We are asking Madana Gopala whether I can read poetry on his Towaco Zoom presentations. I want to read poems from the book Soul Eyes. It was written in 2010. The poems are more formal than the ones we’ve been publishing from the 1990s, mostly written in Ireland. They are looser and wilder, with stream-of-consciousness and free writing. The poems in Soul Eyes are more composed and edited by me. In terms of experimental writing, they are not as exciting as the poems from Ireland, but their virtue is that they are all about Prabhupada or Radha-Krsna. I feel confident about reading them to the Towaco audience. The first poem in the book is “Soul Eyes,” and it is the inspiration for the other poems in the book. My Godbrother Haridasa dasa likes the book very much, and he has memorized the opening poem “Soul Eyes.” The poem is an attempt to describe Srila Prabhupada’s eyes and how they were deep and you could not fathom them: “The eyes are the gateway to the soul.”
My Zoom reading will take place Saturday, October 17 at 11:30 A.M. Kindly “stay tuned” for the online link. Everyone is invited.
I am now 80 plus nine months. The body is breaking down in various ways. At present I’m scheduled for operations to remove cataracts from my eyes. I went to see the urologist because the flow of my urine is slowing down. (He gave me prescription medicine to increase it, and he performed a procedure at his office to open up a stricture.) I went to see the pulmonologist, Dr. Garcia. I told her my shortness of breath is getting worse, and I’m feeling tired much of the time. (She prescribed medicine to give me more energy.)
Some time ago, I rolled out of bed and hurt my hip. I’m taking twice-daily massage to alleviate the pain. Once a day I receive a more complete massage especially for my feet and legs.
I continue to not be able to walk without the assistance of a walker or another man helping me. I have to go see the dentist as soon as possible—my upper dentures are very loose and need tightening. I’m a little like what Vidura described to Dhrtarastra about the breaking down of his body in various ways.
But I remain active in mind and devotional service. I go on preparing to publish two books a year. (It could be my last year, so Baladeva is urging me to print four books a year, but I’m reluctant.) I continue to write my Free Write Journal; about 25-30 pages are posted every Friday. I have a readership of several thousand for the Journal. My Journal also appears on Facebook. I have been giving some talks and readings on Zoom. I read selected poetry for an hour and fifteen minutes. I spoke on the occasion of Giriraja Maharaja’s Vyasa-puja, and the organizers of the memorial for Tamala Krsna Maharaja have asked me to speak on Zoom for that. I also spoke my early memories on Zoom on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the installation of their Radha-Gopivallabha Deities. I stay busy reading several hours a day, proofreading upcoming books. So I stay busy and productive within the limits of my semi-invalid body.
I am listening to the Nectar of Devotion series, given by Prabhupada from late October to November 14, 1972 in Vrndavana, India. Pradyumna reads from the book, and when Prabhupada is inspired he interrupts him and speaks on the subject matter. They go back and forth. The Nectar of Devotion had recently been published by the BBT, and Prabhupada described it as a summary study of Rupa Gosvami’s Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. He called it the lawbook for his students in ISKCON. He considered it essential reading, along with the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam, which was being published in progressive cantos. The recording is not in a soundproof place or a quiet temple, but outdoors in the courtyard of the Radha-Damodara temple. The lectures were given between Rupa Gosvami’s bhajana-kutir and his Samadhi. There are sounds of children occasionally, and voices of pilgrims passing through. The birds can be heard chirping, and an occasional monkey comes close; Prabhupada chases him away with a shouted, “Hut!”
I had already read the book by the time these lectures were given. The lectures were recorded and starting to be distributed by the Bhaktivedanta Ministry. Soon after the lectures were actually given, they were distributed all over the world. For devotees who were into reading and hearing, it was a great treat having all this new material coming from Prabhupada’s lotus mouth. He condemned the impersonalists and emphasized pure devotional service as the only way.
Rupa Gosvami wrote that one should serve Krsna favorably, and he emphasized yukta-vairagya, the use of material things in the service of the Lord. Those who renounce all things in the world he considered to be incomplete renunciates. This is the great dynamic of the book.
A friend gave me a recording of Tamala Krsna Goswami teaching a seminar in the VIHE from many years ago. He read from Vrndavana-mahimamrta by Prabhodhananda Sarasvati. It was a wonderful experience. He read a few verses and then commented. He picked up on the urgency of the book: to go and live in Vrndavana. He told the devotees how fortunate they were to be in Vrndavana.
This seminar was spoken before TKG had ended his academic career. He was a Western-based preacher, very much into the glories of Vrndavana and also the preaching mission (especially book distribution). He made an interesting comparision between the Vrndavana-mahimamrta’s urgent, almost fanatic emphasis on living in Vrndavana and the austerities undertaken anywhere in the world to preach Prabhupada’s mission, particularly in book distribution. He said in many ways the two emphases were similar. He said each verse has the same conclusion: give up whatever you are doing and go at once and live in Vrndavana for your life. He admits most ISKCON devotees can’t do this, and they have the responsibility of worldwide preaching in the sankirtana movement. But he urges devotees to visit Vrndavana as much as possible, and when they are away, live in Vrndavana in their minds. He is very learned in the conclusions of spontaneous loving service to Radha and Krsna as the goal of life.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja wandered far and wide in his talks. He told about the “debate” between Srivas Pandita and Svarupa Damodara. Srivas Pandita worshiped Krsna in awe and majesty. He joked with Svarupa Damodara and minimized Vrndavana, saying it was just a place of cows and grass. He said ‘his’ Krsna was worshiped in great opulence, surrounded by many queens and maidservants of the queens. Svarupa Damodara replied that Vrndavana was more glorious than Vaikuntha. In Vraja the devotees don’t treat Krsna formally, but they deal with Him intimately and love Him wholeheartedly as a child or friend or lover. Srivas Pandita was ultimately “outranked” by Svarupa Damodara’s description of Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana.
