Riots in South Africa: Deities and Residents Moved from Durban Temple
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As of July 13th evening, the senior devotees, ladies, and other Temple residents have taken shelter at the house of various devotees in safer areas. The Deities also have been moved to a safer place, on the advice of local law enforcement groups said ISKCON Communications Director of South Africa, Nanda Kishore Das. 

PRABHUPADA IS COMING! TOVP Prabhupada Welcome Ceremony, October 14 – 15
- TOVP.org

SRILA PRABHUPADA VAIBHAVA DARSHAN UTSAVA (Prabhupada Welcome Ceremony) – The time is soon approaching to welcome Srila Prabhupada’s new ‘worship-pose’ murti to the TOVP. October 14 & 15 (the auspicious days of Rama Vijayotsava and the appearance of Sri Madhvacharya) are now the scheduled dates for this historic, landmark occasion.

Crafted by ISKCON’s most well-known Prabhupada murti maker, Locana das, this life-sized, one-of-a-kind resin deity is designed with folded palms, and internally reinforced with a steel frame to prevent sagging due to heat over the course of many years. He will remain in a special room in the TOVP receiving daily worship until the time of the official installation and his Vyasasana is ready.

Srila Prabhupada’s presence in the TOVP prior to its opening is a positive and auspicious plan that will allow his personal oversight and inspiration to bring to fruition the completion of the project as soon as possible. It is also a sign to all ISKCON devotees that our Founder-Acharya is now in the temple and waiting for us to fulfil his order and desire. And it is especially part of our celebration of Srila Prabhupada’s 125th Appearance Anniversary year.

Originally, this ceremony was planned to be the formal installation of the new murti. However, due to the continued influence of the pandemic in India and the resultant lack of ISKCON leaders and devotees present, we have had to once again postpone the installation to 2022. The date will be announced when certain factors are clear.

The welcome ceremony will be a two-day festival full of kirtan, Prabhupada katha, a procession of the Prabhupada utsav murti from the Chandrodaya Mandir, a fire yajna and finally, a Sacred Water Abhisheka of the new murti from the waters of 125 sacred rivers commemorating Srila Prabhupada’s 125th Appearance Anniversary this year. A detailed schedule will be provided later and the entire event will be broadcast live on Mayapur TV and the TOVP YouTube channel and Facebook Page.

This Vaibhava Darshan Utsav presents another opportunity for devotees to welcome Srila Prabhupada to the TOVP by sponsoring a Sacred Water Abhisheka. This water will be collected from 125 sacred rivers and your name will be read to Srila Prabhupada during the bathing for his eternal recognition and your benefit. Devotees can also sponsor one of five kinds of abhishekas for the grand installation of the murti in 2022.

CLICK HERE for more information and to sponsor an abhisheka today!

 

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From Snana-yatra to Ratha-yatra
Giriraj Swami

It is a great honor, privilege, and pleasure to be here on the auspicious occasion of Snana-yatra. The first deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in ISKCON were discovered in San Francisco in 1967. One of Srila Prabhupada’s early disciples, Malati dasi, saw a small figure in an import store, Cost Plus, and brought it to him. When Prabhupada saw the figure, his eyes opened wide. He folded his palms and bowed his head in respect. Then he said, “You have brought Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the universe. He is Krishna.” He said that Lord Jagannatha was worshipped with two other deities: His brother, Balarama, and His sister, Subhadra. Malati confirmed that there were other, similar figures at the store, and Prabhupada asked her to go and buy them. So she and her husband, Shyamasundar, immediately went and brought the other two figures. Srila Prabhupada placed them with Lord Jagannatha on his desk and told the devotees about Jagannatha’s appearance in India thousands of years ago, and how He was still worshipped in a great temple in Puri and taken in an annual procession with His brother and sister, each in a huge chariot, in the Ratha-yatra festival. Prabhupada chanted, jagannatha-svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me: “O Lord of the universe, kindly be visible unto me.” And he said that henceforth San Francisco should be called New Jagannatha Puri.

Srila Prabhupada asked if any of the devotees knew how to carve, and Shyamasundar said that he did. So Prabhupada requested him to carve three-foot-high replicas of the small Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra. Shyamasundar got three large blocks of wood, and, following sketches and directions that Prabhupada gave him, carved the first large deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in the West.

Then Prabhupada said that the devotees should hold a Ratha-yatra festival. So, following Prabhupada’s instructions, Shyamasundar and the others arranged a flatbed truck on which they erected five tall columns and covered them with cloth to serve as a canopy over the deities. And then they decorated the “chariot” with flowers. The devotees didn’t have many vehicles then, and those they did have were pretty old and dilapidated—and unpredictable in their performance.

At the time, Srila Prabhupada was unwell, and the devotees had rented a place for him to recuperate at nearby Stinson Beach. Although he was unable to attend the festival, the devotees—along with the Ratha-yatra truck, the deities, and some hippies—came to visit him the next day. They were excited and eager to report. Shyamasundar explained that while he had been driving the truck up a steep hill, the truck had stalled and that although he had tried to start the engine, he hadn’t been able to. Then the brakes had failed, and the truck had begun to roll backwards down the hill. Finally he had been able to stop it, but when he had tried to move forward, again the engine had stalled and the truck had rolled backwards. Again and again he would get it started, the truck would go forward, the engine would stall, and the truck would roll backwards. The situation had seemed hopeless, and the devotees had wondered if they would be able to finish the parade.

But somehow they had, and they had come to give the report. Srila Prabhupada told them the story of how Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had celebrated the Ratha-yatra in Puri. He said that in Puri too the chariot would stop, even with thousands of people pulling the ropes. The king would order powerful wrestlers and elephants to push the chariot, but still it wouldn’t move. Finally, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would put His head on the back of the chariot and push, and only then would the chariot move. “Now that Ratha-yatra has come to the West,” Srila Prabhupada said, “this pastime has come too.”

Ratha-yatra is an ancient festival in Puri, and in ISKCON’s history it began here, in San Francisco in 1967, on a flatbed truck. From that first Ratha-yatra, the festival has been celebrated yearly, not only in San Francisco but also in many other major cities throughout the world.

According to the Skanda Purana, the history of the installation of the Jagannatha deities in Puri goes back about a hundred and fifty-three million years. Although there is a history of how the deities came to be carved in the shapes in which they now appear, actually Lord Jagannatha and His associates are eternal. His being carved is just a pastime to facilitate His manifestation on earth. As Srila Prabhupada explains, “Fire is already present in wood, but by a certain process, fire is kindled. Similarly, God is all-pervading. He is everywhere, and since He may come out from everything, He appeared . . . Lord Nrsimha appeared from the pillar of Hiranyakasipu’s palace, Lord Varaha appeared from the nostril of Brahma, and Lord Kapila appeared from the semen of Kardama, but this does not mean that the nostril of Brahma or the pillar of Hiranyakasipu’s palace or the semen of Kardama Muni is the source of the appearance of the Lord. The Lord is always the Lord.” (SB 3.24.6 purport)

So, Lord Jagannatha is eternal, just as Krishna is eternal. Although Krishna had His appearance pastime in the prison house of Kamsa, He resides eternally on His spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindavan, and He eternally manifests His pastimes within the material world. Lord Jagannatha also has an eternal planet in the spiritual sky. He is the source of all incarnations, and He appears in whatever form His devotee wants to see Him. Sometimes in Puri the pujaris dress Him as a demigod—such as Ganesh, with an elephant’s trunk. That is also to confirm the philosophical principle that by worshipping Lord Jagannatha—Krishna—one worships all the demigods automatically. All the demigods are included in Jagannatha, and all the expansions of Godhead are included. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers, Gaudiya Vaishnavas, see Lord Jagannatha as Krishna. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw Jagannatha in Puri, He would see Krishna, Syamasundara.

The appearance of Lord Jagannatha also is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. As recounted there, Lord Jagannatha tells King Indradyumna, who had the first Jagannatha deities carved and who built the first, great temple for Lord Jagannatha in Puri, that He appeared on the full-moon day of the month of Jyestha, being pleased with the king’s devotion and sacrifices. It is on this date every year that Snana-yatra, the public bathing of Lord Jagannatha, is held.

For the Snana-yatra in Puri, Lord Jagannatha is brought into public view on a rooftop, or terrace, of the great temple and bathed. Then, as it is said, the Lord catches a cold and is removed to His private quarters—the quarters of Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, who for two weeks serves Him hand and foot.

Of course, that is another question, about His hands and feet. A disciple once asked Srila Prabhupada, “We are told to meditate on the Deity beginning with the lotus feet, but how do we begin our meditation on Lord Jagannatha? He doesn’t have feet.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “You can meditate on whatever you can see.” (Advanced devotees can see Lord Jagannatha’s lotus feet.) There are philosophical principles and specific pastimes that account for why He has no feet or hands—or why they are not visible. The Upanishads say that the Lord has no legs but that He can overcome all others running. “No hands or feet” really means that He has no material hands or feet. He has spiritual hands and feet. Still, in ecstasy, He sometimes withdraws His limbs and widens His eyes.

Krishna had so much love for the residents of Vrindavan that even in Dvaraka, in the middle of the night, He would sometimes call the names of the cowherd boys and cows, or of Srimati Radharani and the gopis, or of His mother and father, Nanda and Yasoda. Sometimes He would be so overwhelmed with ecstatic love for the residents of Vrindavan that He would not eat or sleep. It was a mystery to the residents of Dvaraka: “Who are these special people? And what is this special place, Vrindavan? What happened when Krishna was there in His childhood that makes Him so attached to them and Vrindavan?”

One person in Dvaraka had been present in Vrindavan for Krishna’s childhood pastimes—Rohini-devi, the mother of Balarama. Like Devaki, she was a wife of Vasudeva’s, but with all the atrocities being committed by King Kamsa, Vasudeva had arranged for her to stay in Vraja with Nanda and Yasoda, who were relatives and family friends. By the arrangement of Yogamaya, Balarama had been transferred from the womb of Devaki in Mathura to the womb of Rohini in Vrindavan, and Rohini had been present for all of Balarama and Krishna’s childhood pastimes there. Wanting to hear about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan, the residents of Dvaraka asked, “Who are these special people? What is this special place?” She said, “I will tell you, but no one should disturb me while I am speaking.”

So, they all assembled in a large hall in Dvaraka, and Subhadra was posted at the door to make sure that no one entered. But she too wanted to hear about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan, so she put her ear to the door. Hearing the pastimes, she became ecstatic, and in her ecstasy her eyes opened wide, her mouth smiled broadly, and her limbs withdrew into her body. She assumed the features that we see today in the deity of Subhadra.

Then Krishna and Balarama came and saw Subhadra with her ear to the door and with those ecstatic features. And They thought, “Let Us also hear what is being said inside.” So They put Their ears to the door, and when They heard the pastimes, They too became ecstatic and assumed Their own particular features, with Their limbs withdrawn and Their eyes open wide and Their mouths in broad smiles. So that is how Their Lordships came to assume these special forms.

After the Snana-yatra, Lord Jagannatha retires for fifteen days, during which time Lakshmi serves Him day and night. In particular, she prepares various medicinal beverages, represented by fruit juices, to help Him recover from His illness. After two weeks, Lord Jagannatha feels better, and He feels separation from His other devotees. And so, taking permission from the goddess of fortune, He embarks on a journey (yatra) in a chariot (ratha) to see them. When He doesn’t come back after three or four days—especially since He had indicated that He would be gone for only one—she becomes restless and impatient. Just imagine: Lakshmi serves Him hand and foot for two weeks, He says that He wants to go out for the afternoon to see His other devotees, and days pass and He doesn’t come home. So she exhibits an extraordinary type of transcendental jealous pride and anger (mana), and with all opulence she proceeds with her maidservants in a procession to Sundaracala to bring back Lord Jagannatha.

The Ratha-yatra begins at the Jagannatha temple in Nilacala and proceeds to the Gundica temple in Sundaracala. Nilacala represents Dvaraka, where Krishna lives as a king and is worshipped in opulence, and Sundaracala represents Vrindavan, where Krishna is loved simply as a cowherd boy, the son of Nanda and Yasoda.

During the year, the Gundica temple (named after the wife of King Indradyumna) is empty, and naturally dust and dirt accumulate. (In India most temples have an open style of architecture.) The day before Ratha-yatra is Gundica-marjana, and on that day Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates would thoroughly clean the Gundica temple. As described in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Mahaprabhu would gather thousands of men, and together they would clean the temple. First, with thousands of brooms, they would sweep it—twice—and then they would wash it with thousands of pots of water. They didn’t have hoses then—only pots. They would fill thousands of pots with water and wash the temple inside and out, just to make the temple fit for the Lord.

Metaphorically, the cleansing of the Gundica temple is the cleansing of the heart to make it a fit place for the Lord. Such cleansing is effected by hearing and chanting about Krishna (srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah).

srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
  punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah stho hy abhadrani
  vidhunoti suhrt satam
       (SB 1.2.17)

When a sincere devotee (satam) hears the messages of Krishna, all the dirty, inauspicious things (abhadrani) in the heart (hrdyantah) are cleansed (vidhunoti). Similarly, by attentive chanting and hearing of the holy names of the Lord—sankirtana—one’s consciousness is also purified (ceto-darpana-marjanam). Thus Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers cleaned the Gundica temple to make it a fit place for the Lord to reside. And, as Srila Prabhupada often said, “When you clean the temple, you clean your heart.”

So, five days after the Ratha-yatra, when Lord Jagannatha does not return, the goddess of fortune comes out in full force and, with her maidservants, marches on the Gundica temple. Her maidservants arrest the servants of Lord Jagannatha and bring them before her. They beat the Ratha car with sticks and treat the servants like thieves, ridiculing and abusing them. They say, “What is wrong with your master? He abandoned the opulence of the goddess of fortune for the sake of a flower garden—a few leaves and fruits and flowers. What is wrong with Him? Now bring Him before the goddess of fortune.” “Okay, okay,” they reply. “Whatever you say. Tomorrow we shall bring Him.”

Thus pacified, Lakshmi returns to her abode. And Lord Jagannatha eventually comes—not the next day but four days later, in the return Ratha-yatra. All this is very nice, but for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who was in the mood of Srimati Radharani in separation from Krishna—the highest level of ecstatic love in separation—to not see Lord Jagannatha for two weeks was unbearable, and He almost went mad. When He had first arrived in Puri and entered the temple and seen the Deity of Jagannatha, He had thought, “Here is My Lord, for whom I’ve been searching.” He had run to embrace Jagannatha—Krishna—and fainted in the ecstasy of pure love. So for Him to have achieved the Lord of His life and then lost Him (when Jagannatha went into seclusion) was intolerable. He could not remain in Puri. And so He walked fourteen miles west by foot to Alalanatha (Alarnath), in an area called Brahmagiri, which is named after Lord Brahma because Brahma is said to have come to earth and installed the Deity of Lord Narayana worshipped there.

But how could Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who was in the mood of Radharani—who knows no one other than Krishna—find solace by going to Alarnath to see a four-handed Deity of Lord Narayana? Further, when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first saw the Deity and offered prostrated obeisances, the stone slab on the temple floor beneath Him melted. In the Jagannatha temple there is a pillar called the Garuda-stambha, where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to stand to have darshan of Jagannatha. There are imprints of His fingers on the pillar and of His lotus feet on the floor where, in great ecstasy, He would behold Lord Jagannatha. But in Alarnath we find the unique impression of His entire body, which melted the stone when He prostrated Himself in extreme ecstasy. This is all very mysterious.

