TOVP Front Mosaic of Srila Prabhupada

Hare Krishna!

I would like to share this wonderful sample painting of Srila Prabhupada done by bhaktin Ekatirina Andreeva from Volgograd in Russia. She is an aspiring disciple of His Holiness Gopal Krishna Maharaja, and as you can see is very talented! We look forward to her contributing in the TOVP project. This particular piece we are planning to place in the main front entrance of the TOVP as one of the two mosaics alongside the astrological clock. We will be turning this amazing sample painting into a mosaic work for that purpose.



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Saturday, September 12, 2020
→ The Walking Monk

Oakville, Ontario


Gathering Good


My feet didn’t go far today but, on a set of wheels, I did venture to Oakville. We were going to have our first ISKCON Oakville gathering but due to the number of Covid-19 victims rising, that was canceled. It was regrettable, however, Kasyapa and Panchami saved the day. This couple, who have successfully run a centre in Saskatoon for eight years, are back in the Greater Toronto Area, and they opened up their home for a smaller group event.


I asked them if I could bring Cameron, Chris, Nick and Christopher to their home, because each and every one of these guys are quite sincere about their spirituality. Each one of them are serious about their japa chanting. That makes them special.


We sat down—one Indian family, a Mauritian family and then the four younger Caucasian guys—and listened or followed the verses from chapter eleven of the Gita. This chapter clearly stands out with its visually sensational display of magnificence. I correct myself though. Because we were a diverse group, we’re good. Nick is Guyanese. He treated us with his ukulele playing, along with the maha-mantrachanting.


Kasyapa and Panchami’s daughter is great with colour and paint. She gave me a gift of a Krishna image. She has a knack as an artist, with a unique style. Thank you, Radhika. And thanks, all, for a lovely evening.


May the Source be with you!

0 km


“ISKCON’S Mother”—Rajani Priya Dasi, Rose Forkash
Giriraj Swami

Today we celebrate the auspicious occasion of the 85th birthday of our dear Rose Forkash.

When Srila Prabhupada first arrived in America, it took some time—almost a year—before people began to take his message seriously. But gradually, after he moved to New York, some young men and women did join him. And after starting the first center, on Second Avenue, Srila Prabhupada sent some disciples to San Francisco. Soon thereafter, he went, too, and it was there that he inspired and celebrated the first Ratha-yatra in the Western world. Before leaving America to return to India, Srila Prabhupada told his disciples, “Whoever wants to please me”—of course, everyone wanted to please Srila Prabhupada—“should open a center.” So one young couple, Dayananda and his wife Nandarani, took up the call and went to Los Angeles and began the center there.

Eventually, some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples came to Santa Barbara, and one young person to get a copy of Back to Godhead was Linda Forkash. She brought the magazine home and read every page, and she told her mother, “Mom, this is it—this is what I have been looking for! This magazine is answering all of my questions about God.” Soon she decided to move into the Los Angeles temple in order to practice bhakti-yoga in the association of devotees, to realize her goal of developing love for God—Krishna consciousness.

Linda’s mother, Rose, being conscientious and loving as she is, soon followed her to Los Angeles—just to make sure everything was on the up-and-up. She got hold of Karandhara dasa, who was in charge of the activities there, and told him, “If I find out that there are any drugs going on here . . .” She did not know that the devotees did not take even tea and coffee and cigarettes; she just wanted to make sure that her daughter was in proper company.

In a room conversation in Bhubaneswar, January 20, 1977, Ramesvara told Srila Prabhupada, “We have one mother in Los Angeles of a girl named Lilashakti. She’s a big book distributor. And her mother, she loves this movement so much that when the deprogrammers start debating us, she stands up and yells at them that ‘My daughter was on drugs, hippie, before she came to this movement. This movement has saved her. If I had known about this movement when I was a young girl, I would have joined this movement!’ On television she’s speaking like that, very strongly: ‘You have no right to criticize! You don’t know anything about this movement.’ . . .  She says, ‘You just come over to my house for lunch and I’ll tell you all about this movement, how nice it is.’ She started this club, Parents for Krishna.” And Prabhupada replied, “Oh, she is very sincere. And her daughter, this Lilashakti. She’s a wonderful girl. She’s expert in everything.”

Now I would like to hear from some of the other devotees here, how they came in touch with Krishna consciousness and how they came to know Rose. I think of her as Aunt Rose. We have a saying in Chicago: “Everyone has an uncle (or aunt) in Skokie.” Rose actually lived in Skokie before she moved to Santa Barbara. So she definitely qualifies to be Aunt Rose—for many reasons. So, now I will call on Linda, or Lilashakti, to carry on the thread of the story.

Lilashakti dasi: As you were speaking about how we would go out and chant and distribute Back to Godheads, I was thinking of how many devotees in this room actually connected with Krishna through seeing the devotees on harinama and maybe getting a Back to Godhead. It was very powerful to see the devotees, and I remember chanting with them. The first couple of times, I would just stand there and observe, and then they would call me to join them and chant. I finally did, and I remember chanting on harinama with them and watching the people go by. It was as if I was immersed in and surrounded by the transcendental sound vibration, and what I was experiencing was totally different from the people walking by. The experience of the transcendental sound vibration was so powerful. Then, of course, reading the Back to Godhead. When I went home, it just solidified the experience. “Oh, so this is who God is. All right. Now someone is finally telling me.” As Maharaja said, it took me only a couple of weeks and I was saying goodbye to my mum and dad at the door. They stood in shock as a brahmachari with a shaved head pulled up in a little Volkswagen to drive me to Los Angeles.

I could not stay in the small temple that was in Santa Barbara then. There were five brahmacharis there, and they did not have a brahmacharini ashram. But then, as Maharaja said, it was not long—probably the very next Sunday feast—before my mother and father came and observed. Experiencing the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra and honoring prasada just hooked them. You just cannot escape it. It is the mercy of this day and age that even if you are not conscious of what you are hearing or what you are eating, you will become purified and attracted to Krishna. It is just magical. It works. And it worked with my mother and father, because then we could not keep them away. They just kept coming every week, and before you knew it, they were doing service. And before you knew it, the temple gave them an apartment at Watseka and they started a whole program: “Friends of Lord Krishna,” FOLK.

I will let mum go on and talk about her experience, but I feel really blessed. Especially in those days, there were not a lot of mothers and fathers coming to support their children in what they were doing. But my mum and dad were so supportive and loving, and my own children benefited from having not only a mother that was Krishna conscious but grandparents that were Krishna conscious, who were at the temple and sharing our life with us. So, we had not only the extended family of devotees, but we actually had our blood relatives. And then friends like Ann would come to the temple, and my aunts would come to the temple, and they were quite open. It was really amazing that my family members were as open as they were.

Rose: And your brothers.

Lilashakti dasi: And my brothers. Oh, yes, you should have seen my mother and father at my fire yajna for my first, arranged, marriage. That was very interesting. My uncle was there, and my brothers were there. This was in Arizona. I had an arranged marriage with Madhukara, and he is Das’s father—Manasa Chandra Das. I had never met him before. Karandhara had told me, “Prabhupada wants all the women to be married.” As Maharaja said, we just wanted to please Prabhupada. If Prabhupada wanted us to jump off a mountain, we probably would have done it. So I went and met Madhukara. We had a fire yajna, and my mother and father came. I have pictures of them sitting around it. I do not know what they must have thought. What did you think, Rose?

Rose: It was pretty hard to think. It was overwhelming. Mostly I looked around and saw that there were very few older people. It was mostly younger people, and I wondered, “Where are people my age?” But I have to jump ahead, because the first person who came to visit Los Angeles to visit Lila was this lady right here, and I took her to the temple and she observed. As I recall, she took her shoes off and kneeled at the temple door, not knowing what was going on inside. But she observed and did everything that everybody else was doing, including chanting.

Ann Gottfried: I did not know.

Rose: Because she had so much faith in me, I think, that if it was good for me it was good for her. But I have to jump ahead. There was a little woman who would come to visit her son. She was so very, very kind. That was Ratnabhusana’s mother, who came to visit him. She was very devoted, very kind, and willing to do anything that the devotees wanted. I will never forget his mother. And so it went. It did not take long.

I went to visit my family in Florida, and there was a temple there. In the western part of Miami there was a temple, and I brought all my family, and all my family got into it. Then one day my mother and father decided, “Well, if it is good enough for Lila and Rose, why can’t we stay there?” I said, “No, Dad, you can’t have that cigar there.” “Maybe they will let me have one!” And I said, “No, they can’t.” But anyway, he conceded to that—that he would have only one cigar a day. The devotees were going to make a move to the oceanside at that time, and they were selling the property. So my mother and dad did not move to the temple. But it would have been interesting. Nonetheless, when my mother was ready to pass away, devotees surrounded her and chanted with her until her last day, for which I am grateful.

But this lady right here [Ann Gottfried] spoke to anybody and everybody in Chicago on behalf of Krishna. She was a true, true friend and thought that if it was good for us, it would have to be good for everybody else.

Ann: I did that mostly for you.

Lilashakti dasi: My Aunt Ann.

Rose: So, we come to this time, and I do not know where we go from here except maybe to another body. I have to interrupt only for one very important thing. When I began to write to the parents all over the world, I had a very good friend who helped: Kaumudaki dasi. She was very instrumental in helping. I don’t think I could have done it myself.

Giriraj Swami: Can you explain a little more how you came to start FOLK?

Rose: What led me to it? That fact, that I noticed so few parents coming to the temple. Very few came to the Sunday program. A few neighborly people came at that time, I think because of the prasada, but very few parents. I think Ratnabhusana’s mother was one of the few who would come.

So, I spoke with Ramesvara Swami about that one afternoon. I said, “There must be a way to bring other families around to see for themselves what their children are doing.” I asked him if it would be all right if I had the names and addresses of all those in the Los Angeles temple. Not knowing where San Francisco was as opposed to Santa Barbara, I had no conception of distance at that time. I invited every family that lived in California. We arranged a luncheon. And they came. I stood at the temple door, waiting for every car that would pull up. I felt so grateful when I saw fifty people finally filling the room. I stood at the door and greeted everybody, but, of course, everybody was very uncomfortable at the beginning.

I stood before the room full of parents and wondered what I could say to them. I thanked everybody for coming, and then suddenly I just began to cry. That was the beginning. But I recovered enough, and I tried my best to explain what their children were doing and why they were doing what they were doing and that I had hope that if they, the parents, were able to read some of the material, perhaps their differences would be smoothened. And so it went.

From that I wrote to other families. Then Sam decided that we should take a trip to all the temples. We had a camper van, and so we travelled throughout the United States and stopped at fifteen temples where I had the names and addresses of the families. I also got the names and addresses of families that lived in other countries. The list grew and grew and grew until we might have had about three or four thousand letters going out. I think that is what it came to—many thousands of letters.

Where do we go from here? I think this is about the beginning of the end . . .

