Lessons on the road
→ Tattva - See inside out

Sitting on my desktop is a complete list of towns and cities in the UK. Some time back I resolved to spend a full day in each place, talking to the locals and leaving them with some thought-provoking literature as a token of appreciation. So far I’ve visited 204 different locations... only another 302 to go! Last week’s travels took me to Worksop, Daventry, Grantham, Huntingdon and Stratford-upon-avon. Every town has its flavor, and every day is unique. It’s quite a task to stop someone in their tracks, cut through the myriad of thoughts, penetrate the bubble of their life and begin a dialogue about deeper subject matter. Some people naturally tune in to the concept of ancient wisdom, while others are skeptical, uninterested and otherwise-engaged. Either way we always have a laugh, a smile and learn something from each other!

Amongst everything else I do in life, this simple and sublime activity is what I enjoy most. It reconnects me with my purpose. It’s where I feel at home. It’s a constant source of inspiration. I’m also appreciating, however, that the ‘not-so-inspirational’ activities in life are just as important:
  • Inspirational activities (what we have a natural affinity for) - keep us positive, enthused and fulfilled.
  • Challenging activities (what we fear and shy away from) – cultivate our internal growth, help us become prayerful, and are often humbling and grounding.
  • Necessary activities (responding to the “need of the day”) - fuel the priceless spirit of sacrifice, selflessness and genuine concern for others.
Each activity brings an indispensable ingredient to the table. It’s important to balance the three elements for wholesome spiritual progress.

PS: The next major project is a fleet of “traveling temples” that tour the length and breadth of the country! If anyone can help me get hold of a van / mini-coach please get in touch!

Lessons on the road
→ Tattva - See inside out

Sitting on my desktop is a complete list of towns and cities in the UK. Some time back I resolved to spend a full day in each place, talking to the locals and leaving them with some thought-provoking literature as a token of appreciation. So far I’ve visited 204 different locations... only another 302 to go! Last week’s travels took me to Worksop, Daventry, Grantham, Huntingdon and Stratford-upon-avon. Every town has its flavor, and every day is unique. It’s quite a task to stop someone in their tracks, cut through the myriad of thoughts, penetrate the bubble of their life and begin a dialogue about deeper subject matter. Some people naturally tune in to the concept of ancient wisdom, while others are skeptical, uninterested and otherwise-engaged. Either way we always have a laugh, a smile and learn something from each other!

Amongst everything else I do in life, this simple and sublime activity is what I enjoy most. It reconnects me with my purpose. It’s where I feel at home. It’s a constant source of inspiration. I’m also appreciating, however, that the ‘not-so-inspirational’ activities in life are just as important:
  • Inspirational activities (what we have a natural affinity for) - keep us positive, enthused and fulfilled.
  • Challenging activities (what we fear and shy away from) – cultivate our internal growth, help us become prayerful, and are often humbling and grounding.
  • Necessary activities (responding to the “need of the day”) - fuel the priceless spirit of sacrifice, selflessness and genuine concern for others.
Each activity brings an indispensable ingredient to the table. It’s important to balance the three elements for wholesome spiritual progress.

PS: The next major project is a fleet of “traveling temples” that tour the length and breadth of the country! If anyone can help me get hold of a van / mini-coach please get in touch!

I Stick To The Sim­ple Method
→ Japa Group

"I stick to the sim­ple method taught by Lord Cai­tanya and passed on by Srila Prab­hu­pada. The name of Krishna is not dif­fer­ent than Krishna Him­self. Some­times the Lord delib­er­ately taught false philoso­phies, but in any case they are not to be fol­lowed per­pet­u­ally. Only devo­tional ser­vice is the means by which to chant the holy name and ben­e­fit from its eter­nal proposition."

From Viraha Bhavan #166

Ensnaring The Eternally Free Soul
→ Bhagavatam By Braja

I am currently working on Chapter Five of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive, Volume 2. The 19th śloka is too mind-blowing not to share immediately.

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.5.19

Ensnaring the Eternally Free Soul

[kārya-kāraṇa-kartṛtve dravya-jñāna-kriyāśrayāḥ | badhnanti nityadā muktaḿ māyinaḿ puruṣaḿ guṇāḥ ]

Nārada: Earlier you said that the universe is composed of five things, the root of which is “projected consciousness.” Now you are saying that the universe begins from three qualities of Nārāyaṇa’s energy. Are these two statements compatible?

Brahmā: Yes. These three qualities attract beings to project their consciousness into the universe. Thus consciousness, which has the capacity for eternal transcendence, binds itself to an illusory world.

Nārada: How do the three qualities attract the attention of conscious away from its potential eternal freedom?

Brahmā: By manifesting the five things I previously mentioned: objects of pleasure and the means for enjoying those objects.

Nārada: What are those means?

Brahmā: Senses, the ability to use the senses, and the intellectual inclination to do so.


Saturday Night Harinam (22 June 2013)
→ simple thoughts

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SATURDAY NIGHT HARINAM (JUNE 22nd 2013 – London)
****************************************
article by HG Bhaja Hari prabhu and video.your servant Para

Last night was especially wonderful for me – as I met an enthusiastic and very happy Chinese devotee who had travelled all the way up from Reading to distribute some Chinese editions of Srila Prabhupada’s books during the Harinam. She had with her Sri Isopanisad, Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers and quite a few other books that I could not recognise.

When she saw me distributing ‘Krsna the Reservoir of Pleasure’ she came over and introduced herself and showed me the Chinese books she had brought to distribute

Her name was Suan – and the way she pronounced it – it sounded exactly like SWAN.
I kept saying:

‘How do you pronounce your name ?’ and she kept saying ‘Suan’

and I kept saying ‘Swan? – Do you mean Swan – like Hamsa?’

It was quite funny – but – yes – you would have had to have been there.

Anyway I decided to swap Suan a copy of ‘The Science of Self Realisation’ for a copy of ‘Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers. I had the idea that I could distribute it to somebody in Chinatown when the Kirtan Party arrived there later.

It also got me thinking that it would be amazing if Palaka prabhu, (a very sincere disciple of Srila Prabhupada who has so far printed and distributed freely, all over the world, 2.3 million copies of On Chanting Hare Krsna) could arrange to print
a version of ‘On Chanting Hare Krsna’ in Chinese. It would be so blissful to be able to give them out to all the many, many Chinese tourists that now seem to be flooding into London. I am feeling very attracted to the Chinese people and their culture these days. While distributing the FREE ‘On Chanting Hare Krsna’ booklets every Saturday Night, when I meet Chinese people, whether they actually take a copy or not – they very often slightly bow their heads as a sign of respect – I suppose. Anyway – whatever it is – it feels right and courteous, and I find it very endearing.

Maybe, if we can’t get the ‘On Chanting Hare Krsna’ Booklets in Chinese, perhaps we can at least print up a small flyer inviting them to to chant Hare Krsna and visit our London Temple. Anyone has any ideas how to make this happen – give me a shout please.

The Harinam was very blissful. Last night Govinda prabhu was in fine voice and ecstatic mood. Maybe leading the kirtan WHILE simultaneously watching his two very sweet Vaisnava children, Tika and Raman, distributing hundreds of Srila Prabhupada’s booklets for the full 2 hours helped.

Anyway, Please enjoy this joyful little video – and PLEASE PLEASE come and join in EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT.

Your Samkirtan Party does NOT necessarily need you – but it really really WANTS YOU.

Please do not deny yourself the joy and pleasure of chanting the Holy Names in Public

O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krsna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
Siksastakam Verse 2 (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada !!!

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2013
→ simple thoughts

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Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2013
By
HG Saksi Gopal Prabhu ACBSP

There were pagans and potheads
and Indian chiefs
There were druids and hippies
and mounted police

There were drinkers and smokers
and drummers galore
Who played on through the night
till their fingers were sore

There was dancing,while some stood
around on the grass.
Some huddled in blankets,
some shouted and laughed.

Some filmed the proceeding with
smart mobile phones.
As everyone gathered around
the great stones

That have witnessed the turning
on Salisbury Plain
Of season and century,
sunshine and rain

Witnessed chieftains and druids
and Celts offer thanks
Witnessed farmers and hippies
and soldiers in tanks

Have seen tourists and picnickers,
bikers in leather
And ancient oak avenues
pass into heather

Seen wars and invasions,
the triumph of thieves.
Have seen lovers and losers,
but who could believe

That the stones were now witness
to God’s holy name.
As the chanters in saffron
again and again

Sang their mantra and danced
to the cymbal and drum.
That the people here gathered
would eagerly come

To celebrate Krishna
Ram and Hare,
As they welcomed the sunrise,
On Midsummer’s Day!

Had they each felt their sanctity
somehow restored,
As each innocent celebrant
danced and adored

With a jubilant heart
and a gratified eye,
The rhythm and mantra
as old as the sky!

HARE KRISHNA they chant
HARE KRISHNA they pray,
KRISHNA KRISHNA they follow
with loud HARE HARE

HARE RAMA the song
HARE RAMA the hymn
RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
drumbeat and ring

of the karatel cymbals,
percussion of old.
The mantra of angels
that nurtures the soul

From the Lord’s Existence
below and above
Reuniting the spark with
the fire of love

Around and within us
if we could but see,
attuned to the river
within you and me

Some say we are energy,
spiritual light
a drop in the ocean
of endless delight

Being energy means we all
flow from the source.
And that means the
Original Person,of course

For the realm of transcendence
is where we belong.
Where each step is a dance
and each word is a song

So chant the vibration
Ram,Krishna,Hare,
as you greet the next sunrise
on Midsummer’s Day

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
→ The Walking Monk

Towards Simple Ways

Boissevain, Manitoba

After my shower at the campsite in Kilarney I left Daruka for the extra doze at 4:10 AM. To exit I was coming around a corner and this creature almost collided with me. With the dimness of the hour I could barely see. Was it a fox? No. Was it a dog? No. When the creature who accidentally came at me in a kind of a gallop, he backed off and I could decipher the image, it was a tiny fawn. He then retreated and ran towards these trailers which seemed to startle him also and then he came back towards me, practically landing in my arms, and then once again retreated but into another direction and into the darkness, hopefully to safety. What a perkful way to start the day.

It was a long straight stretch on 30 KMs without really stopping. A couple of falcons came to see me, they were perched on a hydro post. An RCMP officer stopped to learn what I’m doing. “I’m walking for peace,” I told him.

“Good, I’m also working for peace,” indicating that it was his job.

Paul Rayner from the community newspaper, The Recorder, interviewed. He went quite in depth and knew of the power of kirtan having experience with it.