Once, during His springtime rasa-lila at Govardhana Hill, Sri Krishna disappeared from the scene, suggesting that He wanted to be alone with Sri Radha. He hid in a secluded bush, waiting for Her to pass by, but in the meantime the other gopis came looking for Him. They all were in the mood of separation—mad in separation from Krishna, mad in love for Krishna—having been attracted by His transcendental beauty, His charming gestures, and His loving words. They were searching all over Govardhana for Him, and finally they sighted Him in the bush. When He saw them, Krishna became struck with emotion. He could not hide Himself, and so He assumed His four-armed Narayana form. When the gopis saw Lord Narayana, they said, “Oh, He is not Krishna; He is Lord Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” They had no interest in Lord Narayana; they were interested only in Krishna. So they offered Him respects and prayed, “Please bless us with Krishna’s association.” Otherwise, they had no use for Him. They went on searching for Krishna. Then, when Srimati Radharani came, Krishna wanted to maintain His four-armed form to joke with Her, but although He tried His best, He was unable to do so. The influence of Her ecstatic love forced Him to return to His original two-armed form. He couldn’t maintain His feature as Lord Narayana. He was conquered by Srimati Radharani’s love and so revealed His original form as Krishna.

rasarambha-vidhau niliya vasata kunje mrgaksi-ganair
  drstam gopayitum svam uddhura-dhiya ya susthu sandarsita
radhayah pranayasya hanta mahima yasya sriya raksitum
  sa sakya prabhavisnunapi harina nasic catur-bahuta

“Prior to the rasa dance, Lord Krsna hid Himself in a grove just to have fun. When the gopis came, their eyes resembling those of deer, by His sharp intelligence He exhibited His beautiful four-armed form to hide Himself. But when Srimati Radharani came there, Krsna could not maintain His four arms in Her presence. This is the wonderful glory of Her love.” (Ujjvala-nilamani, Nayika-bheda 7)

Transcendentally, Alarnath in Lord Chaitanya’s lila in Puri is compared to Paitha at Govardhana. It is a place of intense separation. The gopis, in separation from Krishna, roamed the forest there, looking for Him. And Paitha is the place where Lord Narayana wasn’t really Lord Narayana. He was actually Krishna assuming the form of Narayana to play a joke on the gopis—and to bring out their exclusive love for Him. Thus, although the external form of the Deity of Lord Alarnath is that of four-armed Narayana, internally He is Krishna. And the pujaris of Alarnath admit that in their worship they recite very confidential mantras to Krishna, the lover of Srimati Radharani.

During those fourteen days, called anavasara, when Lord Jagannatha retires to His private quarters and receives service from Lakshmi, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in separation, stays in Alarnath.

So, there are many deep feelings connected to Ratha-yatra. This whole pastime—like all the pastimes of Jagannatha in Puri—is very deep and full of separation. Jagannatha Puri is vipralambha-dhama. Vipralambha means “separation.” Lord Jagannatha, in His opulent temple, feels separation from Srimati Radharani and His other pure devotees in Vrindavan. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in the mood of Srimati Radharani after Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura and Dvaraka, also feels separation. So Jagannatha Puri is a place of crying. But that crying is ecstasy. That separation is ecstasy. It is not what we experience in the material world.

After this period of separation, when Lord Jagannatha finally leaves His private quarters, He emerges from the temple and mounts His chariot; and for the first time in two weeks Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the other devotees are able to see Him. So they become ecstatic. And in the Ratha-yatra, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is in the mood of Radharani bringing Krishna back to Vrindavan.

As described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, after Krishna had been living as a king in Dvaraka for many years, He was informed that there was going to be a solar eclipse. To observe the eclipse, Krishna announced that He would go to Kurukshetra, a holy place (dharma-ksetra kuru-ksetra) in North India. The Vedas recommend that one go to Kurukshetra to perform the various rituals associated with eclipses—to bathe in the sacred waters, perform sacrifices, give charity, and so on. When the news reached the residents of Vrindavan that Krishna was going to Kurukshetra, they thought, “Let us go, too.” They weren’t interested in the ritual baths or ceremonies. They were interested in Krishna. Since He had left Vrindavan, they had been feeling intense separation. Their only business had been crying for Krishna. They decided, “We shall also go.” And so they went.

It was a very touching scene when Krishna met the residents of Vrindavan—heart rending. Although He first met the elders, beginning with Nanda and Yasoda and their associates, within His heart He was thinking of Radharani and the gopis. So He took an opportunity to steal away from the others to meet them. Yet although Radha was seeing Krishna, it wasn’t the same. She said, “You’re the same Krishna, and I am the same Radha, but it’s not the same here. Please come back to Vrindavan. Here there are crowds of people, elephants, and horses, and the rattling of chariots. In Vrindavan there are flower gardens and the chirping of birds and the humming of bees. Here You are dressed like a royal prince with all sorts of opulent paraphernalia, accompanied by great warriors. In Vrindavan You appeared just like a cowherd boy, dressed in Your yellow dhoti (pitambara) and decorated with a peacock feather, accompanied only by Your flute. Here in Kurukshetra there is not even a drop of the ocean of transcendental happiness that I enjoyed with You in Vrindavan. So please come back to Vrindavan and let Us relish pastimes as We did in Our youth.”

In that mood of Srimati Radharani, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, dancing in front of Lord Jagannatha in the Ratha-yatra, would recite a verse from a romantic poem:

yah kaumara-harah sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-ksapas
  te conmilita-malati-surabhayah praudhah kadambanilah
sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau
  reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetah samutkanthate

“That very personality who stole away my heart during my youth is now again my master. These are the same moonlit nights of the month of Caitra. The same fragrance of malati flowers is there, and the same sweet breezes are blowing from the kadamba forest. In our intimate relationship, I am also the same lover, yet still my mind is not happy here. I am eager to go back to that place on the bank of the Reva under the Vetasi tree. That is my desire.” (Padyavali 386; Cc Madhya 1.58, 13.121)

That emotional pulling of Krishna from Kurukshetra to Vrindavan is the mood of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the Ratha-yatra. There is so much reciprocation between Lord Chaitanya and Lord Jagannatha based on Srimati Radharani and the gopis pulling Krishna back to Vrindavan. Sometimes Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would go ahead and Lord Jagannatha, astonished by the dancing of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, would stop His chariot to watch. Sometimes Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would stay behind the chariot and eventually Lord Jagannatha would stop. Then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would come forward, and then Lord Jagannatha would move forward, too.

ei-mata gaura-syame, donhe thelatheli
svarathe syamere rakhe gaura maha-bali

“Thus there was a sort of competition between Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Jagannatha in seeing who would lead, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so strong that He made Lord Jagannatha wait in His car.” (Cc Madhya 13.119)

Srila Prabhupada, citing Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s commentary, explains that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s leading Lord Jagannatha toward the Gundica temple corresponded to Srimati Radharani’s leading Krishna toward Vrindavan. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s following at the rear of the chariot indicated that Lord Jagannatha, Krishna, was forgetting the inhabitants of Vrindavan. In the role of Srimati Radharani, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was examining whether the Lord still remembered the inhabitants of Vrindavan. “When Caitanya Mahaprabhu fell behind the Ratha car, Jagannatha-deva, Krsna Himself, understood the mind of Srimati Radharani. Therefore, Jagannatha sometimes fell behind the dancing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to indicate to Srimati Radharani that He had not forgotten. Thus Lord Jagannatha would stop the forward march of the ratha and wait at a standstill. . . . While Jagannatha was thus waiting, Gaurasundara, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in His ecstasy of Srimati Radharani, immediately came forward to Krsna. At such times, Lord Jagannatha would proceed ahead very slowly. These competitive exchanges were all part of the love affair between Krsna and Srimati Radharani.” (Cc Madhya 13.119 purport)

Ultimately Jagannatha reaches Vrindavan, the Gundica temple. There is so much feeling in these festivals.

Now we shall read about Snana-yatra from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, not only to hear directly from Srila Prabhupada about Snana-yatra, but also to realize what an unlimited wealth of knowledge—of nectar—exists in Prabhupada’s books. I am going to read four or five verses—out of hundreds and thousands—and yet in just these few verses there is so much nectar.

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

We shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter One: “The Later Pastimes of Lord Caitanya.” In verse 121, the author, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, mentions that Lord Chaitanya witnessed the Snana-yatra festival. He then continues:

TEXT 122

anavasare jagannathera na pana darasana
virahe alalanatha karila gamana

TRANSLATION

When Jagannatha was absent from the temple, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who could not see Him, felt separation and left Jagannatha Puri to go to a place known as Alalanatha.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Alalanatha is also known as Brahmagiri. This place is about fourteen miles from Jagannatha Puri and is also on the beach. There is a temple of Jagannatha there. At the present moment a police station and post office are situated there because so many people come to see the temple.

The word anavasara is used when Sri Jagannathaji cannot be seen in the temple. After the bathing ceremony (snana-yatra), Lord Jagannatha apparently becomes sick. He is therefore removed to His private apartment, where no one can see Him. Actually, during this period renovations are made on the body of the Jagannatha Deity. This is called nava-yauvana.

COMMENT

Nava-yauvana means “ever-fresh,” or “always youthful.” At this time the Jagannatha Deity is fully restored to youth.

PURPORT (concluded)

During the Ratha-yatra ceremony, Lord Jagannatha once again comes before the public. Thus for fifteen days after the bathing ceremony, Lord Jagannatha is not visible to any visitors.

TEXT 123

bhakta-sane dina kata tahani rahila
gaudera bhakta aise, samacara paila

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu remained for some days at Alalanatha. In the meantime, He received news that all the devotees from Bengal were coming to Jagannatha Puri.

COMMENT

Every year, the devotees from Bengal would travel by foot to Jagannatha Puri for the Ratha-yatra and the four months of the rainy season called Caturmasya.

TEXTS 124–125

When the devotees from Bengal arrived at Jagannatha Puri, both Nityananda Prabhu and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya greatly endeavored to take Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu back to Jagannatha Puri.

When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu finally left Alalanatha to return to Jagannatha Puri, He was overwhelmed both day and night due to separation from Jagannatha. His lamentation knew no bounds. During this time, all the devotees from different parts of Bengal, and especially from Navadvipa, arrived in Jagannatha Puri.

TEXT 126

sabe mili’yukti kari’ kirtana arambhila
kirtana-avese prabhura mana sthira haila

TRANSLATION

After due consideration, all the devotees began chanting the holy name congregationally. Lord Caitanya’s mind was thus pacified by the ecstasy of the chanting.

PURPORT

Being absolute in all circumstances, Lord Jagannatha’s person, form, picture, and kirtana are all identical. Therefore when Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, He was pacified. Previously, He had been feeling very morose due to separation from Jagannatha. The conclusion is that whenever a kirtana of pure devotees takes place, the Lord is immediately present. By chanting the holy names of the Lord, we associate with the Lord personally.

COMMENT

This is a very important lesson. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in such deep separation from Lord Jagannatha that He could not do anything or think of anything else. Finally, the devotees decided to perform kirtan. By chanting the holy names of Krishna, who is Lord Jagannatha, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu felt pacified, because He was experiencing the association of Jagannatha through the holy name.

As Prabhupada mentions here in the purport, the holy name of Krishna—the holy name of Jagannatha—is the same as Krishna. Seeing the form of Lord Jagannatha and hearing the name of Lord Krishna—the name of Lord Jagannatha—are the same. In one sense, all service is absolute; there is no difference between worshipping the form of the Lord and chanting the name of the Lord. But to engage in Deity worship, there are so many requirements. You need deities, you must be clean, you must be initiated, you must know the mantras, you must have the paraphernalia, there are sixteen different types of items to offer—you require so many things. But with chanting you don’t require anything. As Srila Prabhupada said, all you require is your tongue and your ears. You don’t even need your mind. In fact, it is better to leave your mind out of it. Once, a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada, “What do I do with my mind when I chant?” And Prabhupada said, “Your mind? What is the question of mind? With your tongue you chant and with your ears you hear.” With our tongue we chant, with our ears we hear, and with our intelligence we remain fixed.

By kirtan, by chanting and hearing, we associate with Krishna. And all of our feelings of separation can be mitigated. The holy names of Krishna include everything. His names, His forms, His qualities, His pastimes, His paraphernalia, His entourage—all are included. Srila Prabhupada and his parampara are also included. The whole spiritual world is included. Everything is revealed when we chant and hear with attention, chant and hear with love.

Now the devotees here will be suffering in separation from Lord Jagannatha for fifteen days. But we can take shelter of the holy names of Lord Jagannatha and read the pastimes of Lord Jagannatha and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. And we can read about Srila Prabhupada and Ratha-yatra in Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. We should read these books; they are important. Prabhupada stayed up all night to write his books. He would take rest at ten o’clock and get up at twelve to write these books, not just for us to sell—of course, it is good that we sell them—but for us to read; we should also read them. As Prabhupada said, “Distributing my books will keep them [devotees] happy, and reading my books will keep them.” Reading will keep us fixed. So we need to do all these things. We can’t afford to waste a moment. As Prabhupada said, “Don’t talk nonsense. Don’t waste time. If you’ve got time, chant Hare Krishna.”

[A talk by Giriraj Swami, July 13, 2008, Berkeley, California]

Srila Svarupa Damodara Goswami Disappearance
→ Ramai Swami

Srila Svarupa Damodara Goswami was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s personal secretary and always stayed with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is the eternal associate and friend of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

He fully understood the Lord’s conclusions on Krishna-tattva and Krishna-bhakti, and could fully represent them.  As such, whoever wanted to bring before the Lord a book, poem, or song would first bring it to Svarupa Damodara, who would examine it before the Lord would hear it. 

The Lord did not delight in hearing literature and song which was opposed to the conclusions of bhakti (bhaktisiddhanta-viruddha), or which contained rasabhasa, conflicting devotional mellows. Therefore, Svarupa Damodara would examine these things, and if he decided that they were pure, then he would arrange for the Lord to hear them.

Svarupa Damodara was an expert in music and Vedic scriptures – he was called Damodara because of his expert singing and musical skills. He has also compiled a book of music called sangita-damodara. Svarupa Damodara would sing for Sri Chaitanya the songs of Vidyapati, Chandidasa, and Gita-Govinda, and this gave the Lord much pleasure. Svarupa Damodara could sing like a Gandharva, and he knew the scriptures like Brihaspati, the guru of the demigods.

Svarupa Damodara always stayed near Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Svarupa Damodara, the Lord’s secretary, could instantly read the feelings of Sri Caitanya, and he began to sing a suitable verse or perform kirtan to improve Lord’s internal sentiments.

Svarupa Damodara has been identified as Lalita-devi, the second expansion of Radharani. However, text 160 of Kavi-karnapura’s authoritative Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika describes Svarupa Damodara as the same Visakha-devi who serves the Lord in Goloka Vrndavana. Therefore it is to be understood that Sri Svarupa Damodara is a direct expansion of Radharani who helps the Lord experience the attitude of Radharani.

On the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashadha, he passed away from this earth and entered into the Lord’s unmanifest pastimes.

