𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗮 𝗦𝗮𝗸𝗵𝗶 – 15th Sep 2021 appeared first on

Sri Radhashtami – Appearance Of Srimati Radhika

𝗦𝗿𝗶𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶 𝗥𝗮𝗱𝗵𝗶𝗸𝗮 Sri Radhika is a princess and She has many maidservants led by Ragalekha-devi, Kalakeli-devi and Bhurida-devi. Palindri-devi serves Srimati Radhika by dressing and decorating her. And Citrini-devi decorates Her with various cosmetics. Mantriki-devi and Tantriki-devi are astrologers who reveal future influences and happenings to Sri Radha. Also included among Her servants are many […]

The post Sri Radhashtami – Appearance Of Srimati Radhika appeared first on

Sri Radhastami
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In the Brihad-Gautamiya Tantra, Radharani is described as follows:

devi krishna-mayi prokta

radhika para-devata

sarva-lakshmi-mayi sarva

kantih sammohini para

“The transcendental goddess Srimati Radharani is the direct counterpart of Lord Sri Krishna. She is the central figure for all the goddesses of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord.”

To explain further, Srimati Radharani is also the source of the other goddesses, who are expansions of Her. Just as Lord Krishna is the source of all other expansions and incarnations of God, Radharani is the source of all other expansions of the energies of God, the shaktis, or other goddesses. Thus, Vishnu, Rama, even Shiva are all expansions of the one Supreme Being, and similarly Lakshmi, Sita, and even Durga are all expansions of this Supreme Feminine form of God, Radharani.

It is explained that the beloved consorts of Lord Krishna are of three kinds, namely the goddesses of fortune or Lakshmis, His queens, and the milkmaids of Vraja called the gopis. All of them proceed from Radharani. The Lakshmis are partial manifestations, or plenary portions, of Srimati Radharani, while the queens in Vaikuntha and in Dvaraka are reflections of Her image. The Vraja-devis or gopis are Her expansions and assist in the increase of rasa, or the divine loving pastimes. Among them there are many groups that have various sentiments and moods, which help Lord Krishna taste the sweetness of the rasa dance and other pastimes. (Cc.Adi-lila. 4. 75-81)

“Among the gopis of Vrindavana, Srimati Radharani and another gopi are considered chief. However, when we compare the gopis, it appears that Srimati Radharani is most important because Her real feature expresses the highest ecstasy of love. The ecstasy of love experienced by the other gopis cannot be compared to that of Srimati Radharani.” (Ujjvala-nilamani 4.3 of Srila Rupa Gosvami)

Fix your hearing!
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(Kadamba Kanana Swami, Berlin, Germany, 20 August 2021, Zoom Disciple Meeting)

If you fix your hearing, chanting will happen automatically.

Watch the full lecture below or on our YouTube channel here:

The article " Fix your hearing! " was published on KKSBlog.