Brasilian Devotee Accepts Important Inter-Religious Dialogue Role in Rio

On September 26th, ISKCON devotee Kunti Devi Dasi, representative of ISKCON Rio de Janeiro to the inter-religious movement since 2020, took a public oath as a counselor of COMPIR-RIO (the Municipal Council for the Promotion of Religious Freedom of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro). Present at the event was Sérgio Duarte, Special Secretary for […]

The post Brasilian Devotee Accepts Important Inter-Religious Dialogue Role in Rio appeared first on ISKCON News.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur Appearance
→ Ramai Swami

On September 2nd, 1838 on a Sunday in the ancient village of Biranagara (Ulagrama) located in the district of Nadia, Thakura Bhaktivinoda took his birth in the family of Raja Krishnananda Datta, who was a great devotee of Lord Nityananda. He became known as the seventh son of Raja Krishnananda, the great grandson of Madana Mohana and the third son of his Godfather Anandachandra.

After some time, becoming attracted to the philosophy of Vaishnavism, Thakura Bhaktivinoda would read Caitanya-caritamrta again and again and thus he became endowed with greater faith and respect for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In this way he applied his mind very intently to the examination and study of Vaishnava philosophy.

In one place in his autobiography the Thakura has written “From this time my respect and reverence for Sri Caitanyadeva was born. That seed of faith for the Vaishnava-dharma which was implanted within my heart soon sprouted. Now I love to study the Sastras dealing with Krishna both day and night.”

With a pained heart he would incessantly submit his prayers to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and on the strength of his pure devotion, having received the mercy of the Lord, he realised the supreme majesty and power of the one and only Absolute Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna.

He published a song about the glories of Sri Caitanya, which was titled Saccidananda- premalankara. In the year 1869 at the age of 31 while the Thakura was serving as deputy magistrate under the government of Bengal in Dinajapur, he delivered a speech in the form of a treatise he had written on the subject matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam to a big congregation of the public consisting of many prominent men of letters, religion and culture who had come from many parts of India as well as some from England.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda clearly displayed all the qualities of a pure Vaishnava and this was seen in his eagerness to always be engaged in the service of the Lord without wasting a moment. It was once remarked in 1916 by the judge of the Calcutta High Court, Sarada Carana Mitra: “I knew Thakura Bhaktivinoda intimately as a friend and a relation.

Even under pressure of official work as a Magistrate in charge of a heavy sub-division he could always find time for devotional contemplation and work, and whenever I met him, our talk would turn in a few moments to the subject of bhakti and dvaitadvaita-vada and the saintly work that lay before him. Service of God is the only thing he longed for and service under the government, however honorable, was to him a clog.”

TOVP PRESENTS: When Business Becomes Bhakti – Introducing A-3 Ahimsa Milk and HARI:BOL Food for the Soul

Introducing, HARI:BOL Food for the Soul. Originally founded by two ISKCON brahmacaries from Chowpatty temple, the business was handed over to Yachneet Pushkarna (CSO – Chief Seva Officer), a seasoned businessman with an extensive F&B background. It has been further expanded by the family of the well-known (now deceased) Indian businessman and initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Shrinathji, who created the concept of Bhakti Yoga in Business. His son Keshav desired to see HARI:BOL go global and has mentored Yachneet and provided the seed money for the project.

yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam

O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.

(Bg 9.27)

In this verse from Bhagavad-gita, the Lord gives us an appealing and practical formula for living our lives in the material world in a way which serves Him, and at the same time fulfills our needs to work, eat, give and renounce. We simply have to transfer those same activities to Krishna. This will guarantee our advancement in spiritual life.

But can business and making money to profit be bhakti? Srila Prabhupada personally guided his disciples in this regard and fully supported this idea. Many devotees over the years have developed enterprises such as restaurants, food product lines, import/export products, etc. based on his guidance and the verse spoken by the Lord above.

However, most of the devotee businesses over the years were created and managed by either temples to maintain their services, or by entrepreneurial devotees who then donated to specific projects. Srila Prabhupada had a different business model in mind when he created Spriritual Sky incense to engage business-minded devotees, but also benefit many temples at the same time. Book distribution was a similar idea along those lines; our Family Business.

Prasadam distribution is also our family business and has always been a focal point of the Hare Krishna Movement, whether at the temples or for distribution, and devotees and those familiar with ISKCON know all too well the powerful effects and wonderful ecstasy of distributing and taking prasadam. But there has never been a worldwide prasadam business that could simultaneously benefit all temples and distribute prasadam to the masses. Until now.

Yachneet has developed a prasadam distribution business model to benefit all temples through the sales of (initially) a line of 100% pure, organic, chemical free ahimsa dairy products made from A-2 milk, a variety of milk that is more easily digested (see ref. below). Already, over 35 temples in India and 7 in the U.S. are beginning to carry the HARI:BOL line of prasadam dairy products and usable milk and ghee, and others are lining up to follow suit.

Additionally, temples can order ahimsa milk and ghee in large containers for use in cooking for their Deities. This presents a good solution to the vegan issue that many temples in the Western world face. Using ahimsa dairy products is the real alternative and also keeps us in line with our philosophy of cow protection and the importance of dairy use.

Finally, the crème de la crème of the HARI:BOL business model: all profits go to completing the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium and for its future maintenance! This completes the concept of the title of our video and article: When Business Becomes Bhakti. It is a spiritual win/win model that supports devotees, temples and the TOVP together through the distribution of prasadam dairy products, all for the service and pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. Thus, along those lines we don’t just call this A2 milk, but A3 milk due to the added benefit of these products being offered to the Lord and serving the samkirtana mission.

In the video, Yachneet and Braja Vilas, Vice-Chairman of the TOVP, bring to light all the above information in more detail. One gets the feeling that something very special is developing that will propel the concept of bhakti yoga in business to world-class heights.

To find out more how your temple can participate in and benefit from this transcendental business venture, contact:

In the U.S.A.
Name: Shyamsundar Das
Phone: (713) 459-4327

In India
Name: Ravindra Das
Phone: +91 99224 00982

Other Countries
Name: Yachneet Pushkarna
Phone: +91 85869 06577/+1 (832) 370-1412

General Information

India HARI:BOL website (U.S. & UK websites coming soon):

GBC Ahimsa Milk Resolution

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Q&A with Yachneet Pushkarna

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“Krishna’s Cuisine” Hits Milestone with the Rare Silver Play Button Award

YouTube has recently bestowed Bhuvanasundari Radha Devi Dasi with the coveted Silver Button Award for her channel, “Krishna’s Cuisine,” which she began in May 2020. The social media honor is for YouTube creators who have reached the milestone of 100,000 subscribers, a feat only achieved by 0.28% of all YouTube channels. ISKCON News interviewed Bhuvanasundari […]

The post “Krishna’s Cuisine” Hits Milestone with the Rare Silver Play Button Award appeared first on ISKCON News.

Visvarupa-mahotsava and Srila Prabhupada’s Acceptance of Sannyasa
Giriraj Swami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first instruction of the Bhagavad-gita is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hare Krishna.

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

Pitru Paksha 2023

Dear devotees, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Mayapur dhama. The period from the full moon of Shukla Paksha Bhadrapada month (29th Sept) to the new moon day (14 Oct) of Krishna Paksha of Ashwin month is called Pitru Paksha. It is recommended in the sastras that […]

A poem about Haridas Thakura
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Hare KrishnaBy Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Oh born of Moslem parents Haridas! And trained in youth in Moslem creed Thy noble heart to Vaishnava truth did pass Thy holy acts thy candor plead! Is there a soul that cannot learn from thee That man must give up sect for God That thoughts of race and sect can ne'er agree With what they call Religion broad Continue reading "A poem about Haridas Thakura
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Srila Haridasa Thakura’s Disappearance Day
Giriraj Swami

Today is the divine disappearance day of Namacharya Haridasa Thakura. So we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Eleven: “The Passing of Haridasa Thakura.”


The summary of this chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya as follows. In this chapter it is described how Brahma Haridasa Thakura gave up his body with the consent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and how the Lord Himself personally performed the funeral ceremony and carried the body to the sea. He personally entombed the body, covered it with sand, and erected a platform on the site. After taking a bath in the sea, He personally begged prasada of Jagannatha from shopkeepers and distributed prasada to the assembled devotees.


namami haridasam tam
  caitanyam tam ca tat-prabhum
samsthitam api yan-murtim
  svanke krtva nanarta yah


Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Haridasa Thakura and his master, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who danced with the body of Haridasa Thakura on His lap.


jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya dayamaya
jayadvaita-priya nityananda-priya jaya


All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is very merciful and who is very dear to Advaita Acarya and Lord Nityananda!


jaya srinivasesvara haridasa-natha
jaya gadadhara-priya svarupa-prana-natha


All glories to the master of Srinivasa Thakura! All glories to the master of Haridasa Thakura! All glories to the dear master of Gadadhara Pandita! All glories to the master of the life of Svarupa Damodara!


jaya kasi-priya jagadananda-pranesvara
jaya rupa-sanatana-raghunathesvara


All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya, who is very dear to Kasi Misra! He is the Lord of the life of Jagadananda and the Lord of Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.


eka-dina govinda maha-prasada lana
haridase dite gela anandita hana


One day Govinda, the personal servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, went in great jubilation to deliver the remnants of Lord Jagannatha’s food to Haridasa Thakura.