Vanipedia-Behind the Screen (video)
→ Dandavats

By GBC SPT

Vanipedia-Behind the Screen-Live conversation with Visnu Murti Das. GBC SPT brings to you inside insight into one of the most valuable projects within ISKCON-Vanipedia. This live interview aims to bring us to an understanding of how Vanipedia is invoking and fully manifesting Srila Prabhupada's Vani-presence amidst us. We have the fortune to have with us the project director, Visnu Murti Das. Continue reading "Vanipedia-Behind the Screen (video)
→ Dandavats"

Sivananda Sena Disappearance
→ Ramai Swami

Every year one month before caturmasya (four month period of the rainy season) Sivananda Sena would lead a party of two hundred devotees from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri to attend the annual Ratha-Yatra festival. He would pay for everyone’s food, tolls, ferries, and lodging. He personally arranged for their com­fort.

Sivananda Sena showed Vaisnava compassion for all living entities, be they man or beast. When a stray dog joined the party Sivananda Sena fed the dog and even paid his boat fare. When the dog disappeared one day Sivananda sent 200 men to search for him.

Upon arriving in Puri, they saw Lord Caitanya throwing coconut pulp to the dog. The dog became purified of all material contamination by eating the maha-prasadam remnants of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Not seeing the dog the next day, Sivananda Sena understood that the dog had attained liberation by the mercy of Lord Caitanya.

Observing caturmasya in Puri, Sivananda and the devotees would regularly bathe in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s blissful as­sociation. Sivananda used all his possessions in the service of Krishna and the Vaisnavas. His entire family and servants were ardent followers of Lord Gauranga.

Kavi Karnapura, the son of Sivananda Sena, says in Gaura-gan-nodesh-dipika:“Sivananda Sena is the embodiment of love of Sri Caitanya Deva. And in Krishnalila he is Vira gopi, Srimati Radharani’s messenger.”

In one bhajana Devakinandana Dasa glorifies him, “I bow down to Sivananda Sena, who is full of divine love. His caste, life, and wealth are the two lotus feet of Sri Gaura Raya.” His samadhi is in the 64 Samadhis Area.

​How can a student practice bhakti?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

Answer Podcast


Download by “right-click and save content”

Transcribed by: Raji Nachiappan (Melbourne)

Question: How can a student practice bhakti?

Answer: It is fortunate that an opportunity to connect with Krishna comes in youth itself. Youth is a time when we have energy, intellectual sharpness and a lot of drive-in our lives. If at this time, we can get Krishna into our lives, then all our youthful energy, intelligence, and drive, they can all be constructively utilized.

One of the biggest temptations in youth is to postpone spiritual life for later. The idea of wanting to postpone spiritual life for later comes because we think that spiritual life only has other-worldly benefits. However, spiritual life also offers us these-worldly benefits. When we practice spiritual life seriously, it enables us to become more focused, calm, and self-controlled by which whatever we do, we will be able to do it better.

The vision of life that bhakti offers us is – What we are is God’s gift to us and what we become is our gift to God. Whatever talents, abilities, and resources we have are God’s gift to us and when we use them in a mood of service to develop those abilities and to become better, that is our gift to God.
The studies that we do as a student, we do not just do to get a degree or to get a job, but we do it as a service to Krishna. Earlier, we may have studied to get good marks, however, if we study well as a devotee and do well, then when our friends enquire about it, then we get an opportunity to tell them about the spiritual life. We should see our studies also as a means to serve to Krishna.

That way if we focus primarily on direct devotional activities as much as our studies allow, then we can move onwards to Lord Krishna even through our other activities, including our studies. If possible, finding other devotees in the same age group will enable like-minded associations,s and that way we can progress.

End of transcription.

ISKCON Scarborough – Remembrance of Lord Krsna & Lord Balarama through their Sporting activities(Multimedia presentation) – 11th July 2021- 11 am to 12 noon
→ ISKCON Scarborough

Hare Krishna!

Please accept our humble obeisances!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!


Date: 11th July 2021

Day: Sunday

Time: 11 am to 12 noon

Topic: Remembrance of Lord Krsna & Lord Balarama through their Sporting activities(Multimedia presentation)


Link to join the classes:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9150790510?pwd=Wk5GYXVRMkJmdk84MzZJRXBKYUgwUT09


ISKCON Scarborough

3500 McNicoll Avenue, Unit #3,

Scarborough, Ontario,

Canada, M1V4C7

Website: www.iskconscarborough.org

Email:

iskconscarborough@hotmail.com

scarboroughiskcon@gmail.com

Monks on Mission: “Best Short Film” Award Winner at Tagore Int’l Film Fest
→ ISKCON News: Latest Stories

Source: ISKCON Gurugram

Credits; Neither this initiative nor this film could ever have materialized without the vision of HG Rambhadra Prabhu, Temple President - ISKCON Gurugram and our respected mentor. He inspired and guided us in this cause and the film, in every aspect from conception to creation. Also, we are grateful to our hero and mentor HG Sundar Gopal Prabhu, Director - ISKCON Youth Forum Delhi, for his constant love, guidance, and inspiration. This transformed and inspired us to take up a life of monkhood and serve God and humanity.

Monks: Aradhya Gaur Das , Sri Nitai Pada Das, Sevaya Giridhari Das, Parmatama Hari Das, Rahul Jhanghu, Rakesh Roshan Script and Dialogues: Padsevan Bhakta Das and Pankaj Shyam Das Camera, Editing and Sound: Pankaj Shyam Das and Padsevan Bhakta Das Voiceovers: Shivani Bansal, Ambar Kshitij, Shivani Chhoker, Vaibhav, Anjali, and Krishnika Singh.

When in the Dark
→ ISKCON News: Latest Stories

One day I will no longer fear the dark. I won’t have that moment of shock that feels like cold air rushing into my lungs. I won’t feel the pressure like fighting for breath under water. I won’t jerk my hands out before me in fear. My body won’t shake and tremble, breaking down in anxiety.

Travel Journal#17.11: New York City and Hudson
→ Travel Adventures of a Krishna Monk

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 17, No. 11
By Krishna Kripa Das
(June 2021, part one)
New York City and Hudson
(Sent from New Mayapur, France, on July 10, 2021)

Where I Went and What I Did

My main focus of the first half of June was the three-day New York City Ratha-yatra festival, both advertising it and taking part in it. The first day of the festival, the day before Ratha-yatra, the Bhakti Center devotees had a three-hour kirtan program at Tompkins Square Park and the NYC Harinam party did a four-hour kirtan program at Times Square. For Ratha-yatra, we chanted and pulled Jagannath deities on a chariot, along with Srila Prabhupada on another chariot, along Fifth Avenue from 45th Street to Washington Square Park, where we had our usual festival which was well-attended and much appreciated. The next day Harinama Ruci did a harinama on Brooklyn Bridge, and we had kirtan in the Brooklyn temple from noon till 6:30 p.m., followed by the Sunday Feast lecture. Monday we did harinama with Mahavishnu Swami, Kavicandra Swami, and Harinama Ruci in Brooklyn. Tuesday the NYC Harinam party left for New Vrindaban for a kirtan festival, and I chanted with friends from Florida and New York at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn in the morning and with Yamuna Bihari Prabhu, also from Florida, and his kirtan group from the Hudson, NY, area in a Hudson park in the afternoon.

I share notes on my personal reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books, especially The Nectar of Devotion and Srimad-Bhagavatam. I share notes on Bhaktisiddhana Sarasvati Thakura’s commentaries on Caitanya-caritamrita and excerpts from the writing of Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. I share notes on lectures by Candrasekhara, Guru Prasad, Kavicandra, and Mahavishnu Swamis and by Hansarupa, Pancharatna, Vaisesika, Rama Raya, Navina Nirada, and Acarya-nishta Prabhus. I share interesting points from conversations with Anuttama (non-GBC), Dasarath Suta, Chinese Chandra, and Anupama Prabhus.

Thanks to the visiting devotees who gave me donations at Ratha-yatra. Thanks to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for all the videos of me leading kirtan on harinama in New York City. Thanks to Mukunda Ashraya Prabhu for his videos of Snana-yatra at ISKCON NYC. Thanks to Yamuna Bihari Prabhu getting me at the train station in Hudson and to Krishna Kumari for taking me to Stuyvesant Falls.

Itinerary

July 1–August 19: Paris harinamas
August 20–22: Czech Woodstock (Brno)
August 23: Prague harinama
August 24: flight from Prague to Tallahassee
August 25–September ?: Tallahassee harinamas and college outreach
September ?–December 31: NYC Harinam

Chanting Hare Krishna in New York City

As usual I chanted at different venues in New York City with the NYC Harinam party of Rama Raya Prabhu for four hours a day, six days a week. I would chant with the Bhakti Center devotees for three hours in Washington Square Park on Sundays.

Radha Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn (
https://youtu.be/jxkqx-WkrbM):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna
there (https://youtu.be/8wGQdfeYoP0):


I also chanted Hare Krishna at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn (https://youtu.be/VG5BvI7emVQ):


Jaya Jagannatha Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Columbus Circle, and a passerby dances (
https://youtu.be/ydJkO4LWG2g):


Namarasa Prabhu chants Hare Krishna there, and devotees and a passerby dances (
https://youtu.be/rn23kKwirPQ):


His wife, Tulasi, chants Hare Krishna (
https://youtu.be/dmk08DcbtiA):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna there, and devotees and a passerby dance (
https://youtu.be/KJXUmgKs6rQ):


Acarya-nistha Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at 42nd St. / Times Square subway station above the downtown A train (
https://youtu.be/C1bmmyLpQzs):


Rama Raya Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna there, and a Latino family happily played shakers and danced with devotees (
https://youtu.be/ODCHp0r9MCM):


Here I
chant Hare Krishna at Fulton Street subway station in Manhattan (https://youtu.be/llXQnwlA4nQ):


Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra come to Radha Govinda Mandir for Snana-yatra and are greeted by the Hare Krishna chanting of Their devotees [video footage by Mukunda Ashraya Prabhu and edited by myself] (
https://youtu.be/ByGDXj9xO54):


Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at ISKCON New York Snana Yatra, and children dance (
https://youtu.be/QM4ndK_e3cs):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at ISKCON New York Snana Yatra (
https://youtu.be/QU4NVGb-BLE):


Bipin Bihari Prabhu chants at ISKCON New York Snana Yatra (
https://youtu.be/eWUV3nkbmlY):


Keshava
chants Hare Krishna at the Bhakti Center Sunday kirtan in Washington Square Park (https://youtu.be/C4WRUDtvSek):


Braja Sakhi Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at the Bhakti Center Sunday kirtan in Washington Square Park, and devotees and park goers dance (
https://youtu.be/c9px9F8NE4k):


Vasudev
chants Hare Krishna at the Bhakti Center Sunday kirtan in Washington Square Park, and devotees dance (https://youtu.be/dTXPo9qJaw0):


Jahnavi chants Hare Krishna at the Bhakti Center Sunday kirtan in Washington Square Park (
https://youtu.be/a4PnoM8qv3w):


Jahnavi chants Hare Krishna at the Bhakti Center Sunday kirtan in Washington Square Park, and devotees dance (
https://youtu.be/UhfsQu0qgSk):


We had not chanted Hare Krishna in Union Square since the COVID-19 lockdown back in March 2020, and we encountered some people who were happy to see us.


One older man recalled Srila Prabhupada from his many visits to 26 2nd Ave. in 1966. He also fondly remembered the early love feasts!


A young lady asked if I had been in Jacksonville. I said yes. Turns out she remembered seeing me chant at UNF, and she knew of Amrita Keli, our Krishna Club president there. Amrita told me later, “I remember her well, she was such a special Krishna clubber. Her name is Jessie.”

Two passersby dance to the sound of Hari chanting Hare Krishna in the rain in Union Square (https://youtu.be/WfMfEwAOAHo):


I also chanted Hare Krishna there [video by Kaliya Krishna Prabhu] (
https://youtu.be/W6J5JakmQPc):


Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Union Square, and a kid plays the shakers (
https://youtu.be/wAguLVvHQNE):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna (
https://youtu.be/CYKwfZqV38w):


Acarya-nistha Prabhu chants Hare Krishna (
https://youtu.be/QjogJPlaPo8):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna, and devotees dance (
https://youtu.be/PmvPeMAzCDs):


Navina Nirada Prabhu chants Hare Krishna during Tulasi Kirtan at ISKCON New York, and devotees dance (
https://youtu.be/8YV8uPj3I7I):

Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center subway station, and a lady plays the shakers (https://youtu.be/NwC1CPHrJ7Q):


Tulasirani Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Columbus Circle (
https://youtu.be/UhyiVq7tk-A):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna there also (
https://youtu.be/0bbu55iGun4):


Mahavishnu Swami chants Hare Krishna during Tulasi Puja in New York City (
https://youtu.be/C6UEyi62kCA):


Candrasekhara Swami chants Hare Krishna at
mangala-arati ISKCON NYC two days before Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/RgIvf5L9gh0):


I
chanted Hare Krishna at Washington Square Park as more devotees come to New York City to celebrate the Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/OA7R2rMHlWc):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Washington Square Park (
https://youtu.be/EwlaeDy6F9M):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Washington Square Park, and a young performer, who is a friend of the devotees, breathes fire and does other fire tricks (
https://youtu.be/9WdQ9DeesuM):


Mahavishnu Swami chants Hare Krishna on the NYC Subway after Times Square
harinama, and three youthful passengers enjoy playing tambourine and dancing (https://youtu.be/vI7f6DarWIs):


Chanting Hare Krishna in New York City the Day Before Ratha-yatra

Dayal Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Tompkins Square Park during a three-hour kirtan event organized by The Bhakti Center for the first day of the three-day Ratha-yatra celebration in New York City (https://youtu.be/BSdoNuQacbU):


Braja Sakhi Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Tompkins Square Park (
https://youtu.be/bDv7JsUDADw):


Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants at the Times Square Hare Krishna Festival, a four-hour kirtan event the first day of the three-day Ratha-yatra celebration in New York City (
https://youtu.be/FKi1OSFA2C8):


Vraja Mohan Prabhu chants at the Times Square Hare Krishna Festival (
https://youtu.be/qvFCFj1B0NQ):


Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants at the Times Square Hare Krishna Festival (
https://youtu.be/G7rvLNOjmIw):


Govind chants at the Times Square Hare Krishna Festival (
https://youtu.be/LcHmWw3HBLk):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants at the Times Square Hare Krishna Festival (
https://youtu.be/Wofq7aS-8rY):


Passersby play shakers and dance as Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna (
https://youtu.be/TnJE2kdceHg):


Mahavishnu Swami and Harinama Ruci chant at the Times Square Hare Krishna Festival, engaging the crowd in chanting and dancing (
https://youtu.be/UfA_ruRKFM0):


While distributing Ratha-yatra flyers at a gathering of anti-vaccine people at the John Lennon memorial in Central Park on Memorial Day, I met a lady who had experimented with chanting different mantras. She told me she always chants Hare Krishna when she has to go to the bathroom really bad because it helps her hold it. I told her that was just a side effect of chanting the mantra.

New York City Ratha-yatra

When I lived in Alachua I would go to the New York City Ratha-yatra every year, often traveling by car the sixteen-hour journey. However, since 2008 I have been going to Europe in April for the Queen’s Day (or King’s Day) maha-harinama. Because I would stay in Europe for the Polish Woodstock festival ending the beginning of August, I have not attended the New York City Ratha-yatra since 2007. I would go to the London or Paris Ratha-yatras, and sometimes both, but never the New York one for fourteen years.