Devotee: Or the end of the beginning.

Rose: That is right. I must add that this year Sam and I attended a beautiful wedding on the grounds here about five days before Sam left his body. We were sitting together. At the end of the ceremony Sam took my hand, and he said, “Would you like to marry me again?” “Yes, I would.” It never came to pass, but the intention was good and it was there. Thank you for letting me say this.

I am very fortunate that from Lila we have two very fine grandsons. My sons are very supportive and have made many, many donations in honor of Prabhupada. So, this is where I am today, at the age of eighty-five—a big number—surrounded by very good friends. I am very, very happy for this arrangement here today. I thank everybody for coming.

Ratnabhusana dasa: I would like to mention that my brother and I became devotees through Back to Godhead magazine. We had a friend whose father owned a gas station. It was in Bismarck, North Dakota. We had never heard of devotees, what to speak of seen any. But some devotees were passing through, and instead of paying for the gas they asked if we could take a Krsna book and a Back to Godhead magazine. So my brother came home with that. He said, “These guys were here. They had the robes, the ponytail—the whole thing.”

My brother was interested in the book mainly for the art, but he started writing. There was a line in the magazine: “For more information write to 3764 Watseka Avenue.” So he started getting letters from Swarup. My brother joined the temple first, and then I came in 1977. My brother was very ill then. He had diabetes and kidney failure, so he was in the hospital. When he got out, my mother came out to visit us in the temple in Los Angeles. Rose had an apartment right behind the temple, on the next block, and my mother stayed with Rose. That is how we came to know Rose and Sam. Later, my mother started staying with Kaumudaki too, sometimes in the brahmacharini ashram.

Rose has been like my aunt, and Sam—they just have been such good friends all these years. I have never seen Sam angry. He was just always very cheerful and happy to come down and take prasada. And from the story you were telling about Rose’s coming and warning Karandhara, I have to steal something that Jagadambika told me. We have a card from all the devotees in Los Angeles, and her husband wrote that Rose has been like a mother to the whole Los Angeles temple.

Rose: Many others came.

Giriraj Swami: You extended yourselves. It was not just that they came; you extended yourselves. When you say that Rose and Sam had an apartment, were they staying there full-time or was it an apartment allocated for the FOLK program?

Lilashakti dasi: Part of it had to do with Ramesvara’s mercy. Ramesvara was incredibly merciful to me and to my family. Before he was a swami, he was the head of the sankirtana department at New Dvaraka, Los Angeles. So I worked under his guidance for years and years, distributing books. He carried Prabhupada’s desire to spread Krishna consciousness through book distribution in his heart, more than anybody I had known. Because I was blessed as a salesperson—I just have this adept nature that I can sell anything I believe in, and I believed in Krishna consciousness—I became a book distributor. Because of that, Ramesvara showed me such incredible mercy and extended that to my mother and father and supported the Forkash family incredibly. When I became pregnant with Manasa Chandra and had a baby, it was difficult for me to juggle having a young child and going on sankirtana. So he gave me a car, just to facilitate me going. He made accommodations like that. And to support and accommodate my parents, he gave them an apartment on Watseka to do their service. It was a lot of his mercy. It was Krishna’s mercy and Prabhupada’s mercy through Srila Ramesvara that did this.

Our family is very indebted to him. He gave us so much support and so much facility. I think a lot of why things happened the way they did was that. He would do anything for us. And when I took my son out of the gurukula, he did not have any problem in going up to my mother and saying, “Your daughter is crazy. What is she doing?” But I felt uncomfortable leaving my son in a boarding school, away from me. I wanted to bring him home. I agreed to bring him to mangala-arati, but I wanted to make sure that he was getting enough rest and that he was in his mother’s nurturing arms. I think I was the first one to do that in New Dvaraka. So at that time I was considered crazy, but not too long after that, many mothers followed in my footsteps. And today they are glad they did.

Kaumudaki dasi: I first met devotees, came in contact with Krishna consciousness, in 1970. Actually, in the late ’60s I had gone down to Boston to visit some friends. I am from Canada. The first time I saw devotees was on the Boston Commons. I took the bus down from Ottawa in about 1968, and my friends picked me up. We were walking across the Boston Commons, and I saw five devotees—all young Americans: three young men and two young women—and they were wearing these robes and playing karatalas and chanting Hare Krishna. We just stopped. This was the late ’60s, and I had already dropped out of college and tried LSD a couple of times, and I had gotten a little horrified at the drug scene. I was a strict vegetarian because my friends were Buddhists, and when hippies started wearing buckskin I thought, “That is just not my thing.” They had to kill those animals and all that.

Then I thought that maybe traveling would give me some enlightenment. So I worked and saved up my money. I went to Europe and hitchhiked all around. After a while, I got tired of that, so I borrowed money from my father and came back and had to work to pay him back. Then I went to visit friends in Ottawa, where I had gone to university, and I got invited for the summer to Boston, and there were the devotees. The late ’60s were a real cultural mix. I was just in awe. My friend and her husband and I were standing there in the Boston Commons, and devotees seemed to glide, or float, by, and we just listened to them as they came right past us and went off in the distance. I just wanted to follow them, and I said to my friends, “Who are they?” They said, “Oh, those are the Hare Krishnas. They are really nice people, and they have a Sunday feast.” I thought, “Wow.” That was about 1968.

So, I visited for the summer and then went back, but I didn’t see the devotees again. Back up in Canada I met an American who was against the Vietnam War, and we started living together. We went to Montreal for a weekend, and there we saw them. The only money I had on me was a quarter in my short shorts. I walked up to the sankirtana guys, and I gave them my quarter. My husband said, “Come on; we’re in a hurry.” Sripati was the head of that sankirtana party. That was 1969.

We hitchhiked to the West Coast and lived in Vancouver for the winter of 1969. In 1970 we went up to Vancouver Island, because my husband wanted to see what it was like being out in the woods, and there in February I got this beautiful booklet. It was on our friends’ coffee table. My husband was in the kitchen playing guitar and making music with his friends. I was sitting there, and I looked at this beautiful booklet, and it read “Krishna, The Reservoir of Pleasure.” It was printed in Boston in 1970, so they had had only one month to print it and get it up there, but they did. I still have that original booklet. I loved the picture on the front. I thought, “Who is that beautiful child, and where is that beautiful place?”

Then I looked at the inside. I could not understand the articles, because Prabhupada started, “Krishna is a transcendental sound vibration.” So I did not think He was a person. I did not get it. I looked through, and I looked at the pictures. As soon as I saw the picture of Srila Prabhupada I knew he was my spiritual master. We had been reading Bhagavad-gita, but it was not Prabhupada’s Gita. I had had Buddhist friends, so I knew a little bit about Buddhist meditation and values, which I appreciated. I had also read a little bit about Vivekananda, because my physics teacher in high school was a Hindu from India, but I was never really attracted to any of it. I knew there were spiritual teachers out there, but I knew they were not my spiritual teacher. When we were in Vancouver, before we went up to Vancouver Island, I had seen a picture of Paramahamsa Yogananda in the newspaper, and we had been thinking of going to his place, but when I looked at his picture I thought, “Well, you are a spiritual master, but you are not my spiritual master.” For some reason, in my heart I just knew. But now in this booklet there was a beautiful picture of Srila Prabhupada sitting in an orange turtleneck under a tree at New Vrindaban, and I just knew, “He is my spiritual master.” It felt like a big kick in the heart.

But we were living on the north end of Vancouver Island, and there was nothing I could do about it, though I did keep the booklet. That was February of 1970. Then all summer these friends of ours who lived in Ballacolla kept writing to us, “We are chanting Hare Krishna. We have a blooped devotee here named Sri Ranga”—I think that was his name. I never met anybody who knew him, but he was an initiated devotee. So he taught them all to chant, and they had an altar. They were offering all their food. They were living way up in the woods. Then they moved to the south end of Vancouver Island, and they came up and visited us. They said, “You’ve got to come and see what this is all about.” They were trying to preach to us from Bhagavad-gita, and we said, “That is not what Bhagavad-gita says. We have read the Bhagavad-gita.” So they said, “Well, then just try the chanting and come and read the book.” So, we went down there at Christmas time, and I spent three days just reading Caitanya-caritamrta. I thought, “This is theoretically perfect. This answers all my questions.” My husband also felt the same way. And the devotees were very nice. There were Bahudaka and Rocana and some other devotees, and so we moved in.

We ended up in Vancouver and Seattle. That is the first place where I met Ramesvara. It was near the beginning of the year, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s festival, and all these brahmacharis came up from Portland. Up until that time, I had been around only householders. I did not know anything about saffron and all that stuff. We were standing in the back of the temple, kind of backed up in the back of the temple room. And there were like fifteen brahmacharis about a foot off the floor, having this truly passionate kirtan. The altar reminded me of Seattle at that time, beginning of 1971, with Jagannatha deities and then below them Gaura-Nitai and the pictures. It was all with one curtain on the wall—a very simple temple. It was just a house that was made into a temple.

Then we went back to Vancouver, and my husband wanted to work on the press. So we went to New York, where the press had moved from Boston. And then, to make a long story short, at the beginning of 1973, due to my husband’s wishes, we ended up in Los Angeles. That is where I met Lilashakti dasi, because she had to have a really quiet place to sleep. Remember that? The place they gave her to sleep was this little room in the back of the old temple room—actually the back of the Sanctuary, which is now the Los Angeles temple room. The temple room then was where the museum is now. So, what is the temple room now used to be called the Sanctuary, and up ahead was the stage, where the altar is now. We had these wonderful Sunday programs, but we had to go to bed a bit late on Sunday, because there was gulabjamun juice and stuff all over the little room where we stayed. Anyway, I was given that little room to share with her, and that is how I met her. That was in May of 1973. That was a wonderful year—Prabhupada was there so much of that year.

My first engagement was helping to cook in the kitchen and helping Manjuali cook. Jayatirtha was in charge of Spiritual Sky, Manjuali was the head pujari, and Karandhara was the GBC. So, the whole evening I was cooking, offering, and bringing in the maha to the sankirtana room. When I first got to Los Angeles, my husband said, “You have got to see this. You’ve got to just feel the energy in the sankirtana room.” He was a photographer, and he had been taking pictures of the sankirtana devotees. So he brought me in, and it was just so joyful. It was just overflowing with Lord Chaitanya’s mercy. . . . There was nothing like those sankirtana days in the early ’70s. It was just incredible.

So, I would cook the bhoga and make the offering and then take the maha in after arati, take it into the sankirtana room, and make all these little cups for the sankirtana devotees. The different offerings went to different devotees in different departments. Well, I just lucked out, and I got this one. So I would see Lilashakti dasi, and I used to think, “She looks like Natalie Wood.” She used to wear these really beautiful long dresses and go out and distribute books all the time.

Lilashakti dasi: We were going undercover to the airport.