What Daruka and Billy did once more today was wave a wand of magic. Billy’s charms gained us a happy footing into a colony of Hutterites. The place was in Wokapa. It has a residence of 140 people who created their own village and infrastructure beginning in 1972. The school there wanted to meet Billy, Daruka, and their monk friend. As a result, we were invited to speak about trekking pastimes, and about Billy’s role in all of this. The kids were great as they sat in front of us, well behaved, boys in pants and suspenders, and girls in dresses and bonnets or headdresses.

There is something favourable to be said about pious God-centric kids. They are respectful and attentive to all we say. It is also not to be ignored, but I must mention their next door neighbours, the Freemans. They are not Hetterites, but eco-friendly family who are young and managing self sustainability. They use minimal machinery, in fact work horses are the modus operandi. We had the opportunity to meet with them. Their kids are home schooled and they do plenty of chores and playing. Tim and Kathleen are doing their own little miracles.

Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, desired this kind of life for our family community members. We should not stop trying.

32 KM

Monday, June 24th, 2013
→ The Walking Monk

Cotton and Cattle

Kilarney, Manitoba

Cottonwood fluff is shedding from the trees and manages to make its way all the way out to the open fields and even highways. On this highway, #3, we find something historic, it was once a major horse and cart trail in the late 1800’s for patrolling and surveying the land north of the 49th parallel which separates the US and Canada. This area’s now predominantly farm land.

One farmer’s fence had broken down leaving some of his cattle to go astray and land up in someone else’s pasture. I was there on the highway when several farmers were there to help and discuss strategy for the cattle’s return home. The farmer who owned the cattle was in despair, but he took a minute to talk to me, “So you’re walkin’?”

“Yes, across Canada.”

“For peace?”

“Yes, and as a pilgrimage.”

“You’re Hare Krishna?”

“Yes!”

“Well, that makes sense.”

A few more locals involved in the agri-business saw the small convergence of vehicles and people by the side of the highway. They also stopped. It was then that I could say more about walking for the soul. I kept it rather light. I let people know that it’s a friend raiser and not a fund raiser. I encouraged all the motorists there to please honk when they see me down the road, and see me they have, so they say.

“I can’t do that, the horn on my vehicle just busted”, said one guy jovially.

“Hey, fences break down, horns malfunction, these bodies break down, and I’ll walk ‘til I drop. That was a segue for everyone to move on back to work, back to catching cattle and back on to walking.

News has spread around about the walking Hare Krishna, even before the afternoon’s interview with Jay from The Guide newspaper. Many motorists stop to get their picture taken with a rarity, a monk.

33 KM

Presentation in Bahrain
- TOVP.org

Recently our head architect, Vilasini devi dasi, gave a presentation about the TOVP in Bahrain. The following is an account of her experience with the inclusion of her power point slides.

TOVP Presentation in ISKCON Bahrain – A Report

While I was making my plan to visit my sister in Bahrain, I received a call from Pawan Nimai Prabhu, my brother in law, ‘Can you do a presentation in Bahrain on the TOVP’? Soon enough after the blessed approval of Sadbhuja Prabhu, the TOVP Managing Director, I began scrambling for photographs and assembling events in the project chronology. This exercise brought back many memories during my service tenure with the TOVP and I feel very grateful and inspired to serve in the divine project steered by accomplished devotees.

The temple president of ISKCON, Bahrain HG Udara Kirti Chaitanya Prabhu, (disciple of HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaja) a very hospitable and humble devotee asked the presentation to be held on Friday evening on May 31st 2013. Almost around 150 devotees were present. HH Siddhartha Swami Maharaja who was visiting Bahrain at the time also gave his blessings. Coincidentally HG Deva Dharma Prabhu, a Mayapur resident, music teacher and a kirtan lover was also present, wherein he brought Mayapur to Bahrain through his heartfelt kirtan.

Devotees were greatly inspired and appreciated the magnanimous project. One of the devotees also wanted to make a calendar of the TOVP for 2014. Many expressed their amazement at the building structure and its aim to stand for 500 years. They were stirred by Ambarisa Prabhu’s and the TOVP team’s consistent dedication to Srila Prabhupada through the project.

I am grateful to:

  1. Pawana Nimai Prabhu for the co-ordination with temple management and the technical support.
  2. Kanai Priya Devi Dasi, my sister for back end support.
  3. Shree Laxmi Mataji (daughter of Udara Kirti Chaitanya Prabhu) for technical operation during the presentation.
  4. Chaitanya Hari Prabhu for the photography.
  5. Anup Shah, my husband for formatting the presentation and for his constant support through my service in the TOVP.

Presentation Synopsis – Ink to Iron:

‘Ink to Iron’ touches certain facets on the making of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium from the perspective of one of its team Members. It brings to light the prediction of Nityananda Prabhu and how it has been kept alive until the current date. Vilasini devi dasi’s personal involvement in the project has led to several telling interactions with seasoned devotees, churning out realizations at various levels.

This presentation aims towards expounding this experience along with elucidating certain facts of how the TOVP took off from the ground to where the TOVP stands today. It also narrates the inspirational characteristics and qualities of senior devotees serving in the TOVP Board of Directors.

HAPPY OLD AGE
→ Gita Coaching

Because a devotee rigidly follows the instructions of Narada Muni, he has no fear of old age, disease or death. Apparently a devotee may grow old, but he is not subjected to the symptoms of defeat experienced by a common man in old age. Consequently, old age does not make a devotee fearful of death, as a common man is fearful of death.

When jara, or old age, takes shelter of a devotee, Kalakanya diminishes the devotee's fear. A devotee knows that after death he is going back home, back to Godhead; therefore he has no fear of death. Thus instead of depressing a devotee, advanced age helps him become fearless and thus happy.

SB 4.27.24 Purport

HAPPY OLD AGE
→ GITA COACHING

Because a devotee rigidly follows the instructions of Narada Muni, he has no fear of old age, disease or death. Apparently a devotee may grow old, but he is not subjected to the symptoms of defeat experienced by a common man in old age. Consequently, old age does not make a devotee fearful of death, as a common man is fearful of death.

When jara, or old age, takes shelter of a devotee, Kalakanya diminishes the devotee's fear. A devotee knows that after death he is going back home, back to Godhead; therefore he has no fear of death. Thus instead of depressing a devotee, advanced age helps him become fearless and thus happy.

SB 4.27.24 Purport

uncover the masks
→ everyday gita

Verse 3.35: It is far better to discharge one's prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another's duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one's own duty is better than engaging in another's duties, for to follow another's path is dangerous.

I was thinking about today's verse and that was the first image that came to mind - uncovering the layers and layers of masks.

To me, a mask signifies hiding one's identity. After all, it's hard to see the full picture if there's something covering it.

Bhakti yoga is about realizing we are wearing different layers of masks, using them effectively and gradually letting go of them; thus, allowing our real selves to shine.

Let's talk about two masks that are specifically prominent - the body and our proclivities and tendencies (i.e. our nature). The body is like a full-fledged mask. It does such an effective job of hiding "the real us" that it's hard to distinguish that the body is just a covering.

Any actors reading this today? Perhaps you can relate. When diving into a role or part, you might have delved so deep into a character that you started to identify yourself with it. Similarly, we have spent so much time wearing different bodies (in this life and in so many previous ones) that we've forgotten that it's not who we really are.

As if one wasn't enough, there's another mask that covers the body mask. Sigh....I know. Like I said - layers up on layers.

That mask is our psycho-physical nature. Not only do we identify with the body, but we also identify with certain tendencies, inclinations and proclivities. What's interesting to note here is that Krsna is not stating that we just take off this mask - i.e. He is not stating that we abandon our nature. Oh no. In fact He is stating the opposite.

Krsna is encouraging that we work in line with our nature - i.e. perform our duties/work in accordance with our nature. He goes one step further in fact and states "It doesn't matter whether you are good at it or not, work according to your nature. Even if you can do something better, it doesn't matter."

So what does that mean? Previously we described that there are four natural divisions of society (in terms of work) - the educators/academics, the administrators/leaders, the businessmen/agriculturalists and finally the artists/workers. That's not to say that people can't be a mix of these four - they certainly can! In fact, nowadays it's hard to find someone who has just the nature of an educator, leader etc..

It commonly happens that we can easily do the work of another extremely well, even if it's not in our nature (i.e. an artist might be excellent at typing). Thinking that it's easier to find a job typing, that person might give up their art. Krsna says here - don't do it! By engaging one's nature, it not only promotes a sense of fulfillment but allows one to naturally advance in bhakti

These masks can act as tools, rather than obstacles, if we know how to properly use them in our journey of self-discovery.

The body and our individual natures are not bad. After all, they are gifts given to us by the Supreme. It's how we utilize them that makes all the difference.

By working with an attitude of appreciation and detachment, we can offer our talents and gifts in gratitude to the Supreme. Similarly, we can utilize our body to glorify the Supreme through song, prayers and our very existence. These bhakti processes allow us to work with what we've got, instead of rejecting them. Like we've said so many times before - bhakti is about transformation, not simply negation.

It's up to us what we do with these masks - we can stay covered by them, or use them to free ourselves. What do you choose?

uncover the masks
→ everyday gita

Verse 3.35: It is far better to discharge one's prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another's duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one's own duty is better than engaging in another's duties, for to follow another's path is dangerous.

I was thinking about today's verse and that was the first image that came to mind - uncovering the layers and layers of masks.

To me, a mask signifies hiding one's identity. After all, it's hard to see the full picture if there's something covering it.

Bhakti yoga is about realizing we are wearing different layers of masks, using them effectively and gradually letting go of them; thus, allowing our real selves to shine.

Let's talk about two masks that are specifically prominent - the body and our proclivities and tendencies (i.e. our nature). The body is like a full-fledged mask. It does such an effective job of hiding "the real us" that it's hard to distinguish that the body is just a covering.

Any actors reading this today? Perhaps you can relate. When diving into a role or part, you might have delved so deep into a character that you started to identify yourself with it. Similarly, we have spent so much time wearing different bodies (in this life and in so many previous ones) that we've forgotten that it's not who we really are.

As if one wasn't enough, there's another mask that covers the body mask. Sigh....I know. Like I said - layers up on layers.

That mask is our psycho-physical nature. Not only do we identify with the body, but we also identify with certain tendencies, inclinations and proclivities. What's interesting to note here is that Krsna is not stating that we just take off this mask - i.e. He is not stating that we abandon our nature. Oh no. In fact He is stating the opposite.