Tamala Krsna Goswami gave these lectures many years ago when he was at the height of his preaching powers. His background is that of being Prabhupada’s most intimate disciple, especially in the last year, when Prabhupada was preparing for his disappearance and TKG was his constant companion. While speaking of Vrndavana and alternating it with worldwide preaching, TKG occasionally inserted a memory from his service to Prabhupada in that last year. He said Prabhupada used to rest until 4:00 PM, and when he awoke he wanted TKG to be present. His servant would get under the mosquito net and scratch Prabhupada’s back. One time Prabhupada told him he had just had a dream in which the devotees were going to the drunkards and trying to preach. TKG asked if any of the devotees got converted into becoming drunkards. Prabhupada answered, “No, they are inscribed with ‘back to Godhead.’ The devotees became breathless upon hearing this intimate memory assuring of their going back home.
TKG advised his audience to come to Vrndavana as much as they were able to, and when they returned to their preaching fields, to always remember Vrndavana, thinking of the pastime places they visited and reading books like Vrndavana-mahimamrta and the books of the Gosvamis. When in Vrndavana he recommended they do things like roll in the dust and make prostrations on the ground. They should visit all the tirthas and make prayers that they may be attached always to Vrndavana dhama.
It was good to hear him preaching so purely and powerfully: “He reasons ill who says that Vaisnavas die . . . true Vaisnavas live to spread the holy name around . . .” There will be a memorial for TKG on October 28 at 12:00 PM EST. I will also be speaking briefly, and I will be eager to share my appreciation for the Vrndavana VIHE seminar.
Krishna Bhajana and his wife Satyasara worked hard on typing up a fresh manuscript of Forgetting the Audience. They were very enthusiastic to publish it. But when they submitted it to me, I was in a critical mood. I found there was too much criticism of my low-quality japa and too many doubts about the free writing. I wrote Krishna Bhajana and told John Endler that I didn’t want to publish the book. They were both disappointed because they both love the book. In my last meeting with John, he convinced me to give the book another read and to make required editing changes, taking out things I didn’t like. So I went ahead and read it again. This time I found it interesting, and I was encouraged to make the editing changes, which were mostly omissions of objectionable passages (something I rarely do).
I found the book to be a unique genre, a collection of free writing sessions mostly on the two topics of japa and writing sessions. I found it fresh and honest. The concept of not writing for pleasing a direct audience but writing to express myself and improve myself gave me satisfaction. John and Krishna Bhajana are so happy about my new decision.
Our pujari, Krsna dasi, was sick, and it was the third day Radha-Govinda were wearing Their same outfits. So we had to not dress Them but leave Them in Their present dress. Her husband Bala covered her other services. He found it to be very time-consuming, picking flowers for the altars, making bouquets, making garlands for Gaura-Nitai and performing aratis, changing and cleaning the water cups—all this along with his usual duties of cooking and cleaning.
Viraha Bhavan is not a sleepy, lazy place. All day long, we’re engaged in busy service.
For our out-loud reading program at mealtimes, we have a new phone system, and devotees who are not living in the ashram are allowed to participate. Paramatma joins us from Guyana, and now Ayatakshi-devi dasi enthusiastically joins us and reads from Italy. Haridasa, who is from Guyana but lives in Albany, also joins in on the reading. We do two and a half hours a day.
Baladeva Vidyabhusana is our shopping/errands man. He went out yesterday to purchase fresh raw farm milk, and he mowed the lawn, which Saci Suta says is the best preaching we can do locally. Baladeva also made cookies that are widely distributed to our many medical contacts (and anyone who comes to the house—UPS, Culligan man, plumber, mailman, etc.)
Yesterday Muktavandya visited from Boston, bringing many nice flowers like roses and lilies, filling up a room.
In our group out-loud readings we just heard about a day in the life of Krsna. Early in the morning, when the gopis went to bathe naked in the river, Krsna came and stole their clothing. After that pastime, Krsna’s boyfriends told Him they were very hungry because they hadn’t had breakfast. He sent them to the wives of the yajnic brahmanas, who were great devotees of Krsna, and they brought him all the sumptuous food that was being prepared for a yajna by their husbands. Later that day, Krsna and His friends saw that the elderly cowherdsmen were preparing a sacrifice similar to the brahmanas’ yajna to pacify the controller of the rains, Indra. Krsna inquired from His father what was going on, and He argued with him that it wasn’t necessary to worship Indra, and that they should prepare a yajna for Govardhana Hill and the brahmanas.