TEXTS 17–20

When Govinda came to Haridasa, he saw that Haridasa Thakura was lying on his back and chanting his rounds very slowly.

“Please rise and take your maha-prasada” Govinda said. Haridasa Thakura replied, “Today I shall observe fasting.

“I have not finished chanting my regular number of rounds. How, then, can I eat? But you have brought maha-prasada, and how can I neglect it?”

Saying this, Haridasa offered prayers to the maha-prasada, took a little portion, and ate it.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Maha-prasada is nondifferent from Krsna. Therefore, instead of eating maha-prasada, one should honor it. It is said here, karila vandana, “he offered prayers.” When taking maha-prasada, one should not consider the food ordinary preparations. Prasada means favor. One should consider maha-prasada a favor of Krsna. As stated by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, krsna bada dayamaya karibare jihva jaya svaprasada-anna dila bhai. Krsna is very kind. In this material world we are all very much attached to tasting various types of food.

Therefore, Krsna eats many nice varieties of food and offers the food back to the devotees, so that not only are one’s demands for various tastes satisfied, but by eating prasada one makes advancement in spiritual life. Therefore, we should never consider ordinary food on an equal level with maha-prasada.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The honoring of maha-prasada is one of the important items of devotional service. Maha-prasada is food that has been offered with love and devotion to the Lord and accepted by the Lord. In the Antya-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu feels great ecstasy honoring maha-prasada and He raises the question amongst His confidential devotees about its nature, that although it appears to be made of the same ingredients as ordinary food such as rice, dal, vegetables, spices, it creates a completely different experience. He explains that the food that has been offered to Lord Jagannatha has been mixed with the nectar of the Lord’s lips. The same nectar that fills the transcendental flute of Krishna and for which the gopis are always hankering—that same nectar from the lips of Krishna permeates maha-prasada. And when we honor maha-prasada with purified senses, we can relish the nectar from Krishna’s lotus mouth.

Although maha-prasada is transcendental, one should honor it as spiritual. As far as possible, one should not lust after maha-prasada. And although it is transcendental, Srila Prabhupada has warned us to maintain a respectful attitude toward it and not accept it on the basis of taste. Sometimes even with Prabhupada’s remnants, maha maha-prasada, the servant would bring the plate out and the senior devotees who were waiting for it would examine it and say, “I want this. I want that. I don’t want that.” It wasn’t a good mentality, and when Prabhupada’s servant mentioned it to him, Prabhupada said, “After I finish honoring prasada, you should take the remnants and mush it all together and then distribute the maha-prasada so the devotees will not be selecting on the basis of their personal taste, but they will just be receiving maha-prasada.”

Once, in Bombay, there a clash between two of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples. One was a cook—actually a very good cook—and would cook for the Deities, and the other was a good manager and good businessman. So, they had some clash, and immediately afterwards each one ran to Srila Prabhupada to give him a version of what happened and to complain about the other. In the end, Prabhupada commented that the problem was that they both were eating too much maha-prasada and that by eating too much rich food, they had become passionate and were fighting.

Sometimes honoring prasada is part of preaching. That’s also a subtle point, because sometimes when we go to people’s homes to accept prasada, we are not completely sure about the consciousness that went into the cooking, or the principles of cleanliness and hygiene and the spiritual rules and regulations that are required to cook for Krishna and offer the food to Krishna. We are not sure. But in India in the early days, Srila Prabhupada said that if the family were Vaishnavas and they offered the food to their family Deity, we should take it as prasada.

When we first came to Bombay, we received so many invitations that Srila Prabhupada made a rule that we would not eat at anyone’s house unless they became a life member. So, during the first Bombay pandal, a big pandal program at Cross Maiden, a very distinguished, aristocratic, pious, cultured Hindu gentleman and philanthropist, K.J. Somaiya, came. Prabhupada would speak at about seven in the morning in Hindi and then in the evening in English. Sri K. J. Somaya would come to the morning lectures, and he invited Srila Prabhupada and the devotees to his home to take prasada. So, the devotees informed him of the rule, “You have to become a life member.” And he became a little annoyed. He didn’t think it was proper that we should place such a condition. But Srila Prabhupada was strict in his principle. In certain cases he was responsive to an extent, but he didn’t really care about a big person in the material world—he had his rules and principles, and he stuck to them.

Eventually Sri Somayaji relented and became a life member, and the devotees said that Srila Prabhupada would come to his home for prasada. Srila Prabhupada remarked, “We are making life members simply by eating.”

Another friend from Bombay, Sri Hari Krishna Das Agarwal, invited Srila Prabhupada and the devotees to the Vedanta Sammelan in Amritsar. The sammelan was held at a Mayavadi ashram, and there were Mayavadi slogans everywhere: aham brahmasmi, tattvamasi. After the morning program one day, with his disciples in his room, Srila Prabhupada said that the event organizers knew that he didn’t agree with them, but invited him because they knew that if he came with his disciples, more people would attend their program. And that is what happened. The general public who came to the programs weren’t really that interested in hearing dry Mayavadis’ speak nonsense. They really came to see Srila Prabhupada and the devotees and to join in the kirtan. “These Mayavadis will go on speculating for many lifetimes and never come to any conclusion,” Prabhupada said. Just then, Malati dasi brought a plate of maha-prasada from Prabhupada’s small Radha-Krishna Deities. “They will go on speculating for many lifetimes,”—he popped a maha sweet in his mouth—“but we will realize God simply by eating.”

So, the devotees would do kirtan first, and thousands of people would stream into the grounds. And then, when the devotees’ kirtan and their talk was over, the people would leave and there would hardly be anyone left to hear the Mayavadis. The organizers thought to juggle the program and have the devotees perform kirtan later, but when the public figured out what was happening, they started to come late, after the Mayavadis had finished their dry, speculative, and imagined interpretations.


ara dina mahaprabhu tanra thani aila
sustha hao, haridasa-bali’ tanre puchila


The next day, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Haridasa’s place and inquired from him, “Haridasa, are you well?”

TEXTS 22–23

Haridasa offered his obeisances to the Lord and replied, “My body is all right, but my mind and intelligence are not well.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further inquired from Haridasa, “Can you ascertain what your disease is?”

Haridasa Thakura replied, “My disease is that I cannot complete my rounds.”


If one cannot complete the fixed number of rounds he is assigned, he should be considered to be in a diseased condition of spiritual life. Srila Haridasa Thakura is called namacarya. Of course, we cannot imitate Haridasa Thakura, but everyone must chant a prescribed number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement we have fixed sixteen rounds as the minimum so that the Westerners will not feel burdened. These sixteen rounds must be chanted, and chanted loudly, so one can hear himself and others.


In Lord Chaitanya’s instructions to Sanatana Gosvami He quotes the basic principle of vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti, to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. He quotes from the Padma Purana that all other injunctions and prohibitions are servants of these two: to always remember Krishna and never forget Him.

smartavyah satatam visnur
  vismartavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur
  etayor eva kinkarah

“Lord Visnu [Krsna is the origin of Visnu] should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the sastras should be the servants of these two principles.”

In his purport Srila Prabhupada explains that although the members of the Krishna consciousness movement have many activities and these activities are not ordinary—they are also meant for remembering Krishna—still, unless we chant our prescribed number of sixteen rounds daily, we will be unable to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. And then he states, “Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master’s order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential.”

“There are many regulative principles in the sastras and directions given by the spiritual master,” Prabhupada writes. “These regulative principles should act as servants of the basic principle—that is, one should always remember Krsna and never forget Him. This is possible when one chants the Hare Krsna mantra. Therefore one must strictly chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra twenty-four hours daily. One may have other duties to perform under the direction of the spiritual master, but he must first abide by the spiritual master’s order to chant a certain number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement, we have recommended that the neophyte chant at least sixteen rounds. This chanting of sixteen rounds is absolutely necessary if one wants to remember Krsna and not forget Him. Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master’s order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential.

“One may sell books or enlist life members or render some other service, but these duties are not ordinary duties. These duties serve as an impetus for remembering Krsna. When one goes with a sankirtana party or sells books, he naturally remembers that he is going to sell Krsna’s books. In this way, he is remembering Krsna. When one goes to enlist a life member, he talks about Krsna and thereby remembers Him. Smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatucit. The conclusion is that one must act in such a way that he will always remember Krsna, and one must refrain from doing things that make him forget Krsna. These two principles form the basic background of Krsna consciousness.” (Cc Madhya 22.113)

“These sixteen rounds must be chanted, and chanted loudly,” Prabhupada writes, “so that one can hear himself and others.” Generally, japa is taken as an individual practice, which it is, but it’s also a group activity. When we chant together, there is more strength in the effort, more encouragement. Everyone is gathered together for the same purpose, for the same intention, and sometimes it is good to have other people listen to our chanting to make sure that we are pronouncing each word properly. It is very important to articulate each word, each syllable, properly and to try to hear each word and each syllable. So, the association of devotees is very important, and it is a great boon to live in a temple community or near a temple where one can join the programs with other devotees and chant with them.


prabhu kahe,—“vrddha ha-ila ‘sankhya’ alpa kara
siddha-deha tumi, sadhane agraha kene kara?


“Now that you have become old,” the Lord said, “you may reduce the number of rounds you chant daily. You are already liberated, and therefore you need not follow the regulative principles very strictly.


