Tamal Krishna Goswami’s Disappearance Day
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Tamal Krishna Goswami’s Disappearance Day.
Srila Prabhupada said that when a Vaishnava departs we feel simultaneously happy and sad. We feel happy because we know the Vaishnava has gone to Krishna, but we feel sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association. I have no doubt that Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja has gone both to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji. By such service as he offered to Srila Prabhupada for so many years, one is naturally promoted to Their service.

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Tamal Krishna Goswami’s Disappearance Day
Giriraj Swami

Appreciating Tamal Krishna Goswami—In Service and Separation

Srila Prabhupada said that when a Vaishnava departs we feel simultaneously happy and sad. We feel happy because we know the Vaishnava has gone to Krishna, but we feel sad because we will miss the Vaishnava’s association. I have no doubt that Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja has gone both to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji. By such service as he offered to Srila Prabhupada for so many years, one is naturally promoted to Their service.

The last time I spoke here, Goswami Maharaja was in his quarters, and as I recall, he sort of tricked me into giving the class. I think he said he had to do some service in his quarters, so I gave the class. And remembering that incident, it is easy for me now to imagine that I am giving class and he is in his quarters and that we are all together. Before that class, I’d had a very significant talk with Goswami Maharaja in which he gave me some important instructions.

The discussion had actually begun the night before, when I first arrived. We had both been sitting on the floor, and he had been saying how people thought that he was such a senior devotee, that he had been practicing Krishna consciousness for so many years, that he was a direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and that he’d had so much of Srila Prabhupada’s association. But, he had said, in spite of his hari-nama, Gayatri, and sannyasa initiations from Srila Prabhupada, and all his association with Srila Prabhupada and his practice of Krishna consciousness, he still felt he needed guidance from other devotees. He had said that he took their guidance and that he considered some of these guides to be siksa-gurus. And then he had listed the names of godbrothers whom he considered to be his siksa-gurus.

At the time, I was being prevented from returning to India, where I had served for many years—the first several with Goswami Maharaja—and I based myself first in Mauritius and then gradually divided most of my time between Mauritius and South Africa. So, I was pretty isolated from my godbrothers. At that time in the movement some of the biggest leaders had fallen down, and I was in such a state of shock that I had resolved within my heart that I would never take shelter of anyone else again—except Srila Prabhupada. So when Goswami Maharaja spoke to me as he did, I had to consider what he said. I always took what he said seriously, but at the same time I had vowed never again to place my faith in anyone except Srila Prabhupada.

The next morning while we were chanting our rounds in the temple, somehow the feeling, or realization, came in my heart that actually what Goswami Maharaja had said was true: we do need guidance; we do need a siksa-guru or siksa-gurus. And it became equally clear that the person who should be my siksa-guru, or who was meant to be my siksa-guru, was Goswami Maharaja himself. It was such a clear realization, such a strong realization, that I became very excited and approached him. In general, I wouldn’t have wanted to disturb him while he was chanting his rounds, but I couldn’t help myself. I told him that I had just had the realization that what he had said was true: despite all our association with Srila Prabhupada, we still need the guidance of other devotees. He nodded his head knowingly, in agreement and approval. Finally I had realized what he already knew.

Then I said, “And I have also been inspired with the conclusion that you should be my siksa-guru.” I don’t remember if I actually did it physically, but my mood was to throw myself at his lotus feet and beg him to be my siksa-guru. And I don’t remember exactly what he said, but in effect he agreed. So I was very happy.

Some years earlier, when I had been feeling especially wretched and miserable, Srila Prabhupada had discussed one verse on a morning walk on Juhu Beach. It comes originally from Stotra-ratna by Yamunacharya, but Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami addressed it to Lord Chaitanya when they met Him for the first time:

 bhavantam evanucaran nirantarah
  prasanta-nihsesa-mano-rathantarah
kadaham aikantika-nitya-kinkarah
  praharsayisyami sa-natha-jivitam

“By serving You constantly, one is freed from all material desires and is completely pacified. When shall I engage as Your permanent eternal servant and always feel joyful to have such a perfect master?”

Srila Prabhupada had elaborated especially on the word sa-natha. Natha means “master,” and sa means “with.” He said that the goal of life is to become sa-natha, “with master,” not a-natha, “without master,” or “orphan.” Then he pointed to the dogs on Juhu Beach. The dogs with masters—he pointed to one who was really stout and strong, just like its master—were as confident as their masters. “I have my master,” Srila Prabhupada said. “I have a home, a place to go at night. I will have food. If there is any difficulty, my master will protect me and take care of me.”

And then he pointed to some stray dogs. They were skinny and scraggly, and he said that without masters they were anatha; other dogs would bark at them, and children would throw stones at them. They didn’t know where they would sleep or how they would get food. They were always in anxiety.

So, our goal of life is to become sanatha, with master, protected. And, of course, the supreme master is Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami were appealing to Lord Chaitanya to become their master and allow them to become His servants.

Sometimes, even having been initiated by Srila Prabhupada and having had so much association with him, I still felt like an anatha, an orphan, especially after some of the leaders whom I respected so much left. And then, of course, I made my resolution. But after I approached Goswami Maharaja and he accepted me, I felt I was again sanatha: I had a master. Not that he took the place of Srila Prabhupada, but he helped me in my relationship with Srila Prabhupada, in my service to Srila Prabhupada. He helped me to approach Srila Prabhupada.

As the years passed, I saw Goswami Maharaja in different situations. There was a time when he was staying in an apartment in New York City, writing one of his dramas, either Jagannatha-priya Natakam or Prabhupada Antya-lila. He had entered a new field of service. He was studying Sanskrit drama and writing plays. At the same time, he had even been reading Western dramas, and he wasn’t sure if what he was doing was correct, so he wanted to consult his godbrothers.

After that, I saw that whenever Goswami Maharaja had to make an important decision, he would always consult his godbrothers. He had special friends whom he consulted on specific points, but when he had to make a major decision, or a difficult decision, he would consult many godbrothers. He might consult them individually, but when he had the chance he would have them all come together, and he would present his thoughts and doubts to them, the different points in favor of and the different points against the idea, and basically he would accept their decision. Srila Prabhupada also said that when the Vaishnavas—the right devotees in the right atmosphere—consider and all agree, we should take their conclusion as Krishna’s conclusion.

In any case, Goswami Maharaja always consulted his godbrothers. He had faith in their association, and he loved their association. And for important decisions, he had faith in the conclusions that would arise from their association. He was a very honest person. He spoke according to his realization, and he acted as he spoke.

Goswami Maharaja himself was an extraordinary person. His insight, his intelligence, and his association with Srila Prabhupada made him uniquely qualified to answer questions and give guidance. It is extremely rare to find someone who is so spiritually attuned and at the same time so astute in worldly matters, so conscious of an individual’s mentality and psychology and mood and sincerity.

In the last few days we have received so many phone calls. Many have come from Goswami Maharaja’s godbrothers. One, Baradraj Prabhu, who lives in Los Angeles, told me how much Goswami Maharaja had helped him over the years. Baradraj Prabhu is an artist, and Srila Prabhupada had engaged him in artwork, first in painting for the books and then in learning the art of doll making in Bengal. Later, Baradraj Prabhu came to lead the FATE project, the museum in Los Angeles. He told me of an incident when he was very sick in a Calcutta hospital. He was so sick and the situation seemed so hopeless that he had almost given up the will to live. Then Tamal Krishna Goswami came to visit and spent two hours with him in the hospital. Baradraj Prabhu’s real desire was to preach in Russia. At the time, no one had gone to Russia, and Baradraj Prabhu was born in part of the USSR. Goswami Maharaja understood what was in his heart and encouraged him to go to Russia to preach—how important and how good it would be. And just by that talk with Goswami Maharaja, Baradraj Prabhu developed the will to live again. He felt that he had something to live for, and he got better.

