Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Queen’s Park, Toronto

The Power of Paramatma 

Every morning our reader, Vallabha Hari, who is a natural Master of Ceremonies, projects out on the microphone a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita: As It Is and it is always a reassuring message from God. Today’s passage went as such from chapter six: 

“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” And, very closely connected to verse thirty is the sloka of yesterday, verse twenty-nine, “A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in me. Indeed, the self-realized person sees Me, the Supreme Lord, everywhere.”

It just so happened that the theme of the omnipresence of Krishna reappeared in my afternoon session of our weekly Zoom class. There we delved into the topic of the power paramatma, the Supersoul, being inside and outside; mystically present in all things within existence. This information on the Supersoul is sourced from chapter thirteen. Interesting words are used to describe this all-pervasive feature of the Almighty such as “He devours and develops all.” Another of his features is His ability to spread but never diminish in strength and power. When we try to spread, through multitasking and going overboard, we spread ourselves to thinly and become ineffective.

There is no comparison in the matter of putting side-by-side the soul and the Supersoul. We will always be infinitesimal. 

May the Source be with you!

4 km 


 

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Vaughan, Ontario

Tolerance

When a hurricane hits town it can do a lot of damage. Fiona stormed Canada’s east coast taking only one human life when the notorious wind and water swept through but she left devastation to roads, buildings and so much more infrastructure. Such are the freaks of nature.

Today I received a call from one of my Gitastudents from Florida saying, “The hurricane Ian is coming. Perhaps we should cancel the class?” Thereafter major flood water came in, another resident of Florida, a doctor friend, forwarded a pic of an alligator swimming its way into a house, making itself at home. An uninvited guest, I suppose.

Yes, nature is overwhelming at times. Meanwhile in my part of the world we are enjoying the change of color for the autumn leaves, harvest is yielding the best food, the mosquitoes have vanished and wild creatures boldly make their presence known. In the area of Vaughan, where I spent a good three hours at the home of Indresh, he claims eagles are in abundance as are wild turkeys, coyotes and deer. Hence mother nature poses both good and bad. Duality is a major feature of this wild, wild world. 

One of my all-time favorite verses from the Gitaaddresses the extremes of our domain. Verse 2.14 calls for tolerance in the face of dualities. It’s a good prescription.

May the Source be with you!

4 km 


 

 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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University of Toronto

At the Campus

We were blessed with additional rain today. It was actually more of a drizzle, but that didn’t deter us from making that walk to the university grounds with a special mission. There were three of us — Ryan, Durgam, and myself. Durgam recently arrived from India to take up priestly duties at our temple but, to balance that lifestyle in the spiritual environment, he is enthusiastic to interact with people for a stretch of the afternoon (as is Ryan). Durgam is a sociable type and dovetailing that nature is critical in keeping an individual happy. 

Ryan took on the role as teacher to train Durgam in the art of book distribution, a major trademark for those in the Krishna Consciousness movement. We sat at a bench under a tree equipped with umbrellas and the lesson began. I became the shelter – the holder of the parasol when Ryan whipped out a copy of his script on what to say to students in literature, precious as it is. Durgam took to listening and engaging and role playing. He’s a good student. A few more lessons like this and hopefully before long Durgam can become an expert at book distribution; handing out mercy in the form of sacred wisdom.

After all, students are stressed. They will tell you that. There needs to be an outlet for this negative energy and transcendental knowledge can be the beginning of a reasonable future.

May the Source be with you!

3 km 


 

 

Monday, September 26, 2022
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Cabbagetown, Ontario

From Cabbage to Pizza

It was today, with umbrella in hand, that I walked to my old spiritual stomping grounds, or, to put it in another phrase, my spiritual birthplace. 187 Gerrard St. is the actual location, currently a house and formerly a temple, where my spiritual training took place. That was back in the spring of 1973, almost a half a century ago. I almost shed a tear looking at the place when actual raindrops fell from the sky.

It is only a few doors down on Gerrard, which is the home of Praharana, my godsister, and devotee extraordinaire. Equal extraordinaire, Vrnda, from Winnipeg has come to visit. My walk to Gerrad was with the intention to visit them and talk about administrational duties. As leaders of a global spiritual movement our responsibility is to go over issues and perhaps resolve action plans, etc.

So, that’s what we did. At least, we expressed concerns and desires. It’s always great to sit with individuals who are effective, think from both heart and brain, and who are doers; not just decision makers or dreamers.

Anyway, my wishes were fulfilled over specific topics. Certainly, we can’t solve all problems. I got my walk in — to Cabbagetown and back to the Rosedale/Annex area. I wasn’t the only one using an umbrella. Rain came and brains came to this fine day. There is nothing like a decent rain to clear away some dirt and clutter which, in turn, is psychologically purifying.

My whole spiritual practice evolved from 187 and 243 Avenue Rd. through all these years.

When I came home to the ashram I was greeted by pizza, offered to Krishna. 

May the Source be with you!

7 km 


 

 

Sunday, September 25, 2022
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Hamilton/Niagara

Lucky Sweet

I get concerned these days about travel and the time it takes to get somewhere by a vehicle. It can take so long with so many more people and so many more cars.

The drive to Niagara Falls from Toronto used to be one and a half hour — max. These days it’s a frustrating extra hour. There and back is almost a whole, or at least a chunk of, your day. But we were lucky, maybe smart. It’s all in the time of day you leave and time of return that can determine a good or bad trip. Our return was a mere one hour and 10 minutes. Of course, we had Roman as our driver. He is safe and smooth.