Krsna is encouraging that we work in line with our nature - i.e. perform our duties/work in accordance with our nature. He goes one step further in fact and states "It doesn't matter whether you are good at it or not, work according to your nature. Even if you can do something better, it doesn't matter."

So what does that mean? Previously we described that there are four natural divisions of society (in terms of work) - the educators/academics, the administrators/leaders, the businessmen/agriculturalists and finally the artists/workers. That's not to say that people can't be a mix of these four - they certainly can! In fact, nowadays it's hard to find someone who has just the nature of an educator, leader etc..

It commonly happens that we can easily do the work of another extremely well, even if it's not in our nature (i.e. an artist might be excellent at typing). Thinking that it's easier to find a job typing, that person might give up their art. Krsna says here - don't do it! By engaging one's nature, it not only promotes a sense of fulfillment but allows one to naturally advance in bhakti

These masks can act as tools, rather than obstacles, if we know how to properly use them in our journey of self-discovery.

The body and our individual natures are not bad. After all, they are gifts given to us by the Supreme. It's how we utilize them that makes all the difference.

By working with an attitude of appreciation and detachment, we can offer our talents and gifts in gratitude to the Supreme. Similarly, we can utilize our body to glorify the Supreme through song, prayers and our very existence. These bhakti processes allow us to work with what we've got, instead of rejecting them. Like we've said so many times before - bhakti is about transformation, not simply negation.

It's up to us what we do with these masks - we can stay covered by them, or use them to free ourselves. What do you choose?

Real meaning of Initiation
→ Servant of the Servant

Initiation is a process in Bhakti Yoga where the practitioner formally commits to his/her Spiritual Master as the disciple. The newly initiate formally enrolls into the Guru Parampara which originally began from the Supreme Being Krishna Himself. Hence, as you see, is a serious and eternal commitment.

Below are the words of a great saint and revolutionary spiritual leader on the inner meaning of initiation. Anyone aspiring initiation and the already initiated should consider his words with gravity.

The process of attaining transcendental knowledge is called initiation.  We should know that the Supreme Lord is the transcendental Absolute Truth, we are His eternal servants, and we have no duty other than to serve Him.  Knowing this is actual initiation.   The absence of understanding is ignorance.  At present, there is a controversy about the word “Initiation.”  People proudly claim that they have taken initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, but how can they maintain material attachment even after taking initiation ?  How can they desire to make advancement in material life ?  If they don’t learn about their relationship with the Lord, independent and proud people uselessly brag about their initiations.  Rather than treating their spiritual master as if he were as good as God, they treat him as their disciple, fit  to be their order-supplier. Considering the guru an ordinary mortal being, these persons become offenders at his lotus feet.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur
Page No.262 and 263 of the book ‘Amritha Vani’

Hare Krishna

Real meaning of Initiation
→ Servant of the Servant

Initiation is a process in Bhakti Yoga where the practitioner formally commits to his/her Spiritual Master as the disciple. The newly initiate formally enrolls into the Guru Parampara which originally began from the Supreme Being Krishna Himself. Hence, as you see, is a serious and eternal commitment.

Below are the words of a great saint and revolutionary spiritual leader on the inner meaning of initiation. Anyone aspiring initiation and the already initiated should consider his words with gravity.

The process of attaining transcendental knowledge is called initiation.  We should know that the Supreme Lord is the transcendental Absolute Truth, we are His eternal servants, and we have no duty other than to serve Him.  Knowing this is actual initiation.   The absence of understanding is ignorance.  At present, there is a controversy about the word “Initiation.”  People proudly claim that they have taken initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, but how can they maintain material attachment even after taking initiation ?  How can they desire to make advancement in material life ?  If they don’t learn about their relationship with the Lord, independent and proud people uselessly brag about their initiations.  Rather than treating their spiritual master as if he were as good as God, they treat him as their disciple, fit  to be their order-supplier. Considering the guru an ordinary mortal being, these persons become offenders at his lotus feet.


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur
Page No.262 and 263 of the book ‘Amritha Vani’

Hare Krishna

Paninhati Festival, June 21, Laguna Beach, California
Giriraj Swami

06.21.13_panihati“If someone approaches you and offers to serve you in your home and in your business and wants nothing in return — just wants to make you happy — then you will naturally feel inclined toward that person. ‘This is a sign of your sincere devotion.’ With God it is the same way. If you approach God with no material desire, you want only His pleasure, then He will makes all arrangements for you, His devotee. So Lord Nityananda gave Raghunatha dasa a service that would attract the attention of Lord Caitanya. He said, ‘You make a big feast of chipped rice and yogurt and distribute to all the Vaishnavas in the area.’ And once the word got out — you know how devotes are — once the word got out that there was a big feast being prepared, thousands and thousands of Vaishnavas came.” — Indradyumna Swami

Indradymna Swami — Panihati Talk
Giriraj Swami — Panihati Talk

Enlightened by Krishna’s Kiss
→ Bhagavatam By Braja

I have finished the first draft of Chapter Four of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive, Volume 2. I will celebrate by explaining a little bit about this chapter, and quoting you one of my favorite ślokas from it.

radha_and_krishna_love_and_longing_be53The Fourth Chapter of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s Second “Canto” is mainly about this:

King Parīkṣit asked Śukadeva Goswāmī to answer a question, “What is the most important thing to do, especially since I am about to die?” Śuka answered that in the first three chapters in such a complete and thorough manner that Parīkṣit and all who were listening were astonished. Parīkṣit did not want the discussion to end, even though his question had been completely satisfied, so he asked more questions.

Since Śuka had told him that he had enough time left in his life to be systematic and sequential in his approach to hearing about Krishna, Parīkṣit began by asking questions that are not inherently “intimate” or “advanced” yet nonetheless are fascinating, delightful, and essential for properly understanding the essential nature of Krishna. He asked several specific questions about how the universe exists, and admitted that it is basically impossible for anyone to answer such questions.

Śuka would then ask how he could be expected to reply properly, so Parikṣit explained that those who are intimately connected with the All-Attractive by the link of heartfelt devotion can comprehend the incomprehensible due to their direct proximity to the Divine.

Accepting this, Śuka set out to answer Parikṣit’s questions. He began by evoking his proximity to the Divine by glorifying Krishna and confirming that divine knowledge comes from his favor alone. One śloka he spoke towards the very end of the chapter (śloka 24) is a particular favorite of mine. I would like to share it with you.

My respects to the All-Attractive Son of Vasudeva. The affectionate souls who drink the delicate taste emanating from his lotus-like lips become full of knowledge and can create the Veda.

Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes Viśvanātha Cakravartī when explaining this śloka: On one level it refers to Vyāsa, Śuka’s father. On another level it can refer to Brahmā. On still another level it refers to the Gopīs, who become full of all artistic excellence and knowledge simply by receiving the kiss of Krishna.

Knowledge comes from the divine. It emanates from the mouth of the All-Attractive. Generally we think of words emanating from the mouth – and this is how Brahmā and Vyāsa received comprehension of the incomprehensible: by hearing the words spoken from the mouth of the All-Attractive. They then became capable of creating books of true knowledge: the Veda. But words are not all that emanates from the mouth. Kisses also come from there. The gopīs enjoy Krishna’s kisses, and thus they become infinitely surcharged with extremely powerful and abundant knowledge and expertise in all subjects – from philosophy to sciences to arts such as dance, music, cooking, poetry, cosmetics, fashion, etc.

We who are very low and ordinary souls also have the chance to taste Krishna’s kisses and become thus surcharged. But, in our thick stupidity we tend to ignore this opportunity or not pay much attention to it. How can we fools taste Krishna’s kisses? It is very simple – chant Krishna’s names, and Krishna then comes in contact with your lips. You are kissing Krishna!

Be aware of this intimatcy and you will become fully enlightened, like Vyāsa, Brahmā and the Gopīs.

“Hare Krishna”


TEXAS FAITH 104: Is Belief Overrated?
→ Nityananda Chandra Das' Blog, ISKCON Dallas

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

Let’s return to an issue that we dealt with back in April, when I asked you all a question about belief. The question dealt with what it means that we may believe differently about different things. You can read answers at this link.

A couple of weeks ago, Keven Willey, the Morning News‘ editorial page editor, passed along this essay from Stanford anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann, author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.” As you will see from this link as well, Luhrmann gets into several lines of thought about belief and how we arrive at it religious convictions.

What I would like you to comment upon is this part of her New York Times essay:

“The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated, as anthropologists have long known. In 1912, Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern social science, argued that religion arose as a way for social groups to experience themselves as groups. He thought that when people experienced themselves in social groups, they felt bigger than themselves, better, more alive — and that they identified that aliveness as something supernatural. Religious ideas arose to make some sense of this experience of being part of something greater. Durkheim thought that belief was more like a flag than a philosophical position: You don’t go to church because you believe in God; rather you believe in God because you go to church.”

Applying that thinking to religion in general, not just churches, here is the question for the week:

Is belief overrated?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

Belief is not only generally overrated, it is most often fallacious, because it is based on the material mind.

To say it is overrated is to say that it has some value. Blind faith and blind doubt are to be avoided in spiritual life.

(Atheist state that the theist's belief in God is as reasonable as believing in a flying spaghetti monster)

The saintly do not believe in God, they experience and know God. Just as the educated do not believe that one plus one is two, the experience and know it.

Faith means a hope in an anticipated outcome. There is nothing that we do in life that does not involve faith. We perform our daily actions on the premise of some expected hope. However faith can be solidified by experiencing the applied hypothesis’ desired result. One needs only a small amount of belief that the experiment is worth one’s endeavor.

Information regarding non-material subjects can only come from a non-material source. The material mind, its senses, and the instruments of such senses, will never be able to validate, disprove, or discover something beyond matter.

The initial belief needed to apply the experiment of spiritual life grows from association of those are expert in the practice. Experiencing the expert’s difference in consciousness and hearing the sound philosophical principles they teach, attracts one to take up the experiment of spiritual life.

If the experiment is valid, then the result will be experienced. When the result

is experienced, the hypothesis is verified.

Therefore what Durkheim stated can be said to be true, as many religious adherents fanatically believe something yet there is no change away from exploitative consciousness.

The last consideration is that spiritual information can only remain intact if it is passed down in a teacher to disciple lineage. Just as the science of medicine cannot be preserved in books alone.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.

TEXAS FAITH 104: Is Belief Overrated?
→ Nityananda Chandra Das' Blog, ISKCON Dallas

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

Let’s return to an issue that we dealt with back in April, when I asked you all a question about belief. The question dealt with what it means that we may believe differently about different things. You can read answers at this link.