Unless one comes to the platform of spontaneous love of God, he must follow the regulative principles. Thakura Haridasa was the living example of how to follow the regulative principles. Similarly, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was also such a living example. In the Sad-gosvamy-astaka it is stated, sankhya-purvaka-nama-gana-natibhih kalavasani-krtau. The Gosvamis, especially Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, strictly followed all the regulative principles. The first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds. Not only was Raghunatha dasa Gosvami chanting a fixed number of rounds, but he had also taken a vow to bow down many times and offer obeisances to the Lord.


This strict adherence to the regulative principles of Haridasa Thakura and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami are exemplary. It is said that Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s adherence to his vows were like lines on stone—they could not be erased, and it could not be removed.

We also have examples within our own movement. In one that comes to mind, His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s body was so racked with pain in the end that it was almost impossible for him to sleep. And if he did happen to fall asleep, just by remaining in one place, because he had hardly any flesh on his body, the pressure of his body on his skin and then the pain from the cancer which was already there would wake him up. He could hardly sleep at all.

So, one night at about one in the morning, Bhakti Tirtha Swami was chanting and Radhanath Swami, who was keeping him company, said to him, “Maharaja, why are you up at one in the morning, two in the morning, chanting?” Bhakti Tirtha Swami replied, “I haven’t completed my rounds.” And Radhanath Swami said, “But Maharaja, you can hardly sleep, your body is in so much pain. Krishna will understand if you don’t finish your rounds at this stage of your life.” And Bhakti Tirtha Swami replied, “Since the day of my initiation, I have always chanted at least sixteen rounds. I don’t want to stop now.” When Radhanath Swami later told the story, he looked at us, looked at the devotees, and said, “So what excuse can we have?”


loka nistarite ei tomara ‘avatara’
namera mahima loke karila pracara


“Your role in this incarnation is to deliver the people in general. You have sufficiently preached the glories of the holy name in this world.”


Haridasa Thakura is known as namacarya because it is he who preached the glories of chanting hari-nama, the holy name of God. By using the words tomara avatara (“your incarnation”), Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu confirms that Haridasa Thakura is the incarnation of Lord Brahma. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that advanced devotees help the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His mission and that such devotees or personal associates incarnate by the will of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord incarnates by His own will, and, by His will, competent devotees also incarnate to help Him in His mission. Haridasa Thakura is thus the incarnation of Lord Brahma, and other devotees are likewise incarnations who help in the prosecution of the Lord’s mission.


We read in Srimad-Bhagavatam how Lord Brahma became illusioned. Krishna, his master, had appeared as a cowherd boy in Vraja, and was playing just like an ordinary child. So Lord Brahma had some doubt, “My Master, Lord Vishnu, has come as a cowherd boy and is playing as an ordinary child? How is this possible?” So he came—Lord Brahma descended from Brahmaloka (Satyaloka)—and stole away the cowherd boys and calves, and in the end he realized his mistake. He used his mystic power to test Krishna, but Krishna’s mystic power far exceeded Lord Brahma’s and Lord Brahma was defeated.

So, afterwards Lord Brahma felt very contrite and repentant. Of course, he offered many nice prayers to Lord Krishna, but still he prayed for such an experience that he would never forget Krishna again. And so in response to Lord Brahma’s heartfelt prayer, he appeared as Haridasa Thakura in Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes, and as Haridasa Thakura he had such experiences that he could never forget Krishna.

So, that is a nice prayer. That is our goal: to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. And we can pray to be put in such a situation that we remember Krishna and have such experiences that we will never forget Krishna at any time.


ebe alpa sankhya kari’ kara sankirtana”
haridasa kahe,—“suna mora satya nivedana


The Lord concluded, “Now, therefore, please reduce the fixed number of times you chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.”

Haridasa Thakura replied, “Kindly hear my real plea.

TEXTS 27–30

“I was born in an inferior family, and my body is most abominable. I always engage in low work. Therefore, I am the lowest, most condemned of men.

“I am unseeable and untouchable, but You have accepted me as Your servant. This means that You have delivered me from a hellish condition and raised me to the Vaikuntha platform.

“My dear Lord, You are the fully independent Personality of Godhead. You act by Your own free will. You cause the whole world to dance and act as You like.

“My dear Lord, by Your mercy You have made me dance in many ways. For example, I was offered the sraddha-patra, which should have been offered to first-class brahmanas. I ate from it even though I was born in a family of meat-eaters.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in his Anubhasya, quotes from the Visnu-smrti in reference to the sraddha-patra.

brahmanapasada hy ete kathitah pankti-dusakah
etan vivarjayed yatnat sraddha-karmani panditah

According to this verse, if one is born in a brahmana family but does not behave according to brahminical standards, he should not be offered the sraddha-patra, which is prasada offered to the forefathers. Advaita Acarya offered the sraddha-patra to Haridasa Thakura, not to a brahmana who had been born in a brahmana family. Although Haridasa Thakura was born in the family of meat-eaters, because he was an advanced devotee he was shown more respect than a first-class brahmana.


It is a fact that a Vaishnava, a transcendental Vaishnava, is higher than a brahman, but because people can misunderstand the position of a Vaishnava, although there is no need to do so, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura introduced the system of awarding the sacred thread and brahminical initiation to those born in nonbrahman families, so that people would understand that they are brahmans and afford them the proper respect. Srila Prabhupada continued the same practice.

Haridasa Thakura continued:

TEXTS 31–70

“I have had one desire for a very long time. I think that quite soon, my Lord, You will bring to a close Your pastimes within this material world.

“I wish that You not show me this closing chapter of Your pastimes. Before that time comes, kindly let my body fall down in Your presence.

“I wish to catch Your lotuslike feet upon my heart and see Your moonlike face.

“With my tongue I shall chant Your holy name, ‘Sri Krsna Caitanya!’ That is my desire. Kindly let me give up my body in this way.

“O most merciful Lord, if by Your mercy it is possible, kindly grant my desire.

“Let this lowborn body fall down before You. You can make possible this perfection of all my desires.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “My dear Haridasa, Krsna is so merciful that He must execute whatever you want.

“But whatever happiness is Mine is all due to your association. It is not fitting for you to go away and leave Me behind.”

Catching the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Haridasa Thakura said, “My Lord, do not create an illusion! Although I am so fallen, You must certainly show me this mercy!

“My Lord, there are many respectable personalities, millions of devotees, who are fit to sit on my head. They are all helpful in Your pastimes.

“My Lord, if an insignificant insect like me dies, what is the loss? If an ant dies, where is the loss to the material world?

“My Lord, You are always affectionate to Your devotees. I am just an imitation devotee, but nevertheless I wish that You fulfill my desire. That is my expectation.”

Because He had to perform His noon duties, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu got up to leave, but it was settled that the following day, after He saw Lord Jagannatha, He would return to visit Haridasa Thakura.

After embracing him, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu left to perform His noon duties and went to the sea to take His bath.

The next morning, after visiting the Jagannatha temple, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, accompanied by all His devotees, went hastily to see Haridasa Thakura.Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the devotees came before Haridasa Thakura, who offered his respects to the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all the Vaisnavas.

Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu inquired, “My dear Haridasa, what is the news?”

Haridasa Thakura replied, “My Lord, whatever mercy You can bestow upon me.”

Upon hearing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately began great congregational chanting in the courtyard. Vakresvara Pandita was the chief dancer.

Headed by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu surrounded Haridasa Thakura and began congregational chanting.

In front of all the great devotees like Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to describe the holy attributes of Haridasa Thakura.

As He described the transcendental attributes of Haridasa Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seemed to possess five mouths. The more He described, the more His great happiness increased.

After hearing of the transcendental qualities of Haridasa Thakura, all the devotees present were struck with wonder. They all offered their respectful obeisances to the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura.

Haridasa Thakura made Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sit down in front of him, and then he fixed his eyes, like two bumblebees, on the lotus face of the Lord.

He held the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on his heart and then took the dust of the feet of all the devotees present and put it on his head.

He began to chant the holy name of Sri Krsna Caitanya again and again. As he drank the sweetness of the face of the Lord, tears constantly glided down from his eyes.

While chanting the holy name of Sri Krsna Caitanya, he gave up his air of life and left his body.

Seeing the wonderful death of Haridasa Thakura by his own will, which was just like a great mystic yogi’s, everyone remembered the passing away of Bhisma.

There was a tumultuous noise as they all chanted the holy names “Hari” and “Krsna.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became overwhelmed with ecstatic love.

The Lord raised the body of Haridasa Thakura and placed it on His lap. Then He began to dance in the courtyard in great ecstatic love.

Because of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic love, all the devotees were helpless, and in ecstatic love they also began to dance and chant congregationally.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced for some time, and then Svarupa Damodara Gosvami informed Him of other rituals for the body of Thakura Haridasa.

The body of Haridasa Thakura was then raised onto a carrier that resembled an airship and taken to the sea, accompanied by congregational chanting.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced in front of the procession, and Vakresvara Pandita, along with the other devotees, chanted and danced behind Him.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bathed the body of Haridasa Thakura in the sea and then declared, “From this day on, this sea has become a great pilgrimage site.”

Everyone drank the water that had touched the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura, and then they smeared remnants of Lord Jagannatha’s sandalwood pulp over Haridasa Thakura’s body.