We have finished hearing the rasa dance. It took place in an entire day of Lord Brahma, but the gopis didn’t notice the time going by. Then in the Krsna book, Krsna kills many demons. The cowherdsmen went to attend Siva-ratri, and while they were there a huge serpent came out of the forest and started swallowing Nanda Maharaja while he was sleeping on the bank of the Yamuna River. The cowherdsmen tried beating the serpent with burning logs, but they couldn’t stop him. Then Nanda called out for Krsna, who came and touched the serpent with His feet. He immediately transformed into a beautiful demigod, Vidyadhara. He told his story, that he was very proud of his personal bodily beauty. One time he saw the ugly sage Angira Muni, and he laughed at him. The muni cursed Vidyadhara to become a serpent, but he was liberated by Krsna.
Then a demon named Sankhacuda came while Krsna and Balarama were sporting with the gopis at night. Sankhacuda was a demon associate of Kuvera, who is the treasurer of the heavenly planets. Sankhacuda wore a very valuable jewel on his forehead resembling a conchshell. He thought that he should enjoy Krsna’s gopis, and so he came and rounded them up as if he were their proprietor and started taking them away. Krsna cried out to them not to be afraid. Krsna chased the demon and caught him, struck his head with His fist, and took away the valuable jewel, which He presented to Balarama. Next Kamsa sent the powerful horse-demon Kesi, who terrorized the region of Vrndavana. He charged Krsna, but the Lord threw him back many yards. Kesi then charged again, this time with his mouth open. Krsna stuck His left arm into the demon’s mouth, and it felt like a red-hot iron. This caused the death of Kesi.
Before Krsna killed Kesi and another demon, Vyomasura, who had captured many of His cowherd boyfriends, Kamsa also sent the demon Aristasura in the shape of a gigantic bull. He came to Vrndavana and frightened all the residents. He saw Krsna, dug up the earth with his hooves, and then charged at the Lord. Krsna grabbed the horns of Aristasura, broke them, and then squeezed Aristasura the way a person squeezes a wet rag. The powerful demon gave up his life but was liberated by Krsna’s touch.
A devotee wrote me and said how he loved reading my updates on Krsna’s lila in the Free Write Journal. He said that he remembered a devotee reading from the unpublished Krsna book when he first began visiting the temple in San Francisco. “I was amazed—they know about God’s life!” So I hope you readers won’t think these updates are something you’ve already read and not interesting. They are ever-fresh pastimes, and capable of amazing.
“My dear Lord Krsna,
“I was just calling out for You in distress. I was stuck in the La-Z-Boy chair and couldn’t get out. I couldn’t move my right shoulder because it was too much pain, and so I couldn’t get out of the chair. The pain was coming from a broken collarbone. Baladeva was not in the house, so I couldn’t reach him by the radio. Dattatreya is down one floor below, but his door is shut, and my door is shut. I started crying out his name, ‘Dattatreya!’ ‘Dattatreya!’ I was actually calling for You, Krsna, but I couldn’t expect You to come into my room and take me out of my chair. So I was calling for Dattatreya. It was like Ajamila calling for his son, Narayana. I felt such great pain in my shoulder and cried, ‘Dattatreya!’ Finally, I pushed my buttocks forward and was able to squeeze out of the chair, but it took about ten minutes of agony.
“Is this what it’s like to be in this body and to be without You? To call for You and not have You answer? You can’t answer because something’s not right; You can’t hear me.
“My dear Lord Krsna, and my dear Srimati Radharani, it’s good that I call for You like that in distress. Calling to get out of this material world, but You don’t seem to answer. I call louder and louder but there’s no relief. I’ll have to do it with more devotion if I expect You to respond. It was a crazy little episode, but I’m making an analogy out of it. My shoulder still aches. My heart still aches because I called for You and You cannot come. I do not deserve that You come. It is premature that I call for You. I am calling to You for relief from my own distress. I should call to You for service: ‘Please let me serve You!’ My shoulder is throbbing. Why isn’t my heart throbbing? Why aren’t I distressed in mind because You cannot hear me when I call for service? I am certainly like Ajamila calling for his son, calling for the right thing. I do call Your name and so the Visnudutas will come and at least ensure that the Yamadutas will not take me away.
“My dear Lord Krsna, You’re the only one who can save me from pain and danger. You’re the only ones who love me. You and Your devotees. I pray for relief. I pray to serve You. I pray to understand that that’s what I need. I can be stuck in a chair for ten minutes, but that’s nothing compared to being stuck in hell for eternity, and if I am not nice, my cries will go in vain. Please teach me to cry in the right way, and please teach me to behave so I will not be stuck. This is not much of a prayer, but it is a genuine cry for You from my need. At least I see You are the one I have to call to, the only one who can save me. Hare Krsna.”
“Dainya is also related to disease and pain. When you can no longer enjoy with your body, you stop strutting. How glad you are to be free of pain. But old age brings more pain. You find yourself taking up dietary regimens and developing confidence in doctors who promise relief, although your disease is incurable. You find yourself trying to think positively, whatever that means. You try again and again to wring a little more enjoyment out of the body.
“Bhaktivinoda Thakura speaks of old age and disease. These two work together against the world of pleasure you try to live in as a youth. It seemed to work: ‘In young manhood I . . . settled down to the spell of material enjoyment. Children and friends multiplied quickly.’
“Often we don’t even notice health, we take it for granted. ‘It will always be with us, and youth too. And wife and friends, all young and good-looking and vital.’ But it’s not true.