Once, Goswami Maharaja himself needed an operation in Bombay. He had gone to Jaslok Hospital, the best in Bombay at the time. But when Srila Prabhupada heard about it, he wanted to stop the operation. So he got into our jeep, the only vehicle we owned, and rode all the way to central Bombay, to the hospital. But when he got there it was too late. Goswami Maharaja had just come out of the operation theater, and when he opened his eyes and saw Srila Prabhupada, he told him that he had just had a dream: Srila Prabhupada had been giving a report to the previous acharyas about his work on the planet earth, and Srila Prabhupada had said that people basically had no spiritual assets—no knowledge, no austerity, practically no good qualities at all. But in the dream Srila Prabhupada had said that they did have one qualification: “Their one qualification is that they have faith in me, and they do whatever I say.” Then Goswami Maharaja looked up at Srila Prabhupada to see his response. And Srila Prabhupada agreed: “Yes, it is true.”

Actually, we have no qualification except our faith in Srila Prabhupada as spiritual master. And Goswami Maharaja was the epitome of such faithful and devoted service. In fact, he acted like an extension of Srila Prabhupada. The way he took care of Srila Prabhupada at the end, the way he rendered such intimate service to him—sometimes it seemed like he could read Srila Prabhupada’s mind, which was a great asset for a personal servant. (Of course, Goswami Maharaja was so perceptive he could practically read anyone’s mind.)

After Srila Prabhupada left, Goswami Maharaja took complete charge of the ceremonies. He made the arrangements for Srila Prabhupada to visit the Deities of Vrindavan, the arrangements for Srila Prabhupada to be placed in samadhi, the arrangements for the festival, and the invitations to the Vaishnavas of Vrindavan—the senior Vaishnavas associated with the different temples and mathas. Another thing that impressed me was how Goswami Maharaja took possession of some of Srila Prabhupada’s personal effects and then gave them to individual devotees as maha-prasada, as remnants of Srila Prabhupada’s to keep Srila Prabhupada near to them, as a remembrance to sustain them in separation. He was so perceptive that he seemed empowered to give just the right item to each individual.

Recently, I was recalling the history of ISKCON, looking at pictures of its history, and there was Goswami Maharaja, everywhere. It is inconceivable how one person could have done so much to spread Krishna consciousness, to serve Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada.

Of course, you know about Goswami Maharaja’s surgery. Some time later, I also had major surgery in California, and Goswami Maharaja came to visit me—November 31 and December 1, 2, and 3, 2000. He had planned to stay for five full days, but then he said, “I have come so close, I think I should visit my mother.” I said, “You must.” He said, “Then I’ll have to leave early in the morning. On the last day I won’t be able to stay with you.” I said, “No, you must visit your mother.”

Anyway, Goswami Maharaja had been presenting papers at the AAR, the American Academy of Religion. There he had noticed a lady professor, Barbara Holdrege; he had been struck by her and impressed by her, and had developed the desire to meet her. At the same time, she had been observing him and hearing him deliver papers, and she had also been impressed and had developed the desire to meet him. So on the last day of the AAR meeting, they were introduced to each other. He told her that he was going to be visiting Santa Barbara, where she is a professor at UCSB, and she said, “All right, when you come to Santa Barbara, please phone me and we’ll get together.”

So he phoned her and arranged for her to come to my place for lunch. He had meticulously planned the whole meeting. He met with her first, and then, after they had spent some time together, he brought her to the temple room, where I was waiting and chanting. She sat down right in front of our Deities Sri Sri Gandharvika-Giridhari and we discussed Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta.

Then we all had lunch together, and I thought, “Wow! When I was at college we never had professors like her!” And I started to see that there was a whole new field in academia. Until then, I’d had no idea of what the field was like. My memory of the academy went back to 1969, when I graduated from Brandeis and joined Srila Prabhupada. But Goswami Maharaja had told me that people of our generation who were spiritually inclined either joined religious movements—like we had—or went into Religious Studies.

Anyway, she was extraordinary, and of course Goswami Maharaja was extraordinary, and the discussion between them was wonderful. It really gave me a glimpse into the field. I had heard a lot from Goswami Maharaja, but until I met her I really didn’t have a sense of what the field was actually like. In the end, she stayed for seven hours. By the time she phoned her husband, she was well overdue, but it was okay. And afterwards I was completely enlivened.

After Barbara Holdrege left, at around ten o’clock at night, Goswami Maharaja and I stopped back in the temple room, and I recalled a letter that Srila Prabhupada had written me when I had first joined, in 1969. Srila Prabhupada’s letter revealed that my father had written to him, and so Srila Prabhupada wrote, “I have received one letter from your father. It appears that you are a good scholar and have a taste for psychology and divinity studies. Of course, Krishna consciousness is on the line of divinity. If you make a thorough study of all theological schools and explain Krishna consciousness as the post-graduate presentation of all theological theses, it will be a great accomplishment.”

As I was reading the letter with Goswami Maharaja, I was thinking of Barbara Holdrege. She had studied all religions. She had gone most deeply into Judaism and Hinduism, and her great work was called Veda and Torah. She said that after going through all the different literatures and all the different traditions, she had become particularly interested in Gaudiya Vaishnavism and planned to make Gaudiya traditions a focus of her research.

Now it has been a year and a half since Goswami Maharaja introduced me to her, and she has been working on a research project on holy places in India that features a section on Vraja. Last January, she and her student Tripurari dasa came for dinner and we discussed the project. All this time, she kept in communication with Goswami Maharaja. One of the last times I spoke to him by phone we spoke of her.

I mention her—she is like a grain from the pot—because the combination of meeting her and seeing how Goswami Maharaja dealt with her and rereading the letter from Srila Prabhupada all convinced me of the importance of the work in the academic field. And Goswami Maharaja definitely emerged as the leader in the field. He showed that one could be a devotee and at the same time be an excellent scholar and writer. He published many articles and collections and established many deep relationships with people in the academy.

On Thursday, when we received the news about Goswami Maharaja, Professor Holdrege also heard and phoned me at ten o’clock at night. She didn’t have much personal association with Goswami Maharaja—the main times they were together were at my place for lunch and then again at the last AAR conference—but she was deeply moved when she heard what had happened. She was also concerned about the project she was working on, but although she intimated that she wanted to discuss it with me, she felt reluctant because of my own state after hearing the news. Somehow, I got the idea that Goswami Maharaja would want me to discuss it with her, and knowing that I would be leaving for Dallas, I said, “No, it’s all right. We can discuss.” And when we began, I felt that Goswami Maharaja was pleased; I felt some presence in the room, a brightness, and actually a blissfulness, as we were talking.

After the conversation, around eleven at night, I went out of my room into the temple room, and I really felt Goswami Maharaja’s presence, just as if he were with me. Not only was he with me, but I felt he was—I guess among family we can speak openly—I felt he was indicating that not only was he with me now but that now he could be with me always, and intimately, without being hampered by the trappings of having a body in the world and a role in society. And that was very encouraging. So, I felt very bright and blissful and wonderful, although since then I have felt much separation.

Here I may also mention another phone call, from one of Goswami Maharaja’s disciples in Los Angeles—Balarama Prabhu, from the Philippines. Balarama phoned and began asking about what had happened, and he was very controlled. Most of the people who phoned began very controlled, and then, somewhere between three seconds and three minutes later, they would break down and start to cry. Anyway, Balarama went on for one or two minutes and then said, “I have to tell you about a dream I had the night before Srila Gurudeva left.” And he began to sob uncontrollably. He wanted to tell me, but it was almost impossible for him to get it out because he was crying so much.