After a hole was dug in the sand, the body of Haridasa Thakura was placed into it. Remnants from Lord Jagannatha, such as His silken ropes, sandalwood pulp, food, and cloth, were placed on the body.

All around the body, the devotees performed congregational chanting, and Vakresvara Pandita danced in jubilation.

With His transcendental hands, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally covered the body of Haridasa Thakura with sand, chanting “Haribol! Haribol!

The devotees covered the body of Haridasa Thakura with sand and then constructed a platform upon the site. The platform was protected all around by fencing.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced and chanted all around the platform, and as the holy name of Hari roared tumultuously, the whole universe became filled with the vibration.


There’s an elaborate description of the entire funeral ceremony. After placing Haridasa Thakura’s body in samadhi, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the other devotees took bath in the ocean and enjoyed sporting there.

Then they came out and went to the Jagannatha temple to the Simha-dvara, and the vibration of the holy names filled the city. Then Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally begged maha-prasada from the shopkeepers to feed the devotees. Lord Chaitanya made the devotees sit down in rows, and He personally served the prasada to them all.

Now I will read the benediction that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has offered to all of us.


premavista hana prabhu karena vara-dana
suni’ bhakta-ganera judaya manas-kama


Overwhelmed with ecstatic love, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered a benediction to all the devotees, which all the devotees heard with great satisfaction.

TEXTS 91–93

“haridasera vijayotsava ye kaila darsana
  ye ihan nrtya kaila, ye kaila kirtana
ye tanre valuka dite karila gamana
  tara madhye mahotsave ye kaila bhojana
acire ha-ibe ta-sabara ‘krsna-prapti’
  haridasa-darasane haya aiche ‘sakti’


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave this benediction: “Anyone who has seen the festival of Sri Haridasa Thakura’s passing away, anyone who has chanted and danced here, anyone who has offered sand on the body of Haridasa Thakura, and anyone who has joined the festivities to partake of the prasada will achieve the favor of Krsna very soon. There is such wonderful power in seeing Haridasa Thakura.

TEXTS 94–98

“Being merciful upon Me, Krsna gave Me the association of Haridasa Thakura. Being independent in His desires, He has now broken that association.

“When Haridasa Thakura wanted to leave this material world, it was not within My power to detain him.

“Simply by his will, Haridasa Thakura could give up his life and go away, exactly like Bhisma, who previously died simply by his own desire, as we have heard from sastra.

“Haridasa Thakura was the crown jewel on the head of this world; without him, this world is now bereft of its valuable jewel.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then told everyone, “Say ‘All glories to Haridasa Thakura!’ and chant the holy name of Hari.” Saying this, He personally began to dance.


The Bengali is: ‘jaya jaya haridasa’ bali’: say, “Jaya jaya Haridasa.”

Everyone began to chant “Jaya Jaya Haridasa! Jaya Jaya Haridasa! Jaya Jaya Haridasa! Jaya Jaya Haridasa!”

TEXTS 99–100

“All glories to Haridasa Thakura, who revealed the importance of chanting the holy name of the Lord!”

Thereafter, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to all the devotees, and He Himself, with mixed feelings of happiness and distress, took rest.


Srila Prabhupada said that when a Vaishnava departs, we feel both happiness and distress. We feel happy because we know the devotee is gone to serve Krishna, but we feel distress because we will miss the devotee’s association.

TEXT 101

ei ta’ kahilun haridasera vijaya
yahara sravane krsne drdha-bhakti haya


Now here is your benediction.


Thus I have spoken about the victorious passing away of Haridasa Thakura. Anyone who hears this narration will certainly fix his mind firmly in devotional service to Krsna.


At Purusottama-ksetra, or Jagannatha Puri, there is a temple of Tota-gopinatha. If one goes from there to the sea, he can discover the tomb of Haridasa Thakura still existing. Every year on the date of Ananta-caturdasi (that’s this date today) there is a festival to commemorate the passing away of Haridasa Thakura. At the same place, Deities of Nityananda Prabhu, Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Advaita Prabhu were established about one hundred years ago. A gentleman named Bhramaravara from Kendrapada, in the province of Orissa, contributed funds to establish these Deities in the temple. The management of the temple was under the Tota-gopinatha gosvamis.

This temple was later sold to someone else, and this party is now maintaining the seva-puja of the temple. Near this temple and the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura constructed a small house called the Bhakti-kuti. In the Bengali year 1329 (A.D. 1922), the Purusottama-matha, a branch of the Gaudiya Matha, was established there.


There is a very confidential story. I thought of it yesterday on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s appearance day, but I did not relate it, but on this auspicious occasion I will. It has deep significance, but it is not an example that is meant for us at this stage.

After Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura worked so tirelessly to preach the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, especially in Bengal and Orissa, and after he was so successful in spreading the nama-hatta, he found that some deviant groups that he had worked so hard to distinguish from the true line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had again became prominent and people were going to them. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura became despondent. He was disappointed and didn’t know what to do.

So, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in a dream. This is also a little confidential because the report of it was published in Srila Bhaktivinoda’s journal, but those close to Srila Bhaktivinoda said that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu actually appeared before him—not just in a dream. But Bhaktivinoda Thakura, humbly not wanting to make it sound cheap, said that Sri Chaitanya had appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Do not feel discouraged. Go to Jagannatha Puri, Purusottama-ksetra, and establish a bhajana-kutira near the samadhi of Haridasa Thakura and chant the holy name day and night. The beneficial effects of your chanting there will be felt all over the world.”

So, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura obeyed the instruction and constructed Bhakti-kuti near the samadhi of Haridasa Thakura and chanted the holy name. According to the statement of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, we have benefitted from Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s chanting near the tomb of Haridasa Thakura.

PURPORT (concluded)

In the Bhakti-ratnakara it is stated:

srinivasa sighra samudrera kule gela
haridasa-thakurera samadhi dekhila

bhumite padiya kaila pranati vistara
bhagavata-gana sri-samadhi-sannidhane

 srinivase sthira kaila sasneha-vacane
punah srinivasa sri-samadhi pranamiya
ye vilapa kaila, ta sunile drave hiya

“Srinivasa Thakura quickly ran to the seashore. When he saw the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, he immediately fell down offering prayers and almost fainted. The devotees present there pacified him with very sweet and affectionate words, and Srinivasa again offered his obeisances to the tomb. Hearing of the separation that Srinivasa expressed in his lamentation at the tomb of Haridasa Thakura makes one’s heart melt.”

TEXTS 102–107

From the incident of Haridasa Thakura’s passing away and the great care Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took in commemorating it, one can understand just how affectionate He is toward His devotees. Although He is the topmost of all sannyasis, He fully satisfied the desire of Haridasa Thakura.

When Haridasa Thakura was in the last stage of his life, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him His company and allowed him to touch Him. Thereafter, He took the body of Thakura Haridasa on His lap and personally danced with it.

Out of His causeless mercy the Lord personally covered the body of Haridasa Thakura with sand and personally begged alms from the shopkeepers. Then He conducted a great festival to celebrate the passing away of Haridasa Thakura.

Haridasa Thakura was not only the topmost devotee of the Lord but also a great and learned scholar. It was his great fortune that he passed away before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

The life and characteristics of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are exactly like an ocean of nectar, one drop of which can please the mind and ear.

Anyone who desires to cross over the ocean of nescience, please hear with great faith the life and characteristics of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

TEXT 108

Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always desiring their mercy, I, Krsnadasa, narrate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, following in their footsteps.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Eleventh Chapter, describing the passing of Haridasa Thakura.


Namacharya Srila Haridasa Thakura ki jaya!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Haridasa Thakura’s disappearance day, September 1, 2009, New Dvaraka, Los Angeles]







“Books Are The Basis” Week’s Exciting Schedule Released

ISKCON’s Ministry of Education has released its exciting schedule of speakers for the upcoming “Books are the Basis Week 2023” Festival. The topic this year is Shastra Caksu, that is, seeing the world through the eyes of Srila Prabhupada’s books. The goals of the “Books Are The Basis” initiative are that Srila Prabhupada’s books will […]

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“Sanskrit Sense” Sharing the Ancient Art of Chanting Shlokas & Mantras

Nityananda Dasa (Artyom Hvans) offers exceptional courses on the art of chanting shlokas and mantras through his online learning platform, “Sanskrit Sense.” He has tutored more than 3,000 students from 90 countries and has also created a special course on the pronunciation of all ISKCON standard chants and prayers.  Last year, Nityananda Dasa released a […]

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Ground-breaking HARE KRISHNA! Film Continues to Reach an Audience Through Online Platforms

The popular film “HARE KRISHNA! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All” continues to reach a growing audience worldwide through multiple online platforms. The ground-breaking documentary was released in 2017 and garnered best picture at the Illuminate Film Festival.  One of the most well-known platforms,, has now made the film […]

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Sastric Advisory Council’s Paper on Brahma Gayatri
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By The Sastric Advisory Council

Gradually in ISKCON various gurus, as well as some ISKCON authorities who recommend devotees for 1st and 2nd initiation, have introduced additions, subtractions, and changes to the system of initiation that Srila Prabhupada had for his society. The changes to the giving of the Brahma-gayatri mantra was what first came to the GBC's attention, and so they requested their Sastric Advisory Council (SAC) to research the topic. After years of review and discussion on the SAC's research, the GBC now publishes their paper, along with four related resolutions. Anyone who wants to be enlivened in their chanting of the Brahma -gayatri, to explore diksa in our sampradaya, and to examine the relationship of varnasrama to bhakti and principles to details should find this paper of interest. Continue reading "Sastric Advisory Council’s Paper on Brahma Gayatri
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Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Appearance Day
Giriraj Swami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hare Krishna.