“I’m only a young old man, 53. People see my face as youthful, but someone else says I look terrible. And I can’t walk long, can’t join pada-yatras or parikramas, can’t chant in long, ecstatic kirtanas in Navadvipa, can’t chew hard foods, can’t work long hours or even a few short, stressful ones. Can’t attend committee meetings because they bring on headaches. It’s all right, I live with it—as long as I can read and write and sit in my chair without pain. But pain comes. Then everything stops—no books, no writing . . . I don’t even want to see anyone at that time. I lie in bed in a darkened room, knowing that the pain usually lasts for twenty-four hours and then I’ll be all right again—until the next time. I look on my body as a loving friend. Maybe I didn’t treat it right, didn’t eat the best foods for its health, broke sleep by getting up at midnight to write, didn’t heed those who said not to travel so much . . . I’m traveling too much before it’s too late . . . I’m rising early and writing, before it’s too late. No matter how gently I treat my body, time is running out.
“ ‘Soon old age arrived, and all happiness departed.’ The breakdown of the body is a message to the self. The signals increase with old age. They become a continuous flashing light. Pain is the alarm ringing.
“Young people shouldn’t think this has nothing to do with them. Every man’s story will be their story in due course. They should learn to use their physical strength in Krsna consciousness before they are embarrassed by the body’s dwindling. Pain is our teacher.”
“On a morning walk, he said
a bubble comes up suddenly, we don’t know why.
Because you contacted something
it comes up later.
At death what comes
will determine the next life.
He challenged his disciples,
‘Why should you want to please Krsna?
They replied, ‘Because guru says so,
because scripture says so.’
Prabhupada said, ‘No!’
He said, ‘You cannot non-cooperate with Krsna.
Just as the hands must cooperate
to fill the belly.’
The next morning in Nairobi, he challenged,
‘Give me an example of how matter comes from Krsna.’
They said, ‘Scripture says so,’
but he didn’t want to hear that.
He gave an example:
‘If my body produces a little gas,
I know that the Supreme Lord produces all the gas
in the universe.’
‘But verbal analogies don’t prove
scientific fact,’ said Harikesa.
“Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Then you are rascal:
verbal analogy is proof.’
‘That’s assuming . . . . there’s even a God,’ said Harikesa.
Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Those who are not qualified
cannot know the body of God.’ Harikesa said,
but Prabhupada interrupted,
‘We are blind. We need to go to the guru.’
“His aged body was no bar
to his vigorous speaking.
At 80 he didn’t ‘mellow out,’
he kept at bay the dogs of doubt,
chastised them with his cane.|
Let us carefully consider
what he said as he walked.
Let us seek
the instructions of enlightenment.
“Try This . . .
“By publishing the complete, unedited volumes of Prabhupada’s room conversations, the Bhaktivedanta Archives has opened up to everyone a rich vein of association with Prabhupada ‘as-he-is.’ I regularly carry one of these volumes and savor a little at a time. You might be inspired to write poems after reading these, or consider taking notes or sharing a special passage with a friend.
“I Want to Be in His Presence
“Swamiji is behind the tin trunk. Over his head is the calendar picture of Krsna playing the flute, standing on the curved earth planet. We are lounged and bunched around the wall, asking questions:
“‘What happens after death?’
“‘What kind of person does Krsna want me to be?’
“‘When we see a picture of Krsna, is that the artist’s conception of how He looks?’
“‘Is cosmic consciousness the same as Krsna consciousness?’
“‘Is this the same thing that Christ and Buddha taught?’
“Swamiji was happy after a lonely year uptown. He took his time and answered our questions.
“He taught that Krsna is a person, and He will love you. He will give you an intimate relationship in eternity. Prabhupada promised this, and said it was something we could all attain. We still have not attained it, but he taught it: ‘Your beloved is the Personality of Godhead, Krsna.’ It is such a nice thing.
“Srila Prabhupada taught us of the importance of the spiritual master. No one can understand Krsna except through the spiritual master. However, he never said, ‘I am that pure devotee. I am the spiritual master.’ If someone asked him bluntly, he replied, ‘That you can judge for yourself.’ Yet he preached that we must surrender to the spiritual master. When Allen Ginsberg met Prabhupada, he suspected that they were both exchanging false egos. He thought, ‘Oh, he is trying to sell himself as the guru. He wants me to submit to him,’ so Ginsberg resisted it. Some of us did not resist. We wanted the guru, and we accepted him. We wanted a loving exchange with Krsna. We kept coming back night after night, morning after morning. ‘Why are they after me?’ Prabhupada asked. ‘I am just an Indian, I have no money. I never bribed them.’
“One night it was time to leave, but none of us wanted to go. He laughed and said, ‘All right, you can go home now. The store will be open at 6 in the morning.’ He was the store. His hours were from 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. He saw that we were after him, and he was after us, to bring us to Krsna.
“I want to remember the sensory things: the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the prasadam, the room, his body, his eyes, the boys, the apartment. Even if I can’t feel them, I can say the words, smelling the prasadam the boys cooked in the kitchen, and bringing the prasadam into the room. Swamiji sitting in his place, eating, us sitting around and eating with him . . . The two rooms . . . Looking through the glass window and seeing him sitting there . . . Sometimes he slept on his mat . . . His turtleneck jerseys with the stretched necks . . . Bare feet . . . Swamiji smiling . . . Strong teeth, and so virile you are embarrassed in his presence.