Hamilton, at Gage Park, was just a sweet experience. Our circle of humans sitting on mats on the grass was so appealing. People stop. Watch. Their hearts melt at the sight of young to middle-aged to older folks all together, singing and happy. We’re a family. It’s usually single pedestrians that do so. I believe they are pining for community; craving for a togetherness.

Just next to us, fifty metres away, was a table set up with a group of three with a placard saying, “Ask an atheist.” No one stopped to ask them anything during our two hours stay. I asked Billy to go over and get them some prasadam. We had a mild cake and pakoras with chutney. Oh, they loved it.

Our last stop — Niagara. We met David in the park there. A musician. He loves George Harrison deeply. He’s got all the Beatles songs down. Our finale for today was indoors and out of the rain. We got our people dancing today. And our talk was from the Gita’s intro, with the theme of personalism vs. brahman emptiness. Sweetness all around. 

May the source be with you!

0 km 


 

 

Saturday, September 24, 2022
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Toronto/Brampton

Joy and Feelings

A splendid day kicked off with strong sadhanaat the temple including a Bhagavatam class outlining how self-realization can truly take off by way of the nostrils. Such was the case for the adorable four Kumara sages. They caught a whiff of the fragrant Tulsi(sacred green), which were found at the feet of Vishnu. From there on those boys excelled in their devotion.

Our group of Bhakti Academy, along with Ajamil and I, made our way to Queen’s Park once again, this time under an old horse-chestnut tree. What a remarkable spot. Pedestrians responded so well to our kirtan. Vallabha and I walk to the front of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, where one can find the shoes of toddlers; a statement reminding us of the abuse that went on with native children in the residential schools.

In the afternoon I was set to go for sangha, devotional company with Rajasuya and Rahul down the Etobicoke Creek Trail. For the first time the two associates tried choke cherries. Bitter! Also, for the premiertime, a taste of wild grapes. They were a hit! Sweet and tangy.

Along the creek we came upon another display. An organization P.A.L. picks up trash along the creek. Ready for pick-up was a pile of rejected items bagged up. We found it interesting to see a deity of Laxmi, the goddess of fortune, perched at the top of one stack. It is indeed a practice within Hinduism to submerge a deity of this kind in water after a ritual is completed. Our trek was very much situated in a populated Hindu residential area. It was a bit sad to see her plopped on top of a garbage heap.

May the Source be with you!

11 km 




 

 

Friday, September 23, 2022
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Dundas Square, Toronto

Night Walk and People

After a blissful kirtan at Queen’s Park, and once all participants dispersed, I chose to go solo on foot on the very active streets on this Friday night. It is quite remarkable to see the demographical change the city is experiencing. There is an increase in Asian presence, more particularly Chinese and Indian folks, many of them students. By the time I reached Dundas Square at Yonge, it was a very low and crammed protest by youth of Iranian dissent. With place cards and mantras of slogans “Free Iran,” “End the oppression of Iranian women,” and “F**k The Regime.” The protesters were strong in their outcry.

I asked two security guards, tall Afro-Canadian men, regarding what was the protest but it appeared they hadn’t got close enough to read among the hundreds of disgruntled individuals. They were, however, curious about me, “Are you Buddhist?”

“No! A Hare Krishna monk!” I replied.

“Oh yes, Krishna. How many years have you been a monk?”

“I became a monk in 1973. It’s almost a half a century.” That remark caused the raising of eyebrows. I gave a pat on the back of one of them, something I don’t normally do but was compelled to show my appreciation for their work. They nodded and I smiled.

I proceeded north towards home, to the temple ashram, but in order to relax for five minutes I took to a park bench when a person, homeless, came to share in the seat as he spoke. “I’m trying to get back home, to Newfoundland. They had no room at the shelter. Someone stole my backpack with $300.” I expressed that I would pray for him as my only way to help. He liked that and said his name was Brandy. 

May the Source be with you!

7 km 


 

 

Thursday, September 22, 2022
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Queen’s Park, Toronto

Green Spaces

I was showing Vallabha Hari new locations for any future strolls he may wish to take. He is accustomed to taking the main through-fares. Little did he know that there are marvelous tucked away green spaces beyond the brick and mortar of buildings. If one ever takes a flight that soars above the city of Toronto, they will find a 17% green cover. That’s not a lot for trees, shrubs and grass but it’s something. With the current craze for new condos coming up, it could threaten the spaces of calm. Another trend, though, appears to ensure greenness with park benches and relaxation spaces preserved. A city should always offer comfort and more flowering areas with low maintenance, year-round ever-greens make for pleasant places for meditation.

Wouldn’t it be nice when all this interspersed space will become popular japa and yoga areas in addition to these localities being dog walking spaces?

Our walk in these apparently hidden areas were an eye-opener for Vallabha. Don’t be surprised to see more skunk sightings and raccoon hangouts. That actually happened on our stroll.

Before that evening trek my one class for today was via Zoom and based on the Bhagavad-Gita, verses 13.14 and 15. They describe the qualities of the Supersoul, God within the heart. Personal features of the absolute on the level of paramatma are all pervasive. It is very interesting. That’s the way many of us feel about green being present everywhere.

May the Source be with you!

4 km 


 

 

Sripada Madhvacharya’s Appearance Day
Giriraj Swami

Today is Sripada Madhvacharya’s appearance day. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 9, describes him:

TEXT 245

madhvacarya-sthane aila yanha ‘tattvavadi’
udupite ‘krsna’ dekhi, tahan haila premonmadi

TRANSLATION

Caitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at Udupi, the place of Madhvacarya, where the philosophers known as Tattvavadis resided. There He saw the Deity of Lord Krsna and became mad with ecstasy.

