(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 15 July 2012, Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday Feast Lecture)
Everyone is making sacrifices for material benefit. But those are the sacrifices that we need to gradually detach ourselves from and just make some sacrifice for Krsna instead. So therefore, purification remains in our mind daily in whatever we do. Let us keep our head low, and let us not think that we are so qualified, because whatever credits we have, we got them from Prabhupada’s movement. It is as simple as that; that is where our credits come from. Whatever little service we were allowed to do, and whatever devotees ask us to do, we somehow or other do it. Sometimes I liked it when the devotees asked, and as they asked for service that is more important, then I became more important. So when I was very important, Krsna would just do the ‘punar mūṣika bhava’ principle on me – to become a mouse again. This story is the story of my life, I must say. In my life, I always become a mouse again and again. These days, I am just trying to accept that I am a mouse, and nothing more.
Can’t seem to live without that phone. Even though I am incapacitated, or at least physically impaired, with my new knee trying to get comfortable in a foreign leg, which is right now restricting my movement. I do most definitely depend on this device to get things done. Put aside the heartwarming calls from well-wishers to my surgery recovery, the balance of hours keeps me tied to my little black companion that fits conveniently in my usual pocket although, for now, it’s affixed to a tripod next to my bed.
One of the great heroes of our tradition, Rupa Goswami, wrote about the great utility of using whatever you have in service of the Lord and that would be considered a gesture of renunciation. Our guru, Prabhupada, spoke about the useful tool of the microphone as a way to project the message of Vedic wisdom to an audience. How handy it is to have this broadcasting device to make a point; correction: many points.
I got a call in from Winnipeg; then trying to reach New York. Ireland is probably the furthest today for reaching someone out there. I contacted Vancouver. Florida was trying to reach me twice by two different people. Then I had a Zoom call with India, DC, Texas, Philadelphia and even Toronto. My goodness. Then there’s so many places via email; to the exclusion of the moon. Global destinations galore. How easy! But in all truth, I’d rather kick out my crutches, put on a pair of shoes and hit the trail; communicating in person and in nature. The day will come!
Nanda was kind to drive me to Mount Sinai for the knee replacement. The reason for this surgery is quite obvious. To get around we need our knees. But as we were driving to the location in the fine early morning, the sun captured our attention. Apparently, this almost scarlet-red disc, looming above, carries its colour due to the multiple forest fires. Yes, the northwest of Ontario is not exactly catching up to the West Coast of smoking heat. Both are surely manifesting a changing environment.
One other thing about colour that Nanda brought up was a question; whether I’m getting the thumbs up, as shades of orange these days represent the support against our abused indigenous children. Burial graves of the innocent have been discovered in what is perceived as a fairly pure land. Lo and behold, there is a dark history — a super sad one.
I admitted to Nanda, as we were getting closer to the medical giant, that “No,” I haven’t met anyone who has related the monk colour to empathizers of beautiful native children. Not yet anyway, but for sure I’m one of those supporters. On my walks I had pleasure in mingling with First Nations people whenever I could.
So, for the knee job Dr. Bechstein had his team with what seemed like a sledgehammer/electric saw routine. After 11 hours in the hospital, I was discharged and now have some homework to do — rest and exercise. It’s my left knee getting the attention. Thanks to Dr. Pandith, Dr. Juta, Parahamsa, and a fabulous team who care.
My day was split in half. The first half involved thoughts about my knees, especially the left one. Yes, a competent mechanic (surgeon really) is going to replace it. My lefty along with a partner righty have served hard. On marathon walks alone they walked a good 25,000 km at least. As one nurse described to the surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital, “for the sake of humanity.” I was touched by that. Anyway, pray and wish me well. Personally, I get many requests for prayer. Now I’m asking for your blessing.
Now, to prepare for tomorrow’s surgery I came back to the hospital for another Covid test. Just a small cotton swab goes up the nose as a sample to pick up any virus. If the hospital doesn’t call to say “positive,” then I’m good to go. Silence is golden.
My second part of the day was filled with planning service. First of all, the MANtra retreat is set for a date. Still much work ahead. What a great team we have.
I also had chats about the ashram’s renovations regarding a plumbing challenge, pictures for the wall, assembly of beds, etc. Enjoyment.
A future senior’s facility was also discussed with members of a devotee care group. Last, and a blast, was getting close to the finishing touches of the book The Saffron Road, and establishing captions for the pictures of the past. We are covering the time from 1995 to 2017. I am preoccupied in service to overall humanity. Without the moral support it’s all not possible.
Is God no longer necessary in a world that is increasingly influenced by a scientific temper? Or, on the contrary, have the findings of modern sciences forced us to approach the question of the existence of God in new ways?
The scientific enterprise has gifted us the ability to examine and contemplate deeply the mysterious and beautiful order behind nature. Over the past four decades modern biochemistry has uncovered the secrets of cells and has revealed us the marvelous design even at the molecular level. Advancements in science have also shown us some of the precise laws and unique fundamental constants in the universe. All these facts and observations point to a fine-tuned and specially designed universe with a purpose by a Supreme Being or God. As one journey through the newly discovered marvels of the cosmos and life discussed in this volume, one will be compelled to reexamine his opinion concerning the origins, evolution and essence of this wonderful world in which we live.
Author: By T.D. Singh (Bhaktiswarupa Damodar Swami) Published: September 20, 2020 Book/File size: 2982 KB Formats: Kindle
By Krishna Kripa Das (June 2021, part two) New York, Zagreb, Wrocław, Katowice (Sent from Paris on July 24, 2021)
Where I Went and What I Did
I went to Upstate New York to visit my mother and my guru before going to Europe for the summer. I cooked some meals for my mother, and we heard a tape of Radhanath Swami together. My diksa-guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, was kind enough to give me an hour-long personal meeting, and I shared some of parts of his weekly journal I found most inspiring with him. I also participated in his daily reading of the scripture during and after lunch, along with many of my friends, who participated via Zoom. My friends from NYC Harinam were still in New Vrindaban, so I tried to maintain at least three hours of harinama each day with some of the nonresident attenders of the party still present in New York City. On Tuesday, June 22, I, along with Acarya-nistha Prabhu who was visiting our New York harinama party, flew to Croatia, which I had learned from Harinama Ruci was practically the only European country that did not make U.S. citizens undergo quarantine. I planned to stay in Croatia for ten days and then go to Paris, but at the New York Ratha-yatra, I learned that on July 27 there was going to be a Ratha-yatra in Wrocław, Poland, an event I have attended at least twice before and which many of my friends from Indradyumna Swami’s Polish tour regularly attend. So after two days of harinama in Croatia, I took several trains to Katowice, Poland, where I visited my friend, Tara Prabhu.
I took another train to Wrocław the next day, where I promoted and attended their Ratha-yatra. I ended the month of June by chanting a couple days in Katowice by myself and one in Wrocław with Goura Karuna Prabhu his wife.
I share many excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s books, conversations, and letters. I share excerpts from the writing of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I share notes on lectures by Candrasekara and Krishna Kshetra Swamis and by Hansarupa Prabhu, Manidhara, Ravindra Svarupa, and Nikunjabihari Prabhus. I share fewer insights this month as instead of reading and hearing lectures, I was proofreading Srila Prabhupada Tributes, a book of over six hundred pages of Vyasa Puja offerings. The notes I took on these I did not want to publish until the Vyasa Puja day, as some of the contributors could conceivably object.
Many, many thanks to Tara Prabhu for his very generous donations, as well for great meals, accommodation in Katowice, and paying for my COVID test to leave Poland. Many thanks to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu and Bhaktan Deva for helping to keep daily harinama happening in New York City while Rama Raya Prabhu and his party visited New Vrindaban, and also for their videos of me chanting Hare Krishna in Washington Square Park.