I passed out hundreds of Ratha-yatra invitations during the previous few weeks before the event on our daily harinamas. In some places, like Columbus Circle, I could only distribute 84 in 3½ hours, while in others like Fulton Street subway station in Manhattan, I could distribute 387 in the same length of time. Washington Square Park was intermediate with 201. The reluctance of people to take the invitations was disheartening, but when the Ratha-yatra day arrived, I was elated to see all kinds of people attracted by the Ratha-yatra procession and mentioning how beautiful it was and expressing gratitude that we put it on. Many people were happy to hear about the program in Washington Square Park after the procession, and they promised they would go. I was given a bag of welcome packets and was able to distribute all of them in the procession. I only have videos from the beginning and end of the procession as I was busy distributing the welcome packets in the interim.

Here Mahavishnu Swami chants Hare Krishna at the start of the New York City Ratha-yatra procession and many, many devotees from all parts of the country respond (https://youtu.be/pcPejAfeV7k):


Although devotees who regularly attend the New York Ratha-yatra say there were fewer devotees from other places than usual, still devotees came from quite a variety of places. I encountered devotees from Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Miami, Alachua, North Carolina, Columbus, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Hartford, and Puerto Rico, to name a few.

A tall, thin, blond lady was looking at the Ratha-yatra procession with great eagerness. I explained to her that it was a traditional spiritual festival from India that has been observed for thousands of years and which we perform in all the big cities, and I offered her a welcome packet which she gratefully accepted. She said she had a showroom several buildings away from Fifth Avenue on a side street, and she was so attracted by the sound of the procession, she just had to see what it was all about!

Often when people ask me to explain what the Ratha-yatra is, I say, “Many traditions have some place of worship where people go and sing songs of praise together, however some people are too atheistic, too agnostic, or too lazy to go. In this festival, the Lord and His devotees bring the songs of joy out to the people to benefit them spiritually.” People often really resonate with that nice spiritual sentiment.

I met a young man from Miami who was brought up in a devotee family and was briefly visiting New York. He was unaware of that Ratha-yatra was happening in New York that day. By Krishna’s mercy, he was wandering around and happened encounter the procession, and he was happy to do so.

Here a man dances wildly as Mahavishnu Swami chants Hare Krishna at the end of the New York City Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/FHXEJYIGXsM):


Two young Brazilian ladies joined the end of the New York City Ratha-yatra procession and chanted, played my pink and green shakers, and danced, staying over five minutes, as Mahavishnu Swami led the Hare Krishna chant (
https://youtu.be/qrvV5Kzuzj8):


Several passersby chanted and danced as Mahavishnu Swami continued chanting Hare Krishna (
https://youtu.be/M-VncaDaHaU):


Rama Raya Prabhu’s NYC Harinam party had their own stage, and because I am a member of their party, I remained there for the rest of the festival.

Here Kaliya Krishna Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the New York Ratha-yatra festival on the NYC Harinam stage, and a crowd appreciates (https://youtube/6azLoedBbUo):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna, and many dance (
https://youtu.be/lyJUsx7RrNE):


I gave different people my pink and green shakers to play, and they enjoyed playing them in the kirtan.

One guy filming Rama Raya’s kirtan at the New York Ratha-yatra festival site recalled that I gave him an invitation a few weeks back. On the festival day itself he was traveling in the opposite direction in the city when the card fell out of the Nietzsche book he was reading. Seeing the festival was that day, he immediately changed his direction and came. He said he had a good time, and he thanked me for the invitation. I think Krishna arranged my meeting him to encourage me in my future distribution of invitations.

Jaya Jagannatha Prabhu chanted Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/NbB8K_p5N3M):


I chanted Hare Krishna (
https://youtu.be/TJ1w-ucEHgM):


The festival was successful in many ways. Many people were attracted. The Govinda’s Restaurant and Govinda’s Gifts sold out of all their items. Devotees said the stage show captured the attention of the attendees more than usual.

The police and the park people were happy with us. Groups of rowdy people have recently caused so much trouble in the park that neighbors would call the police to complain, and the officials were happy to see them displaced by the Hare Krishna devotees and those attending their festival, at least for a day.

The main thing we need to improve is the free feast. We need to increase the quantity and serve smaller amounts so we do not run out, and we need to try to speed up the serve out. Otherwise it was an ecstatic festival, and I was happy to have dedicated so much time to promote it.

Chanting Hare Krishna in New York City the Day After Ratha-yatra

Bipin Bihari Prabhu chants Hare Krishna in Tulasi Kirtan at ISKCON NYC (https://youtu.be/hXJhvTTfM90):


Srila Prabhupada disciples, Jagat Purusa and Anuttama Prabhus, dance together in kirtan at ISKCON NYC the day after Ratha-yatra (
https://youtu.be/J3pNN4Z1mb4):


Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the ISKCON NYC Sunday program the day after Ratha-yatra (
https://youtu.be/hZI6Jib8tuk):


Rama Raya Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at that Sunday program (
https://youtu.be/YIoCfXzg18Q):


Locanananda Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at that Sunday program (
https://youtu.be/gWenbSpPB7s):


Chanting Hare Krishna in New York State After Three-Day Ratha-yatra Festival

Navina Nirada Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at Guru Puja at ISKCON NYC the day after Ratha-yatra (https://youtu.be/4vHDFa28eu4):


Mahavishnu Swami continues the Hare Krishna chanting after Guru Puja at ISKCON NYC the day after Ratha-yatra (
https://youtu.be/XdlZruNGRfk):


Kavicandra Swami chants Hare Krishna at Fulton Mall in Brooklyn with NYC Harinam, Harinama Ruci, and visiting devotees the day after the three-day Ratha-yatra festival, and many devotees dance (
https://youtu.be/eKJ-_LbqtLk):


A construction worker chants one Hare Krishna mantra with devotees in New York City,
and J.R. interviews him about his experience (https://youtu.be/wkqBVE6r8Lw):


Kavicandra Swami encourages a Brooklyn pedestrian to chant Hare Krishna, and Jennii dances with her
(https://youtu.be/ABnC9so9tEA):


A Brooklyn lady does very well chanting Hare Krishna mantra for the first time with Harinama Ruci
(https://youtu.be/UaBVvejdVFU):


Mahavishnu Swami engages temple visitors in dancing to Hare Krishna kirtan in lobby of ISKCON NYC
(https://youtu.be/0-szfiiCykY):


Early Tuesday morning Rama Raya Prabhu and the resident devotees from his NYC Harinam party
went to New Vrindavan for the 24-hour kirtan and a few days of transcendental relaxation. I planned to visit my diksa guru, Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, and my mother, who is ninty-six years old. My train upstate was not till the afternoon, so I organized a harinama in the morning, which was attended by six devotees and took place at nearby Atlantic Terminal.

Here Jennii of Krishna House in Gainesville chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, and Amrita encourages a guy to chant (https://youtu.be/6NxXpznhqvw):


Elaf chants Hare Krishna at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn (
https://youtu.be/y24QZxTusPk):


I learned from Krishna Kumari Devi Dasi at the Ratha-yatra that the devotees from Hudson were having a kirtan program on Tuesday, the same day I planned to go upstate, and thus I arranged my schedule so I could attend it.

Here Lila Vrindavan Devi Dasi chants Hare Krishna at Harrier Hill Park in Hudson (https://youtu.be/YrST0el4T_c):


Then
Sri Radha Devi Dasi chanted Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/JQpqwYzZG9M):


As she chanted devotees, became inspired to
dance (https://youtu.be/atLW-UvcnKE):


Seth,
a natural musician, chants Hare Krishna (https://youtu.be/UfP4tnYI4JU):


I chanted Hare Krishna as an expected rain shower began there in the park. I said I would chant for nine minutes or something like that, and because I am used to chanting in rainy places like England, I just covered up the harmonium and kept playing when the rain began. I think our sacrifice of the congregation chanting of the holy name was the cause of that rain shower which had not been predicted.

Ananda Murari Prabhu chants Hare Krishna at the end of the park program, and devotees dance enthusiastically (https://youtu.be/zo6lY6R5YMQ):


Accompanying the rain shower was a beautiful rainbow.

I was very impressed with my friend, Yamuna Bihari Prabhu, who said I was the first devotee he ever saw, chanting on the campus at University of North Florida where he went to school. Although not even in Hudson for a full year, he organized a kirtan program attended by twenty-one devotees!

Insights

Srila Prabhupada:

From The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 4:

One must be very vigilant to remember that he is a part and parcel of the transcendental body of Krishna, and that it is his duty as part and parcel to give service to the whole, or Krishna. If we do not render service to Krishna then again we fall down.”

Srila Rupa Gosvami gives evidence from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, twenty-first chapter, verse 2, in which Lord Krishna says to Uddhava, ‘The distinction between qualification and disqualification may be made in this way: persons who are already elevated in discharging devotional service will never again take shelter of the processes of fruitive activity or philosophical speculation. If one sticks to devotional service and is conducted by regulative principles given by the authorities and acaryas, that is the best qualification.’”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.26, purport:

Anything that is presented before the Personality of Godhead should be so done after due presentation of respectful prayers. That is the standard procedure, and Sri Arjuna, although an intimate friend of the Lord, is observing this method for general information.”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.35, purport:

As by birth only one does not become a high court judge, so also one does not become a brahmana [priest] simply by birthright but by acquiring the necessary qualifications of a brahmana. As the high court judgeship is a post for the qualified man, so also the post of a brahmana is attainable by qualification only. The sastra [scripture] enjoins that if good qualifications are seen in a person born in a family other than that of a brahmana, the qualified man has to be accepted as a brahmana, and similarly if a person born in the family of a brahmana is void of brahminical qualification, then he must be treated as a non-brahmana or, in better terms, a relative of a brahmana.

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.41, purport:

Every living being is thus related with the Supreme Lord by some sort of affectionate relation, either as servant or as friend or as parent or as an object of conjugal love. Everyone thus can enjoy the company of the Lord in the spiritual realm if he at all desires and sincerely tries for it by the process of bhakti-yoga.

From The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 7:

In the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, third chapter, verse 21, Prabuddha tells Maharaja Nimi, ‘My dear King, please know for certain that in the material world there is no happiness. It is simply a mistake to think that there is happiness here, because this place is full of nothing but miserable conditions. Any person who is seriously desirous of achieving real happiness must seek out a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments and thus be able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, are to be understood as bona fide spiritual masters. Everyone should try to find such a bona fide spiritual master in order to fulfill his mission of life, which is to transfer himself to the plane of spiritual bliss.’”

In the Naradiya Purana it is said, ‘If one is actually very serious about devotional service, then all of his purposes will be served without any delay.’”

The real reason for observing fasting on Ekadasi is to minimize the demands of the body and to engage our time in the service of the Lord by chanting or performing similar service. The best thing to do on fasting days is to remember the pastimes of Govinda and to hear His holy name constantly.”

Practically, if one very carefully reads Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Teachings of Lord Caitanya and this Nectar of Devotion, that will give him sufficient knowledge to understand the science of Krishna consciousness. One need not take the trouble of reading other books.”

A devotee should not be subjected to lamentation or illusion. There is the following statement in the Padma Purana: ‘Within the heart of a person who is overpowered by lamentation or anger, there is no possibility of Krishna’s being manifested.’”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.10.44, purport:

A description of this transcendental land of Krishna is given in the Brahma-samhita, which is considered by Lord Sri Caitanya to be the most authentic literature in this connection.”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.22, purport:

Krishna is almighty and is especially the cause of fearlessness for the devotees. A devotee of the Lord is always fearless because of the protection given by the Lord. Material existence is something like a blazing fire in the forest, which can be extinguished by the mercy of the Lord Sri Krishna. The spiritual master is the mercy representative of the Lord. Therefore, a person burning in the flames of material existence may receive the rains of mercy of the Lord through the transparent medium of the self-realized spiritual master. The spiritual master, by his words, can penetrate into the heart of the suffering person and inject knowledge transcendental, which alone can extinguish the fire of material existence.”

From The Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 9:

In the Naradiya Purana there is a statement about bowing down and offering respect to the Deity. It is said there, ‘A person who has performed a great ritualistic sacrifice and a person who has simply offered his respectful obeisances by bowing down before the Lord cannot be held as equals.’ The person who has executed many great sacrifices will attain the result of his pious activities, but when such results are finished, he has to take birth again on the earthly planet; however, the person who has once offered respects, bowing down before the Deity, will not come back to this world, because he will go directly to the abode of Krishna.”

In the Naradiya Purana it is stated, ‘If person stays in the Lord’s temple even for a few moments, he can surely achieve the transcendental kingdom of God.’”

In the Linga Purana there is a statement about glorifying and singing about the Lord. It is said there, ‘A brahmana who is constantly engaged in singing the glories of the Lord is surely elevated to the same planet as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krishna appreciates this singing even more than the prayers offered by Lord Shiva.’

When a person loudly chants the glories of the Lord’s activities, qualities, form, etc., his chanting is called sankirtana. Sankirtana also refers to the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord.”

In the First Canto, Fifth Chapter, verse 22, of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Narada Muni tells his disciple Vyasadeva, ‘My dear Vyasa, you should know that persons who are engaged in executing austerities and penances, studying the Vedas, performing big sacrifices, chanting the hymns of the Vedas, speculating on transcendental knowledge and performing charitable functions have for all their auspicious activities simply to gain a place in the association of devotees and chant the glories of the Lord.’ It is indicated here that chanting about and glorifying the Lord is the ultimate activity of the living entity.”

In the Padma Purana there is a statement of submission in feeling by devotees praying to the Lord: ‘My Lord, I know that young girls have natural affection for young boys, and that young boys have natural affection for young girls. I am praying at Your lotus feet that my mind may become attracted unto You in the same spontaneous way.’ The example is very appropriate. When a young boy or girl sees a member of the opposite sex there is a natural attraction, without the need for any introduction. Without any training there is a natural attraction due to the sex impulse. This is a material example, but the devotee is praying that he may develop a similar spontaneous attachment for the Supreme Lord, free from any desire for profit and without any other cause. This natural attraction for the Lord is the perfectional stage of self-realization.”

One should learn how to cry for the Lord. One should learn this small technique, and he should be very eager and actually cry to become engaged in some particular type of service. This is called laulyam, and such tears are the price for the highest perfection. If one develops this laulyam, or excessive eagerness for meeting and serving the Lord in a particular way, that is the price to enter into the kingdom of God. Otherwise, there is no material calculation for the value of the ticket by which one can enter the kingdom of God. The only price for such entrance is this laulyam lalasa-mayi, or desire and great eagerness.”

In the Nrsimha Purana it is stated, ‘Any person who comes before the Deity of Lord Krishna and begins to chant different prayers is immediately relieved from all the reactions of sinful activities and becomes eligible, without any doubt, to enter into the Vaikunthaloka.”