Kaumudaki dasi: Tripurari worked at the airport, and first he kept it secret, but gradually everybody else wanted to go too. So they had to wear these Western clothes, because we were not yet legal there. I was getting more and more in awe of these devotees—Lilashakti, Lavanga-latika, Tripurari, Ganga Narayana, Vrndavana-vilasini—so many dedicated devotees. It was really wonderful. Finally, after hearing the nectar about book distribution every night for so long . . . I used to go on harinama once a week. That was my sankirtana—every Friday or Saturday night, once a week I would go on harinama. But I thought, “Gee, I am really shy of the public, but I have to try this.” So I went to Karandhara and asked him if I could try. For three weeks I tried book distribution. I would do maybe one pamphlet a day. I have a real hard time talking in public to a large number of people or to strangers on the street. It’s karma from a past life or something. I just can’t do it; I have barely been able to overcome it.

After three weeks, I was unable to continue, and somebody asked me to be Karandhara’s secretary, because his current secretary was getting married. The front office, where I was working, was connected to the sankirtana room, and Ramesvara used to come from the BBT. Where the pujari rooms are now is where the book storage was then. Karandhara was the BBT trustee, and he used to write up all the orders and give them to Ramesvara. He had brought Ramesvara down from Portland to help him with the BBT. Ramesvara used to fill all the orders. He would call the trucking company, and the trucks would pull up in the alley, and he would load all these boxes of books onto the trucks.

Ramesvara used to come back at night, and I was in awe of him because he gave such great classes—he and Tripurari—their classes were just full of nectar about preaching. And everybody was a spiritual soul then; there was no criticism of the nondevotees—just opening the treasure house of love of God and the marketplace of the holy name. It was overflowing in everybody’s heart. So, Ramesvara used to come back once a month with the newsletter that he sent out to all the temples, and he used to leave them on the counter and say, “Send them out” and would walk into the sankirtana room. I used {to} think, “Huh! That is not my job. Who is he to tell me what to do?” He wasn’t my authority, but then I started to think about his classes and figured, “Well . . . maybe I should.” Plus, I didn’t want to displease Karandhara. So I put all the postage on and sent them.

Then, unfortunately, for personal reasons, Karandhara left, and then Jayatirtha was put in charge. Then I was Jayatirtha’s secretary, but still right there by the sankirtana office. After a year, Jayatirtha got transferred to England. All of this was in 1975. In the beginning of 1975 Gopavrndapala came and asked me to be Ramesvara’s secretary, as he had too much to do, because Karandhara had left, Jayatirtha had gotten transferred to England, and Tripurari had started the BBT traveling party. So Ramesvara was doing all kinds of work, and he really needed a secretary. The first year he had this really beautiful blonde secretary, so I think part of the reason they asked me to be his secretary was that I wasn’t quite as attractive as she was. She was a real dish! And she was single, and he was a brahmachari.

The first day I reported for work, Ramesvara had a screen between us, and he said, “This half of the room is yours; this half of the room is mine.” As he could see that I could do the work, he just kept giving me work, more and more and more work—first invoices and then letters and journal keeping. That way he had more time to preach and be in touch with the devotees all the time and concentrate on all the organizing he was doing.

I met Rose because she was coming to visit Lila. Rose actually should speak about her meeting with Prabhupada. I never had a personal talk with Prabhupada, but Rose did. Anyway, Ramesvara told me, “Rose is going to do this newsletter to help parents understand what their kids are doing. Maybe we can break some of the ice between the devotees and their parents. She needs somebody to help her with the newsletter, with typing and if she has any philosophical questions. If there are any problems, come to me.” He gave Rose and Sam this little apartment down the street, and I used to go there periodically and help type and answer questions. The parents would write in and ask some questions, so Rose and I would discuss what the best way would be to answer them. We had these little cards and a mimeograph machine for doing the envelopes. We did not have computers; it was all typewriters. So, we gradually kept sending out more and more and more.

It was a very healing process for a lot of devotees to be able to bridge the gap, and I personally was very fortunate that my parents were . . . my father always believed that you should follow the religion you are born into. He was not really crazy about me taking up any other, Eastern religion, but he was tolerant, and he always helped me out whenever I needed it. And my mother was very appreciative. She really thought that it was very devotional, and they even brought my grandmother to visit the temple. My younger sister even lived in the Vancouver temple for a while, but she could not take getting up at four in the morning. Still, she stayed for quite a while. My other sister came to visit me and made garlands for the Deities, and she liked the prasada and everything. And my parents came to visit in the ’80s, and we took a little tour to the different temples—Laguna Beach, San Diego. And then we drove from Los Angeles up to Santa Barbara, to Carpinteria, and that was one of the most joyful memories of their whole visit—to stay with Rose and Sam. We all had a meal together.

Later on, when my father came down to visit at the end of 2002, I drove them up to Rose and Sam’s. My parents had become very attached to Rose and Sam; they considered them to be real friends. And when Rose and Sam went on their trip, they met my grandmother in Vancouver and had planned to meet my parents too, but they had to cut their trip short. So my father really wanted us all to go to Santa Barbara. He showed us the place where mum and he had stayed when they had come down to visit. It was just one of their best encounters possible, because we did not have role models. We did not have an older generation, and so Rose—maybe there were other favorable parents in other places—but especially Rose, she was such a leader. She and Sam were so supportive that they were like our older generation. There were about three people over thirty in the temple for like ten years. So, I am very grateful that Krishna brought me in contact with Rose and Sam. I think our association is eternal. Hare Krishna.

Bhumi dasi: I’m from New York City. The devotees conquered Manhattan in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I was always traipsing around town, running into them. I was not always favorable. I remember a couple of times thinking, “This is what you do when you have nothing else going for you.” And I think in a way I was right, because it seems to me that in my life . . . my attraction to Krishna consciousness was not so much an attraction to Krishna, an attraction to Prabhupada, but based more on a realization that this material world is miserable. I had grown up in the hippie era, and they always talked about free love and drugs, sex and rock and roll and all of that, and enjoyment, but I was not enjoying. I was miserable and did not understand why, and I was very frustrated. When I was thinking, “This is what you do when you have nothing else,” I realized very quickly after coming in contact with the devotees that there is nothing else and that this is what you do when you realize that the material world is void and that there is nothing worth pursuing here. And it has been kind of a reoccurrence, because in a span of thirty years you go through so many different stages of life and coming and going from Krishna consciousness. What always brings me back is that same realization that there is nothing in the material world. So I just wanted to say that. I don’t need to give the details of how I ran into the devotees, but I think that that is just . . .

Rose: . . . a realization.

Bhumi dasi: It is. It is a reoccurring realization that keeps bringing me back to Krishna consciousness. And I am very grateful for that, getting a lot of hard knocks in this world, because I know that if there were even one iota of a chance of enjoying this material world, I am probably ignorant enough to go for it. So Krishna has been very kind by taking everything away from me constantly and giving me good association. And that is where Rose comes in.

Lilashakti dasi: When did you meet Rose? How did you meet Rose?

Bhumi dasi: I think I met Rose in San Diego, because we used to go on sankirtana together and you, Rose, used to come to the Sunday feast. But I have gotten close with you more recently, since Lila and I became friends in Monterrey. I have always had a really hard relationship with my mother. I love my mother, but she has never understood my interest in Krishna consciousness, and I have never been able to really be myself with her, because my real self is I am a devotee, and I always have to edit and censor things when I am around my mother, not to freak her out. But with Rose I really get what I don’t get from my own mother, and I love that. It is really quite wonderful. We have a Krishna conscious mother, a surrogate.

Urvasi dasi: This could go on and on and on—never-ending. I was not in the Los Angeles temple until after Rose. I was in New York, Montreal, Chicago, Toronto, England. I was in England for a while and then came to the Los Angeles temple. But I had heard of Rose, and when I would come home to visit—because I grew up in the Los Angeles area in San Fernando Valley, at the west end—I would bring my parents to the Los Angeles temple. They were very pious, and both of them were very, very respectful of the temple. The devotees were so kind to the parents that visited, and I am sure that is because of your [Rose’s] training.

I remember this one time the devotees gave garlands to both my parents and we went into the temple room and my parents got down and bowed. Then my father just instinctively went straight to Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasana and took his garland off and put it around Srila Prabhupada, and gave the garland to Srila Prabhupada. Wow! I was so pleased. He was just very humble in front of Srila Prabhupada. They did not know a whole lot, because I was not close at home with them, but they knew that I had accepted Srila Prabhupada as my guide. Another time when my mother came and visited, she sat down with a bunch of devotees and made garlands for the Deities. So they were very sweet.

I had heard of your activities, but it wasn’t really until coming out this way that I got to know you better. I just feel so blessed to know and to have that relationship with you and Sam, because you are such a wonderful example, not only for our parents and the older generation, but for us as well, being parents to our children, how you just so lovingly stayed connected with your daughter, with your children, and really took the time to understand what was important in their lives. It is very, very commendable. Many times when parents don’t understand, they just reject. I think that you and Sam have been shining examples for us. I am in Ojai, and being able to get to know you and have association with you, like Giriraj was saying, “To know him . . .” But “To know her, Rose, is to love her,” and I have true affection for you.

Rose: Some of us don’t have parents and don’t remember parents who would indulge in anything like this, but my mother at the age of eighty did sankirtana on State Street.

Devotees: Wow!

Lilashakti dasi: I trained her up! “What a great man does, common men follow.” She helped me distribute Back to Godheads, and she wanted to join in. She did good.

Rose: She did very well. When people tried to give my mother money for the magazine, she would often say, “That is not necessary. Just read it.”

Lilashakti dasi: Your grandson is going to say something about you. He knew you since he . . .

Das: I am sorry, but I am not much of a speaker.

Lilashakti dasi: You just remember when you were a little boy and they would come and see you at the temple. I have pictures of Das with his little bead bag on, about this tall, my mother and father holding him.

Devotee: I remember Das. He used to drive up in the little Volkswagen.

Lilashakti dasi: The one Ramesvara gave me to do sankirtana.

Devotee: The yellow one. And Das was always there. I remember that face. It was unmistakable. He looked just like Madhukara.

Rose: As I said earlier, this lady right here spoke on behalf of the movement. Really, she deserves so much credit for this. So loving.

Ann: Thank you. But I think you are overstating my role a little bit.

Rose: I remember.

Giriraj Swami: Would you like to tell us . . .

Ann: I liked the idea of Linda going to Krishna, because she had problems at that time. All the kids had problems. That was the year of what?

Rose: The year of problems.

Ann: In the ’60s.

Lilashakti dasi: What she is trying to say is that I was pretty wild.

Ann: I am not going to say that, but I was glad when you became a Krishna member, and I thought it could only be good, after your life. And so it was, and you are still a good girl.

Giriraj Swami: She always was and still is!

Rose: Very loyal.

Ann: Well, I loved her. I still do.

