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Don’t Starve Your Beads / Не уморите свои четки голодом
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В новых четках ощущается легкость и воздушность. Древесина новая, скорее светлая, поверхность шершавая. После воспевания день за днем кажется, что происходят чудесные преобразования. Их вес начинает меняться. Это необъяснимо, но кажется, что они стали тяжелее, будто они каким-то образом наполнились, насытились силой мантры. Их цвет меняется, как будто сама Туласи Деви хочет обрести темный цвет лица ее Шйама. Жесткость нити ослабевает, и ощущение скольжения через  пальцы само по себе становится гипнотическим. Это чувство заставляет меня изо дня в день возвращаться, стремясь раскрыть запредельные тайны Святого Имени. Перебирание сглаживает текстуру, пока наконец бусины не приобретают блеск и сияние, становясь похожими на ряд мини-божеств. Нама-мурти.

 

Напитайте их нектаром Святого Имени, и они начнут изменяться и трансформироваться. Как и мы. Мы снова и снова возвращаемся к нашим четкам и Святому Имени, надеясь обрести покой, надеясь обрести облегчение, надеясь обрести радость и утешение. Все это, как и многое другое – нам доступно.

 

Я с нетерпением жду того дня, когда наполню свои четки достаточным желанием и тоской, чтобы Говинда услышал мои молитвы и открыл двери в Свое царство Любви.

 

Гурудев наставлял нас: не уморите свои четки голодом. Этот образ остается со мной. Образ мешочка с заброшенными бусинками джапы, оставшимися нетронутыми, оставленными без ежедневного приношения любви и шепота грез, проникающих в каждую бусину – всякий день, когда мы готовимся воспевать, и неважно, насколько долго… Этот образ буквально преследовал меня.

 

В те дни, когда мой разум бунтует, в дни, когда губы не хотят мне подчиняться, сердце закрывается, а все мое существо стремится спрятаться за чувством ложного контроля, образ голодных бус побуждает меня вставать. Идти к ним. Дотрагиваться до них и вспоминать. Вспоминать ощущение от перебирания их, их гладкую поверхность, что соединяет меня с мантрой, высвобождающейся с каждым выдохом.

 

Эти бусины джапы – мои врата к Любви. Я надеюсь и горячо молю, чтобы они всегда указывали мне путь. Молю, чтобы они никогда не оставили меня, чтобы были моими неизменными спутниками. Удивительно, как нить, казалось бы, обычных деревянных бусин стала одной из моих самых дорогих подруг. В них, этих четках – какая-то магия. Я напитываю их – а они напитывают меня. Они наполняют меня заботой, они наполняют меня благодатью и они наполняют меня чудесами Любви, которые извечно хранятся в губинах верховнейшей из мантр. Я молюсь напитывать их так, чтобы однажды я могла придти туда, где не смогла бы остановиться. Место, где Имя будет всем. И это Святое Имя – моя жизнь.

 

[ отрывок из «Према-малы», книги Шримати Ачьюты Гопи даси, известной ученицы Его Святейшества Радханатхи Свами ]

 

 

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Их радостные улыбки
→ Traveling Monk

Дневник странствующего монаха

Том 15, глава 2

8 мая 2019

Почти пять последних месяцев я провел во Вриндаване, отлучаясь лишь на несколько коротких поездок. Но в начале мая я уехал. Несмотря на приближение тягостной летней жары, мне думалось, что я мог бы задержаться и подольше. С огромным сожалением и чувством глубокой разлуки я направлялся в аэропорт Нью-Дели, чтобы улететь из святой дхамы.
Вриндаван проникает в тебя, когда остаешься в нем достаточно долго. Даже краткое посещение святого места может произвести чудотворный эффект. В «Сканда-пуране» утверждается:

«Человек, проживший в Двараке шесть месяцев, месяц или хотя бы полмесяца, заслуживает того, чтобы перенестись на Вайкунтха-локи и получить все блага сарупья-мукти, дарующего преимущества того же четырехрукого тела, что у Нараяны».
[Нектар преданности, глава 7]

А Шрила Прабхупада однажды сказал: «Вриндаван – для вдохновения». Я всегда понимал это так: мы приезжаем во Вриндаван, чтобы очиститься и развить привязанность к нашему возлюбленному Господу Шри Кришне, но через какое-то время должны уехать и делиться нашей огромной удачей с людьми, ничего не знающими о Кришне и Его трансцендентной обители. Заставляя себя уезжать, я держал в мыслях это наставление.
Однако, к тому времени, как я добрался до аэропорта, я уже был в ином настроении, готовый проповедовать сознание Кришны. С самого начала своей карьеры преданного мне одинаково нравилось и проповедовать на улицах западных городов, и бродить по лесам Вриндавана в поисках святых мест. Эти настроения взаимосвязаны. Проповедуя сознание Кришны в странах Запада, мы становимся достаточно подготовленными для посещения Вриндавана, а, живя во Вриндаване, обретаем чистоту и духовную силу, чтобы делиться сознанием Кришны с другими. Шрила Прабодхананда Сарасвати красиво это выразил:

йатха йатха гаура-падаравинде
виндета бхактим кр̣та-пун̣йа-расих̣
татха татхотсарпати хр̣дй акасмад
радха-падамбходжа-судхамбху-расих

«До какого уровня мы предаемся служению Господу Чайтанье – того же уровня мы обретаем и качества, необходимые для служения лотосным стопам Радхарани во Врадже».
[ Чайтанья Чандрамрита, текст 88 ]

Из Нью-Дели я вылетел в Польшу, где хранятся мои вещи. Отдохнул там денек и на следующее утро отправился в варшавский аэропорт, чтобы сесть на самолет до Москвы и так начать свой ежегодный месячный тур по России. И столкнулся с очень цепкой сотрудницей иммиграционной службы.
– Ваш паспорт, – рявкнула она. За ней сидела другая дама в униформе, наблюдавшая за каждым ее движением. Я сделал вывод, что попал к стажеру.
– Где посадочный талон? – резко бросила она. Начальница еле заметно одобрительно улыбнулась.
– Вот, мэм, – сказал я, передавая его через отверстие в окне.
– Разве вы не знаете, что должны подавать его вместе с паспортом? – прорычала она так, будто я был самым распоследним тупицей.
– Да, конечно, в следующий раз так и сделаю, – ответил я, удивляясь, неужели в должностные обязанности входит резкое и грубое обращение с вылетающими пассажирами.

Пока она проверяла мои документы, я вспомнил, как однажды в аэропорту Джона Кеннеди в Нью-Йорке проходил иммиграционный контроль вместе со Шрилой Прабхупадой. Таможенник был с ним очень груб. Он хотел посмотреть, что в маленьком белом чемоданчике Шрилы Прабхупады, но замок заклинило, и Шрила Прабхупада никак не мог его открыть.

Офицер потерял терпение:
– Я же сказал открыть! – прикрикнул он на Шрилу Прабхупаду.
Возмутившись, я шагнул вперед, и рука моя сжалась в кулак:

– Еще раз скажешь что-нибудь таким тоном моему духовному учителю – разобью физиономию!
В наше время этого было бы достаточно для ареста. Но тогда таможенник лишь отпрянул от меня в шоке.
– А я-то думал, что вы, Харе Кришны*, за мир! – саркастически заметил он.
Я по-прежнему стоял в вызывающей позе. Как бы желая меня унять, он сказал:
– Ладно, молодой человек, тогда вы откройте.

Я придвинул к себе чемоданчик, немного повозился с замком, и крышка, подскочив, внезапно открылась. Как завороженный, я стоял и разглядывал личные вещи моего духовного учителя: его паспорт, золотую ручку, маленький шарик тилака, тюбик с аюрведическим лекарством, пару каратал и другие трансцендентные предметы.

Голос таможенника нарушил мое благоговение.
– Молодой человек, это я должен осматривать вещи, не вы.
Я подвинул чемоданчик ему, и после беглого осмотра он нас пропустил.

Когда мы шли по летному полю к самолету, Шрила Прабхупада сказал:
– Из-за соприкосновения с гунами материальной природы люди развивают множество плохих качеств. Но когда кому-то выпадает удача общаться с преданными Господа, он развивает все хорошие качества полубогов.

 

– Ваш паспорт! – сердитая сотрудница польской иммиграционной службы размахивала моими документами по ту сторону стекла.
– О, простите, – сказал я, и она вытолкнула их через окошко.
Начальница улыбнулась ей, будто подтверждая хорошо проделанную работу. А затем переключилась на другого стажера, слева от себя.
Поведение моей таможенницы тотчас изменилось. Широко улыбаясь, она прошептала через окошко:

– Я обожаю ваши лекции на фестивале Индии. Каждое лето я езжу в Реваль. У меня есть «Бхагавад-гита».
Я тоже улыбнулся и хотел было ответить, но начальница, заподозрив что-то неладное, обдала ее холодным взглядом. Мгновенно ее лицо опять стало каменным.
– На этом всё, – сказала она, давая понять, что я должен отойти.
«Спасибо, Кришна, – думал я, – что показываешь мне чудные плоды Твоего движения самкиртаны».

Иммиграционный и таможенный контроль в Москве прошел на удивление легко. В зале прилета меня встречали 60 счастливых преданных, все с улыбками до ушей. Когда я шел к ним, меня посетило странное чувство:
«Что это такое с преданными», – думал я. А затем понял: «Их улыбки! В точности как у сотрудницы иммиграционного контроля в Варшаве. У любого, кто испытал на себе милость Кришны, такая же радостная улыбка».

Я вспомнил фрагмент лекции Шрилы Прабхупады, которую недавно слушал.

«Верховный Господь радостен. Если вы оказались в счастливом сообществе или рядом со счастливым человеком, то автоматически станете радостны. Нет нужды быть радостными порознь. Само общение сделает вас радостными. Таково сознание Кришны. Просто благодаря общению. Это счастье – от общения со Всевышним».
[лекция по «Бхагавад-гите», Лос-Анджелес, декабрь 1968]

Я подошел к собравшимся ликующим преданным, и они задарили меня бесчисленными букетами цветов и прекрасными цветочными гирляндами всех видов. Я уже раздавал букеты преданным рядом, а новые все прибывали в мои руки.

Идя к паркингу, я снимал с себя гирлянды и раздавал недоумевающим прохожим. Конечно, требуется немного смелости, чтобы подойти к совершенно незнакомому человеку и надеть ему гирлянду. Но я всегда убеждаюсь, что этот миг становится одним из «магических моментов» в сознании Кришны, как их называла моя духовная сестра Ямуна даси. Кто бы сомневался, большинство людей расплывались в широченных улыбках, напоминающих улыбки преданных, и принимали гирлянды. Некоторые даже просили с ними сфотографироваться.

Лифт к паркингу был переполнен: пятеро преданных и, по меньшей мере, еще человек двадцать. Столько незнакомцев столпилось в замкнутом пространстве – атмосфера была напряженной. В лифте было душно, плохо пахло, и единственным утешением был невероятный аромат трех гирлянд на моей шее, одна из которых почти касалась пола. Я чувствовал на себе взгляды пассажиров лифта, хотя и не был уверен, что именно кажется им странным: гирлянды, мои одеяния санньяси или и то, и другое. Я обратился к своему секретарю, прижатому ко мне.

– Махаван, – говорю, – хочу сделать объявление. Переводи людям, громко и четко.
Махаван посмотрел на меня в недоумении:
– Но, Гурудева…
– Дамы и господа, – громко начал я, – у меня тут чудесные ароматные гирлянды, которые любезно подарили мне мои ученики. До этого их предложили Богу, поэтому они приносят удачу любому, кто их носит.
Все, включая Махавана, будто застыли.
– Давай! – повторил я ему. – Переводи и улыбайся. Я проделывал это тысячи раз.