He said that Srila Gurudeva had come to him the night before, flanked by two devotees in saffron, and said, “I have to leave now.” In the dream Balarama became a little angry and asked, “Why? Why do you have to leave?” Srila Gurudeva replied, “I just have to leave now.” Then Balarama said that Srila Gurudeva told him, “I will always be with you . . .” And then Balarama managed to get out the next few words: “with my godbrothers.” So I thought he meant that Srila Gurudeva would always be with him and always be with his godbrothers too. Then Balarama indicated that Gurudeva meant that he would always be with Balarama when Balarama was with Gurudeva’s godbrothers, because Gurudeva was always with his godbrothers. So Balarama said that he wanted to come and spend some time with me because I was “the closest,” and of course he also mentioned Giridhari Swami. I said, “Well, I am leaving for Dallas, but when I come back you can come and we can meet.”

When I heard Balarama’s dream, I thought there was definitely some plan. Then Professor Holdrege phoned the next morning and said she couldn’t sleep the whole night because she was thinking of Tamal Krishna Goswami and felt enlivened by his presence. So, we can imagine how much effect Goswami Maharaja has had on people, both in his manifest presence and now.

When I speak of “Srila Gurudeva,” I really feel that Goswami Maharaja is an expansion of guru-tattva. Devotees may not be able to articulate the feeling in the same terms, but whether one is a disciple, a godbrother, a spiritual niece or nephew, or a university professor who is evolved spiritually and who may have only had a few encounters with Goswami Maharaja, anyone can experience Srila Gurudeva’s presence. Feeling Srila Gurudeva’s presence may take some time, depending on the individual, but all categories have certainly been deeply influenced by Srila Gurudeva.

So this is guru-tattva. Whatever our external relationship might have been, the scriptures’ teachings about the relationship with the spiritual master still hold: “He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him.” Thus, whatever the official relationship may be, the follower of Srila Gurudeva’s instructions will live with him. Or, Srila Gurudeva will live with the follower.

Of course, the challenge now is to keep that memory alive, to keep that relationship alive. And the community here will be a great support. I have seen many disciples, even of Srila Prabhupada, fall away from the strict practices of devotional service as time passed. Of course, many of them had bad experiences in the movement and became discouraged. But if the community remains united and the devotees remain strong in their spiritual practices and association, and keep Srila Gurudeva’s memory alive, not in a sentimental way but in a real way, that “I had a real, tangible relationship with him, and he gave me so many instructions, which I must follow,” there is no doubt we will feel Srila Gurudeva’s presence.

Still, we should not act as fanatics or sentimentalists. Even Srila Prabhupada’s disciples sometimes quote Srila Prabhupada in a fanatical way and do things in his name that we know he would not condone. We must always beware of niyamagraha, following the rules and regulations fanatically without really understanding the purpose behind them, or disregarding the rules and regulations and acting independently or whimsically. But if we keep our association strong, if our community is strong and our practice is strong, then there is no doubt that we will feel Srila Prabhupada’s and Srila Gurudeva’s living presence, even now.

Of course, I am saying, “even now.” Twenty-four years have passed since Srila Prabhupada left. It took me time. When Srila Prabhupada left, I was just crying. It took me time before I could actually feel his presence—it was a gradual, incremental process. At first, I was just crying, feeling separation. But having gone through the experience with Srila Prabhupada and having some experience of it even now with Srila Gurudeva, I know that it is possible to have that relationship even without the physical presence. And I also know the conditions that are conducive to maintaining the relationship and developing it further—we should associate with other devotees who have similar faith and whose association will be conducive to our faith, conducive to our practice, and conducive to our service. If we can keep such association, we can blossom spiritually—individually and collectively.

Now we are thinking that Srila Gurudeva was so young, which is true. But when Prabhupada left, we were thinking that we were so young. We were thinking, “How could Krishna take Srila Prabhupada when we’re so young? How can we live without him?” [And s]{S}ome of the devotees who were cast into the role of gurus then had been devotees for only seven years. Many of you have been devotees for fourteen years, or twenty-one years. So I think your own spiritual maturity and the strength of the community will serve you well—along with Srila Gurudeva’s example. After Prabhupada left, Goswami Maharaja commented that Srila Prabhupada, as the acharya, had shown us the example of how to do everything, except for one thing: how to relate to godbrothers. Prabhupada didn’t have any godbrothers who were ready to join with him. So we had no experience of godbrothers who had disciples—how they would relate to each other, how their disciples would relate to each other—because in ISKCON there was just Srila Prabhupada. He was the guru, and we all were his disciples. Srila Prabhupada invited his godbrothers to cooperate with him; it’s not that he wanted to be the only disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who was preaching the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the West. But at the time, no one came. So that was the one example we didn’t have from Srila Prabhupada.

But we do have that example from Srila Gurudeva—how he associated with his godbrothers; how he consulted with his godbrothers; how he loved them; how he opened his heart to them; how they opened their hearts to him; and how they enjoyed kirtan together, reading and discussing together, and serving Srila Prabhupada together. And that example can be a real inspiration and guide.

So, now everything is complete. We have the instructions, we have the examples, we have the community, we have the Deities—we have everything. And if we just stick to the principles and stay together, stay united, with Srila Prabhupada and his beloved and trusted servant Srila Gurudeva in the center, we can continue, and continue to make progress.

When I think back on my last talk with Goswami Maharaja before he went to India (and I feel glad in retrospect that we had the talk—it probably lasted an hour and a half or more), I can see that it came at a time when certain things in my own service to Srila Prabhupada were becoming clarified and facilitated. I went over my service with Goswami Maharaja, and he commented on it, and I feel that what he said then, in terms of my service to Srila Prabhupada, can serve to guide me for the rest of my life. I had hoped to discuss more of the details with him as the service evolved, but now I can’t speak to him like I used to, by dialing his number on the telephone. But the basic plan is there, the basic instructions are there, the important confirmations are there, and I have faith that by the process of chanting and hearing and praying and consulting other devotees—mainly godbrothers, though there are also many other qualified devotees who are competent to respond wisely to questions and problems—we can get the answers we need in order to progress in our service.

I was thinking how in 1976, when Srila Prabhupada was in New York and was already ill and aged, he wanted the benediction to go on fighting for Krishna. Thinking of the circumstances of Goswami Maharaja’s last manifest service, I thought of Srila Prabhupada’s statement. Tripurari dasa told me about Goswami Maharaja’s mood in Oxford before leaving for India. Tripurari used to visit Goswami Maharaja’s house at least five times a week to do some service, and he also spent time with him just talking and doing things together. He said that Goswami Maharaja was very focused and very disciplined, and that for five hours every day he would work on his dissertation. Immovable. His routine was fixed. But he also said that in his last two days in Oxford Goswami Maharaja was so excited about the prospect of going to India that he couldn’t work on his dissertation—he was too excited. And then in Mayapur he immersed himself in hearing and chanting about Krishna. Every evening there would be bhajanas and kirtans for hours in his quarters.

Goswami Maharaja was very happy in Mayapur. He was pleased with the association of his godbrothers, pleased with the bhajanas, the sat-sanga, the kirtans. He was completely immersed in Krishna consciousness. And, of course, just being in the dhama has its own value. Probably all of us—what to speak of Goswami Maharaja—have experienced, when we leave the dhama, being absorbed in thoughts of the dhama, with memories of our experiences there and appreciation for the personalities who gave us mercy. But at the same time, when we leave, we leave for a purpose; we leave on a mission. We feel sad to leave the dhama, and we are still relishing the association of the dhama and the mercy of the higher personalities, but at the same time we know we have our mission—we are going to serve our spiritual master. I can imagine that Goswami Maharaja would have been in the same type of mood. And, transcendental as he was, the mood would have been even more heightened, more glorious—going out to fight for his spiritual master, for Srila Prabhupada.