Jagadambika dasi: I got a Bhagavad-gita through a friend of mine, and one day I began to read it, and I stayed up for twenty-four hours straight and read the whole book. I was mesmerized. So I read it, but I had never heard of devotees. In the front of the book it said that for further questions you could write the secretary, so I called Information, got the telephone number of the temple, and told the devotees that I was reading this book, Bhagavad-gita, and that I wanted more books. They invited me to come to the temple. So I came on a Sunday and bought a full set of books. I wasn’t interested in prasada, because I was into macrobiotics and thought you shouldn’t eat sugar or fried or spicy food. Then I met Vrndadevi and her husband, Radha-Gopinatha, and they explained to me about the prasada and why I should take it. It took me two or three months to really appreciate what prasada meant. Anyway, after that Sunday I started to come to the temple every day.

My home was in Seal Beach. So, I was reading that full set of books. One day at the temple I met Ramesvara, and he asked me what I was doing with my life. I replied, “Right now, just searching for the Absolute Truth.” So he said, “You will find it in those books.” I was not working at the time. I was sitting on the beach all day, reading and doing yoga. He invited me to come to work in the BBT warehouse on Higuera Street. There I met Ghanasyama dasa, who later became Bhakti Tirtha Swami after taking sannyasa.

My service was to ship books to colleges. The devotees would go out and get standing orders. The colleges might want just one book, and I felt like it was a waste of my time to come in to ship just one book to a college. So I thought of sending more books. Then colleges were getting bills, and they were complaining: “You over-billed us. You are sending books that we did not ask for.” The temple authorities could not find out who was doing it. I thought everybody should have these books. Finally, they found out it was me. Ramesvara asked, “Are you doing this?” I said, “No, I am not doing that. I am only sending them books that they ordered.” I was not over-billing the people, but they found out that I was sending them more books. So he said, “Well, maybe you want to go and take your time,” like that. I did not understand what “take your time” meant.

So they sent me to the Santa Monica mall with some devotees, and they would stop people and pin little daisies on them and ask for donations. I thought, “I am not going to go out and beg. My parents never taught me to beg for anything.” I couldn’t do it. So I called Ramesvara, “When are you going to pick me up? I am not a beggar. If I go out, I want to do books.”

Lilashakti dasi: Was that in ’76?

Jagadambika dasi: 1977. I felt like distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, and Mula Prakriti was the first devotee to teach me how. That was when I started meeting your mum. She was doing the FOLK program and mailing Back to Godheads. I also always felt like you, Rose, were my mum, although my mother didn’t pass away until 1978. I think you were also instrumental in me not being deprogrammed, because at that time my parents were real strict Christians. My dad was a minister and a gospel singer. The whole family was like that. They were either into politics or they were preaching. At one point in 1977 my brothers decided that I had lost my mind, because I had officially joined the Hare Krishnas and given away all my material possessions. So they came and gave me some made-up story: “Oh, mum is dying. She is having a heart attack. You have been away. Her desire is to see you before she dies.”

So I rushed home, to the country, where we grew up, and the deprogrammers were there. They were saying, “You have to eat meat. Those people are crazy. They have brainwashed you.” This went on for two or three days. After the third day, my mum came. I had not seen her yet. I told her that I thought she had had a heart attack and was dying. She said, “No, there is nothing wrong with me, but your sisters and brothers said that you have lost your mind, you are crazy, you have joined these Hare Krishna people, and they are weird.” So they did not understand anything. But this is where I think your mum came into the picture. My mum sat and talked with me for three hours, and finally she came to the conclusion that “My daughter is fine. She is not brainwashed. She is in her right mind. She can stay with the Krishnas.” And the deprogrammers were like, “Now she brainwashed you to be like them.” It was a whole big thing.

Somehow or other, someone had been sending my mum Back to Godheads. It was not me, and I do not know how they got the address. But she was getting your mother’s newsletters, so I think that that saved me, because my mum helped me escape the deprogrammers and my brothers and sisters, and get back to California. Then I went on traveling sankirtana.

Rose would always encourage us to distribute books. “How was your day?” “How are you?” I have always seen Rose as my mum. Although I have my mother-in-law, we still see Rose as our mother and Sam as our father. No matter what we needed or what time of day it was, whether it was 1 or 2 a.m., it didn’t matter; they were always there for us.

Lilashakti dasi: My mother would always speak about you. She never repeated your name to me, but she would always refer to “the girl there that always took such good care of Sam and me.” Every trip to Los Angeles they would come back and glorify you, how the line was so long but you would go right up to the front and get them prasada, and always got them chairs. Every time they came back my father would talk so fondly about you, and I never really knew who they were talking about. Now I know.

Jagadambika dasi: I just know that your mum is always very kind. Back then I had a lot of problems and a lot of issues about how women were treated. Women stayed in the back and covered their head. But I would always come to Rose and Sam, and they were always like my authorities. No matter how busy they were, they always had time for everyone. Such good listeners, your mother and your father. They preached to us about reality, and the whole movement saw Rose as the mother of the Hare Krishna movement.

Giriraj Swami: Yes, and many of us still feel that way about her. So, we thank you all for sharing your wonderful memories of ISKCON’s mother, Rose Forkash.

Srila Prabhupada’s Arrival in America
Giriraj Swami

A talk by Giriraj Swami and Sri Prahlada dasa, September 28, 2002, Three Rivers, California.

To commemorate the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in America, we shall sing and discuss the second poem that he wrote on the ship Jaladuta when he arrived in the Boston harbor on September 17, 1965.

Poem [translation]:

1:  My dear Lord Krishna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.

2:  But I guess You have some business here. Otherwise, why would You bring me to this terrible place?

3:  Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva. I do not know how they will be able to understand it.

4:  But I know Your causeless mercy can make everything possible, because You are the most expert mystic.

5:  How will they understand the mellows of devotional service? O Lord, I am simply praying for Your mercy so that I will be able to convince them about Your message.

6:  All living entities have come under the control of the illusory energy by Your will, and therefore, if You like, by Your will they can also be released from the clutches of illusion. I wish that You may deliver them.

7:  I wish that You may deliver them. Therefore, if You so desire their deliverance, then only will they be able to understand Your message.

8:  The words of Srimad-Bhagavatam are Your incarnation, and if a sober person repeatedly receives them with submissive aural reception, then he will be able to understand Your message.

9:  It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17–21): ‘Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses the desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted. By regularly hearing the Bhagavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. At the time loving service is established in the heart, the modes of passion [rajas] and ignorance [tamas], and lust and desire [kama] disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness and he becomes happy. Thus established in the mode of goodness, the man rejuvenated by loving service to the Lord gains liberation from material association [mukti] and comes to know scientifically of the Personality of Godhead. Thus the knot in the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions [karma] is terminated when one sees the self as master.”

10:  He will become liberated from the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion and thus all inauspicious things accumulated in the core of the heart will disappear.

11:  How will I make them understand the message of Krishna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified, and the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own.

12:  Somehow or other, O Lord, You have brought me here to speak about You. Now, my Lord, it is up to You to make me a success or failure as You like.

13:  O spiritual master of all the worlds! I can simply repeat Your message, so if You like You can make my power of speaking suitable for their understanding.

14:  Only by Your causeless mercy will my words become pure. I am sure that when this transcendental message penetrates their hearts they will certainly feel engladdened and thus become liberated from all unhappy conditions of life.

15:  O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance. O Lord, make me dance as You like.

16:  I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krishna. I have been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now if You like You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta.

Signed—the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami,
on board the ship Jaladuta,
Commonwealth Pier,
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
dated 18th of September, 1965

Sri Prahlada dasa:

I shall read from the introduction to the section in The Science of Self-Realization entitled “Srila Prabhupada Arrives in America:

“On September 17, 1965, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived in Boston on board the ship Jaladuta, carrying within his heart the orders of his spiritual master to spread the teachings of Sri Chaitanya beyond the borders of India throughout the entire world. As he looked upon Boston’s bleak and dirty skyline, he could understand the difficulty of this sacred mission and felt great compassion for those godless people. Thus, with perfect humility, he composed this historic prayer in Bengali, praying for the deliverance of the fallen souls.”

Verse 1: “My dear Lord Krishna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.”

Here, Srila Prabhupada is expressing strong sentiments. First, Krishna is always kind to His devotee. Srila Prabhupada, in his humility, is calling himself a useless soul and asking Krishna, “You are so kind, but if You are so kind, why have You brought me to this place? Obviously, You have some plan.”

It is interesting how Srila Prabhupada sees his coming to America as Krishna’s bringing him, although he himself made so much endeavor to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master and come to the West, such as cultivating Sumati Morarji to get her to sponsor his journey. He had to convince her; it wasn’t easy. She was reluctant because of Srila Prabhupada’s age and the fact that he didn’t have any friends or relatives in America. So, he had to convince her, but still he is saying to Krishna, “I don’t know why You brought me here.” He is seeing that it was actually Krishna who made the arrangements and who brought him to the United States.

That is how the devotee sees any experience he has in life: he sees it as Krishna’s mercy. It is said that when Gaurakisora dasa Babaji would go about Navadvipa, if he saw a boy who was dark, he would think of him as Krishna, and if he saw a boy who was fair, he would think of him as Gaura. And if one of the boys would touch him, he would say, “Look, Yasoda Mayi, your Gopala has punched me!” or “Look, Saci Mata, your Gaura is making a face at me!” So, he was seeing Krishna everywhere. We might see rascal boys misbehaving and become angry at them and want to correct them, but Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja’s vision was completely transcendental.

The principle here is to see everything as Krishna’s arrangement. And we also have to try to develop that vision, to see Krishna’s plan in everything, to see Krishna’s arrangement in everything—that we have surrendered to Him and so He is taking care of us. Sometimes we may experience setbacks or disappointments, but actually Krishna has some reason for giving them to us. We should try to understand that, and if we do, we’ll never be disappointed in life. We’ll be always happy in Krishna’s mercy, even in adversity.

Srila Prabhupada says, “Why have You brought me here? Whatever the case, do with me as You like.” And this is very much the mood of this poem—Prabhupada’s complete surrender: “I am Your instrument. You can use me. You can engage me as You wish. I have no personal agenda. My agenda is whatever You desire. I am here to accept Your desire as my life and soul, to give everything to please You, to serve You.”

Verse 2: “But I guess You have some business here. Otherwise, why would You bring me to such a terrible place?”

This is an interesting perspective. In India everyone wants to go to America, because it’s the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” But here Srila Prabhupada is arriving in America and calling it “a terrible place.” When he was staying in London, there was a famous presenter who had a popular television show. He would invite different personalities and ask them difficult questions that embarrassed them on the set, and that’s why he was so popular. So, he invited Prabhupada. Knowing the man’s reputation and thinking that he would try to humiliate Prabhupada on screen, the devotees were reluctant to let Prabhupada go. They humbly advised him, “Srila Prabhupada, we don’t think you should go for this.” But Srila Prabhupada replied, “No, it is our duty. We must go.”