July 1–August 18: Paris harinamas August 19: Prague harinama August 20–22: Czech Woodstock (Brno) August 23: Prague harinama August 24: flights from Prague to Tallahassee August 25–September ?: Tallahassee harinamas and college outreach September ?–December 31: NYC Harinam
Chanting Hare Krishna in New York City
J. R. Maxwell, a friend from Alachua who has a YouTube channel, HarinamGlobal, and a web site www.harinamglobal.com, interviewedmeabout the New York Ratha-yatra and aboutharinama sankirtanain general, and he interviewed people attracted by our June 15 harinama at Atlantic Terminal about their experience(https://youtu.be/ol8PBYLqMSs):
Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Washington Square Park with a small party, when Rama Raya Prabhu and his party were out of town (https://youtu.be/hSeG9DjcBDU):
Bhaktan Deva and I chant Hare Krishna in Washington Square Park with a few friends as Rama Raya Prabhu and his party continue to visit New Vrindaban, and a young couple plays the shakers and tries chanting the mantra (https://youtu.be/-5UBXFsAg6Q):
Chanting Hare Krishna in Croatia
Our first day in Croatia, Acarya-nistha Prabhu and I did harinama late in the day between the main train station and a market for just an hour because it took at least an hour and a half to reach the temple by public transportation from the airport, we had to recover from the overnight flight, and then we had to spend at least forty minutesto reach the train station and another forty minutes to return to the temple. We met some people happy to see us, but our total collection was not enough to give away even one book.
It is always nice when the devotees save you prasadam when you come back late from harinama!
The next day, the temple president, Vaikuntha-murti Prabhu, arranged that many devotees go out for harinama and book distribution, and it was ecstatic. The distributors had a good day, doing 51 books in Zagreb, which is one of the more difficult cities in Croatia. Here are some videos of the harinamas:
Chanting Hare Krishna on My Journey from Croatia to Poland
I bought my train tickets to Poland online beforehand for each of the countries I passed through, as I learned from the Polish festival devotees you can save a lot of money that way. I found the segment through Austria was several times more expensive than Croatia, Slovenia, Czech, and Poland. Still it was cheaper than a flight.
I told the Slovenian border officer on the Vienna train my reason for traveling is to volunteer at a festival [Wrocław Ratha-yatra]. He accepted. When he searched my computer bag, he exclaimed “Hare Krishna” on seeing the “On Chanting” pamphlets. Finding my “Call out Gauranga and be happy” stickers, he asked, “Who is Gauranga?” Eyeing the harmonium he told me to play him a tune on my ‘harmonika’ [Slovenian for accordion] and so I did, while chanting a mantra for him and his Croatian colleague, and thus I blissfully entered the Schengen Area, feeling that I was protected by Krishna.
I had COVID less than six months before, and I had medical evidence of that which I had to show to the Slovenian and Austrian authorities, but that was the only restriction I encountered.
In Czech Republic, we had to take a bus part of the way because the tracks were made impassable by a tornado the evening before, another Kali Yuga anomaly. You can see the tornado and its damage in this and other videos on YouTube (https://youtu.be/JW00WoVw5Ic):
Here at Bohumin, Czech Republic, the last town before Poland, I had just one more border to cross, and no police were there to interrogate us.
After entering Poland, I joined a group of American students I overheard talking on the train, hoping to get them to chant a few Hare Krishna mantras with me. They weren’t so keen, but they agreed to listen so I played my harmonium and chanted three mantras of Hare Krishna. One of them named Chris did Catholic outreach at FSU and recalled hearing the mantra on Landis Green. I had talked to one Catholic regularly at Landis, named Garrett, who liked to wear a “Virginity Rocks” T-shirt, and he turned out to be Chris’s former roommate. Pretty amazing!
The students were from different parts of America and were studying at the same college in Austria for the summer. That weekend they were vacationing in Krakow. I left the party with one “On Chanting Hare Krishna” pamphlet and my card, in case any of them were curious about what Hare Krishna is all about.
I was happy to see Tara Prabhu in Katowice (above dancing in Ratha-yatra). He was a brahmacari book distributor in America, when I met him in San Diego over 27 years ago. Then I saw him the first few years I went on the Polish tour. He married one of Indradyumna Swami’s tour organizers, Radha Sakhi Vrinda Devi Dasi, and for a while he had a yoga studio in Tessaloniki, Greece, where I did harinama with him once. Recently I would see him in Mayapur, but a year or so ago, he returned to Poland to facilitate his wife.
He has a nice program of reading scripture together with friends online, and I participated in that with him.
Chanting Hare Krishna in Poland
I was happy to reach Wrocław the day before the Ratha-yatra so I could chant in public and advertise it. I reached the temple midday, taking a morning train from Katowice. I found it difficult to get people to join me for harinama as they wanted to help prepare the feast or else practice their performances for the stage show. Another problem was a rain shower predicted to happen around 4 or 5 p.m. One devotee named Balarama Prabhu, from a nearby city, recalled doing harinama with me and Trevor (later known Toshan Krishna Prabhu), and he came out with me for a good hour and three-quarters. We ended up chanting from just before 7 p.m till just before 10 p.m.
Krishna was kind to me and sent people who were happy to learn of our festival and even a couple who was willing to pay 50 zł (over $12) for a Polish Bhagavad-gita. Some people remembered our food from the Polish Woodstock festival and were happy to hear we would be serving food again the next day. One couple, who lived in Germany near the Czech border, were in town to visit the lady’s Polish grandmother.
They were happy to learn of the festival, and they came the next day.
They took pleasure in pulling the Ratha-yatha cart.
I got to the festival about half an hour early, and although people were decorating the cart, no one was chanting for Lord Jagannatha.
As I had all my luggage with me, I got out my harmonium and took advantage of the opportunity to sing for Lord Jagannatha.
A few devotees joined me, including a very enthusiastic dancer.
I even got to participate in the traditional smashing of the coconuts!
Of course, my favorite thing to do in Ratha-yatra is to dance for Lord Jagannatha!
It was wonderful to have ISKCON guru and scholar, Krishna Kshetra Swami, who was living in Warsaw during the lockdown, coming to Wrocław for the festival.
During the procession, devotees took pleasure distribution all kinds of Jagannatha prasada, and people took pleasure in receiving it.
In all the Ratha-yatras I have ever seen, only men were steering the cart, but in Wrocław the driver was a lady.
Many outside cafes were along the procession route.
Most impressive for me was to see how many people were attracted to watch and film the procession!
Madhava Prabhu of Bielsko-Biała, the leader of Kirtan Poland, chanted Hare Krishna toward the end of the procession (https://youtu.be/RZJNHt7LZbo):
Three friends really were attracted by the procession, one lady from Argentina (center), who later enjoyed talking with Rasa-lila Devi Dasi, also from Argentina, about Hare Krishna opportunities there, . . .
and her sister (seen filming the Ratha-yatra cart above)
and her brother-in-law (above), who both resided in Krakow, and who I was happy to inform about Kirtan Poland, a kirtan group near there.
After the procession, Krishna Kshetra Swami chanted a sweet Hare Krishna tune in the Wrocław Ratha-yatra stage show (https://youtu.be/B9NASlzwRSg):
Sanjaya Prabhu chanted another Hare Krishna tune, letting Radhanandini Dasi also sing the lead, on the Wrocław Ratha-yatra stage (https://youtu.be/_tCrVtFC1wc):
Radhanandini and Kavicandra Prabhus chanted “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya” with the band Kirtan Zone on the Wrocław Ratha-yatra stage (https://youtu.be/A0KldPmoxM0):
After the truly beautiful Wroclaw Ratha-yatra I stayed briefly in Katowice with Tara Prabhu in his son’s room.
He had a big screen which greatly enhanced my japa meditation on Radha Govinda!
I chanted Hare Krishna alone near the Katowice train station a couple days while there.
A friendly guy (in red) who liked the chanting offered to buy me something. I asked for water as I didn’t bring any. I was surprised to receive the biggest bottle of water ever on harinama! Later that guy acted as an interpreter for a lady who was attracted by the chanting but knew only Polish. He promised to read her “On Chanting Hare Krishna,” and next day she told me he did.