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

Ohe! Vaisnava Thakura
(from Saranagati)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Devotee Singapore Restaurants
→ Ramai Swami

The Singapore devotees took me to a couple of our restaurants that I had never seen before. One was called The Holy Cow and the other Svarg, as in the heavenly abode.

The first restaurant, operated by Krishnacandra prabhu was a la carte and had an extensive menu of local and foreign dishes. The second a menu of Gujarati style prasadam. The meals at both were fantastic and I very much enjoyed being invited.

40 years of ISKCON in Croatia Celebrated with 9th Ratha Yatra in Zagreb

About 1,000 devotees and visitors pulled the chariot.  This September, ISKCON Croatia celebrated its 40th anniversary with the Zagreb Ratha Yatra and the Maha-Abhisheka of Srila Prabhupada as the closing ceremonies. In 1983, ISKCON was registered in Zagreb not only for Croatia but for the whole of former Yugoslavia. Besides the devotees from all parts […]

The post 40 years of ISKCON in Croatia Celebrated with 9th Ratha Yatra in Zagreb appeared first on ISKCON News.

Sri Vamana-dvadasi
Giriraj Swami

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

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

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

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

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

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

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

Now we come to the point at which Prahlada Maharaja appears in the arena where Bali Maharaja had been arrested and bound by the ropes of Varuna because of his failure to keep his promise. After Bali Maharaja agreed to give three steps of land, Vamanadeva expanded Himself into a gigantic form. With one step He covered the entire upper planetary system, and His toe actually pierced the coverings of the universe. Spiritual water from the causal ocean entered the universe through the hole made by His toe, and that spiritual water became the Ganges River. Then with His second step Vamanadeva covered the entire lower portion of the universe, and so with two steps He had covered the entire universe. Thus He concluded that Bali Maharaja would not be able to fulfill his promise and should therefore be arrested and punished. Now Bali Maharaja will find the most intelligent solution to the problem and tell the Lord, “You can place Your third step on my head, and thus I will fulfill my promise.”

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


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


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

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now we come to today’s verse:


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any questions or comments?

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

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

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

Candramauli Swami: [inaudible]

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

Devakinandan dasa: [inaudible]

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

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

Murari Chaitanya dasa: [inaudible]

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

Question: [inaudible]

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

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

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

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

Candramauli Swami: [inaudible]

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

Devakinandan dasa: [inaudible]

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

There are some verses:

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

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

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

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

Candramauli Swami: [inaudible]

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

Devakinandan dasa: [inaudible]

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

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Sri Kishora-Kishori ki jaya!
Nitai-gaura-premanande hari-haribol!

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

MVT’s 2023 Kirtan Mela Dates Announced for Rishikesh & Vrindavan

The Mayapur Vrindavan Trust (MVT) has officially announced the dates of the 2023 Kirtan Mela festivals, to be held at their ashrams in Rishikesh and Vrindavan. Devotees worldwide are invited to attend. The festival dates are as follows: MVT Rishikesh – Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th October 2023 MVT Vrindavan – Thursday 9th to Saturday […]

The post MVT’s 2023 Kirtan Mela Dates Announced for Rishikesh & Vrindavan appeared first on ISKCON News.

→ Dandavats

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma sarvatra pracāra hoibe mora nāma [CB Antya-khaṇḍa 4.126] In all the towns, in as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the globe, My name will be broadcast.”- Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Google drive link of the movie:

Ekadashi Reminder! Sep 26th

Tomorrow Is Parshva Ekadashi || Also Called Vamana Dwadashi – Vamanadev Appearance (On This Auspicious Day, One Should Fast From Grains) Lord Vamanadev is the fifteen incarnations of the lord, In this form, the Lord figures were that of a dwarf, and His bodily hue was blackish, and He was dressed in yellow garments. Lord […]

TOVP Releases New Flipbook – Lord Nrsimhadeva Arrives in Mayapur

In July 1986, the Deities of Prahlad-Nrsimhadeava were completed in Chennai, India and installed in Sridham Mayapur during a three-day celebration from July 28-30. This year commemorates the 37th Anniversary of that historic occasion, upon which the TOVP has released the narration of that unique story in a free flipbook.

The history leading to that event is extraordinary and full of miracles, as is the history leading to the completion of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s new home in the TOVP, scheduled to open at the 2024 Mayapur Gaura Purnima Festival during a three-day celebration from February 29 – March 2. It will be the largest and most opulent Nrsimhadeva Temple in the world!

The narration of the story of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s making and arrival is now available in a free, online flipbook that is downloadable and shareable: Lord Nrsimhadeva Comes to Mayapur.

A dramatic play of the story is also available to view HERE.

We request our readers to reciprocate with Lord Nrsimhadeva’s constant love and protection by helping to complete His new home. Go to the Give To Nrsimha Fundraiser page on the TOVP website and select from several wonderful seva opportunities.

Or use the TOVP Give To Nrsimha Online Pledge Card and make your pledge today and pay later.

Miracle in the Making ~ Home of Our Divine Protector




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Remembering Mukhara Devi Dasi: The Legacy of an Early South African Devotee

In the annals of South African Krishna consciousness, few names shine as brightly as that of Mukhara Devi Dasi. Her life story is a testament to unwavering dedication, selfless service, and an unshakable commitment to spreading the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. With a legacy deeply woven into the fabric of ISKCON South Africa, Mukhara Devi […]

The post Remembering Mukhara Devi Dasi: The Legacy of an Early South African Devotee appeared first on ISKCON News.

Sri Champakalata Sakhi Appearance Day 24th Sep.

Today in Mayapur, we are celebrating the auspicious appearance of Sri Champakalata Sakhi. As the curtains unveils, one can immediately see the beautiful hill of fruits, food stuffs, vegetables, sweets, and pastries placed nicely all around the altar, showcasing the appearance of Sri Champakalata Sakhi as an expert cook, expert in getting the finest of […]

Launching Of Mayapur Community Hospital’s New Website Sep 23rd, 2023

Dear Community Devotees, Hare Krsna. Dandavath Pranams. All Glories to Śrila Prabhupāda and his followers. We are very happy to share with you that on the most auspicious Radhastami day, HH Jayapataka Swami, our beloved GBC and Co-director has launched our hospital website – Now devotees and visitors can get: All the information about our […]

It’s Raining Retreats at New Mayapur

Mahavishnu Swami with brahmacharis from Mahamantra Institute in Lyon during Jhulan Yatra. New Mayapur hosted a series of retreats this spring and summer with stalwart devotees such as Ananda Vardhana Swami, Bhakti Raghava Swami, Bhakti Vigyana Swami, Bhakti Vikas Swami, Mahavishnu Swami, Radhanatha Swami, Svayam Bhagavan Keshava Swami, Adi Karta Das, Parividha Das, Devaki Devi […]

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Radhastami in Singapore
→ Ramai Swami

I lost count of how many times I have transited through Singapore Airport to other countries. However, it’s been years since I actually went inside to visit devotees and participate in programs.

This time I did just that and was greeted at the airport by our GBC representative, Devakinandan das, who kindly picked me up even though it was just after midnight.

While in Singapore, I stayed at the home of Dinabandhu Caitanya and family who looked after me nicely. On Radhastami I attended our local centre and gave class and led kirtan.

Soweto Ratha Yatra Continues Legacy of HH Kadamba Kanana Swami

In a remarkable tribute to the spiritual legacy of His Holiness Kadamba Kanana Swami, Soweto Ratha Yatra 2023 on September 30, 2023, is set to be an unparalleled event of devotion and transcendence. This year’s festival holds profound significance as it marks the first celebration of this grand event since the passing of Kadamba Kanana […]

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The Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies Releases Two New Books

The Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies (BIHS) is pleased to announce the release of two new publications as it prepares for its upcoming November conference, “Cosmology of the Bhagavata Purana: Current Research on History, Philosophy, and Science.” The first publication, “2019 Consciousness in Science Conference: Partial Collection of Abstracts and Papers,” is the fruit of BIHS’ […]

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Parsva or Vamana Ekadasi and the TOVP 2023

The Ekadasi Tithi in the month of Bhadrapada, Shukla Paksha (bright phase of the Lunar cycle) is known as Parivartini Ekadasi or Parsva or Vamana Ekadasi. On this day, Lord Vishnu, who is in a state of yogic sleep (Yoga Nidra), changes his posture. Hence, it is referred to as Parivartini Ekadasi (which literally means the Ekadasi of change).

It is also observed as Vamana Ekadasi on account of recognizing the appearance of Vamandeva and His taking three steps of land from Bali Maharaja that covered the entire universe, as well as his head.

It’s recommended to chant extra rounds and stay up all night chanting and hearing the Lord’s glories. It is also auspicious to donate to Vaishnavas and Lord Krishna’s service on ekadasi and we invite our readers to consider this ekadasi to donate towards the Give To Nrsimha Fundraiser. The finished Nrsimhadeva Wing in the TOVP is scheduled to open during the 2024 Gaura Purnima Festival with a 3-day celebration from February 29 – March 2. Please go to the Give To Give To Nrsimha Fundraiser page TODAY and help complete this offering to the Lord.