So, Prabhupada went, and he sat comfortably in the chair, and then the interviewer, as usual, began with some casual question—just to make the guest comfortable before he brought in the punch. He asked Srila Prabhupada, “So, how do you like it here in London?” Generally, everyone would give the same clichéd answer: “It’s wonderful. I really like it. I am really enjoying myself here. It’s so good to be in this great city.” That’s the expected response—being positive on screen. But Srila Prabhupada answered, “London? London is hell!”

The interviewer was shocked; it wasn’t the expected response. He didn’t know how to continue. Prabhupada had actually stumped him. There was a short period of silence. He had his plan, but this—“London is hell!”—wasn’t part of the script. So, there were some moments of uncomfortable silence. Then Prabhupada saved the day. He said, “But it is a great credit to the British people that they have built such a beautiful city under such hellish conditions, with hellish weather.” And from then on, the interviewer was very respectful, and Prabhupada actually got to preach. Srila Prabhupada was so expert. His view was that this material world is hellish. Whether it is America or England, it’s all the material world and so it’s hellish.

In his poem Srila Prabhupada has just come from Sri Vrindavan dhama, Radha-Damodar Mandir, and now he is arriving in Boston: “Why would you bring me to this terrible place?”

Another thing I remember here is Srila Prabhupada’s statement in Gainesville, Florida, while he was sitting on his vyasasana, after beholding a painting of Lord Chaitanya and His associates in the temple room: “It is so nice to see so many young boys and girls here in this remote corner of the world, so far away from the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya.” So, his perspective was that this was a terrible place and that he was here only for Krishna’s work, only for Krishna’s pleasure, only to fulfill Krishna’s desire: to deliver the conditioned souls—to give them a spark of Krishna consciousness, a ray of bhakti.

Now Prabhupada describes why it is a terrible place:

Verse 3: “Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva. I do not know how they will able to understand it.”

This is why people cannot understand—because they are covered by ignorance and passion. The nature of passion is that we become feverish to enjoy material life. We hanker. We make schemes and plans, and then when they are not fulfilled we become disappointed and fall into ignorance, depression, apathy, bewilderment, madness. This is bhoga-tyaga: desire for enjoyment and then so-called renunciation, the “sour grapes” philosophy of the fox who couldn’t reach some grapes: “Anyway, they are sour. Who needs them? Who wants them?” First he is trying so hard to jump and catch them, but when he is not successful he says, “What’s the use, anyway? They are sour.” He becomes very renounced. So that is our situation in material life, material conditioning. We are constantly fluctuating between these two states of bhoga and tyaga, the desire for enjoyment and false renunciation. And because of this, it is difficult to develop attachment or attraction to the transcendental message of Vasudeva. We are so absorbed in materialistic life that the message of Vasudeva has no appeal. And so Srila Prabhupada is wondering, “How will I be able to tell them of Krishna? How will I be able to tell them of Sri Vrindavan dhama and devotional service?”

Not only is it very difficult; it is almost impossible, and it is a miracle that Srila Prabhupada accomplished what he did. No one else could do it, not even all the other great acharyas who had appeared in this world. They taught in Bharata-varsa, in India, where the Lord Himself made His appearance and where the Vedas are generally understood and respected. But that Prabhupada was able to come to this foreign land and instill this sraddha, this faith, in the hearts of the Westerners is a great miracle. Bhaktivinoda Thakura envisioned it and endeavored for it himself. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura spoke with Westerners (as did Bhaktivinoda Thakura) and personally sent his disciples to the West to try to do it, and he was maintaining them in London. But it was Srila Prabhupada who was actually successful in performing this miraculous feat. And by reading these songs, we can get a taste, or a glimpse, of how and why: it was by his surrender to Krishna, his humility, his absolute faith in the instruction of his spiritual master.

When we were in Bombay some years ago, some Sri Vaishnavas came to the Chowpatty Temple. They wanted to speak with somebody, and they were introduced to me. So, we sat in the temple room, and they said, “We have a very important question.”

“Yes—please. We are not very qualified, but we’ll try to answer.”

They asked, “Who is Prabhupada?”

“Prabhupada is our spiritual master. He took Krishna consciousness to the West and started . . .”

“No, no. We know that. We know about his life and his achievements. But who is he?”

It was a very esoteric question. I said, “You should explain a little more what you want to know.”

They explained, “Ramanujacharya—we know that he is Sesa, that he is Laksmana, that he is Balarama. We know. So, Ramanujacharya was able to teach Vaishnavism throughout India, though mainly in Southern India. But your Prabhupada took it all over the world. Who is he?”

I replied, “We can’t answer that question. Once, Prabhupada was asked, ‘Who are you?’ and he said, ‘If I told you, you would faint.’ And that is as much as we know. Still, we can understand that he is such an intimate servitor of the Lord that he performed such an important and confidential service, fulfilling the vision of the acharyas and the plan of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who said, prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama: ‘In all the villages and towns of the world My name will be chanted.’ ”

Their next question was, “How did he do it?”

I answered, “You know, he went and chanted .  .  .”

But they interrupted, “No. That’s the external, but how actually did he do it?—because no one else was able to do it.”

I replied, “Well, this is also a difficult question to answer.” But I suggested that it was by his faith in the words of his spiritual master. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati gave him the order, and he understood that it was the desire of his spiritual master and of the acharyas and of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and that because it was their desire, so it would be. Because of that faith and surrender, he was able to do the impossible.

Verse 5: “How will they understand the mellows of devotional service? O Lord, I am simply praying for Your mercy so that I will be able to convince them about Your message.”

Giriraj Swami:

Verse 6: “All living entities have come under the control of the illusory energy by Your will, and therefore, if You like, by Your will they can also be released from the clutches of illusion. I wish that You may deliver them.”

Verse 7: “I wish that You may deliver them. Therefore, if You so desire their deliverance, then only will they be able to understand Your message.”

In reply to the question “How?” Srila Prabhupada answers, “By Your mercy,” by Krishna’s mercy. But Krishna’s mercy is not the whole answer; it is actually by Srila Prabhupada’s appeal to Krishna for His mercy.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura discusses how the conditioned souls get bhakti. He proves with evidence from the scriptures that one cannot get bhakti by karma or jnana (by fruitive activities or mental speculation), or by austerities, charity, mystic perfections, or any other pious acts. He quotes from the Bhagavatam (11.3.31), bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya: bhakti comes from bhakti.

How does bhakti come from bhakti? What is the actual process? He says that someone may propose that one gets bhakti by the mercy of Krishna. But Krishna is equal to all. He is the supreme father of all living entities, so He must be equal to all. So, we cannot simply say that the cause of bhakti is the mercy of Krishna, because Krishna would bestow bhakti equally on everyone, whereas we see that some get bhakti while others do not. Then Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says, “One could propose that one gets bhakti by the mercy of the devotee.” But again one might argue that the devotee, like the Lord, should be equal to everyone.

Here Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that the preacher, the madhyama-bhakta, by nature shows partiality or discretion in distributing mercy, as stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.46): prema-maitri-krpopeksa yah karoti sa madhyama—he gives his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, makes friendship with devotees, shows mercy to the innocent, and neglects the envious. Thus, giving mercy, specifically to the innocent, is the preacher’s function. Therefore, even though a maha-bhagavata such as Srila Prabhupada in the ultimate sense sees everyone equally, everyone as a servant of Krishna and therefore in no need of mercy, when he takes the position of a preacher and functions as a preacher, he does give mercy, especially to the innocent. How does he give the mercy? He prays to Krishna to give mercy, and thus it is said that the mercy of Krishna follows the mercy of the devotee.

Here I have my own experience: I met Srila Prabhupada in 1969 in Boston, and I was touched by him. I felt that he was the spiritual master for whom I had been looking. After about three months, the devotees there needed another pujari. (In those days one could be a pujari after first initiation.) They thought, “He has been here for a while; why not recommend him?” So Satsvarupa Maharaja, as the temple president, recommended me. Srila Prabhupada was in Los Angeles at the time, so I suppose in one sense I was actually initiated there. He sent back a letter: “Your initiated name is Giriraj. Giriraj is a name for Govardhan Hill where Krishna used to tend His cows. Sometimes devotees take a stone from Govardhan Hill and worship it as Krishna. So, I marked it in your person when I was in Boston, and I prayed to Krishna that this good soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.”

What is our qualification? When I look for my qualifications, I don’t find any. Our only qualification is that Srila Prabhupada took compassion on us and gave us his mercy: He prayed to Krishna for us, just as he says here in the poem.

Coming back to Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s discussion, someone could question, “Why should Krishna listen to the prayers of the devotee? So many people are praying to Krishna; why should He listen especially to the devotee? Is that not also partiality?” Here Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that of all of Krishna’s qualities, the quality of being affectionate to His devotees, bhakta-vatsalya, is considered the supermost, the emperor that conquers over all the Lord’s other qualities and reconciles all contradictions. So being partial to His devotees is not a fault (dusanam) in Krishna but an ornament (bhusanam)—His most exalted quality. He really has no desire other than to please His devotees, just as the devotees have no desire other than to please Krishna. So when a devotee such as Srila Prabhupada prays to Krishna to give mercy to the fallen souls, or to a particular soul, Krishna readily does it—to please His devotee.

Years after my initiation, I found the verses that Srila Prabhupada paraphrased here in “The Prayers of the Personified Vedas” from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.87.14). The personified Vedas prayed to the Lord, “The fallen souls are under the control of maya, and maya is under Your control. Therefore, if you show them Your mercy, they can be released from the control of maya. We pray that You kindly do so.”

The same verse was quoted by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Vasudeva Datta. Vasudeva Datta had prayed, “Let all the sinful reactions of all the living entities in the entire universe fall upon me,” and Lord Chaitanya became overwhelmed with love for him and began to tremble and weep out of affection.

Generally, we wouldn’t accept the sinful reactions of even one living entity. There is the famous story of Valmiki. Valmiki was a thief, but he wasn’t stealing for himself; he was stealing for the sake of his family. Then Narada came and asked Valmiki’s wife, “Your husband is stealing for your sake, not for his sake. You are enjoying because he is stealing for you. Will you at least take some share of the sinful reactions?” “No!” she replied. “Why should I? He is the one who is doing the stealing—not I.”

So, we don’t want to take anyone’s sinful reactions. Just our own sinful reactions are hard enough to tolerate. Yet here Vasudeva Datta is saying he will take the reactions for every living entity in the whole universe. We cannot even conceive of how much suffering he would have to undergo. He said, “Let me suffer in a hellish condition perpetually,” and he spoke without duplicity. Sometimes we may say things to sound good, to say the right thing, to sound like a pure devotee. But Vasudeva Datta was serious. Thus, when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu heard what he said, His heart melted and He told him, “You need not suffer their sinful reactions. By your desire alone they can be liberated. Krishna fulfills the desires of His pure devotees. So by your desire He can liberate them without your accepting their sinful reactions.” And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu quoted the same verse from “The Prayers of the Personified Vedas”: “O Lord, kindly conquer the nescience of the living entities by Your grace.”