A couple of weeks ago, Keven Willey, the Morning News‘ editorial page editor, passed along this essay from Stanford anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann, author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.” As you will see from this link as well, Luhrmann gets into several lines of thought about belief and how we arrive at it religious convictions.

What I would like you to comment upon is this part of her New York Times essay:

“The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated, as anthropologists have long known. In 1912, Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern social science, argued that religion arose as a way for social groups to experience themselves as groups. He thought that when people experienced themselves in social groups, they felt bigger than themselves, better, more alive — and that they identified that aliveness as something supernatural. Religious ideas arose to make some sense of this experience of being part of something greater. Durkheim thought that belief was more like a flag than a philosophical position: You don’t go to church because you believe in God; rather you believe in God because you go to church.”

Applying that thinking to religion in general, not just churches, here is the question for the week:

Is belief overrated?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

Belief is not only generally overrated, it is most often fallacious, because it is based on the material mind.

To say it is overrated is to say that it has some value. Blind faith and blind doubt are to be avoided in spiritual life.

(Atheist state that the theist's belief in God is as reasonable as believing in a flying spaghetti monster)

The saintly do not believe in God, they experience and know God. Just as the educated do not believe that one plus one is two, the experience and know it.

Faith means a hope in an anticipated outcome. There is nothing that we do in life that does not involve faith. We perform our daily actions on the premise of some expected hope. However faith can be solidified by experiencing the applied hypothesis’ desired result. One needs only a small amount of belief that the experiment is worth one’s endeavor.

Information regarding non-material subjects can only come from a non-material source. The material mind, its senses, and the instruments of such senses, will never be able to validate, disprove, or discover something beyond matter.

The initial belief needed to apply the experiment of spiritual life grows from association of those are expert in the practice. Experiencing the expert’s difference in consciousness and hearing the sound philosophical principles they teach, attracts one to take up the experiment of spiritual life.

If the experiment is valid, then the result will be experienced. When the result

is experienced, the hypothesis is verified.

Therefore what Durkheim stated can be said to be true, as many religious adherents fanatically believe something yet there is no change away from exploitative consciousness.

The last consideration is that spiritual information can only remain intact if it is passed down in a teacher to disciple lineage. Just as the science of medicine cannot be preserved in books alone.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.

TEXAS FAITH 103: Are Interfaith Marriages Good for Couples?
→ Nityananda Chandra Das' Blog, ISKCON Dallas

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

Naomi Schaefer Riley has a new book out with the title Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America. You can read about that book at this link and then this link.

Interestingly, Riley, a former Wall Street Journal editor who has written extensively about religion and culture, notes that 45 percent of all U.S. marriages in the last decade were between people of different faiths. Naturally, we may look at that as a sign of greater acceptance and tolerance, which a broad society needs to remain dynamic and growing.

But Riley also reports that marrying across religious lines may be very difficult for the couples involved. Their deeply-held differences may eventually become a problem, especially when it comes to raising children.

There are a number of ways we could go with this question, including why dating couples may spend more time worrying about political differences than religious distinctions. Feel free to chime in on that aspect, if you like. But the main point I would like you to consider is this:

Interfaith marriages may help the broader society, but are they good for the couples?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

Generally no. Couples who have different life goals will find conflicts. However, there are two circumstances where one would expect less conflict:

First, for many people religion is like a label. Their life, their habits, and their goals may not really differ from others. So no real conflict there.

Second, for the few who are spiritually mature, they may be able to appreciate their partner’s devotion to the same Lord who is known by different names. So for such people there may no conflicts.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.

TEXAS FAITH 103: Are Interfaith Marriages Good for Couples?
→ Nityananda Chandra Das' Blog, ISKCON Dallas

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

Naomi Schaefer Riley has a new book out with the title Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America. You can read about that book at this link and then this link.

Interestingly, Riley, a former Wall Street Journal editor who has written extensively about religion and culture, notes that 45 percent of all U.S. marriages in the last decade were between people of different faiths. Naturally, we may look at that as a sign of greater acceptance and tolerance, which a broad society needs to remain dynamic and growing.

But Riley also reports that marrying across religious lines may be very difficult for the couples involved. Their deeply-held differences may eventually become a problem, especially when it comes to raising children.

There are a number of ways we could go with this question, including why dating couples may spend more time worrying about political differences than religious distinctions. Feel free to chime in on that aspect, if you like. But the main point I would like you to consider is this:

Interfaith marriages may help the broader society, but are they good for the couples?

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas 

Generally no. Couples who have different life goals will find conflicts. However, there are two circumstances where one would expect less conflict:

First, for many people religion is like a label. Their life, their habits, and their goals may not really differ from others. So no real conflict there.

Second, for the few who are spiritually mature, they may be able to appreciate their partner’s devotion to the same Lord who is known by different names. So for such people there may no conflicts.

To see all responses of the TEXAS Faith panel click here.

Snana Yatra
→ Ramai Swami

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Many devotees came to New Govardhana to observe the Snana Yatra of Lord Jagannatha. Millennia ago, King Indradyumna started the ceremony of bathing Lord Jagannatha with 108 pots of sandal-scented well water.

At that time, Lord Jagannatha told the King that for fifteen days after snana-yatra, no one should see the deities. Skanda Purana says that Sri Krishna manifested His Daru Brahman form (wooden form) as Jagannatha Swami on this day. Therefore, it is the appearance day of Lord Jagannatha or Birthday of Lord Jagannatha.

It is said that Lord Jagannatha is burning in the intense fever of separation from Radhika in Vraja, so He is taken out on the temple roof to ‘cool off’. Unfortunately, Lord Jagannatha gets hotter and the pujaris, in the mood of Vraja-gopis, pour 108 pitchers of cool sandal-scented water over Lord Jagannatha’s head.

However, even this gives no relief and Jagannath becomes hotter. Afterwards, Lord Jagannath retires in secluded place with Laksmi-devi for fourteen days. At this time, Jagannath is fed coconut water and nice juices.

Fortunate devotees wash away all their sins if they get a vision of Lord Jagannatha on this day.

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Travel Journal#9.10: Ireland, The North of England, London
→ Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 10
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2013, part two
)
Ireland, The North of England, London
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne on June 25, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

Ananta Nitai Prabhu and I did our usual program in Dublin of a twelve-hour harinama on Saturday and a twelve-hour kirtana in the temple on Monday. I also participated in the kirtana following the Sunday feast, new since my last year’s visit there, which lasted an hour and forty minutes, and the two-hour Tuesday kirtana program. Then I returned to Newcastle for their Wednesday kirtana program, Nrsimha Caturdasi harinama, and the Sunday feast. Every day in Newcastle I went on harinama, almost always for three-hours. On the final day, I went to Sunderland with Satya Medha Gouranga and his kid, Bhana, and we chanted there for almost two hours, and I share his account of that. Then I went to Sheffield for a well-attended nama-hatta program that is getting new attendees and a two-hour birthday kirtana program in Preston.Then I went to London to take my sister to Govinda’s Restaurant during her brief stopover from New York to South Africa.

I share many quotes from writings of Srila Prabhupada and some excerpts from the unpublished second volume of The Story of My Life, the autobiography of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami.

Our Third Twelve-Hour Harinama in Dublin


On Saturday, May 18, we chanted Hare Krishna on the streets of Dublin from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. In the beginning it was just the organizers, Ananta Nitai Prabhu and myself, and we did a walking harinama around the city for the first two or three hours. Then others joined us, and we chanted on the sidewalk by the intersection of Middle Abbey Street and O’Connell Street, less than half a block from the temple. The weather was good for Ireland, not too cold, windy, or rainy.

The brightest side of this twelve-hour harinama was the participation of Premarnava Prabhu, which dramatically increased since last year from five to nine hours. At one point, he chanted for four and a half hours straight! He is playing harmonium in the picture below accompanied by Ananta Nitai Prabhu on the drum.


Some onlookers enjoyed interacting with the devotees in different ways.




There are always unusual things that happen on harinama.


One lady, who regularly comes to the temple, helped by playing the karatalas,while carrying her pet dog in a knapsack on her back the whole time.

Two guys with horse heads who passed by us four times, dancing every time. Somehow I never got my camera out in time to photograph them.



An orange tiger danced with us, clapping his hands as well, and one brahmacari suggested we have a tiger with us as a regular feature to attract attention to the chanting!

Speaking of tigers, Tyger Lillie, who is from Gainesville but studying in Dublin for Summer A, recognized me from Krishna Lunch and Krishna House. I told her about our Sunday feast program and three Govinda's restaurants in Dublin and gave her a maha-prasadamcookie from Radha-Madhava in Belfast, and she was very happy about that. I hope she can take advantage of our opportunities for connecting with Krishna in Dublin.

Because of the cold and wind, because I had taken small meals for breakfast and lunch, and because I was tired from standing up for so many hours, during the last hour of the twelve-hour harinama I found myself looking at the clock every five minutes. I realized I had do to something about this ridiculous situation. I decided to control my mind with my intelligence, and just focus on two things, chanting Hare Krishna and hearing Hare Krishna. Then the time sped by.

Except for the twelve-hour kirtan day, we did harinama every day in Dublin. Again, as had happened during our twelve-hour harinama, others, sometimes wearing costumes, would briefly join the harinamaparty in a jolly mood!


Photo (c) 2013 David Gray, another friendly soul in Ireland, who kindly emailed his wonderful photograph to me at my request.

Twelve-Hour Kirtan in the Dublin Temple


Monday, two days after our twelve-hour harinama, we had a twelve-hour kirtan at the temple, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The most striking thing for me was the interest of people who were newly introduced to Krishna consciousness. One Iranian man, who had been coming to the temple programs for at most a week, having received a book by Golukendra Prabhu on the streets, amazed me by participating for over ten hours in our kirtana event. A girl from Brazil, who had only been coming for two weeks, spent five hours in the kirtana, blissfully listening to the transcendental sound vibration. A couple young ladies from the yoga scene, spend several hours in the kirtana. Premarnava told me they had come to a twelve-hour kirtan the Dublin devotees did on Christmas, and just a week before this once in May, they had asked him if there was going to be another one, and so they learned of it and came.







One devotee youth danced with child of an Indian lady during the transcendental music. Both of them, and the child’s mother as well, were present for several hours of the kirtana.



One girl from Slovakia, who spent a lot of time in the twelve-hour kirtana, came out on harinama for the first time the next day and distributed invitations. On the harinama she talked to someone who appeared to really like the chanting, and the girl told how she had danced with us on Saturday, during our twelve-hour harinama.

We took turns leading the chanting during the day.






Nanda Kumar Prabhu and his wife sing sweet kirtan.