Caranamrita is obtained in the morning while the Lord is being washed before dressing. Scented with perfumes and flowers, the water comes gliding down through His lotus feet and is collected and mixed with yogurt. In this way this caranamrita not only becomes very tastefully flavored, but also has tremendous spiritual value. As described in the Padma Purana, even a person who has never been able to give in charity, who has never been able to perform a great sacrifice, who has never been able to study the Vedas, who has never been able to worship the Lord—or, in other words, even one who has never done any pious activities—will become eligible to enter into the kingdom of God if he simply drinks the caranamrita which is kept in the temple. In the temple it is the custom that the caranamrita be kept in a big pot. The devotees who come to visit and offer respects to the Deity take three drops of caranamrita very submissively and feel themselves happy in transcendental bliss.”

In all festivals the Lord is seated on a car, and the car moves through different streets of the city so that people may take advantage of visiting the Lord. In the Bhavisya Purana it is said, ‘In such a ceremony, if even a candala [dog-eater], simply out of curiosity, sees the Lord on the cart, he becomes counted as one of the associates of Vishnu.’”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.13, purport:

When the Lord saw that there was no time for the Pandavas to counteract the brahmastra of Asvatthama, He took up His weapon even at the risk of breaking His own vow. Although the Battle of Kuruksetra was almost finished, still, according to His vow, He should not have taken up His own weapon. But the emergency was more important than the vow. He is better known as the bhakta-vatsala, or the lover of His devotee, and thus He preferred to continue as bhakta-vatsala than to be a worldly moralist who never breaks his solemn vow.”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.20, purport:

The Lord is so kind that He does not show special favor only to one who is a great philosopher. He knows the sincerity of purpose. For this reason only, women generally assemble in great number in any sort of religious function. In every country and in every sect of religion it appears that the women are more interested than the men.”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.25, purport:

This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. Less intelligent persons prepare plans to adjust to those calamities without knowing that the nature of this place is itself full of calamities. They have no information of the abode of the Lord, which is full of bliss and without trace of calamity. The duty of the sane person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress in spiritual realization because that is the mission of human life. The spirit soul is transcendental to all material calamities; therefore, the so-called calamities are called false. A man may see a tiger swallowing him in a dream, and he may cry for this calamity. Actually there is no tiger and there is no suffering; it is simply a case of dreams. In the same way, all calamities of life are said to be dreams. If someone is lucky enough to get in contact with the Lord by devotional service, it is all gain. Contact with the Lord by any one of the nine devotional services is always a forward step on the path going back to Godhead.”

From Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.27, purport:

The devotees of the Lord are called akiñcanas because they have practically no material assets. Such material assets are all products of the three modes of material nature. They foil spiritual energy, and thus the less we possess such products of material nature, the more we have a good chance for spiritual progress.”

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura:

From Caitanya-Bhagavata, Adi 1.117, commentary:

Ordinary munis describe topics other than those of the Lord. But since Srila Vyasadeva does not describe topics other than those of the Lord, he alone is addressed as Mahamuni, while others are munis only in name. Topics not related with Krishna are known simply as the urge of speech. One who controls this urge through the service of Krishna is a real muni.

From Caitanya-Bhagavata, Adi 1.131, commentary:

By the Lord’s mercy, Kazi Mahasaya became attached to the service of the supreme worshipable object. Sriman Mahaprabhu benefited one and all by getting the process of continuous chanting of the holy names sanctioned throughout Navadvipa, the jurisdiction of the Kazi.”

From Caitanya-Bhagavata, Adi 1.166, commentary:

Pure devotees give up gossiping on topics not related with Krishna and become maddened by performing kirtana in the association of other pure devotees.”

From Caitanya-Bhagavata, Adi 1.174, commentary:

Hari-sankirtana refers to a group of many devotees offenselessly chanting together the names and glories of the Supreme Lord Hari.”

From Sri Caitanya-Bhagavata, Adi 2.3, commentary:

Simply by hearing the pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu, one’s constitutional position is revived. The activity of one in that constitutional position is the devotional service of Lord Krishna. Knowledge of Sri Caitanya, His manifestations, and His glories is nourishment for the living entity’s ears. When the living entity awakens to his constitutional activities, he fully engages in the service of Sri Gaura-Krishna. In other words, he performs pure devotional service with knowledge of his relationship with the Lord.”

From Sri Caitanya-Bhagavata, Adi 2.18, commentary:

No one should doubt the Lord’s impartiality when He kills the demons, because the demons who are killed by the Lord attain liberation. This chastisement of the demons is a display of the Lord’s mercy. (Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana)”

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami:

From Entering the Life of Prayer:

Krishna is actually there with boundless love, and He wants to reciprocate. If I am not feeling it, it must be that I don’t want it. I have to show Him that I want it. To begin with, just think of Krishna, hear about Him; it’s so easy.”

From Every Day, Just Write, Volume 3 (A Sojourn in Tapo-bhumi):

A haiku, like a Hare Krishna mantra, may be inexplicable by nature, but a lover likes to talk of the one he loves. Even a struggler or offender like me wants to be focused on chanting.”

Recently I decided my writing should serve the interests of my pursuit for better sadhana. Also, sadhana should be done to please my spiritual master. Make it contribute to his movement. Stay in his movement, even though it’s inconvenient sometimes.”

Tapasya for me is to chant despite dryness, to worship, to go to Trinidad and Guyana and America with good will and gratitude.”

Sixteen rounds done. I’ll try for extra. Just to say I’ve done more? Yes, because I see it as a virtue. To scale higher on the wall. Hare Krishna. Maybe it will help me to overcome mechanical chanting.”

We should pray as one who is completely dependent, who is impoverished, but who wants to serve Krishna nicely. Beautiful things, bold and exciting acts, will come from chanting. Therefore, we should pay attention to the peaceful, simple chanting process and remember our constitutional position, not as creators, but as subordinate lovers of the Supreme.”

From Passing Places, Eternal Truths:

When I saw two young men not listening but talking to one another, it diverted me. I wanted everyone’s full attention. It gave me a glimpse of how Prabhupala lectured tirelessly and considered it an important part of his mission—to speak to live audiences about Krishna. He spoke to his own disciples and to uninitiated audiences, in room conversations, on morning walks.”

From Journal and Poems, Book 3:

The Bhagavatam verse I spoke on stated that a king should be tolerant with his subjects even if they don’t always follow. So I talked about community life in ISKCON. The leaders should be tolerant of devotees who don’t follow, and all devotees should be tolerant of the austerity of community life. Or else, how can we qualify for going back to Godhead?

From behind the movie camera, Paramananda asked a question. He said we each have our subjective viewpoint. ‘You have been speaking from the viewpoint of a guru about a disciple’s surrender, but a disciple has his own emotions. So isn’t it intellectually difficult to accept another’s viewpoint about us even if it’s our guru?’ I replied that when we surrender to the spiritual master, we accept that he knows how to direct our lives. We may say this is the austerity of being a disciple, but it is for our own happiness. Our guru is he who is leading us back to Godhead.

I don’t know how all this will sit with Paramahamsa and his wife. I glanced at them several times while making these points. She looked downward, embarrassed. He was sometimes smiling, pleased with me for making strong and proper replies as his spiritual master. Now let us see how each of us lives up to his words.”

From “Writing Sessions” in June Bug (1996):

The Ninth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita is most confidential. I’m reading for myself. I’ll become a better lecturer and devotee. Others may also do this. Some may be better at it than me, but I have to do it for myself. Now, I could say I have to do it because I have so many disciples. They create a pressure of responsibility on me. That’s true. The GBC creates another pressure. An obligation to the spiritual master is heavy, so for these reasons, I need to keep fresh interest in topics of Krishna. But I’m saying that will all come naturally. Don’t read primarily out of pressure. Read out of some natural urge of the self. Take it in that way and read it in that way.

As long as I can function in this way, I will do so, use eyesight and brain to read Krishna’s sacred words and Prabhupada’s explanations. I won’t always have it.”

June is cold and wet in Ireland. After waiting so many months through winter and spring, you get more of the same in this country. Better stay indoors and hear krishna-katha.

Candrasekhara Swami:

Without the Lord having it or doing it first, there is no possibility of anyone else having something or doing something.

The Supreme Lord is independent and does not need anyone, but we are all dependent upon the Supreme Lord, and this puts Him in a category by Himself.

How many problems in the world have been created as a result of sex indulgence!

Probably 80% of one’s free life is occupied with sex and things related to it.

Although sex life is necessary to bring children into this world to be trained to attain spiritual perfection, preoccupation with the complexities of family life is a distraction from self-realization.

Grhamedhis are those who get lost in family life and pursuit of sexual pleasure and forget life’s aim of self-realization.

Comment by me: Sadaputa Prabhu tells of a study by a Kenneth Ring of out-of-body experiences by people who have been blind from birth. In the out-of-body state they were able to see, although they had never seen in their entire lives. Not only that, but in addition to seeing the side of an object that was facing them, they could see 360 degrees around the entire object. This is supportive of the Vedic idea expressed in Sankhya philosophy that the sense of sight is different from the five gross elements that make of the physical body.

Researchers have done experiments where they hypnotize people and tell them that they will not see a certain person when he enters the room, and when that person does enter the room, they do not see him. But then they put a paper with a word written on it behind the person they cannot see, and they can see that!

Krishna is the ultimate screenwriter. He has plots and intrigue, everything you would want in a great movie.

In the material world, there are amazing arrangements of cause and effect. There is what is called the blood clotting cascade, something like eleven steps that all have to be there for the blood to clot.

Guru Prasad Swami:

I was impressed by the books, but prasadam really solidified everything for me.

I have one disciple who does not know how to read or write, but by hearing the classes he became convinced of the philosophy,

Mostly in Kali-yuga we just have tamo-guna, with just a little rajo-guna to put it into action.

You never see a two-year-old kid hankering for a cigarette. The desire develops by association. It is not a natural desire.

I saw dictator Samoza of Nicaragua. I was dressed as a brahmacari, and I ran up to him a gave him a Bhagavad-gita. He was actually looking for Bhagavad-gita, and he invited me to his place for lunch.

Kavicandra Swami:

Sometimes we wonder why certain things are mentioned in the Bhagavatam, but Sukadeva Goswami felt it was necessary to include them to properly answer the questions of Maharaja Pariksit.

Sometimes it is hard to see how Vrindavan is Krishna’s transcendental world if you go there now, but that is just the covering meant to keep the nonsense people out.

Krishna’s flute is an example of devotion in neutrality. Krishna just uses it.

There is a Chinese man who has the understanding that the Chinese culture originally comes from India, and he has evidence to prove it. He takes Chinese businessman on trips to India as part of a course on Chinese culture.

It depends on our faith and our desire what Krishna reveals as a result of our devotional service.

Even though very few people take the chanting or the literature seriously, Srila Prabhupada and the previous acaryas are pleased with our attempts to share them.

King David in the Bible chanted the holy name all day. Some people thought he was crazy.

Mahavishnu Swami:

They say the Hoover Dam which supplies Southern California is running out of water.

Nature is kicking us because we are not performing sacrifice.

Formerly there were many Ratha-yatras and harinamas, but now devotees are afraid to go out into the streets.

Our duty as devotees, as brahmanas, is to perform sacrifice.

Nothing can stop the sankirtana movement.

Anuttama Prabhu (non-GBC):

Damodara Prabhu would give checks to Srila Prabhupada for donations because then he would get the checks back with Srila Prabhupada’s signature. He showed me some of them.

[Chinese] Chandra Prabhu:

From a conversation after the Sunday feast:

There are those who preach by managing and those who manage by preaching.

Dasarath Suta Prabhu:

From a conversation on Messenger:

I helped Jayananda Prabhu build the carts for Srila Prabhupada’s triumphant ride down Fifth Avenue on July 18, 1976. Jayananda said that festival was the pinnacle of his career in Krishna Consciousness. We lived with him for 3 months down at the old Conrail docks by the Hudson River. After his disappearance in 1977, we rebuilt the same carts at that same location in 1977 and 1978. It was owned by Mr. Trump’s company, and we rented the space. He DID NOT ‘donate’ the space for Lord Jagannatha’s service. We RENTED it. Just so ya know...”

Hansarupa Prabhu:

Srila Prabhupada liked the story of the prodigal son. The father is waiting for his lost son return and is eager to reinstate him in his original position. So it is with Krishna, who is eager for us to return.

There are many obstacles still, even within our own minds. One should not be complacent. Maya has the potency to cover us and to throw us out.

We have to be very careful in our spiritual life. There is a saying that you treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

The tendency to criticize is a cause of many falldowns.

Comment by me: Srila Prabhupada gave an analogy that shows the foolishness of criticizing a person engaged in devotional service. Devotional service is so powerful that it can free one from all material qualities, and therefore, any lingering material qualities a devotee may have are very insignificant and soon to be vanished. Thus to criticize a devotee for them is as foolish as it is it to criticize a person who is in the shower for being dirty.

The police and the parks people were very happy with us on Ratha-yatra. Usually they want us to pack up the festival at 7 p.m. sharp, but this year they were very lenient. The people who come at dusk and play loud music, drive motorized vehicles, and trash the park saw we were still there, so they immediately left. The police appreciated that. They could see the difference between good and evil.

The devotee who distributed books from the book table at the Ratha-yatra festival said he was fully engaged from the beginning to the end of the festival. He could not even visit the other booths.

Pancaratna Prabhu:

We sometimes have many plans to execute, and we wish that they would become manifest without any endeavor on our part. For Krishna, it is that way. Krishna desires and things manifest, and they manifest as abhibhuta, the gross form, adhyatma, the sensual experience, and abhidaiva, the controlling deity.

Hearing this we can understand our conception of ourselves as independent controllers is illusory.

From this verse, we are reminded that we cannot even control our own bowels.

Also the devas, the abhidaivic element, are not independent controllers.

The creation is sometimes said to arise because of the Lord’s desire and sometimes said to arise because of the living entities’ desire.

There is a certain rasa the Lord enjoys in saving us, although it is not His desire we are here.

Srila Prabhupada sometimes makes the point that you can attain whatever you want, materially or spiritually, if you follow the right method.

The desire to experience Krishna’s presence inspires us to engage in a variety of devotional activities in hopes of regaining Krishna’s association.

To bring Lord Jagannatha back into the association of His beloved Radha is the meaning of the Ratha-yatra festival. The devotees bring Jagannatha with the ropes of their love to the village of their hearts.

Lord Caitanya came to Puri to experience this love.

We all must cleanse our hearts to receive the Lord.

After the 1975 Philly Ratha-yatra, a man wrote Srila Prabhupada praising the festival and saying how much he liked it. Srila Prabhupada replied, “This is not at all surprising because it says in our scriptures simply by seeing the Ratha-yatra cart one’s entrance to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world, is guaranteed.”

My father, upon seeing the Budapest Ratha-yatra, commented, “I have never seen such happy people.”

Vaisesika Prabhu:

From an entering the grhastha ashram ceremony for Gopal Campu Prabhu:

Shrama means hard work for nothing. Ashrama means connecting one’s hard work to Krishna.

The varnashrama allows people to connect all parts of their lives with Krishna.

Canto Seven describes that the grhastha nourishes the other ashrams.

Divyanga Prabhu speaking about Gopal Campu Prabhu: Every time he is not doing service, he is reading. He would introduce me as a Prabhupada disciple and my guru’s best friend, and I always felt happy to be introduced in that way.

Navina Nirada Prabhu: This is a graduation ceremony, a joyous occasion. Gopal has successfully completed the brahmacari ashram. He is not just a person who gets things done but a person who cares about people.