So, from one point of view, this is the secret: In his sincere love and compassion, and in his intimate relationship with Krishna, Srila Prabhupada prayed for us, and Krishna reciprocated.

But again, what is the method by which we get the mercy? Srila Prabhupada wrote, “So I prayed to Krishna that this soul may be aware of the importance of Krishna consciousness.” In other words, we must become aware of the value of Krishna consciousness and then take to the process that Srila Prabhupada gave. Thus we come to the second part of Verse 7: “If You so desire their deliverance, then only will they be able to understand Your message.”

Many people heard Srila Prabhupada’s message, Krishna’s message, but not all developed faith in it. The beginning of bhakti is faith (adau sraddha). Thus, when we ask how one gets bhakti, we really mean, how does one get sraddha, which is bhakti in its initial stage.

Here “faith” means faith in the words of the scriptures and the words of the spiritual master that glorify and explain the process of bhakti. Prabhupada, in utter humility, prayed that Krishna make his words suitable, and he also prayed that Krishna enlighten us, or inspire us, with appreciation for His message. Thus Srila Prabhupada, in the mood of utter surrender, really saw that Krishna was doing everything: Krishna was inspiring him to speak, and Krishna was inspiring us to appreciate what he said.

Even we, as servants of Srila Prabhupada, had the same mood—though not to the same degree—when we tried to distribute books. We prayed, “Please empower me to approach this person; please inspire me to approach this person. Please make my words suitable.” We would pray to Krishna—especially while the person was looking at the book and considering whether or not to buy it—“Please inspire this person to take the book. Please inspire this person to do service.” That is the mood.

Of course, here Srila Prabhupada is speaking in the mood of compassion, praying for the sake of others, but we can pray even for our own protection. It is not wrong to pray for our own protection. Once, in a lecture at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Srila Prabhupada said, “All of you can fall down, but I cannot fall down.” After the lecture, Srila Prabhupada came before the Deities and was praying, and later one disciple asked him, “Srila Prabhupada, what were you praying?” Srila Prabhupada replied, “I was praying that I may never fall down.” The disciple, astonished, objected, “But Srila Prabhupada, you just said that you cannot fall down.” And Srila Prabhupada explained, “Yes, because I am always praying that I may never fall down, therefore I can never fall down.”

Verse 9 is actually a series of five verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam, and we shall read the translations:

Verse 9: “It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17): ‘Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses the desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who relishes his messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.’ ”

Earlier Srila Prabhupada had said, “Because the population is absorbed in material enjoyment, they cannot appreciate the message of Vasudeva.” And now he is saying, “If they hear the message of Vasudeva, the desire for material enjoyment will be cleansed from their hearts.” The idea here is similar to Rupa Gosvami’s verse that says that even though the sweet holy names, forms, qualities, and pastimes of Krishna may be bitter to the diseased conditioned souls, if they take the medicine of the holy names they will be cured of the disease, and then they will be able to relish the sweetness.

“By regularly hearing the Bhagavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” (SB 1.2.18)

So, both methods work—serving the person bhagavata and reading the book Bhagavata—and from the very beginning Srila Prabhupada engaged the devotees in service. One famous example was when a man walked into the storefront temple at 26 Second Avenue in New York with some rolls of toilet paper and offered them to Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada accepted them and said, “He has begun his devotional service.” Another time, someone came with some Mayavadi leaflets, and Prabhupada accepted them too. Later, when the devotees were distributing prasada, he handed out those leaflets for the guests to use as paper plates. So, Prabhupada knew the value of service, and he did whatever he could to engage anyone and everyone in devotional service.

“At that time loving service is established in the heart, and the modes of passion [rajas] and ignorance [tamas] and lust and desire [kama] disappear from the heart.” (SB 1.2.19)

Earlier, Prabhupada had prayed, “People are covered by passion and ignorance; how will they be able to understand Your message?” Now he says that by hearing the book Bhagavata from the person bhagavata and rendering service to the person bhagavata, one will be freed from the lower modes and become established in goodness. Then he will be able to understand the message. “Then the devotee is established in goodness and becomes happy.” (SB 1.2.19)

“Thus established in the mode of goodness, the person rejuvenated by loving service to the Lord gains liberation from material association [mukti] and comes to know scientifically of the Personality of Godhead. Thus the knot in the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions [karma] is terminated when one sees the Self as master.” (SB 1.2.20–21)

So, Srila Prabhupada prayed to Krishna to give His mercy to us, to make his words suitable and to make us appreciate his message. But then again, we also have to take up the process, and here I think of the example of a person fallen in a well. On his own, he cannot get out. But if someone comes and sends a rope down into the well, he can be delivered. Still, he has to make the effort and hold on to the rope. The mercy of the spiritual master is that he gives us proper instructions, and if we hold on to the instructions, he will lift us out of the well of material existence and deliver us to the lotus feet of Krishna.

Once, in Bombay, when a disciple said to Srila Prabhupada, “Please give me your mercy that I may follow your instructions,” Prabhupada replied, “It is like you are in a well and I hand down a rope to lift you out and you are praying, ‘O Prabhupada! O Prabhupada! Please make my fingers curl around the rope and hold on.’ ” Srila Prabhupada explained, “My mercy is that I send down the rope, but you have to hold on to it.” So, Srila Prabhupada’s mercy is that he gives us the instructions and prays to Krishna that we can appreciate the instructions. But we also have to do our part. Therefore, because both are involved—mercy and effort—if someone was too far on one side, Srila Prabhupada would emphasize the other side to bring the person to the proper position.

Another time in Bombay, an Indian gentleman came to Srila Prabhupada and said, “Swamiji, Swamiji, please save me. Only you can save me. I am drowning in the ocean of material existence. Please save me. Only you can save me.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “I cannot save you. But I can give you the method by which you can save yourself. But you have to do the work.” This is the combination that works: on the one side Srila Prabhupada’s mercy in the form of his instructions and his prayers to Krishna that we can appreciate His mercy and instructions, and on the other side our efforts. But of course, Srila Prabhupada also inspired us to make efforts, and he continues to do so today.

Sri Prahlada dasa:

We also have the example of Yasoda trying to bind Krishna with ropes but being unsuccessful. The ropes are always two inches too short. She is struggling, taking ropes from all over the house, tying them together, but still the ropes are two inches too short. When Krishna sees the perspiration on her forehead, when He sees that the flowers that were decorating her hair have fallen to the ground and that her hair has become disarrayed, and how she is working so hard to bind Him, He thinks, “Okay. Let her bind Me.” And so she finally ties that knot, and Krishna is bound. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that the two inches of rope that were missing represent two things: one is the endeavor of the devotee, and the other is Krishna’s mercy, Krishna’s agreement. When Krishna gives His mercy and the devotee endeavors to take that mercy, then we are successful in binding Krishna, or achieving Krishna. Of course, that mercy comes to us by Krishna’s grace.

Giriraj Swami:

Verse 10: “He will become liberated from the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion and thus all inauspicious things accumulated in the core of the heart will disappear.”

The three modes of material nature (sattva, rajas, and tamas) are the constituents of material nature, and the spiritual nature also has three constituents—samvit, sandini, and hladini, or eternity, knowledge, and bliss (sac-cid-ananda). They translate in this material nature as goodness, passion, and ignorance. They are the opposite of transcendence. Because we are covered by these modes of material nature, we cannot appreciate the message of Vasudeva. However, by contacting the pure devotee and hearing that message, these troublesome things in the heart are cleaned away, and then we can appreciate the message of Vasudeva.

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, ceto-darpana marjanam: the cetah, or the consciousness, which is also the heart, is cleaned of all the dust accumulated for years on it. When a mirror is covered with dust, you cannot see yourself in it. You cannot see who you are. But when that dust is cleaned away, you can see yourself. Similarly, when the mirror of the heart is cleaned, we can understand our nature as soul, as servant of Krishna.

Verse 11: “How will I make them understand the message of Krishna consciousness? I am very unfortunate, unqualified, and the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own.”

It is not something mechanical or artificial; one has to become empowered by the Lord. One has to become saktyavesa, an empowered representative of the Lord, and then that dynamic is there. Certainly, Srila Prabhupada was empowered by Krishna because of his full dedication, full faith, and full surrender. It is not a material phenomenon, that one can represent the Lord and transform the heart of the conditioned soul; it is a transcendental phenomenon.

Verse 16: “I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krishna. I have been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now if You like You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta.”

Bhakti means “devotion” and vedanta means “knowledge.” Actually, veda means “knowledge” and anta means “the end.” So vedanta means “the end of knowledge,” or “the conclusion of all knowledge.” Here Srila Prabhupada is saying, “I am designated as Bhaktivedanta, but I have no bhakti or vedanta. But if You like, You can make me Bhaktivedanta.” And so we come back to Srila Prabhupada’s secret. How did he succeed? He says, “I have strong faith in the holy name of Krishna.” Sri Prahlada mentioned Prabhupada’s faith in his spiritual master and in the previous acharyas, and along with such faith comes faith in the process of devotional service and especially in the holy names.

We should always treat Vaishnavas with respect. Obviously, if they directly or indirectly criticize or attack Srila Prabhupada or Srila Prabhupada’s movement, we have to defend. But otherwise, our attitude should be respectful. We should appreciate their service, however big or small it may be.

Srila Prabhupada had a godbrother, Akincana Krishnadasa Babaji Maharaja, who was always absorbed in hari-nama. Prabhupada said that he was a paramahamsa, a liberated soul. So, Krishnadasa Babaji met another of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers, who had been sent by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to England to preach. And Babaji Maharaja asked him, “You went to the West and Swami Maharaja (our Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja) also went to the West. You presented the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and he presented the teachings of Mahaprabhu. You chanted the holy name of Krishna, and he chanted the holy name of Krishna. Yet he was successful, and you were not. Why?” Then Babaji Maharaja himself gave the answer: “Because Swami Maharaja had full faith in the holy names, that if the Westerners just chanted the holy names of Krishna, gradually they would become Krishna conscious, they would become devotees.”

For a while in Calcutta, the temple president somehow became absorbed in doing business, in making money for the temple, and the devotees in the temple were being neglected. We were poor—very poor. We couldn’t afford milk. And even if we could, we wouldn’t know what white liquid we might get. The milkmen used to soak paper in watery milk to add bulk to the liquid, and what “milk” we got was often a combination of buffalo milk, water, and paper.

So, there was a devotee there named Sudama Vipra. He had tattoos, and he was really strong. But even he was starving. We all were starving. So after the arati, he would collect the ghee wicks and squeeze them to try to get a drop or two of ghee.

We were all just waiting for Srila Prabhupada to come and save us. When he did come, different devotees met him and complained, and then he called a meeting. He listened very patiently and sympathetically to all the devotees’ complaints. At one point the GBC there said, “Srila Prabhupada, I was just trying to execute the will of Your Divine Grace.” And Srila Prabhupada said sarcastically, “Is it My Divine Grace’s will that all the devotees should be disturbed?”