Manu Prabhu played the accordion at the end, getting lots of people dancing.

I was pleased to see the great interest in the twelve-hour kirtana event, and the Dublin devotees, also inspired by the participation, spoke of planning another one for the next Ekadasi.

Nrsimha Caturdasi Harinama in Newcastle

Despite temperatures in the forties (below 10 C), with 29 mph (47 kph) winds from the northeast and intermittent rain, a party of seven devotees chanted in downtown Newcastle upon Tyne, for three hours to celebrate Nrsimha Caturdasi. Although daily public congregational chanting was demonstrated in the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, often we do not make it part of our celebration of our festivals, although I personally think it adds a lot. Once thing it does is engage the public in the celebration of the holy day, even unknowingly, to their great spiritual credit. Also the chanting seems to have a more powerful effect on the holy days. Thus I was very happy that leading devotees like Bhakta Rasa and his wife, Kirtida, were supportive of the idea of celebrating Lord Nrsimha’s appearance with three hours of harinama.


Kirtida dd, in the pink sari, led a fired up kirtana,dancing as she played the harmonium. The two young women with her must have danced with us for half an hour, continuing even after it started to rain. They appeared to be so happy dancing with the Hare Krishnas, like it was the most fun they had in a long time. Originally those two girls and two more friends were sitting on a bench and watching us. Then two of them gave donations, and I gave them books and invitations, which they looked at. Then after some time, they came to join the dancing.

Despite the cruel climate, Bhanu, the child of Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu, who took the photos, was peaceful in his stroller (buggy) the whole time except later when he moved his legs with the music so much one shoe fell off.

On the next Sunday feast, we talked about and also had a puppet show about Lord Nrsimha. After the whole feast program, Diya and her friends, were so fired up they had an extra kirtan in the gift shop:




Sunderland Harinama

Satya Medha Gouranga Prabhu writes of our Sunderland harinama,and in his account I include in square brackets additional details of my own, “There was a very sweet harinamain Sunderland (or ‘Shyama-sunderland’ as His Holiness Janananda Gosvami Maharaja calls this place!)

There were lots of people on the street. An elderly gentleman came to give a donation [as we were walking to our harinama site], and then Krishna-kripa Prabhu approached him to give a book. He said with a smile: ‘For many, many years I have seen the Hare Krishna people on the street. It’s really nice to see you all again.’

Later on a lady stopped by and mentioned about George Harrison. It’s really great to see how so many people appreciate the harinama.

After a while a group of [four] teenagers [who had walked past previously] came and stood nearby. They were listening to harinama.Then they started swinging gently with the beautiful tune of maha-mantraand gradually started dancing. They kept on dancing and smiling. It looked so natural for them. Krishna-kripa Prabhu took out few leaflets of maha-mantrafrom his bag and gave them to the teenagers [pointing out to them the words to the song].

Now each of them was holding the maha-mantrain her hand, and they started reading word for word and singing to it. Practically each of them was singing as they were reading out the maha-mantra.

It was a wonderful scene—suddenly so many voices singing maha-mantra,the people on the street were amazed to see this.

After the harinamaKrishna-kripa Prabhu was preaching to the group of young people
and invited them to come to temple programs.

As they were leaving they looked so bright, happy and blissful.”

One of the group had taken a video of her friends singing and dancing with us, and asked her to send me a link to the video, but as is mostly the case, she did not. The young people joined in the kirtana for fifteen minutes, and because they had come just as we were going to finish, we ended up staying out an extra fifteen minutes just because of them!

Traveling with the Scottish Brahmacaris

Raghunatha Bhatta and Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu, in addition to distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in Scotland and The North of England, also help organize and maintain the nama-hatta programs in the Manchester area. The end of this month, I joined them as a lecturer and kirtana leader for their programs in Sheffield and Preston. It was nice to spend a couple of days with a brahmacari party so focused on their spiritual program and their outreach. Three weeks before, I had done the Sheffield program and it was austere to do the public chanting alone. Thus I was so happy to be with three other enthusiastic brahmacaris. The harinama makes more visible impact the more devotees you have. As you can see in this video of our Sheffield harinama, when you have a lively group, people are more inclined to join in:



Later at the program in Sheffield, I was happy to see lots of guests, new and old, and the prasadam consisted of a whole dinner, not just a snack.

In Preston we participated in a special birthday program. Caitanya Vallabha explained:

Vidyagati Devi Dasi invited all her friends and relatives to come for a two-hour kirtana at her homefollowed by prasadam for her birthday. We find it is difficult to get people to come to our nama-hatta programs but easy to get them to come to birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Last year one devotee rented a hall for a celebration in honor of his child’s first birthday, and we did kirtana, a drama, and prasadam. It was very successful. And so more and more we are taking advantage of these kinds of events to spread awareness of Krishna consciousness to those who would otherwise might never come to a Hare Krishna program.”

My Sister Visits London



Karen, my sister, who works as a counselor and teaches mindfulness in Albany, New York, had a ten-hour layover in London, flying from New York to South Africa. So I went to London to take her to Govinda’s Restaurant on Soho Street. She has been vegetarian for over forty years, seven years longer than me. I also gave her some maha-prasadam from Radha-Londonisvara for her to share with her daughter Fern and Fern’s boyfriend, Oliver, in South Africa. She got the large thali at Govinda’s and ate practically everything. Coincidentally at Govinda’s, we met London temple president, Jai Nitai Prabhu, also from America, and had a very nice visit with him. As my sister wanted to visit a park to rejuvenate between flights, we went to Regents Park, where Srila Prabhupada liked to take his morning walk and which some London devotees told us he said was like Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.



Seeing the beauty of the gardens, the waterfall, and the birds, you could get a clue why he might have said that.


Later on one web site, I read that Prabhupada disciple, Svati devi dasi recalled:
One morning some of Srila Prabhupada’s students were walking with him in London’s Regents Park. All kinds of flowers grew there, and I was remembering that each day we offered lovely flowers like these to the Krishna Deity back at the temple.


Before long I asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘When we offer flowers to Krishna, do their spirit souls go back to the spiritual world?’
Srila Prabhupada remained silent awhile and then answered, ‘Yes. But factually they are already in the kingdom of God.’ He stopped, waved his cane over the cranes, ducks, people, and flowers in the park, and said, ‘They are all in the kingdom of God.’
Starting to see from his point of view, I said, ‘Yes, Srila Prabhupada, but they are not aware that they are in the kingdom of God.’
He replied, ‘That is the duty of a spiritual master to make them aware.’” [Copied from web site: http://backtogodhead.in/some-personal-recollections-by-his-disciples/]
One of Karen’s favorite desserts is cheese cake and one of mine is srikhand, both of which were mango flavored at Govinda’s that day, so after our walking in the park, we got one of each and shared it.

And off Karen went back to the airport, and I did harinama with a friend to King Cross, to do the evening lecture at Matchless Gifts there. Then after the program, a group of four of us did harinama back to the temple, so although spending a few hours with my sister in the afternoon, I was still able to participate in four harinamas, though one quite briefly, on that last day of May.

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.21–22, given in London, on August 26, 1973:

Spiritual service means every moment new. If you find it hackneyed, then you must know that you are not serving spiritually. It is not formality or stereotype. But if you feel newer and newer energy, then you know that you are serving spiritually. The test is within our hand. If during mangala-aratiwe feel laziness, that means I’m not yet spiritually advanced; and if one feels enthused, ‘Now it is time for mangala-arati, let me stand up!’ Then it is spiritual. Anyone can test.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2:

The recommendation of Rupa Gosvami for reviving our original Krishna consciousness is that somehow or other we should apply our minds to Krishna very seriously and thus also become fearless of death. After death we do not know our destination, because we are completely under the control of the laws of nature. Only Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is controller over the laws of nature. Therefore, if we take shelter of Krishna seriously, there will be no fear of being thrown back into the cycle of so many species of life. A sincere devotee will surely be transferred to the abode of Krishna, as affirmed in Bhagavad-gita.

Padma Purana recommends that one always fix his mind on the form of Vishnu by meditation and not forget Him at any moment. And this state of consciousness is called samadhi, or trance. We should always try to mold the activities of our lives in such a way that we will constantly remember Vishnu, or Krishna. That is Krishna
consciousness.”

It doesn’t matter whether one is a beginner—a brahmacari—or is very advanced—a sannyasi. The principle of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly and not forgetting Him at any moment is meant to be followed by everyone without fail.”

According to Vedic injunctions, when a brahmana eats it is to be understood that the Personality of Godhead is eating through him. It is not, however, that the brahmana should simply eat on behalf of the Lord and not preach the message of Bhagavad-gita to the world.Actually, one who preaches the message of the Gitais very dear to Krishna, as is confirmed in the Gitaitself. Such a preacher is factually a brahmana,and thus by feeding him one feeds the Supreme Lord directly.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 3:

Lord Krishna says in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, Twentieth Chapter, verse 8, ‘My dear Uddhava, only by exceptional fortune does someone become attracted to Me. And even if one is not completely detached from fruitive activities, or is not completely attached to devotional service, such service is quickly effective.’”

Devotional service and the happiness due to its execution are not possible as long as one is materially affected. . . . anyone who has any desire or aspiration for satisfying his senses by becoming more and more important, either in the material sense or in the
spiritual sense, cannot actually relish the really sweet taste of devotional service. Srila Rupa Gosvami has therefore compared possessing these bhukti (material) and mukti (liberation) desires with being influenced by the black art of a witch: in both cases one is in trouble. Bhukti means material enjoyment, and mukti means to become freed
from material anxiety and to become one with the Lord. These desires are compared to being haunted by ghosts and witches, because while these aspirations for material enjoyment or spiritual oneness with the Supreme remain, no one can relish the actual transcendental taste of devotional service.”

The attention of a pure devotee is so much attracted to glorification of the Lord’s pastimes, name, qualities, forms, etc., that the devotee does not care for mukti. Sri Bilvamangala Thakura has said, ‘If I am engaged in devotional service unto You, my dear Lord, then very easily can I perceive Your presence everywhere. And as far as liberation is concerned, I think liberation stands at my door with folded hands, waiting to serve me.’”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.42:

King Malayadhvaja could thus observe that the Supersoul was sitting by his side, and that he, as the individual soul, was sitting by the side of the Supersoul. Since both were together, there was no need for separate interests; thus he ceased from such activities.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 1.63, purport:

There is no need to be unhappy over not being able to enter a certain temple. Such dogmatic prohibitions were not approved by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Those who were thought unfit to enter the Jagannatha temple [Srila Haridasa Thakura, Srila Rupa Goswami, and Srila Sanatana Goswami, who had previous intimate connections with Muslims] were daily visited byCaitanya Mahaprabhu, and this indicates that Caitanya Mahaprabhudid not approve of the prohibitions.”


from the The Story of My Life, Volume 2, to be published in December 2013:

I wrote to Prabhupada that sometimes I like to wash the dishes. He wrote back approving and said we should always be engaged in Krishna consciousness, and Krishna will give us the intelligence what to do at a particular time such as when to do the dishes.