Так оно и было. В 1970-е годы я часами разъезжал в поездах парижского метро. На мне были дхоти и курта, яркая тилака и гирлянда, которую носили накануне Шри Шри Радха-Париж-Ишвара. Я запрыгивал в вагон метро и громко объявлял по-французски: «Дамы и господа! Добрый день всем замечательным людям Парижа. Я – монах из Америки, только что вернулся из Индии. У меня с собой книги, написанные моим духовным учителем, в которых он делится со всеми мудростью древней Индии. Это знание может решить все проблемы и изменить мир к лучшему. Когда я буду проходить мимо вас, пожалуйста, возьмите одну книгу и дайте щедрое пожертвование». Наверное, я произнес эту мантру 100 000 раз и продал 10 000 книг. Иногда я встречался с неприятием, но чаще всего люди были заинтригованы моим одеянием, улыбкой и смелостью, – так что они брали книги.

Я слегка подтолкнул Махавана:
-Давай же, – подбодрил я его.
– Дамы и господа, – начал он по-русски.
– Громче!
– Моему духовному учителю надарили чудных благоухающих гирлянд, – говорит он  немного громче.

Когда он закончил, лифт безмолвствовал. Люди переминались, некоторые нервно переглядывались. Время будто остановилось.

Затем женщина лет пятидесяти произнесла:
– Ладно, если можно, я бы хотела розовую.
Атмосфера разрядилась, и все стали уже без стеснения разглядывать гирлянды. Я поместил розово-бело-голубую гирлянду ей на шею.
– Какая честь, – выговорила она, затаив дыхание.
– Как это приятно, – отвечаю.

Будто стараясь опередить заинтересованных в оставшихся гирляндах, другая женщина выпалила:
– Я бы хотела желтую!
Теперь уже все без исключения улыбались. Я вновь вспомнил слова Шрилы Прабхупады: «Если вы оказались в счастливом сообществе или рядом со счастливым человеком, вы автоматически станете счастливы».

Лифт уже доехал до верхнего этажа паркинга, когда стоявший в углу пожилой мужчина в черной потертой одежде тихо сказал:
– Уважаемый, а можно мне последнюю, длинную?
– Конечно, – отвечаю, надевая ему гирлянду. Он разулыбался, глядя, как она раскачивается у его лодыжек.

Лишь только открылись двери лифта, славная атмосфера улетучилась: все бросились искать свои машины. Только старик передвигался медленно, выверяя каждый шаг и сохраняя равновесие при помощи трости.
– Сэр, а вас встречает кто-нибудь? – спрашиваю.
– О, нет, – отвечает он. – Никого. Я один.
– Жаль это слышать.
– А, не переживайте. Я на машине, и ваш добрый поступок осветил мой день. На мне гирлянда из цветов, благословленная Господом! Что может быть лучше такой удачи?

Он направился к паркингу. Это было то еще зрелище: старик в помятой одежде, медленно уходящий в тусклый свет – с гирляндой, доходящей ему до лодыжек, и со светящейся улыбкой.

*******************

«У Говинды, изначальной Личности Господа, в руках флейта. Он очень радостный, всегда улыбается. Своей улыбкой Он благословляет вас. Вы видите, как Он улыбается – и сами всегда улыбаетесь. Это настолько замечательно».
[ лекция Шрилы Прабхупады, Монреаль, 4 июля 1968 ]

 

На английском: https://www.facebook.com/indradyumna/posts/10214222296894318

 

_________________
* Hare Krishnas – общепринятое обращение к преданным движения Харе Кришна в англоязычных странах (прим. ред.)

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It was so hard leaving Vrindavan/Уезжать из Вриндавана очень тяжело
→ Traveling Monk

Было тяжело уезжать из Вриндавана! Но я снова быстро нашел нектар, делясь Вриндаваном с другими!

“О лебедь, плавно плывущий по озерам любви Враджа-васи, мне бы, скитаясь по миру, в упоении пить славу нектара Твоих сладких имен, что рождаясь из океана Гокулы, возвещают великолепие бесконечных нарядов и игр. Мне бы, бродяге-безумцу, раздавать всем по миру то счастье”.

[Брихат Бхагаватамрита 1.7.143]

 

 

 

It was so hard leaving Vrindavan! But I quickly once again discovered the sweet nectar of sharing Vrindavan with…

Posted by Indradyumna Swami on Saturday, April 13, 2019

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Lord Ramacandra With The Chiefs Of His Army
→ Traveling Monk



https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10213821428112849&set=a.3707173840886&type=3&theater

Lord Ramacandra stands holding a bow and arrow in the center of the painting surrounded by a rocky landscape. Laksmaṇ stands behind Him and also holds a bow and arrow. Like Lord Ramacandra, He is effulgent. Both Lord Ramacandra and Laksman wear wooden sandals.

Also standing behind Lord Ramacandra are Hanuman, Angada, Arunda, Nila and Samrambha. They all hold maces in their hands and wear golden crowns.

In front of Lord Ramacandra stands King Sugriva holding an umbrella in his left hand and a mace in his right hand. He is followed by Nala, Vanara, Durvinda and Rambha who all hold maces.

[ Watercolor on paper. Early 1800’s ]

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“May Mother Ganges Bless You Today”
→ Traveling Monk


“Да благословит тебя сегодня мать Ганга”

https://iskconnews.org/may-mother-ganges-bless-you-today,6862/?fbclid=IwAR1N9ir1jet9VR8bkOQEB3veCcGMmJ7JyJ5Qnqsm6RCW0zHB11sJQFpGH38

Ever since becoming a devotee of Lord Krishna in 1970, I have been fascinated with the Kumbha Mela festival. This year I decided to join millions of other pilgrims in the journey to the Ardha Kumbha Mela where, from January 15th to March 4th, ISKCON devotees were to follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps by bringing his books, the Holy Names and prasadam to the festival.

Kumbha Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world. Estimates anticipated that 120 million pilgrims—nearly double the population of England and France combined—would visit the Mela over seven weeks. The Mela takes place four times within a twelve-year period on the banks of four of India’s most holy rivers: the Godavari River in Nashik, the Shipra River in Ujjain, the Ganges River in Haridwar and the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati Rivers in Prayagraj (formerly known as Prayaga ).

This year’s Mela was to be held at the confluence site at Prayagraj. The point of convergence is called “Triveni Sangam.” Bathing in any of the sacred rivers has a purifying effect, but it is said that the purification is increased a hundred times at the sangam and a thousand times at the sangam during Kumbha Mela.

Srila Prabhupada writes:

“Bathing during the month of Magha at the Magha-Mela [Kumbha Mela] still takes place. This is a very old Mela (assembly), dating from time immemorial. It is said that ever since the Lord in the form of Mohini took a bucket of nectar and kept it at Prayaga, holy men have gathered there every year and observed the Magha-Mela. Every twelfth year there is a Kumbha-Mela, a great festival, and all the holy men from all over India assemble there. Bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna, near the fort at Allahabad (Prayaga), is mentioned in the revealed scriptures:

“maghe masi gamisyanti ganga yamuna sangamam
gavam sata sahasrasya samyag dattam ca yat phalam
prayage magha mase vai try aham snatasya tat phalam

“If one goes to Prayaga and bathes at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna in the month of Magha, he attains the result of giving hundreds and thousands of cows in charity. Simply by bathing for three days there, he attains the results of such a pious activity.”

[ Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 18.145 ]

I had a special desire to attend Kumbha Mela this year as the main bathing day, February 4th, was on Mauni Amavasya, which creates a special tithi that appears only once every 200 years. However, my main motivation to go was to meet with the holy men Srila Prabhupada describes in his above purport, and to share with them the glories of Lord Caitanya and His movement of chanting the holy names which He inaugurated just over 500 years ago. My experience in India is that most people are aware of the 10 primary incarnations of the Lord—the das avatars such as Lord Ramacandra, Varaha, Kurma, Matsya and so on. But very few are aware of the avatar of this age, Lord Caitanya, whose appearance is predicted in ancient scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam:

krsna varnam tvisakrsnam
sanopangastra parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair
yajanti hi su medhasah

“In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krsna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krsna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32 ]

The origin of Kumbha Mela is mentioned in the Vedic scriptures. It is stated that in bygone ages, the demigods and demons assembled together to churn the ocean of milk to produce the nectar of immortality. Mandara Mountain was used as a churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the rope for churning. The demigods took Vasuki’s tail and the demons his head, and they churned the milk ocean for one thousand celestial years. Among many other amazing things, a pot of immortal nectar was produced. The demigods were fearful that the demons would take advantage of it, so they stole the pot and hid it in the four places on Earth where the Mela is held. During the act of hiding, a drop of immortal nectar spilled from the pot at each of the four places. Kumbha Mela is held at the time when, according to astrological calculations, the immortal nectar is most readily available to those who bathe in the sacred rivers.

Approaching the festival site, we pulled over at a small hill that provided a panoramic view of the Mela. The magnitude of the site testified to the pilgrims’ enthusiasm to be liberated from the material world through contact with the nectar of immortality. Witnessing the vast landscape of tents, I was fascinated by the thought that so many people were coming simply for spiritual purposes.

Prabhupada said:

“At the Kumbha-Mela, millions of people come to take bath in the Ganges because they are interested in how to become spiritually liberated from this material world. They travel thousands of miles to take bath in the Ganges at the holy place of Prayaga.” [ Room conversation with Pusta Krsna das ]

From our vantage point on the hill, I could see thousands upon thousands of people pouring into the Mela. These people were prepared to travel long distances and tolerate many discomforts, including sleeping in austere conditions in very cold weather. Some arrived on overcrowded trains. Others came by bus, car and even ox carts. While the rich and famous flew into Prayagraj on chartered flights, the multitudes came on foot carrying all their necessities—food and a couple changes of clothes—in bundles on their heads. But whether rich or poor, everyone had the same agenda: to bathe in the sangam at the auspicious moment and attain passage back to the spiritual world. I could hear many people glorifying the Ganges with cries of “Ganga Ma ki jaya! All glories to Mother Ganges!”

Sastra supports their glorification:

nimna ganam yatha ganga
devanam acyuto yatha
vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh
purananam idam tatha

“Just as the Ganga is the greatest of all rivers, Lord Acyuta the supreme among deities and Lord Sambhu [Siva] the greatest of Vaisnavas, so Srimad-Bhagavatam is the greatest of all Puranas.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam 12.13.16 ]

I knew that as Westerners, we would be a tiny minority at the Mela, but we were not the first foreigners to take part by any means. A seventh-century diary written by Hiuen Tsiang from China mentions Kumbha Mela. He writes that he witnessed half a million people gather on the banks of the Ganges at Prayagraj to observe a celebration for 75 days. He even mentions that a king was present with his ministers, scholars, philosophers and sages, and that he gave away huge amounts of gold, silver and jewels to acquire pious credit and assure himself a place in heaven.

The current rulers of India, likewise, were taking part in the Mela by facilitating many of the logistical details. The government had been working on the services and accommodations for an entire year, and the statistics were mind-boggling. Over 6,000 religious and cultural organizations had been allotted land, including our International Society for Krsna Consciousness. The Mela site sprawled over 32 square miles, an area equivalent to a large town. There were 4,200 premium tents, 300 kilometers of roads, 122,000 toilets, 20,000 dustbins, 10,000 policemen and 30,000 military personnel. They had provided row upon row of simple tents for free accommodation. There were lost-and-found centers dotted throughout the Mela, intended mainly for helping people find their lost family members and friends. In 2013, thousands of people—mostly women and children—went missing in the huge crowds. The entire cost of this year’s Kumbha Mela was estimated at 400 million dollars.