PURPORT

Sripada Madhvacarya took his birth near Udupi, which is situated in the South Kanara district of South India, just west of Sahyadri. This is the chief city of the South Kanara province and is near the city of Mangalore, which is situated to the south of Udupi. Near the city of Udupi is a place called Pajaka-ksetra, where Madhvacarya took his birth in a Sivalli-brahmana dynasty as the son of Madhyageha Bhatta, in the year 1040 Sakabda (A.D. 1118). According to some, he was born in the year 1160 Sakabda (A.D. 1238).

In his childhood Madhvacarya was known as Vasudeva, and there are some wonderful stories surrounding him. It is said that once when his father had piled up many debts, Madhvacarya converted tamarind seeds into actual coins to pay them off. When he was five years old, he was offered the sacred thread. A demon named Maniman lived near his abode in the form of a snake, and at the age of five Madhvacarya killed that snake with the toe of his left foot. When his mother was very much disturbed, he would appear before her in one jump. He was a great scholar even in childhood, and although his father did not agree, he accepted sannyasa at the age of twelve. Upon receiving sannyasa from Acyuta Preksa, he received the name Purnaprajna Tirtha. After traveling all over India, he finally discussed scriptures with Vidyasankara, the exalted leader of Srngeri-matha. Vidyasankara was actually diminished in the presence of Madhvacarya. Accompanied by Satya Tirtha, Madhvacarya went to Badarikasrama. It was there that he met Vyasadeva and explained his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita before him. Thus he became a great scholar by studying before Vyasadeva.

By the time he came to the Ananda-matha from Badarikasrama, Madhvacarya had finished his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita. His companion Satya Tirtha wrote down the entire commentary. When Madhvacarya returned from Badarikasrama, he went to Ganjama, which is on the bank of the river Godavari. There he met with two learned scholars named Sobhana Bhatta and Svami Sastri. Later these scholars became known in the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya as Padmanabha Tirtha and Narahari Tirtha. When he returned to Udupi, he would sometimes bathe in the ocean. On such an occasion he composed a prayer in five chapters. Once, while sitting beside the sea engrossed in meditation upon Lord Sri Krsna, he saw that a large boat containing goods for Dvaraka was in danger. He gave some signs by which the boat could approach the shore, and it was saved. The owners of the boat wanted to give him a present, and at the time Madhvacarya agreed to take some gopi-candana. He received a big lump of gopi-candana, and as it was being brought to him, it broke apart and revealed a large Deity of Lord Krsna. The Deity had a stick in one hand and a lump of food in the other. As soon as Madhvacarya received the Deity of Krsna in this way, he composed a prayer. The Deity was so heavy that not even thirty people could lift it. Yet Madhvacarya personally brought this Deity to Udupi. Eight of Madhvacarya’s sannyasa disciples became directors of his eight monasteries. Worship of the Lord Krsna Deity is still going on at Udupi according to the plans Madhvacarya established.

Madhvacarya then for the second time visited Badarikasrama. While he was passing through Maharashtra, the local king was digging a big lake for the public benefit. As Madhvacarya passed through that area with his disciples, he was also obliged to help in the excavation. After some time, when Madhvacarya visited the king, he engaged the king in that work and departed with his disciples.

Often in the province of Ganga-pradesa there were fights between Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus were on one bank of the river, and the Muslims on the other. Due to the community tension, no boat was available for crossing the river. The Muslim soldiers were always stopping passengers on the other side, but Madhvacarya did not care for these soldiers. He crossed the river anyway, and when he met the soldiers on the other side, he was brought before the king. The Muslim king was so pleased with him that he wanted to give him a kingdom and some money, but Madhvacarya refused. While walking on the road, he was attacked by some dacoits, but by his bodily strength he killed them all. When his companion Satya Tirtha was attacked by a tiger, Madhvacarya separated them by virtue of his great strength. When he met Vyasadeva, he received from him the salagrama-sila known as Astamurti. After this, he summarized the Mahabharata.

Madhvacarya’s devotion to the Lord and his erudite scholarship became known throughout India. Consequently the owners of the Srngeri-matha, established by Sankaracarya, became a little perturbed. At that time the followers of Sankaracarya were afraid of Madhvacarya’s rising power, and they began to tease Madhvacarya’s disciples in many ways. There was even an attempt to prove that the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya was not in line with Vedic principles. A person named Pundarika Puri, a follower of the Mayavada philosophy of Sankaracarya, came before Madhvacarya to discuss the sastras. It is said that all of Madhvacarya’s books were taken away, but later they were found with the help of King Jayasimha, ruler of Kumla. In discussion, Pundarika Puri was defeated by Madhvacarya. A great personality named Trivikramacarya, who was a resident of Visnumangala, became Madhvacarya’s disciple, and his son later became Narayanacarya, the composer of Sri Madhva-vijaya. After the death of Trivikramacarya, the younger brother of Narayanacarya took sannyasa and later became known as Visnu Tirtha.

It was reputed that there was no limit to the bodily strength of Purnaprajna, Madhvacarya. There was a person named Kadanjari who was famed for possessing the strength of thirty men. Madhvacarya placed the big toe of his foot upon the ground and asked the man to separate it from the ground, but the great strong man could not do so even after great effort. Srila Madhvacarya passed from this material world at the age of eighty while writing a commentary on the Aitareya Upanisad. For further information about Madhvacarya, one should read Madhva-vijaya, by Narayanacarya.