“I’m saying these words just to feel his presence. Kirtana. Money in the basket. Cutting up the apple in a bowl. He calls your name, he looks at you. Time goes by in the evening. You feel that he is as good as God.”
“Haiku poets speak of serendipity, the good luck of susceptibility to receive special moments. They say that you cannot voraciously devour special moments; you must go on with life and simply notice and honor moments when they come of their own accord. I must be ready at any time to notice when I am visited by a Prabhupada remembrance. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, and thank you, Lord Krsna, for allowing me to remember you both.
“Please forgive me for not speaking more directly of Prabhupada. This is all I have. It may be like reading a menu rather than giving you the feast. However, I am trying, and only by this way can I get closer. When I walk and talk with Srila Prabhupada, I feel that I am with him. It is real, this presence. It is not tangible in the sense that you can touch it or say, ‘There, I just saw a vision of Prabhupada. He was standing in the forest wearing his saffron coat,’ or ‘I suddenly heard his voice saying, ‘Go on, you are doing very nicely,’ or ‘He just said, “You rascal!’, or ‘I suddenly smelled the aroma of his body: sandalwood, mustard oil and roses,’ or ‘I suddenly felt something within myself and tears flowed and I cried out, “Prabhupada!”’ I am not deriding such encounters, but I am saying the subtle, intangible presence is also worthwhile. When I come back from a walk, I do not ask, ‘Was Prabhupada here? Did I meet him?’ I’m sure I did.
“We can talk to Prabhupada. ‘Prabhupada, did you hear those birds? I do not know their names, but it is so nice to hear the birds in the morning. It is so nice to be in the country where practically the only sounds are those of nature. I know, Prabhupada, that you deplore the industry in the city, although we should be there for preaching. Prabhupada, is it like this in Vrndavana?’
“We ask him our foolish questions. Even when it is we who do the talking, we feel him in the things that Prabhupada has said. If we become enamored with nature, he may reign us in, saying, ‘This is the material world. It is only the mode of goodness.’ If we ask him what it is like in Vrndavana, he may tell us that our question is premature. In every case, we feel him with us, despite our unworthiness.”
“My dear Lord Krsna . . .
“I have been hearing for over twenty-five years, but I think I am just beginning to appreciate how affectionate Prabhupada is toward You, dear Lord. He is insistent that everyone understand you properly. He doesn’t leave room for us to be vague in our understanding, but gives us strong purports and descriptions in Srimad- Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. I am becoming particularly attracted to Prabhupada’s way of presenting You as the Beloved of all pure devotees. Prabhupada acknowledges madhurya-rasa as the highest understanding, but he gives equal credit to all pure devotees without slighting anyone. He said we should not reject even a drop of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Neither should we jump to the rasa-lila chapters and leave the others aside as if they are unimportant. We need to be nourished by all ten cantos. And it is good for us to appreciate all Your devotees. That leads us ultimately to appreciating You, dear Lord, as the taster of all different relationships with Your devotees.
“Therefore Srila Prabhupada emphasizes the teachings of Prahlada Maharaja, the prayers of Dhruva Maharaja, Ambarisa Maharaja, Bali Maharaja, Arjuna, Narada and Vyasa and their sacred conversations of Maitreya and Vidura or the Kumaras and Maharaja Prthu. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless Purana.
“Srila Prabhupada also taught the Bhagavad-gita because You speak personally to us there. The same Krsna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra is ultimately nondifferent from Your form in Vrndavana. Of course, Prabhupada taught the Gaudiya Vaisnava conclusion that the original Krsna never leaves Vrndavana, and His pastimes in Mathura and Dvaraka are performed by His Vasudeva expansion, but still He leaves us with the feeling that we should be just as interested in Your form as Vasudeva Krsna as in Your form in Vrndavana.
“Prabhupada does not make such a distinction but goes on beating the brhad-mrdanga of Your glories. Therefore he has presented all of Your activities in this wondrous book we know in ISKCON as the Krsna book. By reading about their relationships with You, all Your devotees become beloved to us, and our devotional creepers are nourished in a balanced way.”
“After surrendering, they were no longer mlecchas
but some of the bad habits remained,
so Prabhupada wondered.
He had carried Radha-Krsna on the airplane
for the Sydney ISKCON temple, but when he got there
no one knew how to cook
or how to make a Brahmin’s thread
and they didn’t keep the backyard clean.
“But they worshiped his person
as they had worshiped his order.
On his word, they had gone into the streets
getting arrested and put into jail
for chanting and giving out his magazine.
they were ready for that,
not about to give it up because it was hard.
Therefore he taught all he could
within a few days and prayed to Lord Krsna—
to please descend as arca-vigraha.
“The nondevotee Australian public
knew nothing at all about Krsna
but were receptive to hearing from Prabhupada
in various halls and schools
and so he blessed the entire land
of devotees and mlecchas—
the former prison colony of England
another of the many meat-eating republics of Kali
made a tirtha of Lord Krsna.
“But because such mercy and leniency was required
Prabhupada stood before the altar of Radha-Gopinatha
one last time before leaving,
and he spoke to the Lord in a confidential way:
‘My dear Lord Gopinatha,
now I am leaving You in the land of the mlecchas.’
He could not guarantee that his new disciples
would discharge the duties of brahmanas properly
so he said to the Lord,
‘I cannot take the responsibility.’