There were many ashrams and camps distributing free food throughout the Mela, including our ISKCON camp. Overall, 5,384 metric tons of rice, 7,834 tons of wheat, 3,174 tons of sugar and 767 kiloliters of kerosene were allocated to the food distribution centers. 160 dispensers of clean drinking water were available throughout the Mela.

A 100-bed hospital and ten smaller hospitals staffed by 200 doctors and 1,500 health professionals were set up throughout the event. 80 practitioners of Ayurveda were also available. There were elaborate plans for waste management too. Every one of the 122,000 toilets were geo-tagged to help tackle any problems. Talk about organization!

Meeting India’s Spiritual Leader

It is generally very difficult to meet famous spiritual personalities in India due to strict security policies, but luck was on my side. My good friend Pundrik Goswami of the Radha Raman temple in Vrindavan invited me to stay with him at a camp where many of the principal spiritual dignitaries would be staying. It was called, Guru Karishni Camp, and was run by Swami Sharanandaji Maharaja, a prominent figure in Vrindavan. I considered this to be a golden opportunity to network with these personalities, most of whom would be unlikely to visit our ISKCON camp at the Mela or ISKCON temples elsewhere in India.

Once I arrived at the camp, Pundrik Goswami lost no time introducing me to the spiritual leaders present. His introduction followed a standard format: he would begin by glorifying Srila Prabhupada and explaining how he took Krsna consciousness to the West and how ISKCON has become a worldwide spiritual organization. Then he would introduce me and share some of the results of my service in different parts of the world. His introduction acted as an endorsement whereby India’s spiritual leaders gained confidence and respect for my humble self and, through me, Srila Prabhupada’s movement.

Over several days I had enlightening talks with numerous personalities. These included:

· Sri Ravi Shankar, the head of the Art of Living Foundation: I shared with him the work of ISKCON in communist countries like Russia and China. I told him of how Srila Prabhupada went to Russia in the 1970s and of the success of our movement there since that time. He was so touched that he gave me a beautiful silk chaddar as a gift.

· Swami Chidananda of Parmarth Niketan from Rishikesh: he wasn’t staying at the Guru Karishni Camp, but like many other sadhus, he visited to associate with prominent spiritual leaders. We had lunch together on two occasions. After I spoke to him about the glories of Srila Prabhupada, he offered to help renovate holy places in Vrindavan. He was especially eager to give money towards cleaning Radha Kunda so that pilgrims could drink the water from it, as well as establishing a large evening arotika on the banks of that sacred lake.

· Keshav Prasad Maurya, the deputy chief minister of UP: he had some misconceptions about our movement which I was happy to resolve to his full satisfaction.

· Swami Avdeshanand, the leader of one million Naga Babas and head of the Juna Akhada: Naga Babas (translated literally as “naked yogis”) are worshipers of Lord Siva. With their ash-covered bodies and matted dreadlocks, even their physique resembles his. They take vows of celibacy, renounce societal norms and live in the Himalayas. Swami Avdeshanand is such a respected leader that he is given the honor of being the first person to bathe at Kumbha Mela. After our talk he took my hand and said, “Your movement is creating a spiritual revolution all over the world!”

· Sri Rajendra Das Ji Maharaja, a well-known sadhu with a big ashram in Vrindavan: moved by Srila Prabhupada’s voyage to the USA and his introduction of Krsna consciousness in almost every country of the world, he invited me to visit him for lunch in Vrindavan.

· Lokesh Muni, leader of the Jains in India: this was the third time I have met him over the last few years. He invited me to spend time with him at his headquarters in Rajasthan.

Lost At The Mela

Going anywhere outside the Guru Karishni Camp was a challenge because there was a veritable flood of humanity outside its confines: an estimated 64 million people were descending upon the Mela to bathe on February 4th, the most auspicious bathing day.

I woke up early that morning which was an austerity in itself. It was mid-winter and it was cold in the tent where I was staying. I bathed quickly in an improvised bathroom which was without hot water, and then went out into the cold foggy morning.

“How in the world are 64 million people going to bathe along the river bank?” I wondered. And then a doubt entered my mind. “Will I actually be able to bathe in the river myself?”

The previous night I had searched the internet for all the information I could find on the three sacred rivers, the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. A recent BBC article described the Ganges as the world’s sixth most polluted river. It said that 3,000 million liters of untreated sewage are pumped into the river every day; the figure didn’t include the industrial waste poured into the Ganges as it descends from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. By the time it reaches Prayagraj, a town that also contributes untreated sewage to its waters, the Ganges, the article said, becomes a sewer.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, claimed that cleansing the Ganges was nothing less than a mission from God.

“Ma Ganga has called me,” he told the crowd at his victory celebration some years ago when he was swept to power in a landslide victory. “She has decided some responsibilities for me. Ma Ganga is screaming for help; she is saying ‘I hope one of my sons gets me out of this filth’. It is possible it has been decided by God for me to serve Ma Ganga.”

He pledged serious money to his Clean Ganga Mission – more than $3 billion dollars.

This was sobering and disturbing information. I turned away from Google to the Srimad Bhagavatam and the purports of my spiritual master for guidance. My doubts were resolved when I read this:

yat pada sevabhirucis tapasvinam
asesa janmopacitam malamdhiyah
aadyah ksinotyanvaham edhati sati
yatha padangustha vinihsrta sarit

“By the inclination to serve the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, suffering humanity can immediately cleanse the dirt which has accumulated in their minds during innumerable births. Like the Ganges water, which emanates from the toes of the lotus feet of the Lord, such a process immediately cleanses the mind, and thus spiritual or Krsna consciousness gradually increases.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.21.31 ]

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“In India, one can actually see that a person who takes a bath in the Ganges waters daily is almost free from all kinds of diseases. A very respectable brahmana in Calcutta never took a doctor’s medicine. Even though he sometimes felt sick, he would not accept medicine from the physician but would simply drink Ganges water, and he was always cured within a very short time. The glories of Ganges water are known to Indians and to ourselves also. The river Ganges flows by Calcutta. Sometimes within the water there are many stools and other dirty things which are washed away from neighboring mills and factories, but still thousands of men take baths in the Ganges water, and they are very healthy as well as spiritually inclined. That is the effect of Ganges water. The Ganges is glorified because it emanates from the toes of the lotus feet of the Lord. Similarly, if one takes to the service of the lotus feet of the Lord, or takes to Krsna consciousness, he is immediately cleansed of the many dirty things which have accumulated in his innumerable births.”

Elsewhere, Rupa Goswami writes that the Ganges is always pure, regardless of its seeming pollution:

drstaih svabhava janitair vapusas ca dosair
na prakrtatvam iha bhakta janasya pasyet
gangambhasam na khalu budbuda phena pankair
brahma dravatvam apagacchati nira dharmaih

“Being situated in his original Krishna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.” [ Nectar of Instruction, Text 6 ]

Reading these instructions, I decided to follow the advice of my spiritual master and the Srimad Bhagavatam. I remembered a key verse:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
prakasante mahatmanah

“Only unto one who has unflinching devotion to the Lord and to the spiritual master does transcendental knowledge become automatically revealed.” [ Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23 ]

“I’m going,” I said to myself out loud, with full conviction. “Whatever it takes, I will bathe at the Triveni Sangam at the auspicious time.”

The arrangements to travel to the sangam were made by Pundrik Goswami.

“Maharaja,” he said to me, “you’ll come with me and the spiritual leaders in a van, and your assistants, Narottam das, Vikram and Kartamashi das, can go in another. It will take us around four hours to reach the sangam.”

“That’s a long time,” I said. “How far away is it?”

“It’s 12 kilometers from here,” Goswami said.

“So we’ll be traveling at a rate of three kilometers an hour?” I asked.

“Well, remember there are 64 million people vying for that little space at the sangam,” he said. “The police say that since midnight last night 32 million people have bathed. But we’ll make it. We have a police escort.”

I sat on the floor of the van, relinquishing the seats to six elderly sadhus who were joining us on the journey. Wanting to focus on the purpose of our journey, I read aloud the following verse from Caitanya Caritamrta:

mahattvam gangayah satatam idam abhati nitaram
yad esa sri visnos carana kamalotpatti subhaga
dvitiya sri laksmir iva sura narair arcya carana
bhavani bhartur ya sirasi vibhavaty adbhuta guna

“The greatness of mother Ganges always brilliantly exists. She is the most fortunate because she emanated from the lotus feet of Sri Visnu, the Personality of Godhead. She is a second goddess of fortune, and therefore she is always worshiped both by demigods and by humanity. Endowed with all wonderful qualities, she flourishes on the head of Lord Siva.” [ Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi Lila 16.41 ]

When the sadhus heard me chanting the Sanskrit glorifying Mother Ganges, they all smiled broadly.

“May Mother Ganges bless you today!” one said, placing his hand upon my hand.

Our van crawled through the dense crowds. Seeing the sadhus inside, people folded their hands in respect, and some touched the van and then touched their heads. When they saw me crouched on the floor of the van, many smiled and called out, “Hare Krsna!”

“You Western vaisnavas are keeping our spiritual culture alive,” one of the sadhus said to me.

We finally arrived at the river confluence hours later. The bank seethed as people tried to move towards the water while others tried to move back after bathing.

“Alright! We’re here!” Pundrik Goswami called. “Everybody out!”

I hesitated. “Out where?” I thought. There was not an inch of free ground.

I quickly changed into a small red gamcha (thin cotton waist towel) and slung a small towel around my neck. Kicking off my sandals, I grabbed my cell phone and placed it in a small plastic bag. “Just in case!” I thought. Finally, I tucked my bag containing my passport and money safely under the seat. For a moment I contemplated taking a sweater because it was so cold outside.

“No,” I decided. “I’ll just take the bare minimum. The river is only meters away and we’ll be back in a flash!”

Without warning, the sliding door I was leaning on opened and I fell out of the van and onto the ground.

“I’m going to get trampled!” I thought. The crowd surged over me and around me. I pushed myself upwards to gasp for air; all I could see was waves of people for kilometers in every direction. When I finally managed to steady myself on my feet, I saw I was 20 meters behind the sadhus. They were intrepidly pushing their way towards the water, the policemen guarding them on all sides. The crowd was squeezing me and it was hard to breathe.

“Wait for me!” I yelled, trying to recover the distance between us. My cries merged into the tumultuous noise created by the pilgrims as they strained forward to bathe in the nectar of immortality.

I managed to rejoin the sadhus just a few meters from the Triveni Sangam where the Ganges flows alongside the Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati River joins them from beneath the ground. We were also joined by Vikram and Kartamashi, who was trying to take photos in the midst of it all. His face was ashen.

“I thought I was going to be crushed to death!” he blurted out.

The roar of the crowd at the sangam was deafening as thousands of people simultaneously achieved their goal of bathing. Cries of “Ganga Ma ki jaya! All glories to Mother Ganges!” reverberated everywhere.

Far away in the river, separated from the throng, I saw a small group of four sadhus standing motionless in the water, their hands folded in prayer. Their long, matted hair was tied up in topknots on their heads. Though thin, they were not emaciated; in fact, they were effulgent, almost glowing. Seeing their gravity and obvious devotion, the hair on my arms stood up for a moment.

“That’s the mood I’m seeking,” I thought. I remembered a verse that encapsulated my aspirations:

tvayi me ‘nanya-visaya
matir madhu-pate ‘sakrt
ratim udvahatad addha
gangevaugham udanvati

“O Lord of Madhu, as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn unto You without being diverted to anyone else.” [ Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.42, “Prayers by Queen Kunti” ]

As if hearing the verse I had just remembered, the sadhus I was with sat down together to do puja, their attention single-pointed on the sacred sangam, oblivious to anyone else.