Practicing writing regularly calms the mind, not because you write about nice things, but because your fears, anxieties, your troubled thoughts, know they will have a place and time to express themselves.

Actually, a premature understanding can hinder our progress and even delay us. It has been said that if we think ourselves female servants in our eternal form without becoming free from mundane bodily identification, we could be forced to take a female body next time aroundin the material world.

If a headache comes, I’d like to see it not as a defeat but as a purification, similar to extra chanting.

Got desk lamp, scrounged memories, heard dogs bark, free wrote in sacred land protected by amenities, prayed,Krishna make me truthfulbut not too painfully.”
Krishna-Balarama, Radha-Syama, and Gaura-Nitai stand in transcendence. They are not marble statues, although I am a statue before them, cold in heart and cold in body.”
Reading Prabhupada’s books is like a medicine we constantly need to ingest, but it goes beyond that. It’s a nourishing and tasty food. Why ever stop? It’s a shame if we abandon such nourishing and become disgusted with it and start to crave novelty for its own sake. Prabhupada does say thatVariety is the mother of enjoyment,” but we can find it in his books.”

When I first took LSD it was a little frightening, but it became glorious. Now I can analyze and know it was a hallucination. But at the time I felt my consciousness expanding, and I broke through the doors of my perception. I could see the world in vivid detail and it seemed beautiful. When I was first introduced to Krishna consciousness and the experience of chanting, I was willing to try it partly because of my broad mindedness resulting from LSD. I had to stop LSD to actually practice Krishna consciousness, but it was an initial help. I took LSD about fifty times, and some of my trips were negative and one almost killed me. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I’m thankful for the life of Krishna consciousness that Prabhupada has given me. There was never a dull moment. It was filled with so many adventures and challenges and duties. Rewarding moments spent in association with the pure devotee and his disciples, the family of Krishna conscious Vaisnavas. Vast affection for His Divine Grace. He has given us japa, kirtana, his books, prasadam, association of devotees. He had given us the heavy order to preach, and we are thankful for that although we don’t measure up to it fully. He has given us the great opportunity to snap the cycle of birth and death. If we act on it we can make it relatively soon. Thankful for him giving us the transcendental life. Talk about yourself going through life with real purpose.

There are different kinds of people, and they may or may not be receptive to Krishna consciousness. Hippies who weren’t social activists and who were just enjoying themselves and renouncing material success would be more open to Krishna consciousness, but those who were committed social activists would see us as not responding properly to the ills of the world. For the hardcore activists that is their religion, and it replaces Krishna consciousness.

Devotees pray for permission before they do anything. I would like to enact that on a personal level. Just be simple. Don’t try for big endeavors. In whatever you do, try to do it for Krishna, and speak to Him in your own words all the time. Say, “My dear Lord, I’m about to eat now. Let it be in Your service.” If we do this, then we will not let ourselves do something that obviously has no service connection with Krishna. How can we ask Him personal permission if it’s not something He likes?

The psychiatrists are always advising us to relax and enjoy and achieve, etc. Or they are telling us to do nothing. Space out. But they never conceive that each and every act should be done to please Krishna and that you can consult Him and ask His permission.
Notes for today’s meeting with disciples: First I’ll mention that some devotees said they would not attend these meetings because they hated crowds and big social scenes. I can empathize with this feeling. I also want to say that meeting like these are valid happenings. Sure it’s a performance, but that in itself is not a bad thing. Musicians also perform before audiences, but they actually make their peak expressions at that time, even better than when they play alone.

I also like to think of myself as avant-garde, writer, semi-retired, detached sannyasi. But I want to think of myself as making a contribution to ISKCON. This is my offering and don’t push it off the altar.

from a lecture:

Although Arjuna was a married man and a military man, Krishna was inclined to Him because he was a devotee and a friend of Krishna. That is the actual qualification.

Tulasi Priya Prabhu of Dublin:

We do not want to imitate the great spiritual teachers, but we do want to attain their realizations.

Ananta Nitai Prabhu:

When I first got Bhagavad-gita I could not understand it, but five years later, after I stopped eating meat and drinking alcohol for economic reasons, I read it straight through.

Due to the materialistic contamination in this age of Kali, the brahmanas [intellectual class] look down on the ksatriyas [administrative class], the ksatriyas look down on the vaishyas [the productive class], and the vaishyas look down on the sudras [labor class].

Although it is not wise to offend saintly persons, saints are so kind often those who offend them are ultimately benefited in ways they never would have been otherwise.

The more we do the congregational chanting, the more it will seem natural to do it, and the more it will spread out to others.

from a conversation:

Ireland is just a rock in the middle of the Atlantic. What is all the fighting about?

-----

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam

Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.” (Siksastaka 1, quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya 20.12)

Travel Journal#9.10: Ireland, The North of England, London
→ Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 9, No. 10
By Krishna-kripa das
(May 2013, part two
)
Ireland, The North of England, London
(Sent from Newcastle upon Tyne on June 25, 2013)

Where I Went and What I Did

Ananta Nitai Prabhu and I did our usual program in Dublin of a twelve-hour harinama on Saturday and a twelve-hour kirtana in the temple on Monday. I also participated in the kirtana following the Sunday feast, new since my last year’s visit there, which lasted an hour and forty minutes, and the two-hour Tuesday kirtana program. Then I returned to Newcastle for their Wednesday kirtana program, Nrsimha Caturdasi harinama, and the Sunday feast. Every day in Newcastle I went on harinama, almost always for three-hours. On the final day, I went to Sunderland with Satya Medha Gouranga and his kid, Bhana, and we chanted there for almost two hours, and I share his account of that. Then I went to Sheffield for a well-attended nama-hatta program that is getting new attendees and a two-hour birthday kirtana program in Preston.Then I went to London to take my sister to Govinda’s Restaurant during her brief stopover from New York to South Africa.

I share many quotes from writings of Srila Prabhupada and some excerpts from the unpublished second volume of The Story of My Life, the autobiography of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami.

Our Third Twelve-Hour Harinama in Dublin


On Saturday, May 18, we chanted Hare Krishna on the streets of Dublin from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. In the beginning it was just the organizers, Ananta Nitai Prabhu and myself, and we did a walking harinama around the city for the first two or three hours. Then others joined us, and we chanted on the sidewalk by the intersection of Middle Abbey Street and O’Connell Street, less than half a block from the temple. The weather was good for Ireland, not too cold, windy, or rainy.

The brightest side of this twelve-hour harinama was the participation of Premarnava Prabhu, which dramatically increased since last year from five to nine hours. At one point, he chanted for four and a half hours straight! He is playing harmonium in the picture below accompanied by Ananta Nitai Prabhu on the drum.


Some onlookers enjoyed interacting with the devotees in different ways.




There are always unusual things that happen on harinama.


One lady, who regularly comes to the temple, helped by playing the karatalas,while carrying her pet dog in a knapsack on her back the whole time.

Two guys with horse heads who passed by us four times, dancing every time. Somehow I never got my camera out in time to photograph them.



An orange tiger danced with us, clapping his hands as well, and one brahmacari suggested we have a tiger with us as a regular feature to attract attention to the chanting!

Speaking of tigers, Tyger Lillie, who is from Gainesville but studying in Dublin for Summer A, recognized me from Krishna Lunch and Krishna House. I told her about our Sunday feast program and three Govinda's restaurants in Dublin and gave her a maha-prasadamcookie from Radha-Madhava in Belfast, and she was very happy about that. I hope she can take advantage of our opportunities for connecting with Krishna in Dublin.

Because of the cold and wind, because I had taken small meals for breakfast and lunch, and because I was tired from standing up for so many hours, during the last hour of the twelve-hour harinama I found myself looking at the clock every five minutes. I realized I had do to something about this ridiculous situation. I decided to control my mind with my intelligence, and just focus on two things, chanting Hare Krishna and hearing Hare Krishna. Then the time sped by.

Except for the twelve-hour kirtan day, we did harinama every day in Dublin. Again, as had happened during our twelve-hour harinama, others, sometimes wearing costumes, would briefly join the harinamaparty in a jolly mood!


Photo (c) 2013 David Gray, another friendly soul in Ireland, who kindly emailed his wonderful photograph to me at my request.

Twelve-Hour Kirtan in the Dublin Temple


Monday, two days after our twelve-hour harinama, we had a twelve-hour kirtan at the temple, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The most striking thing for me was the interest of people who were newly introduced to Krishna consciousness. One Iranian man, who had been coming to the temple programs for at most a week, having received a book by Golukendra Prabhu on the streets, amazed me by participating for over ten hours in our kirtana event. A girl from Brazil, who had only been coming for two weeks, spent five hours in the kirtana, blissfully listening to the transcendental sound vibration. A couple young ladies from the yoga scene, spend several hours in the kirtana. Premarnava told me they had come to a twelve-hour kirtan the Dublin devotees did on Christmas, and just a week before this once in May, they had asked him if there was going to be another one, and so they learned of it and came.







One devotee youth danced with child of an Indian lady during the transcendental music. Both of them, and the child’s mother as well, were present for several hours of the kirtana.



One girl from Slovakia, who spent a lot of time in the twelve-hour kirtana, came out on harinama for the first time the next day and distributed invitations. On the harinama she talked to someone who appeared to really like the chanting, and the girl told how she had danced with us on Saturday, during our twelve-hour harinama.

We took turns leading the chanting during the day.






Nanda Kumar Prabhu and his wife sing sweet kirtan.



Manu Prabhu played the accordion at the end, getting lots of people dancing.

I was pleased to see the great interest in the twelve-hour kirtana event, and the Dublin devotees, also inspired by the participation, spoke of planning another one for the next Ekadasi.

Nrsimha Caturdasi Harinama in Newcastle

Despite temperatures in the forties (below 10 C), with 29 mph (47 kph) winds from the northeast and intermittent rain, a party of seven devotees chanted in downtown Newcastle upon Tyne, for three hours to celebrate Nrsimha Caturdasi. Although daily public congregational chanting was demonstrated in the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, often we do not make it part of our celebration of our festivals, although I personally think it adds a lot. Once thing it does is engage the public in the celebration of the holy day, even unknowingly, to their great spiritual credit. Also the chanting seems to have a more powerful effect on the holy days. Thus I was very happy that leading devotees like Bhakta Rasa and his wife, Kirtida, were supportive of the idea of celebrating Lord Nrsimha’s appearance with three hours of harinama.