Krsna should please take care of Himself!
But Prabhupada knew
it would not be long
before the land of the mlecchas would be transformed
and their Deity as gorgeously worshiped and enthroned
as in the finest mandirs of the East
and with even more devotion.”
“Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day
“I want to be real, and writing helps. One devotee wrote me, ‘Your clarity of service direction has only been achieved by deep reflective thought.’ Yes, that’s true. Today is Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day. I want to feel my personal relationship with him in separation. It can’t be exactly the same as when Prabhupada was here, but I shouldn’t think the relationship with him in separation is less than the relationship I had then. The guru-disciple relationship is based on absolute principles, yet it is also subjective and personal. It’s also crucial for going back to Godhead. Therefore, I fight to remain on course in my life of writing and sadhana.
“Ideas are tight-rolled balls. They can be easily relaxed in discussion, these tight buds ready to flower.
“I want to live each moment of the day, simultaneously loving life in this world (with Krsna conscious insight) and developing attachment and yearning for the spiritual world, where the soul goes. Each day reveals this to one who searches, and writing helps create the attitude of discovery.”
“Of his books, Prabhupada would often say, ‘Everything is there.’ This means that all varieties of tastes are there to be experienced within them. Whatever is not in Prabhupada’s books will not give us any enlightenment. In Prabhupada’s books, however, new lights, realizations, and deepening appreciations are all there for us to relish, and there is certainly enough for each devotee to be perfectly satisfied. But it is only by experiencing satisfaction in Prabhupada’s books that we will realize perfection. Yet all of this will evade us if we approach Prabhupada’s books like restless adolescents.
In a purport from the second chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Prabhupada states, ‘Repetition of something is necessary in order that we understand the matter thoroughly, without error.’ (Bg. 2.25, purport) In that second chapter, the difference between the soul and the body is discussed in a repetitive way but from different angles of vision. Similarly, in his talks and lectures Prabhupada would often repeat the same idea over and over again.
“. . . We all know that many devotees in this movement do not read diligently. To help cure this malady, we have in this book confined ourselves to a single theme—the need to read Prabhupada’s books daily—and, following in the footsteps of previous acaryas, we continuously repeat this one message throughout the pages of this book. We hope that no one will be annoyed by this presentation, but rather that all will understand the importance of this theme and be well disposed to it.”
“Srila Prabhupada’s instructions to me on June 21st, 1974 in Melbourne, Australia, convey his vision for the future of Krsna consciousness and the world. I said to Prabhupada, ‘Devotees sometimes think we are planning for the long-term future when we distribute our books to schools and libraries, but if everything is going to end in nuclear war . . .’
“Prabhupada said, ‘We are not afraid of the nuclear bomb, because the soul cannot be killed by the atom bomb. Do you know that? Have you read it? So what do they want to do in fear of the nuclear bomb? To sit down and do nothing and cry?
“I said, ‘Well, we are asking people to invest in 60 volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam, but they might say, “I don’t want to make such a long-term investment in the future because there is nuclear war ahead.”
“‘Then why are they going to the university? Why don’t they stop eating? Do they mean one should go for an education, and should not have any hope, and should stop everything?’
“‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Some think like that—that it is doom.’
“Srila Prabhupada expressed concern for people’s having been put into such a consciousness. Then he repeated that I should assure people that there will not be such a war if they became Krsna conscious. ‘In fact, because of our Krsna consciousness movement, there will be no nuclear war. But if there is, the soul cannot be killed. So we are not afraid the bomb will kill the soul.
“So even though the world situation is bad and worsening, because of the influence of the age of Kali, we should know that Srila Prabhupada had full faith in the process of Krsna consciousness. If we follow him, certainly we shall receive Krsna’s blessings, and the collision course of the world will be changed.
“This book is intended for all thoughtful persons. It is not only for Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and followers, but for anyone who is willing to hear the science of spiritual life according to the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Unless a human being is eager to inquire into the Absolute Truth and take up devotional service under the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then he is no better than an animal. The reader of these lectures should approach His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada by reading his translations and commentaries of the Vedic literature: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, Nectar of Devotion and many other books and should understand further the eternal blissful realm of Krsna consciousness.”
“Saints of Vaishnavism. Memoirs of Srila Prabhupada hit a record high. Now he’s looking at clock again. It is it true we used to write a whole hour? I can hardly believe it.
“Devotional service is the only way to attain Krsna. Jnana and karma won’t do it. They need devotional service to be successful.
“Please get well. Take plenty of rest. Stop stressing yourself. Tell him or her to accept that they can’t work the way they used to. Give up the other projects. Do what little you can.
“That guy’s a bum.
His wife works. That
sadhu is a scrounger
begging off the Hindu doctors,
those fellows in high office
and those blasphemers are
stealing from the welfare department
or some other cheating, cheating, cheating,
kick it out.
“Finish the day with some speed writing. But don’t tire yourself out. Do you know how to relax while you run? Does a Krsna thought go through your head? O Prabhupada, you allow us to call out, ‘O Hare, O Krsna, O Energy of the Lord, O Lord.’ This is the call to be engaged in the service of the Lord. There’s a verse included in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that begins kamadinam…which states that, ‘I have long suffered by serving the senses and they are never satisfied, but recently I have given up serving them and I am serving You, O Lord.’ This is the same meaning as found in the Hare Krsna mantra.