“Here and now?” I thought. I watched in disbelief as they took out all sorts of paraphernalia and, in a peaceful reverie, began offering arotik to the three rivers. Hundreds of people directly behind us were straining to see the sadhus do their puja, while the build-up of people further back caused the line to bulge. People fell to the ground because of the weight of the crowd behind them.

I heard Vikram calling, “Maharaja! Maharaja!” Over to my right, the intense pressure of the crowd was pulling him away. Then he simply disappeared into the mass of people.

Suddenly the crowd surged forward with such force that all of us were thrown into the river. I clutched my phone in the plastic bag as I fell into the cold water. I swam up to the surface, gasping for air. There was transcendental chaos everywhere as people splashed each other in great joy. The glorification of Mother Ganges reached a frantic pitch: “Ganga Ma ki jaya! Ganga Ma ki Jaya! Ganga Ma ki jaya!”

Surrendering to the moment and remembering the four effulgent sadhus, I stood with my hands folded and prayed to Mother Ganges for loving devotion to the Supreme Lord. Then, following the prescribed method for bathing, I dunked three times into the cold water. When I came up the last time, one blissful sadhu jumped on me and we both tumbled back into the water. Coming up, he again pulled me under, this time going deeper into the water. We splashed each other in great fun, and more sadhus joined our little melee.

“Maharaja,” I heard a voice shout. I saw Vikram swimming towards me. “I finally found you!” he said. “Our group is back on the bank of the river and is preparing to leave. You must come now.”

As I prepared to get out of the water I saw Kartamashi on the bank taking photos. I raised my arms in bliss, and he took a last photo before being pushed from behind. He and his camera just escaped falling into the river.

I glanced back to catch a last glimpse of the four sadhus. They were nowhere to be seen.

“How is that possible?” I wondered. “There’s no way they could have moved through all the people bathing in the sangam back to the bank. It’s very peculiar.” I remembered something I had read a few days before:

“Prabhupada said that although a number of the saints and sadhus present [at Kumbha Mela] were inauthentic, many were perfect yogis, some of them three and four hundred years old. These yogis, from remote parts of India, would come out for the Mela and then return to seclusion. ‘I have personally seen,’ he said, ‘that they take bath in the Ganges and come up in the seven sacred rivers! They go down in the Ganges and come up in the Godavari River. Then they go down and come up in the Krsna River, and go down, like that. The devotees, therefore, should respect everyone who attended the Mela.’” [Srila Prabhupada lilamrta, Volume 4, Every Town and Village]

It took me a good half an hour to make it back to the van. Somehow we had acquired a number of additional sadhus for the ride back to the camp, so I offered to ride in the smaller car with Narottam, Vikram and Kartamashi. Always concerned about my welfare, Pundrik Goswami reluctantly agreed. I started to push through the crowd away from the van when I realized I had forgotten my bag with my passport in it.

“I left my bag under the seat,” I called to Goswami. “I’ll get it when we’re back.”

“Sure, Maharaja,” he called. He held the bag up so I could see it. “I’ve got it.”

Confident that the smaller car was nearby, I made my way inch by inch to where I had seen it parked some distance away. But to my astonishment, it was gone. I made my way as quickly as I could back to where the van was parked, only to find it had left as well.

I stood there, momentarily bewildered. I was alone in a crowd of 64 million people, dressed only in a small wet gamcha with a damp towel around my neck. I had no dhoti, no kurta, no shoes, and, perhaps most alarmingly, no jacket to protect me from the cold. I had no clear idea where I was. All I knew was that the camp I was staying in was in Sector 7, and that that was 12 kilometers away. 12 kilometers through a mass of humanity pressing its way along the 300 kilometers of roads crisscrossing the Mela site. I had no map, and there were no signs giving directions in Hindi, much less English. I glanced at my watch. It was 4 p.m. and sunset was imminent.

Then I remembered I had my phone clutched in my hand. I unwrapped it from its plastic-bag covering and turned it on. To my dismay I saw there was no service available, and my battery had only 3 % left in it. I hurriedly turned it off.

“How in the world do people know where they’re going?” I wondered. Then, laughing to myself, I thought, “I’m probably the only person in this crowd of 64 million people who doesn’t know where he’s going!”

Knowing for sure that the direction to proceed was not behind me, I started walking forwards through the thick crowds surging towards the river. An hour later, I made it to a crossroads, turned left and began walking down a dirt road with a myriad of shops and ashrams on either side. Each ashram was festooned with colorful banners advertising the resident guru and his teachings. Speakers blared music from inside. As it was now getting dark, bright lights illuminated the temporary city built on the sandy banks of the Ganges.

People gawked at me curiously, and I understood why. I was the only white person to be seen, and I was practically naked. Several times I was approached by Naga-Babas who, thinking me to be one of them, pulled me into their tents and offered me a chillum of hashish to smoke! Each time I declined they seemed perplexed.

I knew I needed to get directions, but to my dismay I couldn’t find a single person who spoke English. There were many different languages being spoken around me because there were pilgrims from every part of India, but not one of those pilgrims was speaking English. There were policemen on every street corner, but they too could make no sense of what I was saying. On a couple of occasions, they literally pushed me away, apparently thinking me to be insane.

A real blow came when I heard a young Indian man say to his friend, “Isn’t that Indradyumna Swami?” But before I could say anything, his friend pulled him away saying, “Come on! Are you crazy? That’s not Indradyumna Swami!” They disappeared back into the crowd before I could confirm my identity and ask their help.

Every now and then I would turn my phone on to see if I was in range. Each time I wasn’t, and each time the battery drained a little more.

By 8:00 pm it was quite cold. From time to time when I got too cold to continue, I slipped into an ashram where a program was going on and sat amongst the crowd for warmth. On one occasion, while sitting in a chair and watching a bhajan on stage, I was approached by one of the ashram leaders.

“Are you in need of anything?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied enthusiastically, surprised and relieved that I had found someone who spoke English. “I am lost in the Mela and trying to find my way back to my camp. It’s in Sector 7. Can you help me to get there? I have been wandering around for four hours now. Is it far away?”

“Yes, it is,” he said. “It’s about 12 kilometers away at the far end of the Mela site. At the moment you are 50 meters from the bathing spot at the sangam.”

My jaw dropped. I had walked in a big circle, coming back to the exact place I had started. The ashram leader could see my disappointment.

“Why don’t you rest here for a while?” he said. “I’ll get you a blanket.”

“Thank you,” I said. Once I was wrapped in the blanket, I succumbed to my exhaustion and started to drift off to sleep in the chair. I awoke with a start when my entire body began to itch. The blanket was full of fleas and they were ruthlessly biting me. I threw the blanket to the side and quickly left the ashram, determined to reach my destination.

I started out in a different direction. Two hours later, around 10 p.m., I realized that I couldn’t keep going unless I had something to eat. I had learned the hard way not to eat food that I wasn’t 100% sure of in India, but this was an emergency. I joined a line of pilgrims waiting to be served prasadam at one of the food kitchens. It took 45 minutes for me to reach the front of the line. I was given a leaf plate and 2 leaf cups, and was served kichari, a subji, two warm chapatis and a cup of tea. Some smiling pilgrims waved at me to join them as they ate their meal in a circle on the ground. Several times I heard the word “Angreji” which means “English person”. They were kind and sympathetic to me, probably because of my paltry attire.

Hungry, cold and tired I devoured the prasadam. “This is some of the tastiest prasadam I ever had!” I thought, laughing to myself. Once I finished, I thanked the pilgrims and continued on my way with renewed vigor.

I began wondering what Pundrik Goswami, Narottam, Vikram and Kartamashi were thinking.

“Surely, they realized quite quickly that I had been left behind,” I thought. “They must be frustrated and worried, being unable to contact me or find me. But actually, I’m fine,” I realized. “There’s no real danger and it’s only a matter of time until I get back to the camp, whether it’s today or tomorrow. And I am meeting so many nice people! Krsna played a little trick on me just so I can see how the mass of people experience Kumbha Mela. He’s also teaching me how to fully depend on Him. Wonderful!”

Just then I felt a rock whiz past my ear. Then another and another. Looking back I saw a group of children laughing at me.

“Pagal baba! Pagal baba! Pagal baba!” they yelled. I knew the what the phrase meant: “Crazy sadhu!”

I walked quickly away but they followed me and continued throwing stones.

“I can’t blame them,” I thought. “I must look pretty crazy—a barefoot white guy with a dishelved sikha wandering around half naked.” Then one of the rocks hit my elbow causing me to yell out in pain. A policeman saw what was happening and yelled at the group of children to leave me alone. Then he came over and spoke to me in Hindi.

“No Hindi,” I said. “English.” I got down on my hands and knees and wrote “Sector 7” in big letters in the sand.

“There,” I said, pointing. “I need to go there.”

He looked puzzled and took me by the arm to an ashram just a few meters away. He sat me down on a mat and disappeared. Ten minutes later he came back with a man who offered me a hot cup of tea. I gladly accepted it and then both of them went on their ways. I curled up on the mat and fell asleep. When I jolted awake, I checked my watch; I’d slept for 10 minutes. I got up and continued on my way, first checking to make sure the group of children was not around.

At 11:30 p.m. I checked my cell phone again. I was in range! But I was alarmed to see there was only 1 % battery power left.

“I have enough power for one phone call,” I thought. “If the person doesn’t answer, I won’t be seeing any of my friends tonight.”

I choose to call Narottam. He picked up immediately.

“Hello! Hello! Gurudeva, is that you? Hello?” Narottam sounded both excited and worried.

“Yes, it’s me!” I said.

“Good Lord! We’ve been so worried. What happened? Where are you? I’ve been out looking for you for hours!”

“I’m not sure where I am,” I said. “I’ve been walking around in circles since we were separated. But I’m fine. Just a little cold and tired. Can you find a car and come to collect me?”

“It’s almost impossible to find a car at this hour, but I’ll try,” he said. “The main thing is that we need to figure out where you are.” He was silent for a moment, thinking. “OK, here’s an idea. Take a photo of where you are and send it to me on WhatsApp. I’ll go to a police station and ask for their help in finding your location.”

“Brilliant idea!” I said. And without even saying goodbye I hung up and quickly took a picture of the scene in front of me. I sent the photo on WhatsApp and my phone immediately died.

It took Narottam just 30 minutes to find me. It turned out that his search had led him quite close to where I was, and the nearby police kiosk was quickly able to identify the junction where I was waiting. When he finally arrived, I jumped into the car and sat as close as I could to the heat coming out of the vents on the dashboard. Just as the car was pulling away there was a loud bang and it stopped in its tracks.

“What was that?” Narottam asked.

“The driver dropped his transmission,” I said with a wry smile.

“What does that mean?”

“Basically, it means we aren’t going anywhere in this car,” I said, getting out.

“Now what?” Narottam asked.

“Lots of walking!” I said. “Let’s go!”

“Where are we going?” he said.

“Sector 7 of course!” I replied.

With Narottam at my side, we were in a much better position to make it back to our camp, simply because he speaks Hindi. He asked people for the directions to Sector 7 and after a short time he had a good idea how to get there.

“How long will it take to walk there?” I asked.

“Through this crowd,” he replied, “Maybe 2 or 3 more hours.”

I looked at my watch. It was 12 p.m. For the first time that day I became a bit despondent.

And then a taxi came around the corner.