  NOTE: Parsva Ekadasi is observed on Sept. 25 in the U.S. and on Sept. 26 in India. Please refer to your local calendar through

  View, download and share the TOVP 2023 Calendar​.

The Glories of Parsva/Vamana Ekadasi

From the Brahma-vaivarta Purana

Sri Yudhishthira Maharaja asked of Lord Sri Krishna, “What is the name of that Ekadasi that occurs during the light fortnight (shukla paksha) of the month of Bhadrapada (August-September “Hrishikesha mass”), who is the worshipable Deity for this Ekadasi, and what merit does one attain in observing it? Kindly reveal all of this to me my Lord.”

The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna addressed His devoted Yudhishthira as follows, “This Ekadasi, Oh Yudhishthira, is called Vamana Ekadasi, and it bestows upon those who observe it both great merit and ultimate liberation from material bondage. Therefore, because it removes all one’s sinful reactions, it is also called Jayanti Ekadasi. Just hearing of its glories frees one from all his past misdeeds. So auspicious is this fast that observing it bestows the same merit as that earned by performing a horse sacrifice. There is no better Ekadasi than this, because it awards liberation so easily. Thus, if one truly desires freedom from the punishing material world, one should fast on Vamana Ekadasi.

“While observing this holy fast, a Vaishnava should lovingly worship the Supreme Lord in His form as Vamandev, the dwarf incarnation, whose eyes are like lotus petals. By doing so, he worships all other Deities as well, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and at death he undoubtedly goes to that abode of Sri Hari. In all the three worlds there is no fast that is more important to observe.The reason this Ekadasi is so auspicious is that it celebrates the day when the sleeping Lord Vishnu turns over on His other side; thus it is also known as Parivartini Ekadasi.”

Maharaja Yudhishthira then asked of the Lord, “Oh Janardana, please clear up a question I have. How is it that the Supreme Lord sleeps and then turns over on His side? Oh Lord, when You are asleep what happens to all the other living entities? Please also tell me how You bound the king of the demons, Bali Daityaraj (Bali Maharaja), as well as how one may please the brahmanas. How does one observe Chaturmasya, which You mention in the Chaturmasya-mahatmya of the Bhavishya Purana? Kindly be merciful to me and answer these questions.”

The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna replied, “Oh Yudhishthira, lion among Kings, I will gladly narrate to you an historical event that, simply by hearing, eradicates all one’s sinful reactions. In the Treta-yuga there once was a king of the name Bali. Though born in a family dynasty of demons (daityas), he was very devoted to Me. He sang many Vedic hymns to Me and performed the homa rituals (fire sacrifices) just to satisfy Me. He respected the twice-born brahmins and engaged them in performing sacrifices daily.

This great soul had a quarrel with Indra, however, and eventually defeated him in battle. Bali took over his entire celestial kingdom, which I Myself had given to Indra. Therefore, Indra and all the other devas (demigods), along with many great sages, approached Me and complained about Bali Maharaja. Bowing their heads to the ground and offering many sacred prayers from the Vedas, they worshipped Me along with their spiritual master, Brihaspati. Thus, I agreed to appear on their behalf as a dwarf Vamanadev, My fifth incarnation.”

King Yudhishthira further enquired, “Oh Lord, how was it possible for You to conquer such a powerful demon, and only by coming in the form of a dwarf brahmin? Please explain this clearly, for I am Your faithful devotee.”

The Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna replied, “Though a dwarf, I was a brahmana, and I approached that pious king Bali to ask him for alms in the form of land. I said, ‘Oh Daityraj Bali, please give Me just three steps of land in charity. Such a small piece of land will be good as all the three worlds for Me.’ Bali agreed to grant My request without lengthy consideration. But as soon as he vowed to give Me the land, My body began to expand into a gigantic transcendental form. I covered the entire Earth with My feet, all the Bhuvarloka with My thighs, the Swarga heavens with My waist, Maharloka with My stomach, Janaloka with My chest, Tapoloka with My neck, and Satyaloka with My head and face. I covered the entire material creation. Indeed, all the planets of the universe, including the Sun and the Moon, were encompassed by My gigantic form.

“Seeing this astonishing pastime of Mine, all the demigods, including Indra and Shesha, the king of the snakes, began to sing Vedic hymns and offer prayers to Me. Then I took Bali by the hand and said to him, ‘Oh sinless one, I have covered the whole Earth with one step and all the heavenly planets with the second. Now where shall I place My foot to measure the third step of land you promised Me?’

“Upon hearing this, Bali Maharaja bowed down in humility and offered Me his head to place My third step. Oh Yudhishthira, I placed My foot on his head and sent him all the way to Patalaloka. Seeing him thus humbled, I became very pleased and told Bali that henceforth I would permanently reside in his palace. Thereafter, on Parivartinii Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Bhadra (August-September), Bali, the son of Virochana, grandson of Prahlad, installed a Deity form of Me in his residence.

“Oh king, until Haribodhinii Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Karttika, I continue to sleep in the ocean of milk. The merit one accumulates during this period is particularly powerful. One should therefore observe Parivartini Ekadasii carefully. Indeed, it is especially purifying and thus cleanses one of all sinful reactions. On this day the faithful devotee should worship Lord Trivikrama, Vamanadeva, who is the supreme father, because on this day I turn over to sleep on My other side.

“If possible, on this day one should give a qualified person some yogurt mixed with rice, as well as some silver, and then remain awake throughout the night. This simple observance will free one of all material conditioning. One who observes this sacred Parivartini Ekadasi in the way I have described will surely attain all kinds of happiness in this world and the kingdom of God in the hereafter. One who simply hears this narration with devotion will go to the abode of the demigods and shine there like the Moon itself, so powerful is observance of this Ekadasi. Indeed, this observance is as powerful as the performance of a thousand horse sacrifices.”

Thus ends the narration of the glories of Parivartini Ekadasi, or Vamana Ekadasi, which occurs during the light part of the month of Bhadrapada, from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana.

This article has been used courtesy of ISKCON Desire Tree




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Sri Radhastami
Giriraj Swami

For the most auspicious celebration of Sri Radhastami, we read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Two, Chapter Three: “Pure Devotional Service.”



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


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

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the breathing dead body is a ghost. When a man dies, he is called dead, but when he again appears in a subtle form not visible to our present vision and yet acts, such a dead body is called a ghost. Ghosts are always very bad elements, always creating a fearful situation for others. Similarly, the ghostlike nondevotees who have no respect for the pure devotees, nor for the Visnu Deity in the temples, create a fearful situation for the devotees at all times. The Lord never accepts any offerings by such impure ghosts. There is a common saying that one should first love the dog of the beloved before one shows any loving sentiments for the beloved. The stage of pure devotion is attained by sincerely serving a pure devotee of the Lord. The first condition of devotional service to the Lord is therefore to be a servant of a pure devotee, and this condition is fulfilled by the statement “reception of the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has also served another pure devotee.” That is the way of pure disciplic succession, or devotional parampara.

Maharaja Rahugana inquired from the great saint Jada Bharata as to how he had attained such a liberated stage of a paramahamsa, and in answer the great saint replied as follows (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.12):

rahuganaitat tapasa na yati
  na cejyaya nirvapanad grhad va
na cchandasa naiva jalagni-suryair
  vina mahat-pada-rajo-’bhisekam

“O King Rahugana, the perfectional stage of devotional service, or the paramahamsa stage of life, cannot be attained unless one is blessed by the dust of the feet of great devotees. It is never attained by tapasya (austerity), the Vedic worshiping process, acceptance of the renounced order of life, the discharge of the duties of household life, the chanting of the Vedic hymns, or the performance of penances in the hot sun, within cold water, or before the blazing fire.”

In other words, Lord Sri Krsna is the property of His pure unconditional devotees, and as such only the devotees can deliver Krsna to another devotee; Krsna is never obtainable directly. Lord Chaitanya therefore designated Himself as gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah (Cc Madhya 13.80), or “the most obedient servant of the servants of the Lord, who maintains the gopi damsels at Vrndavana.” A pure devotee therefore never approaches the Lord directly, but tries to please the servant of the Lord’s servants, and thus the Lord becomes pleased, and only then can the devotee relish the taste of the tulasi leaves stuck to His lotus feet. In the Brahma-samhita it is said that the Lord is never to be found by becoming a great scholar of the Vedic literatures, but He is very easily approachable through His pure devotee. In Vrndavana all the pure devotees pray for the mercy of Srimati Radharani, the pleasure potency of Lord Krsna. Srimati Radharani is a tenderhearted feminine counterpart of the supreme whole, resembling the perfectional stage of the worldly feminine nature. Therefore, the mercy of Radharani is available very readily to the sincere devotees, and once She recommends such a devotee to Lord Krsna, the Lord at once accepts the devotee’s admittance into His association. The conclusion is, therefore, that one should be more serious about seeking the mercy of the devotee than that of the Lord directly, and by one’s doing so (by the good will of the devotee) the natural attraction for the service of the Lord will be revived.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

This verse and purport are so deep. Practically the whole philosophy of Krishna consciousness is contained in this purport, and one could discuss it for many hours and days. Still, we shall try to say something within the time available to us.