From the point of view of the Society, also, I thought it was so appropriate and so auspicious; I could think of no better time or place for him to leave. So many devotees and leaders were there in Mayapur, the meetings had just ended and the festival had just begun, and practically all of ISKCON and its leadership were there and could worship and glorify His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja.

I felt that it was an occasion when the Society could come closer together, become more united in appreciation of Srila Prabhupada’s right-hand man. Time will reveal more about Krishna’s plan, but I do feel that Goswami Maharaja’s departure has provided us an opportunity and an occasion to come closer together. For the sincere, openhearted, pure-hearted devotees, it is an occasion to regroup our forces and appreciate each other more, appreciate the value of each other’s presence on the planet, and at the same time recognize the tenuousness of our existence in the body and realize that any one of us can go at any time. And therefore, with whatever time we have left, we should do the best we can for each other and for Srila Prabhupada, for the mission, and give up petty thoughts, petty preoccupations, petty grudges—just let it all go and fix our vision on Krishna, Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji; Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; the Six Gosvamis; the previous acharyas; Srila Prabhupada; and Srila Prabhupada’s intimate associates, including Sripada Tamal Krishna Goswami—and group together under their shelter and serve them, exalt them, and glorify them. And that will make us exalted and glorified, too.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami, March 16, 2002—two days after Tamal Krishna Goswami’s departure—in Dallas]

Mayapur Institute Closing Ceremony
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The Winter Semester at Mayapur Institute concluded with a closing ceremony on February 21, where more than 150 students from over 40 countries were awarded certificates for Bhakti Sastri and Bhakti Vaibhav degrees. Eminent ISKCON leaders HH Jayapataka Swami, HH Bhakti Vighna Vinashak Narasimha Swami, HH Bhakti Dhira Damodar Swami, HH Yadunandana Swami, and HH Bhakti Purushottam Swami graced the occasion with their benign presence. They awarded graduation certificates to the students and blessed them.

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TOVP Pujari Floor Grand Opening Documentary
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This short video documentary by Prananatha prabhu encapsulates the entire five hour Pujari Floor Grand Opening Ceremony held on February 13.

It will move and inspire you to look forward to the Grand Opening of the TOVP in 2022: THE TOVP IS COMING!

COMING NEXT – THE GRAND OPENING OF LORD NRSIMHADEVA’S TEMPLE WING IN 2021

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Ratha Yatra – NATAL – Brazil (Album of photos)
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Ratha Yatra - NATAL - Brazil (Album of photos)
The forth Ratha Yatra in Natal, Brazil was a great success. The Holy Names of Krishna were chanted in the middle of a traditional carnival party transforming the whole energy to a transcendental festival. More than 5.000 people chanted the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra as predicted by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that in every town and village the Holy Names will be chanted!

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Ohe, Vaishnava Thakura!
→ Mayapur.com

Today is a special day in Vaishnava Calendar – Disappearance day of Srila Jagannath Dasa Babaji, who is revered as Vaishnava Sarvabhauma, Sri Rasikananda Prabhu- disciple of Shyamananda Pandit, whodelivered everyone from pious royal families to Muslims, outcastes, agnostics, atheists, and even wild animals. HH Tamal Krishna Goswami, a dearmost disciple and personal servant of […]

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Feb 24–Disappearance Sri Rasikananda Prabhu
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Feb 24–Disappearance Sri Rasikananda Prabhu –HDGSP mentions this Great Devotee in His Books as follows–
The temple of Ksira-cora-gopinatha still exists in this village, and within the temple the samadhi tomb of Rasikananda Prabhu, the chief disciple of Syamananda Gosvami, can still be found.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 4.12

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Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s Disappearance Day
Giriraj Swami

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja comes in the Gaudiya Vaisnava disciplic succession after Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. He was a renounced ascetic, fully engaged in chanting the holy names of Krishna and meditating on the pastimes of Krishna. For some time, he made his residence at Surya-kunda in Vraja-dhama, near the temple of Suryadeva, where Srimati Radharani used to come and worship the sun-god—or, I should say, where She used to come to meet Krishna on the pretext of coming to worship the sun-god.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who comes in the disciplic succession after Jagannatha dasa Babaji, accepted Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja as his main guru, his siksa-guru. Once, some of Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disciples in Vraja approached the Thakura and complained that although they had come to Vraja to live like Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, fully absorbed in chanting the holy names and meditating on Sri Sri Radha-Krishna’s astakaliya-lila, Babaji Maharaja had refused to instruct them in such topics and had instead engaged them in cultivating tulasi plants, flowers, and vegetables to offer to the Lord. And they requested Bhaktivinoda Thakura to appeal to their guru maharaja to instruct them in the esoteric practices of Krishna consciousness.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura told the disciples, “Actually, your Gurudeva’s instructions are right for you. Because you still have anarthas, for you to try to sit and try to do nirjana-bhajana [solitary worship] and practice asta-kaliya-lila-smarana [meditation on the Lord’s eightfold daily pastimes] would be artificial, and you would just become degraded. So you should follow his instructions with full faith and work hard in Krishna’s service. Then, in time, you may be able to chant the holy names purely.”

Eventually, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja moved to Mayapur, where he lived by the banks of the Ganges, fully absorbed in chanting the holy names. He had the greatest reverence for the holy land of Navadvipa. Although he was so renounced and so absorbed in Krishna consciousness, as his reputation spread, gentlemen would come to him and give him donations. Once, Babaji Maharaja asked one of his servants to take the donations he had received, which he kept in an old burlap bag, and purchase a large pot of rasagullas. All the devotees were surprised, because Jagannatha dasa Babaji was so renounced and lived so simply; he would eat only the simplest rice and dal. Anyway, the servant brought the sweets, and Jagannatha dasa Babaji offered them to his Deities and then distributed them to the cows and dogs in the dhama. He said that the creatures of the dhama were elevated souls and worthy of service.

Later, Babaji Maharaja would not honor prasada until he had shared it with ten newborn puppies. He would wait until they came, and because in his old age his eyelids drooped over his eyes and prevented him from seeing, he would count them with his hands. And only after they had begun to eat would he also partake. He would say, “They are puppies of the dhama. They are not ordinary living entities.” He had so much faith in and affection for the dhama.

He had less affection for Mayavadi impersonalists. He used to say, “Let the dogs come in for darsana, but the impersonalists—kick them out!”

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji lived to a very old age. Some Vaishnavas say he was just waiting for Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to come—someone to whom he could impart his special knowledge and realization, for the benefit of humanity. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura requested to be transferred from his post in Orissa to Bengal so he could be near Navadvipa-dhama. And eventually, he was posted at Krishnanagar, near Navadvipa.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura did extensive research to determine the actual birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He studied old maps, consulted the local people, and visited the different places. Eventually he found a mound where many tulasi trees were growing. He got the intuition that this was the actual birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, but he wanted his intuition to be confirmed. At the time, Jagannatha dasa Babaji was the most renowned Vaishnava, and he was Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s siksa-guru. So, Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disciples brought him to the place with the mound and tulasi plants. He was so old—over a hundred and forty years old, some say—that his disciples had to carry him in a basket. The disciples brought him, but they didn’t tell him when they came to the site that Bhaktivinoda Thakura had determined was the birthplace. Still, when Babaji Maharaja arrived there, he spontaneously jumped out of his basket and began to dance in ecstasy, singing the holy names. Thus he confirmed the location of Mahaprabhu’s birthplace.

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s bhajana-kutira and samadhi are there in Navadvipa-dhama, in Koladvipa. Devotees who perform Navadvipa-parikrama visit there and get his mercy. We also pray to him for his mercy, that we may be instrumental in fulfilling the desires of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and the other acharyas in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu coming to us through Srila Prabhupada and his disciples.

Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja ki jaya!
Srila Prabhpada ki jaya!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s disappearance day, February 20, 2004, Carpinteria, California]

Krsnatarian (20 min. video)
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Krsnatarian: Do you want to know who is Krsna? In this video I have given a basic introduction to my channel and why it starts with Krsna.

These recipes are universal and anyone can take benefit from them. This website will help you create simple and exotic meals to treat your near and dear ones.

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HARE KRISHNA NEWS JanFeb-2020
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15.180 magazines distributed in 2019. 80-100 VOLUNTEERS Pack the Back To Godhead magazine for postage. Volunteers share their appreciations:“Yesterday my wife and I went to the temple to help with the packing of Back to Godhead magazines. After packing we had lunch with the devotees. I shared with Shireen that the service was so therapeutic and I relished every moment. She felt the same.” Babs“After the packing, he told me that he felt so peaceful and blissful, he wants to learn more about the basics of Krishna Consciousness so that he could try and practice nicely.”

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Sun Love Feast – Feb 23rd 2020 – Vedic discourse by Her Grace Mokshalila Mataji
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Chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare 

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare 

And Be Happy!!

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

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




11.00 - 11.15      Tulsi Puja
11.15  - 11.30     Guru Puja
11:30 - 11:55     Aarti & Kirtan
11.55  - 12.00    Sri Nrsingadeva Prayers
12.00 - 12:55    Vedic discourse
  1.00 - 1.30      Closing Kirtan
  1.30 - 2.00     Sanctified Free Vegetarian Feast

COMING UP AHEAD

Amalaki vrata Ekadasi
Fasting.....................on Thu Mar 5th, 2020
Breakfast................  on Fri Mar 6th, 2020 b/w 6:45am – 10:34am

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


Brahma Samhita Course from March 7th. Please note that there's a prerequisite for joining the course. Registration can be done on:
For further information, please contact HG Prema Gaurangi Devi Dasi @ premagaurangi.jps@hotmail.com


ONGOING PROGRAMS

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

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


Sunday School

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

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


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

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


The Mentorship Program

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

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

To find details please click here


Gift Shop

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

Gaura Purnima Festival begins!
→ Mayapur.com

With the raising of Garuda and Hanuman flags, 48th Gaura Purnima festival is inaugurated in a colorful flag hoisting ceremony, held at Srila Prabhupada Park, in front of Lotus building. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami , HH Loknath Goswami, HH Jayapataka Swami , who were participating in the festival since its inception, spoke on the importance […]

The post Gaura Purnima Festival begins! appeared first on Mayapur.com.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Disappearance Day festival
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Disciples, well-wishers, community devotees, godbrothers of HH Gour Govinda Swami came together to glorify Maharaj on the occasssion of disappearance day festival, held at Community hall at Sri Mayapur dhama. Among the countless moons of devotees of Lord Caitanya, HH Gour Govinda Swami shines as a bright moon and continues to illuminate the lives of […]

The post Srila Gour Govinda Swami Disappearance Day festival appeared first on Mayapur.com.

Shiva-ratri
Giriraj Swami

Today we shall read a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Four, Chapter Twenty-four: “Chanting the Song Sung by Lord Siva.”

As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam, vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: Lord Shiva is the greatest Vaishnava, and why he is so is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is considered the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic scriptures. The glories of Lord Shiva are described in many Bhagavatam chapters, and if we were to discuss all of them, it would take many days. So we are just going to focus on one verse from one chapter of one series of chapters about the glories of Lord Shiva as the greatest Vaishnava. Leading up to where we are in today’s verse, the Pracetas, who were all royal princes, had been doing severe austerities when Lord Shiva came to them to offer them some benediction. And the benediction they requested was to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. So Lord Shiva was very pleased with their request. They did not ask him for some material boon; they asked for the highest purpose of life, which is eternal service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which takes one beyond the material world of birth, death, disease, and old age.

In this verse, 30, Lord Shiva expresses his appreciation for the Pracetas as Vaishnavas, devotees of Lord Vishnu, and he also explains why Vaishnavas appreciate him.

TEXT 30

atha bhagavata yuyam
priyah stha bhagavan yatha
na mad bhagavatanam ca
preyan anyo ’sti karhicit

TRANSLATION

You are all devotees of the Lord, and as such I appreciate that you are as respectable as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. I know in this way that the devotees also respect me and that I am dear to them. Thus no one can be as dear to the devotees as I am.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

It is said, vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: Lord Siva is the best of all devotees. Therefore all devotees of Lord Krishna are also devotees of Lord Siva.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

In the Padma Purana, Lord Shiva tells his wife, aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param: Of all types of worship, the worship of Vishnu is the highest. Tasmat parataram devi tadiyanam samarcanam: but even higher than the worship of Vishnu is the worship of Vishnu’s devotees. So, in that context we worship devotees, we worship the spiritual master, and we worship Vaishnavas, including Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva has another aspect, which is of a demigod, a deva, whom people approach for material boons, like they approach Ganesh, Durga, and others. But we are not discussing Shiva in that inferior aspect—it is the same Shiva, but he plays the part of a demigod for those whose intelligence is a little bewildered or small.

PURPORT (continued)

In Vrndavana there is Lord Siva’s temple called Gopisvara. The gopis used to worship not only Lord Siva but Katyayani, or Durga, as well, but their aim was to attain the favor of Lord Krsna. A devotee of Lord Krsna does not disrespect Lord Siva, but worships Lord Siva as the most exalted devotee of Lord Krsna. Consequently whenever a devotee worships Lord Siva, he prays to Lord Siva to achieve the favor of Krsna, and he does not request material profit. In the Bhagavad-gita (7.20) it is said that generally people worship demigods for some material profit. Kamais tais tair hrta jnanah. Driven by material lust, they worship demigods, but a devotee never does so, for he is never driven by material lust. That is the difference between a devotee’s respect for Lord Siva and an asura’s respect for him.

COMMENT

Asura means “demon.”

PURPORT (continued)

The asura worships Lord Siva, takes some benediction from him, misuses the benediction, and ultimately is killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who awards him liberation.

COMMENT

One example is Ravana. Ravana was a devotee of Shiva, and by the blessings of Lord Shiva he attained immense wealth and power, but he became so maddened with material desires and so intoxicated by his material opulence that he dared to kidnap Mother Sita, and in the end he was killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of Lord Ramachandra.

So, we should be very careful not to approach Lord Shiva for material benefit, which is actually demonic. It is demonic because it means that we want to take God’s property—everything is God’s property—and enjoy it for ourselves, in competition with God. Sita is Lakshmi, and Lakshmi is meant to be engaged in the service of Narayana. Demons like Ravana want to take Lakshmi from Narayana and exploit her for their own sense gratification. So, we don’t want to be like Ravana, but rather, we want to be like Hanuman, who rescued Lakshmi (Sita) from the clutches of Ravana and returned her to Rama.

PURPORT (continued)

Because Lord Siva is a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he loves all the devotees of the Supreme Lord.

COMMENT

This is a very important characteristic of a true devotee: he loves all the other devotees. So in a way, we can assess our spiritual position by how much respect and appreciation and affection we have for the other devotees.

PURPORT (continued)

Lord Siva told the Pracetas that because they were devotees of the Lord, he loved them very much. Lord Siva was kind and merciful not only to the Pracetas; anyone who is a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very dear to Lord Siva. Not only are the devotees dear to Lord Siva, but he respects them as much as he respects the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, devotees of the Supreme Lord also worship Lord Siva as the most dear devotee of Lord Krsna.

COMMENT

This is a very important point.

PURPORT (continued)

They do not worship him as a separate Personality of Godhead. It is stated in the list of nama-aparadhas that it is an offense to think that the chanting of the name of Hari and the chanting of Hara, or Siva, are the same. The devotees must always know that Lord Visnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that Lord Siva is His devotee.