The acaryas of the Madhva-sampradaya established Udupi as the chief center, and the monastery there was known as Uttararadhi-matha. A list of the different centers of the Madhvacarya-sampradaya can be found at Udupi, and their matha commanders are (1) Visnu Tirtha (Soda-matha), (2) Janardana Tirtha (Krsnapura-matha), (3) Vamana Tirtha (Kanura-matha), (4) Narasimha Tirtha (Adamara-matha), (5) Upendra Tirtha (Puttugi-matha), (6) Rama Tirtha (Sirura-matha), (7) Hrsikesa Tirtha (Palimara-matha), and (8) Aksobhya Tirtha (Pejavara-matha). The disciplic succession of the Madhvacarya-sampradaya is as follows (the dates are those of birth in the Sakabda Era; for Christian era dates, add seventy-eight years): (1) Hamsa Paramatma; (2) Caturmukha Brahma; (3) Sanakadi; (4) Durvasa; (5) Jnananidhi; (6) Garuda-vahana; (7) Kaivalya Tirtha; (8) Jnanesa Tirtha; (9) Para Tirtha; (10) Satyaprajna Tirtha; (11) Prajna Tirtha; (12) Acyuta Preksacarya Tirtha; (13) Sri Madhvacarya, 1040 Saka; (14) Padmanabha, 1120; Narahari, 1127; Madhava, 1136; and Aksobhya 1159; (15) Jaya Tirtha, 1167; (16) Vidyadhiraja, 1190; (17) Kavindra, 1255; (18) Vagisa, 1261; (19) Ramacandra, 1269; (20) Vidyanidhi, 1298; (21) Sri Raghunatha, 1366; (22) Rayuvarya (who spoke with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu), 1424; (23) Raghuttama, 1471; (24) Vedavyasa, 1517; (25) Vidyadhisa, 1541; (26) Vedanidhi, 1553; (27) Satyavrata, 1557; (28) Satyanidhi, 1560; (29) Satyanatha, 1582; (30) Satyabhinava, 1595; (31) Satyapurna, 1628; (32) Satyavijaya, 1648; (33) Satyapriya, 1659; (34) Satyabodha, 1666; (35) Satyasandha, 1705; (36) Satyavara, 1716; (37) Satyadharma, 1719; (38) Satyasankalpa, 1752; (39) Satyasantusta, 1763; (40) Satyaparayana, 1763; (41) Satyakama, 1785; (42) Satyesta, 1793; (43) Satyaparakrama, 1794; (44) Satyadhira, 1801; (45) Satyadhira Tirtha, 1808.

After the sixteenth acarya (Vidyadhiraja Tirtha), there was another disciplic succession, including Rajendra Tirtha, 1254; Vijayadhvaja; Purusottama; Subrahmanya; and Vyasa Raya, 1470–1520. The nineteenth acarya, Ramacandra Tirtha, had another disciplic succession, including Vibudhendra, 1218; Jitamitra, 1348; Raghunandana; Surendra; Vijendra; Sudhindra; and Raghavendra Tirtha, 1545.

To date, in the Udupi monastery there are another fourteen Madhva-tirtha sannyasis. As stated, Udupi is situated beside the sea in South Kanara, about thirty-six miles north of Mangalore.

Most of the information in this purport is available from the South Kanada Manual and the Bombay Gazette.

TEXT 246

nartaka gopala dekhe parama-mohane
madhvacarye svapna diya aila tanra sthane

TRANSLATION

While at the Udupi monastery, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw “dancing Gopala,” a most beautiful Deity. This Deity appeared to Madhvacarya in a dream.

TEXT 247

gopi-candana-tale achila dingate
madhvacarya sei krsna paila kona-mate

TRANSLATION

Madhvacarya had somehow or other acquired the Deity of Krsna from a heap of gopi-candana that had been transported in a boat.

TEXT 248

madhvacarya ani’ tanre karila sthapana
adyavadhi seva kare tattvavadi-gana

TRANSLATION

Madhvacarya brought this dancing Gopala Deity to Udupi and installed Him in the temple. To date, the followers of Madhvacarya, known as Tattvavadis, worship this Deity.

TEXT 249

krsna-murti dekhi’ prabhu maha-sukha paila
premavese bahu-ksana nrtya-gita kaila

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu received great pleasure in seeing this beautiful form of Gopala. For a long time He danced and chanted in ecstatic love.

Sri Madhvacharya Appearance – Oct 5th, 2022
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Today is the appearance day of Sri Madhvacharya. Madhvacharya (acarya means “one who teaches by his life”) lived in thirteenth-century India and appeared in the Brahma-Madhva – Gaudiya-Vaisnava-Sampradaya—the disciplic chain now represented by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In this long disciplic chain of pure teachers, Madhvacharya is a most important link. The […]

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Invitation for Participation in World’s Biggest Online Bhagavad Gita Competition Ever
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Online competition to create awareness on moral education and principles among students – ‘GITANUSHILANAM 2022’ by Learn Gita Live Gita (LGLG), an initiative by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Greetings from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). On the occasion of ‘Gita Jayanti,’ Learn Gita Live Gita in collaboration with ISKCON Bhagavad
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Sri Rama-vijaya-dasami
Giriraj Swami

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Nine, Chapter Ten: “The Pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Ramacandra.”