Kirtida dd, in the pink sari, led a fired up kirtana,dancing as she played the harmonium. The two young women with her must have danced with us for half an hour, continuing even after it started to rain. They appeared to be so happy dancing with the Hare Krishnas, like it was the most fun they had in a long time. Originally those two girls and two more friends were sitting on a bench and watching us. Then two of them gave donations, and I gave them books and invitations, which they looked at. Then after some time, they came to join the dancing.

Despite the cruel climate, Bhanu, the child of Satya Medha Gauranga Prabhu, who took the photos, was peaceful in his stroller (buggy) the whole time except later when he moved his legs with the music so much one shoe fell off.

On the next Sunday feast, we talked about and also had a puppet show about Lord Nrsimha. After the whole feast program, Diya and her friends, were so fired up they had an extra kirtan in the gift shop:




Sunderland Harinama

Satya Medha Gouranga Prabhu writes of our Sunderland harinama,and in his account I include in square brackets additional details of my own, “There was a very sweet harinamain Sunderland (or ‘Shyama-sunderland’ as His Holiness Janananda Gosvami Maharaja calls this place!)

There were lots of people on the street. An elderly gentleman came to give a donation [as we were walking to our harinama site], and then Krishna-kripa Prabhu approached him to give a book. He said with a smile: ‘For many, many years I have seen the Hare Krishna people on the street. It’s really nice to see you all again.’

Later on a lady stopped by and mentioned about George Harrison. It’s really great to see how so many people appreciate the harinama.

After a while a group of [four] teenagers [who had walked past previously] came and stood nearby. They were listening to harinama.Then they started swinging gently with the beautiful tune of maha-mantraand gradually started dancing. They kept on dancing and smiling. It looked so natural for them. Krishna-kripa Prabhu took out few leaflets of maha-mantrafrom his bag and gave them to the teenagers [pointing out to them the words to the song].

Now each of them was holding the maha-mantrain her hand, and they started reading word for word and singing to it. Practically each of them was singing as they were reading out the maha-mantra.

It was a wonderful scene—suddenly so many voices singing maha-mantra,the people on the street were amazed to see this.

After the harinamaKrishna-kripa Prabhu was preaching to the group of young people
and invited them to come to temple programs.

As they were leaving they looked so bright, happy and blissful.”

One of the group had taken a video of her friends singing and dancing with us, and asked her to send me a link to the video, but as is mostly the case, she did not. The young people joined in the kirtana for fifteen minutes, and because they had come just as we were going to finish, we ended up staying out an extra fifteen minutes just because of them!

Traveling with the Scottish Brahmacaris

Raghunatha Bhatta and Caitanya Vallabha Prabhu, in addition to distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in Scotland and The North of England, also help organize and maintain the nama-hatta programs in the Manchester area. The end of this month, I joined them as a lecturer and kirtana leader for their programs in Sheffield and Preston. It was nice to spend a couple of days with a brahmacari party so focused on their spiritual program and their outreach. Three weeks before, I had done the Sheffield program and it was austere to do the public chanting alone. Thus I was so happy to be with three other enthusiastic brahmacaris. The harinama makes more visible impact the more devotees you have. As you can see in this video of our Sheffield harinama, when you have a lively group, people are more inclined to join in:



Later at the program in Sheffield, I was happy to see lots of guests, new and old, and the prasadam consisted of a whole dinner, not just a snack.

In Preston we participated in a special birthday program. Caitanya Vallabha explained:

Vidyagati Devi Dasi invited all her friends and relatives to come for a two-hour kirtana at her homefollowed by prasadam for her birthday. We find it is difficult to get people to come to our nama-hatta programs but easy to get them to come to birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Last year one devotee rented a hall for a celebration in honor of his child’s first birthday, and we did kirtana, a drama, and prasadam. It was very successful. And so more and more we are taking advantage of these kinds of events to spread awareness of Krishna consciousness to those who would otherwise might never come to a Hare Krishna program.”

My Sister Visits London



Karen, my sister, who works as a counselor and teaches mindfulness in Albany, New York, had a ten-hour layover in London, flying from New York to South Africa. So I went to London to take her to Govinda’s Restaurant on Soho Street. She has been vegetarian for over forty years, seven years longer than me. I also gave her some maha-prasadam from Radha-Londonisvara for her to share with her daughter Fern and Fern’s boyfriend, Oliver, in South Africa. She got the large thali at Govinda’s and ate practically everything. Coincidentally at Govinda’s, we met London temple president, Jai Nitai Prabhu, also from America, and had a very nice visit with him. As my sister wanted to visit a park to rejuvenate between flights, we went to Regents Park, where Srila Prabhupada liked to take his morning walk and which some London devotees told us he said was like Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.



Seeing the beauty of the gardens, the waterfall, and the birds, you could get a clue why he might have said that.


Later on one web site, I read that Prabhupada disciple, Svati devi dasi recalled:
One morning some of Srila Prabhupada’s students were walking with him in London’s Regents Park. All kinds of flowers grew there, and I was remembering that each day we offered lovely flowers like these to the Krishna Deity back at the temple.


Before long I asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘When we offer flowers to Krishna, do their spirit souls go back to the spiritual world?’
Srila Prabhupada remained silent awhile and then answered, ‘Yes. But factually they are already in the kingdom of God.’ He stopped, waved his cane over the cranes, ducks, people, and flowers in the park, and said, ‘They are all in the kingdom of God.’
Starting to see from his point of view, I said, ‘Yes, Srila Prabhupada, but they are not aware that they are in the kingdom of God.’
He replied, ‘That is the duty of a spiritual master to make them aware.’” [Copied from web site: http://backtogodhead.in/some-personal-recollections-by-his-disciples/]
One of Karen’s favorite desserts is cheese cake and one of mine is srikhand, both of which were mango flavored at Govinda’s that day, so after our walking in the park, we got one of each and shared it.

And off Karen went back to the airport, and I did harinama with a friend to King Cross, to do the evening lecture at Matchless Gifts there. Then after the program, a group of four of us did harinama back to the temple, so although spending a few hours with my sister in the afternoon, I was still able to participate in four harinamas, though one quite briefly, on that last day of May.

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

from a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.21–22, given in London, on August 26, 1973:

Spiritual service means every moment new. If you find it hackneyed, then you must know that you are not serving spiritually. It is not formality or stereotype. But if you feel newer and newer energy, then you know that you are serving spiritually. The test is within our hand. If during mangala-aratiwe feel laziness, that means I’m not yet spiritually advanced; and if one feels enthused, ‘Now it is time for mangala-arati, let me stand up!’ Then it is spiritual. Anyone can test.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 2:

The recommendation of Rupa Gosvami for reviving our original Krishna consciousness is that somehow or other we should apply our minds to Krishna very seriously and thus also become fearless of death. After death we do not know our destination, because we are completely under the control of the laws of nature. Only Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is controller over the laws of nature. Therefore, if we take shelter of Krishna seriously, there will be no fear of being thrown back into the cycle of so many species of life. A sincere devotee will surely be transferred to the abode of Krishna, as affirmed in Bhagavad-gita.

Padma Purana recommends that one always fix his mind on the form of Vishnu by meditation and not forget Him at any moment. And this state of consciousness is called samadhi, or trance. We should always try to mold the activities of our lives in such a way that we will constantly remember Vishnu, or Krishna. That is Krishna
consciousness.”

It doesn’t matter whether one is a beginner—a brahmacari—or is very advanced—a sannyasi. The principle of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly and not forgetting Him at any moment is meant to be followed by everyone without fail.”

According to Vedic injunctions, when a brahmana eats it is to be understood that the Personality of Godhead is eating through him. It is not, however, that the brahmana should simply eat on behalf of the Lord and not preach the message of Bhagavad-gita to the world.Actually, one who preaches the message of the Gitais very dear to Krishna, as is confirmed in the Gitaitself. Such a preacher is factually a brahmana,and thus by feeding him one feeds the Supreme Lord directly.”

from The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 3:

Lord Krishna says in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, Twentieth Chapter, verse 8, ‘My dear Uddhava, only by exceptional fortune does someone become attracted to Me. And even if one is not completely detached from fruitive activities, or is not completely attached to devotional service, such service is quickly effective.’”

Devotional service and the happiness due to its execution are not possible as long as one is materially affected. . . . anyone who has any desire or aspiration for satisfying his senses by becoming more and more important, either in the material sense or in the
spiritual sense, cannot actually relish the really sweet taste of devotional service. Srila Rupa Gosvami has therefore compared possessing these bhukti (material) and mukti (liberation) desires with being influenced by the black art of a witch: in both cases one is in trouble. Bhukti means material enjoyment, and mukti means to become freed
from material anxiety and to become one with the Lord. These desires are compared to being haunted by ghosts and witches, because while these aspirations for material enjoyment or spiritual oneness with the Supreme remain, no one can relish the actual transcendental taste of devotional service.”

The attention of a pure devotee is so much attracted to glorification of the Lord’s pastimes, name, qualities, forms, etc., that the devotee does not care for mukti. Sri Bilvamangala Thakura has said, ‘If I am engaged in devotional service unto You, my dear Lord, then very easily can I perceive Your presence everywhere. And as far as liberation is concerned, I think liberation stands at my door with folded hands, waiting to serve me.’”

from Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.42:

King Malayadhvaja could thus observe that the Supersoul was sitting by his side, and that he, as the individual soul, was sitting by the side of the Supersoul. Since both were together, there was no need for separate interests; thus he ceased from such activities.”

from Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 1.63, purport:

There is no need to be unhappy over not being able to enter a certain temple. Such dogmatic prohibitions were not approved by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Those who were thought unfit to enter the Jagannatha temple [Srila Haridasa Thakura, Srila Rupa Goswami, and Srila Sanatana Goswami, who had previous intimate connections with Muslims] were daily visited byCaitanya Mahaprabhu, and this indicates that Caitanya Mahaprabhudid not approve of the prohibitions.”


from the The Story of My Life, Volume 2, to be published in December 2013:

I wrote to Prabhupada that sometimes I like to wash the dishes. He wrote back approving and said we should always be engaged in Krishna consciousness, and Krishna will give us the intelligence what to do at a particular time such as when to do the dishes.