“Yeah, I’d like to be able to do that. Get out of these dry-as-wood extra rounds and call out, ‘Hey Lord, allow me to engage in Your service.’
“In former days they retired from life and practiced austerities. Now we are asked to do the simple act of chanting the holy names. You don’t need any other acts. In the holy names are contained all the virtues of other austerities and the fulfillment of going through all the asramas gradually. The holy name is also all we can do because the larger society is topsy-turvy and you can’t follow the asramas as you used to. Therefore, for all these reasons, chant, chant, chant.
“I’ve got my stuff lined up for speaking tomorrow. Read the Nectar of Instruction verse about jaundice and sugarcane, although they’ve heard it before. Then read about ‘atmosphere.’ How we have to attain the right atmosphere. Then go to read from BVT about enthusiasm in devotional service. (I don’t share these things with others.) Finally go to the place where he says that chanting Hare Krsna is the Lord’s flute as heard by the Krsna parisads, especially the gopis of Vrndavana. What more do we want than that? In an hour. Yes, well everyone has to develop their own atmosphere. You mean like burning a candle in front of your master’s murti? Well, the atmosphere of a clean heart, a well-ordered life. It’s all those things and more, a song of the purified boy.
“A rigor he went through? They say the Swami is feeling emotions sometimes when chanting Hare Krsna. She said, ‘Well, I’m glad to hear at least someone is getting a higher taste.’
“Yeah, me too. If you could go in the house early what would you do?
“I could read more how only bhakti gives us what we want. Nourish yourself on the verse and purport spoken by the Lord. It is wrong to think that the teachings of the Lord to Sanatana are not nectar. Consider that chapter, ‘The Opulence and Sweetness of the Lord.’ You just have to slow down and get it. And then the next chapter, the process of devotional service. Don’t expect to zip through it, and don’t think that it’s always better to read of their life together in Puri, how they sit in rows to eat and say things to one another. The concentrated teachings with all their relevant quotes from sastras are equally good as the mixing of devotees. The combination makes Cc. so relishable. Aye, aye.
“You were thinking of…
“under bright white clouds the nectar pours down. Mohini pours it down on Prayag. The concentration is going on. We just want to produce as many books as possible until our time runs out. Then we’ll have to think of another way to do it. Get a spell-check, copy-editor, proofreader, producer. Get the mercy of Krsna on your modem. Have you petered out? Is the ‘once volcano ash’ simply a place that people can now visit? No, it’s still flowing and simmering for an explosion that may take place by Krsna’s grace.
“One devotee wrote me after his wife divorced him, and he said he thinks there is something special that Krsna wants him to do. Maybe it’s to live in a self-sufficient way in the countryside. Nice when someone thinks he has a special calling and is waiting for it to manifest. Then he gets an idea, maybe he hears something in a lecture or something he reads in a book, or he talks to someone who’s enthusiastic. I often get enthusiastic when I talk with a devotee or even hear about one who is enthusiastic in his service. I usually don’t think that I should do specifically what they’re doing, but it impels me to transcendental competition, ‘Yes, let me go do my service.’
“You know what that’s like. Notes in your pocket egging you on so you don’t quit. Don’t quit. You can’t go in the house until your water bottle is empty and your socks are worn out. And don’t go until the smile comes in and out, and especially when the Imperial clock says it’s now 5 P.M. and you can stay here no longer. Go inside for tea and your medicine.
“Oh, I am happy with the accomplishment that I so soon dispatched all the letters I received, gave them due answers and now it’s done with for a while. I’m ready to answer more. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Hare Hare.
“Tell them tomorrow you can write to me and get replies via the system of it going to America and back, which takes a few weeks. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna. In the future you might get it together here.
“Can you come with us to the mountain, to the holy place? A small group of us can visit the lila-sthalis and recite scriptures there. And I can write by the sea, to the urges of the inner spiritual voice putting in paraphrase what is contained in the best books of Vyasa and Krsnadasa Kaviraja. If you can come let us know or we will go anyway.
“Since your head is holding up all right, let’s go another page which will mean a total of about forty-five minutes. You have two tapes then to give tomorrow.
“I remember” is going on and this is going parallel.
“A poet breathes in the fire. There is suffering going on and they are trying to make money. The priests and the monks are either praying alone, apart from the world, or they’re in the city working directly to help the fallen souls. KC is the best welfare work. So, give them the holy names.
“Enduring ways. He’s sick. He’s not seeing anyone. Somebody wrote to him, ‘If you can give a seminar then why can’t you see a pious Indian man.’ Another guy wrote me in detail how he rides in first-class on the Indian trains to get air conditioning and he doesn’t pay for it. Excellent cheating. I sympathize because we all desire to stay cool and be away from the pushing masses. But then why not stay at home and achieve the same thing? No, that is too simple. If you don’t understand…
“Okay, I’ll shut up. I already said what I did, and if you like I’ll take it back and I will fall at your feet. You are strong and righteous. I pray to my God to be spared from having to hang around with you. Here is my long report. If you don’t like it, go hang it up somewhere else.
“The man retires home tired from wife
please don’t beat your wife
I meant to say the man returns home tired
or tired from life
and Philip Levine catches the spirit of it
in a poem, ‘What is Work?’ and SDG – I won’t knock him, he’s in an ISKCON writing retreat, you may laugh at him but he’s getting it out, the inner tale of things he remembers, the very best little gems.