They took Kirtan Poland flyers as did many people the two days I chanted there in Katowice. Please bless them with attachment to Krishna!
My last day in Poland I was happy to be chanting Hare Krishina in Wrocław by the University, with Rasa-lila Devi Dasi of Argentina playing drum and Goura Karuna Prabhu of Czech Republic playing karatalas, after chanting alone the previous two days (https://youtu.be/foiY8mtsXIM):
The above video was by a favorable young Polish lady that Goura Karuna Prabhu talked to.
We relocated to the square where the Ratha-yatra had taken place, but we never met any of those special people that make you feel the day was worth it. In fact, in donations we received only 1.5 zł, not even fifty cents!
After I packed up and began walking away, a guy came up to me and asked about Advaita Vedanta. I answered briefly, but I just wanted to change my Polish money to euros and return to the templefor dinner, so I showed him a Polish Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 1, and said, “This book will answer all your questions.” In New York City, we had just read the chapter “Bhagavatam Is the Answer to All Questions,” so I knew he would not be disappointed. He went to an ATM and paid the full price, 60 zł (almost $16), and thus made my final day of chanting Hare Krishna in Wrocław a success!
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.22, purport:
“A criminal is put in prison and punished by the government, but the same government, if it likes, can release the criminal from imprisoned life. Similarly, we must know conclusively that our material condition of suffering has been allotted to us by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and if we want to be saved from this suffering, we must appeal to the same controller. Thus one can be saved from this material condition.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.26, purport:
“Lord Brahma, King Indra and the other demigods living in the upper planetary systems are situated in a different spirit of consciousness, and therefore they are sometimes troubled by demons, but a devotee, even if situated in the lower planets, enjoys life in Krishna consciousness under any circumstances.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.27, purport:
“According to the demands of a particular devotee, he receives a result by the grace of the Lord. The Lord does not discriminate, thinking, ‘Here is a person favorable to Me, and here is a person who is not favorable.’ Rather, He fulfills the desires of everyone.”
“The original creator is Krishna. As such, the original proprietor is also Krishna because He has created the ingredients. Actually when we work in practical field, the ingredients we cannot create. Suppose we construct a very high skyscraper building, but the ingredients, namely the earth, stone, wood, iron, which are the ingredients of the house, that we cannot create. That is created by God. We simply transform. We take earth, dirt from the earth and mix it with water. The water is created by God. The earth is created by God. Then we mix it and make a lump like brick and put it in the fire. The fire is also created by God. In this way if we study scrutinizingly the ingredients and the materials which we are handling, they are not our creation. They are creation of God. We simply handle them. And because we handle them it does not become our property. This is sense.”
“If you cultivate spiritual knowledge in large quantity, then your body is no more material. It is spiritualized.”
“[In] the human life [we] should be very cautious that we may not be contaminated by low-grade qualities. There are so many rules and regulations, but it is very, very difficult to follow. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended, just to remain purified, ‘Chant Hare Krishna.’ Harer nama harer nama harer nama eva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nasty eva (Cc. Adi 17.21). . . . Otherwise you cannot purify. So kirtaniyaḥ sada hariḥ (Cc. Adi 17.31). We should always chant Hare Krishna mantra. Then we'll gradually be spiritualized, cinmaya, spiritualized. Then our life will be successful.”
Quoted from a Vyasa-puja offering by Dhirasanta Dasa Goswami:
“During that time in New York, when there was some inconvenience for me, I remembered Vrindavan. Should I return or not? The only thing that kept me from leaving was the order of my spiritual master; otherwise, I had no business being in such a dangerous place. Besides that, how else would I have understood His desire to please Krishna?”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.14.41, purport:
“Brahmanas, the topmost section of human society, are mostly devotees. They are generally unaware of the happenings within the material world because they are always busy in their activities for spiritual advancement. Nonetheless, when there is a calamity in human society, they cannot remain impartial. If they do not do something to relieve the distressed condition of human society, it is said that due to such neglect their spiritual knowledge diminishes.”
From Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.17.30, purport:
“One should follow in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and engage constantly in chanting the maha-mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Then he will never feel the distresses of the world of duality. In any condition of life one will be happy if he chants the holy name of the Lord.”
From a room conversation on Geneva on June 4, 1974:
“Prabhupada: There is example, that grinding mill... You know, grinding mill?
Prof. Regamay: Yes.
Prabhupada: Yes, and the grains are put within it, and they are all smashed. But one grain who takes shelter of the center, the pivot, it is not smashed. Similarly, the modern civilization is such that everyone will be smashed. And one takes the central point shelter, Krishna consciousness, he will not be.”
From a letter to Sivananda on 23 January 1969:
“Regarding serving your godbrothers, this is a very good practice. The Spiritual Master is never without his followers, so to serve the Spiritual Master also means to be the servant of his disciples. When you want to serve the king, you must also serve his minister, secretary, and everyone who serves him. And to serve his servants may please him more than to serve the king personally. So the Spiritual Master is not alone. He is always with his entourage. We are not impersonalists. We take care of every part of the whole, as much as one should take care of his hat as well as his shoes. Both are equally important for the upkeep of the body. I hope that you will understand this rightly.”
From a letter dated December 31, 1972:
“The highest development of Krishna consciousness understanding will be when you are able to give anyone the truth . . . in such a manner that they will respond in a positive way.”
From The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 11:
“In the Hari-bhakti-vilasa there is the following statement about self-surrender: ‘My dear Lord, a person who has surrendered himself unto You, who is in firm conviction that he is Yours, and who actually acts in that way by his body, mind and words, can actually relish transcendental bliss.’
“In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Twelfth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter, verse 15, it is stated, ‘Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of all Vedanta philosophy. Any person who has become attached in some way or other to the reading of Srimad-Bhagavatam cannot have any taste for reading any other literature. In other words, a person who has relished the transcendental bliss of Srimad-Bhagavatam cannot be satisfied with mundane writings.’”
“A similar statement is in the Third Canto, Seventh Chapter, verse 19, of Srimad-Bhagavatam: ‘Let me become a sincere servant of the devotees, because by serving them one can achieve unalloyed devotional service unto the lotus feet of the Lord. The service of devotees diminishes all miserable material conditions and develops within one a deep devotional love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’”
From The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 12:
“It is said in the Adi Purana, ‘A person who is constantly engaged in chanting the holy name and who feels transcendental pleasure, being engaged in devotional service, is certainly awarded the facilities of devotional service and is never given just mukti [liberation].’”
“The same thing is confirmed in the Adi Purana by Krishna. While addressing Arjuna He says, ‘Anyone who is engaged in chanting My transcendental name must be considered to be always associating with Me. And I may tell you frankly that for such a devotee I become easily purchased.’”
“Caitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended that everyone chant the Hare Krishna mantra just to cleanse the dust from the heart. If the dust of the heart is cleansed away, then one can actually understand the importance of the holy name. For persons who are not inclined to clean the dust from their hearts and who want to keep things as they are, it is not possible to derive the transcendental result of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. One should, therefore, be encouraged to develop his service attitude toward the Lord, because this will help him to chant without any offense. And so, under the guidance of a spiritual master, the disciple is trained to render service and at the same time chant the Hare Krishna mantra. As soon as one develops his spontaneous service attitude, he can immediately understand the transcendental nature of the holy names of the maha-mantra.”
“In the Vedic literature it is also stated, ‘How wonderful it is that simply by residing in Mathura even for one day, one can achieve a transcendental loving attitude toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead! This land of Mathura must be more glorious than Vaikuntha-dhama, the kingdom of God!’”