So, he was very sympathetic to the devotees. He said that we should have meetings every week and that we should record our resolutions in the minutes book and stick to the resolutions. He was very concerned.

But then Srila Prabhupada’s mood changed. He told us that we shouldn’t be too absorbed in these material matters, because the tendency of the conditioned souls is to become engrossed in material things, and if we get too preoccupied and just talk about material things, we’ll forget Krishna. We won’t talk about Krishna.

Then he told us, “My motto has always been ‘Everything for Krishna and nothing for myself.’ Therefore I never complained.” He said, “I suffered so much for the sake of this movement”—for our sake, really. “I had two heart attacks on the ship on the way to New York. Then in New York City I had a stroke.” And he confided, “Even otherwise, I had headaches and ringing in my ears. . . . You cannot conceive of how much I suffered, and I don’t want to discuss it. But my motto was always ‘Everything for Krishna and nothing for myself.’ ” And that is Prabhupada. That is Prabhupada.

Then: “Signed—the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”

This poem was first published in Back to Godhead many years ago, by early 1971, which is when I first heard it. A few of us were living in the Sea Palace Hotel in Bombay. Srila Prabhupada had a friend from England named Ramchand Chhabria, who owned the hotel. He was vegetarian and the hotel was vegetarian and we didn’t have any other place to stay, so he invited us to stay there. When the magazine came, there were just a few of us—Guru dasa Prabhu, Yamuna Devi, and myself. The first article was the poem. Yamuna Devi read it out loud. And when she came to this—“Signed—the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami”—she burst into tears. She just couldn’t contain herself.

So, what can we say here?

Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!

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At the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita, Dhrtarastra says, “O Sañjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, desiring to fight, what did they do?” Dhrtarastra was blind from birth. Unfortunately, he was also bereft of spiritual vision. He knew very well that his sons were equally blind in the matter of religion, and he was sure that they could never reach an understanding with the Pandavas, who were all pious since birth.

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We will be turning this amazing sample painting into mosaic work to place in the main front entrance of the TOVP
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Sadbhuja Das: I would like to share this wonderful sample painting of Srila Prabhupada done by Ekaterina Andreeva from Volgograd in Russia. She is an aspiring disciple of Gopal Krishna Maharaja, and as you can see is very talented! We look forward to her contributions to the TOVP project. This particular piece we're planning to place in the main front entrance where the astrological clock will be. We will be turning this amazing sample painting into mosaic work.

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PARENTING DEVOTEE TEENAGERS (things I am learning while on the job)
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By Madhurika dasi

When our children grow into teens, many of us find that inspiring them in Krishna consciousness becomes much harder. They are no longer enthusiastic to imitate us or join in with the devotional activities we initiate. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what we can do to keep them close and hopefully inspired. Here are some of my thoughts. Continue reading "PARENTING DEVOTEE TEENAGERS (things I am learning while on the job)
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The Power of the Ramayana (video)
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By 2nd World Ramayana Conference

This short video is a talk given by Sri Nandanandana dasa (Stephen Knapp) called "The Power of the Ramayana," given at the 2nd World Ramayana Conference held in Jabalpur, India, in January 26-29, 2020. He was a special invited guest for the conference, and his talk explains from the Valmiki Ramayana the different ways it helps uplift humanity from the ordinary miseries of life, up to and including liberation or freedom from material existence altogether. In the video, it shows Dr. Akhilesh Gumastha introducing Stephen for receiving a special certificate of appreciation for his service to Vedic culture from the well-known Murari Bapu. Continue reading "The Power of the Ramayana (video)
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>Once a demon named Bhaumasura stole Lord Varuna’s umbrella, mother Aditi’s golden ear rings, and the playground of the demigods, known as Mani-parvata. He also kidnapped 16,100 beautiful young maidens from various royal families all over the world. Indra, King of heaven, went to Dvaraka to describe the demon’s transgressions to Lord Krsna. Together with Queen Satyabhama, the Lord then mounted His carrier Garuda and traveled to the capital of Bhaumasura’s kingdom.

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Purusottama Month Challenge for Kids!
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This year we get the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the most auspicious month of Purusottama which is approaching in just a few days. The acharyas recommend us to take advantage of this holy month as it is like a Bhakti Super Sale where any spiritual activity performed, one gets 1000 times the benefit!

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Criticising? Think again!
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(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 1 June 2020, Radhadesh, Belgium, Caitanya Caritamrta Lecture: Disrespecting Vaisnavas)

Once one engages in criticising Vaisnavas, it becomes part of one’s nature. One will do it again and again until ultimately one offends Krsna!

Once one engages in criticising Vaisnavas, it becomes part of one’s nature. It sets in and one will do it again and again and again until ultimately one offends Krsna. He who offends Krsna, how can such a person approach Krsna? Such a person removes himself from Krsna and comes to a greater distance from Krsna. This is great misfortune. Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami had one outstanding quality – he would never hear any criticism about any Vaishnava and in front of him, if anyone would criticise a Vaishnava he would just walk away. So, this is a wonderful policy because hearing criticism of Vaisnavas is contaminating our consciousness. This is something that we especially must pay attention to in spiritual life.

In the Bhagavad Gita, we have the following verse:
dvandva-mohena bhārata
sarva-bhūtāni sammohaṁ
sarge yānti paran-tapa

(Bhagavad-gita 7.27)

Because all living beings are afflicted by delusion of desire and hate or lust and envy, that tendency is there within us. We must make a conscious effort to check this tendency and be very diligent about this and ask for forgiveness when we do this. Although we are diligent about avoiding offences, we are not the International Society for Avoiding Offences. We are the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. So Krsna Consciousness comes first. First and foremost is devotional service. And then as we are absorbed in devotional service, it naturally becomes the course that we are careful not to criticise any Vaisnava or anything in relation to Krsna. In this way, we are eligible to make spiritual advancement. This is something we must learn. We must learn to glorify.

In Srimad Bhagavatam, it says:
śrī-bhagavān uvāca
na praśaṁsen na garhayet
viśvam ekātmakaṁ paśyan
prakṛtyā puruṣeṇa ca

(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.28.1)

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One should neither praise nor criticise the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.

So basically, one should not criticise a Vaisnava and one should also not glorify the Vaishnava in front of the Vaisnava. Criticising should never be done, however, glorifying the Vaisnava in front of him can sometimes be done. One who praises us, he is not our friend because he makes us proud. One who finds faults in us is our friend. We take it like that when someone speaks to us. One may break that rule of praising the Vaisnava in front of him, although one should understand that if one praises the Vaisnava too much, that may unnecessarily increase his pride. So, we are not helping him to develop his humility, but we will give credit, certainly give credit. It is said that in praising the Vaisnava, one must praise the Vaisnava for something genuine that he has done. That is the way.

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The article " Criticising? Think again! " was published on KKSBlog.

Why is the Vedic Sanskrit and Puranic Sanskrit different?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

From Shyam P

Answer Podcast

Transcription :

Transcriber: Suresh Gupta

Question: Why is the Vedic Sanskrit and Puranic Sanskrit different?

Answer: The Sanskrit is different because the two bodies of knowledge are addressed to different people.

Vedas primarily consist of karma kanda or jnana kanda where the primary focus is always on the rituals and thus, the literal recitation of the words is more important. That is why, the grammatical form is preserved in a very specific way in the lineage of panditas who recite Vedic scriptures such as Rigveda where the precise pronunciation is very important. In the Puranas, the primary focus is not just on the literal recitation, it is also in the meaning.

Puranas are part of the body of literature called smriti and Vedas are part of shruti. Since the purpose is different, the use of Sanskrit changes. More importantly, we also need to look at the context. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was asked, why the language of Puranas is more recent. He answered, “A person will change his dress according to the environment, climate and situation, similarly the same essential knowledge is presented according to time, place and circumstance. The focus of the Puranas is on understanding hence, the Sanskrit in them is relatively simpler. When the language is for recitational purpose (in terms of precise recitation) and not so much for comprehension then the ornamental form is considered more important.”

Although the Puranas are simpler and the Sanskrit of the Vedas is slightly different, if we look at Srimad Bhagavatam, its Sanskrit is much more Vedic than Puranic. The verse meter, the verses, the grammar and the structure are actually not of the typical Puranic genre, it is much more sophisticated. The reason is, it is spotless Purana (amala purana), where the conclusion of all the body of Vedic literature (the Vedas and the Puranas) is brought together. If somebody argues that earlier the language was very pure and later it became simpler, we can suggest that the Srimad Bhagavatam is the last of the Vedic literature and its language is so lofty.

The more important point is that if we look at the characters – Indra, Chandra, Surya, Agni, all of them are mentioned in the Vedas as well as the Puranas. We can infer a few things about them based on the generic connotation but more detailed description and stories about them come in the Puranas. If the Vedas and the Puranas are completely disconnected body of knowledge then why are the characters same, it is because, the Vedas are focussing more on karma kanda whereas the Puranas focus more on bhakti. Although some characters may be new, but the main essential characters are the same and overall the cultural context is also the same. Yajna, sacrifices, mantras etc. are mentioned in the Vedas as well as in the Puranas. But the essential point from the perspective of Vaishnav Acharyas is that there is continuity.

If we consider the analogy of Y axis, it contains – negative, zero and positive. Godless material life is like being in the negative axis. When we move forward towards Godly life then it is like moving upwards in the negative Y axis. This Godly material life is karma kanda. Moving upwards we come to point zero which are the Upanishadas. There one understands that he is different from his material form and gets hint of a spiritual form. Further, in the positive axis, there are the Puranas and especially the Bhagavat Purana which talks about spiritual forms, spiritual personalities, spiritual activities etc. and in that way there is continuity in the development of thought.

One important thing we need to understand about language is that, just because a person knows a language, it does not mean that the person understands everything written in that language. Assume there is a book about ancient medicines written in Chinese and there is a Chinese physician who has studied that book and has cured thousands of patients, based on that book. Later, this physician learns English and translates the book into English. On the other hand, there is another person, who is an English scholar linguist. This person learns Chinese and becomes a scholar in both English and Chinese and then translates the Chinese book on ancient medicine into English. Now, which book do you think will be more reliable? Naturally the one by Chinese physician, because he has the experience of curing the patients.

The point is, for study of ancient medicines, a separate kind of training is required. Similarly, mere knowledge of Sanskrit is not enough to understand the import, depth and continuity of Vedic literature. To understand these fully, one has to be like a spiritual doctor and such a person is referred to as Guru. Thus, all the scholars, as far as their linguistic skills or academic diligence are concerned, they can be respected but as far as their capacity to transform themselves or others through spiritual wisdom, it is actually near zero. For them these Vedic scriptures are not transformational books but just nonhistorical or mythological books. Hence, despite their scholarship, they do not see these books as a means for personal transformation. However, the acharyas are like the Chinese physician who have treated the material disease and transformed the lives of thousands of people. One example is the life of Srila Prabhupada who learned and presented this Vedic knowledge in English and transformed people all over the world.