TEXT 20

te ’nikapa raghupater abhipatya sarve
  dvandvam varutham ibha-patti-rathasva-yodhaih
jaghnur drumair giri-gadesubhir angadadyah
  sitabhimarsa-hata-mangala-ravanesan

TRANSLATION

Angada and the other commanders of the soldiers of Ramacandra faced the elephants, infantry, horses, and chariots of the enemy and hurled against them big trees, mountain peaks, clubs, and arrows. Thus the soldiers of Lord Ramacandra killed Ravana’s soldiers, who had lost all good fortune because Ravana had been condemned by the anger of Mother Sita.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The soldiers Lord Ramacandra recruited in the jungle were all monkeys and did not have proper equipment with which to fight the soldiers of Ravana, for Ravana’s soldiers were equipped with weapons of modern warfare whereas the monkeys could only throw stones, mountain peaks, and trees. It was only Lord Ramacandra and Laksmana who shot some arrows. But because the soldiers of Ravana were condemned by the curse of Mother Sita, the monkeys were able to kill them simply by throwing stones and trees. There are two kinds of strength—daiva and purusakara. Daiva refers to the strength achieved from the Transcendence, and purusakara refers to the strength organized by one’s own intelligence and power. Transcendental power is always superior to the power of the materialist. Depending on the mercy of the Supreme Lord, one must fight one’s enemies even though one may not be equipped with modern weapons. Therefore Krsna instructed Arjuna, mam anusmara yudhya ca: “Think of Me and fight.” We should fight our enemy to the best of our ability, but for victory we must depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

Coming to Bhaktivedanta Manor, I was reminded of the struggle we faced here to keep the temple open to the public and to preach Krishna consciousness. Although in such battles the enemies sometimes appear to have the upper hand, in the end, as long as we remain faithful to and dependent on the Lord and at the same time make our best effort with all sincerity and intelligence, we will be successful, according to His will.

We had a similar struggle in Juhu, Bombay. In fact, in Juhu we were even less equipped than were the devotees here, who had already established the mission quite solidly and had many friends—a large congregation and friends in influential positions. Still, it was a great struggle here.

In Juhu we were comparable to the band of monkeys that joined Lord Ramachandra. Srila Prabhupada himself drew parallels between himself and Lord Ramachandra, and between us and the monkeys. He compared the Western countries to Ravana, because they had so much wealth, just like Ravana in his opulent kingdom of Lanka. And wealth is Lakshmi—a manifestation of Lakshmi, or Sita. So, Srila Prabhupada said that just as Ravana had kidnapped Sita, the Western countries had kidnapped, or taken possession of, so much wealth. And just as Lord Ramachandra had crossed the ocean to redeem Sita, so Srila Prabhupada had also crossed the ocean. And just as Lord Ramachandra was assisted by so many monkeys, Srila Prabhupada was assisted by us.

The Juhu struggle is a great story, which has been told to some extent in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. One incident took place after we had been successful in getting the land from the previous owner, Mr. Nair. Srila Prabhupada used to refer to him as “the demon Nair.” When we first got possession of the land, the front of the property was vacant, and in the back were some old tenement buildings. So, we built a temporary temple in the front for the Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. At first, we were living on the roofs on the terraces of the buildings, but eventually we were able to get at least one of the apartments from a tenant—for Srila Prabhupada.

So, Srila Prabhupada was living there, and he would go up to the roof in the late afternoon and meet people. One evening, he was sitting on the terrace and his disciple Haridas was fanning him. Srila Prabhupada said to Haridas, “Do you hear that?” And Haridas said, “Hear what?” Prabhupada said, “Do you hear the sound of the kirtan in the temple?” Haridas said, “No.” Prabhupada said, “That’s the point! There’s no kirtan going on in the temple!” Then he said, “Where are all the devotees? They should be in the temple doing kirtan; it’s the time of arati.” Haridas speculated and said, “They are probably out collecting. They haven’t gotten back from the city yet.” And Prabhupada replied, “That was not my idea that devotees should go out all day and collect and neglect the temple programs.”

Then he said, “Why do you think we were successful here? Mr. Nair was so much more powerful than we were. He was a wealthy man; we had very little money. He had been the sheriff of Bombay and knew so many influential people; we hardly knew anyone. And he owned one of the three English daily newspapers in Bombay. So he was very powerful. And we had very little money or influence, yet we were successful. Why? Because we were working for Krishna, for the pleasure of Krishna, we were successful.” Regarding the temple program, he said, “We will be successful not because we go out all day to collect money and then come back late—we’ll be successful if Krishna is pleased. So, we should go out, but we should come back in time. The devotees should leave the city by five o’clock and come back, otherwise they will become like karmis. They should come and chant in front of the Deities and please the Deities, and when the Deities are pleased, we will be successful by Their mercy.” [

This is always our position, that we make our best effort but depend on the mercy of the Lord. And making our best effort means according to the desire of the Lord—in our case, according to the order of the spiritual master. In the case of the monkeys of Lord Rama, they were directly under the Lord. Arjuna was directly under the Lord. We are also under the Lord, but under sadhu, shastra, and guru. They tell us what will please the Lord, and if we act to please the Lord, if the Lord is pleased, we will be successful.

Although the monkeys were successful in killing the army of Ravana, ultimately it was Lord Ramachandra who killed the great demon Ravana, and Rama-vijaya-dasami celebrates the victory of Ramachandra and specifically His killing of Ravana.