Pancaratna Prabhu: One of Srila Prabhupada’s innovations is to engage grhasthas in preaching very successfully.

Rama Raya Prabhu:

Bhubanesvara Prabhu of Vrindavan and Pankajanghri Prabhu of Mayapur, who left this world within a month of each other, were both glorified for their steadiness in devotional service. Have you ever thought of what it would be like to stay in India for all the seasons of the year?

Once Bhubanesvara Prabhu had to come to the USA for visa issues. Vaisesika Prabhu arranged a ticket for him, and he also planned a few programs for him spanning a period of two weeks. Bhubanesvara, however, was so eager to return to his service in Vrindavan, he was ready to leave after two days. Only with great endeavor was Vaisesika Prabhu able to convince him to stay for three more days.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24.44 is a great verse and purport to speak on on Janmastami.

Harinama sankirtana is the method approved of, distributed by and relished by Lord Caitanya.

Navina Nirada Prabhu:

In the Bhagavatam the question of what the duty of a man is at the time of death is discussed. This is relevant because we are all about to die. People think that religion is irrelevant, but actually it is very relevant.

A lady at Washington Square Park said, “I come through the park every day, and your chanting is my favorite part of the park.” So people can notice something special is going on.

So many people became attracted by the Jagannatha festival. People were mesmerized, puzzled, etc. The books were flying. To distribute books at Ratha-yatra is spiritual sense gratification. People were asking about books to complete their sets and asking about how to apply the teachings in their lives.

As Srila Prabhupada could display anger at will, he could withdraw it at will.

Instead of criticizing devotees, we should praise them.

Tolerance is the first quality. Titiksava karunika suhrdah . . .

We are making spiritual advancement because we are looking for the good in others and trying to increase it.

In the beginning the people in the kirtan at 26 Second Avenue were drug crazed hippies, but Srila Prabhupada saw them as the future leaders of ISKCON, and they became the future leaders of ISKCON.

People are coming to us because they are looking for opportunities.

Krishna is testing our tolerance. “You are proclaiming you are a Vaishnava. Let’s see how you deal with this situation.”

Every night Srila Prabhupada sacrificed his sleep to write six pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Acarya-nistha Prabhu:

People without knowledge of the spiritual are forced to try to find enjoyment in the material world.

Unless we become to attracted to the beauty of the Supreme Lord, we will seek material beauty.

It is said the beauty of the Supreme Lord is His most attractive quality, and thus it is no surprise that people unaware of this, seek beauty in so many ways in this world.

Because the form of the Lord is not materially perceivable, we can learn about it from those situated in transcendence and from the revealed literature.

Anupama Prabhu:

Lord Caitanya did not preach Bhagavad-gita from a soap box, but He gave people a higher taste through kirtan.

-----

In different religions a state of ultimate happiness is promised in the next life. Krishna also promises a spiritual adept transcendental happiness in this life in several places in Bhagavad-gita, and this is one. Although not often quoted, I consider it a relevant verse. Who doesn’t want to enjoy nectar even in this life?

gunan etan atitya trin

dehi deha-samudbhavan
janma-mṛtyu-jara-duhkhair
vimukto ’mritam asnute

When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes associated with the material body, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.” (Bhagavad-gita 14.20)

Sri Gadadhar Pandit Disappearance -10th July 2021
→ Mayapur.com

All Glories to Sri Gadadhar Pandit whose emotions are not possible to describe! “Another name of Lord Gauranga is the ‘Lord of the life of Gadadhara.’ Who can understand what mercy has been bestowed upon him? Their glories are sung by everyone as Gadai- Gauranga.” Today is the holy disappearance day of Gadadhar Pandit, who […]

The post Sri Gadadhar Pandit Disappearance -10th July 2021 appeared first on Mayapur.com.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur Disappearance
→ Ramai Swami

On September 2nd, 1838 on a Sunday in the ancient village of Biranagara (Ulagrama) located in the district of Nadia, Thakura Bhaktivinoda took his birth in the family of Raja Krishnananda Datta, who was a great devotee of Lord Nityananda.

In 1856, at the age of eighteen, Kedaranatha Bhaktivinoda began his first year of college in Calcutta. During this time he wrote many articles and essays and had them published in various English and Bengali journals and he also gave many lectures in both English and Bengali.

At the beginning of 1859 when Bhaktivinoda was 21 years of age, his grandfather departed from this world. Bhaktivinoda was with him at this time and after receiving his grandfather’s last instructions he traveled to all the monasteries and temples in the state of Orissa.

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

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

Between the years 1874 and 1893 Thakura Bhaktivinoda wrote several books in Sanskrit such as Sri Krishna-samhitaTattva-sutra, and Tattva-viveka which was sometimes known as Sac-cid-anandaubhuti. He also wrote many books in Bengali such as his Kalyana-kalpataru and besides those, in the year 1874 he composed his famous Sanskrit work Datta-kaustubham. Much of his time was spent in seclusion chanting the Holy Name of Krishna with great faith and love.

During this time while the Thakura was living in Puri he arranged for the discussion and study of topics dealing with Krishna by establishing a society of devotees known as the Bhagavata-samsat in the Jagannatha-vallabha gardens. These gardens were formerly the place of bhajana [singing of devotional songs for meditation on the Lord] for the great soul Ramananda Raya.

Lord Jagannatha had brought the Thakura to Puri, attracting him on the pretext of government work, just to accept the loving service of this worthy servant. His stay in Jagannatha Puri became transformed into service to the Lord by accepting the post of manager of the Jagannatha Temple. 

From Vraja Mandala Thakura Bhaktivinoda came to Calcutta where he purchased a house near Bidana Park at 181 Maniktala Street (the present day name is Ramesa Datta Street). He called this house ‘Bhakti-bhavana’ and it was here that he established the daily worship of Sri Giridhariji. At the end of his leave from government service he was again transferred and this time he took charge of the sub-division of Barasat.

Earlier in 1887 when Thakura Bhaktivinoda first came to Nadia as magistrate, he again met Jagannatha dasa Babaji who was then living in a very old house at Ravasghata. Bhaktivinoda renewed the house and repaired it using his own money.

When he took leave from office for two years, he acquired a plot of land at Sri Godrumadvipa, commonly known as Svarupaganja. On that land he built a house for performing his bhajana after retirement from government service. He called the place ‘Surabhi Kunja’ and in the year 1890 he established at that place the ‘Nama Hatta’ (market place of the Holy Name) for preaching the glories of Harinama for the welfare of all. 

While stationed at Krishnanagara Thakura Bhaktivinoda would go again and again to the present day city of Navadvipa and search in various places for the birth site of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

With this in mind he went to the Krishnanagara Collectory where he began to study some very old manuscripts of Caitanya-bhagavata and Narahari Sarakara Thakura’s Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama as well as some old maps of the district of Nadia. Going to the nearby village and inquiring from many of the elderly people there, Bhaktivinoda came to know of many facts about the modern-day town of Navadvipa and the old Navadvipa on the eastern banks of the Bhagirathi River.

After this, through much research and endeavor, Thakura Bhaktivinoda was able to understand that the place he had seen that night on the roof of the dharmashala was the actual site of Sri Caitanya’s birth. The year was 1887 and this discovery was a shining landmark in the history of Vaishnavism in India. Thakura Bhaktivinoda had brought to light the divine place of Caitanya’s birth and his discovery was confirmed by Jagannatha dasa Babaji, the then religious head of the Gaudiya Vaishnava community in Nadia.

In October of 1894, at the age of fifty-six, Thakura Bhaktivinoda, against the wishes of his family and the government authorities, retired from his post as Deputy Magistrate. He felt it was too much of an inconvenience on his work of preaching the Holy Name and the glories of Sridhama Mayapura. After his retirement, he came to stay at Surabhi Kunj in Godruma from where he engaged himself in preaching the divine philosophy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. 

At the beginning of the twentieth century Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura returned to Jagannatha Puri. When Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati left Puri to reside at Sri Navadvipa Mayapura, Bhaktivinoda gave up all connection with the Gandharvika Giridhari Matha and constructed his own place of bhajana on the sea beach there. He called this place Bhakti Kuti. 

In 1908 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura formally accepted the dress of a paramahamsa by taking sannyasa at the place in Jagannatha Puri known called Satasana. At this time he was still writing some books and staying sometimes in Navadvipa and sometimes in Calcutta.

In the year 1910, for being constantly engaged in the service of the Divine Couple of Vraja Dhama [Sri Sri Radha-Krishna], the Thakura shut himself up, pretending to be afflicted with paralysis, and entered into a perfect state of samadhi. These days were very happy for him as he could thus shun the turmoil and bustle which are the concomitant parts of worldly existence. 

On the day of the commencement of the sun’s southern course, June 23, 1914, corresponding to the disappearance of Sri Gadadhara Pandita, just before noon in Jagannatha Puri, the dearly beloved of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, having satisfied himself that his mission bore at least some good to the world, departed from this mundane plane for his eternal services to Radha and Krishna in the divine realm of Sri Vrindavana Dhama located far beyond the tiny vision of the conditioned souls of this world.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Disappearance Day
Giriraj Swami

Today we are observing the disappearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Sri Gadadhara Pandita. I first learned of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura when I visited the Boston temple. At that time there were only two published books in ISKCON: the abridged edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, published by Macmillan, and Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, published by ISKCON. And at the front of Teachings of Lord Chaitanya was a series of very dignified black-and-white photographs of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Under the photograph of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a caption: “The pioneer of the program for benedicting the entire world with Krishna consciousness by the instructions of Lord Chaitanya.” I understood from the caption that Srila Prabhupada was continuing the work of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and that we were able to come in touch with Krishna consciousness in part because of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

As the years passed and I came to learn more about Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, I began to see more and more how the Krishna consciousness movement brought by Srila Prabhupada to the West and expanded throughout the world was a continuation of the work of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and the result of his desire. So we are all indebted to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and we are intimately connected with him through parampara.

Lord Chaitanya predicted, prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama/ sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama: “In every town and village of every country of the world, My name [Krishna’s name] will be preached.” Although Lord Chaitanya made this prediction more than five hundred years ago, even His followers have sometimes been bewildered about how it would be fulfilled. Some of them have even thought the prediction was metaphorical or abstract. But Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had faith in the order and in the desire of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and through his books he began the work of spreading Krishna consciousness and the holy name of Krishna throughout the world. In particular, in 1896, the year of Srila Prabhupada’s birth, he wrote a book called Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts and distributed it to libraries worldwide.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura passed on his desire, which was Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire, to his son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, though he never left India, passed on the same desire to his disciples. In particular, he gave Srila Prabhupada the order to preach Krishna consciousness in the English language, which even then was the universal language in the Western world, and in the whole world.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura predicted, “Very soon the unparalleled path of hari-nama-sankirtana will be propagated all over the world.” He foresaw the day when Vaishnavas from all over the world would come to Mayapur and chant, “Jaya Sacinandana” together with the Bengali Vaishnavas, Gaudiya Vaishnavas. And Srila Prabhupada was the one who acted to fulfill the desire and prediction of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura:

“Oh, for that day when the fortunate English, French, Russian, German, and American people will take up banners, mridangas, and karatalas and raise kirtan through their streets and towns. When will that day come? Oh, for the day when the fair-skinned men from their side, chanting, ‘Jaya Sacinandana ki jaya,’ will extend their arms and, embracing devotees of our country coming from our side, treat us with brotherly feelings. When will that day be?” (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in Sajjana-tosani)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had a house in Godrumadvipa, across the Jalangi River from Mayapur, and he used to chant on his balcony there. One day he looked across the river and had a vision of an effulgent city with a wonderful temple, an adbhuta mandira, at its center. He desired that this wonderful temple and splendorous city should come into existence, and here too Srila Prabhupada has engaged his followers to fulfill the prediction and desire of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Sri Nityananda Prabhu:

eka adbhuta mandira ei haibe prakasa
gaurangera nitya-seva haibe vikasa

“An astounding temple will appear and will engage the entire world in the eternal service of Lord Chaitanya.” (Sri Navadvipa-Mahatmya, Parikrama Khanda, Ch. 4)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also discovered the actual birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Mayapur. Over centuries of the Ganges flooding and changing course, the location of Mayapur, the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was lost. Bhaktivinoda Thakura studied old maps and consulted different local people, and ultimately he determined the actual location.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura carried forward the idea of the Vedic city in Mayapur, and he had some of his householder disciples build small houses there. But again, it was really Srila Prabhupada who carried the desire of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura forward to the point where there is now a budding metropolis in Mayapur. He was very enthusiastic about the project, and now his disciples are working to make this magnificent vision a physical reality.

Srila Prabhupada had to struggle to get some land in Mayapur. Eventually it was Tamal Krishna Goswami who was able to secure the purchase of the land. Then Srila Prabhupada designed, or gave the basic idea for, the first building to be constructed and brought the drawings with him from London to Calcutta.

But there had been flooding in Mayapur, and sometimes the flooding there is very severe. Therefore—although Srila Prabhupada was so enthusiastic about the project and had struggled so hard to get the land in Mayapur and had personally brought the plans for the first building there—still, right when we were at the peak of our enthusiasm, he raised the question: “What will happen if the Ganges floods? What will happen to the temple, to the project?”

He suggested that we not build the temple in Mayapur and discussed different arguments for and against his suggestion. Then he presented the idea that we should build the temple at Birnagar, the birthplace of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. We were completely bewildered, and when Srila Prabhupada argued so strongly that we should build the temple at Birnagar because it would be safe from the floods there, we were swayed by His Divine Grace’s argument. But in the end he brought us back to the conclusion that we should go ahead with the project in Mayapur. “If you all build this temple,” he said, “Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura will personally come and take you all back to Godhead.”

So, that is both Srila Prabhupada’s and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s desire—that we build a wonderful temple and go back to Godhead. And by following in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps, we are also following in the footsteps of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Another important program of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was nama-hatta. In fact, before Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura built his house in Godrumadvipa, he built a bhajana-kutira near the site of the house, in Surabhi-kunja, which is the original place where the nama-hatta was started by Nityananda Prabhu. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura got his inspiration for the nama-hatta there.

The basic idea of the nama-hatta is that grihastha Vaishnavas, householder devotees, preach. By definition, householders will usually have a spouse, children, work, and a home. But they should still preach; they should use all of their spare time to preach. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself was a householder for many years, and he would lead his householder devotees through the streets, performing sankirtana, and then they would hold festivals, large gatherings where Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would preach bhagavata-dharma and the glories of the holy name. He published a book, Sri Godruma Kalpatavi, about his nama-hatta program, which included reports of some of his preaching events. The harinama-sankirtana and bhagavata-dharma discourses were ecstatic, and the nama-hatta was spreading very nicely. During Srila Prabhupada’s presence His Holiness Jayapataka Swami and other ISKCON devotees revived the nama-hatta in Bengal and Orissa, and now it has spread all over the world.

So, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura set a great example for us all. Although he had so many responsibilities—as a magistrate, as superintendent of the Jagannatha temple, as a husband, as the father of ten children—still he did so much service. He was expert at utilizing his time so that he could serve Krishna more. He would generally take rest at eight o’clock at night and get up at midnight to write. He wrote approximately one hundred books. He was expert in many things, including fulfilling his duties as magistrate. He would dispose of his cases very quickly. Judges are also judged—by how quickly they dispose of their cases and by how many of their judgments are overturned and appealed. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura disposed of his cases quickly and expertly.