“A similar statement is in the Third Canto, Seventh Chapter, verse 19, of Srimad-Bhagavatam: ‘Let me become a sincere servant of the devotees, because by serving them one can achieve unalloyed devotional service unto the lotus feet of the Lord. The service of devotees diminishes all miserable material conditions and develops within one a deep devotional love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’”
“In the Adi Purana there is the following statement by Lord Krishna Himself, addressed to Arjuna: ‘My dear Partha, one who claims to be My devotee is not so. Only a person who claims to be the devotee of My devotee is actually My devotee.’ No one can approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly [Cc. Madhya 13.80]. One must approach Him through His pure devotees. Therefore, in the system of Vaishnava activities, the first duty is to accept a devotee as spiritual master and then to render service unto him.”
“The importance of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is very strongly stressed in the Second Canto, First Chapter, verse 11, of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the following way. Sukadeva Gosvami tells Maharaja Pariksit, ‘My dear King, if one is spontaneously attached to the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, it is to be understood that he has attained the highest perfectional stage.’”
[It is always interesting for me to see what my guru considers worth sharing about our meetings:]
“I had a meeting outdoors on the porch with Krishna Kripa. I asked him if he were coming to the July 3rd festival in Stuyvesant Falls. But I was disappointed to hear he is going to Europe for harinama. I realize he has a tight schedule of travels to different countries for harinama. Some months ago Krishna Kripa tested positive for COVID and had to go into quarantine with another devotee. He was frustrated that he couldn’t go out and chant, and he was weak from the disease. For years he has been proofreading my books. But now he says Krishna Bhajana has taken up most of that service, and Krishna Kripa presently has no books to proofread. He has a personal blog which has wide circulation. He regularly prints excerpts from Free Write Journal in his blog. Some things in my Journal really resonate with him, and he loves to share them on his own web page. He had lunch on the porch, listened to the out-loud reading on his computer (and read a section), and then lingered on in the quiet neighborhood of Stuyvesant Falls until 4:00 P.M.”
“In our our-loud reading, we are hearing from a Seventh Canto section called ‘The Supreme Lord Is Equal to Everyone.’ In Bhagavad-gita Krishna says He descends to this world to protect His devotees and annihlate the miscreants. Hearing this, people claim that Krishna shows partiality towards His devotees. But the fact is Krishna responds to anyone who is constantly thinking of Him or saying His names, even in enmity. The demons that Krishna personally kills when He comes into this world gain liberation to the spiritual world. So Krishna is partial to no one, but whoever thinks of Him constantly, in any mood, gains great benediction.”
From Calling Out to Srila Prabhupada:
“O Prabhupada, whose pastimes and phrases of speech decorate the lectures of all his learned followers; O Prabhupada, whose disciples are always saying ‘Prabhupada said’;
“O Prabhupada, who preached krishna-bhakti for many decades in India while carrying out the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati as a grhastha;
“O Prabhupada, who then outshone all sannyasis by carrying the message of Lord Caitanya to America, leading the way with kirtana in ISKCON;
“O Prabhupada, who took morning walks beginning just before sunrise, who installed Radha-Krishna Deities around the world, and who led American and European young men and women in blissful dancing and chanting in the parks and streets;
“O Prabhupada, whose activities are appreciated by demigods and by eternal associates of Lord Krishna;
“O Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna having taken shelter at the lotus feet of the transcendental Lord;
“O Prabhupada, who brought liberation and bhakti and maha-mantra and Krishna into the English language, and who brought puris and halava and dal and sabji into the Western diet, and who didn't insist that his followers shave their heads and wear robes and saris, but whose disciples wanted to change their jeans for dhotis and wanted to wear tilaka and kunti-mala for pleasing you;
“O Prabhupada, may we please you despite our many faults, may we please be included in your sankirtana party, and may we always chant Hare Krishna mantra, while completely disdaining illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling, and intoxication.”
From My Dear Lord Krishna:
“The sastras state, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13), both the Lord and His innumerable expansions, including the living entities, are personal and eternal. The only difference is that we are all infinitesimal and maintained, and You are the infinite maintainer.”
“Simple devotees are best. We who are puffed up must pass through a fire of contrition and give up our attachment to scepters and crowns. Becoming poor at heart, we will see ourselves as puppets, and beg to Srila Prabhupada, ‘Please, give me a menial job.’”
From Here is Srila Prabhupada:
“A proud person who lives in the world without personally recognizing God’s will and His desires for us wastes the human form of life. Regardless of what our past karma has given us in this life, the material energy continues to deceive us and delivers us cruel blows of Fate. In the end, we are discarded, just like a plastic cup thrown onto the garbage heap by the consumer. Material nature is merciless.”
We should at least understand theoretically that nothing in the material world can satisfy our souls.
We are trying to please Krishna for no other purpose than pleasing Krishna.
Prahlada rejected benedictions from Nrsimha, saying that he did not want to do business with God but was satisfied just to serve him.
If you want to get a better situation from pious activities, you can do that. No one is going to stop you. It is better than sinful activities, but that is not the goal. You will have to return and take another birth in the material world.
Yesterday an eight-year-old kid asked, “Why did Krishna make COVID?” I thought that was a good question.
In the beginning devotion is mixed for most all of us, so do not worry, but as we continue to perform devotional service, the devotion becomes deeper and deeper.
Krishna Kshetra Swami:
I came to Wrocław in 1977, and we would have never have dreamed that someday the colorful Jagannath cart and the chanting of Hare Krishna would happen in downtown Wrocław. If Krishna wants something to happen, then it happens.
Canakya Pandit advises one not to instruct someone who is unlikely to accept it.
In the absense of real knowledge, people take shelter of false prophets.
A devotee is fearless because he knows everything is directed by the Lord, either directly or indirectly.
We fight ignorance with knowledge.
When people encounter the harinama party, they enter a transcendental atmosphere.
Our prabhu-datta-desa isthe place given to us for the preaching pleasure of the spiritual master.
Devotees preached in difficult places like Pakistan and Iran to please Srila Prabhupada, and in both places they met success. In New York City, whatever difficulties we have are insignificant compared to those places.
Whenever we are disturbed, internally or externally, we know all we have to do is to take shelter of the holy name.
A certain level of illusion is required to be enthusiastic about material life.
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu:
From a Gaura Purnima lecture in 2018:
People want to be God, but God wants to be a devotee.
You do not know what Krishna’s plan is. You might be surprised.
Comment by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami: We thought this was it. 26 Second Avenue.
Vidura became self-realized after hearing just the first two cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam. The third canto and the others are for people like us.
Uddhava was special in that Krishna removed His entire dynasty from the earth, but He wanted Uddhava to stay.
It is said that it was a blessing that Dhrtarastra was blind because if he could see, he would have committed more sinful activities.
If you say a few words and they become included in a scripture, how powerful they are!
There is no difference between Krishna and that which is offered to Krishna.
There are many beautiful verses glorifying the transcendental qualities of the holy name of the Lord. Here is one I have not quoted recently:
“The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions, for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. It is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krishna’s name is always liberated and spiritual; it is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical.” (Padma Purana, quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 17.133)
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
Not everywhere we may stop our bus. But on the roof we have speakers from which the maha-mantra sounds as we drive. In residential areas, where are more people, we slow down and they hear the Holy Name. In order for people to get acquainted with the Holy Name, we painted the bus from all sides, even on the roof. In front of the bus we have a running line with the Hare Krishna maha-mantra constantly lit. The goal is for all people to be able to read the Holy Name while we are driving. Sri Harinam Sankirtana ki Jaya! Continue reading "Harinama Sankritana in Europe: In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard → Dandavats"
Seeking the meaning of life as a young teenager, Jayasri visited the Hare Krishna temple for a Sunday feast in Auckland where she grew up. Upon hearing the philosophy she immediately recognised she had found the answers to all her questions. Sometime later, working in London and being at a crossroad in life, she decided to pursue her spiritual quest. Wanting to find out more about Krishna Consciousness and not able to locate a Hare Krishna temple in London she decided to fly to Vrndavan instead where a friend had given her a temple address. Continue reading "New Gokula e-news → Dandavats"
When I first started Seed of Devotion back in 2007, I included a widget in the sidebar for email subscriptions. That little widget has allowed each one of you to easily sign up to receive a Seed of Devotion post straight to your inbox.