Now, in one sense this was an easier battle, because it is easier to battle forces that are outside of one’s self. But there are also enemies inside us with which we have to contend, and that struggle can be more difficult and more painful than the battle against enemies outside. Prahlada Maharaja survived so many attacks on his life organized by his father, Hiranyakasipu, but in his prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva, he said that his biggest enemies were his own mind and senses. The Bhagavad-gita says that the mind can be one’s best friend or one’s worst enemy. So, that’s a constant battle we all face—how to keep the mind focused on Krishna, especially when we gather together to hear and chant the holy name, to hear and chant the transcendental topics. We should fix the mind on Krishna. Mayy asakta-manah partha. In the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that the mind should be attached to Him. For us, aspiring devotees or practicing devotees, the best way to fix our mind on Krishna is to hear the holy names of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and to hear, to actually hear, each word, each syllable. But it is difficult, because the mind is flickering and unsteady (cancalam hi manah krsna). Arjuna tells Krishna that it seems more difficult to control the mind than to control the wind, and who can control the wind? Nobody. That means it is practically impossible to control the mind. But Krishna says that it is possible by suitable practice and detachment. Abhyasa is the word for “practice.” We have to practice chanting and hearing. It is a struggle—it’s an effort—but we have to practice. As Srila Prabhupada said, “Practice makes perfect—even in spiritual life.”

Still, we will not be successful by our own efforts alone. I think we all have that experience—it applies not only to chanting japa, but to any of our activities. It applies to book distribution: Sometimes devotees go out thinking, “Oh, I am really fit today. I am going to have a great day.” And then they hardly have any results. And other times they go out feeling miserable—they don’t even know how they are going to get through the day—and they are very successful. They experience the lesson that they are not the doers, not the controllers. Whatever they do is by the mercy of the Lord, the mercy of the spiritual master, the mercy of the disciplic succession.

So, we make our effort, but ultimately we have to depend on the mercy of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada showed this all the time. After the success of the first Bombay pandal, he sent Tamal Krishna Goswami and me to Calcutta to organize a pandal program there. There were many Naxalites—communist youth—in Calcutta at the time. They used to kidnap people from rich families, and they would kill for their cause. When Srila Prabhupada first came to Calcutta, the Naxalites shot a wealthy person dead right on the street, just a few blocks from where Prabhupada was staying. They were envious. They may have had their reasons, but still, they were envious.

When Prabhupada came for the pandal program, the Naxalites were very disturbed and even sent Prabhupada a note: “Fly or die,” composed of letters cut out of a newspaper and pasted on the paper so that no one could trace the typewriter. The mood in the city was very tense.

Before the pandal program began, we had a small press conference with Srila Prabhupada behind the tent, and one of the reporters challenged, “What is the use of spending all this money on this pandal? You could use the money to help poor people.” And Srila Prabhupada said, “What is the use? The use is to give people a chance to hear. Actually, the whole pandal has come from hearing. I went to America and spoke and some young people heard me, and because they heard me, now they have made all the effort to organize the program. So, the use is to give people a chance to hear, and everything comes from that.” In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna tells Arjuna, tac chrnu: “Just hear from Me.” So, first comes hearing (sravanam), and then kirtanam and the other items of devotional service. Srila Prabhupada said, “They heard from me, and now they are repeating what they heard.”

Thousands of people attended the first night of the pandal program; they were just streaming in. We had dhurries, simple Indian carpets, on the ground, and most people sat on them, cross-legged. To the side, we had folding chairs, and we charged one rupee for a seat. So, some Naxalites came, and they were agitated that some people got to sit on the seats while other people had to sit on the ground. They made a huge disturbance. Prabhupada was trying to speak, and they were banging chairs together to make noise so that Prabhupada wouldn’t be able to speak. It was really tense. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Suddenly Prabhupada leaned forward, toward the microphone, and his voice boomed through the speaker system: “govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami . . .” He was singing the Govindam prayers. Suddenly the commotion stopped, and the Naxalites just walked away. I thought, “He has so much of faith in Krishna. He completely depends on Krishna.” (Years later, I read Gurudas Prabhu’s account of that incident, and it seems that along with singing the Govindam prayers, Prabhupada was sending notes to Gurudas telling him what to do with the Naxalites. And that’s good, too. We make our best effort and depend on Krishna. That is our process.)

We are about to begin the special month of Damodara, Kartik, and during this month we celebrate this binding of Krishna with ropes. Dama means “ropes” and udara means “belly.” Many of you know the story: Mother Yasoda was breastfeeding baby Krishna, and while doing so she realized that some milk that was on the fire was boiling over. So she set baby Krishna aside before He was satisfied, to tend to the milk on the fire. Baby Krishna became angry, and eventually He broke a pot of makhana (freshly churned butter) and began to eat it and share it with His friends.

When Mother Yasoda returned to where she had left Krishna, He wasn’t there. She saw His little footprints—His feet had been smeared with butter—and saw the broken pot. She was concerned and considered that she would have to discipline Krishna so that He would grow up properly. All responsible parents are concerned that they have to raise their children properly—that if they don’t discipline them, the children will not learn how to behave. As it was, Krishna was going to the neighbors’ homes and doing mischief, and they were complaining to Yasoda, “You better take care of your son. He is not behaving properly.”

Ultimately Mother Yasoda found Krishna, and when He saw her approaching—He was sitting, eating the makhana—He immediately got up and began to flee, and she started to pursue Him, but because He was smaller and more agile, He was able to get away. But eventually He allowed her to catch Him, and once she caught Him, she wanted to bind Him with ropes. Every morning she would tie His belt before He went to the pasturing grounds, so she didn’t think it would be difficult. But when she attempted to tie the rope, it was two inches too short, or, as the Bhagavatam says, the width of two fingers too short. So she added some more rope, but it was still two fingers too short. She added more. It was still two fingers too short. She gathered all the ropes in the household—being in a cowherd community, they had a lot of ropes for tying the cows and calves. And the neighbors were bringing their ropes. It was miles and miles of ropes, yet she still couldn’t bind Krishna. But she didn’t give up. Her friends were telling her, “You are not going to be able to do it. This is not working. Just give up.” But she was so sincere, feeling that, as Krishna’s mother, she had a duty, that she endeavored to tie Him up so that He wouldn’t create further mischief—and to teach Him a lesson. So, she didn’t give up, and when Krishna saw her sincere effort, His heart melted and He allowed her to bind Him.