COMMENT

One of the first of the ten offenses against the holy name is to consider the names of the demigods such as Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma to be equal to or independent of the holy name of Lord Vishnu. As a devotee of Vishnu, Lord Shiva is respected, but he is not to be mistaken to be equal to or independent of Lord Vishnu.

Some years ago, an Austrian scholar came to India and became a sannyasi in the impersonalist Shankara line, accepting the name Agehananda Bharati. And there was a piece by him in the Illustrated Weekly of India, a popular weekly magazine like Life used to be in America. The editor then was Khushwant Singh, and from the editorial policy of the weekly, he seemed to be a demon. “Demon” doesn’t mean having ten heads and twenty arms. Demons can also look like you and me. But they are considered demons because they are against the supremacy of the Lord. So, this Khushwant Singh published an article by Bharati in which Dr. Bharati gave his account of his debate with our Hridayananda dasa, in which he had claimed that Lord Shiva was supreme and advocated the chanting of Lord Shiva’s name.

I could understand that the idea of the article was to make both Bharati and us look foolish—religious fanatics fighting like children over nothing: “Krishna is supreme.” “No, Shiva is supreme.” “You should chant Hare Krishna.” “No, you should chant Shiva Shiva.” So, I wrote Srila Prabhupada what the editor had done, and Srila Prabhupada agreed: “Yes, Giriraj is right. Bharati is a fool, but Singh is a demon.”

PURPORT (concluded)

The devotees must always know that Lord Visnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that Lord Siva is His devotee. A devotee should be offered respect on the level of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and sometimes even more respect. Indeed, Lord Rama, the Personality of Godhead Himself, sometimes worshiped Lord Siva. If a devotee is worshiped by the Lord, why should a devotee not be worshiped by other devotees on the same level with the Lord? This is the conclusion. From this verse it appears that Lord Siva blesses the asuras simply for the sake of formality. Actually he loves one who is devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

COMMENT

When Lord Ramachandra was in South India, He worshipped Lord Shiva at Rameswaram, and of course, Lord Shiva worships Lord Rama. So, this apparently contradictory behavior has given rise to speculation that Shiva is supreme. Who is supreme: is Shiva supreme, or is Rama supreme? But Lord Rama’s worship of Lord Shiva is not because Lord Shiva is greater than Him; it’s because the Personality of Godhead likes to worship His devotees. For example, when Sudama Vipra visited Lord Krishna in Dvaraka, Krishna Dvarakadhisa worshipped Sudama Brahmana. Dvarakadhisa personally washed the feet of Sudama Brahmana, and Rukmini, the goddess of fortune herself, was fanning him like a menial servant. But it doesn’t mean that Sudama Vipra is supreme; it just means that the Lord is so kind and affectionate to His devotees that He takes pleasure in worshipping and serving them. So that was the case of Lord Rama with Lord Shiva in Rameswaram.

When I was in Madras, meeting important people in the city, many of them recommended that I meet a well-known religious figure named Mr. Ramakrishna. So I did. And I spoke as Krishna speaks in the Bhagavad-gita, as Sukadeva Gosvami speaks in Srimad-Bhagavatam, and as we heard Srila Prabhupada speak, that Krishna is Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ramakrishna became very agitated, claiming that Shiva was supreme. Now, in a way Shiva is supreme in the material world, because he is the demigod in charge of the mode of ignorance (tamo-guna), and most of the material world is in the mode of ignorance. So there is some truth to that statement, but not in any absolute sense. So, I was saying that Krishna is the supreme and giving evidence from the scripture, and he was getting more and more agitated, and with him becoming agitated, I also became agitated, and he was raising his voice, and I was raising my voice, and finally we both realized we were not getting anywhere and should just stop.

So we stopped, and I left the meeting, which had been quite unpalatable. But I kept meeting people who told me, “Oh, you have to meet Mr. Ramakrishna? He is such a religious man. He’ll like what you are doing.” So, after a few weeks of hearing this, I thought, “Well, maybe I should try again. Maybe that was just bad luck.” I phoned him, and he immediately agreed. I imagined that people were also telling him,” Oh, you should meet the Hare Krishna devotee. They are doing such good work. You’ll really like them.”

So, I went to his home again, and I was very careful and cautious, and he was very careful and cautious. But eventually we came to the same point: who is supreme? He was saying Shiva, and I was saying Krishna, and he was getting angrier, and I was getting angrier. But then I got an inspiration within my heart and said, “Look, I’m just a student, but my teacher, my guru, Srila Prabhupada, is coming to Madras soon. So instead of our discussing, why don’t you discuss with him?” He was very happy with that idea, because he got out of the argument and was going to have a chance to meet Srila Prabhupada.

When Srila Prabhupada came, I invited Mr. Ramakrishna to meet him. He told Srila Prabhupada, “I have been discussing with your disciple Giriraj, and we’ve been arguing over who is supreme—Krishna or Shiva. So, who is supreme?” And Srila Prabhupada was so intelligent that he didn’t answer the question directly; he didn’t get into that controversy. He said, “There are two words: bhakti, or seva, and puja. In puja the worshipper wants to get some result from his worship, but in bhakti the devotee wants only to please the Deity, Krishna, and wants nothing in return. Generally people approach Shiva in the mood of puja, whereas people approach Krishna in the mood of bhakti.” Mr. Ramakrishna responded, “Well, isn’t it possible that one could approach Lord Shiva in the mood of bhakti?” Prabhupada said, “It is possible. Just like someone could go to a liquor shop and have some other purpose besides purchasing liquor. But generally if someone goes to a liquor shop, it is understood that he is going to buy liquor.” Then Mr. Ramakrishna said, “But what if someone did worship Lord Shiva in the mood of bhakti?” And Srila Prabhupada said, “Then it is all right.” In that case, the worship of Shiva would be as good as the worship of Krishna, because Shiva, if approached in that way, he will act as a siksa-guru, as he acted for the Pracetas, and he will guide you how to approach Krishna—and then there’s no dichotomy, no contradiction. So, that should be our mood.

Why is Shiva considered the greatest Vaishnava? One reason, perhaps the main reason, is that he is so merciful. That is the nature of a true Vaishnava—para-dukha-dukhi: he feels sorrow for the sorrow of others, and he wants to relieve their suffering. One very vivid example described in Srimad-Bhagavatam is when the demigods and demons were furiously churning the ocean of milk and a terrible poison was produced and that poison was increasing in volume—it was threatening to become like an ocean that would fill the whole universe and kill all the living entities in the entire universe—so the demigods approached Lord Narayana, and He advised them to approach Lord Shiva, which they did, along with Lord Narayana.

Of course, Lord Narayana could have saved the situation Himself, but He chose not to, because the Lord likes to give credit to His devotees. That is the Lord’s kindness and affection toward His devotees. Lord Shiva is always benevolent toward all living entities, and when he saw that they were disturbed by the poison, which was spreading everywhere, he was very compassionate. So he consulted his wife Bhavani: “Just see how all these living entities have been placed in danger because of the poison produced from the churning of the ocean of milk. It is my duty to give protection and safety to living entities. It is the duty of the master to protect his suffering dependents. People in general are always engaged in animosity toward one another, but devotees, even at the risk of their lives, try to save them. When one performs benevolent activities for others, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari is pleased, along with all other living creatures. So, let me drink this poison, for all the living entities may thus become happy.” Srimad-Bhagavatam (8.7.41–45) states, “After informing Bhavani in this way, Lord Siva began to drink the poison, and Bhavani, who knew perfectly well the capabilities of Lord Siva, gave him her permission to do so. Thereafter, Lord Siva, who is dedicated to auspicious, benevolent work for humanity, compassionately took the whole quantity of poison in his palm and drank it. As if in defamation, the poison born from the ocean of milk manifested its potency by marking Lord Siva’s neck with a bluish line. That line, however, is now accepted as an ornament of the lord. It is said that great personalities almost always accept voluntary suffering because of the suffering of people in general. This is considered the highest method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present in everyone’s heart. Upon hearing of this act, everyone, including Bhavani, Lord Brahma, Lord Visnu, and the people in general, very highly praised this deed performed by Lord Siva, who is worshiped by the demigods and who bestows benedictions upon the people.”