Feedburner has decided to discontinue this email subscription widget as well as the service.
This means that this is the last email that you'll receive for Seed of Devotion through Feedburner.
Ha! Okay, that sounds apocalyptical. So allow me to clarify.
I'll continue to write for Seed of Devotion (even though I've been quiet for so long) but this definitely requires of me to explore a new platform. I'm unsure what platform I'll use, but I do have a list of your emails and I'll switch them over to a new service once I choose a new one.
So if you receive an email from another platform (such as Substack, Wordpress, etc.) with the title Seed of Devotion, please don't worry, it's not spam (although it may end up in your spam folder!), it's just lil ol' me, checking in.
Thank you for your loyalty and support all these years. I've been so blessed to have an amazing reader base through each of you.
For the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada this report contains the following North American results of book distribution for the month of June 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 June 2021 – North American Sankirtan Newsletter → Dandavats"
Today is Guru-purnima. Srila Prabhupada has explained that the system of honoring the spiritual master is current in all sections of Vedic followers. In the Mayavadi (impersonalist) sects, the disciples offer respect to the spiritual master once a year, on Guru-purnima. And in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, the disciples offer homage annually on the appearance day of the spiritual master, called Vyasa-puja because the spiritual master represents Vedavyasa, the empowered incarnation of Krishna who compiled the Vedic literatures, and the bona fide spiritual master presents the same knowledge through disciplic succession. Yet although Guru-purnima is generally observed by the Mayavadi groups, we shall take the opportunity to discuss the principle of guru—and glorify the acharya-sampradaya.
Guru is a deep subject. We sing, vande ’ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaisnavams ca. We offer respects to the spiritual master in singular, to the spiritual masters in plural, and to all Vaishnavas. The singular spiritual master is our personal spiritual master, the plural spiritual masters are the predecessor acharyas, and the Vaishnavas are the followers of the spiritual master. We offer respects to them all, because they all come in the same line, the disciplic succession (parampara) from Krishna Himself.
Srila Prabhupada explains, “The offering of respect to the spiritual master means offering respect to all the previous acharyas. Gurun means plural number. All the acharyas, they are not different from one another, because they are coming in the disciplic succession from the original spiritual master and they have no different views.” Thus we offer respects to the predecessors.
Similarly, we offer respects to the followers. Srila Prabhupada explains further, “Spiritual master means they must have many followers, who are all Vaishnavas. They are called prabhus, and the spiritual master is called Prabhupada, because at his lotus feet there are many prabhus. Pada means ‘lotus foot.’ All these Vaishnavas are prabhus. So they are also offered respectful obeisances—not the spiritual master alone, but along with his associates. And these associates, his disciples, are all Vaishnavas. Therefore they should also be offered respectful obeisances.” (SP comment on Mangalacarana, January 8, 1969)
For us in ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada is the main guru; he is the founder-acharya. But he also has his associates—Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaja, Srila Sridhar Swami, Srila Bhakti Tirtha Swami, Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami—to name some prominent ones who have departed. And, of course, Prabhupada is being served by so many others today, and we can serve and learn from all of them.
“One who teaches can be treated as spiritual master. . . . So if we take instruction from them, all senior godbrothers may be treated as guru. There is no harm. Actually, you have only one spiritual master, who initiates you, just as you have only one father. But every Vaishnava should be treated as prabhu, master, higher than me, and in this sense, if I learn from him, he may be regarded as guru.” (SP letter dated November 20, 1971)
The original guru is Krishna. He speaks the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita and enunciates the principles of religion. Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: the principles of dharma—bhagavata-dharma, prema-dharma—are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We cannot manufacture dharma. In reality, dharma means “the laws of God,” or “the orders of God.” So, dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: the principles of religion are enacted by the Lord Himself. We cannot make religious principles any more than we can make our own laws. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that you can’t just get together with some friends and pass your own laws. “Okay, now I think we should legalize marijuana. Everyone agree? Good. Passed.” Law means that it must be enacted by the government, by the parliament or legislature. Similarly, dharma is enacted by God.
dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam
na vai vidur rsayo napi devah na siddha-mukhya asura manusyah kuto nu vidyadhara-caranadayah
“Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great rsis who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyadharas, and Caranas.” (SB 6.3.19)
The conclusion of the Bhagavad-gita is sarva-dharman parityajyamam ekam saranam vraja—to give up all varieties of dharma and just surrender to Krishna. And to understand the confidential truths about religious principles and the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita, we need the help of mahajanas, authorities in Krishna consciousness—gurus.
“Lord Brahma, Bhagavan Narada, Lord Siva, the four Kumaras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahuti], Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada Maharaja, Janaka Maharaja, Grandfather Bhisma, Bali Maharaja, Sukadeva Gosvami, and I myself [Yamaraja] know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhagavata-dharma, or surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. It is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand, but if by chance one fortunately understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead.” (SB 6.3.20–21)
This confidential knowledge is given by God in scriptures and passed down through disciplic succession (evam parampara-praptam) to great souls who in turn impart the knowledge to their eager followers. And of all scriptures, Srimad-Bhagavatam is considered the most important, the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge.
“O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.” (SB 1.1.3)
This nectarean fruit is passed down to us through disciplic succession. In commenting on this verse, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives the example of a mango tree. To get a ripe mango from the top of a tree, different boys climb onto different branches. The boy at the top plucks the fruit and hands it to the boy on the next branch down, that boy hands it to the one on the next branch, and so on, until finally it reaches the boy on the ground—in the same perfect condition as when it was at the top of the tree. It hasn’t been bruised or broken but has been delivered intact, just as it was.
At the top of the tree is Krishna, and He passes the knowledge down to Brahma. Brahma passes it to Narada, and Narada passes it to Vyasa. (Today is also called Vyasa Purnima because Vyasadeva, who compiled the Vedic literature, appeared on this date.) Vyasa passes it to Madhvacharya, and so on—Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Six Gosvamis, and, further down, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and Srila Prabhupada. And now the followers of Srila Prabhupada are presenting the same knowledge. They follow and present the same teachings—that is their qualification.
About Vedavyasa, Srila Prabhupada wrote: “Vyasadeva was a real person accepted by all authorities, and anyone can judge how wonderful he was to have compiled the Vedic literatures. He is therefore known as Mahamuni. Muni means ‘thoughtful’ or ‘great thinker’ or ‘great poet,’ and maha means still greater. There is no comparison of Vyasadeva with any other writer or thinker or philosopher. Nobody can estimate the scholarly importance of Srila Vyasadeva. He composed many millions of Sanskrit verses, and we try to receive just a fragment of the knowledge in them by our tiny efforts. Srila Vyasadeva therefore summarized the whole Vedic knowledge in Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is known as the ripened fruit of the desire tree of Vedic knowledge. The ripened fruit is received hand to hand through disciplic succession, and anyone who does this work in disciplic succession from Srila Vyasadeva is considered a representative of Vyasadeva, and as such the bona fide spiritual master’s appearance day is worshiped as Vyasa-puja.” (Srila Prabhupada letter dated August 25, 1970)
Not only is today Vyasa-purnima, the appearance day of Vedavyasa, but it is also the disappearance day of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, the most senior of the Six Gosvamis of Vrindavan. His book Brhad-Bhagavatamrta was the first major work of the Six Gosvamis. Sanatana Gosvami also comes in the disciplic succession from Lord Krishna to Brahma, but he is especially significant because he is a direct follower of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself. Because Lord Chaitanya is Krishna, He is capable of beginning His own disciplic succession, but because He was acting as a devotee, He chose to take initiation in the disciplic succession from Krishna and Brahma. Still, He is God, and the process by which He imparted knowledge to His immediate followers—Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis—is comparable to the way Lord Krishna imparted knowledge to Brahma. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, in his Caitanya-caritamrta, writes of Sanatana’s younger brother Rupa:
“Before the creation of this cosmic manifestation, the Lord enlightened the heart of Lord Brahma with the details of the creation and manifested the Vedic knowledge. In exactly the same way, the Lord, being anxious to revive the Vrndavana pastimes of Lord Krsna, impregnated the heart of Rupa Gosvami with spiritual potency. By this potency, Srila Rupa Gosvami could revive the activities of Krishna in Vrndavana, activities almost lost to memory. In this way, He spread Krishna consciousness throughout the world.” (Cc Madhya 19.1) Lord Chaitanya also empowered him to write books on bhakti-yoga, and the same could be said about Sanatana Gosvami.