“Narottam, stop that taxi!” I yelled. He literally jumped in front of the taxi, surprising the driver, who screamed at him in Hindi.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He said he’s not working now. No way.”

“Yes, he is,” I said. “Give me 1000 rupees.”

I opened the back door of the taxi and jumped in. The taxi driver looked shocked.

“Out!” he screamed in Hindi.

“Bhai sabh, brother!” I said. “This is for your trouble.”

He smiled when he saw the money. “No problem!” he said in English.

At 1 a.m. we pulled into our camp. Everyone was fast asleep, but I saw the light was still on in Pundrik Goswami’s room. I knew he would be worried about me. His eyes opened wide when he saw me standing there barefoot in my red gamcha, the cold wet towel still around my neck.

“Maharaja, I am so sorry!” he said.

“Nothing to be sorry about,” I said with a big smile. “Tonight, I experienced Kumbha Mela first hand, much like Hiuen Tsiang from China probably did in the 7th century. But whereas he walked amongst half a million people for 75 days, I walked amongst 64 million people for 9 hours. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life!”

We left the Mela around noon that day. When we drove out of our camp, I was surprised to see the streets were mostly deserted.

“Where is everyone?” I asked Narottam.

“Many of the people you saw yesterday came just to bathe in the sangam,” he said. “The majority were leaving on foot late last night when I was looking for you. More people will come again for other important bathing days in the next few weeks. Did you enjoy your visit, Gurudeva?”

“It was most satisfying,” I replied. “I feel as though the sadhu’s benediction upon me has come to pass, for I indeed feel as though Mother Ganges has blessed me. I was able to bathe in the Triveni Sangam in the association of advanced souls at the most auspicious moment to occur in 200 years. I spent time with the masses and, most importantly, I was able to share Krsna consciousness with a number of important spiritual leaders of the country. I feel very fortunate to have visited this sacred place on such an auspicious occasion.”

**********************

“There are several places in India. One of them is this Naimisaranya and another very important place is called Prayaga, generally known as Allahabad. But the original name is Prayaga. That is considered to be one of the most sacred places in India. Still every year there is a fair called Magha-Mela. Magha means during the month of January, February, a fair takes place in which all the sages, saintly persons, come from all over parts of India. They gather and take their bath at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna. That is a very nice place. If you visit India, you should see all these nice places.”

[ Srila Prabhupada lecture, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6. London, August 26, 1971 ]

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Bhagavata-pradhana / Бхагавата-прадхана
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“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is so kind to the conditioned souls that if they call upon Him by speaking His holy name, even unintentionally or unwillingly, the Lord is inclined to destroy innumerable sinful reactions in their hearts. Therefore, when a devotee who has taken shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet chants the holy name of Krsna with genuine love, the Lord can never give up the heart of such a devotee. One who has thus bound the Supreme Lord within his heart with the ropes of love is to be known as bhagavata-pradhana, the most exalted devotee of the Lord.”

[ Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.55 ]

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May he kindly correct me / “Пусть он милостиво меня поправит”
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I very much appreciated this post today by Giriraj Swami!

“Today is the appearance day of Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He was very kind, but also very strict. He said of himself, ‘I am not only a proofreader of the press; I am a proofreader of men—-I see their faults and try to correct them. I am also a proofreader of religion. I have appeared in the zodiac sign of the crab, so whenever I see anything undevotional, I act like a crab. If I see any so-called devotion, not actually in the true unalloyed spirit, I shall pierce it!’

May he kindly correct me as he sees fit.

Hare Krishna.

Yours in service,
Giriraj Swami”

 

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This Is The Proof / Доказательство
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Srila Prabhupada then changed the subject. “How do we know Krishna is God?” he asked us.

“Because Krishna says so in the Bhagavad-gita,” a devotee said.

“Anyone can say that,” Prabhupada countered.

I piped up, “You told us so, and you’re a representative of Krishna, a spiritual master . . .”

“Someone will say I am just an old man.”

Not knowing what else to say, we were silent.

After a few moments, Prabhupada said, “You know Krishna is God because you feel His presence when you chant, as well as when you serve. You feel the ecstasy—this is the proof.”

[ “By His Example” by Guru das. Chapter, ‘India’ ]

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The Perfection of Chanting Hare Krsna / Совершенство воспевания Харе Кришна
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“The purification of one’s chanting hari-nama means as soon as you chant the holy name of Krsna you will see the form of Krsna, realize the qualities of Krsna, remember the pastimes of Krsna. That is pure chanting of Hare Krsna mantra. That is stated in the commentary of Srila Jiva Goswami: that a pure devotee who chants Hare Krsna mantra immediately realizes the nama, rupa, guna, lila – everything about Krsna, simply by chanting the names. You will feel the form of Krsna. You will remember all His qualities. ‘Oh, Krsna is so qualified – He is so magnanimous.’ Then you will remember His lila pastimes: ‘Oh, Krsna instructed Arjuna. Krsna played with His cowherd boys. Krsna had very nice talks with the gopis, with His mother, Yasoda.’ These things you will remember. That is the actual perfection of chanting.”

[ Srila Prabhupada quoted in ‘Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita’ Volume 4, Every Town and Village – Around the World. 1968 – 1971 ]

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You have got a short duration of life / Жизнь коротка
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“Instead of contemplating what will happen to this world, you have got a short duration of life, say fifty, sixty years. You chant Hare Krsna and go back to home, back to Godhead. Don’t consider what will happen to this world. Nature will take care of it. You don’t puzzle your brain with these thoughts. You utilize whatever time you have got in your possession and go back to home, back to Godhead. You cannot check it. Best thing is that you mold your life and go back to home, back to Godhead. Because people will go on with their rascal civilization, natural consequences will be there. You better take advantage of whatever time you have got and become fully Krsna conscious and go back to home.”

[Srila Prabhupada, Morning Walk, February 21, 1975, Caracas]

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Varaha
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“The next incarnation is Varaha, who appeared in the form of a boar or hog. He delivered this earthly planet by His tusks, and kept the whole world on His tusks. We can only just imagine how big He appeared! The world at that time appeared just like the moon disc decorated with some marks. He says, “My dear Lord, You have appeared as the great boar. So let me offer my respectful obeisances unto You.”

[ Srila Prabhupada lecture, Los Angeles, February 18, 1970 ]

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At the house of Advaita Acarya / В доме Адвайты Ачарйи
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During Kartika, in Santipur, at the house of Advaita Acarya, I received unimaginable mercy. The pujari kindly placed the sacred salagram-sila that Advaita Acarya had worshipped 500 years ago, while appealing to the Lord to appear, on my head.

На карттику в доме Адвайты Ачарйи в Шантипуре получил невообразимую милость. Пуджари по своей доброте поместил мне на голову священную шалаграма-шилу, которой Адвайта Ачарйа поклонялся 500 лет тому назад, призывая Господа явиться.

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Подношение на день ухода Шрилы Прабхупады 2018
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Дорогой Шрила Прабхупада, пожалуйста, примите мои смиренные поклоны.
Вся слава вам.

Как всегда, день этот для меня и сладок, и горек. Понимание, что вы отправились домой в духовный мир – единственное, что утешает боль утраты. Конечно, наша печальная потеря стала великолепным приобретением для многих обитателей духовного мира. Можно себе представить радостный праздник, устроенный по поводу вашего долгожданного возвращения! Для преданных вполне естественно ценить самоотверженное служение таким великим душам, как вы. Кавирадж Госвами пишет в Чайтанья-Чаритамрите:

«Слушая о деяниях Рупы и Санатаны Госвами, приближенные Шри Чайтаньи Махапрабху говорили: «Стоит ли удивляться достижениям человека, на которого Сам Господь пролил Свою милость?»

[ Шри Чайтанья-Чаритамрита, Мадхйа 19.132 ]

Скорее всего, теперь вы рано поутру гуляете по лугам и пастбищам, бегаете и играете в лесах Враджа. Вы непременно катаетесь по земле в духовном экстазе! Вы стремились к этому, когда написали 13 сентября 1965 года на Джаладуте свою знаменитую «Молитву лотосным стопам Кришны». Без сомнения, это из-за вашего успеха в исполнении желания вашего духовного учителя (чтобы сознание Кришны проповедовалось на западе) Господь ответил на вашу молитву и забрал вас домой.

Шрила Прабхупада, вы даровали миру уникальнейший из даров, обучая одновременно и искусству жить, и искусству умирать. В этом временном мире страданий и то, и другое непросто. И все же вы сделали и то, и другое возможным. При следовании вашим простым наставлениям жизнь приносит радость, а смерть становится просто сменой декораций из новоприобретенных друзей и освежающего разнообразия служений, которые, в конце концов, забирают обратно, в духовное небо. И что самое главное, жизнь в сознании Кришны гарантирует, что мы в этой духовной обители окажемся с вами, Шрила Прабхупада.

Почти что 70 лет тому назад я родился в этом материальном мире – такой же грешник, как любой человек, родившийся до меня. По своей недоброй судьбине, мне было хорошо на этой дороге из нескончаемого цикла рождений и смертей. Так все и шло до того дня, когда по милости ваших учеников вы появились в моей жизни. Вишнуджана Махараджа знал эту верную формулу. Когда в тот день я повстречал его на зеленых лужайках Университета Мичигана, первое, о чем что я спросил у него, было: «Махараджа, кто это – Кришна?» Улыбнувшись, он ответил: «Садитесь, молодой человек. Прежде чем ответить на ваш вопрос, позвольте мне рассказать вам о моем духовном учителе».

Шрила Прабхупада, я всего лишь одна из множества павших душ, которых вы спасли. Вы так добры. Скорее всего, при приближении к вратам Вайкунтхи для получения допуска нужно будет лишь упомянуть ваше имя.

«У тебя есть качества, чтобы зайти сюда?» – могут сказать Джая или Виджая.

Достаточно будет ответить: «Беспричинная милость Шрилы А.Ч. Бхактиведанты Свами Прабхупады».

Тогда привратники улыбнутся и скажут: «Хорошо. Входи!»

Конечно, всем понятно, что если мы хотим дерзновенно сослаться на ваше имя, мы должны будем добиться вашей благосклонности, служа желанию вашего сердца в этом мире. Мы не знаем, кто вы в духовном мире, но бесспорно, что служа вашим желаниям в этом мире, мы заслужим привилегии однажды служить вам в мире духовном.
Самое смешное, Шрила Прабхупада, что чем я становлюсь старше и тело мое становится старее и больнее, тем сильнее у меня желание помогать вам в распространении вашего движения по городам и весям этого мира. Временами это расстраивает. Но я пришел к выводу, что именно это желание и поможет мне перебраться через океан рождения и смерти – к приюту ваших лотосных стоп на противоположной стороне. Самкиртан, без сомнений – лучший способ достичь этой цели:

«Стремишься пересечь бездну мирского бытия, мечтаешь вкусить нектар самкиртаны, тоскуешь по тому, чтоб плавать в океане божественной любви?
Прими прибежище у стоп Чайтанья-чандры».

(Шрила Прабходананда Сарасвати, «Шри Чайтанья-чандрамрита», стих 93)

Шрила Прабхупада, вы говорили в своей проповеди о двух моментах, которые всегда напоминают мне о временном характере этого мира: «Не удивляйтесь, когда всё идет не так – удивляйтесь, когда всё правильно» и «Всё что угодно может произойти когда угодно». Оба эти утверждения верны. Но кажется, что преданное служение под вашим руководством опровергает эти законы материальной природы – и в этом его таинство. Как много раз, проповедуя сознание Кришны, я был свидетелем божественного вмешательства Господа. Сам факт, что кто-то покупает одну из ваших книг, приходит в храм, чтобы спрашивать об абсолютной истине, или дает разрешение провести масштабный фестиваль сознания Кришны на публике, показывает, каким образом Господь присутствует в этом мире и как может исправить все невзгоды. Я живу ради этих моментов, Шрила Прабхупада. Мэр Нью-Олбани, богатого города в США, сказал мне после просмотра нашего представления в сентябре: «Ваше шоу лучше любого бродвейского шоу в Нью-Йорке!» Услышав это, я ощутил такое удовлетворение глубоко в сердце. И – еще большее, когда он, улыбнувшись, добавил: «Главное, что в нем глубокое духовное послание».