The first point—the most basic point—is that the living entity is not the body. The living entity is the soul within the body. The living entity in the material body has material desires for sense gratification and more subtle material desires that express themselves in mental speculation. After leaving the body, some unfortunate living entities end up as ghosts, in subtle, ghostly bodies, but they still have gross desires.

How does someone become a ghost? A typical way is that a living entity full of material desires becomes so frustrated and disappointed (which everyone is, to some extent) that he commits suicide. The result is that he gets a ghost body, a subtle body without a gross body. Krishna, the Supersoul, fulfills all desires. The person who commits suicide wants to be free from his gross body, so Krishna fulfills his desire and gives him a ghost body, a subtle body. But the frustration and disappointment that gave rise to the impulse to commit suicide came from strong material desires, and he still has the material desires but not a gross body through which to fulfill them. So he is even more frustrated. And so the ghost will try to inhabit, or possess, someone else’s gross body in order to fulfill its desires through that person’s senses. Thus, ghosts are disturbing elements. They create fearful situations.

Another way a person can get the body of a ghost is if he is very attached to a thing or place—to his house, for example—and at the time of death thinks of that object of attachment. Yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram / tam tam evaiti kaunteya sada tad-bhava-bhavitah: “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Gita 8.6) Whatever you think of at the time of death will determine your next body. Now, if you think of your house at the time of death, you can’t get the body of a house, because that is not one of the species of life, but you can take birth as a ghost in that house. Therefore, many houses, especially big, opulent ones—mansions and castles—are reputed to be haunted by ghosts.

How can one be freed from ghosts? The chanting of the holy name is the best remedy for practically any ill in the world, and it is the remedy for being troubled by ghosts. Sometimes devotees take advantage of this fact. A large estate will be haunted and so people won’t want to buy it, but the devotees will see, “Oh, here is a good opportunity. We can get a major property to use in Krishna’s service for only a small sum of money, and as for the ghosts, we’ll just do hari-nama–sankirtana and the ghosts will go away and we will have a nice place for Krishna.”

In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu Srila Rupa Gosvami composed a beautiful verse in which he says that one who is haunted by material desires can never experience the sweet taste of devotional service.

bhukti-mukti-sprha yavat
  pisaci hrdi vartate
tavad bhakti-sukhasyatra
  katham abhyudayo bhavet

“The material desire to enjoy the material world and the desire to become liberated from material bondage are considered to be two witches, and they haunt one like ghosts. As long as these witches remain within the heart, how can one feel transcendental bliss? As long as these two witches remain in the heart, there is no possibility of enjoying the transcendental bliss of devotional service.” (Brs 1.2.22) Pisaci means “ghost” or “witch.” Material desires are like ghosts that fill our minds with ideas foreign to us. In our normal consciousness we think in a certain way, but when a ghost possesses our mind, we think in a completely different way. As spirit souls, we are all originally Krishna conscious, by constitution eternal servants of Krishna (jivera ‘svarupa’ haya-krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’). So to desire anything other than to be a servant of Krishna or a servant of a servant of Krishna is like being haunted by a ghost. We get desires, ideas, for sense gratification, and instead of accepting Krishna as the supreme enjoyer, which is His constitutional position, we want to take His place and enjoy independent of Him. Such desires, such ideas, are foreign to our true nature. So, being possessed by these desires is like being haunted by a ghost.

Everyone in the material world is in a fearful position, and everyone needs shelter. Once, someone asked Srila Prabhupada, “What do you personally feel when you chant?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “I feel no fear.” Every conditioned soul is fearful. If we think about it, we are always afraid. We can’t even count all the things we are afraid of all the time. The Bhagavatam (11.2.37) says that fear arises from thinking of things as being separate from Krishna.

bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syad
  isad apetasya viparyayo ’smrtih
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam
  bhaktyaikayesam guru-devatatma

“Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is effected by the potency for illusion, called maya. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, whom he should accept as his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul.” If we recognize that everything is related to Krishna and that Krishna is the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and our best friend, we won’t be afraid; we’ll feel peaceful.

We need shelter, and we can get the shelter we need only from Krishna. But we cannot get Krishna’s shelter directly. We have no way to approach Him directly. Therefore all scriptures and bona fide acharyas recommend that to achieve the shelter of Krishna we should seek the shelter of a pure devotee who himself has achieved the shelter of another pure devotee who has achieved the shelter of another pure devotee—all the way back to Krishna. This is devotional parampara.

mahatmanas tu mam partha
  daivim prakrtim asritah
bhajanty ananya-manaso
  jnatva bhutadim avyayam

“Those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Gita 9.13) The great souls are not under the material energy. They are under the divine energy, the spiritual energy. And they achieve the shelter of the spiritual energy by taking shelter of a pure devotee who is under the spiritual energy, who in turn has taken shelter of a pure devotee under the spiritual energy, and so on, back to Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada was once invited to speak at the home of the wealthiest family in India then, the Birlas. I presented Mrs. Birla a list of topics on which Srila Prabhupada could speak (though I knew he could speak on any topic), and she chose “How to be Successful.” The invitees would be people who were already very successful, but her choice suggested that they wanted to become more successful—that they were not satisfied as they were. Thus they would want to learn the secret of how to become more successful.

At the program, Srila Prabhupada gave an interesting definition of success, one that we had not anticipated. He explained that everyone in the material world is under the control of the material energy, personified as Durga, who rides on her lion carrier and exhibits many arms with many weapons. He said that Durga holds a trident (trisula), which represents the threefold miseries of material existence, and that she pierces the conditioned souls with these miseries. And opposed to the material energy is the spiritual energy, personified as Srimati Radharani. Srila Prabhupada said that success in life means to transfer oneself from the control of Durgadevi, the material energy, to the shelter of Radharani, the spiritual energy. Of course, Durgadevi herself is serving Lord Krishna, but her service is to punish us conditioned souls who are under her control. She is the warden of the prison house of material existence, and success for a prisoner is to be released from the prison—not to get better facility within the prison house. Success is to be freed.

Srila Prabhupada’s definition was so intelligent and subtle. He was saying that success doesn’t mean to move to a better grade of prison: a better house, a better office, a better car—a better material position. Success means to get out of prison, and that is achieved by surrendering to Krishna, as stated by Him in the Bhagavad-gita (7.14):

daivi hy esa guna-mayi
  mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
  mayam etam taranti te

“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”

We must take shelter of Krishna and move from the control of the material energy to the protection of the spiritual energy, Srimati Radharani. But we cannot do that directly. We do it by taking shelter of someone who has taken shelter of someone who has taken shelter of someone who has taken shelter of Srimati Radharani. That is parampara. We take shelter of Srila Prabhupada and of those working under his direction, just as he took shelter of his guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and served him, and as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura took shelter of his spiritual master, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, and served him—like that, all the way back to Krishna.

It is a simple process, but it requires humility. And that can be a problem—a big, big problem. We don’t want to submit, to surrender. When Hiranyakasipu asked his five-year-old son, Prahlada, “What is the best thing you have learned in school?” he thought his son would say something agreeable. Sometimes we may also ask a child, “What is your favorite subject?” and we would be shocked and dismayed if the child said, “The best thing I learned is how to cheat people and get ahead by pushing others into the ground.” We would wonder, “Where did he learn that?” Hiranyakasipu was the type who thought that being selfish and learning how to defeat others was a good thing. So when Prahlada replied, “The best thing I have learned is service to God [sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam],” Hiranyakasipu was shocked: “Where did you learn that? Who has spoiled your consciousness?”

The powerful tyrant accused the boy’s teachers: “You have taught him this nonsense, bhakti, devotional service to Lord Vishnu. You have spoiled his intelligence.” “No, we haven’t,” they replied. “He hasn’t learned devotional service from us or from anyone else. He seems to be naturally Krishna conscious.”

Then Hiranyakasipu asked his son directly, and Prahlada replied with a verse similar to the one quoted by Srila Prabhupada in the purport. First he said,

matir na krsne paratah svato va
  mitho ’bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
  punah punas carvita-carvananam

“Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krsna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (SB 7.5.30) Now, if one cannot become Krishna conscious by one’s own efforts, by the efforts of others, or by the combined efforts of oneself and others, how can one become Krishna conscious? It seems that all logical possibilities have been eliminated.

Then Prahlada said,

 naisam matis tavad urukramanghrim
  sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
mahiyasam pada-rajo-’bhisekam
  niskincananam na vrnita yavat

“Unless they smear upon their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krsna conscious and taking shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination.” (SB 7.5.32) One cannot become Krishna conscious unless one has been favored by the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who has nothing to do with the material world. By taking shelter of the lotus feet of a pure devotee—by serving the instructions of a pure devotee—one becomes free from anarthas, unwanted, miserable conditions. The miseries of birth, death, disease, and old age are all unwanted. And by following the pure devotee’s instructions, one becomes free from all unwanted, material desires, which bind us to material existence. One becomes free from everything unfavorable to Krishna consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada explains that Prahlada was indirectly telling his father, “You need not worry about becoming Krishna conscious, because one can become Krishna conscious only if one bows down to the lotus feet of a pure devotee, but you are too proud, so you will never bow down to a pure devotee. So, my dear father, you need not worry about becoming Krishna conscious. It just won’t happen.”