Hence, we have to understand that if our objective in studying scripture is to become a better human being, a better devotee or more self-empowered person, then we should study from those, who are studying the book with the same perspective. That is why, it is accepted that there is a difference between the Vedas and the Puranas, but the reason is that the target audience is different, the subject matter is different, the thrust of the subject matter is different. However, we see that the characters and many of the themes are same. Traditional acharyas who have been teaching this body of knowledge, they see that there is continuity – from material form to formlessness and then to spiritual form. When we understand this continuity, we realise that these are continuous and harmonious bodies of evolving spiritual knowledge.

End of transcription.

The post Why is the Vedic Sanskrit and Puranic Sanskrit different? appeared first on The Spiritual Scientist.

Friday, September 11, 2020
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St Jamestown, Toronto


Greater Beauty


Some of us will never forget this date—September eleventh—a sad day in human history. On a positive note, it is also the date that marks the birthday of a dear follower of Krishna. His name is Keshava and I remember this day of his, not because he is a terrorist, by any stretch. He is a kind-hearted Malaysian Canadian. I wish him well. Very well!


I walked to Saint Jamestown, to a clinic, to intimate a medical check-up for next week. A queue of people were standing in the hall, waiting for the green light to welcome them in. I came to the back of the line, which wasn’t so long. A client walked in after me, with a sample for the clinic woman at the door. “I brought my pee!” She proclaimed, as she held it in the air. After all this is the place where you give some consideration to your physical make up.


Our guru tells the story of “Liquid Beauty” in the magazine, “Back to Godhead,” which he first published in 1944. Here it is, in short:


A young prince set his eyes on a beautiful woman. Spontaneously he wanted to arrange to meet her and, perhaps, win her hand in marriage. The young woman, knowing his intention, agreed to meet one month later. She had a plan to help open his eyes. So, for that time, before the prince came to take her to the ballroom, she took laxatives and collected the by-product, excrement and all, in containers. When the prince arrive to meet his date he was horrified to see an ugly, emaciated woman. He asked, “What happened to your beauty?” So she brought him the containers to see. Her point: beauty is only skin deep. There is a greater beauty that lies within.


May the Source be with you!

4 km


Thursday, September 10, 2020
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Rosedale, Toronto


Juice At the End


Sanjit decided to come over for our nightly stairwell kirtan and then a walk. The walk was left to me and him. The kirtan party dispersed while he and I honoured an hour of the night. Days are becoming shorter. You don’t hear birds. The crickets have taken over and I must admit I cannot favour one group over the other, as far as sound goes. They are equal in giving comfort, however, the birds offer more aesthetic pleasure. Those ground crickets look too much like black cockroaches. But I love them. Sanjit, too, was remarking how sweet their sound is.


My prayer for the evening came out of the calmness of the night, and relates to the consistency of the crickets chirping. “My Dear Lord Krishna, please endow me with the steady enthusiasm to serve.”


I’ve been serving as a monk, first as a novice for 11 years, then 36 years as a full-fledged monk—a sanyasi. Many people take to the spiritual life and excel for the first 3 or 4 years, then continue but with some weaning of eagerness.


I hope to stay in the fire of love for service, to the Divine and His world. I would not trade anything in existence for my lifestyle. Fortune, or luck, has reached out and held on.


When Sanjit and I parted I prepared for rest and reached out for my usual evening beverage—water, lemon, jaggery, ginger and pepper. I might just as well call it con-covid juice. I drank from a mug — a mug bearing a vintage picture of my family from 1954. Even as a monk it’s good to keep some ties with family.


May the Source be with you!

3 km


Wednesday, September 9, 2020
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Toronto, Ontario


About Yourself: Get Gutsy


A brahman (priest) had just finished dealing with the call of nature, and took a quick look at what had come out of his system, remarking, “You are so disgusting!” His output responded back saying, “I was a sweet ladhoountil I entered your company for a few hours.”


That was, perhaps, a lesson in gross humility.


I was chatting today with the foreman overseeing the renovations going on in our ashram. He was speaking about the sewage pipeline in our building. “This building, which is well over 100 years old, has its pipes very deep in the ground. We have had to dig real deep to get to the bottom of it in order to have washroom facilities for a guestroom.”


Acharya, one of our Ukrainian devotees, is the foreman, and he deals with practical matters such as this. “Dig deep!” He said, in relation to the reno’s. This concept of going deep needs to be applied to our spiritual self. We have to be gutsy in order to progress in all projects, whether physical or anti-physical.


Today was such a good day, from the introspective side, and also on pragmatic levels. Steps were thought out and taken to aim at solutions. It wasn’t just a day for putting out fires.


At the same time I was hearing that there’s a surge of Covid victims in Ontario again and there’s a concern about the children going back to school. How to honour social distancing for these young ones?


May the Source be with you!

2 km


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The sun-god felt great affection for his devotee Satrajit, and as a token of his satisfaction the demigod gave him the Syamantaka jewel. Each day the gem would produce about 170 pounds of gold, and the place where it was kept and properly worshiped would be free of calamities such as famine or untimely death, and also of evils like snakebites, mental and physical disorders, and the presence of deceitful persons

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TOVP Construction Resumes

After over six months of halted construction on account of the India lock-down, work on the TOVP has successfully resumed.

Under the direction of Ambarisa prabhu, a special yajna was performed on August 29, the appearance day of Lord Vamanadeva, to bring auspiciousness to the planned restart of TOVP construction. As Vamanadeva took three steps which covered the entire universe, we pray that this yajna, our endeavors and the prayers and blessings of all the Vaishnavas will bear spiritual fruit allowing us to complete the TOVP within the next three years and relocate our beloved Mayapur Deities into Their new home.

The next milestone in our efforts will be the grand and historic installation of the new Prabhupada murti in the TOVP during a three-day celebration of his 125th Appearance Anniversary Year in February, 2021.

February 25 – Nityananda Trayodasi / Worldwide Prabhupada Abhisheka

February 26 – Bhakti Charu Maharaja Samadhi Opening

February 27 – New Prabhupada Murti Installation


We request the participation of every devotee in this installation ceremony by sponsoring an abhisheka as our combined guru dakshina on this most auspicious occasion. Please go HERE to find out more. PRABHUPADA IS COMING!

We want to take this opportunity to thank all our donors and supporters with whose help we have achieved this incredible accomplishment thus far. We are grateful and pray for your continued support over the coming years as we enter the final stages of construction.


Spiritual Care
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Each devotee should receive care and individual guidance • Create groups of devotees at similar levels of advancement/commitment, and assign them for care and guidance to a more advanced and committed devotee.

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Bhadra Campaign Distributes 23,000 Bhagavatam Sets Worldwide
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By Madhava Smullen

The 2020 worldwide Bhadra Campaign saw devotees triple the Srimad-Bhagavatam set distribution of previous years, obliterating their initial goal of 10,000 sets. All told, over 22 countries and 150 cities participated to distribute more than 23,000 sets despite the challenges of COVID-19. Continue reading "Bhadra Campaign Distributes 23,000 Bhagavatam Sets Worldwide
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TOVP Construction Resumes!
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By the TOVP

Under the direction of Ambarisa prabhu, a special yajna was performed on August 29, the appearance day of Lord Vamanadeva, to bring auspiciousness to the planned restart of TOVP construction. As Vamanadeva took three steps which covered the entire universe, we pray that this yajna, our endeavors and the prayers and blessings of all the Vaishnavas will bear spiritual fruit allowing us to complete the TOVP within the next three years and relocate our beloved Mayapur Deities into Their new home. Continue reading "TOVP Construction Resumes!
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Hearing that a total eclipse of the sun was soon to occur, people from all over India, including the Yadus and the residents of Vrndavana, converged at Kuruksetra to earn special pious credit. When Krsna and Balarama saw Nanda Maharaja and mother Yasoda, both the Lords and Their foster parents were overcome with emotion. Raising their two sons onto their laps and holding Them in their arms, Nanda and saintly mother Yasoda forgot their sorrow.

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TOVP TALKS with His Holiness Radhanath Swami – Preaching is the Essence

Lord Sri Krishna says:

“For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”

Bhagavad Gita 18.68/69

The worldwide success of Radhanath Swami’s preaching efforts, whether through temples, farms, books, speaking to elite members of society, or enlivening devotees, is well-known in ISKCON. In this TOVP TALKS webinar Maharaja reveals his thoughts about the importance of preaching, and his methods for successfully implementing them, as well as why the TOVP will have such a strong impact on the world.



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ISKCON Scarborough – Virtual multimedia class – HG Dravida das – Sunday 6th Sep 2020 – 11 am to 12 noon -"The Six Limbs of Surrender" – The concluding part
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Hare Krishna!

Please accept our humble obeisances!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Date: 6th Sep 2020

Day: Sunday

Time: 11 am to 12 noon

Topic: "The Six Limbs of Surrender"- The concluding part

Speaker: H.G. Dravida das

Link to join the class from your desktop or laptop:

If you click the above link from your desktop or laptop, you will be able to join directly

If you click this link from your cell phone or IPAD etc, you will have to download the Zoom application (less than a minute to download)

H.G. Dravida das

A disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Dravida dasa joined ISKCON in 1973 and has served as an editor and proofreader for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust for over 45 years. From 1983 to 1989 he was part of the team that completed Srila Prabhupada’s magnum opus: a commentated English translation of India's jewel of Vedic wisdom, the 18,000-verse Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also helped produce the revised editions of Srila Prabhupada’s Isopanisad, Krsna Book, Caitanya-Caritamrta, and Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and he is part of the team that produces Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa-puja book every year. In addition to his editing work, he teaches Bhakti Yoga classes at ISKCON’s San Diego temple and other centres in North America.

Throughout all this immersion in transcendental literature, Dravida Dasa developed a love of the Sanskrit language, and especially the elaborate verses of the Bhagavatam and other works of bhakti literature.

His devotion and expertise in chanting form a marvellous combination. He has a been Brahmacari throughout his devotional career.

ISKCON Scarborough

3500 McNicoll Avenue, Unit #3,

Scarborough, Ontario,

Canada, M1V4C7



Motherly Love
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It’s easy to take mothers for granted. Some researchers recently followed around one such mother for a week in an attempt to estimate the monetary value of her ‘motherly love’. She took the kids to school, so they calculated how much a taxi driver would cost. She cooked the breakfast, lunch and dinner so they approximated the wage bill of a chef. The mother also played the role of a cleaner, psychologist, accountant and nurse to name but a few. They calculated the overtime the mother put in, and how she would often go on for years without any time off (every family holiday she was fully on-call). After crunching the numbers, they concluded that to employ such a mother would set you back in the region of £150,000 a year!

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