Шрила Прабхупада, мои отношения с вами – одно из моих служений. Это очень ясное служение, ведь вы наставляли меня:

«Смело проповедуй и верь в святые имена».

Слова эти впечатаны в самые глубины моего сердца, они сама моя жизнь и душа. Я живу только для того, чтобы служить этим наставлениям. Случись мне вновь родиться, мне бы хотелось выслушать их от вас еще раз – поскольку они непременно направят меня домой, к вашим лотосным стопам в вечных духовных пределах.

На этом духовном пути я молюсь о вашей защите, но не для себя, а чтобы я мог беспрепятственно продолжать здесь вашу работу. Пожалуйста, защитите меня от любых материальных желаний в сердце; защитите от тех, кто выступает против вашего учения; защитите меня от бед, которые подстерегают падших душ в их земном бытии; и защитите от мыслей, что мои достижения – это мои заслуги. Пусть я всегда помню, что ваша милость – вот все, что я из себя представляю!

Я скучаю по вас, Шрила Прабхупада. Я знал вас лично лишь в младенчестве моей духовной жизни. Я мечтаю о том дне, когда я стоял бы перед вами очищенным, зрелым в преданном служении, и вы могли бы наставлять меня в возможностях служить вам в духовном мире – той обители, где вы в превеликом счастье служите вашему возлюбленному Господу.

Я часто вспоминаю, что в своей книге «Слуга слуги» написал Тамал Кришна Госвами:

«Я помню, в Бомбее Прабхупада пообещал мне: «Если кто-то пожертвует своим чувственным удовольствием, посвятив жизнь распространению сознания Кришны, Сам Господь Чайтанья придет в момент его смерти, скроет любые его недостатки и заберет обратно к Богу».

Шрила Прабхупада, молю, чтобы вы увидели все жертвы, на которые я пошел, распространяя это удивительное движение по всему миру. Если вы пожелаете, я готов на все это снова!

мама джанмани джанманишваре / бхаватад бхактир ахаитуки твайи

«Все, что я хочу, – это беспримесное преданное служение Тебе жизнь за жизнью»

[ Шикшаштакам, стих 3]

Навечно ваш слуга,
Индрадьюмна Свами

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Wish Fulfilling Trees!
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Фотоальбом

In this album we see up close some of the famous ‘desire trees’ of Sri Vrindavan Dhama. These wish-fulfilling trees grant the desires of the residents of Vrindavan in their services to the Divine Couple. We spent a beautiful morning in such a forest of trees just at the foot of Varsana, the eternal residence of Srimati Radharani. While chanting and dancing there we were able to perceive the spiritual nature of that divine abode and the effect it had on purifying our hearts. The katha we had kept everyone spellbound for hours. We hanker to return there again and again!

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The Most Sacred Bath
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Фотоальбом

At the most sacred place in the universe, Radha Kunda, we heard many amazing pastimes about Radha and Krsna. Greatly inspired we then had had kirtan with Bada Haridas and then did parikrama around both Radha Kunda and Syama kunda. It is said that one who bathes in Radha Kunda achieves the same love that Radha has for Krsna and one who bathes in Syama Kunda achieves the same love that Syama ( Krsna ) has for Radha. It was a most remarkable day!

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Слава деревьев Калпа-врикша во Вриндаване
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Dear disciples: This is a very interesting lecture on the glories of the Kalpa Vriksa trees in Vrindavan. Over an hour of katha about Desire Trees!

https://narottam.com/2018/11/the-glories-of-vrindavan-s-desire-trees/

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Visit to Durvasa Munis’ ashram / В ашраме Дурвасы Муни
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Фотоальбом

As a part of our Kartik parikrama, we took a beautiful boat ride on the Yamuna to Durvasa Munis’ ashram in Pani Gaon in Vraja. It was a wonderful ashram with a scenic surrounding where Durvasa Muni had performed austerities. Some nice sadhus live there and we absorbed ourselves in amazing kirtan and discussing Krishna Katha.

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Kamsa’s Spies – Агенты Камсы
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Gokul!
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Фотоальбом на FB

Krsna transferred from the prison in Mathura to Gokul overnight. His childhood pastimes there are the delight of every Vrajavasi. We spent a wonderful day in Gokul singing Krsna’s praises, observing the delightful cows in the pastures and tasting delicious milk-sweets offered to the Lord.

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Sur das & The Glories of Chandra-Sarovara / Слава Чандра-Саровары
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Dear disciples, friends and well-wishers: a new class entitled, “The Glories of Chandra-Sarovara” is available now on:

In the class we discuss the many pastimes of Radha and Krsna that take place at the lake called Chandra-Sarovara near Govardhan Hill, as well as the glories of the great devotee – Sur das – who gave us a number of beautiful poems and songs about the Divine Couple. Pure nectar!

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Visit to Vrinda Kunda
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Фотоальом на FB

Vrinda Kunda is a favorite place of pilgrimage for all Vrajavasis. Vrinda-devi herself is one of the 5 divine personalities who grant eternal residence in Vrindavan Dhama. Understanding these transcendental realities our parikrama party of nearly 500 devotees relished a day at Vrinda Kunda; hearing, chanting and enjoying each others association.

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A Visit to the Kingdom of Bharatpur
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Kartika Parikrama in Bharatpur

Our Kartika parikrama took us to Bharatpur, a town within the sacred boundaries of Vraja Mandala, that is rich in the history of Vaisnava culture. A former king, Maharaj Suraj Mal, protected Bharatpur from foreign invaders, while at the same time inspiring his subjects in their spiritual lives. There are a number of beautiful temples of Radha and Krsna in Bharatpur. Our parikrama party of 420 devotees performed harinam throughout the city, much to the delight of the citizens.

Another angle of our amazing parikrama to Bharatpur, which was the kingdom of the famous Krsna conscious king, Suraj Mall. The palace, the temples, the deities and the people of Bharatpur were all amazing. Our harinama through the streets was especially blissful.

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The Beginning!
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Фотоальбом на FB

Our Kartika parikrama started early yesterday morning at the Radha Vallabha temple in downtown Vrindavan. Most of our 400 devotees had never seen that most beautiful deity with His dark black eyes!

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Preparing for Kartik / Приготовление к карттике
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Фотоальбом с FB – Great Expectations!

For the past fews days I have been going around Vraja-mandala with a small group of devotees scouting out places to take our larger parikrama party of 350 devotees during the month of Kartika. As always, we’ve met with so many wonderful transcendental adventures. The people and places of Sri Vrindavan Dhama are superior to any other holy places in the universe. All holy places find their origin in Vrindavan. In fact, Srila Rupa Goswami writes that anyone who leaves Vrindavan to go to other holy places achieves nothing but the trouble it takes to get there. All glories to Sri Vrindavan Dhama!

A short look into life in Vrindavan as we make final preparations for our upcoming Kartika parikrama. Yesterday in the morning we visited Radha Vallabha and Gopiswara Mahadeva temples. Then we offered prayers at the samadhi’s of Srinivasa Acaraya, Ramchandra Kaviraja and Hemlata Goswami, asking for their blessings as we traverse the land of Krsna.

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Ваша милость, Шрила Прабхпада…
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Шрила Прабхупада, ваша милость – все, из чего я состою…
“Вы не можете выжить без моей милости, и я не выживу без вашей. Это взаимно. Эта взаимозависимость основана на любви – сознании Кришны”.

[ письмо Шрилы Прабхупады ученику, 22 января 1976 ]

____________________

Srila Prabhupada, your mercy is all that I am made of ….

“You cannot survive without my mercy and I cannot survive without your mercy. It is reciprocal. This mutual dependence is based on love—Krishna Consciousness.”

[ Srila Prabhupada letter to a disciple, January 22, 1976 ]

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Back Home
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Today I arrived back in Vrindavan after 8 long months away. I immediately went to Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi and gave him a
first-hand report of my preaching throughout the year in Australia, Russia, Poland and most recently the USA. After taking darshan of Radhe Syama myself and a small group of devotees went to the Radha Raman Temple in downtown Vrindavan. I was fortunate to be asked to lead kirtan for the Lord there! Finally we went to to the nearby samadhi of Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami where I met my old friend, Jnana-Syama das babjaji, the caretaker of that most sacred place. Many thanks to Ananta Vrindavan dasa for so nicely capturing in photos our first day back home. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

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После года интенсивной проповеди собираюсь домой, в Шри Вриндавана-дхаму
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Tomorrow, after a year of intense preaching, I am going home to Sri Vrindavan dhama. It is only by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and the saints that I can return. I often remember the words of Srinivas Acarya as he departed Vrindavan for preaching. As soon as he left, he was hankering to return.

“Shall I, a worthless person ever again see the deities of Govinda, Gopinath, Madan Mohan, Radha Vinode, Radha Mohan and Radha Damodar? Will prabhu Sri Gopal Bhatta ever bring me back to Vrindavan or give me the opportunity to serve his lotus feet again? Shall Lokanath Goswami, the incarnation of kindness, bestow his grace upon me again? Catching hold of the hair of this sinner, will the gracious Bhugarbha Goswami ever bring me back again? Will Raghunath Das Goswami, the embodiment of kindness, ever again fulfill my desires? Srila Jiva Goswami is the light of the poor and the unfortunate people. Will I ever see his feet again? O associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, will you ever again bring such an unfortunate soul as me to Vrindavan and allow me to enjoy your company”

[ Srila Narahari Chakravarti Thakur, Sri Bhakti-ratnakara ]

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Терпеливо ожидая поблизости…
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«Нужно принять прибежище духовного учителя. Как пылающий лесной пожар ждет туч в небесах, надо ожидать милостивой тучи духовного учителя».

[Лекция Шрилы Прабхупады в Лос-Анджелесе 2 января 1969 г.]

 

Waiting patiently by your side ….

“One has to take shelter of spiritual means. Just like the blazing fire in the forest has to wait for the clouds in the sky, similarly, one has to wait for the merciful cloud of the spiritual master.”

[ Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles. January 2, 1969 ]

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Молитва у лотосных стоп Господа
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1) My Lord: I submit the following prayer at Your holy feet: I do not pray to You for physical leisure, for learning, wealth, or followers.

2) I do not pray for heaven or salvation. I do not pray for any of these opulences.

3) In whatever birth I take, wherever my karma leads me, let me sing the glories of Your Holy Name birth after birth.

4) This alone is my cherished hope, my aspiration, my prayer at Your lotus feet: Let causeless and uninterrupted devotion awaken within my heart and flow towards You.

5) Let me love Your lotus feet as much as I now love sense gratification; transfer my affection from the objects of the senses to Your lotus feet.

6) In danger or success, good fortune or disaster, let me remain equipoised. And let my affection for You increase day by day by the influence of the Holy Name.

7) Whether I live as bird or beast, in heaven or in hell, let the humble Bhaktivinoda always cherish bhakti in his heart of hearts.

[ Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Prabhu Tava Pada Yuge, Gita-vali ]

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“O spiritual master… / О духовный учитель…”
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“O spiritual master, I continually offer my obeisances unto you, who are always in the presence of Srimati Radharani and very much devoted to Her. You always reside in the association of Her confidantes, the gopis, and you are the abode of loving devotion to Krishna”

“О духовный учитель, непрестанно предлагаю вам поклоны: вы всегда находитесь поблизости от Шримати Радхарани, вы очень преданы Ей. Вы всегда пребываете в общении с Ее наперсницами, гопи, вы – обитель любви и преданности Кришне”

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Подношение на Вйаса-пуджу Гирираджи Свами 2018 “Добрая душа” / Vyasa Puja Offering to Giriraja Swami 2018 – “A Good Soul”
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Vyasa Puja Offering to Giriraja Swami 2018 – “A Good Soul”

My dear godbrother and friend, Giriraja Maharaja, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am not usually without words but glorifying you is challenging because there is so much to say and so little time to say it! I could talk for hours about your extraordinary qualities as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, as well as reminiscing about our 30-year friendship which is one of the deepest and most satisfying in my life.

Friendship is an essential ingredient in Krsna consciousness. In Hayagriva dasa’s book, Vrindavan Days, he recounts how Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of friendship in one of his Vrindavan discourses at the Radha Damodar temple in the early 1970s:

“In the second stage, that of madhyam-adhikari, one treats all types of men according to their position and tries to increase his love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he also make friends with the devotees. He doesn’t envy the devotees. If a devotee is superior, we should take lessons from him; if he is equal, we should make friends with him; and if lower, we should try to help him.”

Maharaja, you have been so kind and treated me as an equal all these years, but let the truth be known: you are my superior, for you are many light-years ahead of me in devotional service. This truth becomes evident each time I hear you speak. Your speaking perfectly exemplifies the Lord’s declaration in Bhagavad-Gita:

anudvega-karam vakyam
satyam priya-hitam ca yat
svadhya-yabhya-sanam caiva
van-mayam tapa ucyate

“Austerity of speech consists in speaking truthfully and beneficially and in avoiding speech that offends. One should also recite the Vedas regularly.”

[ Bhagavad Gita 17.15 ]

In his purport to that verse Srila Prabhupada writes that “at the same time, such talk should be very pleasurable to the ear.”

Your lectures are a pleasurable to the ear for many reasons, but in particular they are so because you sprinkle your narrative with your memories of Srila Prabhupada. You will often use first-hand accounts of Srila Prabhupada to back up a philosophical point, or you use them simply to give joy to your audience. Many times you have surprised devotees by sharing a pastime or statement from Srila Prabhupada that you have never used before. You are like a treasure chest of Prabhupada nectar. This is because he is very dear to you and you are very dear to him.

In numerous letters throughout the years Srila Prabhupada extolled your virtues as a disciple and devotee of the Lord:

“So I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna Consciousness ”

[ Letter to Giriraja dasa, July 5, 1969 ]

“I am glad that Giriraja is doing very nicely. Krishna has sent a good soul for pushing on this Krishna Consciousness Movement.”

[ Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, 17 July 1969 ]

“You are also very fortunate to have an assistant like Giriraja. This boy has so quickly taken up the Krishna Consciousness cause and I am very much pleased with his behavior.”

[ Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, 15 October 1969 ]

“In his last letter Giriraja has informed me that he was sick but since then I have not heard from him. How is he? I am anxious to know. His health should be taken good care of. He is an important worker and a good soul.”

[ Letter to Tamal Krishna dasa, 20 August 1971 ]

Four times our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, has defined you as “a good soul”. This is but one of the reasons that I always hanker to be near you and try to obtain your association whenever possible.

In Harinam Cintamani, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur writes:

“If one stays near a pure Vaishnava, a devotee of Krishna, for some time one can receive the bhakti, devotional energy, flowing from his body. If one can bind that energy within one’s heart, he will develop strong faith in bhakti. If one lives close to a genuine Vaisnava, devotion will soon appear within one’s heart.”

I make it a point to try and visit you in Carpinteria, California once a year. My excuse is that I am coming to rest, but have you ever seen me rest when I am with you? No! Resting is just a ruse; I come to bask in your wonderful association.

So yes, we are friends, but I think a better terminology is that we are brothers, and you are the older brother. You are older in age, older in time spent in ISKCON, and older in your realizations and wisdom in Krsna consciousness. As such I take great pleasure in honoring you on this auspicious day. In fact, so much do I appreciate what you have done for me, that I honor you in the same mood as your disciples: as a representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Someone may challenge: where does it say that a godbrother can worship another godbrother as representative of the Lord, as good as the Lord Himself? Well, it says so in the king of all sastras, the Srimad Bhagavatm:

däsavat sanna-täryäìghriù / pitåvad déna-vatsalaù
bhrätåvat sadåçe snigdho / guruñv éçvara-bhävanaù

“[Prahlada Maharaja] was completely cultured as a qualified brahmana, having very good character and being determined to understand the Absolute Truth. He had full control of his senses and mind. Like the Supersoul, he was kind to every living entity and was the best friend of everyone. To respectable persons he acted exactly like a menial servant, to the poor he was like a father, to his equals he was attached like a sympathetic brother, and he considered his teachers, spiritual masters and older Godbrothers to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He was completely free from unnatural pride that might have arisen from his good education, riches, beauty, aristocracy and so on.”

[Srimad Bhagavatam 7.4. 31-32]

My dear older godbrother, Giriraj Maharaja, I am confident that by studying your devotion and service to Srila Prabhupada I can learn how to satisfy him. Your proximity to Srila Prabhupada in the early days of the movement gives credence to why so many devotees, like myself, have faith in you. You know how Srila Prabhupada did things, you know what pleased him, you know what his mission was and you know how he went about it. You received specific instructions from him. On his deathbed he turned to you and asked how things would go on in this movement once he departed. You replied, “Things will go on if we are obedient to your instructions to chant 16 rounds and follow the regulative principles.” No doubt that was a perfect answer. But just as perfect was Srila Prabhupada’s response: “Things will go on with organization and intelligence.” With your keen intelligence you understood this order of Prabhupada’s, and with your remarkable memory you are able to recount many such things Srila Prabhupada told you over 48 years ago! Because your attachment to His Divine Grace is so strong I feel you will be with him forever.

yatha vaise tatha yena hana anucara

“I will follow my master to any place that he goes”.

[Srila Vrindavan das Thakur, Caitanya-bhagavat, Madhya 13.399]

In this vein, please allow me to follow you anywhere you may go, for that guarantees me eternal service to our dear and beloved spiritual master.

I often reflect on how your initial meetings with His Divine Grace were very much like his own first meetings with his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. When they first met, Srila Prabhupada tested the field by making a challenging statement. He told Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati that India must first be rid of British rule before people could seriously take up Krsna consciousness. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati shot back that awakening our Krsna consciousness is a much more urgent matter, as it is the very goal of life. In your memoir entitled “Seeing the Center of Things”, you explain how when you first met Srila Prabhupada you suggested that we may all be God. But Srila Prabhupada convinced you otherwise. You admitted to him, “Actually, I see that I wanted to become God.”

“Yes, that is right!” Srila Prabhupada responded. “But how can you become God? You cannot. God is in your heart and if you water the seed of devotion by chanting Hare Krishna, He will give you all the sunshine to make it grow.”

You carefully watered that devotional seed by always dealing with your spiritual master in an appropriate mood of awe and reverence. You have noted that in the beginning of your devotional career each time Srila Prabhupada lectured you would limit yourself to a single carefully thought out question.

One time you asked: “What is the relationship between service to man and service to God?”

Srila Prabhupada replied, “If a hungry man comes to you and you feed him, in a few hours his hunger will return and he will have the same problem all over again. But if you give him Krishna consciousness, all his problems will be solved permanently. If you give a man a million dollars, all of his ten dollar problems will be solved. Similarly, if you give a man Krishna consciousness, all of his little problems will be solved, including eating. And his problems will be solved permanently. He’ll become completely satisfied .”

Srila Prabhupada’s reference to a million dollars solving a person’s ten-dollar problems is interesting. You seem to have realized this early in your devotional career, for when your father offered you a check for one million dollars to leave Krsna consciousness, you smiled and refused the check. You had already realized that your spiritual father, Srila Prabhupada, was giving you the most priceless commodity: pure devotion to the Supreme Lord.

For your initial enthusiasm and faith in him, Srila Prabhupada rewarded you accordingly. He gave you a number of personal instructions. Although there are general instructions for the mass of devotees and the public at large, a disciple always hankers for some personal instructions or guidance from his guru. And so it was that one night during one of Srila Prabhupada’s early visits to Boston you got to drive him back to the temple after a program. During that drive you asked him something that had been on your mind mind for some time.

“Srila Prabhupada,” you said, “what should I do with the rest of my life?”

He paused for a moment and then replied, “Just study our books very thoroughly and chant Hare Krishna.”

Those were very simple instructions, but nothing is simplistic in Krsna consciousness. For a sincere devotee everything is very deep and meaningful. So you took those personal instructions sincerely and therefore you find yourself at a very advanced stage of Krsna consciousness today. You will of course deny your advancement, but you are outnumbered, for there are thousands of disciples, friends and well-wishers who think otherwise. Just see how many have come to honor you today! There’s a saying that “numbers never lie.” That can be contested in many situations, but not in this one. In your case, the truth is evident in the number of devotees who look up to you, respect you and love you.

I can honestly say I love you Giriraja Swami Maharaja. The love we share is a love of a time-tested friendship that goes deep and is infinitely more satisfying than any mundane friendship. It is a relationship that continues to grow based on the comradery of serving together in the pioneer days of our spiritual master’s mission. It is said that “two things equal to one thing are equal to each other.” Because of our deepening love for our spiritual master and Krsna, our love for each other is solidified forever. My hope is that we’ll meet each other when we’re back home in the spiritual world. Certainly, the possibility is there, for in a letter to Tusta Krsna das Srila Prabhupada wrote:

“Siddhasvarupa will go, you will go, Syamasundara will go, all others will go. We will have another ISKCON there. Of course, Mr. Nair must stay.”

[Srila Prabhupada Letter to Tusta Krsna, Ahmedabad December 14th, 1972 ]

I am very confident I will reach that supreme abode, my dear friend! Of course it’s not proper for a Vaisnava to make such a statement of bravado, full of arrogance and conceit. But I do not say this on any merit or qualification I have, but based on a wonderful vow that you, I and our godbrother Sriniketana das took many years ago in Mauritius. We were honoring an amazing feast offered to Srila Prabhupada on his appearance day. The prasadam was delicious and, being the young men we were, we were devouring it in great delight. By the time we finished the sweets we were totally intoxicated with both the sugar and the transcendental nature of the delicacies.

Suddenly I said to you and Sriniketana, “Prabhus! Let’s put our hands together and take a solemn vow!”

“Wonderful!” you said. “What type of vow shall we take?”

I smiled and said, “Let’s take a vow that none of us of will go back home, back to Godhead without the others.”

I was overjoyed when you immediately agreed, not fully understanding that I alone was the real beneficiary of such a vow. How was that so? Because I knew that you would be going home well before I would. That meant I would achieve that goal way before my time. With a smile from ear to ear I put out my hand. You placed yours on top of mine and Sriniketana put his on yours. Then we very loudly proclaimed the sacred vow together:

“On this auspicious day, celebrating the appearance of our beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, here on ISKCON’S Vedic Farm in Mauritius, in the presence of the Lord and so many exalted devotees we hereby take the solemn vow that none of us will go back home, back to Godhead without the others. We shall all attain that supreme, divine abode of love and bliss together. We shall enter Goloka the three of us abreast to serve the Divine Couple forever and forever more!”