This section of the Bhagavatam made me think of many devotees, but especially of Srila Prabhupada, who took such a tremendous risk, leaving India and crossing the ocean at the age of seventy, and having two heart attacks on the way, but still, in that mood of compassion, wanting to relieve people of their suffering in the highest way and in the most permanent way, by giving them Krishna consciousness. In fact, Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.7.39 describes him perfectly: “People in general, being bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are always engaged in animosity toward one another. But devotees, even at the risk of their own temporary lives, try to save them.” He took that risk, and therefore he has that quality that makes Lord Shiva the greatest Vaishnava—the quality of compassion, of being ready to sacrifice all personal comforts and security for the sake of others.

So, Lord Shiva took that huge ocean of poison and drank it. And it stayed within his throat and turned his throat a bluish black color, which from a certain point of view could be considered a blemish, but actually devotees worship that coloration of Lord Shiva’s throat because it was a manifestation of his great compassion for the living entities. And because of the coloration of his throat, Shiva became known as Nilakantha, “blue throated.”

That quality of compassion makes Lord Shiva the greatest Vaishnava, and that quality is something that we are all meant to develop. This is what we can learn from Lord Shiva, how to be ready to take any risk, make any sacrifice, for the sake of doing good for others, relieving them of their fears and anxieties and sufferings.

Another manifestation of Lord Shiva’s mercy is the way he looks. Shiva is actually an expansion of Vishnu. The Brahma-samhita (5.45) explains that just as milk in contact with some acid turns into yogurt and the yogurt is the same as the milk but also different from the milk, similarly Lord Vishnu, when He comes in contact with the material nature, becomes transformed into Lord Shiva who is the same as Vishnu but also not the same as Vishnu. The milk can become yogurt, but yogurt cannot become milk.

ksiram yatha dadhi vikara-visesa-yogat
sanjayate na tu tatah prthag asti hetoh
yah sambhutam api tatha samupaiti karyad
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

“Milk changes into yogurt when mixed with a yogurt culture, but actually it is constitutionally nothing but milk. Similarly, Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, assumes the form of Lord Siva [Sambhu] for the special purpose of material transactions. I offer my obeisances at His lotus feet.”

Lord Shiva is beyond the modes of material nature, but out of his mercy he dresses as we see, with snakes and with ashes from the crematorium. He looks quite ghastly, but he does that out of mercy to people in the mode of ignorance who are attracted to those things. He doesn’t have to dress like that or appear like that, but he does it so they’ll feel comfortable. “Like attracts like.”

I think of our wonderful godbrother Sridhar Swami. Once, on an airplane flight, I met one of his best friends from his earlier life, and his friend told me that in their youth on the weekends they would get drunk and for fun they would punch each other and fight. And Sridhar Swami himself told me that when he first met the devotees in Berkeley, California, they had a table with books and incense and pictures and posters. So, there was a poster of Krishna, and Sridhar Swami—then John Colcleugh—who had really long hair, said to the devotee at the book table, “Who’s that?” The devotee replied, “That’s God—Krishna.” “Oh yeah, that’s God? Well, what if I take that picture and tear it into pieces, what would you do?” And the devotee said, “I think I’d have to kill you.” And when Sridhar Swami heard that, he was very impressed. “Okay. These are the type of people I can mix with.”

Lord Shiva takes on his ghastly appearance out of mercy, so that people who are attracted to those lower modes will feel comfortable with him. And he gradually elevates them, and his ultimate desire is that they should become devotees of Krishna.

So we offer Lord Shiva our respects as a Vaishnava, and we pray to him to help us attain the favor of Krishna, which we can do by imbibing his quality of mercy and compassion, of being ready to make any sacrifice for the sake of helping others, which can be expressed in the best way by making sacrifices to help others come to Krishna consciousness, like Srila Prabhupada did.

As I said, we could discuss the glories of Lord Shiva for days, but we have time constraints. Still, we could take one or two questions.

Devotee: What about Lord Shiva in his form when he is not yet . . . what’s . . .

Giriraj Swami: Oh, yes, there is Sadashiva. He exists beyond the material world, but he is not exactly the same as Vishnu, though he is an expansion of Vishnu. There are so many expansions of Vishnu. He also has an expansion called Sadashiva. And Advaita Acharya, who we say is an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu, is also said to be an incarnation of Sadashiva. And he too was full of compassion for the fallen souls.

I should just mention there is one verse in which Lord Shiva tells Parvati, “I am always chanting the name of Rama, and my mind is fully enchanted by the name of Rama. Three names of Rama is equal a thousand names of Vishnu.” Once, Lord Shiva wanted Parvati to join him for honoring prasada and she wouldn’t join him because she had to chant her Vishnu-sahasra-nama, “Thousand Names of Vishnu.” So, he said, “Don’t worry—just chant three names of Rama; that equals a thousand names of Vishnu.”

rama rameti rameti
rame rame manorame
sahasra-namabhis tulyam
rama-nama varanane

“[Lord Siva addressed his wife:] ‘O Varanana, I chant the holy name of Rama, Rama, Rama and thus enjoy this beautiful sound. This holy name of Ramacandra is equal to one thousand holy names of Lord Visnu.’ ” (Padma Purana, 72.335, quoted as Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 9.32)

So, let us chant three names of Rama in the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and we will have chanted a thousand names of Vishnu—Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Shiva-ratri, March 2, 2014, New Dvaraka, Los Angeles]

The unique position of Lord Shiva
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Hare KrishnaBy Purushottam Nitai Das

Srila Prabhupada explains, “The living being can never possess attributes like Shiva, Vishnu or Lord Krishna. A living being can become godly by developing the seventy-eight-percent transcendental attributes in fullness, but he can never become a God like Shiva, Vishnu or Krishna. He can become a Brahma in due course: - Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28 purport” Continue reading "The unique position of Lord Shiva
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Prayers by Lord Siva
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Hariharan Iyer: The great sage Maitreya continued: Out of his causeless mercy, the exalted personality Lord Śiva, a great devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa, continued to speak to the King's sons, who were standing with folded hands

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TOVP Pujari Floor Photo Collection
- TOVP.org

These photos by Aradhya Gauranga prabhu of the TOVP Pujari Floor illustrate the size, beauty and quality of every aspect of the floor, from the individual rooms to the walkways in-between them, to the chandeliers, pillars and ceiling panels.

 
[See image gallery at tovp.org]  

TOVP NEWS AND UPDATES – STAY IN TOUCH

Visit us at: www.tovp.org
Follow us at: www.facebook.com/tovp.mayapur
Watch us at: www.youtube.com/user/tovpinfo
View us 360° at: www.tovp360.org
App at: https://m.tovp.org/app
News & Texts at: https://m.tovp.org/newstexts
RSS News Feed at: https://tovp.org/rss2/
Buy from us at: https://tovp.org/tovp-gift-store/
Support us at: https://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/

The post TOVP Pujari Floor Photo Collection appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

Interior Pujari Floor Opening Ceremony Photos
- TOVP.org

The following photos by Thakur Saranga das show Srila Prabhupada, Lord Nityananda’s Padukas and Sri Sri Radha Madhava on Their tour of the Pujari Floor, during which the rooms were individually offered to Them, as well as ceremonial offerings participated in by ISKCON leaders and Prabhupada disciples.