Somehow, with so many duties and responsibilities and so many children, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was able to write many, many books and spread Krishna consciousness widely. We can take inspiration from him and keep in our minds and hearts his glorious example: that even in our various, demanding positions, we can do more and more for Krishna and for the disciplic succession, for Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and for our spiritual master.

One of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s books, Sri Harinama-cintamani, has as its subject, as the title suggests, the touchstone of the holy name. The book is a dialogue between Lord Chaitanya and Haridasa Thakura. They begin by discussing the holy name in general. Then they consider the ten offenses against the holy name, because the efficacy of the name depends on the quality of the chanting. In her prayers to Lord Krishna, Queen Kunti says:

janmaisvarya-sruta-sribhir
  edhamana-madah puman
naivarhaty abhidhatum vai
  tvam akincana-gocaram

“My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.” (SB 1.8.26) In the purport, Srila Prabhupada remarks that the scriptures state that “by once uttering the holy name of the Lord, the sinner gets rid of a quantity of sins that he is unable to commit. Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration in this statement. . . . But there is a quality to such utterances also. It depends on the quality of feeling. A helpless man can feelingly utter the holy name of the Lord.”

Ordinary devotees like us have to practice to come to the stage of such chanting, and in particular we must be aware of the ten offenses and try to avoid them. In Harinama-cintamani Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses each of the ten offenses one by one in depth and in detail. First he defines and describes what constitutes each offense; then he explains how to avoid each offense; and then, in case somehow we have fallen into the offense, he discusses how to become free from it and from its damaging effects.

The first offense is sadhu-ninda: blaspheming the devotees who have dedicated their lives to the propagation of the holy name. Ninda means to criticize or to blaspheme. But what is the meaning of sadhu? How do we recognize a sadhu? Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that in essence a sadhu is one who has taken shelter of Krishna, or of the holy name of Krishna, which is non-different from Krishna. He lists twenty-six qualities of a sadhu, as stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Then he says that of all the qualities, one is the primary characteristic (svarupa-laksana) and the others are marginal (tatastha). The essential quality of the devotee is that he or she has taken shelter of Krishna (mat-sarana), or the holy name of Krishna. Even if a devotee is lacking in the other qualifications, if he or she has the single qualification of having taken exclusive shelter of Krishna, then that devotee is considered a sadhu. On the other hand, if someone has the other qualifications but lacks the one qualification of complete surrender to Krishna, then the other qualities have no particular value.

Now that we know who a sadhu is, we can avoid criticizing or blaspheming him or her. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses different grounds that people may think are justification for criticizing a sadhu. One is the sadhu’s caste or low birth, but Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that this is not ground for criticizing a sadhu. If one criticizes a sadhu because of his or her low birth or caste, then that critic is involved in sadhu-ninda. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also mentions past sinful activities. If one criticizes a sadhu for past sinful activities, one is involved in sadhu-ninda. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also mentions present traces of sinful activities. In other words, a sadhu may have engaged in sinful activities before he or she got the association of devotees but even after coming to the association of devotees may maintain some last traces of previous bad habits or by accident may fall down. Even then we do not have grounds to criticize. If we criticize a sadhu for an accidental falldown or for traces of past sinful activities, we are involved in sadhu-ninda.

Then he discusses different categories of asadhus, or nondevotees, so that we can clearly identify them too. In other words, as preachers, do we hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil? Do we not speak the truth if we see something is wrong and we want to correct it or protect others from it? No—as preachers we must be able to recognize nondevotees, especially if they are posing as devotees, and help neophyte devotees avoid them. Thus, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura lists three categories of persons who are not sadhus but who may be mistaken for sadhus. One is the Mayavadi impersonalist, who thinks that Krishna’s eternal form and holy name are illusory, or maya. Another is the pretender, or dharma-dhvaji, who waves the flag of religion; he is not actually a devotee, but he makes a show of being a sadhu for materialistic ends. And one is the atheist. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that when one preaches one has to criticize nondevotees and advise innocent devotees to avoid their association and influence. Such criticism does not constitute sadhu-ninda. If ignorant or envious people argue that such criticism is sadhu-ninda, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, we should avoid their association. Because they are wrongly accusing or criticizing the preacher, they themselves are implicated in sadhu-ninda.

I will give an example. When I was in Madras on Srila Prabhupada’s behalf, I preached more or less the way I had heard him preach, criticizing demigod worshippers and impersonalists. In Madras there were a lot of impersonalists and demigod worshippers, and when I repeated what the Bhagavad-gita said about them, some people began to criticize me for criticizing others. Some said, “You shouldn’t criticize others; you should just state positively what you want to say about your philosophy and activities, but you shouldn’t criticize others.” The criticism of my criticism reached such a point that I actually began to have doubts. I thought, “So many people are saying the same thing, maybe I am doing something wrong.” They even gave the example of the Gaudiya Matha: “They don’t criticize others like you do; they have a nice temple, and every year they have a big celebration of Janmashtami and thousands of people come. Why can’t you be like them?”

So, I thought about what they said. I wasn’t really convinced that Srila Prabhupada would want us to be like the Gaudiya Matha, but then again, even people who were our friends, who were sympathetic to us, were saying the same thing: “Don’t criticize others. Just say what you want in a positive way about your own philosophy and activities.” So I wrote to Srila Prabhupada, and he wrote back, “The fact is that I am the only one in India who is openly criticizing—not only demigod worship and impersonalism, but everything that falls short of complete surrender to Krishna.” And he continued, “My guru maharaja never compromised in his preaching, nor will I, nor should any of my students. We are firmly convinced that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all others are His part-and-parcel servants. This we must declare boldly to the whole world, that they should not foolishly dream of world peace unless they are prepared to surrender fully to Krishna as Supreme Lord.”

So, that is the mood of the preacher: he or she has to criticize the nondevotees. In the course of criticizing the nondevotees, a preacher may offend people who have sentiments for such nondevotees because they think that such nondevotees are devotees. But what else can we do? This, as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discusses, is not sadhu-ninda; it is in the category of those things that might appear to be offenses but really are not.

There was a vivid example of this once, when Srila Prabhupada was walking one morning with Dr. Patel on Juhu Beach. Dr. Patel was praising someone who was definitely not a devotee but who was revered in India as a spiritual leader and teacher, and Srila Prabhupada began to criticize the person and point out the defects in his philosophy and his procedures. Dr. Patel became very offended and agitated—incensed. He began to argue with Srila Prabhupada and was practically shouting at him. And Srila Prabhupada was shouting at Dr. Patel. Srila Prabhupada roared, “I am not saying; Krishna is saying, na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah: anyone who does not surrender to Krishna is a mudha [fool], naradhama [lowest of mankind].” It became a fierce argument, and Dr. Patel’s friends tried to restrain him. “Swamiji is an old man,” they said. “He has a heart condition; you shouldn’t excite him.” It was like an explosion. Finally, Dr. Patel’s friends pulled him away and we reached the spot where we would leave the beach for the temple, and the argument ended.

After that, Srila Prabhupada said, “All right. No more discussion. We will just read from the Krsna book on the morning walks.” So we started to read from the Krsna book. Before this, Dr. Patel would come faithfully every morning and walk with Srila Prabhupada. Often, he would drive Srila Prabhupada to the beach in his car and then they would walk and talk on the beach, or they would walk from the temple to the beach and talk. Now, for the first time, Dr. Patel avoided the morning walks with Srila Prabhupada—because of that big argument. But some days later, he was drawn back to Srila Prabhupada. He said to Srila Prabhupada, “We are trained to respect all the accredited saints of India.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Our business is to point out who is not a saint.”

So, that is the mood of a preacher. If a preacher criticizes nondevotees who may be revered as saints by many people, he or she is not involved in sadhu-ninda. But if people criticize the preacher for criticizing such nondevotees, those critics may be involved in sadhu-ninda and we should avoid their association—unless we can change them or engage them, like Srila Prabhupada did with Dr. Patel.

Next Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “All right, if one has committed the offense, what does one then do? What is the remedy?” The specific way to counteract the offense of sadhu-ninda, or vaisnava-aparadha, is to go to the person we have offended and beg the person to forgive us. Generally, the Vaishnava is softhearted and will forgive the offender if he has realized his mistake and is sincerely repenting and earnestly trying to improve.

One may also commit an offense that is not directly against another person. To counteract such an offense, one may confess to other Vaishnavas. There is value to opening one’s heart to other Vaishnavas and admitting one’s offenses.

 What Srila Prabhupada criticized about the Christians’ practice of confession was that after they had sinned and confessed, they would often go and commit the same sin again. In other words, the process of confession alone was not sufficient to remove the heart’s desire to sin. But here, if a devotee sincerely repents her or his mistake and confesses and begs for the mercy of the Vaishnavas and then really tries his or her best not to commit the offense again—and continues with the real process of purification, hearing and chanting the holy name—then such confession or admission becomes a part of the process of purification and rectification.

 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura instructs us that the best way to avoid offense, which is negative, is to go to the other side and be positive. The best way to protect ourselves from sadhu-ninda, for example—from blaspheming or criticizing devotees—is to glorify the devotees, to appreciate and praise them.

So, we can benefit greatly from reading Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s books. Once, a disciple asked Srila Prabhupada about reading books of the previous acharyas: “Srila Prabhupada, I remember once I heard a tape where you told us that we should not try to read . . . Bhaktivinoda’s books or earlier books of other, all acharyas.” Srila Prabhupada clarified, “No, you should read. . . . We are following previous acharyas.”

Of course, for ISKCON devotees, Srila Prabhupada’s books are the basis. And if we are well versed in Srila Prabhupada’s books and faithful to Srila Prabhupada, then when we read the previous acharyas we will see how Srila Prabhupada is representing them, as we do with Sri Brhad-bhagavatamrta. So much of what Brhad-bhagavatamrta says about the holy name is exactly what Srila Prabhupada taught us. Thus, reading the book strengthens our faith in Srila Prabhupada. It also clarifies for us the philosophy and principles of devotional service so that we can practice better in the line of Srila Prabhupada. At the same time, the reading makes us more knowledgeable in the scriptures so that we are better equipped to preach.

So, we’re gathered here at the feet of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I believe he is pleased with our efforts to serve him through his representatives, and we can pray to him to bless us with a drop of faith in the holy name and with a fraction of a drop of his enthusiasm for preaching, so that even amidst our heavy duties and responsibilities we can also find time, as he did, to chant the holy name in the association of other devotees and to spread the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura ki jaya! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya! Nitai-Gaura premanande hari-haribol!

I have only touched a few drops of the nectarean ocean of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Would any other devotee like to speak something in his glorification?

Kesava Bharati Dasa: One of the prominent characteristics of Bhaktivinoda Thakura was that throughout his life he had recurring diseases. He suffered from rheumatic fever, and he was born in a town that was wiped out by a plague—his whole family. Over time, he underwent many traumas, and so one of the important aspects of his life was how he dealt with difficulties. His life wasn’t laid out on a silver platter. He was born in a very exalted family—descendants of kings, devotional kings—but at the same time, he had to face so many obstacles and difficulties, and in an exemplary way he showed how to take shelter in devotional service, in the holy name, in the lotus feet of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Sri Gaura-Gadadhara, and guru. He confronted and overcame many obstacles. For instance, there was a yogi in Jagannatha Puri who was doing all kinds of nonsense and had the power to make people sick and cause problems for their family members—so many things. Bhaktivinoda Thakura confronted him and put him in jail. He himself went and physically arrested the yogi. Then the yogi cursed him, and in fact Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his family members did become sick. In jail the yogi was saying all sorts of blasphemous things—“Everyone’s going to die; you’re going to die; your family is going to die!” At one point, as he was fighting the yogi within the court, the Thakura realized that the man was carrying his power in his hair—he had all these matted locks. As the judge, Bhaktivinoda Thakura instructed the constables to cut the yogi’s hair, so they cut his hair and the yogi lost his power, and soon thereafter he died in jail. And Bhaktivinoda Thakura, along with everyone in his family, got well.

Also, at that time there was a powerful dacoit movement in Vrindavan—there is always a dacoit movement there—but Bhaktivinoda Thakura went there, and just by his tremendous spiritual power and strength, he cleaned up those dacoits. Anybody who has ever been in Vrindavan knows what that means. Cleaning up the dacoits there is practically impossible. His spiritual strength was just extraordinary.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura attained a prominent position under the British rule when the British were systematically and powerfully convincing people in India that their culture and philosophy were inferior to Western culture and philosophies. Indians weren’t appointed to key positions very often, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura was so good—so pious and so popular wherever he went—that they wouldn’t dare pass him over. And they trusted him. He was so honest, so forthright, and such a wonderful servant, that they put him in important positions of authority, and wherever he was posted they wanted him to stay. Throughout, he kept wanting to go to Navadvipa, but his administrative authorities always tried to get him to stay. Even at a time when the ruling government did not favor people like him, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was granted high material status, placed in very responsible positions.

So, we can be in any ashrama—grihastha or any other—any position in life, and still develop devotional qualities if we follow the instructions that Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave in Harinama-cintamani—to stop criticizing one another, playing politics with one another, and backbiting one another, and instead to glorify one another, even if the other person is not present. Then we will get the power to serve the cause of Krishna consciousness to our full capacity.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave us all these different standards and all these priceless examples. Hare Krishna.

Giriraj Swami: Jaya! Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura ki jaya!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s disappearance day, June 29, 2003, Dallas, Texas]

TOVP Book of the Week #15
- TOVP.org

God and Science – Divine Causation and the Laws of Nature

By Sadaputa Dasa (Dr. Richard L. Thompson)

In the world of modern science, traditional religion is often seen as a force of ignorance which attempts to impose outdated ideas on scientific truth. At the same time, many scientists see science giving rise to a materialistic doctrine of scientism that aims to eradicate the spiritual world view of religion. This may seem to be an irreconcilable conflict.

But there is another way to look at it. Science and religion can interact synergistically to generate new and interesting ideas. God & Science is a collection of essays that examine the relationship between modern science and the Vaishnava tradition of India. Although little known in the West, the Vaishnava tradition is based on a monotheistic philosophy having much in common with Judeo-Christian thought. When brought into contact with modern science, Vaishnavism generates some of the same questions that arise from the confrontation of science and Christianity. At the same time, there are significant differences.

 
Author: By Sadaputa Dasa (Dr. Richard L. Thompson)
Published: May 21, 2018
Book/File size: 27883 KB / 236 pages
Formats: Kindle, Paperback

 
BUY ON AMAZON  

  Residents of India will have to search for this book on www.amazon.in

 

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How is mantra meditation different from other forms of meditation?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

Podcast:


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Transcription by: Sriman (Dr) Suresh Gupta Prabhu (Muzaffarnagar)

Question: How is mantra meditation different from other forms of meditation?

Answer: Firstly, any form of meditation is beneficial in terms of deepening our thinking, understanding and appreciation of the nature of things. The word “meditation” is typically used in two different ways – (i) general (ii) technical. In a general sense, often meditation refers to any form of deep thinking, e.g. a person may read a book and may get lost in it. Later he would refer to his experience as, “I was meditating on the book”. However, if we consider spirituality, then meditation does not have a general sense but a technical sense. Just like the word “energy” can have a general sense and a technical sense, e.g. a scientist performs an experiment in the laboratory which requires thermal or chemical energy. If the energy source gets exhausted, the scientist may say, “Oh, I have run out of energy”. Later, after a long day’s work, when the scientist comes back home tired, he may exclaim, “Oh, I have run out of energy”. Here, the same word “energy” is used but in two different senses. In the lab, the scientist uses word “energy” in a technical sense whereas at home it is referred in a general sense.