With our eyes closed, we held our hands tightly together for some time and when we opened them we found a great number of devotees staring at us in astonishment.

Looking back on that special day I too am astonished. I am astonished at my great fortune to have had you as a friend and mentor in this lifetime. What a wonderful life I have lived in the association of godbrothers and godsisters such as yourself. I will leave this world grateful and fully satisfied. What’s more, I am looking forward to serving Srila Prabhupada together with you again here in the material world and most eagerly in the spiritual world. There is no doubt we will recognize each other there and our friendship will continue forever.

Upendra das once asked, “Srila Prabhupada … it was raised that our relationships formed here in ISKCON with one another are eternal in themselves in addition to the service, that ISKCON and we members as we are known now shall be known there [in the spiritual world]. All this I was unable to support scripturally and lest I make an offense and direct error, I place this before you.”

Srila Prabhupada replied, “As to your question concerning whether relationships between devotees are eternal, the answer is ‘yes.’ This is confirmed by Sri Narottama dasa Thakura: cakhu-dan dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei—‘He is my lord birth after birth.’ In this way you have to understand, by studying carefully the philosophy.”

[ Letter to Upendra, January 7, 1976 ]

The conclusion, my dear Giriraj Swami Maharaja, is that I will forever and forevermore be your friend and servant!

Yours eternally,
Indradyumna Swami

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From Hari-bhakti-vilāsa / Из “Хари-бхакти-виласы”
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“Если случайно соприкоснуться с искрой, она все равно обжигает.
Точно также, если святое имя Господа Хари касается чьих-то уст, оно сжигает все грехи”.

[ Каши-кханда; цитируется в “Хари-бхакти-виласе” 11.324 ]

“Even if touched by mistake, a spark still burns.
In the same way, when the holy name of Lord Hari touches one’s lips it burns all sins.”

[ Kāśī-khaṇḍa; quoted in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 11.324 ]

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From Brhat-Bhagavatamrta / Из “Брихат-Бхагаватамриты”
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“Сердце мое вовсе не довольно, если  преданные, безразличные ко всем остальным духовным практикам и реализациям, желающие одного лишь личного служения Шримати Радхике, постоянно воспевающие Ее славу и поглощенный любовью к Ней, достигают  того же места на Вайкунтхе, что и иные преданные. Это так печально! Я не могу смириться с тем, что это конечное место назначения таких преданных, как Шри Нандарайа и Шри Яшода. Все-таки для них должна быть иная обитель, выше Вайкунтхи. Если есть такое место, пожалуйста, опиши мне его и развей мои сомнения”.

[ Уттара – своему сыну, Парикшиу Махараджу, “Брихат-Бхагаватамрита”, 2.121-22,24 ]

 

“My heart cannot be satisfied if those devotees who, being indifferent to any other spiritual practice and spiritual attainment, desire only the personal service of Srimati Radhika, and who perpetually sing Her glories and are immersed in love for Her, attain residence in merely the same Vaikuntha as so many other devotees do. This is a matter of great sorrow! And I cannot tolerate that this must be the final destination for devotees like Sri Nandaraya and Sri Yasoda. There must certainly be a suitable abode for them that is superior to Vaikuntha. If there is such a place, then please describe and deliver me from doubt.”

[ Uttara to her son, Pariksit Maharaja, Brhat Bhagavatamrta, 2.121-22,24 ]

 

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For All Book Distributors – Past, Present and Future / Для всех распространителей книг нашего времени, в прошлом и в будущем
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Adapted from Srila Narahari Chakravarti Thakur’s  Śrī Bhakti-ratnākara

After studying for a prolonged period in Vrindavan under the guidance of Srila Jiva Goswami and in the association of many exalted associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Srinivas Acarya along with his dear friends Shyamananda Prabhu and Narottam Das Thakur have been ordered to leave Vraja to preach and distribute the writings of the Six Goswamis. The following is a description from the night before they departed.

That night Srinivas remained in his bhajana-kuṭira while Narottam and Shyamananda went to theirs. Although Srinivas had spent the entire day having darshan of many vaiṣṇavas and deities, in the night he began to lament. Lifting his hands to the sky, he called out, “Providence has deprived me of this pleasure. Shall I, a worthless person, ever again see the deities of Govinda, Gopinath, Madan Mohan, Radha Vinod, Radha Mohan and Radha Damodara? Will Prabhu Sri Gopal Bhatta ever bring me back to Vrindavan or give me the opportunity to serve his feet again? Shall Lokanath Goswami, the incarnation of kindness, bestow his grace on me again? Catching hold of the hair of this sinner, will the gracious Bhugarbha Goswami ever bring me back again? Will Raghunath Das Goswami, the embodiment of kindness, ever again fulfil my desires? Srila Jiva Goswami is the light of the poor and the unfortunate people. Will I ever see his feet again? O associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, will you ever again bring such an unfortunate soul as me to Vrindavan and allow me to enjoy your company?”

His voice became choked with lamentation and tears flowed down his face. The similar lamentations of Narottam melted even the wood and stone. And who can describe the lamentation of Shyamananda? The thought of impending separation made each of them restless, and they could not sleep. By the will of Govinda, that night Srinivas fell asleep in the late hours. He had a dream in which he saw Rupa Goswami’s deity Sri Govinda leaving the temple and walking to Srinivas with the gait of an elephant. Defeating the beauty of the lotus flower, Sri Govinda’s beauty put hundreds of gods to shame. He was adorned with jewelry and wore the feather of a peacock on his head. He had long eyes and his body was well designed. The beauty of his face defeated the beauty of hundreds of moons.

Govinda Dev smiled and said:

ohe śrinivasa! kheda kara sambaraṇa śunite nā jani prāṇa karaye kemana

“O Srinivas, stop lamenting! You don’t know the pain that hearing you brings to my heart”

tumi mora prema-mūrti, nā jāna tā’ tumi nirantara tomāra nikaṭe āchi āmi

“Do you not know that you are the embodiment of my love and I am always with you?”

mora mano-‘bhīṣṭa ye tā’ aneka prakāre karilu prakāśa rūpa-sanātana dvāre

“My numerous desires have been manifested through Rupa and Sanatana.”

tomādvāre grantha-ratna kari vitaraṇa haribe jīvera duḥkha diya prema-dhana

“Through your distribution of these books I shall destroy the grief of mankind and give them the wealth of ecstatic love.”

ye jana la-ibe asi’ śaraṇa tomāra tāre āmi avaśya kariba aṅgīkara

“I promise I shall accept anyone who takes shelter of you.”

ha-iba tomāra śiṣya bhāgyavanta-gaṇa tā’ sabā la-iyā āsvādibā saṅkīrtana

“Whoever becomes your disciple shall be very fortunate; you should take them with you and perform congregational chanting.”

konamate kichu cintā nā kariha cite madhye madhye aiche more pāibā dekhite

“Don’t worry about anything. From time to time you will see me in this same way.”

After consoling Srinivas, Sri Govinda transformed himself into Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srinivas could not contain himself as he begged for a hundred eyes to see the form of the Lord. He worshiped the Lord’s feet by falling on the ground and Chaitanya placed his feet on Srinivas’ head. The Lord embraced Srinivas and bid him farewell for his journey to Gaudadesh. Then he abandoned his Chaitanya form and returned to the temple. Upon the disappearance of Govinda, Srinivas became emotionally torn and when his sleep broke he saw that it was dawn. After performing his morning duties, grief-stricken Srinivas exercised his patience and sat alone in a solitary place.

[ Srila Narahari Chakravarti. Śrī Bhakti-ratnākara. English translation by Sripad Kusakratha Das. Published by Krishna Library. Alachua, Florida. — Srila Narahari Chakravarti. Śrī Bhakti-ratnākara. Gaudiya Mission. Calcutta. 501 Gaurabda. Bengali. ]

[ Printed in Sri Krsna Kathamrita Bindu, issue 427, published by Madhavananda dasa with the scholarly input of Hari Parshad das Adhikary ]

Picture: Srinivas Acarya

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Радхика, даруя праздник служения Себе
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“Даруя праздник вечного служения Себе, Шри Радхика – прекрасная царевна беседок Вриндавана – делает все духовные цели и практики незначительными. Совершая это, Она наводняет мир вестями о Своей нектарной красоте, и лик Ее сияет, будто неисчислимые осенние луны”.

[ Шрила Прабодхананда Сарасвати, “Шри Радха-раса-шудханидхи”, стих 62 ]

 

“Sri Radhika, the lovely queen of Vrindavan’s bower houses, makes all spiritual goals and practices insignificant when She bestows upon one the festival of Her eternal service. In doing so, She inundates the whole world with news of Her nectarian beauty and Her face shines like innumerable autumnal moons.”

[ Srila Prabodhananda Saraswati, Sri Radha Rasa Sudhanidhi, verse 62 ]

 

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A Prayer / Молитва
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1. O Lokanatha Gosvami! O my master! I beg for the shelter of your lotus feet. If you are satisfied with me then please place your merciful glance upon me.

2. If you are pleased with me then all the wishes of my mind will be attained and my thirst for happiness will be satiated. Then I will attain the association of Lord Caitanya and Sri Sri Radha and Krsna.

3. O master, if you do not become merciful to me then what will become of me? Please fulfill my mind’s desire at least this one time.

4. In the entire world there is no one as much in need of your mercy as me. Please be merciful to me and give me shelter at the soles of your lotus feet.

5. Although he spends all his days and nights glorifying the transcendental pastimes and virtues of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, Narottam dasa knows that his desire to attain Their association cannot be fulfilled without your mercy.”

[ Srila Narottam das Thakur, Prarthana, Song 20 ]

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Anuraga-vali – The Vine of Love
 / Анурага-вали – “Лоза любви”
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1. O Lord, 
please give me millions of bodies and millions of mouths in each body. By your mercy place millions of tongues in each mouth. O Lord, may Your millions of transcendental qualities dance on those tongues!

2. What is the use of a soul that does not have millions of bodies? What is the use of a body that does not have millions of mouths? What is the use of a mouth that does not have millions of tongues? What is the use of a tongue that does not chant Your millions of names?

3. 
O Lord, may I perpetually have hundreds of bodies and may each body have thousands of mouths. May each mouth have millions of tongues, and may each tongue chant millions of Your Holy Names.

4. O Madhava, whenever, wherever, or whoever chants Your names and pastimes, there may I with millions of ears eternally drink Your nectar.

5. May I have millions of ears and millions upon millions of tongues. Then, O Lord, I will eternally and happily hear and chant Your pastimes.

6. May I have millions of ears, millions of eyes, millions of hearts and minds, and millions of tongues. Hearing about, seeing, and embracing the ocean of Your handsomeness, I will drink its sweetness.

7. May I have millions of eyes, ears, noses, tongues and chests, so that I may continually taste the nectar of Your handsomeness, Your sweet sounds, sweet fragrance and Your embrace.

8. May I have millions of feet to go to Your side. May I have millions of hands to serve You. May I have millions of intelligences to teach that service. O Lord, please grant me these boons!

[ Srila Visvanath Chakravarti Thakur ]

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Искать нектара лучших качеств
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Our Festival of India in Poland will begin towards the end of June and continue until August 20. It will be our 27th year of hosting large festivals along the Baltic Sea coast. All glories to those devotees who spend their summers with us, giving their lives and souls to spreading the glories of the holy names far and wide.

“The devotees of Krishna are the most exalted persons on this planet, better than kings, all of them, so we should always remember that and, like the bumblebee, always look for the nectar or the best qualities of a person.”

(Srila Prabhupada letter to Atreya Rsi; February 4, 1972)

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Бхаджан на Рама-навами
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