“(Forty-five minutes, three handwritten pages, four typed pages, moving toward the verge of a headache in the afternoon)”
“12:28 midnight, August 4, 1996
“Quoting from Cc. reading on bhakti: institutionalism is not a dirty word. I strive to cut through false rhetoric which exists everywhere, in ISKCON too.
“The Writing Session starts off nowhere special. You can do any number of things. I like to use the pen on paper. You could review today’s lecture, prepare. You could encourage yourself on your ‘Memories’ project. Allow fears and doubts to rise and chew on them once again. Drift into things people wrote to you in their letters and how you answered. Tell something of Cc.
“Those are appealing verses, although they seem far away from me. I like them. This is where Cc. is saying that only devotional service can save the living entity from the influence of maya. He gives sastric evidence that jnana and yoga, even done to perfection, can’t release one. Then this memorable statement by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: ‘One is immediately freed from the clutches of maya if he sincerely and seriously says, “My dear Lord Krsna, although I have forgotten You for so many long years in the material world, today I am surrendering unto You. I am your sincere and serious servant. Please engage me in Your service.”’ (Cc. Madhya 22.23) In the Bengali verse there does not appear to be any synonym for ‘sincere and serious,’ which SP repeats twice. But SP is aware that we need more than one-time lip service. We need to be sincere and serious, which is proven over time. Or which comes deep from one’s self.
“There’s a similar statement from the Ramayana about the Lord accepting a fallen person if he only once declares surrender unto Him: ‘It is my vow (as Lord Ramacandra) that if one only once seriously surrenders unto Me, saying, “My dear Lord, from this day I am Yours,” and prays to Me for courage, I shall immediately award courage to that person and he will always remain safe from that time on.’
“Notes for what to do. Several projects occur and often die out. Keep going until you get one that sticks. You could write and draw the simplest story in a basic sketchbook. For yourself, no typist – in art pages that are too private.
“Man, I got to keep going. There’s no end to it. A little attraction to maya will keep you in this world.
“My sister is not in the house. I have no family materially. My family attachment is to ISKCON. It’s a special sort of attachment. R. spoke to me of the ‘institution’ in a demeaning way, yet his attraction is to NM despite the institution’s concerns. But the institution’s concerns are real. We want to protect the network of temples and their members and congregations. We want people to worship SP and keep the philosophy pure. Of course, institutionalism can be overdone so that you are more concerned with church management than with chanting and hearing and serving in a pure way. ISKCON is creating an atmosphere for chanting. Or ISKCON is for preaching. Many definitions of what it is. My book Touchstones quotes some of these by Prabhupada. Hari hari biphale. O Lord, I didn’t worship Radha and Krsna, and now my life is coming to an end. I am sorry about that, but if I can surrender to You before it’s too late You will take me to You. I know this because You have stated it as Lord Rama and as Lord Caitanya.
“Janmastami is in a month. I should consider re-reading Krsna book and what I would like to say on that day in the morning and again in the evening. And what to say on SP’s Appearance Day Centennial year. Belfast temple situation. Let thoughts come and jot them down in a little exercise book.
“You can say Krsna was in chains. But He wasn’t. That Aurangzeb tore down the upper portions of the Govindaji temple. At least it had been used in worship for a hundred years before that. The Lord is in control somehow. Destruction of temples, but new ones reconstructed. Hindus tore down Ayodya Mosque. Bitter fights.
“No settlements in many places like Northern Ireland, etc. You can try and use all your energy. Chekhov in his story “Gooseberries” lamented that some people are happy in a smug, petty way – like the man whose goal was to grow gooseberries on his own land – while so much suffering goes on in the world. The happy people create a suffocating force, Chekhov said. That’s partly true. The KC movement offers the real alleviation from material suffering. Material suffering may not immediately disappear from the earth by our works of KC, but it will help it to work in the right way. At least we’ll all be working on the right thing. Life will become auspicious. A devotee-preacher needs conviction in that. It gets depleted when he sees ISKCON disarrayed.
“The way/the poem helps/we need social managers/we need to stop abuse in the name of religion.
“Could you send me back the materials you never worked on? You are in trouble.
“Look at your computer as into a crystal ball.
“Is my energy or vision depleted? Did I used to think that the spreading of KC would affect the whole world? I can’t think that way now towards these forms like pada-yatra and ‘Food for Life.’ Need faith in prayer, in the holy name, etc. But I get smothered by the rhetoric. That’s why, more than anything, I seek to free my own language from rhetoric. That’s why Writings Sessions are important.
“I seek the genuine. Memories are important for that reason too.
“Too much talk on a grand scale. Speeches geared to the media,
speeches geared to convince
academic people and politicians,
speeches to motivate
devotees into action.
Law statements of ISKCON.
Let’s free speech from constraints
and stuffiness by practicing to cut through.
“In the dictionary the first definition of rhetoric is ‘the art of using words effectively.’ That’s the simple, favorable meaning. But then, ‘artificial eloquence…empty of clear ideas or sincere emotion.’ Even that doesn’t say it all. Some leaders do have clear ideas and sincere emotions. But still their language is manipulative. It’s not caring enough for honesty, individualism and love.
“(32 minutes, 6 ½ pages, glad to be doing a Writing Session)”