We are followers of the Six Gosvamis—followers of their followers. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura prays,
ei chaya gosai yara-mui tara dasa tan’-sabara pada-renu mora panca-grasa
“I am the servant of that person who is a servant of the Six Gosvamis. The dust of their holy feet is my five kinds of foodstuffs.”
tandera carana sevi-bhakta-sane vasa janame janame hoy ei abhilasa
“This is my desire, that birth after birth I may live with those devotees who serve the lotus feet of the Six Gosvamis.”
A few weeks ago we were fortunate to have four devotees from Dallas, disciples of Tamal Krishna Goswami, visit us in Santa Barbara—Dharma Prabhu and his wife, Urjesvari; her sister, Saibya; and Padma Mataji. Mayapur dasa, Sridhar Swami’s personal servant for many years, was also with us. So we thought it a good occasion to glorify these two stalwart servants of Srila Prabhupada, these two powerful preachers, Tamal Krishna Goswami and Sridhar Swami. And it was very enlivening and purifying. All of the devotees spoke so beautifully—each and every one—and one could really feel Tamal Krishna Goswami’s and Sridhar Swami’s presence and really feel united with Srila Prabhupada and his associates. His Holiness Niranjana Swami also spoke beautifully and led kirtan.
Although we are all godbrothers in that we were all initiated by Srila Prabhupada, still, among Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, there are some who were—and are—leading the movement and showing the way for others to follow. Certainly His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami was a great pioneer, and His Holiness Sridhar Swami and the others I mentioned. And even now devotees are following Srila Prabhupada and leading us and showing us the way. We also are trying to make our little contributions, but still, there are some who are ahead of us, showing the way and making it easier for us to follow. And that is natural; it will always be that way.
At the same time, it is also very personal and individual—through whom Krishna speaks to whom. It is not that everyone has to follow only one particular person. Krishna can manifest Himself—Srila Prabhupada can manifest himself—through different servants, different Vaishnavas, and we should be open to that flow of mercy however, and through whomever, it comes. It is not stereotyped or fixed or rigid. That mercy can come in different ways, and we should be open to it. That is really the principle of guru: Krishna’s instructions come to us through some servant of Krishna, some representative of Krishna—and it is not limited to only one. Krishna can speak to us through many mouths, through many personalities, and we should be open to that guidance. We should take His instructions on our head and follow them. That is how Krishna guides the conditioned souls back home, back to Godhead. He can engage any number of His servants to help us; and God knows we need all the help we can get. So we shouldn’t be sectarian. We shouldn’t cut ourselves off from any flow of mercy that may come to us by the arrangement of the Lord, or the arrangement of Srila Prabhupada, or the arrangement of any of our spiritual masters.
I always think of the example of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, because he had so many gurus. Of course, he was a direct associate of Lord Chaitanya Himself, but even then, he was helped by so many well-wishers and guides. First, He was initiated by Yadunandana Acharya, Raghunatha’s family’s spiritual master. Yadunandana Acharya himself was a great Vaishnava, an initiated disciple of Advaita Acharya and an intimate student of Vasudeva Datta. And Balarama Acharya, a dear associate of Haridasa Thakura, was Raghunatha’s family’s priest. Raghunatha learned from him too. Balarama Acharya and Yadunandana Acharya were friends, and both used to host Haridasa Thakura at their homes. For some time, Balarama Acharya provided Haridasa with a thatched hut and prasada, and at that time, while still a student, Raghunatha visited Haridasa Thakura daily, and it is said that because of the mercy Haridasa showed him then, Raghunatha later attained the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Once, Balarama Acharya invited Haridasa Thakura to speak in the assembly of Raghunatha’s family, the Majumadaras, and thus Raghunatha heard from him again, about the glories of the holy name.
Eventually Raghunatha dasa met Nityananda Prabhu at Panihati and got His benediction to become free from all obstacles and attain shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Soon, Raghunatha escaped from home, traveled by foot to Puri, and attained the merciful shelter of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. Then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu entrusted Raghunatha dasa to Svarupa Damodara Gosvami: “I entrust Raghunatha to you. Please accept him as your son or servant.” Raghunatha was very young then, only about twenty-two. Then the Lord took Raghunatha’s hand and personally placed him in the hands of Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. And so Raghunatha became Svarupa Damodara’s assistant. Svarupa Damodara was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s secretary, and Raghunatha dasa in effect became assistant secretary.
After Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left this world, followed by Svarupa Damodara and almost all of His other intimate associates, Raghunatha dasa felt bereft: “I am all alone. There is no reason to live. How can I live without my prabhus, without all of my masters?”
Raghunatha dasa felt so much separation that he decided to go to Vrindavan to see the lotus feet of Rupa and Sanatana and then give up his life by jumping from Govardhana Hill. But the two brothers did not allow him to die. They prevailed upon him to stay with them and speak about Mahaprabhu’s later pastimes. “You should not give up your life,” they told him. “You were with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Puri and were witness to so many of His intimate pastimes. You should stay with us and tell us about your experiences with Him.” And they accepted him as their third brother.
Especially Sanatana Gosvami gave him shelter and took care of him. At first, when Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was doing bhajana at Radha-kunda, he didn’t have any residence. And while doing his bhajana, he was pretty much oblivious to everything else. He would chant, but sometimes he could hardly chant, because he would go into a trance. Still, he did chant at least one lakh names every day. But it could happen that he would chant one name and then go into a deep trance, and the pastimes of Krishna would play in his mind. Like that, one day he was chanting Krishna’s name and remembering Krishna’s pastimes and the hot sun was beating down on his head. Srimati Radharani Herself then came and held a cloth over his head, but Raghunatha dasa Gosvami didn’t know it, because he was in deep meditation. But Sanatana Gosvami understood, and he personally built a bhajana-kutira for him. He took care of him in every respect.
In his book Vilapa-kusumanjali, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami begins by offering respects to his gurus. In Sanskrit devotional works, authors begin by offering respects to their gurus and worshipable Deities. So at the beginning he offers respects to Sanatana Gosvami:
vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnair apayayan mam anabhipsum andham krpambudhir yah para-duhkha-duhkhi sanatanas tam prabhum asrayami
“I was unwilling to drink the nectar of devotional service possessed of renunciation, but Sanatana Gosvami, out of his causeless mercy, made me drink it, even though I was otherwise unable to do so. Therefore he is an ocean of mercy. He is very compassionate to fallen souls like me, and thus it is my duty to offer my respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet.” (Vilapa-kusumanjali 6)
In this verse, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami describes Sanatana Gosvami with a phrase that Srila Prabhupada often quoted (for all compassionate Vaishnavas): para-duhkha-duhkhi—“he felt sorrow in the sorrow of others.” Raghunatha dasa says, vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnair—he gave me the nectar of devotional service enriched with renunciation; anabhipsum andham—but I was unwilling (anabhipsum) to drink it, because I was blind (andham) to my spiritual well-being; so apayayan mam—he forced me to drink it. Sanatana Gosvami is an ocean of mercy (krpambudhi), and therefore I offer my respectful obeisances to him. I take shelter of him, my master (prabhum asrayami).