Our acharyas have commented on the significance of the two fingers by which the rope was too short. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that there was a competition between Krishna’s desire and Yasoda’s desire. Krishna’s desire was to be free and play with His friends, and Yasoda’s desire was to bind Krishna, so their desires were opposed to each other. Krishna has two shaktis. One potency is called satya-sankalpa-sakti, which means that whatever He desires is fulfilled. So, that came into play. Another potency is called vibhuti-sakti, which allows Him to manifest His opulences, although He usually doesn’t—only when necessary. Say there is a forest fire. He can be defeated by His friends in their sports, but when there is a forest fire or some other threat to the residents of Vrindavan, the vibhuti-sakti comes into play and allows Him to manifest His opulences and swallow the forest fire.

In this case the two shaktis—satya-sankalpa and vibhuti—joined together to fulfill His desire to play, and Mother Yasoda couldn’t bind Him. But when He saw her tireless efforts, He felt compassionate toward her, and He allowed her to bind Him. The acharyas say that one finger represents parisrama, personal endeavor, and that the other represents krsna-krpa, Krishna’s mercy. When these two combine, Krishna agrees to be bound.

So, we make our effort. We never give up, no matter what. We make our effort, and when Krishna sees that we are sincere in our effort to serve Him and please Him, His heart melts and He allows Himself to be bound. In any effort it is the same combination: our hard labor (parisrama) and Krishna’s mercy (krsna-krpa). It applies to our efforts to preach and to distribute books. It applies to our efforts to hear and to chant, to chant japa. We make our effort, and at the same time we pray for Krishna’s mercy. We depend on Krishna and pray for His mercy.

Here the mood of humility is essential. As long as we think we can do it on our own, we won’t get Krishna’s mercy, at least not to the same extent. That was Ravana’s mentality. He thought he didn’t need anyone. He thought he could do everything by his own strength and powers. So, we all have that little Ravana tendency. You may not, but I do. So, we have to be conscious of that tendency and pray to Lord Rama to subdue that Ravana-like tendency within us.

There’s a beautiful prayer by Prahlada Maharaja in the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, in which he prays to Lord Nrsimhadeva, “Please vanquish the demonlike desires in my heart, just like You vanquished the demon Hiranyakasipu.” Hiranya means “gold,” and kasipu means “soft bedding.” Those are the main interests of materialistic people—money and sense indulgence. So, “Just as You killed the great demon Hiranyakasipu, please vanquish the demonlike desires within my heart.” After Nrsimhadeva subdued Hiranyakasipu, He sat on Hiranyakasipu’s throne, lifted the demon onto His lap, and tore his heart out, so we want Lord Nrsimhadeva to sit on the throne of our hearts and kill these demonlike desires for gold and sense gratification.

Srila Prabhupada has given us everything. I am sure people have said the same thing before, but he really has. He has given us the knowledge, he has given us the process, and he has given us the way to invoke Krishna’s mercy. The best way to invoke Krishna’s mercy is to practice and preach. That combination will invoke Krishna’s mercy and make us successful.

In previous ages, the Lord would kill the demons—Nrsimhadeva killed Hiranyakasipu, Ramachandra killed Ravana, and Krishna killed so many demons—but in Kali-yuga, because we all have demonic tendencies within us and pretty much everyone has bad habits, the Lord doesn’t physically kill the person; He kills their demonic mentalities by His mercy, by giving them the holy name. We find that exemplified in the story of Jagai and Madhai. They were violent toward Lord Nityananda, and when Lord Chaitanya heard, He came rushing to the spot, ready to kill them with His Sudarshan chakra. But Nityananda Prabhu appealed to the Lord, “This is Kali-yuga, My Lord. In Kali-yuga You can’t just kill the people like that. In Kali-yuga everyone will be like Jagai and Madhai, so are You going to kill everyone? In Kali-yuga Your mission is to deliver them by Your mercy.” When Lord Nityananda intervened on behalf of the two sinful brothers, Lord Chaitanya hesitated, and the two surrendered to Lord Chaitanya, and He forgave them for their sins, with the condition that they would not commit sins again. They took up the chanting of the holy name. That means they developed faith in Nityananda Prabhu and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and because they developed faith, they took up the chanting and were eligible to receive the Lord’s mercy, and they were forgiven.

That’s our position in Kali-yuga. We need the mercy of Lord Nityananda and through Him the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. Srila Prabhupada said in LA, “To approach Radha and Krishna, we need the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. And to get the mercy of Lord Chaitanya, we need the mercy of Lord Nityananda. And to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, we have to approach people like Jagai and Madhai.” In other words, the people on the street, the people in the subways, the people at the airport, the people in the offices, the people in the neighborhood, and sometimes even closer.