 
[See image gallery at tovp.org]  

TOVP NEWS AND UPDATES – STAY IN TOUCH

Visit us at: www.tovp.org
Follow us at: www.facebook.com/tovp.mayapur
Watch us at: www.youtube.com/user/tovpinfo
View us 360° at: www.tovp360.org
App at: https://m.tovp.org/app
News & Texts at: https://m.tovp.org/newstexts
RSS News Feed at: https://tovp.org/rss2/
Buy from us at: https://tovp.org/tovp-gift-store/
Support us at: https://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/

The post Interior Pujari Floor Opening Ceremony Photos appeared first on Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.

Sunday, February 16th, 2020
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Mayapura, India

Meeting Arjuna

Last night was one of those sleepless nights.  I took an early shower, donned my clothes, and left Room 505 of the Gada Building, to enter an atmosphere of shanti(peace) and amble along the misty pathways.  Would I be alone for some time?  Would a stray dog come along and trek right by my side (as they sometimes do) as I'm chanting my meditative mantra?

Once, at about this time (2:00 a.m.), three dogs did more than just stroll along.  Two of them clung onto my thigh and backside, while a third was ready to display similar aggression.  I managed to inch my way to a gate, free myself, and close the gate on them. 

But this morning was different.  I met a tall, rather passive young Russian who had been locked out of his residential building, so he decided to hang out at the Mayapura campus. 

"Let's walk together," I suggested to sixteen-year-old Arjuna.  So, we walked and chatted.  He told of how his friend, Gauranga, along with another, climbed up the ladder of a massive crane during the early construction of the TOVP temple. They ascended to the top, then upon descending, discovered a portion of the crane was collapsing.  Security came running.  The two lad were safe but they fled and hid behind some walls of the foundation.

"Did they get caught?"

"No, I don't think so.  I'm not sure."

Anyway, it was a story about youthful adventure.  Both Arjuna and I passed some time walking.  We weren't lonely.  He staying on with me until Mangal aratiservices commenced.  I guess that was a first for Arjuna, to ‘shoot the breeze’ with a monk.

May the Source be with you!
5 km




Saturday, February 15th, 2020
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Mayapura, India

Elephant On the Loose

Every Saturday night in Mayapura, there is what's called the Hati Fest which is when the two elephants, Vishnupriya and Laksmipriya, have their procession through the crowds.  Saturday night is a busy night, drawing pilgrims from all over Bengal and the world.  https://www.instagram.com/p/B8lWnTSgelX/?igshid=x1fj5vz3w6pk

It was during these last two days, at the ILS event, when I felt like an elephant in a crowd of multitudes.  There is this massive banquet hall, constructed like they do for all Indian weddings, done-up quite magnificently, with walls and ceilings of bamboo and cloth, and chandeliers to give it that elegant touch.
 
This banquet hall fills up with perhaps one of the largest group of vegetarian/vegan/prasadam-arians. There is one mandate that we sannyasis are required to execute, and that is to walk through the line-up of tables and just greet everyone.  So that's what I've been doing at meal-time.  Seeing representatives from the U.S., Europe, Russia, South America, Australia etc. and even China, is quite a thrill.  It is an honour and a pleasure.  And, of course, all those enjoying the food are reciprocating with the brief visit that both Gopal Bhatta, the organizer, and I are making. 

However, there was one person from Hyderabad who is very active in the ISKCON mission, and he asked me to stop walking and visiting.  He sat me down and asked me to talk about how I went about doing my marathon walks.  The reason?  He wants to do something like that in India.  A friend of his joined us, a support-type, and they were intrigued, dreaming, and pensive of mind, as I spoke about methodology, adventure and enlightenment.

May the Source be with you!
5 km

Friday, February 14th, 2020
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Mayapura, India

Much Has Happened

Much has happened here in sacred Mayapura over the last two days.  Yesterday, a major section of the Temple of Vedic Planetarium opened to the public—the section for priestly preparation.  This includes the cooking facilities.  There was a large attendance.  Nice kirtan.

Today opened the gathering of world-wide leaders, called ILS, where we have presenters giving talks on varying devotional topics.  Basically, the ILS is an educational exercise for leaders young and old.  A refresher in some ways.  The world is ever-changing at an incredibly rapid rate.  Attitudes and values have altered in the last fifty years.  How can an institution remain relevant in an ever-changing social climate?  Thus the reason for such a convention.

Our drama practices continue to be what they are suppose to be—active.  This evening, we went through a session of "stumble-through," a term used in theatrical circles when you "rough-through" (my term) the scenes of a play and weave them together.  Most remarkable is for me to, more or less, sit back and watch my assistant piece it all together by giving his direction and paying attention to all details.  That person is none other than Pariksit, or Rikki Kumar, as he wants to be known by his stage name.

Lastly, I would like to mention that walking to-and-fro on the campus still goes on, and one film-maker from Russia has started to record my movement of foot-steps in the dark, through the mist, with a set of keys in hand, then opening the gate, walking up the stairs, to another door and to the stage.  It is all in preparation for filming our drama, "Grandsire."


May the Source be with you!
5 km



Thursday, February 13th, 2020
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Mayapura, India

The Bruce Trail in Canada

What follows is an article I wrote which was featured in Padayatra Worldwide magazine:

The image was so vivid—autumn leaves spiralling down from the heights of hardwoods.  Our eyes were widened to the stark reds, oranges, and yellows.  It was captivating.  A magical descent.  Prettier than snow.  Beauty reigned for sure.  We saw it also in the lichen, fungi and mushrooms.  David sees it in the wild ginger.  He forged some for the dhalto be cooked up for later on.  For snacks along the trail, Oksana brought her baked muffins.  Jaya, ambling in pace, was quiet, focused on japa meditation.  Gyan is more talkative, and while in queue behind me, repeated the mantra: "be careful."  At one point along the rocky trail I had to say, "Please don't mother me."  Gyan means well.  His consistent smile redeems it for me.

And, there was Christopher, his first day with us.  He resembles Jesus, somewhat, with his full beard.  During our trek today, he lost balance twice, slipped and fell.  So did I fall, but not like the leaves.  It was my first fall since starting the Bruce Trail in the summer of 2018.  I'm able to make the time when available, on which occasion I bring friends.

One day a group of Southeast Asian students came along, numbering thirty-five.  They LOVED it—"It's all green,"  said one (it was summertime).  New to them, also, was the frivolous water fun.  After ten kilometres walking in grand Lake Ontario, "Isn't that an ocean?"  asked another. 

Challenges:  The Bruce Trail is a 900 kilometre path long the Niagara Escarpment where the terrain is mostly angular.  At one point, the trail, a creek, the rocks, and leaves all merged.  It is tough to gain foothold.  But for the most part, the day is one of rhapsody.  There are plenty of waterfalls to calm any nerves.  I take it back—no challenges.  I've done 1/5th of the trail.

The greatest reward of a day like today on a Sunday, October morning, in 2019, is the culmination of our walk—a visit to a god-brother, Giri Jadhava, my former sankirtan leader of my early mookhood days.  He prepared a great meal for our walking group.  The apple cider was a big hit, even after a mere nine kilometre hike.

And let it be noted that a walk like this builds up gratitude.

May the Source be with you!
0 km



Seventy-five seminars were presented during this year’s Iskcon Leadership Sanga
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Seventy-five seminars were presented during this year’s Iskcon Leadership Sanga.
The Iskcon Leadership Sanga is held in Mayapur every two years and is arranged by a sub-committee of the GBC called the Strategic Planning Team.
This year about eight hundred devotees from around the world attended. The sanga went for seven days and each day devotees came for a morning presentation and then went to one of seventy-five seminars that were presented.

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