Srila Prabhupada paraphrased this verse in composing a verse to honor his sannyasa-guru, Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. He used almost the same words. The idea is that it is very hard to become free from the shackles of family life. Of course, one can be a pure devotee in the grihastha-ashrama—that is another thing—but to preach, sannyasa may be advised.
As Srila Prabhupada describes it, he was having dreams—in modern psychological language one might say recurring nightmares—that his guru maharaja was calling him to follow him and preach. And as Prabhupada describes it, he would wake up horrified: “How can I take sannyasa and become a mendicant? How can I leave my wife and children? What will happen then?” It’s a long story, but eventually Prabhupada accepted vanaprastha. He went to Jhansi and began the League of Devotees there. But there was some politics. The wife of the governor wanted the property that Srila Prabhupada had been using for the League of Devotees. She made all efforts to get it for some ladies’ program, and because she was so influential Prabhupada decided not to fight against her. So he left and went to Mathura, where he stayed in the matha of his godbrother Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. And Kesava Maharaja insisted, “You must take sannyasa.” To fully take up the order of the spiritual master and preach, one must accept the renounced order of life. And Prabhupada did it. He took sannyasa.
Then, in 1968—in the early days of the movement in the West—Srila Prabhupada, in Seattle, got news that His Holiness Kesava Maharaja had passed away. So he held a meeting with the disciples there and spoke about the history, how his guru maharaja and his godbrother had “forced” him to take sannyasa: “My godbrother insisted. Not he insisted—practically my spiritual master insisted through him, that ‘You accept.’ He wanted me to become a preacher, so he forced me through this godbrother: ‘You accept.’ So, unwillingly I accepted.”
Srila Prabhupada saw his guru maharaja working through his godbrother, speaking through his godbrother—another Vaishnava—and he composed this verse, very similar to the one Raghunatha dasa composed for Sanatana Gosvami—but for Kesava Maharaja. Apayayan mam anabhipsum andham. “I was unwilling to take the medicine of bhakti with detachment because I was blind. I could not see my future, that spiritual life is the brightest future. So the Vaishnavas, the spiritual master, they force: ‘You must drink.’ ” Sri-kesava-bhakti-prajnana-nama krpambudhir yas tam aham prapadye: “Sri Bhaktiprajnana Kesava is an ocean of mercy, and I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.”
So, Sanatana Gosvami was a great shelter to Vaishnavas in Vrindavan. He was not only intelligent—all the Gosvamis were most intelligent—but he was very shrewd, very clever. He understood politics and diplomacy. It is said that Rupa Gosvami was very simple but that Sanatana Gosvami was very astute; he could understand people’s motives and intentions. So he was able to protect devotees in the most practical ways, because he had that type of intelligence. And he protected Raghunatha dasa Gosvami on every level.
Then, on the day of Guru-purnima, because Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the Gosvamis and the siksa-guru of almost everyone in Vrindavan, the Vaishnavas went to Govardhana to offer him respects. Upon their arrival at his bhajana-kutira at Manasi-ganga, they saw that he was in a trance. He didn’t move at all, and they didn’t want to disturb him. So they waited.
Eventually they understood that he had left, and they all were overwhelmed with separation. They took him on parikrama of Govardhana Hill—he had done parikrama of Govardhana Hill faithfully every day. Then they weren’t sure where to place his body. Jiva Gosvami, who was the leader after Sanatana, decided that they should bring him back to Vrindavan, close to the temple of the Deity of Madana-mohana, who was so dear to him. And that took place on Guru-purnima.
We can see how the devotees helped each other—everyone helped everyone. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta we find that all the Vaishnavas were always helping each other, and we should learn from their example. We should develop that mood. Of course, help can come in different ways. Sometimes it comes in terms of instruction, and sometimes it comes in practical ways, like Sanatana Gosvami’s building Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s bhajana-kutira. These exalted devotees were always serving each other—serving Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and serving each other. And that should be our mood: to serve each other, actually help each other—and to learn from each other.
In the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam we learn how an avadhuta brahman took lessons from others—twenty-four siksa-gurus: from material elements, natural phenomena, plants, animals, even from a prostitute. By his intelligence, he learned from all of them, and he accepted them all as his gurus. For example, he learned from the mountain that a saintly person should devote all his efforts to the service of others and make their welfare the sole reason for his existence (as we learn from Govardhana Hill). From the python he learned that one should give up material endeavor and accept what comes of its own accord—one should remain peaceful and steady, indifferent to material gain but always alert to self-realization. He even learned from Pingala, a prostitute. Because she had no other source of income, Pingala was very anxious for customers. One night she was waiting, waiting, waiting, and still no customer came. Finally, at the end of the night, she felt disgusted with her situation and thus became detached. From Pingala he learned detachment—and attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whom she accepted as her ultimate shelter and object of love.
So we can learn from anyone and anything. If we are sincerely trying to serve Krishna and to understand how best to serve Him, the Lord in the heart will give us the intelligence of how to learn from others—even from trees and grass. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu glorified the trees and grass, for from them we learn how to be tolerant and humble. We can learn from anyone and everyone, and everything.
We can learn even from demons—and we are surrounded by them. Big business people, with their advertising and other strategies, are so clever. We should be that shrewd and clever for Krishna. Materialistic leaders figure out how to trap people in their nets and pull them in and keep them. We can learn from such powerful materialists how to attract people and keep them, for Krishna—how to be organized and intelligent, for Krishna. If we are in the proper mood, anything can remind us of devotional service and be used for Krishna’s benefit. Anyone can be a siksa-guru for us if we are absorbed in the mood of serving Krishna, fixed in Krishna consciousness.
But in particular, and especially on occasions like today, we are enjoined to offer respectful obeisances unto our diksa- and siksa-gurus in disciplic succession, from Krishna to Brahma to Narada to Vyasa, from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Sanatana Gosvami, from Srila Prabhupada to his followers, which includes all of you.
Thank you very much.
[A Talk by Giriraj Swami on Guru-purnima, July 29, 2007, Dallas]
Sri Sanatana Gosvami appeared in 1488, five years before Sri Rupa Gosvami, in a Sarasvata brahmana family in Bengal. Sanatana and his two brothers, Rupa and Anupama, were always absorbed in bhava bhakti from early childhood. Remembering Vrndavana, they named the forests in which they played after Vraja’s twelve forests (Talavana, Madhuvana, Kamyavana, Mahavana). They called their favorite bathing ponds Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda.
In his youth, Sri Sanatana dreamt that a beautiful brahmana boy gave him a Srimad Bhagavatam. Feeling ecstatic he awoke. But seeing neither the boy nor the Bhagavatam he felt sad. When Sanatana began his puja that morning, however, Krishna Himself, disguised as a beautiful brahmana boy, came and said, “Take this Srimad Bhagavatam from Me, always study it, and you will attain perfection.”
Forced to submit to the ruling Muslim government, Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana became ministers and lived at Ramakeli. But their real engagement was teaching sastras which they learned from Vidyavacaspati, brother of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. Pandits and brahmanas from all over India came to study under the two brothers. Sri Rupa and Sanatana were acclaimed as the “crest jewels of the Gaudiya Vaisnava scholars.”
After the Lord visited Ramakeli and freed them, they renounced everything for Lord Gauranga’s service. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis to move to Vrndavana and perform four services: (1) Uncover Sri Krishna’s pastime places. (2) Install Deities, arrange for Their puja. (3) Compile bhakti scriptures. (4) Propagate the rules of devotional life. “Entering Lord Caitanya’s service, they resolutely gave up power, riches, and position to live in Vrndavana as humble beggars absorbed in bhajana.
To maintain himself Sanatana would beg some wheat flour, roll it into a ball by adding a touch of Yamuna water, and drop it in smoldering coals to cook. He would offer this bati(salt-free, baked bread ball) to his Deity of Madana Mohana. Giving up all kinds of material enjoyment, the Gosvamis accepted the poorest way of life as mendicants. They ate just enough to maintain their bodies.