We tend to like to identify with Prahlada and to see other people as Hiranyakasipus, but if we—I shouldn’t speak for all of us, but many of us—if we look inside ourselves, we will see that we also are not that humble. We also have a little rebellious spirit. We don’t want to submit or surrender. We also have something inside us that thinks, as some people actually say, “I’ll never surrender. I’ll never submit.” Or, “I can surrender to God but not to any human being. I can serve God but not some human being.” But that false spirit of independence will not help us.

Given that we have so many doubts and reservations and rebellious tendencies, what hope do we have? The good news is that in this age of Kali, Sri Krishna came in the mood of Srimati Radharani. And as we read in the purport, Srimati Radharani is the tenderhearted feminine counterpart of Krishna. In The Nectar of Devotion also, Srila Prabhupada says that Srimati Radharani represents the compassionate nature of Krishna. Because Krishna is the father, He might be a little strict (which is sometimes necessary and beneficial), but the mother may be more compassionate, more understanding, more encouraging. Therefore devotees approach Krishna through Sri Radha. “Because Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is very difficult to approach Him. But the devotees, taking advantage of His compassionate nature, which is represented by Radharani, always pray to Radharani for Krsna’s compassion.” (NOD Ch 22) Srimati Radharani, in addition to having other qualifications, is a maha-bhagavata. She sees that everyone is a better servant of Krishna than She. So if someone approaches Her with a desire to serve Krishna, She’ll very easily recommend the person to Krishna, and when Radharani recommends someone, Krishna is bound to accept, because ultimately Krishna wants to please Radharani. Transcendentally, Krishna comes under the control of Radharani. Thus in Radharani’s hometown of Varsana, the devotees have a saying: “Whatever Radha does, Krishna likes. Whatever Radha likes, Krishna does.” So, if Radharani wants Krishna to accept us, He will accept us.

Because today is a special day, Radhastami, we can approach Radharani directly—but even today it is through Her servants. Even when we are in the spiritual world, whenever that fortunate occasion arises, we will serve Radha and Krishna not directly, but under the guidance of Their servants. That is an eternal principle. There are different rasas, or relationships, that we can have with Krishna, but in whatever relationship we have, we will be under the eternal guidance of some eternal associates of Krishna. As Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says,

naham vipro na ca nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
  naham varni na ca grha-patir no vanastho yatir va
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramananda-purnamrtabdher
  gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah

“I am not a brahmana, I am not a ksatriya, I am not a vaisya or a sudra. Nor am I a brahmacari, a householder, a vanaprastha, or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krsna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.” (Cc Madhya 13.80)

That principle, being the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis, applies both in the conditioned state of sadhana-bhakti and in the liberated state of sadhya-bhakti, or prema-bhakti. It is an eternal principle. And we should welcome the opportunity to serve the servant of the servants. We shouldn’t think, “Oh, all right, in the stage of bondage I am in now, I guess I have to do it. It is the only way to get out.” Like, “Okay, I’m in prison now, so I have to do what the warden says, but once I’m out, that’s it. Then I’m free.” No. This is an eternal principle, and we should welcome it and relish it.

Srila Prabhupada paraphrased Srila Rupa Gosvami’s verse about being haunted by ghosts: “Anyone who has any desire or aspiration for satisfying his senses by becoming more and more important, either in the material sense or in the spiritual sense, cannot actually relish the really sweet taste of devotional service.” (NOD Ch 3) And in a class, Srila Prabhupada stated the same thing in a positive way: “The more you become the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna, the sweeter and sweeter and sweeter and sweeter devotional service becomes.” It is glorious to be the servant of the servant of the servant.

We want to take shelter of one who is niskincana, who has no material possessions. Yes, in India there are sadhus, saintly persons, who hardly have material possessions. But as Srila Prabhupada explains, niskincana also means one who is free from false proprietorship. Here we are in a beautiful temple, and if I think, “This is my temple,” that is false proprietorship. But if I think, “This is Krishna’s temple, and I am just a humble servant of His servants,” that is also niskincana. A pure devotee’s only possession, so to speak, is his or her service to the lotus feet of the Lord. And the more lotus feet we have to serve—the lotus feet of the servant of the lotus feet of the servant of the lotus feet of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Krishna—the richer we are in bhakti, which is the life of the living entity.

Today’s verse is one of a series that all make the same point: If we are not engaged in pure devotional service, we are dead. In other words, pure devotional service is real life, and anyone engaged in anything other than devotional service is just a walking, breathing dead man.

Srila Prabhupada has given us this life. He has given us this opportunity. Sri Krishna Chaitanya is Krishna but in the mood of Radharani, and in Her kindhearted, tenderhearted, merciful, compassionate mood of love and care, He has given us the easiest and most practical process for success in the present age: the chanting of the holy names.

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

“In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari [Krsna].” (Brhan-naradiya Purana 38.126) By chanting the holy names without offense, all the dirty things in the heart become cleansed (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Even if we have that little rebellious spirit—“Why should I surrender?”—by chanting, which is both easy and enjoyable, all these dirty things, these misconceptions and false identifications, are cleansed, and naturally we come to our real position as eternal servants of the servants of Krishna. So it is very easy. We just have to do it.

This is ultimately Srimati Radharani’s mercy. It is Her mercy that Srila Prabhupada came to America and gave us Krishna consciousness. In a poem he wrote on board the cargo ship he took to America, Srila Prabhupada wrote, krsna taba punya habe bhai, e-punya koribe jabe radharani khusi habe, dhruva ati boli toma tai: “O brothers, you will obtain your good fortune from the Supreme Lord Krsna only when Srimati Radharani becomes pleased with you.” First we must please Radharani. And how? By following the orders of the spiritual master, serving the mission of the spiritual master. We have everything—every opportunity. We have beautiful Deities; we have Srila Prabhupada, our founder-acharya; we have his instructions, his books, his translations of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam; we have the holy name; we have the association of devotees—we have everything. We just have to take advantage, and that is why we are here.

Any questions or comments?

Child: How do you become the servant of the servant of the servant?

Giriraj Swami: She is a very intelligent young lady. Do you know what ISKCON is?

Child: Not really.

Giriraj Swami: ISKCON is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a spiritual organization founded by Srila Prabhupada. The temple where we are now sitting is part of that organization. You could say that the more senior devotees here who are steady in devotional service, in following Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, are servants of Srila Prabhupada, that Srila Prabhupada is serving the instructions of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, and that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is serving the instructions of his spiritual master. And so by following the instructions of one or more of the solid devotees of Srila Prabhupada here, you are automatically serving the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant, going through the line all the way back to Krishna.

Gentleman: How can one overcome the fear of losing one’s identity and uniqueness by surrendering oneself to a pure devotee?

Giriraj Swami: Every living entity has a unique spiritual identity, and the process of Krishna consciousness means to discover what one’s unique, specific, eternal identity is. So you don’t lose your identity; rather, you discover your actual unique identity.

Just imagine Krishna’s situation. There He is in the spiritual sky, Goloka Vrindavan, surrounded by wish-fulfilling cows and trees and gems, being served by unlimited numbers of beautiful, pure, loving devotees. And off somewhere in a cloud is a bunch of angry, morose, belligerent souls, each determined that “I’m not going to serve Him.” Why should Krishna bother with them? Why should He even care? He is enjoying an eternal, celestial party. Why should He bother about us?

One answer is that each one of us is a unique living entity. No two of us are exactly the same. And so, when we are liberated, our mood of service to Krishna will be unique. This means that as long as we remain in the material world, Krishna in the spiritual world will be deprived of the particular flavor of loving service that each of us is meant to offer Him. Each of us has a specific, unique contribution to make to Krishna’s pleasure that no one else can make in the exact same way.

Even in the stage of sadhana-bhakti, we always have our individual preferences, but as devotees we give the highest preference to Krishna’s pleasure. Parents often sacrifice doing what they would ordinarily like to do, for the sake of doing what their children would like them to do. The parents are still individuals, but they give priority to pleasing their children. And when their children are happy, they feel happy. One reason we try so hard to have nice programs for children is that when the children want to come to the temple, even if the parents are feeling a little lethargic, the children will prevail upon them: “Come on, Mommy. Come on, Daddy. I want to go to the temple. I want to see the Deities. I want to sing and dance in the kirtan and arati. I want to meet the other children. I want to eat prasada.” And the parents will come, not because they don’t have their individuality, but out of love. They get more happiness when they see their children happy than when they do things for their own satisfaction that would leave the children feeling neglected. So in devotional service you remain individual but you give preference to Krishna. And as you become purified, you actually experience more pleasure in doing what Krishna likes than you would get out of doing what you would ordinarily like for your own sake.

So, do not hesitate. Serving a pure devotee, serving a servant of the servants of Radha and Krishna, is not a matter of force, being forced into a mold without any freedom or individuality. Rather, it is an opportunity for the conditioned soul to realize his or her fullest potential, fullest individuality, and fullest freedom, in divine, ecstatic love.

Thank you very much.

Hare Krishna.

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Radhastami, August 30, 2009, San Diego]

Announcing “Get the 34!” Learn the Essence of Srimad-Bhagavatam

For devotees around the world who wish to deepen their relationship with Srimad-Bhagavatam, the BBT is excited to announce “Get the 34!”, devotees everywhere reading and memorizing Srimad-Bhagavatam’s Divinity and Divine Service, Canto 1 chapter 2. You can download the audio recordings in Sanskrit and English and a PDF of the verses from the Bhadra Campaign […]

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