Similarly, meditation in general sense can refer to any form of deep thinking but in a spiritual context, meditation has a technical meaning which refers to the process by which we shift our consciousness from the changing material to the unchanging spiritual. We draw our mind away from material things and focus on spiritual things. For starting this journey, many different objects may be used. Some people may start meditating on the candle or some natural scenery, some source of light or a spot on the wall. In such forms of meditation, one’s capacity to concentrate depends primarily on one’s own will power. Since the mind is extremely restless, such meditation often becomes a demanding task especially if it needs to be sustained for long period of time.

Meditation is a process which take our consciousness from material to spiritual reality where it elevates our consciousness upwards. The various forms of meditation (other than mantra meditation) are like climbing the stairs to go up in a multi-storey building. The stairs take us up, but it requires effort. On the other hand, mantra meditation is like entering an elevator. When we chant mantras, specifically the mantras that invoke the supreme consciousness, for example, the Hare Krishna mahamantra, this connects us with the Absolute Truth. When we prayerfully, reverentially, attentively utter the sound vibration of holy names then the infinite power of the infinite consciousness is invoked and that power aids us in raising our consciousness upwards. Just as in an elevator there is a power (the electric power) other than ours which raises us up, easily and swiftly, similarly, when we practice mantra meditation then the omnipotence of infinite consciousness raises our consciousness upwards easily and rapidly. That is why, mantra meditation is considered to be the most joyful and efficacious form of meditation among all because it gives us a tool, i.e. spiritual sound, which acts like an elevator enabling the ascent of consciousness. Hence, by chanting mantras we connect with the Absolute Truth, experience joy along with elevation of consciousness and experience it all very quickly and effectively.

Endo of transcription.

Monday, July 5, 2021
→ The Walking Monk

Yorkville, Toronto

 

Let’s Get Good at Planning

 

“Perhaps you’re one of the few centres that’s really taking care of older Vaishnava men,” remarked an observer, a friend, the other day. Mind you, we do have younger men as residents in addition to the five who are average 71 years of age. Yes, I am one of those golden boys who joined monkhood in the 70’s. I’m in that age bracket, naturally.

 

Today, we scheduled a meeting in our new seminar room and called it a “Seniors Meeting” to delve into the conditions of our remaining lives for the coming years. We gave out a survey form to fill out, asking the boys what kind of future lies ahead. We are planning to find, or build, a facility for seniors in our community and that includes women.

 

Presenters to initiate this program were dear friend, Krishnadas, Adi Kurma, a younger professional, and myself. The topic of a senior’s home with personal assistants was most welcome by our boys. No one is getting younger. And anything can happen to anyone of us with chances of physical failure rising as we age in our maturing years.

 

Our talk and dialogue amongst each other were progressive because, simply put, we are dealing with a group of people who would like to be spending their later years in a devotional environment with each other; sharing a diet of prasadam and chanting and so forth. Hence, we have begun an effort to do something to make the last years pleasant ones. The fact is that the current facility, the ashram, is not equipped for the aging Vaishnavas, so something needs to be done.

 

May the Source be with you!

3 km


 

Sunday, July 4, 2021
→ The Walking Monk

Montreal, Quebec

The Knot is Tied

 

While the US is celebrating its birthday, on this beautiful day and weekend in remote Canada — actually Montreal — the Krishna community and I are seeing to a marriage. Samuel and Nandini Radha, tied the knot as a couple at around noon today at the Pie-IX Boulevard temple.

 

Priest Madan-Mohan conducted the ceremony at which parents from both bride and bride-groom were seated at the corner of the kund, or tiny arena, observing rites that were colourful and new to their eyes and ears.

 

I gave the a with, translation assistance, about commitment, which is what I highlight at these types of events. “Marriage is an event where two imperfect people come to agree to serve each other and make the most of it.”

 

Samuel and Nandini took garlands around and presented them to their parents and elders of the community. Kirtan became a major feature of the program and, of course, all things culminated in eating nice prasadam and socializing. We all do wish the couple well. It appears to be a good match and I’m sure Krishna will bless.

 

For the first time in days the weather was without rain, all the way from Montreal to Toronto. The traffic and accidents – too numerous. What is to be expected when you have a 4-day long weekend, perfect weather, and borders are open with restrictions on COVID now somewhat relaxed?

 

May the Source be with you!

0 km



 

TOVP Wall Relief Panel Progress, July 2021
- TOVP.org

We would like to show you a short video clip illustrating how the fourth five-meter wall relief panel was created.

This panel will be placed on the wall of the ventilation shaft of the TOVP Temple room. Four large panels will be placed in all the four corners of the main Temple room. Two panels show the pastimes of Sri Krishna, and two are dedicated to pastimes of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Three of them are already complete, and this is the last panel showing Rasa Lila dance in Vrindavan.

Hare Krishna!

 

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The Ecstasy of Insignificance: Happiness Through Reality
→ Dandavats

Hare KrishnaBy Vishakha Devi Dasi

A feeling of insignificance and a humble service attitude come not by astuteness, not by knowing some tricks, but by simple steadfastness in the process of Krishna consciousness. The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that Krishna showers all benedictions on those who consider themselves insignificant. Seeing them as significant, by His causeless mercy He shares with them the sweetness of devotional service. Insignificance is so inconceivably ecstatic that the Lord Himself desires it, as Srila Prabhupada describes: "Krishna says in Chaitanya-charitamrita, you will find, 'Everyone worships Me with awe and veneration. But if anyone worships Me without any awe, veneration, and treats Me as insignificant, I like that. I like that.' Continue reading "The Ecstasy of Insignificance: Happiness Through Reality
→ Dandavats"

The Simple Things He Taught Us
→ Dandavats

By Srimati Dasi

Srila Prabhupada gave us so much, so easily. There was no fanfare, for he was graciously unassuming, seeing himself simply as an instrument and messenger of his Guru Maharaja. Our conditioned nature may sometimes have trouble with this, for that nature tends to be a little gross, doubtful and forgetful. Perhaps the preciousness and potency of what Srila Prabhupada gave us has not really impressed upon our hearts. Perhaps our enthusiasm to follow the simple things he taught us has waned with the passing of time, or been butchered by mechanical, mindless habit. And so, let’s take another look at some of the simple things he taught us — this time, through the divine eyes of Srila Sanatana Gosvami. Continue reading "The Simple Things He Taught Us
→ Dandavats"

Obstacles to Recruiting
→ Dandavats

By Kalakantha Das

During his amazing eleven years of personal worldwide preaching, Śrīla Prabhupāda proved Krishna consciousness could transform everyone into Vaishnavas, regardless of their birth. People today can still be transformed, regardless of how social externals have changed over the years. However, in many parts of the world, today’s ISKCON constituencies have changed. In this chapter we will look at three principal obstacles to local recruiting and a solution for each. Continue reading "Obstacles to Recruiting
→ Dandavats"

Traveling Monk 2021-07-08 05:28:34
→ Traveling Monk

 

О, эти дни Кали не волнуют его
который ежедневно воспевает славу сына Яшоды,
каждое слово сладко, как чистый поток нектара,
успокаивающий, как сандалии и прохладный лунный свет. (Падявали, 41)

Oh, these days of Kali do not ruffle him
who daily sings the fame of Yasoda’s son,
each word sweet like a clear stream of nectar,
soothing like sandal and the cool lunar light.

 

(Padyavali, 41)

When we are in anxiety searching for a new job, how can we maintain our spiritual practices?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

Answer Podcast


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Transcription by: Sriman (Dr) Suresh Gupta Prabhu (Muzaffarnagar)

Question: When we are in anxiety searching for a new job, how can we maintain our spiritual practices like attending satsang programs, reading books etc.? Is it OK to just reduce my spiritual activities to only chanting the holy names?

Answer: In our material existence, there are going to be phases of high and low and we have to be flexible. We should not consider it to be our spiritual deficiency if we are not able to attend satsang programs on a regular basis. It is more of a practical necessity.

Just like, if we are going on the road and the road is crowded then naturally, we will go slowly and when the road becomes clear, we will move faster. Important is we should be moving in the right direction so that we get to the destination in due course. Similarly, sometimes in the journey of our life, many material things come up and the road becomes crowded because of which our spiritual activities may be reduced. That is fine in principle, as there will be phases like that.
If students have exams, they cannot be expected to come for the satsang programs. Job interviews in one sense are bigger than exams, so naturally there will be bigger anxiety. Having said that, it is also important to note that if we do not hear any Krishna-katha at all, but only do chanting, then our chanting will eventually become mechanical. Sometimes while hearing or reading scriptures something may calm our mind and may give us some strength and solace by which we will be able to prepare for exam or do our job search with more intelligence and better strategy.

We need to deal with emergencies in our life with our best efforts but at the same time we should not always equate maximum time with best efforts. Sometimes we get too much into the passion of doing something and may commit mistakes in haste. Hence, rather than seeing reading scriptures or attending satsang as an interruption while dealing with our material issues, we could see them more as a break which may reorient us. One may not necessarily spend a lot of time but still one can find ten-fifteen minutes to read something from the scriptures specially those sections which deals with the mind or problems created by the mind.
Memorising or reciting verses, singing some Vaishnava songs can also be very helpful. Singing Vaishnava songs can especially be very powerful if we can connect with them. Scriptures are largely intellectual, but Vaishnava songs bring both aspects together, intellectual and musical. Songs are relatively easy to absorb as it gives a very nice connection with Krishna.

It may happen that some days coming for the satsang may not give us as much strength as just taking darshan and praying to the Deities. There is no need to restrict our spiritual life only to chanting, simply because we need to focus on our job search. We can have something going on which gives us strength and which helps us deal with the situation better.

In general, there is no need to feel guilty about decreasing our spiritual activities while dealing with pressures of life. Krishna is always an understanding God. Often when challenges come in life, our mind often eternalises the present. The mind thinks that this problem will go on forever. We are very uncomfortable while travelling in a crowded train, but if we know that in ten minutes our destination will arrive, then we can bear the hardship. However, if we are told that we have to live in the train our entire life, then even half an hour will be intolerable. This is because the mind starts to build up things.

Similarly, we may think, if I do not find a job, I will be jobless my entire life. However, that is very unlikely because surely something will work out. If we look back in the past, the problems that had once caused us a lot of pain, are no longer there now. Similarly, this problem will also disappear. This sort of distancing ourselves from our situation and not letting the mind eternalise the present is what will help us going.

End of transcription.

When the Gita is spoken to one specific person, how can it be universal?
→ The Spiritual Scientist

Answer Podcast


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Transcription by: Dr Suresh Gupta (Muzaffarnagar)

Question: When the Gita is spoken to address the problem of one specific person, how can it be universal?

Answer: Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna about whether to fight the war or not. Although the context is war, but Gita also talks about universal principles that go beyond that context.

Consider an example of a doctor treating a patient along with an apprentice. Although the doctor is treating a specific case and the trainee may eventually face different type of cases in future, however the methodologies – how to examine and diagnose the patient, how to understand the symptoms, how to continue treatment based on the symptoms, how to administer the treatment, how to encourage the patient etc. – will remain the same. These are the principles that transcend the specific case and the apprentice doctor can learn these principles from the experienced doctor.

Similarly, Gita has a specific historical context. By studying Mahabharat, we can understand its context. In the Gita, after the first chapter, there are barely seven-eight references to the war. Gita largely talks about universal principles because Arjuna’s question was also universal. Had Arjuna asked, “Should I fight or not?”, Krishna would have answered, “Yes, you should fight”; then the discussion would have been over. However, Arjuna’s question was different. He asked Krishna, “I am bewildered about what is my dharma and therefore I am asking you, Oh Krishna, to please tell me, what is my dharma?” (BG2.07) Therefore, Arjuna is not asking Krishna, “Should I fight or not?” He asks Krishna, “What is dharma and specially what is my dharma?”. Gita’s discussion is answer to this question of Arjuna, which not specific but universal. Krishna’s answer is also universal and that is how Gita becomes a universal book.

Arjuna, although a warrior, does not restrict his question to a specific context. Here, Arjuna is not just a warrior who is overcome by fear and needs some courage. That is not the situation. Arjuna is actually confused about what exactly is his dharma. Sometimes, people think of dharma as religious duty, but dharma basically refers to the activity that harmonises us with the order of universe. There is orderly universe and when we act in a way by which we can come in harmony with that order, such an activity is dharma. And this principle is universal for everyone. Hence, in that sense, Gita becomes universal.

End of transcription.

Gadadhara Pandit Disappearance
→ Ramai Swami

From the time that he was a boy, Gadadhara Pandita was always in the association of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s father’s name was Sri Madhava Misra; his mother’s name was Sri Ratnavati Devi. They lived close to the house of Jagannatha Misra in Mayapura. Sri Ratnavati Devi looked upon Sacidevi as if Sacidevi were her big sister. The two of them were always spending time with each other.

At the time of His childhood pastimes, Gaurahari used to often play with Gadadhara Pandita. They both went to the village school together to study. Gadadhara Pandita was a year younger than Gaurahari. Gadadhara had so much affection for Gaurahari that he could not leave his company even for a moment. 

In the Gaura-ganodesa-dipika it has been explained by Kavi Karnapura that in Vraja-lila Sri Gadadhara Pandita was the daughter of Vrsabhanu—Srimati Radharani.  This is confirmed in the notebooks of Svarupa Damodara as well as in the songs of Sri Vasudeva Ghosa Thakura.

According to Sri Caitanya Caritamrta: “No one can describe the characteristics and ecstatic love of Gadadhara Pandita. Therefore another name for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Gadadhara Prananatha, “the life and soul of Gadadhara Pandita.” No one can say how merciful the Lord is to Gadadhara Pandita, but people know the Lord as Gadaira Gaura, “the Lord Gauranga of Gadadhara Pandita.”

Gadadhara Pandit also took the renounced order of life and went to Jagannatha Puri to be with Lord Caitanya. Accepting ksetra sannyasa (a renunciate who never leaves the dhama), he served the Deity of Tota-Gopinatha with full love and devotion. Regularly, Sri Krishna Caitanya came to relish Sri Gadadhara’s rasika reading of Srimad Bhagavatam. Lord Caitanya concluded His manifest pastimes “by entering the Deity of Tota-Gopinatha.

Although Gadadhara Pandit was barely forty-eight when the Lord departed, he quickly became old because of the intense anguish he felt in separation from his beloved Lord Gaurasun­dara. He couldn’t stretch his arms to offer a garland to his Deity. Understanding His servant’s difficulty, Sri Tota-Gopinatha sat down to facilitate Gadadhara’s loving service. To this day, Sri Tota- Gopinatha is the only sitting Deity of Krishna.

 According to some authorities, a short time after Lord Caitanya’s disappearance Sri Gadadhara Pandit joined His eternal pastimes by entering his beloved Deity of Tota-Gopinatha. His danta (tooth) samadhi stands near the Vamsi Gopala temple in Vrndavana.