Practicing writing regularly calms the mind, not because you write about nice things, but because your fears, anxieties, your troubled thoughts, know they will have a place and time to express themselves.

Actually, a premature understanding can hinder our progress and even delay us. It has been said that if we think ourselves female servants in our eternal form without becoming free from mundane bodily identification, we could be forced to take a female body next time aroundin the material world.

If a headache comes, I’d like to see it not as a defeat but as a purification, similar to extra chanting.

Got desk lamp, scrounged memories, heard dogs bark, free wrote in sacred land protected by amenities, prayed,Krishna make me truthfulbut not too painfully.”
Krishna-Balarama, Radha-Syama, and Gaura-Nitai stand in transcendence. They are not marble statues, although I am a statue before them, cold in heart and cold in body.”
Reading Prabhupada’s books is like a medicine we constantly need to ingest, but it goes beyond that. It’s a nourishing and tasty food. Why ever stop? It’s a shame if we abandon such nourishing and become disgusted with it and start to crave novelty for its own sake. Prabhupada does say thatVariety is the mother of enjoyment,” but we can find it in his books.”

When I first took LSD it was a little frightening, but it became glorious. Now I can analyze and know it was a hallucination. But at the time I felt my consciousness expanding, and I broke through the doors of my perception. I could see the world in vivid detail and it seemed beautiful. When I was first introduced to Krishna consciousness and the experience of chanting, I was willing to try it partly because of my broad mindedness resulting from LSD. I had to stop LSD to actually practice Krishna consciousness, but it was an initial help. I took LSD about fifty times, and some of my trips were negative and one almost killed me. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I’m thankful for the life of Krishna consciousness that Prabhupada has given me. There was never a dull moment. It was filled with so many adventures and challenges and duties. Rewarding moments spent in association with the pure devotee and his disciples, the family of Krishna conscious Vaisnavas. Vast affection for His Divine Grace. He has given us japa, kirtana, his books, prasadam, association of devotees. He had given us the heavy order to preach, and we are thankful for that although we don’t measure up to it fully. He has given us the great opportunity to snap the cycle of birth and death. If we act on it we can make it relatively soon. Thankful for him giving us the transcendental life. Talk about yourself going through life with real purpose.

There are different kinds of people, and they may or may not be receptive to Krishna consciousness. Hippies who weren’t social activists and who were just enjoying themselves and renouncing material success would be more open to Krishna consciousness, but those who were committed social activists would see us as not responding properly to the ills of the world. For the hardcore activists that is their religion, and it replaces Krishna consciousness.

Devotees pray for permission before they do anything. I would like to enact that on a personal level. Just be simple. Don’t try for big endeavors. In whatever you do, try to do it for Krishna, and speak to Him in your own words all the time. Say, “My dear Lord, I’m about to eat now. Let it be in Your service.” If we do this, then we will not let ourselves do something that obviously has no service connection with Krishna. How can we ask Him personal permission if it’s not something He likes?

The psychiatrists are always advising us to relax and enjoy and achieve, etc. Or they are telling us to do nothing. Space out. But they never conceive that each and every act should be done to please Krishna and that you can consult Him and ask His permission.
Notes for today’s meeting with disciples: First I’ll mention that some devotees said they would not attend these meetings because they hated crowds and big social scenes. I can empathize with this feeling. I also want to say that meeting like these are valid happenings. Sure it’s a performance, but that in itself is not a bad thing. Musicians also perform before audiences, but they actually make their peak expressions at that time, even better than when they play alone.

I also like to think of myself as avant-garde, writer, semi-retired, detached sannyasi. But I want to think of myself as making a contribution to ISKCON. This is my offering and don’t push it off the altar.

from a lecture:

Although Arjuna was a married man and a military man, Krishna was inclined to Him because he was a devotee and a friend of Krishna. That is the actual qualification.

Tulasi Priya Prabhu of Dublin:

We do not want to imitate the great spiritual teachers, but we do want to attain their realizations.

Ananta Nitai Prabhu:

When I first got Bhagavad-gita I could not understand it, but five years later, after I stopped eating meat and drinking alcohol for economic reasons, I read it straight through.

Due to the materialistic contamination in this age of Kali, the brahmanas [intellectual class] look down on the ksatriyas [administrative class], the ksatriyas look down on the vaishyas [the productive class], and the vaishyas look down on the sudras [labor class].

Although it is not wise to offend saintly persons, saints are so kind often those who offend them are ultimately benefited in ways they never would have been otherwise.

The more we do the congregational chanting, the more it will seem natural to do it, and the more it will spread out to others.

from a conversation:

Ireland is just a rock in the middle of the Atlantic. What is all the fighting about?

-----

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam

Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. That chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krishna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step.” (Siksastaka 1, quoted in Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya 20.12)

Tears of My Father
→ Karnamrita's blog

Author: 
Karnamrita Das

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer)

[reposted from 6-25-13] Two days after my birthday was my fathers’, or June 24th. This year I wanted to share some snapshots in my relationship with him, in the hope that it might be useful to you in your journey of self-exploration, making peace with your past (if required), or in general, having a balanced psychology so favorable for spiritual practice. Dear reader, I am indebted to you for taking the time to read this, and to think about your own relationship with your parents. What does it tell you about the nature of the material world of (re)birth, disease, old age, death and disappointment, and the importance of receiving the saving grace of spiritual knowledge and bhakti practices to uncover the eternal life of the soul?

I was running a preaching center on O Street in Washington D.C. in 1986. After leaving Baltimore with Maha-nidhi Swami to travel and preach, I gradually felt it would be a natural move to stay there. I had a small staff which fluctuated between 1 or 2 devotees. I also received some morale boosting, and financial support from the near-by Potomac MD, Temple from which devotees sometimes visited to chant, preach, or help cook. We held three feasts a week, mainly attended by college students and young people in the area. All was going fine for a few months after I settled in, and then, one afternoon between feasts, I felt like something ominous was in the air. It was a typical August sunny, muggy day, nothing unusual but this feeling. Although I couldn’t put my finger on the possible reason, I prayed for clarity to understand. As I was lost in thought, the ringing of the phone startled me. It was Barbara, my father’s current wife. She told me that my father had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

A long silence ensued. I didn’t have a personal reaction, being in shock, and besides, I wasn’t very good at dealing with others in such matters of intense sorrow. I was at a loss for words, thinking more about her, than for myself. Even today, it seems so inappropriate and trite to say things like “sorry for your loss,” or any number of socially correct statements. Finally, I was able to thank her for letting me know, and told her how sorry I was. Our conversation was awkward,

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Tears of My Father
→ Karnamrita.das's blog

Author: 
Karnamrita Das

(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer)
Hippie Dad photo HippieDad_zpsc746875e.jpg
Two days after my birthday was my fathers’, or June 24th. This year I wanted to share some snapshots in my relationship with him, in the hope that it might be useful to you in our journey of self-exploration, using that as a balanced platform for spiritual practice. Dear reader, I am indebted to you for taking the time to read this, and to think about your own relationship with your parents. What does it tell you about the nature of the material world of (re)birth, disease, old age, death and disappointment, and the importance of receiving the saving grace of spiritual knowledge and bhakti practices to uncover the eternal life of the soul?

I was running a preaching center on O Street in Washington D.C. in 1986. After leaving Baltimore with Maha-nidhi Swami to travel and preach, after some time I felt it would be a natural move to stay there. I had a small staff which fluctuated between 1 or 2 devotees. I also received some morale boosting, and financial support from the near-by Potomac MD, Temple from which devotees sometimes visited to chant, preach, or help cook. We held three feasts a week, mainly attended by college students and young people in the area. All was going fine for a few months after I settled in, and then, one afternoon between feasts, I felt like something ominous was in the air. It was a typical August sunny, muggy day, nothing unusual but this feeling. Although I couldn’t put my finger on the possible reason, I prayed for clarity to understand. As I was lost in thought, the ringing of the phone startled me. It was Barbara, my father’s current wife. She told me that my father had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

A long silence ensued. I didn’t have a personal reaction, being in shock, and besides, I wasn’t very good at dealing with others in such matters of intense sorrow. I was at a loss for words, thinking more about her, than for myself. Even today, it seems so inappropriate and trite to say things like “sorry for your loss,” or any number of socially correct statements. Finally, I was able to thank her for letting me know, and told her how sorry I was. Our conversation was awkward,

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aversion and attachment
→ everyday gita

Verse 3.34: There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.

On any path one follows, there are challenges and obstacles. Identifying these challenges is a key step to becoming successful in any endeavor we choose to pursue.

Now I don't know about you, but I've always felt that life should come with an instruction manual. That manual would contain clear guidelines as to how we can lead happy lives; as well, it would include a listing of all the unexpected trials, tribulations, twists and turns we are to encounter.

Imagine my surprise when I first read the Gita - I had found it! My guidebook for life! Within its pages, the Gita speaks at length as to how we can become happy. Equally important, it warns us of the problems we may face as living souls inhabiting a temporary body.

Now the Gita doesn't get into specifics...although sometimes it certainly does seem like it's been written specifically for me! Instead, it does one better.

The Gita empowers an individual.

For most of us, our issue is that we tend to look outside instead of looking in. In other words, we think we are so many "external" things - I am male, female, my mind, my body, my intelligence, my senses etc etc... We neglect who we really are- the soul.

In order to successfully live a happy life, we need to become cognizant of those things that can prevent us from achieving the goal of self-realization. After all, if we don't know who we are, how can we relate to anything/anyone else properly? Two such obstacles are identified today - the senses and their objects.

In a previous post we spoke at length discriminating between regulating and repressing one's senses. In concluding that topic, this perspective was offered:

Regulation isn't a lack of freedom. A lack of freedom is being bound by the dictates of our mind and senses and constantly succumbing to them. True freedom is being able to make a choice.

That being said...it doesn't just end there. See it's not just about the senses and their objects, it's how we relate to them. As today's verse describes, we can essentially categorize our interaction with them via these two adjectives - attachment and aversion.

Now, as many of you might have noticed, the Gita doesn't give everything away all at once. It slowly builds on points so that we get an opportunity to digest it all.

From the senses and sense objects that we can perceive and easily relate to, we now are moving on to a more subtle sphere. After all, it's easier to control our hands, tongue, ears, eyes and nose, but it's much harder to control whether we become attached to or averse of something.

That takes more than just knowledge. Knowledge may help us in practicing regulation, but it is only realization that can release us from the control of these two characteristics.

And what is that realization? That we are not this body. After all - attachment and aversion arises as a result of how something, someone or a situation affects or interacts with the body. It has nothing to do with the soul which is eternal and spiritual.