The Radha-Madana Mohana mandir established by Sanatana Gosvami was the first one opened in Vrndavana by the six Gos-vamis. Described as “the personal extension of the body of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu,” Sri Sanatana is the ideal spiritual master because he gives one shelter at the lotus feet of Madana Mohana.
The three Vrndavana Deities (Madana Mohana, Govindaji and Gopinatha) are the life and soul of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. The Deity of Madana Mohana has the specific quality of helping the neophyte devotees understand their eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami spent forty-three years wandering from village to village in Vrndavana. The Vrajavasis would affectionately care for him treating him like their father. With patience and concern he listened to their problems. Then he would please all the villagers by his preaching and practical advice on everything from increasing crop yields to solving family quarrels.
In his last years, he left his beloved Deity of Madana Mohana with Krishna Dasa brahmacari, his disciple. He did bhajana on the banks of Manasi Ganga next to Cakalesvara Mahadeva at Govardhana. Daily he walked the twenty-four mile parikrama (original longer route) of Govardhana Hill. Although he was sixty-five years old, he kept his daily vow of offering 1,008 obeisances to Govardhana Hill and to any Vaisnava whom he met.
Understanding the difficulty of His pure devotee, Sri Madana Mohana appeared one day and said, “Baba! you are too old. Don’t take so much trouble to walk around Govardhana Hill everyday.”
Sanatana replied, “This is one of the daily activities of my bhajana: I must maintain it.”
“Since you are old,” said Madana Mohana, “you may now give up this vow.”
Starting to walk again, Sanatana replied, “I will never give up my religious principles.”
Sanatana Gosvami’s firm determination to complete his daily devotional vow pleased Sri Madana Mohana (Krishna). But in the loving dealings between the Lord and His pure devotee, Krishna’s desire to please His devotee often defeats the devotee’s desire to please Him. So out of loving compassion for His devotee, Sri Krishna stood on a large flat stone (Govardhana sila) taken from Giriraja. He played His irresistable flute. The Govardhana sila melted in ecstasy, capturing the impression of Krishna’s lotus feet.
Presenting this to Sanatana, Krishna said, “If you circumambulate this sila everyday it will be the same as going around Govardhana Hill everyday. You will keep your vow intact and not compromise your religious principles.” Seeing that Giriraja Himself (Sri Krishna) had given the sila, Sanatana Gosvami gratefully accepted. One can still see that Govardhana sila in the Radha Damodara temple.
In the form of Labanga manjari Sanatana Gosvami serves Srimati Visakha sakhi in Radha-Madhava’s nitya nikunja-lila. Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi is behind Radha Madana Mohana’s temple.
Radhanath Swami: “I was in Vrindavan in 1971, and I was among five or six other people sitting around Srila Prabhupada. He wasn’t my guru then; he was just one of the saints I was coming to visit. And Srila Prabhupada was in Vrindavan for a few days. Somebody asked him, ‘Are you the guru for the whole world?’ He didn’t say anything. I was really very excited with anticipation—what is he going to say? Most people would say, ‘Yes.’ And after he paused for a few minutes, he looked down to the ground. With tears of humility in his eyes, he said, ‘No, I am the servant of everyone. That’s all.’ And I was thinking, ‘He is really the guru of the whole world!’
“A true guru is not one who claims to be God. A true guru is one who claims to be a humble messenger of God.”
Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada shall be honored by the Government of India through a special issue of a 125 Indian Rupees commemorative coin on the grand occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada.
After Śrīla Bhakti Charu Mahārāja departed there was an unimaginable outpouring of intense despair and grief by the worldwide devotee community. Later, when Mahārāja’s vapu was placed in samādhi in Māyāpura, his dear godbrother Ambarīṣa Prabhu along with his good wife Mother Svāhā Devī offered to build the samādhi temple.
Question: Why does Krishna talk about controlling the senses to Arjuna when the purpose of the conversation seems to be to incite Arjuna to fight?
Answer: The mention of fighting in the Gita is only contextual. Essentially, Gita’s purpose is to elevate Arjuna to understand the fundamental truths of life, purpose of life and harmonize with that purpose. Krishna does not simply want the destruction of the Kauravas. If that were the case, he could have done it himself with his own supreme power. In fact, Krishna shows in his universal form that all the Kauravas are destroyed by him in the form of time (kala).
In the Gita, Krishna wants elevation of Arjuna to a higher consciousness and through Arjuna Krishna wants to elevate all of us. Krishna wants that Arjuna understands that he is a soul and as a soul his duty is to harmonize with God in loving devotion. Five-thousand years ago when the Gita was spoken, the way for Arjuna to harmonize was by fighting the war because it was Krishna’s will. Contextually, Arjuna’s duty was to fight the war but essentially, Arjuna’s duty (and for us) is to love and serve Krishna.
To elevate our consciousness and relish ultimate happiness, we need to control our senses because if the senses are not controlled, they keep us trapped in material things e.g. enjoying the material forms, touches, tastes, sounds etc. Krishna talks about the necessity of sense control so that a person can practice the path of yoga (ultimately bhakti yoga) and rise to that spiritual level where he can experience loving harmony and happiness.
To summarize, Gita is not a book of violence or silence but a book of transcendence. For attaining transcendence, one has to practice sense control. In Arjuna’s specific case, for acting at the transcendental level, he needs to fight. That is why Kr
I began today publicly, with a Zoom class to Mauritius on the topic of “Gossip — Me and My Big Mouth.” People find it an interesting conversation piece. The practice of gossip is subtle but very toxic. As pointed out by one of my sisters, Pauline, “It does show that people are socially interacting.” Pauline clarified that she doesn’t believe the exercise of gossip is healthy and wholesome, just that it shows a sign of life.
Pauline, by the way, attended our first session of part two of Ratha Yatra. Held at Earl Bales Park, this marvelous green space is located just around the corner of her home so her visit was convenient. I had the chance to introduce her to our crowd and reluctantly, out of shyness, said a few things on the microphone.
“This is my little sister (I believe she’s 61) and she does hair, but she has found me to be a useless client.” (Laughs). I show off my shaven head. Pauline is such a sweet person. Incidentally this festival, the Ratha Yatra, is a reflection of an actual family reunion. Yes indeed, Krishna’s actual family — Balarama, his brother, and Subhadra, his sister, take a journey to the north, to Kuruksetra, during a solar eclipse where friends and more relatives have this extraordinary reunion.
To the best of their ability organizers pulled off the event once again in a powerful devotional way.
This year’s 49th annual Ratha festival, like 2020, was a modified version; all because of Covid. We are still not allowed to have major gatherings where participants can be close and, besides that, our people are loyal to mask wearing. Despite obstacles, after a year or more of keeping away from each other, we did come together on some meaningful level.
Instead of our usual chariot-pull on Yonge St. (and there are usually three chariots) we comfortably seated our three prime deities of Krishna, His brother and sister in a rented red convertible and went for a spin to three locations — an urban parking lot near the lake and two Hindu temple parking facilities. It was good to connect with the pandits and administrators of those temples. Most of all we all connected with friends of the pre-Covid times. It was like a family reunion, meeting again with congregates from different directions.
One notable moment for me was when a young high-school student asked a few questions. We went to the side when he wanted to understand what the Vedas say about atheism. It seemed he was inclined towards this particular philosophical leaning. In response, I expressed there is a level of realization in the line of brahmavad where energy of an immense power can satisfy those certain people of an impersonal approach. Three levels I spoke about. Something called bhagavan realization is the ultimate approach, where there is a recognition of superior intelligence connected to that divine personality.
ISKCON Communications & SP125 Committee are happy to inform you all that the Government of India has issued the rules and a notification to legally recognize the Rs 125 commemorative coin being minted by the Government on the historic occasion of Srila Prabhupada's 125th Vyasa Puja (birth anniversary). The Indian government's official Gazette Notification is attached herein for your kind information. Continue reading "Govt of India Notifies Srila Prabhupada Coin → Dandavats"