So, that is Prabhupada’s special mood, coming from the Pancha-tattva. It is his special mood to get the Lord’s mercy by preaching, by approaching anyone and everyone to give them Krishna consciousness, give them the holy name of Krishna. So, our effort (parisrama) has two sides: one is our own practices, hearing and chanting attentively and following the whole system that Prabhupada gave us (sadhana-bhakti), and the other is at the same time making the effort to give Krishna consciousness to others, to induce others to accept the great gift of the holy name.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Rama-vijaya-dasami, October 19, 2007, Bhaktivedanta Manor, near London, England]

 

 

The Eight Extraordinary Flowers
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By Madhumati Pushkarini Devi dasi

The ‘Sumadhva Vijaya’ is an exemplary biographical work by Sri Narayana Panditacharya belonging to the Madhva sampradaya. It presents the glorious life and teachings of Sripad Madhvacharya in the form of verses spread across 16 sargas or parts. In the 14th sarga, that describes the manner in which Sripad Madhvacharya would perform deity worship, verse 37 speaks about how he would adorn Lord Narayana with the eight kinds of ‘bhava pushpa’ or flowers of emotions. Continue reading "The Eight Extraordinary Flowers
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Srila Madhvacharya Appearance
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Shri Madhvacharya appeared in 1238 A.D. near Udupi, Karnataka in South India. He was considered an incarnation of Vayu (wind god). He had an unusually strong physique and extraordinary intellectual power.

Once a fierce Bengali tiger attacked Madhvacharya’s sannyasa disciple, Satya Tirtha. Madhvacharya wrestled the tiger and sent him away with his tail between his legs. Madhvacharya took diksha at age five, sannyasa at twelve and left home.

He appeared with a mission to fight and defeat Sankara’s Mayavada (impersonal) philosophy. By giving a pure interpretation of Vedanta-sutra he promoted pure theism. He named his innovative shastric explanation dvaita-dvaita-vada (pure dualism).

   After Shankaracharya, who had previously toured India spreading impersonalism, Madhvacarya also traveled the length and breadth of India preaching personaltheism and devotion to Lord Vishnu. He defeated innumerable Jains, Buddhists, Mayavadis, atheists, logicians, and agnostics.

   With a hope of meeting Shrila Vyasadeva himself Madhvacharya walked up the Himalayas. Vyasadeva gave him a Shalagrama sila called Ashtamurti, approved his Bhagavad-gita commentary, and blessed Madhvacharya with deeper realizations of the sastras. 

   In Udupi, Madhvacharya installed a beautiful Deity of Gopala standing alone holding a cowherding stick. This Deity manifested from within a chunk of gopi-candana (sacred clay). He established eight mathas (Temples) to lovingly serve “Udupi Krishna.” The sannyasi leaders of each matha worship the Krishna Deity with a rigorous regimen of ceremonial ritual, punctuality, and impec-cable personal conduct. Every Ekadashi they observe nirjala (total fast all food and water).

   The Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya originates with the Madhvas. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers thoroughly studied Madhva’s works before compiling their philosophy. For the Sat Sandarbhas Shri Jiva Goswami drew heavily from Madhva’s writings. Jiva Goswami found ‘the Gaudiya philosophy of acintya-bheda-abheda tattva in Madhva’s Bhagavat-parya. Shri Chaitanya Himself visited Udupi, the seat of Madhva’s sect. The Lord introduced Hari Nama sankirtana into their sect. 

Madhvacharya 3

In Udupi, Madhvacharya installed a beautiful Deity of Gopala standing alone holding a cowherding stick. This Deity manifested from within a chunk of gopi-candana (sacred clay). He established eight mathas (Temples) to lovingly serve “Udupi Krishna.” (In the image: Udupi Krishna, Karnataka).

   The Madhvas and Gaudiyas share many of the same philosophical points. Both consider it necessary to surrender to the lotus feet of the guru (gurupadashraya). In Sutra Bhasya, Madhvacharya cites the Brihat Tantra and Mahasamhita to show that a disciple may reject a “bogus guru” who proves to be useless. He may then accept another qualified self-realized person as his guru.

   In Prameya-ratnavalli, Shri Baladeva Vidyabhushana summarized the nine principles common to both Shri Chaitanya’s and Madhva’s teachings. In Vaishnava Siddhanta Mala, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered all Gaudiya Vaishnavas to carefully observe the nine instructions of truth given by Shri Madhavacharya through our guru parampara.

   Shri Madhvacharya’s Nine Teachings

   (1) Bhagavan Shri Krishna alone is the Supreme Absolute Truth, one without a second.
 
   (2) He is the object of knowledge in all the Vedas.

   (3) The universe is real, satya.
 
   (4) The differences between Ishvara (God), Jiva (soul) and Matter are real.
 
   (5) Jiva souls are by nature the servants of the Supreme Lord Hari.
 
   (6) There are two categories of jivas; liberated and illusioned.

   (7) Liberation (moksha) means attainmg the lotus feet of Bhagavan Krishna, in other words, entering an eternal relationship of service to the Supreme Lord.

   (8) Pure devotional service to Krishna is the only way to attain this liberation.
 
   (9) The truth may be known by pratyaksha (direct perception), anuman (inference or logic), sabda (spiritual sound or Vedic authority.

Shri Madhvacharya serves as Madhavi-gopi in Radha-Govinda’s eternal Vrindavana pleasure pastimes. 

Madhvacarya teaching differences.
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Madhva further enumerates the difference between dependent and independent reality as a fivefold division (pancha-bheda) between God, souls and material things. These differences are: (1) Between material things; (2) Between material thing and soul; (3) Between material thing and God; (4) Between souls; and (5) Between soul and God.


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THE DELIVERANCE OF THE YAMALA-ARJUNA TREES
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After stealing butter one day, Krsna allowed mother Yasoda to catch Him and bind Him to a grinding mortar. Thus by His own arrangement He was then ready to fulfill the words of His great devotee Narada Muni. Narada had cursed the two brothers Nalakuvara and Manigriva to become twin arjuna trees in Nanda Maharaja’s courtyard, but Narada had also promised that one day they would see the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, face to face.


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